Essay: Phonics lessons

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  • Phonics lessons
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Jolly phonics is used as a method to teach learners how to read and write systematically using synthetic phonics. Based on that, the phonics taught would complement five basic skills that is required to teach learners reading and writing. The five basic skills consist of learning the letter sounds, learning the letter formation, blending, identifying the sound in words and spelling tricky words. The overview rationale for this English Language lesson on Phonics (Letter b) would revolve around the five basic skills. Hence, the activities conducted during this 30 minutes lesson correlates to the usage of phonemes and graphemes. According to Dyhuff (2013), Jolly phonics approach also uses the application of multisensory when teaching learners which develops their listening and speaking skills. It adopts the method of providing concrete experiences that would relate to sounds and actions which in this case would benefit younger learners. Based on the learners age group in this lesson, the learners would fit into the preoperational stage suggest by Piaget (Eggen and Kauchak, 2016). In the preoperational stage, learners would begin learning new level appropriate words and use pictures to relate to the words. Besides that, the learners in this stage are egocentric and may find it difficult to see things from a different perspective. In relation to the lesson that will be conducted, it may challenge some of the students in a particular activity more than the other as the activities planned throughout would enable the teacher to test on the students’ understanding from a different context but within their zone of proximal development. In spite of that, Piaget believes that an individual’s intelligence is developed through a series of stages as mentioned above.

Lead in

Vygotsky however believed that despite their age group, an individual especially developing children are able to building their understanding through the sociocultural theory (Eggen and Kauchak, 2016). Learners in a classroom may vary in experiences individually that differs one person to another. Hence, it is important to set a classroom culture in the beginning of the class. In this lesson, it is done through the classroom greeting and the small energizer. The greeting and energizer promotes proactive classroom management (PCM) that enables teachers to invest a small amount of time to encourage learners to be engaging during the lesson. Regardless of the background of the learners individually, PCM enhances the classroom climate particularly for younger learners (Kern & Clemens, 2007). In addition to that, PCM strengthens the bond between the student and the teacher positively which compliments the social interaction within the classroom. In other words, it builds rapport. The following activity which is the video that shows learners the words starting with letter b and the /b/ sound requires the learners and teachers to sing along to the song. Through the positive bond formed, learners would feel more comfortable to participate in classroom activities as such develops effective classroom learning (Cook et al, 2018). Another result of this is that learners are able to use their listening skills to identify the words with the /b/ sound and verify their answers with the teacher. The video is used as a cognitive tool to increase the social interaction in class. Social interaction used in this context allow the learners to gain knowledge from a well-informed individual (Eggen and Kauchak, 2016) and in this case would be the teacher. Learners would require to use language to communicate with the teacher to pass on information and teachers on the other hand can use this opportunity to scaffold the learners if they are unclear of the content delivered. Scaffolding during this activity would be through modelling out the /b/ sound according to the Jolly Phonics method of action which is pretending to hit a ball. Visual and kinaesthetic learners would particularly benefit from this method. Overall, learners of all abilities are able to benefit from this and develop cognitively through culture, language and social interaction from the activities during the lead in as teachers are seen as individuals who should create a stimulating learning environment.

Presentation + Practice

Unlike the previous years, in the 21st century, learning is increasingly becoming the learners’ responsibility (Glasersfeld, 1989). Learners are expected to involve actively during lessons and teachers are only there to facilitate the lessons. With that being said, learners should use their experience to accommodate and assimilate the new knowledge gained in order to make sense of the knowledge. The best way to explain this is through the constructivist theory. In this part of the lesson, the naming of the teddy bear is to allow the learners to try to use their knowledge gained from the previous activity which is the letter b and the /b/ sound in producing something the learners are familiar with. Learners are able to relate to names beginning with the letter b from cartoon characters or even their pet name. As mentioned above, the activity encourages the learners to also actively participate in constructing their own meaning to the knowledge which emphasises social constructivism (Glasersfeld, 1989). Social constructivism views each learner as a unique individual. Vygotsky’s sociocultural theory provides teachers the platform to build a positive cognitive development environment for the learners. In the contrary, the activities in the second part are encouraging individual learning. Learners would also gain the skill of writing through the activity using the pipe straw. Pipe straws are used to form the letter b to provide learners are different feel and the ability to differentiate the formation of the uppercase as well as the lowercase. Once again, this activity is done while sounding out the /b/ sound. The following activity compliments the social constructivism theory as they would require to blend the sounds of the graphemes introduced in the previous lesson. The gradual growth in knowledge allows the learners to use their past knowledge to make sense of things. By the end of this activity, the learners are able to increase their reading skills. The words used to blend the sounds are also level appropriate and familiar to the learners. Teachers are to aid students who struggle in understanding by acting out the word or providing a visual aid.


Phonics lesson revolves around the use of short-term memory as learners are to use previous knowledge of phonemes learnt to read words (Callinan and Zee, 2010). Throughout the lesson, the /b/ sound is drilled into learners through various forms. However, for this part of the activity, learners would require to use graphemes and phonemes taught in previous lessons covering the first three sets from the Jolly Phonics Curriculum. The Human Memory model as proposed by Atkinson and Shiffrin, consist of the main components which are memory stores, cognitive processes and metacognition. Relating to the constructivism theory, experiences are restored in the sensory memory. The activities during the lead in and practice should attain the attention and perception of the learners. The working memory on the other hand, uses the experiences to make sense of new knowledge. It is therefore important to maintain the phoneme and grapheme learnt through repetition as it is stored in the short-term memory (Eggen and Kauchak, 2016). Rehearsal of the letter and /b/ sound should be individualized as each student has to demonstrate correct pronunciation and usage of the knowledge. Having said that, just as it is important to repeat the phoneme and grapheme, it is also important to not overload the learners with too much information as the capacity of the working memory is limited. In order to cater to this limitation, encoding through visual aids, sounds and meaning using games would change the method of storage by relating to learner experiences. The flash cards would contain an image representing the word. Learners would learn how to blend the letter b with the other letters learnt. Knowledge would also be retrieved from the long-term memory on how to blend the sounds of other letters with the letter b. Alongside of learning based on the curriculum, learners are also expected to be introduced to the concept of teamwork. With the thought of the learners being the preoperational stage, learners will not be able to grasp the concept of teamwork as they are egocentric. Despite, teamwork is modelled through the encouragement of communication and lending a helping hand to the other classmates. Another form of motivation to use communication during this activity is the nature of teamwork which is to achieve a shared vision, in this case to win the activity.

Recap/Progress Check
Assessments are important for teachers to keep themselves updated on the progress of the learners especially at a younger age (Oblak and Vehovar, n.d.). Having said that, to end the half an hour lesson, an informal assessment is done by the teacher to check on the achievement of the learning objectives set. By this time, learners are expected to be able to come up with words starting with the letter b as well as pronounce the /b/ sound correctly. The activity that would be conducted requires the teacher to observe the learner when they would have to come up with words beginning with the letter b. The correct pronunciation of the /b/ sound is something to look out for during progress check as it is better to correct learners through repetition. Another aspect of approaching this activity is to understand where the students’ perceptions are. In other words, the observation should focus on in what manner are the learners learning it from rather than what is picked up on (Anonymous, 2016). This method would allow the teacher to come up with an effective way of correcting the learners when they are making mistakes. With correcting, comes praising. A learner is more likely to be motivated to improve when their learning experiences are developed positively. Effective praises on the effort made by a learner would encourage them to either do better or improve their mistakes. The purpose of praising in this context is to allow learners to understand that mistakes are part of the learning curve as long as effort is being made. Specific praises on the effort of a learner promotes the learners development. Direct praising however might result in discouragement as learners might misinterpret the praising as their highest ability and that they are “smart enough”. Soon, efforts made during lessons would decrease (Collins, 2013). Hence, teachers play a huge role in making sure the classroom would be a safe environment for the learner to have a sense of belonging (A, n.d.).
To conclude, a teacher’s role in a classroom includes changing instructions when needed, teaching a content step by step and providing extra guidance to learners who need it. Educational theories such as Piaget and Vygotsky are used to solidify the rationale behind certain activities or actions that are planned to be carried out throughout the lesson. Collaborative teaching and learning between the learner and teacher would further increase the success of the lesson. In other words, the good reason why most of the activities are student centered is to allow independent growing from learners and teacher.

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