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Anthony Amos
Anthony Amos

Phonics Patterns 1 (To Print) - Sound City Reading


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Phonological awareness at the level of phonemes is called phonemic awareness. For example, knowing which of the spoken words mop, car, and mat start with the same sound reflects phonemic awareness. So does being able to blend the separated sounds /m/ /a/ /t/ into the spoken word mat. And so does being able to substitute /b/ for /m/ in the spoken word mat to create the new spoken word bat. Phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of learning to read in alphabetic languagese.g., 6,7. Indeed, phonemic awareness is predictive of reading ability throughout the school years, from kindergarten through grade 128.[2] Explicitly teaching students to recognize and manipulate phonemes (for example, through isolation and matching, blending, and substitution games, as in the examples above) is considered best practice based on strong research evidencee.g., 10,11, p. 2. Figure 1 summarizes some phonemic awareness tasks.


Learning the mappings between letters (graphemes) and sounds (phonemes) is the basis of decoding in beginning reading. Decoding is the effortful process of considering each letter in a printed word, mapping it to a sound, and then blending the sounds together in order to read the word. For example, in beginning reading, the written word caton the page is read as /kuh/ /ahh/ /tuh/ and then those sounds are blended together into the spoken word cat. Letter-by-letter decoding depends in part on verbal short-term memory, which is predictive of beginning word-level reading29.


Decodable texts are books that are designed to provide ample practice with sounding out pattern-based words (for example, cat, hat, mat, sat, bat) and are often used in phonics curricula.[4] See Figure 3 for an example. Phonics methods of teaching reading focus on building grapheme-phoneme correspondence knowledge in an explicit, systematic, and structured way and are considered best practice in teaching beginning reading in alphabetic languagese.g., 10,31. There is strong evidence in favor of teaching students to decode in beginning reading in order to recognize single words, as a foundational skill to support reading for understanding11.


The visual word form area is not activated by print in people who cannot read2. Learning to read drives the development and specialization of the visual word form area. This region becomes increasingly tuned to words with reading experiencee.g., 42,44. Essentially, the visual word form area takes shape within the ventral visual pathway with increasing expertise in readinge.g., 44,47.[5] It starts to specialize with growing letter knowledge, letter-sound knowledge, and decoding abilitiese.g., 47,49,50. Indeed, activation levels in the visual word form area are associated with decoding ability in readers from age 7 to age 18e.g., 51. It follows that specialization of the visual word form area for automatic orthographic word processing extends beyond late elementary schoole.g., 52,53 through adolescencee.g., 54.


Because the brain is not designed for reading, learning to read does not happen naturally, without instructioncf. 61. Put another way, reading is not innate and children must learn the systematic relations between speech sounds and visual symbols in their language(s): Children must be taught to read. It follows that learning to read is not only a set of technical skills but also a social practice, situated in a cultural context of schooling and other learning environments62.


At the start of formal instruction, learning to read in alphabetic languages depends on structured experiences with the sounds of language (phonemes) and printed letters and words (graphemes), understanding of the alphabetic principle, and lots of practice mapping graphemes to phonemes until words can be recognized and read automatically.[7] As discussed in this brief, these experiences borrow from, build on, and reshape multiple processing networks in the brain. Instruction must address all of these skills in order to cultivate a chil




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