How to Use Data to Drive Phonemic Awareness Instruction

Are you looking for ways to use assessment data to drive your phonemic awareness instruction?  If so, then read on to find out how to gather that data and look closely at the data for opportunities to group students.   I am also sharing a few ideas of what to do in small and whole group settings to address those skills.

Learn how to use data to drive your phonemic awareness instruction.  First assess and then use a no prep resource to teach the identified skills.

This is my second post in a series about Phonemic Awareness.  I explained the difference between phonemic and phonological awareness in my first post.  In this post, I will help you decide what to do with the data you collect.

First off, how do you collect data?  If you read my previous post, you'll know I use a screening tool to figure out where my students are in their phonemic awareness development.  

You can grab that screener for FREE by clicking on the picture below.

Grab this easy to use and free screening tool to assess your students phonemic awareness skills.

Once you have a detailed status of the class list, it is time to start planning instruction.  Take a look at the filled-out class list below.

Use the FREE status of the class recording sheet to record your students scores in order to beginning planning your phonemic awareness instruction.

Here are a few things you should look for:

  • Is a small group of students all struggling with a particular skill? There is a group of 5 students working on rhyme production on this list, for example.

  • Where do most of the students start to struggle? On this list, it is syllable deletion. This is what you want to focus on for your whole-class instruction.  

I use the class list and sort my students into small groups depending on their struggles.  If they do not fall into neat groupings, then I look at the cluster of skills.  

See the class list and group notes below to better understand what I am talking about. You can get a copy of the status of the class sheet and one-page planner {HERE} or by clicking on the picture.

Use the FREE status of the class recording sheet to record your students scores in order to beginning planning your phonemic awareness instruction.

How do I target those groups? 

My students struggling with phonemic awareness are not ready for a traditional guided reading group, so their guided group time focuses on the identified skills they lack.  A typical guided group time would include:

  • Word List warm-ups: I target a particular skill using my Phonemic Awareness Word Lists.  I have a small group working on rhyme, so this is the set of cards I would pull out to use.  

Phonemic Awareness word lists are perfect for teaching phonemic awareness skills - no prep, fully scripted and easy to use anywhere when you have a few minutes.

  • Oral Games for practice: A favorite for producing rhymes is Rhyme Around the Table.  I say a word that we will generate rhyming words for, and then I go around the table and see how many real and nonsense words we can come up with.  

  • Hands-On activities: I always incorporate hands-on activities like puzzles and clip cards. 

Use phonemic awareness centers such as rhyming centers to give students time to practice in guided groups or during independent center times.

How do I target the whole class with the skills they need?

Once I know what skill most of my students need to work on, I try to find ways to incorporate phonemic awareness into my daily instruction.  Some of the ways I do this are: 

  • Integrating it into our shared reading time
  • Using the word lists as a warm-up activity on the carpet before language lessons.  
  • Line up times -  I have my word lists hanging by the door, and we use them every time we line up. I call out a word, and students get a turn to manipulate the word, depending on the skill.  
  • Use word lists at transition times to make the most of that lost time waiting.  I pull out my word lists whenever I have a spare 5 minutes to fill.  

Use phonemic awareness word lists to teach essential phonemic awareness skill

The most important thing to remember when teaching phonemic awareness skills is that the skill is ORAL.  

You don't need your students to see letters to develop those skills. Using word lists is a compelling way to teach these skills. They are easy to use, are perfect for short periods and require no prep.  

I hope this post was helpful.  Don't forget to grab your screener freebie to add to your teacher toolkit. Don't forget to pin this image so you can revisit this post later.

Learn how to use data to drive your phonemic awareness instruction. First assess with a free screening tool and then use a no prep, fully scripted, easy to use resource: Phonemic Awareness in 5 Minutes Word Lists to teach the identified skills.

Until next time,  


  1. Thank you for sharing, as a very ancient teacher these skills are ones we used from day 1 sadly they fell out of favor and many teachers I speak with today do not understand how powerful these skills can be.

  2. Thank you! Your information and resources on phonemic awareness will be extremely helpful for my students. It will give me a clear picture as to where my students are at and help drive my instruction.