Skills Block: Module 1 (Cycles 1-4) | EL Education Curriculum

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Skills Block: Module 1 (Cycles 1-4)

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The K-2 Reading Foundations Skills curriculum is designed to continually build students' ability to map graphemes (letters) to phonemes (sounds). This skill includes both the ability to identify letter-sound correspondences and the ability to automatically identify the sound associated with letter combinations (examples: "ea" for e and /sh/ for the digraph "sh"). Grapheme/phoneme mapping is foundational to decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) words automatically.

Grade 1, Module 1 focuses on decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) one-syllable words with two or three phonemes (sounds). The words used in whole group lessons include only graphemes and phonemes introduced in the module.

Every module in the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills curriculum is broken into cycles. Each cycle includes a consistent sequence of instructional practices. The practices build on each other to teach specific graphophonemic knowledge and skills, culminating in assessment and goal setting. In Grade 1, Module 1, Cycles 2-4 each focus on one short vowel ("a," "u," or "i") and several consonants (including consonant digraphs such as "th," "sh," and "ch"). Cycle 3 includes spiraling review of the graphemes and phonemes taught in Cycle 2; similarly, Cycle 4 spirals back to graphemes and phonemes taught in both Cycles 2 and 3.

By the end of this module, students should be able to read and write these words with growing automaticity. They also should be able to read unchanging base words with suffixes (endings), including possessive ("-'s"), plural nouns ("-s"), and action words ("-s"). Some students also may be able to decode and encode words with initial consonant clusters that include "s," "r," and "l" (example: "slip") and read plural nouns with "-es."

Cycle Details

  • Cycle 1: In advance of Cycle 1, students must complete their Baseline Assessments. During Cycle 1, students begin to build classroom routines while reorienting to Kindergarten content, including key print concepts, phonological awareness, phonics, and word-analysis (such as letter-sound correspondences, syllables, and segmentation and blending of phonemes in spoken words). To establish routines and ensure student understanding of reviewed skills, consider extending the whole group instruction (Opening and Work Time) as much as necessary.
  • Cycle 2: Includes 10 lessons (unlike the rest of the cycles in the Grade 1 Skills Block curriculum, which each include just five lessons). This is done to slowly introduce a consistent sequence of instructional practices (each of which intentionally builds on the preceding one). Based on students' mastery of the routines and content during Cycle 2, determine which practices merit the suggested two to three days of repetition.
  • Cycles 3-4: Begins the consistent five-lesson cycle repeated throughout the rest of the modules. The bank of taught graphemes and phonemes will begin to gradually increase, providing a larger bank of spelling patterns and new words for instruction and practice.

Module Pacing Considerations

Flex Week: All modules in the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block include a Flex Week for teachers to use at their discretion. When determining how to use these days, consider scheduling challenges (examples: holidays or teacher workdays) and students' needs (example: reteaching). For Module 1, consider using this time to complete Baseline Benchmark Assessments (in advance of Cycle 1) and to extend or reteach lessons to ensure students master instructional routines and skills.

Notice that Cycle 2 is two weeks long instead of one. Each instructional practice is introduced during this cycle and is taught over a two- or three-day period, providing time to familiarize both students and teacher with the routines. Use your best judgment to determine which practices merit this extra time and practice and which may necessitate more time than is provided. If necessary, use the Flex Days to accommodate these needs.

During Cycles 1-2, if student groupings (based on Baseline Benchmark Assessments), management of independent work, or group rotations have not yet been established, consider using the differentiated small group instruction time to teach and practice these routines. If students are ready for differentiated small group instruction activities, see the differentiated small group guidance section of the daily lesson plans for suggestions. Although Cycles 3-4 begin the consistent five-lesson cycle, continue to extend whole group instruction time as needed.


There are two forms of assessment in the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block curriculum:

Benchmark Assessments

  • Students complete Benchmark Assessments at the start of the year, midyear, and at the end of the year (see Grade Assessment Overview and Resources).

Cycle Assessments

  • At the end of each cycle, students also are assessed on decoding (reading) and encoding (spelling) of words made up of taught graphemes and phonemes as well as taught high-frequency words. It is suggested that the teacher score the assessment and review the results with each individual student to facilitate a goal-setting conversation. If time is a concern, the teacher may consider meeting with only one or two groups for each cycle for a goal-setting conversation. Guidance is provided to differentiate the assessments based on each student's Phase of Reading Development. Refer to the Review and Cycle Assessment lesson in each cycle for details.

Habits of Character / Social Emotional Learning Focus

Across EL Education's curriculum, there is a specific focus on students building habits of character. See K-5 Curriculum Overview document for details.

Within the K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block, specifically, there is a strong focus on building students' growth mindset: noticing that their ability grows with their effort. This is addressed during a daily closing routine in which students reflect on how the content of the lesson and specific learning or actions they've taken will contribute to them becoming more proficient readers.

Grade 1, Module 1 focuses more specifically on goal setting. The last lesson in each cycle provides time for the teacher to meet with each differentiated small group to administer an assessment that reflects the phase students are working at in relation to the focus of the cycle. In Module 1, the concept of "feedback to improve" is introduced and developed. To help students understand this idea, use metaphors such as a sports team reviewing tapes of prior games to learn and improve for their next game; tell students that in all walks of life people look for information to help them improve. The cycle assessments are designed in such a way that students, with teachers' support, can look at their work to see what knowledge/skill they have under control and what is not yet solid. Teachers help students select a goal that they will focus on during their independent work throughout the following week.

Engagement Texts and Decodable Readers

No purchase necessary. Engagement texts and decodables are included in the module materials.

  • "Open a Book, Unlock a Door" (written by EL Education for instructional purposes) (Cycle 1)
  • "Pat's Mess" (written by EL Education for instructional purposes) (Cycle 2)
  • "Pat's Lunch" (written by EL Education for instructional purposes) (Cycle 3)
  • "Pat's Map" (written by EL Education for instructional purposes) (Cycle 4)

CCS Standards Taught and Assessed

Reading--Foundational Skills

  • RF.1.1: Demonstrate understanding of the organization and basic features of print.

A. Recognize the distinguishing features of a sentence (e.g., first word, capitalization, ending punctuation).

  • RF.1.2: Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes).

A. Distinguish long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words.

B. Orally produce single-syllable words by blending sounds (phonemes), including consonant blends.

C. Isolate and pronounce initial, medial vowel, and final sounds (phonemes) in spoken single-syllable words.

D. Segment spoken single-syllable words into their complete sequence of individual sounds (phonemes).

  • RF.1.3: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word-analysis skills in decoding words.

A. Know the spelling-sound correspondences for common consonant digraphs.

B. Decode regularly spelled one-syllable words.

C. Know final -e and common vowel-team conventions for representing long vowel sounds.

D. Use knowledge that every syllable must have a vowel sound to determine the number of syllables in a printed word.

E. Decode two-syllable words following basic patterns by breaking the words into syllables.

F. Read words with inflectional endings.

G. Recognize and read grade-appropriate irregularly spelled words.

  • RF.1.4: Read with sufficient accuracy and fluency to support comprehension.

A. Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding.

B. Read grade-level text orally with accuracy, appropriate rate, and expression on successive readings.

C. Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.


  • L.1.1: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.

A. Print all upper- and lowercase letters.

  • L.1.2: Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation, and spelling when writing.

A. Use conventional spelling for words with common spelling patterns and for frequently occurring irregular words.

B. Spell untaught words phonetically, drawing on phonemic awareness and spelling conventions.

Module at a Glance

Cycle 1

Introduced: N/A (introductory cycle)

High-Frequency Words: N/A (introductory cycle)

Cycle 2

Introduced: "t," "a," "p," "n," "h," "c," "th," "s," "m," "r," "v," "g"

High-Frequency Words: "a," "an," "can," "has," "is," "the," "this"

Cycle 3

Introduced: "i," "ch," "k," "y," "sh," "z," "d," "l"

High-Frequency Words: "at," "and," "in," "look," "like," "his," "with"

Cycle 4

Introduced: "u," "q"

High-Frequency Words: "did," "on," "she," "her," "has" "are"

See each Cycle Overview for more details, including information about what to prepare in advance and extension opportunities.

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