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Sound Systems: Explicit, Systematic Phonics in Early Literacy Contexts

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How to teach phonics to young children is one of the most vexing and complex issues for early childhood educators today. Teachers know lockstep commercial phonics programs do not meet the needs of all children. At the same time, teachers who avoid explicit instruction in phonics because they lack linguistic and assessment know-how cannot help students who may need the most support in understanding phonics. Even teachers who are savvy about the latest research and methods for phonics instruction struggle to find time to add more to a full school day.

Here is a resource that strikes a balance between the rigidity of commercial programs and leaving phonics learning to chance. Sound Systems, by two educators with extensive experience as primary-grade teachers, merges a rich research base in developing phonics instruction with a wealth of practical materials, from assessment protocols to sample lessons. Anna Lyon and Paula Moore share their expertise from decades of coaching teachers in classrooms throughout the country.

Sound Systems is a resource for teachers who want to know not only why phonics instruction matters, but also information about how to design and use a systematic approach to phonics instruction. Sound systems by and for primary-grade teachers that take you step-by-step through the process of assessing students, analyzing phonetic skills, and tailoring instruction to individual, small-group, and whole-class needs.

Building on a strong base of current research and developmental theory, Sound Systems provides practical teacher- and child-friendly assessment tools that capitalize on the reading and writing samples that many teachers already collect in early literacy contexts. Lyon and Moore describe how teachers can use running records of oral reading and writing samples to assess students' knowledge of phonics, and they provide additional assessment tools that teachers may use to gain additional information about children's phonics knowledge. Sound Systems features separate sections on phonics instruction in pre-K, K, first-, and second-grade classrooms, detailing how instructional needs in phonics change over time as students acquire new skills throughout the primary years.

The woods are thick with books, research reports, and mandates that emphasize the importance of teaching phonics well. Yet few resources exist that show teachers how to design and use a systematic phonics program with young children. Sound Systems bridges the gap between the national battle cry for systematic phonics instruction and developmental research that supports individualized instruction geared to student needs.

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