Best Practices: Phonics at VCES

valley charter elementary school phonics boards 2nd gradePhonics is the study of the letter-sound relationship in written words.  A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound. The study of phonics is learning, practicing, and putting together phonemes to make words.  Phonics lessons focus on phonemics, the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate individual sounds. 

Phonics is an essential part of learning to read because it helps readers identify words in print by “sounding out” the phonemes.  Understanding how to blend and segment phonemes enables students to read words, which is called decoding.

At VCES we use the University of Florida UFLI Foundations lessons.  UFLI Foundations is an explicit and systematic program that teaches students the foundational skills necessary for proficient reading. It follows a carefully developed scope and sequence designed to ensure that students systematically acquire each skill needed and learn to apply each skill with automaticity and confidence.  This program is based on the scientific principles pioneered by Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham.  The Orton-Gillingham method is a circular multisensory process that incorporates, listening, speaking, and movement. Each component reinforces the other, leading to reading success. 

valley charter elementary school phonics kindergartenEach day, students in grades TK-2 receive 30 - 45 minutes of phonics instruction that includes the correct formation of letters in handwriting, articulation (phonemic awareness),  letter-sound relationship, listening skills, turning phonemes into graphemes (written letter), syllabication, memorization of words that do not follow specific spelling patterns,  introduction and practice of common spelling patterns including consonant vowel consonant words, words including blends, digraphs and within word spelling patterns, prefixes, suffixes as well as dictation and fluency practice using decodable text. 


valley charter elementary school phonics kinder elkonin boxesFor older students who still need support with phonics, we offer small group instruction within and outside of the classroom that reviews and supports lessons taught in the primary grades. Repeated direct instruction which reviews phonemic understanding through this multisensory approach is crucial to the success of all readers.

Explicit phonics instruction supports the work students do in reading and writing workshops, but it is a separate block of the day. During reading and writing workshops, the students are able to apply the skills learned during phonics by decoding words in their books and using sound patterns to spell words in writing. 




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