PL1. The Why of Teaching Phonics & Word Recognition

Module 1 in the primary literacy series, The Why of Teaching Phonics and Word Recognition
Course Progress

Teaching Phonics & Word Recognition: The Why

This module is designed to assist all educators and interested stakeholders in helping students acquire the knowledge and skills to become proficient readers. Specifically, this module explores the research and theoretical frameworks that underpin the critical importance that word recognition plays in the development of students’ ability to comprehend text.

Estimated Time: 3 hours

  • The Why of Teaching Phonics & Word Recognition (Part 1)
    • Navigation and Learning Objectives
    • Pre-Assessment
    • 1. Introduction
    • 2. Phonics and The Simple View of Reading
    • 3. What is Phonics?
    • 4. Why Teach Phonics?
    • 5. Who is Phonics for?
    • 6. How do Sight Words fit into Phonics?
    • 7. Summing It Up
    • Post-Assessment
How to use this Module


Completion of The Simple View of Reading comprehensive learning module, or sufficient background knowledge of the Simple View of Reading. 

Module Description

This module is the first part of a five-part series on teaching phonics and word recognition. The content of module focuses on the research and theoretical framework behind the Word Recognition component of the Simple View of Reading. After completing this module, we encourage you to enroll in The What of Teaching Phonics & Word Recognition (Part 2) to learn about instructional routines and practices that exemplify explicit and systematic phonics. 

In this module, the following topics are discussed in the text, linked resources, embedded audio, and video:

  • The connection between phonics instruction and the theoretical frameworks of reading
  • The research behind phonics instruction
  • Key terms used within phonics
  • Effectiveness of phonics instruction
  • How sight words fit into phonics
Quote by Dr. Martin Kozloff, "When a child memorizes ten words, they can only read ten words. If a child learns the sounds of ten letters, they will be able to read 350 three-sound words, 4,320 four-sounds words, and 21,650 five-sound words."

Although this module will likely be most helpful for K-3 educators, educators in all grades and content areas may find this module to be beneficial.

This module aligns with the following recommendations in the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Practice Guide – Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade:

  • Recommendation 2: Develop awareness of the segments of sounds in speech and how they link to letters
  • Recommendation 3: Teach students to decode words, analyze word parts and write and recognize words
  • Recommendation 4: Ensure that each student reads connected text every day to support reading accuracy, fluency, and comprehension 

Helpful Resources Related to this Module:

Module Resources

An outline of the module’s main content and supporting resources.

Welcome & Navigation

Step-by-step guide to assist you in navigating the professional learning modules. 

Ohio Literacy Library

In-depth information about the purpose and key elements of the Ohio Literacy Library.

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