This program has a number of different levels and a variety of instructional strategies. The purpose for this is so that, as far as possible, every student can learn at their own level, and every student can be successful.
Each level has a particular instructional sequence. Once you have learned the sequence, you just have to repeat it with each new alphabet letter, phonics pattern, or syllable pattern taught.
I encourage you to follow this program exactly as written for the best results for your student or students. It is the integration of all of the elements that leads to success. However it is possible to choose some instructional elements and omit the rest if necessary.
If you decide to alter the program in any of the ways listed below, be sure to introduce the letters, letter patterns, and syllable patterns in the same order in which they are taught in this program. Following the specific sequence is important.
- Students who are not beginners can skip the handwriting instruction if they already have good handwriting skills.
- Students who are already reading and spelling successfully could use just the handwriting instruction to improve their handwriting legibility and speed.
- The sequential phonetic instruction can be taught successfully even if you are not able to purchase or borrow the listed children's picture books. You can use just the practice stories included in the Sound City Reading books. If desired, you could add other stories at an appropriate reading level for your students. This could include literature selections or the stories in basal readers. In this case, the stories will have some words with phonetic patterns that have not yet been introduced. These words will not be decodable, so the teacher will have to introduce the words to the students, explaining the sounds for the unknown phonics patterns. This will take extra time and require extra student support. However as you progress through the program, students will know more patterns and there will be fewer words with patterns that have not been introduced.
- If you do not have the listed children's picture books, you can read aloud to the students from any appropriate children's books.
- Although it is best to teach students to spell and read a set of words with each new phonetic pattern, you could teach only the spelling portion of each lesson and use a different reading curriculum. Or, you could teach just the decoding/reading portion of each lesson and use a different spelling curriculum.
- If you want to teach both the spelling and reading parts of the program but don't have time during the day, you could teach the spelling portion on one day and the reading portion on the next day, alternating between the two.
- If you are not able to post the sound charts on bulletin boards or the wall, you could attach each individual chart to a poster board. Or you could paste the charts onto the pages of an extra-large bound chart book with blank pages. You could then show each poster board or page, one at a time, during the sound chart review portion of the lesson. The downside to this approach is that the charts are not visible at all times, making it impossible for students to use the charts as a reference when reading and writing independently. Another option is to have students open their individual books to look at the charts during the sound chart review. Students can also use the charts in their books throughout the day as a reference when working independently.
- If you can't afford to print both books and workbooks at levels three and four, you could print just the workbooks. You would introduce each new letter, phonics pattern, or syllable pattern in the usual way, using the sound charts and sound cards. Then you would have students spell the new words as usual during the dictation part of the lesson. Instead of reading the new words from the student book, you could have students read the words from the workbook. You can even play the "robot game" with the first list of words and pictures in the workbook. (Instructions for the robot game are included in the Short Vowel Words And Sentences and the Phonetic Words And Stories books.) Finally, just the practice stories from level four are available as a separate book. You could download and print the practice story book and use it with the two level four workbooks to teach the program.
- If you can't afford to print the books, another approach is to print the large versions of the picture/word pages from levels three and four. The pages are printed on 11 by 17 inch ledger paper. The students can sit in a group on the floor so that they can see the picture page and word page for the day. Individual students can take turns pointing to the pictures and words as the game is played. Students can then complete the related workbook pages.
- At levels three and four, if you are teaching a small group and not a full class, you could use a single book if necessary, holding it up for students to see when reviewing the sound charts and playing the robot game with the words and pictures. Then students can pass the book around as they take turns the pages in the story.
- If you can't afford to print the color-coded Short Vowel Words And Sentences books or Phonetic Words And Stories books, you can display the teaching pages from these books on a large screen, using a projector attached to a laptop computer. Just open the PDF file on the computer and set the display to a two-page spread with the cover showing as a separate page. Students can use a long pointer to point to the words and pictures on the screen when you play the robot game.
- You could use just the games and activities from this program and integrate them into your own instructional sequence.