Evaluation for 4.3
Materials provide explicit systematic instruction in phonetic knowledge and opportunities for students to practice both in and out of context (K-2).
The materials are research-based in their instruction of foundational skills and provide explicit, systematic instruction in phonics and high-frequency word knowledge. Students practice skills in isolation and in context. The materials build spelling knowledge in accordance with, and beyond the scope of, grade-level TEKS.
Examples include but are not limited to:
Skills 1 includes Appendix A “The Core Knowledge Language Arts Program,” which explains the program is based on the research of E.D. Hirsch Jr. and the National Reading Panel. The materials state students must develop decoding and language comprehension skills in tandem to make sense of text. Appendix B provides an overview of the Skills strand scope and sequence for each unit showing sufficient opportunities for student practice to achieve grade-level mastery. Letter-sound correspondence, word building, and sight word recognition skills (to name a few) are introduced in sequence and spiral throughout the year.
The materials distinguish phonics concepts as being part of the “Basic Code” or “Advanced Code.” Appendix A explains that the Basic Code teaches the most common spelling pattern for a single sound. The Advanced Code teaches all alternative spelling patterns for the “44 phonemes in English.” For instance, alternative spellings for long /a/ include “ay,” “ai,” “ey,” “eigh,” “ei,” “aigh,” and “a_e.”
In Skills 6, the Teacher Guide lists the following spelling patterns as objectives within the unit:
/s/ spelled “s”, “ss” (review), “c”, “ce”, and “se” (new).
/z/ spelled “z”, “s”, “zz” (review)
/m/ spelled “m” and “mm” (review)
/n/ spelled “n”, “nn” (review), and “kn” (new)
/ng/ spelled “ng” (review) and “n” (new)
/w/ spelled “w” (review) and “wh” (new)
Over the course of Skills 1–7, students learn and practice the letter-sound correspondences for all letters of the alphabet, as well as double consonant blends, initial and final consonant blends, and consonant and vowel digraphs. These patterns are considered part of the Basic Code. Students record all the sound-spellings they learn in Consonant and Vowel Code Flip Books. Code book pages include the sound, the spelling of the sound, and a word with that sound-spelling pattern. In lessons where new sound-spellings are introduced, the teacher is directed to point out all of the items on the code book page and demonstrate how to read them. The materials also include “Code Charts,” which are poster-sized reproductions of Code Flip Book pages, to be included in the print environment.
The Grade 1 Skills Scope and Sequence indicates students are introduced to closed syllable words beginning in Unit 1, VCe syllables in Unit 2, and vowel teams beginning in Unit 2. Open syllables are introduced as non-decodable “Tricky Words” in Skills 1. Students begin spelling two-syllable decodable words in Skills 4.
Beginning in Skills 1 students read from a decodable anthology of texts, referred to as a “Reader.” These texts align with previously taught phonetic patterns. This allows students opportunities to apply grade-level phonetic knowledge to connected texts and tasks. The texts in Readers grow in complexity throughout the Skills strand as students learn more correspondences. Within the Reader, newly introduced spelling patterns are bolded to support students in making linkages between connected text and explicit phonics instruction. “Beth,” the first text in the Skills 1 Reader contains only short vowels sounds in CVC and CVCC words. Tricky Words are underlined to remind students they do not follow regular phonetic patterns. By Skills 7, the Reader contains more decodable text on the page, and spelling patterns are bolded to catch the attention of the reader and connect back to previous Skills lessons. Tricky Words are no longer underlined. In Skills 7, the Reader text “Meet Vern” focuses on r-controlled vowels, so er within words like “Vern” and “fern” are bolded.
The materials refer to non-phonetic high-frequency words as Tricky Words and begins introducing them in Skills 1 Lesson 3. Tricky Words are introduced in a scaffolded routine. The teacher writes the word, explains how it is pronounced, and calls attention to the fact that the pronunciation and spelling pattern do not match. The “tricky” part of the word is underlined, the word is added to the “Tricky Word Wall,” and finally students read the word in sentences. In Skills 1, Lesson 11, students study the word “is.” The teacher underlines the “s” because it is not pronounced /s/. The word is added to the wall with this marking, and then students read the word in sentences including “It is a bag of chips.” Students also write the word on an index card and add it to a deck of Tricky Words. In lessons where Tricky Words are reviewed, students make flashcards in Activity Pages for practice. Spiraled review of flash cards and reading Tricky Words in isolated sentences allows students to practice reading high-frequency words independently and out of context. Tricky Words are also intentionally used in the controlled text of the Reader for each unit. In Skills 1, Lesson 13, students are explicitly taught the Tricky Word “some.” This word is reinforced in practice throughout Skills 1, and then appears in context in the Skills 2 story “The Swim Meet.”
The Grade 1 Skills Scope and Sequence traces spelling exercises in its own column within the sequencing table. The first spelling activity appears in Skills 1, Lesson 5. Students work with one-syllable, short-vowel sound words. By the end of this unit, in Lesson 30, students have progressed to double-letter spellings. In Skills 2, students spell with long-vowel sounds including vowel teams, digraphs, and VCe words that produce a long vowel sound. Throughout Skills 3–5, students practice spelling r-controlled vowels, initial and final consonant blends, digraphs, trigraphs, as well as closed syllables, open syllables, VCe syllables, and vowel teams. Students also spell high-frequency words. High-frequency words that are not decodable are included alongside spelling words following the targeted pattern. The Tricky Word “because” is included in the Skills 4, Lesson 6 spelling list, “have” in Lesson 16, and “your” in Skills 5, Lesson 11.