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.
Systematic teaching of letter sounds begins in Skills 3 Lesson 1. Consonants and vowels are introduced so that students may begin decoding practice. A sample list of words students will build include “dad > mad > mat > at > cat > cot > dot.”
In Skills 5, students learn sound letter correspondence for /b/, /l/, /r/, /u/, /w/, /j/, /y/, /x/, /k/, and in Lesson 1 they create the following words in sequence using letter cards: bop>top>tap>zap>nap>nab>dab. Vowel sounds were introduced in previous units.
Over the course of Skills 3–5, students learn and practice the letter-sound correspondences for all letters of the alphabet, except “q” (which is taught in Skills 7 as a digraph).
Skills 6–8 and 10 introduce additional sound-spelling patterns. The work begins with initial and final consonant clusters or blends. Then, consonant digraphs are taught, followed by double- letter spellings for consonants. Finally, e-controlled vowels are addressed, which includes CVCe spellings as well as the /ee/ alternative vowel spelling.
Beginning in Skills 4 students read from a decodable anthology of texts referred to as a “Big Book.” The texts align with previously taught letter-sound correspondences and phonetic patterns. This allows students opportunities to apply grade-level phonetic knowledge to connected texts and tasks. The texts in Big Books grow in complexity throughout Skills 4 as students learn more correspondences. Skills 6 increases in complexity as students now practice in not only a Big Book but also a Reader. Within the Reader newly introduced spelling patterns are bolded to support students in making linkages between connected text and explicit phonics instruction. In Skills 6, students read Kit and Stan, a story that includes consonant clusters.
This concept is introduced explicitly in the lesson, before students read.
The materials refer to non-phonetic high-frequency words as “Tricky Words,” and begin introducing them in Skills 3. Tricky Words are introduced in a scaffolded routine using Picture Readers, which represent the target word with a full-color rebus. The program references Dolch and Fry word lists as the sources for the Tricky Word list. In Skills 3, students learn the Tricky Word “one.” The teacher is directed to first draw one dot on the board and ask, how many dots, to prompt students to say “one” aloud. She continues with an explanation of the difference between writing the numeral “1” in math, the word “one” in reading and writing, and the fact that this is a Tricky Word because it does not “follow the rules.” The teacher underlines the word (the program’s marking convention for non-phonetic words). Then, students practice reading the word one in the Picture Reader. The same routine is used to introduce all Tricky Words. Skills 3 introduces the Tricky Words “one,” “two,” and “three.” The Skills 4 Teacher Guide Introduction directs teachers to create a “Tricky Word Wall” to facilitate review of Tricky Words and “help students learn to read Tricky Words automatically.” The teacher is also instructed to cumulatively review words previously taught “at the beginning of each Tricky Word lesson.” Several activities for review of the Tricky Word Wall are also included. In Skills 8, students write six previously taught Tricky Words—“was,” “from,” “funny,” “all,” “the,” “off.” In the Skills 10, Lesson 6 Teacher Guide, the teacher dictates the words “he,” “she,” “me,” “we,” “be,” “here,” and “there” for spelling practice. By the end of the final Skills unit, 42 Tricky Words have been introduced.
The Kindergarten Skills Scope and Sequence traces spelling exercises in its own column within the sequencing table. The first spelling activity appears in Skills 3, Lesson 5. Students work with one-syllable, short-vowel sound words including “at,” “ad,” and “mat.” In Skills 6, spelling work grows in complexity to include “consonant clusters,” or initial and final blends. In Skills 7–10, students spell CCVCC words.