Six Solutions Series: Shifts Inspired by the Science of Reading

Apr 25, 2024

Six Red Marbles understands the changing landscape of literacy instruction that is the focus of much current state legislation and local school policy. There is currently a strong push for literacy instruction grounded in scientific research.  

The Science of Reading is an approach to teaching reading and writing that emphasizes the use of instructional strategies and interventions supported by decades of research. This body of work outlines fundamental principles on how individuals learn to read, advocating for explicit, systematic instruction across several key areas: 

  • Phonemic Awareness: the ability to hear and manipulate sounds in words 
  • Phonics: understanding the relationship between sounds and their corresponding letters 
  • Fluency: the ability to read text quickly, accurately, and with proper expression 
  • Vocabulary: the knowledge of word meanings, which is crucial for reading comprehension 
  • Comprehension: the ability to understand and interpret what is read. 

Two of our Senior Editors in the humanities department, Amy Rothman, MA, and Megan Jenny, PhD, share six key shifts they see in literacy curricula and how they are helping our partners create products that are supported by the Science of Reading.   

1. Scope and Sequence: Today’s curricula are structured around explicit scope and sequences that build from simple to complex and encompass foundational elements such as phonemic awareness, phonics, syllable types, and morphology.  

At Six Red Marbles, we work with our partners to ensure a clear and logical progression of instruction. Curricula are carefully designed to be systematic and cumulative and follow state and local standards. 

2. Assessment: Assessment aligned with the Science of Reading prioritizes students’ phonemic awareness, automaticity of sound-symbol correspondence, and use of phonemes, graphemes, and morphemes in decoding and encoding. This is a shift away from assessment strategies such as running records (reading passages that assess student reading behavior and reading speed).  

Six Red Marbles designs assessments that provide direct, actionable data on specific student needs. Our team has expertise creating a wide range of traditional and computer-based assessments. 

3. Student Texts: Literacy programs are moving away from leveled readers (books categorized based on the general difficulty) to decodable readers (books that use the specific phonetic codes that the student has learned to that point). Decodable readers purposefully include a wide range of knowledge-building fiction and nonfiction topics.  

Six Red Marbles applies the principles of decodability in the development of student-facing material.  Our team has deep phonetic knowledge and works with our partners’ scope and sequences to create proprietary text. 

4. High-Frequency Words: Gone are the days of students memorizing lists of sight words. In curricula aligned to the Science of Reading, high-frequency word instruction focuses on instructing students in noticing the known sound-symbol correspondence and explicitly pointing out the exceptions to known rules.  

Six Red Marbles creates instructional activities that teach students to recognize and decode words through explicit instruction on sound-symbol relationships. Students learn the words orthographically to automaticity.  

5. Simultaneous Encoding and Decoding: Students practice phonetic patterns through reading, writing, and spelling at the same time to cement understanding and fluency. Nonsense words that follow English rules assist students in isolating their knowledge of phonemic patterns and ensure application beyond memorization.   

Six Red Marbles understands how to develop students’ knowledge and use of phonetic rules. An integrated approach is fundamental to developing strong, independent reading and writing skills. 

6. Evaluation: Many of our partners are engaging in careful review of their existing literacy programs for alignment with the Science of Reading. Program evaluation ensures that instruction effectively supports the development of literacy skills among learners and follows research-based practices.  

The Six Red Marbles team partners with clients in their efforts to review existing curricula for standards alignment and external endorsement. 

If you want to learn more about how we leverage our knowledge of the Science of Reading to create effective literacy learning materials, contact us for a free consultation.  

Amy Rothman, MA Senior Editor of Humanities at Six Red Marbles. Megan Jenny, PhD Senior Editor of Humanities at Six Red Marbles.

Amy Rothman, MA TESOL, spent the first decade of her career teaching English and social studies to newcomer multilingual high school students in New York City Public Schools. She joined the humanities team at SRM as a Senior Editor last year, and now lives in New Jersey with her family.

Megan Jenny, PhD holds 15 years of experience as a school-based educator and is a National Board Certified Teacher. She is a member of the International Literacy Association, the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, the Ladies Literary Guild of Baton Rouge, and the Krewe of Artemis. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with her husband, kids, dog, and hamster. 

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