Science of Reading Getting Started Guide title image

You have probably heard about the Science of Reading but might be unsure of where to begin. Or you may already be implementing these concepts in your classroom but would like to find additional resources. No matter what your experience level this post will inform you of the essential Science of Reading materials every elementary teacher needs.

Science of Reading Professional Literature

No matter where you currently are with your Science of Reading journey, there is always more to learn. There are a couple of essential books to help implement the concepts:

You may also be interested in checking out my list of 10 Essential Science of Reading Books for additional recommendations.

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This post includes affiliate links for which I may make a small commission at no extra cost to you should you make a purchase.

Universal Screeners

Before you can begin explicit instruction, you must first determine a baseline of students’ current ability levels. This helps identify skills they have mastered and areas for growth. These tools can be used as a screener at the beginning of the year and throughout the year as a progress monitoring tool. There is a substantial amount of assessments available, but these are the ones I use for phonological awareness and phonics.

There are additional benchmark assessments you may be interested in administering with your students. You’ll also want to track students’ progress using data forms.

Explicit and Systematic Curriculum

One of the key components supported by the Science of Reading is the need for explicit, systematic phonics instruction. Students need to explicitly be taught phonics skills and decoding strategies. There are many methods you can implement with two popular ones being Orton Gillingham and Letrs. Both of these approaches require training which can honestly be quite expensive. Here are some alternatives that are a bit more affordable as you’re getting started:

Multisensory Tools

In addition to explicit phonics instruction, we also need to provide opportunities to enhance students’ memory and mastery of the skills through multimodal Instruction. These multi-sensory strategies involve visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic activities. You can get very creative with what you use but some popular multisensory tools include:

View additional multisensory phonics activities that are simple to implement!

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Decodable Texts

What are decodable texts? These texts contain words that can be decoded using phonics skills. Decodable texts allow students to practice the phonics skills they have explicitly been taught within connected text. Wiley Blevins’ book Choosing and Using Decodable Texts may help get you started with them. Some popular decodable texts:

Additional Science of Reading Materials

There are some other essential Science of Reading materials that our post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning.

Sound Wall

Many teachers have started replacing their Word Walls with a Sound Wall. But what is a sound wall? As the name implies, a sound wall is a place to display individual sounds (phonemes). As new sounds are introduced, the teacher adds them to the display with an anchor word that provides an example of the sound. Students can refer to the sound wall to assist them with applying phonics skills in their reading and writing.

Science of Reading Aligned Decoding Strategies

There are 9 new decoding strategies that incorporate the skills that proficient readers need to implement when reading. These strategies are similar to the popular Beanie Baby decoding strategies in that they provide visual reminders for students when they were stuck on a word. However, the new strategies are in alignment with the Science of Reading. The strategies empower primary students to tackle unknown words on their own without needing to ask an adult or try to guess a word.

Science of Reading Decoding Posters
Science of Reading Decoding Strategies Bookmarks

While it may be overwhelming if you are at the beginning of your journey, don’t feel you have to implement this all at once! Pick one specific focus to begin implementing at a time. Maybe you want to start by reading professional literature to learn more or by trying the free West Virginia Phonics Lessons. No matter what you choose these provided Science of Reading materials will help you along the way!

What other resources and tools have you found beneficial with your implementation of the Science of Reading concepts? Share in the comments!


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