Letter Sound Correspondence
Information about Phonics
Phonics is the understanding that there are systematic predictable relationships between written letters and the sounds they make. For example, the letter “s” makes the “sssss” sound.
When students look at a letter and say the most common sound that letter makes, they are practicing the alphabetic principle, pairing letters with their sounds. This skill is essential to being able to decode (or sound out) written words.
When shown a letter, a student should be able to say the sound of the letter in less than three seconds. This means they can identify letter sounds automatically or fluently. Being fluent with letter sounds is helpful or moving to the next stage of phonics, being able to decode simple words.
Information about Phonemic Awareness
Phonemic awareness is the ability to notice and change the smallest units of sound in spoken language. These smallest units of sound are called phonemes. For example, the word “hat” has three phonemes. Close your eyes and say each one separately.
1st phoneme 2nd phoneme 3rd phoneme
Phonemic awareness is an excellent early predictor of success for young readers. It is a listening skill that can be done with your eyes closed. Basic phonemic awareness skills include blending (putting together), segmenting (breaking apart), deleting (taking out), and substituting (replacing) phonemes in words.
Information about Decoding
Decoding is the ability to apply knowledge of letter-sound relationships to pronounce written words. Beginning readers start decoding one syllable words like, “hat,” by reading each sound in the word then blending the sounds together. It can be helpful for students to use their index finger and put it under each letter as they blend the sounds together and read the word.
By practicing saying the sound, sound, sound, then blending the word, students gain automaticity. Just like it’s important to be able to say letter sounds automatically and fluently, it’s also important to be able to blend sounds quickly. The more automatic students are with saying letter sounds, the more quickly they will be able to blend sounds into words as they are reading.
Information about Fluency
Fluency is the ability to read text with appropriate rate, accuracy, and expression.
Rate means not reading too slow or too fast
Accuracy means reading words correctly
Expression means reading like you are speaking or telling a story very smoothly
Fluency is important because it is the bridge between decoding words (phonics) and comprehending (understanding) the text that’s being read. When students can decode words fluently, it frees up brain space to focus more on comprehension or what they are reading about.
During tutoring, students read connected text. Connected text means words that are linked by sentences, phrases, and paragraphs. Students in Reading Corps practice reading text at their independent level. The independent level means the passages or stories that the student can read with about 95% accuracy (about 1 error for every 20 words read).
Fluency is critical to proficient reading. Reading with fluency helps students to concentrate on what the words mean instead of using their energy trying to figure out what the words are. When students practice reading text accurately multiple times, they improve their fluency skills by increasing their rate, accuracy, and expression. Reading with fluency sounds smooth. A student who is reading with fluency reads in phrases, uses expression, and sounds like they are speaking or telling a story.
Students in Reading Corps practice the different components of fluency by reading and rereading stories, hearing words modeled or demonstrated for them, and receiving specific praise and encouragement to continue improving their reading skills.