In June of 2016 the NJ Department of Education released the NJ Curriculum Frameworks. “Frames” are the conversations and work that must be accomplished by K-12 educators across the state. The “Frames” outline a way to organize the New Jersey Student Learning Standards (NJSLS). It suggests grade-appropriate resources and creates a path for vertical articulation from kindergarten through grade 12. Most importantly, it provides districts’ voice and choice to “own” their own framework. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) were replaced by the NJSLS this year, and schools are given a deadline of September 2017 to revise their curricula.
Phonics instruction is the foundation and one of the pillars to reading fluency as stated by the National Reading Panel (NRP). The report from the National Reading Panel addresses the importance of phonics instruction and how it is the foundation to reading instruction.
The curriculum in early childhood classrooms reflects a balanced approach to phonics and reading instruction. A multi-sensory approach, such as Orton Gillingham, is utilized by many teachers in instructing students on teaching phonemes and phonemic awareness. This approach requires extensive hours of training and practice. The NJSLS for ELL and Bilingual are also targeting phonics instruction as a Reading Foundational Skills expectation. With this in mind, the appropriate programs and professional learning should be provided to teachers to ensure student success with reading fluency. For example, below are the Reading Foundational Skills for Kindergarten.
Reading Foundational Skills RF.K.1: Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print. RF.K.2: Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables and sounds (phonemes). RF.2.A: Recognize and produce rhyming words. RF.K.3: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words. RF.K.3.A: Demonstrate basic knowledge of one-to-one letter-sound correspondences by producing the primary sound or many of the most frequent sounds for each consonant. RF.K.3.C: Read common high-frequency words by sight (e.g. the, of, to, you, she, my, is, are, do, does). RF.K.3.D: Distinguish between similarly spelled words by identifying the sounds of the letters that differ.
There are several programs available providing phonics instruction. Max Scholar, is one phonics instruction and reading intervention program that is grounded on a multi-sensory approach. It is explicit and systematic and is available in Spanish for ELL and Bilingual students. Aligned to the state standards, the hands-on program can be used in an individual, small group, and whole class setting. Visit their website and click on the intro video to learn more on how ELL and Bilingual students can make increases of two grade levels in ninety days.