Reading—it’s a Science! This three-blog series focuses on the elements of the Science of Reading, orthographic mapping, decoding, and practical applications for teachers. Read the first and second posts in the series.

Incorporate a variety of ideas to provide decoding instruction. Consider adding these ideas to your instruction toolbox!


Hammer It Home with Repetition

Research shows that students become fluent in reading through multiple exposures to words. It’s not enough to see and read words a single time. Therefore, it is imperative to hammer home phonics instruction that incorporates repetition of previously taught skills while introducing new decoding skills.


Drill Into Sight Words

What about sight words? While 80-95% of English words can be decoded using rules and patterns, there are many words that are phonetically irregular. But these words also must be mapped into the brains of beginning readers, especially since they can sometimes account for 75% of the words in a text! So, while you are teaching your students to decode a word, such as P-E-T, drill into sight words too! You might incorporate T-H-E in this case to have students read THE PET. After the appropriate number of exposures to a sight word, the sight word will be drilled down!


Nuts and Bolts of Words

The “nuts and bolts” of words are consonants and vowels. Before students can use their decoding skills to read words, they must be able to identify all the letters of the alphabet. Prepare alphabet cards with one letter of the alphabet on each card. Provide student pairs with nuts and bolts. Have students place the alphabet cards face down. Instruct one student in the pair to flip one card over, look at the letter, and place a nut on the card if the letter is a consonant or a bolt on the card if the letter is a vowel. Have partners check for accuracy. Continue until all cards have been played.


What other tools might you use to sharpen science-supported decoding skills? How might you help students nail down diphthongs? Might your beginning readers chisel away at digraphs? How can students saw into syllables? Regardless of the tools you choose, remember to be explicit and systematic in your instruction to help build confident and fluent independent readers.