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Phonics! Reading Groups!

October 20, 2021 | Heather Palmer Welesko

Every day, except Mondays, the second grade (and the third grade) meet in reading groups. In these reading groups, teachers focus on phonics, fluency (reading with accuracy, reading punctuation, and reading with intonation), and comprehension.  This week’s post will focus on how we teach phonics.

At the start of the lesson, students review flashcards of phonetic sounds they already know. Here, Jackson is reviewing one of his sound cards. At this point, some reading groups have learned up to 100 different phonics cards! Learning phonics in this way is teaching to standard CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.3.a “Distinguish long and short vowels when reading regularly spelled one-syllable words” and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.3.c  “Decode regularly spelled two-syllable words with long vowels.”

After reviewing the sounds they know, the students learn new cards (or sounds). New cards could cover diagraphs, vowel combinations, suffixes, prefixes, contractions, possessives, and more. In this week’s lesson, students learn beginning blends and the CVC (consonant vowel consonant) pattern. Learning these new patterns makes reading fluency faster and more accurate, and helps them encode–or spell–new words. This correlates with two other standards that they must know by the end of second grade: CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.3.d “Decode words with common prefixes and suffixes” and CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.2.3.b “Know spelling-sound correspondences for additional common vowel teams.”

After the reading group has practiced new and old cards, they start to read and recognize the sounds they know in their reading. Students will read a “warm-up”–which is a book or chapter they have already read, and then read from a new book or chapter. Here, Jackson reads and notices the “th” blend he learned that day.

Typically, reading groups last a half hour. A lot gets done inside that small time! Here is an example of a checklist teachers draw from to make sure we cover all the phonetic patterns! This way, by the end of second grade, every child will know these patterns and recognize them in their work!

Heather Palmer Welesko

Assistant Teacher, Grade 4

Heather Welesko has taught at Mustard Seed School for seven years as an assistant teacher and for over five years as a literacy teacher. Prior to that she was a literature and writing composition professor at Kean University and Harold Washington College of Chicago. Heather has an MFA in writing and poetry from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and an MA in Leadership and Spiritual Formation from Evangelical Seminary.

Ms. Welesko has advanced training in the Handwriting Without Tears program; the Fountas and Pinnell Guided Reading Program, and the Responsive Classroom/ Development Designs Program through Origin. She continues professional develop through The Columbia University Teachers College Reading and Writing Project. She’s passionate about literature, creativity, comprehensive education, believes strongly in teaching identity and diversity awareness.

Ms. Welesko is a poet, artist, and yogi, and is currently learning.

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