"One-size-fits-all phonics lessons," Karin Dahl and her coauthors assert, "may be too big for some students, too short in the sleeves for others." Before children can make sense of phonics study, they first must learn that print conveys meaning. Children who do not have this foundation concept may do phonics workbook pages, but without understanding or processing the concepts. That's why, unlike books on traditional phonics teaching, this book emphasizes the making of sound instructional decisions based on the unique needs of individual students. And because children learn many concepts as they read and write each day, it concentrates on phonics-in-context, rather than on traditional, stand-alone phonics. In short, it explains embedded phonics instruction: what it is, how it works, and how to do it.
Since a critical component of phonics instruction is selecting the most appropriate lessons (for whole-group, small-group, or individual settings) this book presents a variety of proven-effective activities that teachers can use. These activities, along with other examples, come from an in-depth study of highly successful phonics instruction in eight exemplary first-grade classrooms. The classrooms' nine master teachers describe the decisions they made before, during, and after shared reading from big books, charted stories and songs, quality children's literature, writing demonstrations, writing conferences, word study, and project work.
Each chapter provides valuable insight into teachers' decisions to plan phonics instruction based on their students' specific needs, rather than on the old skill-and-drill routines. The book reveals six basic principles for effective phonics instruction, explores the vital role of assessment in making instructional decisions, and devotes a chapter on how to help children who struggle with phonics and reading.