This blog series will focus on intervention strategies you might try with students as they adjust to the academic expectations of the new school year, readjust to in-person instruction, and/or continue to receive instruction remotely. In this blog, we’ll explore ideas for practicing the essential foundational reading skills of phonics and fluency. Each blog in the series will focus on one of the following domains of ELA instruction:

  • Listening and Speaking
  • Phonics and Fluency
  • Comprehension and Analysis
  • Spelling and Writing Composition

See the first post in the series here.

When you assess your students’ reading proficiency and prepare to dive into your ELA curriculum, you determine which students need interventions for phonics and fluency, for comprehension and analysis, or for both.

Letter-Sound Correspondence (Grades K–2)

  • Tap the Key (individual, small group, or whole group)—Why not practice two essential skills at the same time—letter-sound correspondence and keyboarding? Provide students with printed keyboard templates. Say letter sounds or project images that begin with the targeted letter sounds. Direct students to tap the keys that correspond to the sounds. Add variety by creating codes to distinguish types of sounds—for example, tap once for short vowel sounds, twice for long vowel sounds.
  • Swab the Letter (individual, small group, or whole group)—Since increased screen time leaves students hungry for tactile experiences, add some novelty by providing students with cotton swabs, paint or ink pads, and paper. Say or project images of words that begin with targeted sounds and have students paint or dab the corresponding letters on the paper. The cotton swabs allow for quick and easy cleanup!

Blending and Syllabication (Grades 2–5)

  • Key Blending (individual, small, or whole group)—Provide students with printed keyboard templates inside plastic sleeves and dry erase markers (this allows the templates to be reusable). As you say the words for blending, have students place their markers on the first letters of the words and then draw lines to the remaining sounds in the words.
  • Syllable Scoops (individual or small group)—A common strategy for practicing syllabication is “scooping,” or having students swipe their fingers or use their pencils to trace half-circles below syllables in words. Make this strategy more dynamic by using actual ice cream scoops! Provide individuals or small groups with scoops and have them make a scooping motion for each syllable they read in a word. As a fun extension, have students create posters of ice cream cones, with one-syllable words written on the first scoops, two-syllable words on the second scoops, and so on.

Fluency (Grades 2–8)

  • Sentence Pyramids (Grades 1–3) (individual, small group, or whole group)—A sentence pyramid starts with a common word at the top, such as “cat.” In each subsequent line below, a new word(s) is added to create longer phrases until a complete sentence is formed at the bottom. This exercise compels students to pay attention to the individual words in sentences. Consider creating an online template that allows students to create their own sentence pyramids. Then, students can assemble booklets of self-created sentence pyramids and practice reading with appropriate pace, expression, and accuracy.

  • Speech-to-Text (Grades 4–8) (individual, small group, or whole group)—Older students can use software or apps that record and transcribe speech. Provide students with passages appropriate for fluency practice (poems with fun rhyme patterns are great for this purpose). Have students record themselves reading the passages, and then compare the transcriptions of their readings to the original passages to determine accuracy. You also might help students locate recordings of professionals reading the same passages to compare to their own rate and expression.

With a bit of creativity, you can help students practice the foundational reading skills they need and have a little fun while doing it. See the next post in this series on interventions for comprehension and analysis!