Is there a difference between phonics, phonological awareness and phonemic awareness? Plain and simply…yes. Phonological Awareness is the big umbrella of helping students to notice and/or manipulate sounds in speech. Phonemic Awareness is specific work in articulating and manipulating individual sounds in words and focuses more with auditory skills. And finally, Phonics is helping students to learn the relationship between sounds and the symbols (letters) that represent them. (pg 39)

Hello friends and welcome back to our Summer Book Study, using the book: Shifting the Balance. Mr.Greg (from Kindergarten Smorgasboard) and myself are loving reading and sharing our thoughts on this professional development book. If you don’t already know, this books delves into the 6 ways to bring the Science of Reading into the Balanced Literacy classroom. This week is shift 2 and focuses in on the imperativeness of phonemic awareness.

What research has found and I have even witnessed as a classroom teacher and mentor to other teachers, is the focus on phonics, phonics, phonics and ‘if we have time, phonemic awareness’. Not preparing and planning for INTENTIONAL phonemic instruction can often leave gaps and students who struggle when learning or developing their independent reading. Providing solid and consistent phonological and phonemic awareness is imperative. It does not have to take a lot of time, nor does it require tons of expensive or labor intensive materials!!

If you struggle to understand the difference in phonics, phonological awareness and phonemic awareness, I highly recommend that you read this chapter/shift. The authors are very clear and concise when explaining the differences. Now let’s talk about what we can do to intentionally incorporate Phonemic Awareness.

Phonological Awareness instruction is more of the ‘big picture’ and not the break-down of individual sounds. For instance, identifying how many words in a sentence, clapping out syllables, identifying & producing rhyming words and segmenting & blending compound words are all examples of phonological awareness.

Phonemic Awareness is the specific instruction/practice of noticing and manipulating the individual speech sounds (phonemes) in words. Again, be consistent and purposeful and do this auditory/audibly and without visual aids.

The big take-aways of this shift for me is the confirmation of how imperative Phonemic Awareness is to little learners. A reminder to make sure to plan 10-20 minutes a day for consistent and purposeful Phonemic Awareness instruction & auditory practice. I also would like to end with a quote from the book that ‘Children can learn more than one skill at a time’…(pg 46). We often think that little learners cannot do more than one thing, but the reality is that they CAN!! And finally, if you are looking for a sequential and amazing resource that changed my Phonemic Awareness teaching, check out Heggerty’s Phonemic Awareness Curriculum! I love how it’s systematic and research based. It’s easy to use and does not take more than 15 minutes a day! I can promise you that it is well worth the money!! Now, what were YOUR take aways from this shift? And/or what questions do you have? Comment below or find me on FB or Instagram to chat!

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