State Legislators Learn About Tennessee-Grown Phonics Program From the Teachers Who Developed It


NASHVILLE– Legislators learned Wednesday about a Tennessee-grown phonics program from the Sumner County teachers who developed it.

The Tapping Out With Tiles (TOWT) phonics instructional program was presented by teachers, Dede Pinson and Stephanie Lynch.

Phonics is based on teaching students the relationship between letters of written words and the sounds of spoken words, relating a visual symbol with auditory sounds.

Phonics programs necessarily include visual and auditory learning modes.

TOWT adds a third dimension: kinesthetic, or tactile learning, thereby working the brain rather than a worksheet.

With this program, children are taught to “tap” out words using their fingers and manipulate sound and letter tiles to spell out words.

Each student is provided a board along with sound and letter tiles for spelling out words that the teacher provides.

Dr. Beth Meyers, who was an educator and currently serves on the board of a private school in Louisiana, immediately noticed a benefit of TOWT. As she vocalized to the group, “A teacher gets an immediate assessment, without a bunch of worksheets to take home and grade.”

Teachers are also provided with large format consonant and vowel cards for instruction, in addition to a teacher board and smaller format cards for instructional modeling.

Furthermore, TOWT phonics program features zero worksheets and workbooks.

The TOWT presentation included a lively video, showing classroom demonstrations of the TOWT phonics program in action.

While the classroom activities portrayed in the video were exciting, the TOWT phonics program became more compelling with the presentation of the results.

TOWT phonics program kits are available for kindergarten as well as first/second grade.

According to its authors, the TOWT instructional phonics program is currently in use throughout the Sumner County school district and in a total of 19 school districts, in whole or part, throughout Tennessee.

The event, held in a fifth-floor conference room of the Cordell Hull Building, was arranged by Murfreesboro-based grassroots education activist Jackie Archer.

Attendees included State Representative Rush Bricken (R-Tullahoma); David Byrd (R-Waynesboro); Kent Calfee (R-Kingsport); Scott Cepicky (R-Culleoka); Dan Howell (R-Georgetown); Susan Lynn (R-Mt. Juliet); House Curriculum, Testing and Innovation Subcommittee Chair Debra Moody; House K-12 Education Subcommittee Chair John Ragan (R-Oak Ridge); Mike Sparks (R-Smyrna); Chris Todd (R-Madison County); Terri Lynn Weaver (R-Lancaster); House Education Committee Chair Mark White (R-Memphis); Senator Joey Hensley (R-Hohenwald); and two representatives from the Tennessee Department of Education.

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Laura Baigert is a senior reporter at The Tennessee Star.




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