Student literacy is encouraged through the development
of several skills. In particular, beginning readers
benefit from learning letter sounds,
spelling patterns and high
frequency words. There may not always be sufficient
time to cover all skills, but including them in
tutoring sessions encourages reading success!
We have included some ideas to begin teaching
these skills to young readers.
Tutoring sessions generally last 30 minutes. In
an effort to lend consistency to the tutoring
session, we have developed the following structure,
which allows tutors to work with their students
- Specific literacy skills
Approximately 10 minutes is allocated for each
area of focus. Depending on the students
needs the time can, of course, be redistributed.
After the tutoring session, tutors are encouraged
to reflect on their session to consider what went
well and look for ways to improve.
This structure is meant to serve as a model and
if all areas are not covered in a single session,
there is always the next session to pick up where
you left off!
- What is
The ability to distinguish and manipulate sounds.
- What are
Phonemes are speech sounds. The word dog
has three phonemes, one represented by the letter
d, one by the letter o
and one by the letter g.
- Why is
Phonemic awareness leads to reading success.
- How can you
encourage phonemic awareness?
READING: Use books and poems that
contain many rhymes and alliteration (repetition
of the first sound in a word).
WRITING: Writing experience helps
build phonemic awareness. Students begin writing
with invented spellingthat is expected
and gives insight into how children are connecting
letters and sounds. Cat may first
appear as c, then ct
and then cat.
GAMES: Children need a variety
of opportunities to play with language and increase
their awareness of sounds in words and sentences.
Tapping or clapping can be used to practice
segmenting sentences or phrases into component
words, words into syllables, and syllables into
Chips or counters can be used to mark
Rhyming games encourage awareness of speech
Help students to differentiate beginning,
middle and end sounds and to manipulate sounds
to make new words (mat/bat, back/buck, jam/jab).
SINGING: Songs are another great
way to enhance students awareness of sounds.
- Prompts that
can become games to increase childrens
Drop a Sound: What would be left if the
/p/ sound were taken away from pet?
Word Matching: Do dog and dinner begin
with the same sound?
Blending: What word would you have if
you put these sounds together /m/, /a/, /t/
Segmenting: What sounds do you hear in
the word hot?
Phoneme Counting: How many sounds do you
hear in the word kite?
Odd Word Out: Which word starts with a
different sound: big, bike, nine?
Sound to Word Matching: Is there a /k/
in the word Mike?
Phoneme Switching: What word would you
have if I took the /b/ from bit and replaced
it with /m/?
The Name Game: Man, Man, Bo, Ban etc.Other
good ideas can be found in Improving Reading
by Jerry Johns and Susan Lenski.
- Begin by saying,
Ill touch under the letter and
say the sound. Ill keep saying it while
I am touching it.
this and say, My turn. mmmmmm.
Hold the sound for two seconds.
- Ask your student
to say the sound by giving the cue, What
sound? Listen and slide your finger
under the m for two seconds as your
student makes the sound.
- If your student
is correct, move on. If not, correct and begin
again by saying, My turn, mmmmm.
Practice until she says the sound correctly.
Write the previously taught letters on a small
board along with the new letter. A magnetic board
works well for this too. The board should look
- Teach the new letter sound as
described above. Check all the previously taught
letters, returning to the new letter in between
those already taught.
- Be sure to model correct sounds
when your students sounds are incorrect.
Say, My turn, mmmmm. Practice
until the sound is correct.
- Print out the vowels and consonants.
Cut up and use as letter cards.
|Each sound in a word is important.
To help your student to read, practice listening
for and identifying each sound in a word. You can
use pictures or words for segmenting. Easily decodable
words are an excellent place to start.
1. Tell your student that you will play a game to
break apart all of the sounds she hears in a word.
2. Explain by saying, When I hold up one
finger, you say the first sound of the word. When
I hold up two fingers, tell me the next sound. When
I hold up three fingers, tell me the last sound.
3. Let me show you how. Say a
word, for example, dog.
- Hold up one finger and
- Hold up two fingers and
- Hold up three fingers and
- The sounds in dog are
/d/, /o/, /g/.
Model this a few times with different decodable
|4. Now, you try it.
Say another word, for example, sun.
- What are the sounds
- Hold up one finger for
- Then hold up two fingers
- Then, hold up three fingers
- Reinforce by saying, Good
the sounds in sun are /s/, /u/, /n/.
5. Do this again with 5-10 other words, depending
on your students level. Keep the pace fast
and moving along!
6. As your student makes progress, use this activity
for words with more sounds.
- The decodable
words are an excellent place to start teaching
students how to blend sounds into words.
- Point to the
word you are blending. For example, am, but
do not say the word. Say, We are going
to sound out some words. Point to the
left of the a, pause, say, Sound.
Quickly move your finger under the a
and hold it there for about 2 seconds while
the student says aaaaaaaa.
- Quickly move
on to the m and hold it there for
another 2 seconds. The student starts saying
mmmmmmm without any break or pause
between a and m. Say
Again. Then point to the left of
the a a third time, pause, say Read,
while you quickly move your finger left to right.
- If your student
makes a mistake say, My turn, and
model the correct way to blend and read the
word. Have your students practice until they
correctly blend the word. Do the same thing
for other decodable words in the story.
|For this example,
we are using words in the ack family. There
are many word families in English. For beginning
students, you will start with simpler patterns,
such as ad, at, or it.
your student to point out words in your text
that have similar spelling patterns.
- Help your
student think of other words that have this
pattern. You may have to write a few words for
him or her:
Ask your student to read the whole word and
underline the repeated part of the word: "ack."Ý
Use magnetic letters to form a word with the
"ack" pattern. Ask the student to
change the first letter of the word (for example:
's' in sack) to make a new word such as: "pack."
Provide a limited number of letters (two or
three at first) for your student to choose from.
- Give your student a chance
to go back to a book other texts where he or
she can apply this new reading skill. Poems,
nursery rhymes and jump rope jingles are a great
resource for early readers.
- Make and use flip
books to encourage the learning of patterns
- Create a Hidden Word game
to focus on word families.
- Create Wordo games using
Street College, America Reads
|Can you find the hidden
words that end with at? Look for those words
and circle them! Read the circled word.
Neither beginning nor advanced readers ever sound
out every word. We all have words that we recognize
instantlythose are sight words. Your goal
for sight words is to start with a word which
your student already knows the meaning of, and
have the student see it and read it instantlywithout
taking the time to sound it out. Students in first
and second grade need to increase their sight
What do I need?
- Print each word on a flashcard. Be neat. Print
in lower case and use a dark pen.
How many words do I work with?
- As you work with your students you will develop
a sense of how much they can retain in a single
session. For students on a low first grade level,
start with 3-4 and work up from there.
What are the steps?
- When showing a new word, read it first and
have your student read it immediately afterward.
(Remind your student to look at the word while
- In some cases you may want to make sure your
student is thinking of the right sight word.
Ask your student to use the word in a sentence
to make sure they have the right word.
- After you have gone through the flashcards
a few times (saying each word and having your
student repeat it) then ask your student to
read the words. Echo each word and provide correct
response, if necessary.
Games to encourage learning sight words
- Put the flashcards up on the table. Ask your
student to point to the ones he/she knows and
read them. As your student reads each wordhe/she
turns it face down. When all cards are face
down, he/she turns them up one by one and reads
- Place the flashcards face up. Say a word and
ask your student point to it and read it.
- Place flashcards face down. Take turns turning
up a card and reading it. If you read it correctly,
keep it. Add a joker card. If you
turn it up you must put back all the cards.
- Once your student knows the words fairly well,
turn it into a high pressure game
by timing your student with your watch. Students
generally enjoy trying to beat the clock.
- At the end of the sight word exercises ask,
Which word was the hardest for you?
Asking your student to identify the hardest
will help her/him to recognize these words the
- Reward all this hard work with encouragement!
Tips to Maximize Learning
- Each time your student reads a word, repeat
it. Letting your student know he/she read it
correctly will strengthen the association of
the written word with the spoken word.
- When your student hesitates or reads the word
incorrectlygive him/her the right word
immediately. Dont make it a struggleyou
want to teach instant recognition. Focused word
analysis can happen later in your tutorial.
- Review frequently!
- Keep two EnvelopesWords I am Learning
and Words I know. At the end of the session,
put them in the Learning envelope.
At the beginning of the next session, show the
wordsif your student reads them automatically
put the words in to the Know envelope.
If he/she hesitates or makes a mistake, then
re-teach them along with new words for the current