Voyager Sopris Learning EDVIEW360 Blog Series
Recent Blog Posts

Sound Walls: A Tool for Students to Use When Problem Solving

Updated on
Modified on June 8, 2023
  • Science of Reading
  • Sound Walls

One of the biggest shifts in implementing reading science in classrooms today is the use of sound walls. This term is becoming more common, and we are seeing sound walls in general education classrooms across the country.

I was visiting a classroom that had been working with sound walls for several months and the teacher told me about a conversation she overheard between two students. Student No. 1 was trying to write the word “good” but wrote “god.” The student across from him said, that can’t be the right way to spell “good.” Student No. 2 was accurate that it was not correct, but how did he know that?

Dr. Mary Dahlgren - Sound Walls Example


I love this little vignette because the students have the resources to problem solve on their own. The teacher has been working with the students to notice the sounds and how the mouth looks and feels when producing a sound. Teaching the graphemes that represent the sounds is part of good phonics instruction and the print is introduced according to the scope and sequence of the phonics curriculum.

If we don’t teach the print along with the sounds, it isn’t reading! Don’t confuse sounds and print. This is a new layer of instruction that most of us were not taught in our elementary education preservice programs. Children come to school speaking with all the sounds in our language. In general, our students come to school with a spoken vocabulary of approximately 4,000+ words. As young children, they learn to speak naturally. Reading is a process that requires knowing the sounds and the print. A sound wall is a pathway to make sense of how print represents those sounds.

In my EDVIEW360 webinar last week, “Sounds Walls in Your Classroom: The Pathway to Reading Fluency,” I shared how you can build a thorough understanding of how to use a sound wall, implementation tips, and more—everything you need to know and why. This is one more step in understanding the speech-to-print connection to improve outcomes for increased reading skills. You can watch the webinar here.

Watch the webinar


About the Author
Mary Dahlgren
Dr. Mary Dahlgren
Author and Literacy Expert
As the founder and president of Tools 4 Reading, Dr. Dahlgren has always focused on developing practical tools and training opportunities to bridge the gap between the science of reading and classroom practice. She brings more than 25 years of experience in the field of education, having served as a dyslexia therapist, elementary classroom teacher, international literacy consultant, national LETRS® trainer, and author.


Learn more about Dr. Mary Dahlgren