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  • Teacher Brett

How to Use Decodable Text

Decodable texts are texts that are specifically designed to help beginning readers learn to decode, or sound out, words. These texts typically use a limited set of phonemes, or sounds, and focus on introducing new letters and letter combinations gradually.


Decodable texts are an important tool for teaching reading because they allow beginning readers to practice applying the phonics skills they have learned in a context that is meaningful and engaging. They can help children build confidence and fluency as they learn to read and can be used as part of a structured literacy program.


Decodable texts can be found in a variety of formats, including books, worksheets, and online resources. They are often used in conjunction with other reading materials, such as classroom read-alouds and individual word lists, to provide a range of reading experiences for beginning readers.


Here are some tips for using decodable texts with beginning readers:

  1. Start by explicitly telling students what they will be learning and practicing when working with the decodable text. Tell them the sound or letter pattern they will be practicing. Say the sound together or practice writing the letter pattern. Look at a few example words with that sound or letter pattern.

  2. Spend a few minutes modeling and practicing blending words with the sound or letter pattern that they will encounter in the decodable text. Blending is a key skill in making reading gains. If you are completing decodable work directly after a lesson, this may not be necessary if the students did this work already and are ready to jump in!

  3. Review any high-frequency words (i.e. sight or heart words) that will be in the decodable text. When reviewing these words you should point out the parts of the words that are decodable based on what the student has learned so far as well as any parts of the word that may be "tricky". This could include sounds and letter patterns they have not learned yet or irregular sounds and spellings that they need to know by heart. This is sometimes called the heart word method.

  4. Access background knowledge. You may want to briefly access any prior knowledge students have on the topic by reading the title and discussing what they have already learned or experienced on that topic. If there are any Tier 2 or 3 vocabulary words that students may not know the meaning of you may want to review them as well.

  5. Have students read the text! Be sure to stop and give immediate corrections when they decode a word incorrectly. You can help them decode it correctly and then have them go back and reread the sentence.

  6. Engage in repeated readings for fluency and comprehension practice. You can ask them comprehension questions, have them practice reading with expression, or even have them go back and find words with the sound or letter pattern you were practicing.

By using decodable texts and providing supportive guidance, you can help beginning readers build the skills and confidence they need to become proficient readers.

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