Reading Groups: Explicit Instruction

There are several learners in every classroom. You have the kids who will get it no matter what, the kids who need direct, explicit instruction and the kids who need special personally tailored instruction. So, how do we reach them all? We differentiate not only the level, but the supplies. I posted about my group of kids who are receiving special personally tailored instruction, but what about the rest? Well, I am going to explain and show you what I do for my kids who need direct, explicit instruction in order to learn and retain the information in the MOST effective way.

First, you need to know where your students are in order to place them in the correct word feature group. This group is working on ur, u_e and u

You can get more information on this by visiting my link on Where do I Begin?

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Day 1: The students are introduce to the sort in a very detailed way. The students are shown each header and told what to look for. Is it a sound sort? Is it a pattern sort? Is it both? I place the headers down after we have sorted out what the pattern is and what each header card is.

I hold up a few words and ask the students:

  • What is the onset?
  • What is the rime?
  • What is the medial vowel sound?
  • Can we pull the vowel sound apart from the other sounds?
  • If we blend the on-set and rime together, what word do we have?
  • What pattern do we see/hear in the word?

Onset and Rime are technical terms used to describe phonological units of a spoken syllable. A syllable can normally be divided into two parts: the onset, which consists of the initial consonant or consonant blend, and the rime which consists of the vowel and any final consonants.

Day 2: I go back over the headers and ask the students to tell me what each one is showing. Pattern/sound etc… Then, we sort the words together.

In the above sort the students would be sorting one way to spell long a in the middle of a word a_e , how to spell ur in the middle of a word and how to spell the short a sound in the middle of a word.

I still ask them:

  • What is the onset?
  • What is the rime?
  • What is the medial vowel sound?
  • Can we pull the vowel sound apart from the other sounds?
  • If we blend the on-set and rime together, what word do we have?
  • What pattern do we see/hear in the word?

These questions get the students to associate the pattern with the way the word is decoded. Grapheme/phoneme connections are extremely important when reading.

Sound–letter correspondences are the relationships between sounds (or phonemes) and letters (or graphemes). This starting point highlights the connections between the sounds in words and the letters that are used to represent those sounds.

Day 3: The students sort with a partner asking each other:

  • Why did you place that word there?
  • What is the onset?
  • What is the rime?
  • What pattern does it follow?
  • What is the word?


Day 4: The students will sort on their own as I watch and listen in on their thought process. Students are required to do this as a whisper-out-loud.

Day 5: Students write words they do not already know that follow the same patterns. I watch for readiness to move on or for the kids to show me that they need more instruction or time. I also give dictated sentences that incorporate past skills to check for retention of those skills.



We move on to phoneme push-it’s

  1. I give a picture on a card as an anchor for the word.
  2. The students will place “pushers” down for each phoneme.
  3. Digraphs get one pusher for both sounds, since the sounds cannot be pulled apart.
  4. The students push each sound for the word.
  5. I ask the students to change a letter and push then blend the sounds together to figure out what the new word is.
  6. We do this with three pictures, and manipulate the beginning, middle and ending sounds.
  • “If the word is turn and you say it without the /t/ what is the new word?”
  • “If the word is turn and you switch the /n/ for a /th/ what is the new word?”
  • “If the word is turn and you change the /t/  to a /b/ what is the new word?”
  • “If the word is turn and you replace the /ur/ for a /o/ what is the new word?”

Last, we rotate through activities to help solidify understanding of phonemes, graphemes  and morphemes.

Here are a few:


This is an example of Hear the Rime Write the Rime. You can do this several ways. Here are the two ways I do it:

  1. I will show the word and we will go over the onset and rime. The students then produce as many new words as they can on a dry erase board with the same rime.
  2. I will say the word and the students will write a word on a dry erase board with the same rime.

I also like to talk about what patterns they see in each word and why certain letters show up in the spelling of the word.

Teacher: “What pattern do you see in cute?”

Students: “A way to spell (long u) in the middle of a word.”

Teacher: “How did you know?”

Student: “I see a u in the middle, and an e at the end.”

Teacher: “Is there another way you can spell that sound in the middle of a word?”

Students: “No pattern we know yet.”

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Chunk, chunk, blend cards. These will follow your current pattern. These are in a small bag for each student to have a set of. I pass out the cards and the students begin to read them in a whisper voice quickly. They can either chunk then blend or blend right away. I have my own bag of cards to show the students. I show a student a card and watch for them to quickly identify the pattern and say the word correctly. If the student says “c-ub, cub” instead of “c-ube, cube” I know that they are not yet understanding the pattern. This is a sign they need more time on this concept.


Students are given books at their current DRA level. Each student should be given a book on their instructional level, and you notes you take DAILY should guide you in coaching each individual child.

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I work on the following while they read:

  • Current skill from whole-group: This week we  were working on summarizing a text. This is what students were given for accountability in group.

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Each student was given five sticky notes to place where they found the information. After we read and searched for the parts of our summaries, we discussed our findings. Students had to use information in the text to back up their answers. The sticky notes were placed where they found the information and acted as a guide for quick reference. After group, each student created a summary statement from their notes.

  • Decoding skill: Current skills from word study.
  • Comprehension skill: Finding the meaning of an unknown word in context.


I also carry out one running record a day to ensure the students are in their just right instructional books

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Hello! I am a general education teacher in a public school system that believes in arming teachers and parents with the tools to make sure EVERY child is successful BEFORE they show signs of failure. Response to intervention should be an indicator NOT failure to respond to general education. <3 Arm yourself with knowledge

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