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Understanding Phonemic Awareness

What is Phonemic Awareness?

Phonemic awareness is an auditory skill. It is the ability for a student to hear individual sounds (phonemes) clearly and to be able to tell them apart. It is making the connection that words can be broken down into small units of sounds (phonemes).

How is Phonemic Awareness Taught? 

Phonemic awareness is systematically taught to students beginning with the individual phonemes, as well as blending, adding, deleting, and substituting phonemes in spoken words. Students continue to build on phonemic awareness skills as they learn more phonemes such as digraphs, blends, and vowel team combinations, work on orally producing words by blending sounds, and work on segmenting complete sequences of sounds.

Examples of how phonemic awareness is taught in the K-3 Language Arts courses are below:

Explicit Instruction:

Students will meet with their teacher in synchronous sessions. The teacher will use a scripted PowerPoint to explicitly teach the skills being taught for each module, this includes phonemic awareness. A sample of a scripted PowerPoint is below:

Language Arts KA Module 2 Synchronous Session

Another example of explicit instruction is through videos within each lesson. A sample video from Language Arts 1A Module 9 is below:

Interactive Self Check Activities:

In addition to explicit instruction, phonemic awareness is also taught through interactive self-check activities within the lesson. These activities provide students with practice and immediate feedback. One example of an interactive self-check activity is in the video below. In this activity, students listen to the individual phonemes of a word and then arrange them to create a word that matches a picture.

How do students practice Phonemic Awareness?

Students practice their phonemic awareness skills through interactive self-check activities as shown above and also through assignments such as the rhyming assignment shown below. In this assignment, students practice phonemic awareness as they think about a phoneme they can substitute to make a rhyming word that matches each picture shown.

How is Phonemic Awareness Assessed?

Phonemic Awareness is assessed in a variety of ways throughout each course.

Weekly Synchronous Sessions

Students are informally assessed when their teacher is teaching the concepts during a synchronous session. As they teach, they will observe their students to ensure they are following along and demonstrating the concepts being taught. If they notice a student is not demonstrating understanding of the concept, they will reteach and make corrections as needed.

Synchronous Benchmark Assessments

Every 6 modules, students take an oral synchronous benchmark assessment with their teacher. These assessments are administered orally by the teacher to the student and review​ letter/sound recognition, sight words, and other concepts that are best assessed orally.

Written Benchmark Assessments

Every 9 modules students take a Written Benchmark Assessment. Students may apply their phonemic awareness skills in these assessments as they decipher words that rhyme, identify the beginning, middle, or ending sound for each word represented by a picture, etc.