Blog Post
Tuesday Tidbit: A Multisensory Approach to Phonics Instruction for Teens

For older students struggling with decoding, traditional methods might not be cutting it. By incorporating a multisensory approach, you can transform decoding practice into an engaging and effective learning experience. Here are some creative ways to get your students using sight, touch, and even kinesthetic learning to master key phonics concepts:

Scooping for Success:

Feeling overwhelmed by a sea of words on the page? Help your students focus on smaller chunks by having them "scoop" with their pencil or finger. This technique involves gliding under 3-4 words at a time as they read, improving fluency and reducing the mental strain of processing too much text at once.

Sky Writing High-Frequency Words:

High-frequency words can be tricky, often defying the very phonics rules students are learning. Give students an additional opportunity for orthographic mapping with "sky writing." Have students use their index finger to write the words in the air, letter by letter. This visual and kinesthetic approach reinforces word memory and aids in spelling mastery.

Marking Up the Magic:

Interactive learning is key! Whether working with individual copies of a text, a dedicated notebook, or even a dry-erase board, encourage students to mark up words related to the focus sounds or concepts. This could involve underlining, circling, or even color-coding words based on phonics rules. For multisyllabic words, take it a step further by having students physically divide the word into syllables on the page, then read each syllable individually.

The Power of the Tap:

Many reading intervention programs utilize tapping sounds as a decoding strategy. If your decodable series complements such a program, capitalize on that existing knowledge! Encourage students to tap out the sounds as they encounter them in the text, reinforcing the connection between sounds and letters.

Transforming Decoding into a Multisensory Adventure:

By incorporating these multisensory approaches, you can transform decoding practice from a chore to a fun and engaging activity. This not only keeps students motivated but also strengthens their orthographic mapping skills, the key to storing words effectively in long-term memory. So, grab those pencils, clear some air space, and get ready to tap, scoop, and mark your way to decoding success!

Looking for more tips on engaging older readers? Check out our Educator Companion, which is jam-packed with tips, activities, and information about reaching striving readers in grades 3-12!