Sunday, November 13, 2016


Blast off with Phonics

Last January, I had the opportunity to attend a professional development training that introduced me to Really Great Reading’s Blast Phonics program for grades K-2. As I sat in the large, brightly lit gymnasium of an AISD high school, I found myself genuinely excited, engrossed, and engaged with only a board full of letter tiles in front of me. This year has brought the implementation of a brand new phonics program into my classroom and with it a true excitement of phonemic awareness.

Blast Phonic’s is a program designed for struggling reading, but is easily adapted for a classroom full of learners. It focuses on building upon phonics and phonemic awareness through hands-on and multi-sensory lessons. This 25-week program, with online components, student kits for building words, and workbooks, thrusts students deep into understanding phonics. 

In my classroom, I have chosen to adhere to Blast’s weekly schedule to keep consistent and routine with my class. Following this schedule has allowed my students to stay engaged, focused, and interested. They have quickly become familiar with our daily, 30 minute phonics lesson that begins immediately after calendar. Each day they sit, immersed, as we work through each student-centered lesson. Throughout each lesson I am in awe as we finger stretch words, identify the number of phonemes, discuss digraphs/trigraphs, and read high frequency words with fluency as they flash upon the screen.

This program’s lessons focus from mastering CVC words to exploring consonant digraphs, two-sound blends, trigraphs, silent e, etc. Each lesson builds upon the last, with constant repetition and review. Each day my class reviews short vowel sounds, long vowel sounds, the different between a phoneme and grapheme, etc. They have learned to use key vocabulary through Blast and I see them utilizing it without prompting.

One of the key components of Blast is the student kit. Each student receives a kit that contains letter tiles, sound tiles, and a board for building words. This board can be utilized during whole-group or small group practice. Students are taught early on, with key vocabulary, that each letter or letters will match a sound tile on their board. On Wednesday’s each student grabs their kit from their assigned cubby, brings it back to their seat, and pulls it out, ready for a lesson full of building words.

As we work through our lesson, I walk around my room to monitor as my students finger stretch each word, lay down their colored sound tiles (red is always for the vowel) and then their letter tiles. Fully engrossed, they patiently sit, waiting, ready to share their answer. I have seen so much progress, confidence, and positivity emerge from implementing the Blast Phonics program within my classroom.