5 Ways to Use Decodable Texts In The Classroom

Decodable is the new buzz word of literacy thanks to the Science of
Decodable texts
are any kind of text (lists, passages, books…) where at least 90% of the
words are decodable with the focus sound or sounds previously learned.

I first fell back in love with decodable texts 4 years ago when I was doing a
maternity leave in kindergarten.  Kids were using their decoding skills
to read, making connections to new phonics skills they learned, and searching
for heart words in their texts.  But most importantly, they were GROWING
readers.  By leaps and bounds.  In 12 weeks, I saw growth like I’d
never seen in 10 years of teaching first grade because it was so widespread
with so many kids making amazing progress.

But decodable isn’t just a buzz word.  It’s a must have in your
primary classroom.  If you want your reading instruction to be aligned to
the Science of Reading, then you better
invest in decodable texts.  And once you get started, you’ll find there are SO many ways to use
them in your classroom.  Let’s talk about just 5 ways to use decodable
texts in your primary classroom.

Whole Group Reading

This is how I first started using them during my 12 week job in Kinder! 
At the end of our phonics lesson on Wednesday, I pulled out one of our
decodable books that focused on the sound we were learning.  I read the book aloud to the
kids on the carpet using our ELMO projector.  

Then, we reviewed the expectations.  They were to read their book one
time.  Then, go back and highlight the focus sound and circle the sight
words listed on the front of the book.  Then, they were to read the book
two more times.  

When they finished this routine (read, highlight, circle, read, read), then
they could illustrate their pictures. 

While the kids were working, I circled around to each table and listened in on
as many kids as I could read the text.  I had a class list with the title
of the book and I recorded how the kids were reading that I had listened to on
this recording sheet

TEACHER TIP:  If I was listening to a kid who was just copying how the friend
beside her was reading, I would ask her to start back at the beginning or a
previous page for me. 🙂

When our time was finished (this took about 15-20 total minutes), the kids
would put the booklets in their book boxes to read when they finished other
work early.  

Targeted Reading Groups

The nice thing about doing the on grade level
decodable book
as a whole group is I could quickly see who was thriving or struggling with
the on grade level text.   At the end of our reading time, I quickly
analyzed the
running records
and wrote notes for who needed what.

I used our Wednesday small group time to pull kids that were struggling. 
Sometimes, we did some extra word work using
making words
with the focus sound.  

Sometimes, we practice our heart words.  

Depending on what my running record showed they were struggling with. 
Depending on the amount of strugglers and the reasons the struggled, I might
have 1-3 groups of kids to meet with.

We start with some skill practice (making words
or sight words) for 5 minutes or less.  Then, we get our same booklet and
reread together.  Then, I let them independently read by stagger starting
them and listen in as they each read.  

For kids that read the decodable reader with at least 95% accuracy, but maybe
weren’t fluent, I would note that during our whole group time and pull them to
reread and practice fluency.  For kids who were fluent, I might try the
matching passage that is the same text as the book, but in a passage form
without pictures!

Each reading group would be 10-15 minutes.  Short and targeted so that I
could meet with as many kids as possible.  I was almost always able to
meet with all of my kids to reinforce our focus skill, or work on fluency or
even comprehension for higher kids.

RTI/Intervention Time

You might be thinking…. isn’t that what you just described for small

And, yes, it is!

But that was just for the on grade level focus sound for that week.

Other days of the week, my small group time is spent filling decoding gaps or
extending kids as needed.  I pull kids that maybe are still struggling on
last week’s skill….or the first week of school’s skill…. IYKYK… 🙂 
I keep all of our
decodable books close to our reading group area so I can get to the book I need quickly and
with little prep!

So how did I keep up with who needed what and how often and who I met with and
didn’t meet with and, and, and…???  That’s all in detail in this nuts
and bolts
blog post.  

How do I figure all of the groups and their focuses out?   By
ASSESSING!!  And that’s the next way I use decodable texts in the

Assessing Decoding and Phonics Skills

Assessing is key to getting the most out of your small group or intervention
time.  And if we want to know the decoding holes or gaps students have,
then we have to use decoding assessments.

My favorite decoding assessments are these
screeners.  I love that they are quick and easy to see the exact phonics skills
kids are doing well, and the holes we need to fill.

I also assess our current focus skill on Fridays during small group time using
these decodable checkups that come with each
set of decodable readers.

Take Home Reading

The last way (I’m chatting about in this post anyway!) to use
decodable readers
in the classroom is to send them out of the classroom….HOME!

I’ve sent books home for parents to read after reading with them in class or
in a group so that parents can stay involved.  

And I’ve also heard from many teachers who love sending the books or passages
or wordlists home to parents who are asking for extra work!

So where can you find a TON of targeted decodable readers for kindergarten
through second grade?  Shop all of the individual sets

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