Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Phonics as an Observation of Beauty - Resources

I want to start off this post by making one thing very clear: this is not a required reading list for homeschool moms or parents of pre-school or elementary aged kiddos.  This is a nerd list for those of us who get a bug for finding out more and want to read further.  As Julie Bogart/BraveWriter would say, this is a list for #awesomeadulting.  If you'd rather work on hand-lettering or become a nature guide, please, please, move on past this list without the tiniest shred of guilt.  But if you are cracking your knuckles and getting your Amazon wish list ready - enjoy, my friends!

I studied elementary education in college.  Sadly, the class I took on teaching the language arts was poorly taught.  But the textbook was phenomenal.  Though we didn't even crack it as a part of the class, even then, I had the inkling of an idea that it was a gem and so I saved it.  After college I taught second and third grade.  I still didn't open the book because, as it turned out, teaching children the mechanics of reading wasn't part of my job.  The kindergarten and first grade teachers were all about doing that.  But if kids hadn't mastered it by the time they reached the second/third grade loop (I taught kids for two-year loops) then they were considered behind and needed remediation.  The reading specialist, speech therapist or special education teacher handled those needs.

So it wasn't until I became a homeschool mom that I ever pulled out Phonics for the Teacher of Reading by Marion A. Hull.  It was this book and others like it that opened my eyes to everything that was going on "under the hood" of our language.  As with operating a motor vehicle, it is possible to drive without really understanding how the engine works (ahem) but for some folks, getting in there and figuring it all out is a real thrill.  That's me with phonics.

Phonics for the Teacher of Reading is written like a self-teach manual.  You read and fill in the blanks to test what you've learned.  In and of itself, it is a pretty neat phonics investigation!  The edition I own is pictured above.  But because I was in college over 15 years ago, it doesn't appear to be in print any longer, though copies can be purchased used.  A new edition is available, however, called Phonics and Word Study for the Teacher of Reading.  I can't vouch for it personally, but if I didn't already own the above title, I'd be tempted to get the newer edition (actually ... I think I'm tempted to get the newer edition anyway!).

Also on my phonics shelf are Word Journeys: Assessment-Guided Phonics, Spelling, and Vocabulary Instruction by Kathy Ganske [I have the first edition but a newer one is now in print] and Words Their Way: Word Study for Phonics, Vocabulary, and Spelling Instruction by Bear et. al. [I own the second edition, but the one currently in print is the sixth edition].  I used both of these to develop spelling lists and word studies when I taught in the elementary school classroom and now use them as a resource.  These books are great for understanding how a child develops as a reader and speller and for assessing where your child is in his developmental journey.  These were actually textbooks for continuing education classes offered in my school district, but they can be purchased and read by anyone!

Teaching Phonics & Word Study in the Intermediate Grades: A Complete Sourcebook by Wiley Blevins is a resource I wish I had had as a public school teacher.  It does a great job of explaining and giving helpful advice for teaching on syllabication - how to see words in "chunks" and what those chunks might be.  All of my children developed this ability naturally without much help and instruction, except my oldest son who has needed a lot of explicit instruction and practice.  However, it is through working with him on this material that I re-discovered my enthusiasm for knowing what makes our language "tick"!

Finally, another (free) resource I have enjoyed is Mommy Speech Therapy.  My third daughter had speech delays, which prompted me to do a little research on how I could help her at home.  This site was hugely helpful.  And, though I no longer need to use it for the original purpose I found it, I have really enjoyed learning more about how speech and language work and how our mouths form the shapes needed to make the sounds we say!  Click on the "Worksheets" link at the top of the homepage for a list of all of the phonemes she addresses.  Want to geek-out on language coolness?  Check out this free printable to whet your appetite.

This is by no means an exhaustive list; it is really only a peek at my bookshelf.  Please share in the comments if you have other resources you love or have found helpful!

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