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Assessing students' needs and placing them appropriately is crucial to success in Read Live programs. Check out these short, informative videos to guide you through the process.

It's now the middle of March, but the remnants of Valentine's Day still linger in my couch cushions. The handmade cards are always my favorite ones to find… especially the ones wishing a "Happy Valantine's Day." I asked my first grader if he knew what makes the word Valentine so hard to spell. He guessed, "Because it's a long word," which is half right. Long words are usually multisyllabic, and multisyllabic words usually have a schwa. The schwa sound—such as the one on the first "e" in Valentine—is notorious for making words difficult to read and spell.

Phonics skills are foundational to reading fluently and with comprehension. At the beginning of any school year, it’s essential for reading teachers to determine which students need phonics support and what that support should look like. These tasks are more important than ever this year, as many students have suffered reading losses due to the pandemic. Read Naturally is here to support your students’ phonics needs every step of the way—from assessment, to intervention, to ongoing skill maintenance.

An American Public Media documentary that went viral last year makes the strong argument that better phonics instruction will greatly improve our nation’s literacy statistics. According to the report, entitled, Hard Words: Why aren’t kids being taught to read?: “[A] big takeaway from decades of scientific research is that, while we use our eyes to read, the starting point for reading is sound. What a child must do to become a reader is to figure out how the words she hears and knows how to say connect to the letters on the page. Writing is a code humans invented to represent speech sounds. Kids have to crack that code to become readers.” In order to crack the code, children need to learn how letters represent speech sounds. In other words, they need to understand phonics.

Are your Read Naturally students working in the correct level? And do they have an appropriate goal? Every year around this time, we like to remind teachers of the importance of ​checking their students’ initial Read Naturally placement. A Read Naturally student will make optimal progress in the program when he or she works in the appropriate level of reading material and has an appropriate words-correct-per-minute goal. Our detailed checking initial placement process will help you verify whether the level and goal you initially set for the student is the right fit or whether you need to make adjustments.

Who needs phonics support? Allow our QPS diagnostic phonics assessment to answer this question for you quickly and effectively. Did you know the latest edition of this popular tool allows you to assess an entire group of students at once and then use this data to determine which students need a more in-depth, individual phonics assessment? Both the group assessment and the individual assessment are now included in QPS, making it easier than ever for you to identify which students need phonics support and which skills an intervention should target.

I’ve long believed that when students work in Read Naturally Live or Read Naturally Encore, we should address their phonics needs as well as improve their reading fluency. Actually, improving phonics skills is foundational to increasing fluency.

Do you know a student who needs support in both fluency and phonics? If so, we encourage you to check out Read Naturally’s Phonics series. The Phonics series is a group of levels offered within Read Naturally Live and Read Naturally Encore. Students working in the Phonics levels focus on specific phonics skills while simultaneously building fluency.

Quick Phonics Screener (QPS), developed by renowned literacy expert Dr. Jan Hasbrouck, is one of our most popular assessment tools. Teachers who have used QPS can attest to the fact that it is a convenient, inexpensive, and accurate way to identify individual students’ strengths and instructional needs in phonics/decoding. Once these needs are identified, teachers can make informed decisions about how to support students in their literacy development. We are pleased to announce that this handy tool is now upgraded and better than ever!

Phonological awareness is an umbrella term that includes four developmental levels: word awareness, syllable awareness, onset-rime awareness, and phoneme awareness. Our Phonological Awareness Skills table shows how specific phonological awareness skills fall into the four developmental levels. The table provides an example for each skill. We hope you will download, use, and share this free resource!

Make Your Student a STAR!

Read Naturally Star of the Month​Share your student’s success story—nominate him or her for our Star of the Month award. Win a Barnes & Noble gift card for the student and a Read Naturally gift certificate for your class!

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