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First Year Teacher Self-Study Course

First Year Teacher is a self-paced professional development course for novice K-3 teachers, developed by Reading Rockets. The program provides teachers with an in-depth knowledge of reading so they are prepared to guide their students into becoming skilled and enthusiastic readers.

Photo of teacher and students

Phonics: Intro

The goal of phonics instruction is to help children learn the alphabetic principle. The alphabetic principle is the idea that there is an organized, logical and predictable relationship between written letters and spoken sounds.

Programs of phonics instruction should be:

  • Systematic: the letter-sound relationship is taught in an organized and logical sequence
  • Explicit: the instruction provides teachers with precise directions for teaching letter-sound relationships.

Effective phonics programs provide:

  • Frequent opportunities for children to apply what they are learning about letters and sounds to the reading of words, sentences, and stories.

Systematic and explicit phonics instruction:

  • Significantly improves children's word recognition, spelling, and reading comprehension.
  • Is most effective when it begins in kindergarten or first grade, but should be used as a part of a comprehensive reading program with students who do not have a firm understanding of the letter-sound relationship, regardless of grade level.

Adapted from: Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read Kindergarten Through Grade 3, a publication of The Partnership for Reading.

The Alphabetic Principle

In Houston, the teacher of an advanced kindergarten class connects letters and sounds in a systematic and explicit way.

Phonics: Intro
Diary of a First Year Teacher

Diary of a First Year Teacher

Join Barbara Zielinski, a first grade teacher at River Plaza Elementary School in Middletown, NJ, during her first year teaching.

"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them." — Neil Gaiman