1. Look at the topics under the Program Overview heading on the main menu. Study the Step Charts showing the five levels in the Sound City Reading program.
2. Study the two-page Flow Chart under the Program Overview heading. You'll be able to see the different levels in this program and the books that are used to teach at each level. At levels one, two, and five, the books are printed with all black text. At levels two and three, you can choose books with all black text or books with color-coded vowels. At levels three and four, students won't use all of the listed books. You will choose the books that best fit your students.
3. Click on Overview Of All Of The Phonics Books under Program Overview on the main menu. Read about the books used at each level.
4. Click on the Audio and Video menu headings and listen to the sound story and sound charts. The recordings will help you pronounce the sounds for the letters and letter patterns correctly. The sound story teaches the speech sounds in the English language. The pictures are then paired with the letters and letter patterns that represent those sounds. It is important to understand that the pictures in the sound story are not key word pictures. The pictures represent actual sounds. For example, a picture of a delivery truck shows the sound of the truck's engine, which is the /n/ sound. It does not show the t/truck sound.
5. Administer the baseline assessment to your student or students to determine a starting point. For the visual part of the test, students are tested individually. For the written dictation part of the test, students can be tested as a group. You can use the information from the test to decide where to begin instruction.
- In general, students who do not recognize all the letters of the alphabet and cannot give the sound for each letter should start with Level One - Learning The Alphabet.
- Students who know all of the letters and sounds but are not able to identify beginning, ending, and medial short vowel sounds in words by writing the letters accurately on lined paper should start at Level Two - Exploring Sounds In Words.
- Students who can complete the previous tasks but who cannot yet read and spell short vowel words confidently should start at Level Three - Short Vowel Words And Sentences. There are several possible choices at level three. Students who are learning short vowel words for the first time should use the Rhyming Short Vowel Words And Sentences book or the Basic Short Vowels book. Students who have already studied short vowel words but need to review them should use Mixed Short Vowel Words And Sentences if they also need handwriting lessons to help them learn accurate letter formation. If students have previously studied short vowel words and only need a short handwriting review, they should use the Two-Page Short Vowel Words And Sentences book.
- Students who can read and spell short vowel words accurately but cannot read words with all of the basic phonics patterns (ship, sing, phone, wren, feet, play, bird, horse, neutron, rye, etc.) and syllable patterns (pup-pet, but-ton, lit-tle, ro-bot, cup-cake, con-fess, hip-po, etc.) should start at Level Four - Phonics Patterns. Students who are already reading but need to improve their word recognition, reading fluency, and spelling skills should also begin with level four. There are three different sets of books at level four. Each set teaches the same phonics patterns in the same order. You can choose the set best suited for your students. The Basic Phonics Patterns books are useful for most students. The Phonetic Words And Stories books are especially helpful for beginners and older students who are having difficulties. The Know The Phonetic Code books are recommended as a review for older students.
- Students who have completed level four should continue with Level Five - Advanced Phonics Patterns.
6. After you have decided the most likely starting level, read the extended information about that level under the Program Overview menu tab. Read the instructions for the teacher from the PDF files for the book or books that you will be using. Also read the Understanding Consonants and Understanding Vowels sections on this website. If you are starting at levels one, two, or three, you won't need to worry about the advanced information about consonants and vowels until later. Don't be overwhelmed. At levels four and five, the new patterns are taught one at a time. You will learn as you go.
7. Click on PDF Files to find the instructional books and materials you wish to use. First read the instructions under the subheadings How To Work With PDF Files, Printing At Home Or At School, and Using A Print Shop. Download the desired PDF files to your computer. The files are free to download, and they are copyrighted. You may print the materials at home or have them printed at a copy shop, to use with the students you teach. You may not print the materials for commercial sales. The books used at levels one and two are workbooks; there are two workbooks for each level. At levels three and four, you will need a student book and a student workbook. There are several versions of the books at levels three and four. You can choose the version that best meets your students' needs. At level five there is no workbook; you will need just the student book. You can bind the books you print with comb binding or coil binding if you have the equipment available, or you can ask a copy shop to bind them. Coil binding works best. If these options or not available, purchase a heavy duty three-hole punch that will punch multiple pages at once. Punch the pages and place them in a three-ring binder. All of these options will allow the books to lie flat when they're open. See more information about downloading and printing PDF files under PDF Files on the main menu.
8. Manuscript handwriting lessons are built into the level one and level two workbooks. Separate handwriting books are available to at all levels to use as needed, for both manuscript and cursive handwriting. For example, the level one and two handwriting pages are available separately so that they can be used with older students if needed. Some handwriting books are printed on 11 by 17 inch ledger paper, some are printed on legal paper, and some are printed on letter sized paper. Download and print the handwriting book that you want to use. You won't need to bind the handwriting books. It is easier for the student to write on unbound pages. The youngest students will only trace letters and are not expected to be able to write them independently. It is essential for other students, regardless of level, to learn to write the letters accurately and efficiently on lined paper.
9. If you are teaching in a classroom you will need to use a large chalkboard to introduce the letter formation for each letter. You will write a row of very large letter patterns on the board for rotating small groups of students to trace repeatedly. If you are teaching at home and will be teaching beginning or remedial manuscript or beginning cursive handwriting, order a chalkboard that measures 2 feet by 3 feet, and an easel to mount it on. Or you could mount the chalkboard on a wall. You will write very large letters on this board for students to trace as an initial introduction to each letter. Students will trace the letters repeatedly, saying the sound for each lower case letter each time they trace, "/t/." For capital letters, students will say both the name and the sound, "Capital T, /t/." Although white boards are popular and work well for other purposes, using a chalkboard for handwriting instruction is important. The chalkboard produces a certain amount of drag on the moving chalk when students write. This resistance provides kinesthetic feedback to the students as they write and trace the letters repeatedly, developing "muscle memory" for the motions that are used to write the letters. This process is labor intensive at the beginning of the program, but pays great dividends. Students will be able to write quickly and accurately as they move into more advanced levels.
10. Many of the student books have brief instructions and explanations on every page. The teaching books have a lesson plan outline and sequence chart at the end of the book. In a few books the instructions are at the beginning. For some levels, you will be able to download a separate PDF file to get an extended teaching guide. The lesson outlines describe the teaching techniques you will use in each book and the order in which you will use them in each lesson. The books do not have new instructions for each day. You will apply the same lesson outline and teaching techniques in every lesson. Once you have taught the first few lessons, you and the students will be familiar with what to do. You simply plug the new alphabet letter, phonics pattern, or syllable pattern into the lesson plan. Because the lesson structure stays the same throughout each level, both the students and teacher can proceed with quickly and confidently through each lesson. If you have any questions about how to use the materials, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
11. For a full classroom, download and print the PDF files for the large wall charts for the level you will be teaching. Students will say the sounds from these charts as a review at the beginning of each day's work. Each letter or phonogram pattern is shown with a picture to help students remember its sound. Many of the pictures are from the sound story. The sound story pictures represent actual sounds from the environment, from animals, or from the human voice. Some of the charts have key word pictures instead. For these pictures, the beginning sound for each key word demonstrates the correct sound for the pattern. Place the initial charts on the wall or a large bulletin board and add new charts as you proceed through the program. If you are working only with small groups, for example in a pullout program, you could use the smaller charts found at the end of the sound story book, placed on a wall or display board close to the teaching table. If you are homeschooling or tutoring individual students, you can use the charts that are printed in the student books.
12. Make or print alphabet and phonogram flashcards for the level you will be teaching. Students will say the sounds from these cards daily after saying the sounds from the sound charts. This is a more challenging task because students will not have picture cues to remind them of the sound for each letter or pattern. Alphabet cards are used at all levels. At levels one, two, and three, students say only the short a sound, /a/, for the letter a. When working at levels four and five, students will say multiple sounds for some of the alphabet letters. For example, they will say /a/, /ā/, /ä/ for the letter a, with a slight pause between each sound. Phonics Patterns Cards are used at Level Four. Advanced Phonics Patterns Cards are used at Level Five. You can download and print PDF files for the flashcards from this website or you can write the letters and letter patterns on unlined index cards using large print. Most of the flashcard files make four complete sets of flashcards. The files are printed on 8 1/2 by 11 inch card stock and cut into four sets. A heavy duty stack cutter will make cutting the sets apart much easier, if one is available.
13. Download and print the PDF files for A Sound Story About Audrey And Brad and Sequence Charts And Lesson Plans. You will use the sound story book to read aloud to a group of students. The sequence chart book will be a helpful guide as you work through the program. If you are working with older students who have not completed the beginning levels of this program, look at the PDF file for the book Phonemic Awareness Picture Pages. It includes the same oral blending and segmenting listening exercises used in levels one and two. Doing a few of these lessons with older students could be very helpful to help them get started in the program.
14. Download the PDF files for any games and activities that are recommended for the level you are teaching. The games will need to be printed, laminated if possible for longer wear, cut out, and assembled. They can be stored in manila envelops or clear plastic resealable bags. Some of the games will be glued into file folders. The games and activities account for a significant amount of student learning. The relaxed, enjoyable atmosphere, active participation by the students, and increased attention do to the innate desire to "win" all contribute to better learning outcomes. This is true for all students, but especially for reluctant learners.
15. For levels one, two, three, and four, you will need to order small plastic letters from alphabetletter.com. They have good service and prices are very reasonable. For each student, order two sets of lower case alphabet letters, and two sets of lower case vowel letters. The vowel letters that come in a separate set are made in a contrasting color, so that the vowels stand out in words. For the students at level one who are learning the alphabet for the first time, buy one set of capital letters in addition to the letters listed above. The lower case and capital letters will be used for letter lotto and letter matching games, which are available as PDF files. For these beginning students, the letters will be stored in small, clear bags with the games. For level two, three, and four students, place the letters for each student in a small box. The box should be big enough for the students to rummage through the letters and pick out the ones they need. Small boxes from the grocery store that are the size to hold sandwiches and have a tight fitting lid work well. The oblong boxes work better than the square ones if you can find them. Students will use these letters when they begin to spell short vowel words, and will continue to use them as they learn to spell words with the various phonics patterns. Students who are not yet ready to begin spelling short vowel words will practice building two-letter combinations, for example ab, ac, ad, af, ag and ba, ca, da, fa, ga. If you are working with a group, don't mix all of the letters into the same box! This would make it too difficult for students to find the letters they need to spell words. Each student must have his or her own letter box. If you are teaching in a classroom, it works well to rotate three groups of six to eight students to a large teaching table to work with the letters. The teacher begins by saying the sound for each letter that will be needed during the lesson. Students repeat the letter sound, find the letter that represents that sound in their box, and place it on a work mat. After all the needed letters have been selected, students then use just the letters on the work mat as they spell words. This allows them to find and place each letter quickly, so that the lesson proceeds in a timely manner. The words to spell in each lesson are listed in the instructions for the teacher. Working with plastic letters in this way provides a huge boost for students who are trying to understand the phonetic nature of our language for the first time. It also provides an intuitive, non-threatening way for students to use new phonics patterns when spelling and reading new words. This approach is not dependent on handwriting, allowing students to concentrate on just the sounds in each word and the placement of letters to represent those sounds.
16. Purchase lined handwriting paper to use during handwriting and spelling dictation exercises starting with the Exploring Sounds In Words book. Younger children and beginners will use paper with more widely spaced lines. Older and more advanced students will use paper with lines that are closer together.
17. Children's picture books are integrated into the instruction at the Phonics Patterns level and the Advanced Phonics Patterns level. You will need to borrow these books from your local library or purchase them. While it is desirable to have students read as many of these books as possible, it is not essential that they read every book. A list of books used is included in the Sequence Charts And Lessons Plans book. The books needed are also listed in the sequence charts at the end of the student books. For each book, students will have already studied the phonics patterns needed to read all of the words in the book. This makes the books phonetically decodable by the students. Students don't have to struggle with words that have letter patterns that they have not yet learned. So they learn to approach reading with confidence and joy. And they don't fall into the bad habit of guessing at unknown words. If a student has trouble with a particular word, the teacher only has to remind the student about the phonics pattern or syllable pattern that has been forgotten.