Literacy Strategies for Students with Disabilities

Word Recognition:  Phonological Awareness

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Effective instruction is based on scientifically-based research. An overview of the research for teaching phonological awareness is included in this section.  
  • Phonological awareness is the ability to identify, think about and manipulate the part of words, including syllables, onsets, rimes and phonemes.  It is an umbrella term that encompasses other skills such as the ability to identify and produce rhymes, syllables, onset, rimes and individual phonemes or single units of sound.

    Phonological awareness is critical for understanding an alphabetic system like English (Moats, 2009b).

    Phonemic awareness is a related term that refers to the ability to isolate individual phonemes in a word.  For example the word, fast, has 4 sounds or phonemes:  /f/ /a/ /s/ /t/.   Phonemic awareness is an activity that can be done in the dark because it does not involve print.  Phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of the future reading success of a child.  (Moats, 2009; Uhry, 2011; NICHD, 2000).

    The importance of phonemic awareness cannot be overemphasized as it provides the foundation of decoding, enabling the reader to unlock the printed word.  (Carreker, 2011)


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This section includes a library of instructional strategies that help students develop phonological awareness.
  • Essential Reading Strategies for the Struggling Reader image
    This resource contains a wealth of strategies covering several areas of literacy.  Phonological Awareness activities are are on pages 25-42.
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Videos show how instructional strategies look in the classroom.  These videos focus on teaching phonological awareness.
  • Kindergarten - Phonological Awareness Activities
    Literacy Instruction for Students with Disabilities Phonological Awareness Activities
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This section contains additional resources related to phonological awareness.
  • Beginning Reading Instruction image
    This resource was developed through the Texas Reading Initiative and includes 12 Essential Components of a Research-Based Program for beginning reading instruction.  

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  • Cara Wyly
    Project Manager, Progress in the General Curriculum Network
    (210) 370-5413