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Chandler McAlister

Education 312: Research Article Analysis

October 2, 2014
Noltemeyer, A. L., Joseph, L. M., & Kunesh, C. E. (2013). Effects of Supplemental Small Group Phonics
Instruction on Kindergartners' Word Recognition Performance. Reading Improvement,
50(3), 121-131.

This study was done to analyze the effects of small group instruction on students phonemic
awareness and their ability to decode words quickly and accurately. Previous studies had already proved
that one on one phonics instruction was very useful in helping students to decode quickly and
accurately. Next, it was important to find out if phonics instruction was helpful in the same way when
implemented in small groups. Six kindergarteners, two African American males and four African
American females, were used as subjects for the study. They were chosen because they were low
performing students that were at risk for developing reading problems during primary education. The
study took place over a period of five weeks, with one instructional period each week. Words for each
week were selected before the study was started. 270 appropriate, on level words were chosen.
Students were given twenty words each week as well as six control words that they would see every
week. At the beginning of each week, all six children, individually, were pre-assessed with twenty words
to see if they had previously learned any of the words. Zero out of twenty words during pre-assessment
was able to be recalled by any students over the five week period. Since no words were known the
teacher was allowed to pick six words from the twenty to use that week. After this the children were
pulled into small groups lead by the teacher. The instructional procedure was as follows: present the
card to the students, pronounce each individual sound, blend the sounds together and then present the
whole word. After the group did this for all six words, the cards were shuffled and the students were
asked to do the same procedure individually. After a week the students were called back for a final
assessment to see if they were able to recall any of the words. The results were different for each

student, but overall, the results showed that one on one instruction in phonics was more useful than
small group instruction. Children were able to recall the words immediately following each instructional
session, yet were not very successful at retaining the information for a whole week without revisiting it.
(Noltemeyer, 2013)
Many teachers use small group instruction in their classrooms because it allows the teacher to
reach more than one student at once while still being able to give more attention to each students
individual needs. The research leads teachers to believe that once a week small group instruction in
phonics is not an effective tool to use for student achievement in the long run. However, experts do
believe that phonics instruction in small groups could be effective if changes were made (Noltemeyer,
2013). For example, students need to have differentiated instruction. The flash card strategy that was
used in this study may not be effective for every student. Instead, the teacher could allow students to
play games or read quality literature in guided readings. If the teacher wants to use small group
instruction she can, but small groups should be used more frequently than the once a week instruction
seen in this study. The article suggests small group instruction three to five times a week for twenty to
forty minutes each time for it to be effective (Noltemeyer, 2013).
My main take away from this article is that it is so important to differentiate instruction to reach
all children. Every child in my class will learn differently so I cant assume that a strategy that works for
one child will work for another. I have seen teachers use different strategies for explicit phonics
instruction. One teacher I observed used a slinky as a manipulative for one on one and small group
instruction when teaching children to blend together letters to form words. They would pronounce each
sound in the word and then when they blended the letters together the child would stretch the slinky.
This visual helped children see the word growing as they read it. I really liked this strategy since some
students learn best in hands on activities. Some children may thrive using the flash card method so I

would use that in my classroom too depending on my students learning styles. It is also important to
allow students to learn from each other and not just the teacher. Overall, I think one of the most
important things to realize when teaching reading (and any subject for that matter) is to know your
students so you are able to differentiate instruction.