Have you ever wondered whether it is important to teach the underlying literacy vocabulary related to a new concept you are introducing to students? For example, is it important to fully define what a syllable is or for students to learn other literacy terms such as affix, fluency or punctuation? The answer is, yes! Being as literal as possible while teaching can have a positive impact on the achievement of struggling learners. This is why explicit instruction has been included as High Leverage Practice 16 or HLP16. In brief, using explicit instruction means directly teaching concepts that are clearly defined (Moats & Tolman, 2019). The Council for Exceptional Children (2019) further explains that we must use a direct approach in our teaching that is unambiguous in order to provide purposeful practice until independent mastery has been achieved by students.
HLP16 informs us to discuss what will be learned during a lesson’s opening (Council for Exceptional Children [CEC], 2019). Not only should we state the purpose of a lesson or game ahead of time, but we should also end a lesson with I can statements. Ending a lesson by having students be explicit themselves and gain ownership of a newly acquired skill is a gift to many students’ self-esteem, especially when some students may feel defeated by the many complexities when learning to read. To quote Albert Einstein, “I CAN is 100 times more important than IQ”.
Here are some example I can statements:
I can… clap out syllables.
I can… sort words that rhyme.
I can… match beginning sounds.
I can… blend sounds in words.
I can… write the 2 ways to spell /k/.
I can… use the long spelling right after the short vowel.
I can… highlight magic-e words.
I can…make and revise predictions to a story.
I can… find text features before I read a new text.
I can… ask clarifying questions while I read.
I can… tell you what I think about a book.
Watch a video on High Leverage Practice 16: Using Explicit Instruction.
Lookout for a memo coming out soon from VDOE to apply to attend a Multi-Sensory Structured Literacy Training. This is an opportunity to learn a highly explicit, direct approach to teaching phonics!
Checkout materials that provide lesson formats for explicit phonics-based instruction from the T-TAC ODU library:
Council for Exceptional Children. (2019). High leverage practices for inclusive classrooms. New York, NY: Routledge.
Moats, L.C. & Tolman, C. A. (2019). LETRS (3rd ed.). Dallas, TX: Voyager Sopris Learning.