Jocelyn Testa's Portfolio Page

Jocelyn at the Little Red Lighthouse and the George Washington Bridge, one of her favorite places in New York City!

Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2022 (Byrne) Course Database | Inclusive Phonics Instruction Course

About Me

Hello! My name is Jocelyn Testa. I grew up in rural New Jersey and currently live in New York City and am in my fourth year of teaching. I teach first grade special education in a co-taught classroom at a public school in central Brooklyn. There, I’m involved in various planning and special education teams, helped with curriculum adjustments and implementation throughout remote and hybrid learning, and support some clubs through the school as well. I graduated from NYU with a bachelor’s degree in Childhood and Childhood Special Education in 2018.

Outside of my work-life, I live with two of my teacher friends from NYU and spend lots of time outside and in city parks. I’m an avid runner, knitter, plant mom, and ice cream eater. I’ve also gotten more into baking, including my sourdough starter, since COVID. I’m constantly registering for different road races and half marathons and also like to read lots of books in my spare time.

My Topic and Purpose

In this course, we will be exploring inclusive phonics instruction and how to make phonics more accessible to learners of all backgrounds and language abilities.

Course Key Questions:

  • How can we make recreate phonics to be more inclusive for learners of different backgrounds (including, but not limited to multi-lingual learners and students with disabilities)?
  • How can we create a more hands-on and practical approach to learning phonics?

Scope of Learning Outcomes and Content

Unit 1: The Foundations of Early Literacy — Participants will be able to identify different aspects of reading and the importance of them merging together for literacy development.

Unit 2: Early Literacy Teaching Skills — Participants will learn how to develop early literacy skills as well as determine what teaching tactics actually contribute to achieving success in reading.

Unit 3: A Variety of Language Learners — Participants will explore different types of learners they might work with and how to best support the individual literacy needs of those students.

Unit 4: Designing a Lesson — Participants will design their own phonics lesson that focuses on the necessary skills for certain types of learners using what they’ve learned in the course to make the information more accessible and inclusive.

Needs Assessment

Reading and writing is a foundational skill to existing as a productive member of modern society. Every student in school learns how to read and write, but not every student really understands the function of letters and sounds in how they come together to create meaningful words. Current phonics instruction exists solely for neuro-typical students and families who use what is considered to be standard, or “academic,” English in their day to day lives and conversations. However, that is not the reality of the diverse world in which we live, and instruction, especially something that is so foundational to continued learning in all contexts should be reflective of the field of learners who engage with the curriculum.

This course aims to focus on two specific groups of individuals who may be dis-serviced by current phonics and early literacy curriculums — students with disabilities who require differentiated approaches to language development and students who use a different variation of language in their day to day conversations. Students with disabilities may require the use of technology, multi-sensory practices, or other academic tools to help the access the content. There are a wide variety of accents, dialects, and uses of the English language, many of which are overlooked in the foundational reading and writing curriculums and undermine the legitimacy of the populations who are most familiar with anything other than what is considered to be standard English. The concept of academic language doesn’t exist outside of academia, so tailoring instruction to the specific needs of academic language creates a false narrative. Phonics instruction needs to be re-written and re-administered to appeal to students who use a variety of English language dialects, abilities, and understandings in their own personal lives.

Analysis of the Learner and Context

This mini-course is designed primarily for early literacy educators, but can be useful to any educator who considers the English language in their teaching practice. Participants will be able to explore the legitimacy of language use that deviates from standard English and be given the tools to explore how language exists in the community where they teach. To do so, they must have a basic understanding of phonics instruction to then examine and understand the flaws in the current setup and make appropriate changes to their own teaching.

Performance-Based Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  • Define phonics and phonemic awareness as early literacy skills
  • Identify the importance of various components and skills of early literacy development and how they contribute to reading and writing throughout schooling
  • Identify different types of language learners and how to tailor instruction to their learning language needs
  • Design a lesson that includes various necessary components of comprehensive phonics instruction and use inclusive strategies

Task Analysis

Participants will need:

  • Some familiarity or understanding of phonics and word structure
  • Students, children, or kids to observe and practice skills with
  • A computer with Internet access, basic computer skills
  • An excitement for reading development and the belief that all learners equally deserve to learn
  • The belief that all learners are capable of reading

Curriculum Map

There are several progressions in this course. The first progression covers the skills necessary to learn to read, spanning the first two units of the course. The second progression is in the third unit, which covers the types of learners and the implications of instruction based on the diversity of the learning population. The third and final progression in this course covers the practices that go into teaching a variety of language learners to read. The final progression grows throughout the second and third units, culminating in the fourth unit with designing a comprehensive lesson.

References and Resources

Baumann, J. F., Hoffman, J. V., Moon, J., & Duffy-Hester, A. M. (1998). Where Are Teachers' Voices in the Phonics/Whole Language Debate? Results from a Survey of U.S. Elementary Classroom Teachers. The Reading Teacher, 51(8), 636–650.

ESL Expat. (n.d.). No harm no vowel - esl vocabulary games for Kids & Adults. ESL Expat. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from

Kamala, R. (2014). Multisensory Approach to Reading Skills of Dyslexic Students. IOSR Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 19(5), 32–34.

Kilbourne, J. R., Scott-Webber, L., & Kapitula, L. R. (2017). An Activity-Permissible Classroom: Impacts of an Evidence-Based Design Solution on Student Engagement and Movement in an Elementary School Classroom. Children, Youth and Environments, 27(1), 112–134.

Lambert, Susan (Host) & Strom, Carolyn (Guest). (2020, Feb 5). The cognitive science behind how students learn to read: Carolyn Strom (No. 9) [Audio podcast episode]. In Science of Reading: The Podcast. Production Company.

Lane, H. B. (n.d.). How children learn to read words: Ehri’s phases. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from

Literacy Resources. (2003). Heggerty Phonemic Awareness.

LME Global. (n.d.). The Reading Wars - Phonics Versus Whole Word. Retrieved April 23, 2022, from

Marshall, S., & Hobbes, M. (Hosts). (2019, Apr 4). The “Ebonics” Controversy (No. 40) [Audio podcast episode]. In You’re Wrong About. Production Company.

Phonological and phonemic awareness: Activities for your Kindergartner. Reading Rockets. (2020, November 5). Retrieved April 23, 2022, from

Scarborough’s reading rope: A groundbreaking infographic. International Dyslexia Association. (2018, April 4). Retrieved March 9, 2022, from

Strom, C. H. (2021, February 9). Skilled reading in context. Carolyn H. Strom, PhD. Retrieved April 18, 2022, from

The 44 phonemes graphemes. (n.d.). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from

What is phonological awareness? The Daily Alphabet. (2021, March 23). Retrieved April 18, 2022, from

Wilson Language Training Corporation. (2013). Fundations.

Yopp, H. K., & Yopp, R. H. (2000). Supporting Phonemic Awareness Development in the Classroom. The Reading Teacher, 54(2), 130-143.