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Module 1 Facilitator Guide: Introduction to the Science of Reading

Building strong foundations: developing early literacy skills. Module 1: Introduction to the science of reading.


By the end of this module, participants will:

  • Understand and explain the language processing requirements of proficient reading and writing, including phonological (speech sound) processing; orthographic (print) processing; semantic (meaning) processing; syntactic (sentence-level) processing; and discourse (connected text-level) processing.
  • Understand and explain other aspects of cognition and behavior that affect reading and writing, including attention, executive function, memory, processing speed, and graphomotor control.
  • Define and identify environmental, cultural, and social factors that contribute to literacy development (e.g., language spoken at home, language and literacy experiences, cultural values).
  • Know and identify phases in the typical developmental progression of oral language (semantic, syntactic, pragmatic); phonological skills; printed word recognition; spelling; reading fluency; reading comprehension; and written expression.
  • Understand and explain the known causal relationship among phonological skills, phonic decoding, spelling, accurate and automatic word recognition, text reading fluency, background knowledge, verbal reasoning skill, vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing.
  • Know and explain how the relationships among the major components of research-based literacy development change with reading development (i.e., changes in oral language, including phonological

Three young children in a library setting gathered around a picture book smiling and pointing at the book

Teachers Do:

  • Detailed Module 1 Outline
  • Module 1 Resource Library

Facilitator(s) Do:

  • Article: What Science Offers Teachers of Reading
  • Article: Teaching Reading is Rocket Science
  • Article: Ending the Reading Wars: Reading Acquisition from Novice to Expert
  • Article: How Do Kids Learn to Read? What the Science Says

  • Video: How the Brain Learns to Read
  • Handout: The Five Components of Reading
  • Handout: Scarborough's Reading Rope Model (PDF)
  • Article: Principles of Instruction: Research-based Strategies That All Teachers Should Know


Essential Questions:

  • Why is learning to read not natural?
  • To what does the term Science of Reading refer?
  • How are the Simple View of Reading and Scarborough’s Reading Rope model supported by research? What do these models tell us about early reading instruction?
  • How are the five components of reading addressed within the theoretical models?
  • What does the Four Part Processing Model for Word Recognition tell us about how the brain learns to read?
  • Why is explicit instruction a critical factor in the delivery of evidence-based reading instruction?
  • How do valid and reliable assessments inform scientifically-based reading instruction?

Reflection Questions:

  • Are there any methods/practices that you currently implement but can enhance? If so, how?
  • Are there any methods/strategies that you plan to embed in your instruction? If so, which ones? How will you do so?



Curriculum Dive:

In advance of this session, ask teachers to compile all the primary literacy curriculum resources they use for Tier 1 literacy instruction. Use the Curriculum Evaluation Tool or the Curriculum Dive - Notetaking Template (DOCX) to review the primary literacy instructional resources for alignment to scientifically and evidence-based instructional practices. For this module, use the section of the Curriculum Dive template with the heading "Introduction to the SOR."

Student Profile:

Ask teachers in advance of the session to compile all assessment and observational data they have available on a student struggling with learning to read. This information will be utilized throughout the training to create a complete profile of the student’s strengths and areas of need. For this session, ask teachers to reflect on their observations of the student as a reader and use the first page of the student profile to identify areas of concern as determined by the strands of the Reading Rope. Use the notes section to capture thoughts on additional causes of reading struggle or concerns that impact progress (e.g., learning disability, behavior or executive function issues, English Language Learner, truancy, etc.).

Features of Effective Instruction - analyze lessons:

Use the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX) to analyze lessons in your primary literacy instruction resources.


The Implementation phase of the Facilitator guide is to target important instructional practices and ensure that these practices are in place or progress throughout K-3 classrooms.

Features of Effective Instruction: self-assessment:

Using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX), have teachers reflect on their own instructional practices. What do they do regularly and well? What features may they be overlooking or need development? Have each teacher mark the areas in which they consider themselves effective and features they wish to improve upon. Of the five categories on the checklist, ask teachers to highlight the ones they want or need to improve on the most. This category can be focus points for coach or administrator observations.

Features of Effective Instruction: plan for observations (For coaches/administrators)

Between now and the next session, focus coaching or observation cycles on effective instructional practices. Observe each K-3 teacher using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX) between now and the end of the next module deadline.