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Module 3: Phonics and Word Study

Building strong foundations: developing early literacy skills. Module 3: Phonics and word study


In this module, participants will:

  • Become knowledgeable about the structure of language, including: 
    • Orthography (the spelling system), and they will be able to: 
    • Understand the broad outline of historical influences on English spelling patterns, especially Anglo-Saxon, Latin (romance), and Greek. 
    • Define grapheme as a functional correspondence unit or representation of a phoneme. 
    • Recognize and explain common orthographic rules and patterns in English. 
    • Know the difference between “high frequency” and “irregular” words. 
    • Identify, explain and categorize six basic syllable types in English spelling.  
    • Identify and categorize common morphemes in English, including Anglo- Saxon compounds, inflectional suffixes, and derivational suffixes; Latin-based prefixes, roots, and derivational suffixes; and Greek-based combining forms.
  • Become knowledgeable about the administration and interpretation of assessments for planning instruction, and participants will be able to: 
    • Understand the differences among screening, diagnostic, outcome, and progress monitoring assessments. 
    • Know the range of skills typically assessed in terms of phonological skills, decoding skills, oral reading skills, spelling, and writing. 
    • Recognize the content and purposes of the most common diagnostic tests used by psychologists and educational evaluators. 
    • Understand the reciprocal relationship among phonological processing, reading, spelling, and vocabulary.

Young child using a tablet at a desk in a classroom setting

Teachers Do:

  • Detailed Module 3 Outline
  • Module 3 Resource Library

Facilitator(s) Do:

  • Handout 2.1 The Four Phases of Reading Development
  • Article: How Children Learn to Read Words: Ehri’s Phases
  • Video 1: Phases of Reading Development
  • Video 2: Phases of Reading Development
  • Video 3: Phases of Reading Development
  • Handout 3.1 Broad Progression Sequence of Phonics Skills
  • Article: Structured Literacy and Typical Practices: Understanding Differences to Create Instructional Opportunities
  • Handout 3.2 Sample Lesson Plan for Phonics
  • Handout 3.3 Allocation of Time for Early Reading
  • Handout 3.4 Multisensory Prompts and Strategies
  • Handout 4.1 Letter Naming Routine
  • Handout 4.2 Sound Spelling Transfer
  • Video: Decoding Instruction in Kindergarten
  • Handout 4.3 Role Playing Activity

  • Handout 4.4 Blending Sounds Procedures
  • Handout 4.5 Sample New Information ch
  • Handout 4.6 PGM for Every Day Phonics Routines
  • Handout 4.7 Video Reflection Guide
  • Video: Decodable Words in Isolation and in Text
  • Video 5.1 Vowel Teams
  • Handout 5.3 Example Lists for Syllable Combining
  • Handout 7.2 Those No Good Silent Letters
  • Handout 7.3 Early Prefixes and Suffixes to Teach
  • Handout 7.4 Basic Morpheme Descriptions
  • Handout 7.5 Example of Prefix New Information Notebook Entry Page
  • Handout 7.6 List of Common Base Words and Affixes
  • Handout 7.7 Spelling Rules
  • Video: Beginning Decoding Survey: Administration


Essential Questions:

  • Why is having a targeted and sequential scope and sequence for phonics instruction important?
  • Why is it important to develop phonological awareness to the advanced level along with phonics skills?
  • How does teacher knowledge of the alphabetic, pattern, and meaning layers of English orthography impact classroom instruction?
  • How does practice with decodable text support the process of orthographic mapping?

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:

Use the Curriculum Evaluation Tool or the Curriculum Dive - Notetaking Template (DOCX) to review your primary literacy instructional resources. For this module, review materials using the section of the template with the heading “Phonics” (through the subheading “Advanced Word Study,” if applicable).

Student Profile:

In the previous session, teachers used the Student Profile Template (DOCX) to complete an analysis of the student’s data and observations of the student’s oral language and phonological awareness abilities. In this session, teachers should continue using student assessment and observation data to analyze the student’s strengths and weaknesses in phonics skills and, if applicable, advanced word study.


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 Phonics Instruction: self-assessment:

Using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX) and the Phonics section of the Leader Look For Document (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. Ask teachers to highlight the ones they want or need to improve on the most. This area can be the focal point 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 in phonics. Observe each K-3 teacher using the Features of Effective Instruction Checklist (DOCX) and the “Phonics section in the Leader Look For Document (DOCX).