Phonics: Scope And Sequence

Each summer I choose 1 or 2 areas of instruction or practice to improve for the next school year. I love to learn and love reading to learn. So each summer I choose my areas of focus and read some professional books to learn more and grow in those areas. I mean teachers never stop learning, right?! This year I am focusing on phonics because I have an obligation to make sure our TKS BOOTCAMP phonics curriculum is the absolute best it can be. And because I want to make sure our phonics instruction is top-notch. So this year, I read the book A Fresh Look At Phonics and want to share some takeaways.

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Today I’m sharing my take-aways from section 2, Scope And Sequence.


This. If you need a reason to buy and read this book, this right here. How many of us have jumped up and down and screamed this a million times?! Think about it. Basal programs are written for a narrow segment of our student population. Also, textbooks are written for Texas, New York, and California. I’m in Tennessee so my population is going to be different from others so why shouldn’t I be able to use common sense to meet the needs of my students? The fact that we’re not treated as the educated, trained professionals we are, is disgusting. That’s we designed our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum to be completely flexible and adaptable to meet the needs of all students.

Scope And Sequence

This is an area that I always find challenging. And here’s why: it seems that every year our district re-arranges our scope and sequence. Plus there are so many different scopes and sequences out there. It seems everyone does their own thing. When we created our scope and sequence for TKS BOOTCAMP it was based on research AND our district requirements and mandates. (CLICK THE IMAGE TO VISIT OUR TKS BOOTCAMP WEBPAGE!)

As you can see, our scope and sequence aligns closely with the recommended sequence found on page 28 of A Fresh Look At Phonics. Over the years we’ve learned a few things about the scope and sequence:

  • We do the digraphs before the vowels because that allows us to make more CVC-E words when doing Vowel Bootcamp.
  • We have tried doing CVC-E and vowel teams at the same time but I found it to be so confusing for the kids. And our data proved that. Now we do them seperately and it works much better.

OK, let’s talk about the first 26 days and letters….and why we do it the way we do it…

The idea behind ABC BOOTCAMP is this: at the end of the 26 days we have a solid foundation of sounds so we can begin the formal instruction of working with those sounds to read and write words. The 26 days is a fully immersive experience where we are focused on the sounds. We do informally work on some blending and segmenting if opportunities arise…but those 26 days are only sounds and letters. And since I’m a data guy…here’s the data from the last 4 years…

And guess what? We go in ABC ORDER. Again, we’re not doing any formal word work during these 26 days so we don’t need to go in order of utility. And again, the data shows it’s working. Two years ago, we did go in order of utility (at the request of admin and to compare data), and here’s what we found: both ways had the same outcome. And our end of the year test scores was the same. But the difference was in student engagement. Going in order of utility removed the predictability for our kids and that decreased engagement and excitement. Kids love routine and structure and that energy is so important so we will continue to go in ABC ORDER. But remember, ABC BOOTCAMP and the entire TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum is completely flexible so you can make it work for you!

Teach To Mastery

This was another powerful moment of validation for me. On page 59, Blevins says “generally four to six weeks of robust instruction and practice is needed…”

Let’s discuss…

  • Our TKS BOOTCAMP curriculum is based on the Law Of 10-20 For Memory Sets. Basically the amount of time you teach a skill is 10-20% of the time you want them to remember it. A school year is 180 days 10-20% of that is 18-37 days. All of the TKS BOOTCAMP components are designed to be done in the 18-37 days.
  • 18-37 days is also 4-6 weeks which is what is needed for mastery.
  • The TKS BOOTCAMP components are robust phonics instruction with whole group lessons, small group lessons, decodable readers, writing, and centers.
  • Teaching to mastery seems like common sense but we all know the pacing pushed by districts (and state testing) leaves so many students behind….now we have more to back us up when we push for what’s best for our kids!

Here’s a snapshot of last year’s data…just for reference…

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