21 Phonological Awareness Goals for Sped or Speech

My favorite types of goals on an IEP are collaborative goals. When writing goals with our fabulous speech-language pathologists, it is like double dipping for our students. Students get to work on skills in several areas in a variety of ways. Phonological awareness is one skill that classroom teachers do not have to work on in isolation. We can work on these essential literacy skills with the help of our SLPs!

What is phonological awareness?

Phonological awareness is an essential building block for reading skills. It is really like the house foundation. If it isn’t there, the house may stand up- but will probably (most likely) come crumbling down. 

So what is phonological awareness? It is the ability to identify and manipulate the individual phonemes or sounds in words and sentences. 

Instruction on this in the classroom typically involves only listening and speaking activities. At times there may be physical items to help students remember sounds, but phonological awareness should not include any letters. Once letters are included, this turns to phonics instruction.

It is important to know the difference in these two skill sets and know that both are important. If you want to learn more about phonological awareness specifically, here is a blog post about it.

We know phonological awareness is so incredibly important, because without it students will always struggle to read. Some students will learn this naturally by reading books and being exposed to language. However, many require explicit instruction to gain these skills. 

Teaching phonological awareness to nonverbal students

When I was first learning about the science of reading, I felt SO lost when it came to my students who were nonverbal or who had significant articulation issues. These students struggled to say the individual sounds needed to demonstrate their phonemic awareness skills… so what did I do? I got to work creating materials for them. But first, I knew I needed to set some goals.

Setting goals is obviously something that is required when developing an IEP, but setting goals with specific skills and targets allow us to determine if the student is making progress and also shows us when we can progress to the next skill.

It is not enough to write a goal that a student will increase their phonological awareness skills. That is because there can be so many different goals within that umbrella statement. Once we get clear goals, it can make our lives, as special education teachers, actually easier because we can target one or two skills instead of the entire continuum.  These goals can be worked on in a small group or even with the entire class!

When teaching students who are nonverbal, we need to be sure that we use materials that allow them to demonstrate their knowledge receptively. Scroll down for some materials you can use for this!

Goal Bank for Phonological Skills

We know know that phonological awareness is a continuum of skills, so below is a variety of goals that are on that continuum for you to choose from. These measurable goals will span a range of skills, but it is important to remember the first step in writing any of these goals is to personalize it for your specific student.  I hope this iep goal bank provides you with a starting point in developing a thorough iep and reading plan for your students.

Rhyme & Alliteration

When given a field of three images, student will identify the two that rhyme, in 4 out of 5 trials.

When given one word, student will say three more words that rhyme with 90% accuracy.

When given one word, student will identify a rhyming word from a field of three images in 4 out of 5 trials.

When given a field of three images, student will identify the word that does not rhyme with 80% accuracy.

When given ten different words, student will say three more word for each that begin with the same sound in 8 out of 10 trials.

Sentence Segmentation

When given a sentence with 5 words or less, student will count the number of words within it with 80% accuracy.

When given a number 5 or less, student will produce a sentence with that number of words in 4 out of 5 trials.

Blending and Segmenting Syllables

Student will blend together two syllables to produce a complete word 8 out of 10 times. This goal can be changed to increase the difficulty with the number of syllables. This is a good goal for students who are just starting to blend these together, but can be adjusted for students working on multi-syllabic words.

When given a word, student will count the number of syllables in it with 75% accuracy.

When given 10 pictures of words, student will sort them into the groups by the number of syllables within the word with 80% accuracy.

Adding and Deleting Syllables

When given a word and asked to add one syllable, student will produce a new multisyllabic word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say pan”

Student: “Pan”

Teacher “Now say pan but add cake to the end”

Student: “pancake”

When given a multisyllabic word and asked to delete one syllable, student will produce a new word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say rainbow”

Student: “Rainbow”

Teacher “Now say rainbow but don’t say rain”

Student: “bow”

Note that you can have student delete the first or second syllable. Depending on which you require of them to delete can be a harder or easier skill.

Manipulating Syllables

When given a multi syllable word and asked to change the one syllable student will produce a new word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say subway”

Student: “Subway”

Teacher “Now say subway but change sub to hall”

Student: “Hallway”

 

Blending and Segmenting Phonemes (Individual Speech Sounds)

When given 10 words (with up to ____ sounds), student will segment each word into individual separate sounds on 8 out of 10 trials.

When given 10 words (with up to ____ sounds), student will count the number of sounds in each word with 90% accuracy.

Isolating Phonemes 

When given a word, student will isolate and identify the initial sound in a word with 90% accuracy.

When given a word with three phonemes, student will student will isolate and identify the medial sound in a word with 90% accuracy. This is commonly assessed with a cvc word, but please note that this is three phonemes or sounds, and can be words such as fish, duck, or tree.

When given a word, student will isolate and identify the final sound in a word with 90% accuracy.

Manipulating Phonemes

This is the hardest skill, but it is one of the most essential. When manipulating phonemes to create new words, students gain a deep understanding of language. When they come across words they do not know in literature, they will be able to more easily decode them. This will increase their reading comprehension because they will not have to spend as much of their working memory on sounding out words and can focus on the content and meaning of the words themselves.

When given a word and asked to change the first sound, student can produce a new word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say ball”

Student: “Ball”

Teacher “Now say ball but change the /b/ to /f/”

Student: “Fall”

Note the the /b/ and /f/ are the sounds, not the letters.

When given a word and asked to change the middle sound, student can produce a new word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say meat”

Student: “Meat”

Teacher “Now say ball but change the /ē/ to /å/” 

Student: “Mate”

Note the the /ē/ and /å/ are the sounds (and the long vowel sound), not the letters.

When given a word and asked to change the final sound, student can produce a new word with 80% accuracy. 

This could sound like:

Teacher: “Say pin”

Student: “Pin”

Teacher “Now say ball but change the /n/ to /g/” 

Student: “pig”

Note the the /n/ and /g/ are the sounds, not the letters.

How to teach phonological awareness skills

Once you have the goal, you now need a plan to get there. This means coming up with phonological awareness activities and materials to ease in your teaching. Remember that even if you have older students who are in middle school and are still not yet mastered phonological awareness, they need to be practicing it. However you do not want to be using the same materials you would use with a first grade student. This is why I created real life task boxes. They are crafted with real images with these older students in mind. You can practice the same skills, but with a more appropriate support.

Check them out now

When you are teaching these skills, make sure you do not incorporate any letters. But what you can incorporate are images and physical items to help students place the sounds onto something tangible. 

Here is a brief round up of materials and supports (some free and some paid) that you can use in your classroom. I have identified which goals they will help you target as well!

Please note that I am an a participant in affiliate services including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. That means I do receive a small commission if you choose to buy from those links.

1. Elkonin Boxes: These can be bought or you can make your own! They provide a picture and allow students to easily see how many sounds there are in a word and then allow them to make sure they identify all of the sounds. Once your students learn this, you can use these to work on phonics.

Students can then decode and write in the letters that match the sounds they hear. Additionally, these are great for teaching heart words (or sight words), which more on that another time. (If you are interested in learning more about the teaching of sight words, learning about orthographic mapping is a great place to start). 

2. Heggerty: This is a curriculum that can be used at a Tier one level. That means it is for everyone! It is quick paced and builds skills upon each other. This is done orally and can be fit into a 15 minute window. It is has several education programs for a variety of grades as well!

This can help target all of the above goals. If you take these lessons, you can use the specific skill you are targeting and use that for reteaching in small or individual groups! If you are looking for an explicit curriculum, then this is it.

3. Equipped for Reading Success by David Kilpatrick: One of my teaching bibles for phonological awareness. It has quick one minute activities that target a specific goal. Not only does it give you these quick targeted lessons, there is also so much knowledge within the book to help learn to get your students reading. 

4. Task Boxes for Phonological Awareness: Having used all of the above materials in my own classroom, I still felt like i was missing something. I needed more for my students to target their phonemic awareness goals. So I created several sets of task boxes to work on these specific skills. These are different from the above resources because they are hands on materials. So often phonological awareness is done orally- because it has to be. But for our non or low verbal students, it can be extremely challenging.

These task boxes take the entire span of phonological awareness and creates specific targeted activities for them. I have seen my students go from minimal skills to strong phonological awareness skills with the help of these task boxes. It has been so helpful to pass off for additional use with teaching assistants or the speech language pathologist. These task boxes are able to be used in the classroom or in speech therapy sessions.

The best part about these task boxes? They help you progress how the students are doing. You can easily collect data and see if their skill level is progressing. And once it is, you just grab the next task box to continue challenging your student.

There are two different sets you can snag: set one and set two. Or grab both!

Get the bundle here

5. Phonological Awareness Worksheets: So what happens when you meet with parents and share information about the student’s phonological awareness goals? Many parents will ask what they can do. A great way to create a comprehensive approach is by providing supports for the parents to do at home! 

One easy support is providing them phonological awareness worksheets. These are engaging ways that you can just print and hand off to make sure your students are getting more support at home. Even at the end of the school year- print them off and send them home with students for additional summer practice! This will help prevent students from the summer regression in this essential skill.

Get the worksheets here!

This blog post has given you a bank of IEP goals to use for your students, different resources you can use to provide formal instruction, and even some ideas in how to extend the instruction to home. Phonological awareness difficulties are too common in our classrooms, and now that we have the knowledge backed by science we know that in teaching these skills we are going to develop more skilled and confident readers.

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