Why the Auditory Drill is a Crucial Part of your Lesson
So often, I meet or talk to an interventionist who is leaving out one of the most critical parts of their lesson. Usually, it is because it only takes a few minutes, is similar to other pieces of the lesson, and just gets overlooked. This is doing such a disservice to our students, because without this crucial aspect, their reading intervention is not building a strong enough foundation. This critical piece is the Auditory Drill.
So what exactly is the auditory drill, and why is it so important?
The auditory drill is the opposite of the sound drill.
The sound drill (also known as the phonogram drill) is when an interventionist shows a student a letter and the student has to immediately produce the sound that letter makes. This is how we always start our lessons. It is another critical piece because it is tying a sound to a letter. For more information about the sound drill, check out last week’s blog here.
The auditory drill is exactly the opposite. In this drill, the instructor will produce a sound and the student is tasked with providing what letter (or letters) make that sound. For example, if the prompt was “what says /m/?” the student would have to write down or identify the letter ‘m.’
The auditory drill and the sound drill sound so similar. Why can’t I just do one of them?
While the auditory drill and the sound drill are similar, you CANNOT skip either one. They work on reciprocal processes and target a different neural connection with each task. Let’s break that down a little bit.
The sound drill primes the student’s brain for decoding.
When a student is tasked with seeing a letter and producing the sound, this is warming the brain up to read. When we read, we are seeing letters strung together and have to recognize what they say.
The auditory drill primes the student’s brain for encoding.
When a student is asked to spell, they have to hear the word in their head, break it into individual sounds and produce what letter makes those sounds. It is the reciprocal process to decoding, and needs a different connection in the brain.
Okay, so I get what the auditory drill is and why its important, but where in my lesson should I incorporate it?
We always do the auditory drill right before our spelling tasks. That way, the student “warms up” and has just practiced the skills needed to spell. We often hear of people who will complete it right after the sound drill as they are similar tasks, but we really recommend completing the sound drill prior to reading and the auditory drill prior to spelling.
Other tips for doing the auditory drill…
The auditory drill is building up your student’s sound symbol knowledge. As student’s progress through their lessons and learn more phonograms, this task should progressively get harder. For example, when a student is starting out and learning their letter sounds, the only letter they should be responsible for tying to the sound /j/ is ‘j.’ However, as they learn more, eventually they should be able to tell you that ‘dge’ also says /j/. We only hold student’s responsible for sounds that they have already been explicitly taught.
Use the auditory drill as a review opportunity.
As students move through their lessons, we use the auditory drill to review previously learned concepts. If it has been several weeks since the student learned that ‘ck’ says /k/, add it into your auditory drill. Additionally, if you are noticing that your student is consistently misspelling words with the phonogram ‘oi,’ add the /oi/ sound into your auditory drill.
The sounds in the auditory drill should be provided orally & you should not be using the letter names.
Even though the student can write their responses down, you should be giving them all of the sounds orally. That way, they don’t rely on seeing the letters (save that for the sound drill!). We also don’t want to ask the student “what does ‘b’ say?” but instead, say “what letter says /b/?”
So, in conclusion, you want to be practicing the auditory drill in every lesson before you do your spelling tasks. To see this task in action, check out our video where Mikayla and Ryan will walk through the auditory drill. It also has a bonus point about how to turn the auditory drill into a working memory game.