Overview of the Grade 1 Phonics Units
Longfellow is launching the Teachers College Phonics Unit of Study in First Grade this year. The units are aligned to our units in both reading and writing workshops, enabling students to apply and transfer learning throughout the day. The curriculum is research-based, developmentally appropriate, and reflect our state standards for foundational skills.
Above is a photo of Rasheed who is our classroom mascot for the work with phonics this year. Students will develop concepts and strategies using singing, read alouds, pretending, inventing, writing, spelling, and games.
The concepts and skills focused on include Letter Knowledge, Word Knowledge/Word Solving, Letter/Sound Relationships, and High-Frequency Words during five units of study. Each unit is described below:
Unit 1: Talking and Thinking About Letters
This unit has big goals. First off, the unit provides cumulative review and reinforcement for key concepts in phonics that students encountered in kindergarten. The unit moves very quickly, as one might expect of a review, and it touches on all the most important phonics concepts from kindergarten: letter names and sounds, short vowels in CVC words, phonograms, blends, digraphs, and a short list of approximately fifty high-frequency and high-utility words.
Unit 2: The Mystery of the Silent e
Unit 2 challenges children to use phonics workshop as a place to study words closely like a piece of evidence and make discoveries to help them understand how language works. In the first bend, this investigation will focus entirely on CVCe words with the vowel A. Across the first bend, you’ll also introduce a new set of high-frequency words. Bend II asks your detectives investigate CVCe words with a different vowel each day. In Bend III, the focus shifts to looking closely at words and word parts to decode difficult words by breaking them into parts and putting those parts back together.
Unit 3: From Tip to Tail: Reading Across Words
In this unit, you’ll rally kids to read nonfiction closely and thoughtfully. In Bend I, you’ll point out that doing so involves looking all the way across words. In Bend II, you’ll teach kids common phonograms that contain blends and digraphs. Bend III focuses on high-frequency words. It’s helpful for young readers to orient themselves to a page by scanning that page and noting upcoming high-frequency words—and their knowledge of these words can help them read other words by extension. The bend and the unit wrap up with a big celebratory tournament of word games!
Unit 4: Word Builders: Using Vowel Teams to Build Big Words
You’ll launch this unit by introducing the theme of becoming word builders. Using snap cubes with word parts, children will get to work constructing words, and challenge themselves to build longer, bigger words. Alongside your teaching about vowel teams in this first bend, you’ll also introduce a new set of high-frequency words. Bend II tackles a whole different group of vowel teams, ones that need to be explicitly taught. Bend III focuses on less common vowel teams. The unit ends with a celebration where you’ll reveal a big plan to build a whole town made out of words—Vowel Town!
Unit 5: Marvelous Bloopers: Learning Through Wise Mistakes
This unit has been designed to help you teach an assortment of topics that the first grade curriculum hasn’t yet addressed and that deserve attention before the year is over: r-controlled vowels, high frequency words, capitalization… The ellipses in that sentence are important because this unit, like the final unit in kindergarten, is deliberately designed so that it will set you up to continue teaching other assorted topics if you have more time in your school year and if your students are game to learn yet other topics: prefixes, contractions, punctuation.