On Wednesday, Sept 20, Kathleen Moore from the Times Union came to Heatly to discuss the growth of literacy pods and the use of phonics in teaching reading at Heatly. She spoke with Sarah Lawlor, a first grade teacher who has been teaching for 17 years at Heatly, about how phonics specifically helps kids learn to read.
“I feel that phonics is a necessary tool in the student’s reading toolbox,” said Lawlor. She references the use of manipulatives in math, and relates such tools for hands-on learners to learning how phonics structures words in the English language.
With the Board of Regents pushing for explicitly taught phonics, the Fundations phonics program at Heatly stands out, as teachers note how students who learn to read within literacy pod instruction take risks in smaller settings, grow in their learning more quickly, and are more confident in independent reading.
Phonics involves learning words broken into their sounds, for example, the sound “k” can be spelled as c, k, ck or ch, and phonics teaches the rules for where these sounds appear in any word.
Literacy pods encompass a balanced literacy approach in an effort that focuses on acquiring reading skills such as comprehension, blends of sounds, writing and phonics. Foundationally, focusing on phonics for specific students helps teachers to teach 7 or 8 levels of reading at once because the lessons learned in phonics can be applied no matter where in the levels of reading the student is currently.
“Green Island is continuing to take steps to improve literacy proficiency for all students. We have discovered that teaching phonics instruction, and incorporating it as early as Pre-K, has demonstrated students emerge as stronger readers across all areas. Specifically, explicit phonics instruction at the Pre-K level is provided daily with the Sounds in Motion program. Pairing with other literacy resources, such as Rise Up and Words their way with Fundations through fifth grade, will help close any literacy gap,” said Superintendent Kim Ross.