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Phonics-Based, Single Word Decoding Strategies


ELA: Reading Elementary School Strategy


Phonics-Based, Single Word Decoding Strategies

If your student is struggling with reading fluency or efficient decoding

Teach It!

  1. Objective: Students will learn and apply phonics-based decoding strategies when they encounter unfamiliar words in reading.
  2. Instruction and Practice: Guide students to use one or a combination of strategies (on the next slide), to figure out unknown words. Practice the strategies together during read-alouds at school. Create a wall chart or reference sheet for students to refer to the strategies.
  3. Teacher Notes: For students having difficulty decoding or do not seem to be having success with whole-language reading programs, parents and teachers should discuss whether the student would benefit from systematic and structured phonics instruction.

*print* Student Checklist: Figuring Out Tricky Words

  1. Use a word you know, Look for a part of the word you know. The "known" part can be at the beginning, middle or end. (Best for compound words and words that include prefixes and suffixes.)
  2. Say it out loud. Say the sounds out loud and then string the sounds together. Does it "sound right"?
  3. Check beginning and end. Look at the beginning sound(s) and the ending sound(s) of the word. Along with clues in the sentence, ask yourself, "What makes sense?" and then try to read the word.
  4. Take the ending off. Cover up the suffix (ending) to focus on the base word. You might recognize the base word when it stands alone.
  5. Read part by part. Break up the word into parts. Underline each word part or cover up parts of the word to look at and read each alone. Then try to put the word back together.
  6. Try different vowel sounds. Since vowels make more than one sound, read a tricky word using different sounds for the vowel each time. Which sounds correct? If helpful, use a vowel chart that shows the various sounds each vowel can make.

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Even students who are strong readers and have not had structured phonics instruction will benefit from having discrete strategies to decode unfamiliar words while they read. Otherwise students will often simply skip the word which can lead to gaps in understanding. As students get practice with these different approaches, they will be able to efficiently and automatically use them as needed.