What is Systematic, Explicit Instruction?

Reading is one of the most complex skills that we learn, and can be a struggle for ALL students. To make the process easier, Open Court Reading uses systematic, explicit instruction with a carefully designed instructional sequence and built-in scaffolding. It is explicit in that explanations are direct and clearly modeled, and students know exactly what they are learning.

The program is systematic in that it builds on prior learning, builds from simple to complex, and covers five components of literacy: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. This instructional strategy is recognized for helping students grow into confident, independent readers who are ready to tackle any new content.

Instructional Design

Systematic, explicit instruction is clearly linked across five major areas of reading instruction―phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. Open Court Reading begins with print and book awareness, along with the alphabetic principle and systematic introduction of sounds and letters. Once students can connect sounds to letters they can begin to learn decoding strategies, such as sound-by-sound blending, whole-word blending, multisyllable blending, and sentence blending. By practicing with the Pre-Decodable and Decodable Books, students increase their accuracy and rate and make the transition from decodable texts to authentic literature.

Instructional Emphasis

Systematic, explicit instruction helps build students' abilities through a logical progression of skills. The instructional emphasis chart shows what we teach and when we teach it. Within and among grade levels, skills are taught and reinforced within a spiraling curriculum. The overlapping pattern of skill-building allows teachers the opportunity to introduce new skills while simultaneously reinforcing those previously learned.

Sound/Spelling Cards

Open Court Reading pioneered the practice of explicit instruction in sound-spelling relationships and the development of unique Sound/Spelling Cards. Each card represents a common English sound and contains the most common spelling or spellings of that sound, as well as a picture that helps students recall the sound. The consonant cards have the target sound at the beginning of the card names. Target sound for short vowels are found in the medial position. Each sound and picture is linked through an alliterative story that accompanies each card.

The Sound/Spelling Cards take the guesswork out
of decoding, out of spelling, out of writing.

Dawn Puckett, Instructional Coach, Bradley County Schools

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