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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

Decoding

Guidelines for decoding instruction

The program:

  1. Provides children with opportunities to use their knowledge of sound-letter relationships to practice decoding.
  2. Helps children use context to confirm the meanings of words they have identified by applying their knowledge of sound-letter relationships.
  3. Provides children with structural analysis practice as a way to identify word parts and multisyllabic words.

Why do children confuse certain sounds?

Phoneme Pairs
These eight pairs of consonants differ only in voicing. Everything else is the same. The top sound in each pair is unvoiced. The bottom sound is voiced. Children often confuse sounds in the same pair.

Phoneme Pairs

/b/
/p/

/d/
/t/

/g/
/k/

/v/
/f/

 

/TH/
/th/

/z/
/s/

/zh/
/sh/

/j/
/ch/

The sounds of speech

These charts can help you learn the correct sounds of letters. Listen to the pronunciation of each letter sound.

Phoneme

Spelling
(Initial Position)

Spelling
(Final Position)

Examples

/p/

p

p

pick, hop

/b/

b

b

bid, knob

/t/

t

t, bt, ed

tap, doubt, flipped

/d/

d

d

deck, bad

/k/

c, k, ch

k, ck

can't, kick, crook, lock

/g/

g, gu, gh

gue, gg

give, bag, guitar, plague, ghost, egg

/m/

m

m, mb, mn

map, jam, limb, hymn

/n/

n, kn, gn

n, gn

neck, pen, knick, sign, gnat

/ng/

--

ng

sing

/f/

f, ph

f, ff, ph, gh

fate, leaf, photo, off, graph, enough

/v/

v

ve

vote, give

/th/

th

the

thank, math

/TH/

th

the

this, bathe

/s/

s, c, ps

ce, se, ss, s

sick, mice, center, base, psychology, bliss, bus

/z/

z

se, ze, zz, s, z

zap, please, sneeze, buzz, has, whiz

/sh/

sh, s

sh

shoe, rash, sure

/zh/

si (medial position)
s (medial position)
z (medial position)

--

vision, treasure, azure

/ch/

ch

ch

chick, batch

/j/

j, g

ge, dge

juice, gauge, giant, dodge

/y/

y

--

yell

/hw/

wh

--

what

/w/

w

--

warm

/h/

h, wh

--

house, who

/l/

l

ll

look, fell

/r/

r, wr

r

rake, far, wrong


Phoneme

Spelling

Examples

/a-/

a_e, ai, ay, ea, ei, ey, eigh

late, bait, say, steak, veil, they, sleigh

/e-/

e, ee, ea, y, ie, e_e, ey, i_e, ei

me, feet, bead, many, field, these, key, machine, receive

/i-/

i_e, y, i, ie, igh, ye

time, try, mild, pie, high, lye

/o-/

o, o_e, oa, ow, oe, ou, ew

so, hope, coat, low, toe, soul, sew

/a/

a, a_e

sat, have

/e/

e, ea, ai, a

pet, head, said, many

/i/

i, y, e, i_e, ee, ui

six, gym, pretty, give, been, build

/o/

o, a

log, watch

/u/

u, o, o_e, ou

but, ton, love, young

/?/

a, e, i, o, u

alone, system, easily, gallop, circus

/ûr/

ur, ir, er, or

turn, girl, her, work

/är/

ar

car

/ôr/

or, our, ar

or, four, war

/aw/

aw, au, a[l], a[ll], ou

saw, cause, walk, ball, cough

/oi/, /oy/

oi, oy

boil, toy

/ou/, /ow/

ou, ow

cloud, now

/o-o-/, (yo-o-)

oo, u, ue, ew, u_e, o, ou

hoot, ruby (cute), blue (fuel), new, tube, do, soup

/o(o(/

oo, u, o, ou

book, put, wolf, would

Adapted from: Moats, L., CORE Sourcebook.

Helping Struggling Readers

The Lab School in Washington, D.C., shows how one-on-one tutoring helps struggling readers achieve phonemic awareness.

Decoding

Learn More!

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