Differentiated Phonics Instruction – Virtual Learning Edition

Last spring, when schools closed, I didn’t know what to think. I was in shock to be honest. When has this ever happened? I had never heard of it. My thoughts began to race…Of course, I understood that health and safety are top priority, but I began to think about my students and the progress they had made. Would that progress be lost? How can I possibly teach struggling learners in an online setting?

As an intervention specialist, I was in a bit of a predicament. My students had been struggling during in-person instruction. That is why they were referred to me. If online learning was proving to be a struggle for students who had not previously been struggling, what was to become of my kiddos? I knew I had to act quickly. I could not risk my students losing the tremendous progress we had made over the course of the school year. I wanted them to feel successful even though the odds were stacked against them. I wanted them to know that I cared, that I still believed in them, but most importantly, I wanted them to believe in themselves.

In order to continue to make progress, I needed to hear them read and help them learn the remaining phonics skills we had yet to cover. Then, it hit me…(cue the music)…


There are a ton of online resources, but this one is an absolute must!

This is an online platform that I had used for years in the classroom, but now I NEEDED it! I needed a way to see my students’ decoding skills in real time during our live virtual lessons. I then created my first set of lessons, using the Draw It activities as a means of students using the skills and strategies we had learned in class: breaking apart words or chunking, highlighting the target phonics skill, and so many more!

I had never taught Nearpod during an online lesson before, but I figured that it should work. There was only one way to find out! I sent out my first Zoom link to parents, along with instructions on how to bookmark Nearpod. (I had to reassure parents A LOT. I asked them to trust me that this process would work, but the truth is I had never done this myself.) My first lesson came, and by the end of it, my students were BEGGING me for another lesson. I am totally serious. They were so excited to play Time to Climb again and work to earn “Monster Points”. (If you read last month’s blog post, you know exactly what I am talking about.)

Well, as you can imagine, I then became a Nearpod lesson-creating machine. I made a Nearpod lesson for EVERY phonics skill I taught. CVC Words through Diphthongs, I have a lesson for them all!!!

I had my online phonics program down to a system:

Day 1

Introduce Phonics Skill – Use a gesture to represent the sound

Highlight the new skill in a single-syllable word and practice reading the words out loud, sometimes using the recoding feature on Nearpod

Matching Activity – Students independently read single-syllable words with the target skill and match the words with their pictures

Time to Climb with single-syllable words

Day 2

Review Phonics Skill – Review gesture

Practice chunking – Highlight the new sound in two-syllable words and practice sounding those words

Students write on their screen to practice chunking multi-syllable words.

Matching Activity – Students independently read two-syllable words with target phonics skill and them to their pictures

Phonics Fluency Passage – Students highlight words with the target skill and read the passage out loud three times

Comprehension Questions

Time to Climb – Students choose the best sentence with two-syllable words to match the picture

Day 3

Review Day / Fluency Practice Day – Review the same sound if needed OR review all sounds covered so far

That brings me to my blog and TpT store. I would love to be able to share these lessons with you and help you navigate an online phonics program. Trust me, this works!

I have created differentiated Nearpod lessons and supplemental worksheets to go right along with them. Grab the bundle or purchase the individual Nearpod lessons. Save your time and deliver targeted phonics instruction in your literacy centers as independent work or via Zoom during distance learning.

Click here to view the All-In-One MEGA Bundle. From there, you can click on individual lessons or worksheet packets if you wish to purchase them separately.

Published by Learning N Progress

I am an elementary teacher who specializes in differentiated instruction and intervention. I have taught grades K-6, including intervention and gifted students. I am here to help other educators make differentiated instruction easy to manage and effective in reaching EVERY student in their classes.

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