I attended a presentation of phonemic awareness and phonics in Response to Intervention (RTI). Due to my flight time, I unfortunately only attended half of the 4 hour session. The speaker, Nancy Telian, discussed how phonemic awareness and phonics should be taught simultaneously in RTI. That is, utilize letters during phonemic awareness tasks such as blending and segmenting. Nancy’s suggestion is in opposition to the traditional idea of utilizing colored blocks/felts for phonemic awareness instruction. Nancy said traditional phonemic awareness is an auditory skill only, but our students have auditory memory weaknesses, so this type of task can be very challenging.
Nancy added that children learn sounds more efficiently when the letters include pictures demonstrating how to produce the sounds. The letter p, for example, could have lips down the vertical line, and a face blowing air from the middle of the circle (as pictured above). She developed a phonemic awareness program called Lively Letters that includes visuals in letters. At the half way point of the session – when I had to leave – I viewed Lively Letters, which consisted of a box of flash cards for the English language sounds. Nancy’s husband told me the flashcards with manual were being offered at a conference discount of $75.
It was unfortunate that I didn’t get to stay for the last half of the presentation. I was interested in learning more strategies for training phonemic awareness. Oh well. I hope to return to the FLASHA convention next year to learn more.