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Julie Aldrich
CIL 607
Dr. Scott

When I think back to myself as a beginning reader, a few things stand out in my mind. I
went to kindergarten reading. It was easy for me and has always been my strongest area in
school. I do not remember being specifically taught to read, it just happened. I distinctly
remember being given a blue phonics workbook in second grade. This was my first experience
with phonics and I hated it. The idea of learning phonics just seemed silly to me. I was already a
reader and the workbook did not make sense to me. I tried to throw it away one day by burying
it under some towels in the bathroom and got caught and was sent to the office. I look back now
and laugh at that memory because I still have a lack of love for phonics as a teacher.
When I first started teaching, we were in the whole language era and very little emphasis
was placed on phonics. Throughout my undergraduate courses phonics instruction was never
addressed and for my first 14 years of teaching we never used a phonics program at all. It was a
bit of a shock to me three years ago when Clark County School District decided to make a push
in schools to incorporate phonics instruction in all elementary schools. My entire school
attended trainings for several months and completed a program called Reading Academy.
With this professional development we learned how to use a program called Explicit Phonics.
I taught fourth grade the year that we brought Explicit Phonics into our school so my
classroom used it in a different way than a primary classroom would. What I like about the
phonics program is that it is part of a whole approach to reading that is found in the Teaching
Reading Sourcebook. This book addresses reading instruction as a whole, but also breaks down
each component of reading into different sections which allows teachers to gain information,
sample lessons, and insight on each essential component of reading instruction. Even as an
experienced teacher I found this book to be a useful tool as it hits so many topics within the
spectrum of reading in such a detailed manner. Because this program is broken down into such
specific subsets, it makes it easy to follow and use as a guide to assist students in each area of
reading that they may struggle within.
The phonics piece that I used most frequently in my classroom was multisyllabic word
reading. For fourth graders, this component helped students who were lacking word attack
skills. Reading multisyllabic words is a stumbling block for many students ( (Honig, Diamond,
& Gutlohn, 2008). In turn, I have found that teaching students to decode these types of words is
also challenging as it can be very complex. The explicit approach to decoding multisyllabic
words that the Teaching Reading Sourcebook suggests tells students a step by step technique to
breaking down words. Because it is a step by step method and very explicitly done, students
catch on and remember it well, which is just the thing that will help a struggling student to be
successful. I found that with practice, not only did my students become better at understanding
phonics in general, but that I also became more versed in it as well.

Honig, B., Diamond, L., & Gutlohn, L. (2008). Teaching Reading Sourcebook. Berkeley: Arena Press.