Approximate time to complete: 60 minutes 

Download the Course Companion document before starting this course. You can use the Companion to take notes on your learning, address reflection prompts, and as an easy way to retrieve course resources.  


Participants will be able to: 

  • Explain the importance of explicit and systematic phonics instruction to student reading. 
  • Analyze their current practice to identify areas for improvement based on course learning.

Consider This Scenario

Connection Point

In your Course Companion, consider these questions:  

  • Can you relate to this scenario? In what ways are your challenges in literacy instruction similar or different? 

As Mrs. Bell reviews the phonics screener scores for her first-grade student, Hank. She notes in his reading profile that he is well below the benchmark on phoneme segmentation and nonsense whole words. Her classroom formative assessments confirm this data. She places Hank and a few other students with similar needs in a group that she meets with three times a week. She works with Hank and his group on letter sounds, letter recognition and adds in consonant-vowel-consonant (CVC) words. From classroom observation, Mrs. Bell notices that Hank uses pictures to guess words or the first letter to guess words. Mrs. Bell knows that she needs to ensure that Hank has access to appropriate, age-appropriate decodable texts. She also knows that she needs to identify strategies to further support Hank. However, she is not completely sure what those strategies might be. 

What is Explicit and Systematic Phonics Instruction? 

Phonics is the relationship between the sounds of spoken language, and the way those sounds are represented by symbols including letters, groups of letters and syllables in the written language.

Systematic Phonics refers to phonics instruction that is organized around a well-developed scope and sequence. The scope is the range of skills and content to be covered and the sequence is the order that they will be covered.

Explicit Instruction includes modeling skills, guiding practice with students, and independent practice that allows students to perform the skill on their own.

Phonics Instruction with Dr. Jan Hasbrouck 

Watch as Dr. Jan Hasbrouck describes the importance of explicit and systematic phonics instruction along with some tips to incorporate it in the classroom. There is a place to take notes on the video in your Course Companion.


Key takeaways from the video: 

  • Phonics is a key component in developing skillful reading, but it is not the only component
  • Phonics instruction should be explicit and systematic 

Knowledge Check

Take the brief quiz below to test your knowledge. 



Take a few minutes to read through the Informal Assessment of Phonic Elements from Reading Rockets.

  • In your Course Companion, jot down how you might use an informal assessment such as this in your classroom or building. 

Course Reflection

Answer the following questions in your Course Companion: 
  • What instructional tools or resources do you currently use for phonics?
    • How has this course affirmed or challenged your current approaches to these tools or resources? 
    • Are your current tools and resources adequate to support phonics instruction?
  • Consider what it means for instruction to be explicit and systematic.
    • Identify two or three ways your current instructional approaches can be more explicit and systematic. 

To Learn More

To learn more, please see:


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Last Modified: 7/5/2023 11:24:47 AM