Introduction to Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons

While our Leveled Literacy Intervention (LLI) and Benchmark Assessment System (BAS) are quickly becoming well-known in the elementary teaching world for the outstanding results they produce, sometimes educators are looking for a structured program to meet the developmental needs of their youngest students. We understand that to some extent children follow their own idiosyncratic paths, but we also recognize that developmental patterns provide a foundation upon which to build the smartest instruction possible. Our Word Study Continuum plots a course along the developmental pathway children traverse as they become expert word solvers and effective readers. It is with this in mind that we developed our Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons.

To address young readers' developmental needs, Phonics Lessons, Kindergarten includes four essential areas of language knowledge: phonemic awareness, letters and sounds, reading words, and early reading concepts. Phonics Lessons, Grade 1 expands into more sophisticated concepts and includes six areas of knowledge: phonemic awareness, letters and sounds, reading words, writing words, processing strategies in reading, and processing strategies in writing. Students in grade 2 will move into more sophisticated reading and writing concepts within these six areas, and students in grade 3 will focus on even more advanced areas of language with the addition of vocabulary, fluency in reading and writing, and word meaning. Please refer to the Phonics Lessons Research Base document (.pdf) for more information about the research and educational theory behind these programs.

In these videos Gay answers some of the most frequently asked questions about Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons. A wealth of additional information about these programs is available on

Overview of Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons


What makes a good phonics minilesson?
A good minilesson is quick, efficient, and effective, and Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons are designed to be just that. They are short, focused on a single principle, use consistent language and clear examples, engage children in active learning, and follow a regular lesson structure that quickly becomes familiar to children.

Using Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons as a spelling program
A systematic, five-day lesson procedure for learning specific spelling principles is built into grades 1, 2, and 3. The five days include choosing and writing words from a given word list, a "look- say-cover-write-check" technique, a buddy check, making connections with other words, and finally, assessment.

Using poetry for early language development in Phonics Lessons
Poetry provides many powerful learning opportunities by surrounding children with the sounds, words, and expressions of poetic language. Classrooms in which enjoying and reciting poetry is part of the culture help children absorb basic knowledge of how sounds and words work.

Supporting English Language Learners in Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons
Through the lessons, speakers of languages other than English learn the basic building blocks of oral and written English. Two tools in the minilesson books directly support these learners. First, the front matter at the beginning of each book contains general recommendations for working with English language learners. Second, "Working with English Language Learners" at the beginning of every lesson provides specific ways to adjust the lesson for these learners.

Research base for Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons
Phonics Lessons
and Word Study Lessons are grounded in a wide base of academic research, including all the areas examined by The National Reading Panel, and reflect its recommendations for phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A complete research paper, entitled “Phonics Lessons: The Research Base” is available. In addition, the lessons reflect practical, classroom-based research in how children learn, practices that have been reconfirmed by many teachers as they have field-tested Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons.

For more answers to frequently asked questions about our Phonics Lessons and Word Study Lessons, visit

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