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I have been a certified Elementary School teacher for over 35 years. I was a classroom teacher in the School District of Philadelphia for several years, teaching reading, language arts, math, science, social studies, and health. I taught third, fourth, and fifth grades during that time. I got a Master's Degree in the teaching of reading and subsequently became a Reading Specialist, where I spent most of my full time, active career. During this time, I also took 60 graduate credits past the Master's Degree in various education subjects and attended numerous workshops to learn more about effective teaching.
After retiring from full time teaching, I returned to the School District of Philadelphia as a substitute. I have been subbing in various grades in elementary schools for 11 years. Some of the grades I've worked with during that time were kindergarten, first, second, and third grades. I've done long assignments of three weeks or more in kindergarten and second grade. If you need any more information about my experience, and credentials, please let me know.
As a trained, certified, and experienced Reading Specialist, I have been teaching and using phonics to help students learn to read words for decades. Learning to sound out words helps students acquire more reading vocabulary. Phonics involves beginning, middle and ending consonant and consonant blends, digraphs, etc. It also teaches sounds of vowels, vowel digraphs and vowel diphthongs. By blending sounds together, people are often able to read many words that they have not read before. Working with common rhyming word endings is also helpful.
Using context clues along with phonics clues really helps people decode new words as they read passages. For example, if a student is reading a passage about zoo animals, if the name of an animal begins with z, if he knows the sound of z, he wouldn't say "monkey". He would likely say "zebra", even if has never seen that word before.