As a special educator, I believe phonemic/phonological awareness is the key to reading. I use rhyming and alliteration; clap syllables; isolate, swap and blend sounds, and explicitly teach the rules of English spelling. (We do have rules!) I make explicit, systematic phonics instruction fun for kids, giving them the tools and confidence they need to become fluent readers.
I also believe that all children benefit from exposure to complex stories and sophisticated non-fiction texts. When students with emerging decoding skills are limited to below-grade-level subject matter, their learning is unfairly limited. In my classroom, all students are exposed to age-appropriate content via read-alouds, recorded media and peer tutoring.
As a student teacher at PS 166Q and PS 183M, I taught reading to 2nd graders in an ICT setting and 4th-5th graders in a 12:1 self-contained classroom.