How Phonological Awareness Can Transform Struggling Learners Into Successful Readers With Dr. C. Melanie Schuele (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 5)

Teach Phonological Awareness Like The Experts With Dr. C. Melanie Schuele (BayTreeBlog. com)

Are you looking for teaching methods that will transform struggling learners into successful readers and spellers?

Dr. C. Melanie Schuele

Dr. C. Melanie Schuele

I am delighted to feature Dr. C. Melanie Schuele on the Exceptional Educator podcast. She’s a speech-language pathologist, researcher, and associate professor at Vanderbilt University. Today, she shares with us how to supercharge student reading and spelling skills with explicit phonological awareness instruction.

Melanie shows you how to extract the most out of every moment of your phonological awareness instruction. She provides step-by-step directions on how to scaffold instruction. With the right modeling, prompting, and guiding, you can effectively meet the needs of children with different ability levels.

We also talk about the value of mistakes. They give us insights into how a child is processing phonological information. By thinking about why a child makes a mistake, we can respond in a way that guides the child towards greater accuracy, and more importantly, enduring mastery.

In one of my favorite parts of the interview, Melanie shares stories about how the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program was created. One of the reasons I wanted to feature Melanie on the podcast is that she recently co-authored the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program. I’ve been using this program since it came out last summer, and I can’t recommend it enough. Because it walks the reader through every step of providing phonological awareness intervention, it can be used by educators, parents, and even para-professionals.

Listen to this episode, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or stream the episode below:

You can right-click here to download an mp3 of the show.

In This Episode, Melanie and I Discuss:

  • Why students who aren’t reading at grade level by 3rd grade don’t catch up to their peers.
  • How phonemic awareness is the natural precursor to decoding.
  • The difference between phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, and phonics.
  • The best age to start phonemic awareness instruction.
  • Developmentally appropriate and inappropriate phonemic awareness instruction.
  • What happens when phonemic awareness isn’t sticking? As a teacher, what can you do?
  • Best practices for collaboration between teachers and specialists when teaching phonemic awareness.
  • What is tiered instruction for phonemic awareness? What does Tier III intervention look like?
  • The reasoning behind offering Tier II instruction to students who will need further Tier III intervention.
  • How to avoid testing student knowledge when we should be teaching students how to succeed.
  • When a student has no awareness of sounds, where do you start?
  • Providing effective scaffolds for phonemic awareness instruction.
  • How can teachers and learning specialists narrow the research-to-practice gap?
  • How paying attention to kids’ mistakes is the key to effective scaffolding.

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Podcast:

  • Speech To Print – by Louisa Moats. An excellent primer to help educators understand the basic concepts and terminology around reading.
  • Intensive Phonological Awareness Program – from Brooks Publishing (get 10% off when you use the code ‘AF’) or available on Amazon.
  • Child Language and Literacy Lab – Melanie’s lab website at Vanderbilt University
  • Melanie’s Website
  • Melanie’s Email – melanie DOT schuele AT vanderbilt DOT edu

When Can I Get The Next Episode?

Subscribe to the Exceptional Educator on iTunes or Stitcher to download the next episode automatically when it’s released.

Thanks for tuning in!


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  1. Hi Anne-Marie!

    Thank you so much for this episode! I am looking forward to ordering the Intensive Phonological Awareness book.

    This was an excellent podcast session! Thank you for sharing your expertise.

    • Anne-Marie Morey

      Adrianne, you’re the best. I’m so glad to hear that you found the podcast informative. I think you’ll find the IPA intervention a great tool for your students!

  2. Jo Wright

    I truly enjoyed this podcast while having my walking time. More of an emphasis on phonological awareness is necessary in the earlier grades to promote success in later grades.

    • Anne-Marie Morey

      Jo — thanks so much! What blows me away about phonological awareness is the return on investment. It’s amazing how some limited, strategic PA instruction can lead to long-term positive benefits!

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