About Skills Block | EL Education Curriculum

About Skills Block

The K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block is a one-hour block that uses a structured phonics approach, grounded in the Phase Theory of Dr. Linnea Ehri, which describes behavior related to the types of letter-sound connections students are able to make as they learn to read and write. As such, the Skills Block is meant to ensure that, by the end of grade 2, students acquire the depth of skills they need in the Reading Foundations standards to navigate grade-level text independently. The lessons and assessments explicitly address the Reading Foundations standards, as well as some Language standards associated with spelling and letter formation.

Step by Step Guide

  1. Review assessment guidance document
  2. Select appropriate assessment for grade level and time of year
  3. Grade assessments
  4. Group students into microphases
  5. Review conversion chart to determine correct instructional cycles for small groups
  6. Download / collect materials for each small group

Timing

BOY
First two weeks of school
MOY
After Module 2
EOY
At least two weeks left of school

Skills to Master by Microphase

Below are the skills that students should practice and master in each microphase. When using this chart, teachers should determine which of the skills students are able to do in each microphase. If students are not yet able to master the skills in the respective microphases, students and teachers can make goals toward these skills to increase proficiency so that they continue to progress through the microphases accordingly.

Pre-Alphabetic
EarlyMiddleLate
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Holding a book properly
  • Developing mnemonic strategies with letters
  • Developing articulatory gestures and positioning of mouth and tongue
  • Beginning multi-sensory integration (skywriting, horizontal, vertical, and curved lines to for letters)
  • Identifying letters in name in contex
  • Finger painting to develop motor skills
  • Using age-appropriate scissors
  • Identifying shapes
  • Answering simple questions
  • Starring their name
  • Handling small objects
  • Speaking in simple sentences
  • Telling short stories
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Developing fine motor skills (turning individual pages in a book, holding a pencil)
  • Counting words in a sentence
  • Developing phonemic awareness skills
  • Identifying letters in name out of context
  • Writing their name
  • Tracing shapes and letters
  • Speaking sentences with more complexity (4-6 words)
  • Telling longer stories
  • Contributing to conversations
  • Using language to communicate needs and wants
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Beginning to understand and identify letters
  • Beginning to understand letter sounds
  • Beginning to form letters
  • Identifying syllables orally
  • Understanding concepts about print: one-to-one matching, understanding letters come together to make words
  • Understanding that words are separated by spaces in print
  • Understanding directionality of words left to right, top to bottom, and page by page
  • Identifying the beginning and ending sounds of a word
  • Hearing shared sounds in words
  • Segmenting initial sounds in the pronunciations of words
  • Recognizing how letters symbolize initial sounds in words
  • Understanding shared sounds in words
  • Segmenting initial sounds in the pronunciation of words
  • Identifying and producing rhymes
Partial Alphabetic
EarlyMiddleLate
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Identifying letters
  • Identifying letter sounds
  • Forming letters
  • Beginning to decode and spell CVC and VC words
  • Recognizing consonant digraphs—ch, th, sh
  • Recognizing and producing rhyming words
  • Manipulating individual phonemes in one-syllable words
  • Isolating and pronouncing the beginning, medial and ending sounds in CVC words
  • Correlating letter and sound connections
  • Phonetic blending and segmenting
  • Blending and segmenting beginning and ending sounds
  • Acquiring knowledge of vowels
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Decoding and spelling CVC words
  • Decoding and spelling CVCC words
  • Producing consonants digraphs
  • Decoding and encoding words with double final consonants
  • Increasing grapho-phonemic correspondences
  • Producing r-controlled vowels in spoken words
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on....

  • Decoding and spelling words with initial and final consonant blends
  • Decoding and spelling short /e/ words with three and four phonemes
  • Decoding and spelling words with y as /i/
  • Recognizing sight words at an emerging level
  • Continuing to master and apply vowel usage and knowledge
  • Decoding and spelling words with VC and VCC final blends
  • Decoding and spelling words with initial blends
Full Alphabetic
EarlyMiddleLate
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Decoding and spelling double consonant words (“rabbit words”)
  • Decoding and spelling compound words
  • Decoding and spelling one- and two-syllable closed-syllable words
  • Decoding and spelling long vowels spelled CVCe
  • Decoding and spelling open syllables
  • Reading and spelling words with -s suffix
  • Reading possessives
  • Reading new words by analogy
  • Increasing sight word knowledge combined with decoding
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Decoding and spelling one- and two-syllable closed-syllable words
  • Decoding and spelling open syllable words
  • Decoding and spelling long vowel patterns
  • Decoding and spelling r-controlled vowels
  • Decoding and spelling two-syllable words with suffixes
  • Reading familiar words automatically
  • Decoding words never read before
  • Reading with accuracy
  • Differentiating sight words and known words
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Decoding and spelling words with r-controlled vowels
  • Decoding and spelling words with vowel teams
  • Decoding and spelling closed and open syllables
  • Decoding and spelling long vowels spelled CVCe 
  • Decoding and spelling words with -y suffix
  • Spelling sight words and committing them to memory
  • Increasing knowledge of spelling patterns
  • Increasing sight word vocabulary
Consolidated Alphabetic
EarlyMiddleLate
Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Decoding and spelling words with r-controlled vowels
  • Understanding and forming contractions and affixes
  • Decoding and spelling words with long vowel patterns
  • Decoding and spelling words with contractions
  • Doubling with suffixes (e.g., slip to slipping) 
  • Spelling and developing sound patterns across multiple words
  • Recognizing sound patterns easily

Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Spelling and decoding consonant -le words
  • Spelling and decoding words with prefixes and suffixes
  • Decoding and spelling words with contractions
  • Chunking letter patterns with ease into units to form larger words

Students in this microphase should begin to build skills on...

  • Spelling and decoding words with affixes
  • Spelling and decoding contractions 
  • Spelling and decoding words with schwa
  • Spelling, decoding, and understanding the meaning of homophones
  • Developing a large sight word vocabulary
  • Spelling and decoding compound words
  • Reading multisyllabic words

Analyzing Data in the K-2 Skills Block

Jean Hurst (Coach) and Daisy Spencer (2nd Grade Teacher) at the Genesee Community Charter School in Rochester, NY, analyze student data together to make informed decisions for ongoing instruction, and to reflect on results.

Using key resources such as Benchmark Assessments (both spelling and decoding), the Assessment Conversion Chart, and resources from the Differentiation Pack, these educators are thoughtfully harnessing the power of the EL Education K-2 Reading Foundations Skills Block to ensure success for all students.

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