Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

11.10.20Notes on Molly Maphis’ Phonics Lesson

Lots and lots of practice…

We learned a lot from a video we recently watched of second-grade teacher Molly Maphis at Nashville Classical Charter School. Team TLAC’s Brittany Hargrove has worked extensively with elementary schools to help them build effective and engaging classrooms. She wrote this post describing some of the effective things she saw in Molly’s lesson:

One of the best things about Molly’s lesson, in which she’s leading a phonics exercise with her 2ndgraders, is how much it echoes all the things we—and her students—would see in a bricks and mortar classroom.

First, Molly reviews sounds au, aw, and augh showing examples on her screen.

Next, students are given the independent task of silently reading a slide of sentences using these -aw sounds to practice their fluency. Molly uses positive narration at the start, highlighting students who she can see are reading the sentences aloud. Molly says, “a point [for] Joah, he is reading the cards to himself.” This rehearsal also makes her students more likely to be (and feel) successful later on, and thus more likely to like the art of Cold Calling.

After this short bit of independent preparation, Molly brings students back to participate in an engaging synchronous activity: they’ll read the sentences aloud with expression. Molly uses Cold Calling during this activity. Her tone is inviting and because of this, students swiftly come off of mute to read the sentences not just with expression but with enjoyment.  She reminds them that they are trying to beat their time from yesterday and they seem to relish the challenge. 

It is obvious that Molly has done similar exercises with her students in the past, too. The familiar routine she’s established make this activity feel seamless in a minute and fifty-seven seconds, every student gets a chance to read and practice. We especially love the universality of the lesson and the message that carries. Everyone participates; everyone gets a turn; everyone is important. 

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