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Effective Foundational Literacy Instruction Grounded in the Latest Research

Effective Foundational Literacy Instruction Grounded in the Latest Research

Editor's note: This post is an excerpt from the report, "Saxon Phonics and Spelling: Science of Reading Instruction." It's been lightly adapted for format. All research citations can be accessed in the linked full report.

Saxon® Phonics and Spelling’s approach to teaching phonics and spelling concepts uses foundational research in the science of reading and cognitive science. This K-2 supplemental program, which should be used in addition to a core literacy program, primarily focuses on teaching phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency while building children’s decoding skills. As children begin to establish a solid foundation in their early literacy skills, Saxon also incorporates the development of vocabulary and comprehension skills.

Saxon and The Structured Literacy Framework 

Offering systematic, explicit, and cumulative instruction and nurturing essential early literacy skills, Saxon prioritizes phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, spelling, and fluency and ensures daily skill reinforcement through diverse practice opportunities and continual review. By employing an incremental development approach with progressively challenging content and ongoing review, Saxon enables children to achieve reading proficiency by third grade.

The Structured Literacy Framework underscores the importance of developing proficient readers by ensuring students have a strong command of both language comprehension and structure, along with word recognition skills. Saxon focuses on the elements of word recognition to build language comprehension, fostering the development of skilled readers and nurturing critical thinking abilities in students.

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Explicit and Systematic Phonics Instruction in Saxon

Saxon Phonics and Spelling builds foundational skills with a unique, evidence-based method. The program provides systematic, explicit, incremental, and cumulative instruction with application and continual review across early literacy with a specific focus on phonemic awareness, phonics, decoding, spelling, and fluency. Built-in instructional support and optional, detailed scripting provide a scaffold as new concepts get introduced, making it easy to teach phonics, spelling, and handwriting simultaneously.

The program includes grade-level appropriate scope and sequence that identifies the skills taught in that grade’s instruction and the order in which the skills are taught. This structure gives teachers an at-a-glance view of the skills addressed each week and how these skills build on each other. The scope and sequence helps to identify the following components of each lesson:

  • Lesson Warm-Ups: Each day’s lesson begins with activities that review previously taught material and prepare children for new learning.
  • Options for Differentiation: Small-group activities at the end of each lesson support children at three different skill levels.
  • Sight Words: New Increment sections introduce sight words, decodable text reinforces understanding, and daily Sight Word review in the Lesson Warm-Up helps children build automaticity in reading.
  • Phonemic/Phonological Awareness: Phonological awareness includes skills such as words, syllables, onsets and rimes, and phonemes. Phonemic awareness focuses on individual sounds in words.
  • Daily Letter, Spelling, and Sound Review: Deck cards build and review skills, including letter-sound correspondence, review of learned sound-spellings, review of sight words, and review of affixes and meaning.
  • Review: Worksheets allow students to apply what they have learned and teachers to track students’ daily progress.
  • Fluency and Decodable Readers: Readers provide children with a variety of reading opportunities throughout the year.

Phonological and Phonemic Awareness in Saxon

Saxon Phonics and Spelling instruction ensures that students develop the phonemic awareness that is critical to reading acquisition. The program follows the gradual release of responsibility model, includes opportunities for incorporating multisensory instruction to engage all the senses, and provides immediate corrective feedback. 

Phonological and phonemic awareness activities are integrated into all Kindergarten lessons and the first 70 lessons in Grade 1. The Phonemic/Phonological Awareness instruction in Grade 2 is comprehensive and covers a range of fundamental to advanced skills. It encompasses activities related to all significant phonemic awareness concepts and can be flexibly applied to meet the needs of all students as determined by the teacher’s assessment, ensuring the development of essential skills and supporting students in becoming highly proficient readers.

Download the free brochure, “Science of Reading Instruction,” today for more information about how Saxon Phonics and Spelling handles fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. 

Download Here

To learn more about Saxon Phonics and Spelling, please visit Hein.pub/Saxon-Phonics.


Topics: Literacy Instruction, Reading, Reading Instruction, Research, Skills, Comprehension, Decoding, Foundations, Growth, Literacy, Phonics, Primary Grades, Reading Essentials, Spelling, vocabulary development, Reading fluency, K-2, Saxon Phonics

Date Published: 04/15/24

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