The 90 Min Literacy Block: Whole Group Word Recognition Instruction

This is the third post in a blog series on the SoR 90-Minute Literacy Block.  It focuses on whole-group word recognition instruction for kindergarten, first and second-grade students. In the post, I recommend specific literacy skills to teach and offer a list of science of reading-aligned resources to use during this part of your literacy block. Finally, I leave you with a FREE whole-group lesson planning template for word recognition!

If you find yourself wondering, “What should I be doing in my 90-minute literacy block?” you are not alone!  I hear from so many teachers who are required to teach literacy for 90 minutes but are not told what to do with that time!  That’s why I have decided to create a blog series all about how to structure your 90-minute literacy block.  

In the first post, I outlined a suggested schedule for your 90-minute science of reading-aligned literacy block.  The second post focused on small-group instruction.   In it, I discussed why small group instruction is important and explained how to group your students for small group instruction. I identified literacy skills to teach in small groups and offered a list of Science of Reading-aligned resources designed for small-group instruction.  

Today I’m excited to focus on the whole group word recognition instruction part of the 90-minute literacy block.  I outline a structure for you to follow and identify skills to teach. I recommend Science of Reading-aligned resources that will support your word recognition instruction. Finally, I leave you with a FREE whole-group word recognition planning template to support your work.  


A Structure for Whole Group Word Recognition Instruction

To start your literacy block, you will gather students in your meeting area for 20 minutes of whole-class word recognition instruction.   I recommend splitting the 20 minutes up as follows: 

Warm-up and Review:  5 minutes

You’ll want to start each lesson with some review of previously taught skills and phonemic awareness tasks.  You can show students grapheme (letter) cards and have them say the sound. You could also give them the sound and they write the grapheme. These visual and auditory drills offer a quick and effective review.   

Focus on phonemic awareness tasks such as blending, segmenting, and phoneme manipulation. 

These large letter cards can be used to support your review and instruction.

Download a set of these large letter cards for your pocket chart here!

Finally, reread familiar texts that incorporate words with known patterns and high-frequency words that students have learned.  This review and practice is essential for mastery!   

Explicitly Teach New Skills:  8 Minutes

During this time you will explicitly teach the week’s phonics patterns.  You will model both encoding (spelling) and decoding (reading). Use a scope and sequence to determine what you will teach. If your school does not offer you one, you can download a free phonics scope and sequence for kindergarten, first, or second grade here.

You can practice phoneme-grapheme mapping, blending, and word building with words that follow the target spelling pattern for that week.  Have a word list prepared before the lesson in order to keep on track with the focus skill and review skills previously taught. This post offers more information on word building and instructional routines you can follow throughout the week. 

If you are using a sound wall, this is when you would introduce the new phoneme and teach students the common letter or grapheme that represents the sound.

This is also the time to explicitly teach students how to spell irregular high-frequency words, also known as heart words

I realize this is a lot to fit into just 8 minutes. You do not have to do ALL of these things each day.  Take a look at this blog post for how you can split up this explicit instruction throughout the week. 

Application of New Skill:  7 Minutes

We know that application is how skills stick.  Use these last 7 minutes to engage students in guided practice where they can try out the skills you have taught.  

This guided practice (with corrective feedback) can include practice blending with the new sound-spelling pattern, and/or word building.   

Students can apply spelling patterns in writing through dictation practice. You’ll want to use words with the target phonics skill for that week, as well as other phonics skills and high-frequency words they have already been taught.  

Finally, you can engage in a shared reading of a decodable text that incorporates some of the high-frequency words you have already taught.  There must be a tight connection between what children read and what they have been taught.  Decodable texts give students practice applying the skills that you have taught to real reading experiences.

Seven minutes is not a lot of time for students to apply the skills you have taught, so you will follow up with further practice and targeted support in your small group instruction. You can find information on how to structure your small group instruction and get a free planning template in this blog post.

Science of Reading-Aligned Resources for Whole Group Word Recognition Instruction

Sound Wall with Mouth Photos, Lessons & Activities Bundle

We know that need direct and explicit instruction on how to read, write, and spell.  A sound wall allows for explicit phonics instruction.  It is a tool used to organize and display the different sounds (or phonemes) we hear in speech. 

My SoR-aligned Phoneme Sound Wall with Mouth Articulation Photos resource includes all the components you will need to set up a sound wall in your classroom. 

The Sound Wall Explicit Lessons and Sound Wall Activities is a resource that will educate you on how to make a sound wall a meaningful learning tool and provide you with explicit and systematic lesson plans that are perfect for your whole group instruction. Each lesson plan is a step-by-step guide for introducing the phoneme & sound card, articulation gestures, and graphemes.

You can read more about my sound wall lesson plans and download a free sample here.  

Heart Words

The science of reading tells us that sight words are not stored in our visual memory. Therefore we need to integrate sight words into our phonics instruction. High-Frequency Words that are irregularly spelled are called “Heart Words” because some part of the word must be explicitly taught and “learned by heart”.  Students will encounter these words often so they need to be able to read and spell them automatically.  

My own science-based Heart Words resource is a NO PREP resource that makes it easy for you to integrate high-frequency sight words into your whole group phonics instruction!  

The resource includes digital teaching slides for 220 high-frequency sight words.  Simply follow the slides and you are following the steps for teaching heart words!  The slides are also FULLY EDITABLE so you can change them to fit the needs of your students, as well as your own teaching style. 

Take a look at this blog post for more information on how to teach high-frequency sight words using the Heart Word method and to download a FREE sample of my Heart Words resource.  

Decodable Passages

There must be a tight connection between what children read and what they have been taught.  Decodable texts give students practice applying the skills that you have taught to real reading experiences. This connection is essential for building a faster foundation in early reading.  As studies have shown, students who use decodable controlled text in their early reading instruction get off to a stronger start in their reading instruction.  

My Decodable Passages Resource has all you need to give your students a strong foundation in early reading!  They are phonics-based texts that contain target phonics skill words, previously taught phonics skill words, and irregular high-frequency words.  They can be used for both whole group instruction and small group instruction.  

You can read more about my decodable passages and download a free sample in this blog post

FREE Whole-Group Word Recognition Lesson Planning Template

I know I have shared a lot of information today!  To help you make sense of it all, I am happy to share a FREE downloadable planning template for whole-group word recognition!

This planning template includes a description of the components of whole-group word recognition instruction, an explanation of the skills you will teach, and suggested resources. You’ll also get a blank planning template, as well as a sample one that has been filled in for you!

 Drop your email below to instantly download these editable whole-group planning templates

I hope the information and resources I shared today will help you make the most of your whole group word recognition instruction.  Be on the lookout for my next post which will be the post in this series on the 90-minute literacy block. it will focus on Whole Group Language Comprehension!

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