A structure to support literacy development
The week-by-week structure outlined below provides educators with guidance on how FreeReading activities and resources may be used to support intervention for students who are developing their literacy skills. This structure was designed based on leading research in the field of literacy development. It was developed for explicit, sequential, and systematic instruction that helps build, develop, and reinforce foundational literacy skills.
Where to start
First, read this page and the pages it links to (especially the strand pages listed at the top). Then print the first few weeks of instruction. Determine what week to start at as follows:
- For kindergarten students at risk for reading, start at Week 1, Day 1.
- For first grade students at risk for reading, start at Week 21, Day 1.
- For students in other grades who are still developing literacy skills, educators should begin with the lessons and activities that best match their diagnosis of the students’ needs.
If you have access to reading assessment tools, you can fine tune the best place to start the intervention for an individual student or small group. This is described below.
Specific literacy skills are addressed through this 40-week structure, including:
- Weeks 1-5: Basic phonological awareness (rhyming, onset-rime, introduce phoneme blending and segmenting); letter sounds; letter writing.
- Weeks 6-10: Segmenting first, last, and middle phonemes; continue letter sounds and letter writing; begin sounding out (CVC and CVCC words).
- Weeks 11-15: Phoneme substitution; continue letter sounds and letter writing; continue sounding out (stop sounds and CVCC words); introduce word-form recognition; introduce irregular (sight) words.
- Weeks 16-20: Complete letter sounds and letter writing; continue sounding out (CCVCC and CCCVCC words) and word-form recognition; more irregular words.
- Weeks 21-25: More irregular words; introduce letter combinations; introduce VCe words.
- Weeks 26-30: Accelerate the introduction of irregular words; continue letter combinations.
- Weeks 31-35: Complete letter combinations; more irregular words; begin advanced phonics (word families, double-letter words, silent-letter words, compound words, contractions, -ed and -s words); introduce reading connected text.
- Weeks 36-40: More irregular words; longer connected text passages fiction and nonfiction up to 80 words.
Adjusting the intervention as you deliver it
As you will see, the directions for activities in FreeReading are explicit, but educators should use these as guidelines and adjust to fit their specific needs.
If you complete sessions early and students seem to find the material too easy, consider jumping ahead in the program. Make sure that all the students in the group are ready for this (if some are and some are not, regrouping students may be necessary).
You will notice that the lesson formats of FreeReading follow a consistent pattern. This helps lessons fit a daily routine and allows you to focus your attention on the content of the lesson and individual students rather than on the way the lessons are presented.
Using assessments with Intervention A
It is strongly recommended that you assess and monitor the progress of at-risk students. This will enable you to:
- Place students at the right starting point
- Accelerate or decelerate based on progress
- Determine whether the interventions are effective for a student or a group
Choose an assessment that (a) can be quickly administered and scored, (c) gives reliable and valid guidance on whether a student is at risk, (b) allows progress to be monitored, and (d) provides sufficient diagnostic information to place a student in the program. There are many available assessments. One that meets the above criteria and is widely used is DIBELS.
FreeReading includes many high-quality materials for classroom use. These include:
- Picture cards: Various sets and sizes of free downloadable picture cards
- Sound pronunciation guides: Recordings in MP3 format of the recommended way to segment words into onset-rimes and phonemes
- Most common sounds: The most common sounds for letters and letter combinations
- Letter cards: Various sets and sizes of free, downloadable letter cards for letters and letter combinations
- Regular and irregular words: An explanation of regular and irregular words
- Letter formation guide: A teacher's guide to the proper formation of upper- and lowercase letters
- Sounding out word cards: Free, downloadable index-card sized copies of all the words used in sounding out activities
- Irregular word cards: Index-card sized printable copies of all the irregular words used in the Irregular Words and Irregular Words II activities
- Decodable passages: Short passages constructed only from words that have been taught in the program or that students can sound out
- Advanced phonics word cards: Index-card sized printable copies of double-letter words, silent-letter words, compound words, contractions, and -ed words
- Word families (phonograms): A list of all word families taught and links to printable lists of words in each family
The resources provided here are:
- Explicit: The teacher gives explicit instruction and then models all skills being taught. Correction routines are also made explicit.
- Systematic: The structure includes multiple overlapping sequences of instruction, each addressing a critical skill.
- Research-based: You can see references here.
A key feature of the pedagogy is the use of an Introduce, Reintroduce, Build Accuracy, Build Fluency progression. By accuracy we mean helping students discriminate between similar items such as letters m and n or irregular words this and that. By fluency we mean helping students become automatic in foundation skills such as blending.