The Science of Reading


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Overview and Purpose

In the United States, we are facing a literacy crisis. Too many students are continuing to read below grade level. In fact, sixty-six percent of fourth graders are not performing on grade level. By the time students reach eighth-grade, about sixty-four percent of students are reading below grade level ("Statistics," 2022). Without basic decoding and comprehension skills, these students will struggle with literacy throughout their life. How has the U.S. education system failed these students?

This course is designed for early childhood educators who work with emergent readers. This course aims to support educators in understanding brain-based learning and how to adjust literacy instruction to align with the “Science of Reading.”

Course Essential Questions

  • How can we modify literacy instruction to include the elements of the “Science of Reading?”
  • How can we make literacy instruction more hands-on?
  • How can we instill joy in our readers?

Through this course, I hope we can overcome the barriers to literacy instruction to ensure that our students can become fluent readers.

Needs Assessment

Instructional problem: Literacy is a part of students’ civil rights. Both reading and writing are essential for students to access and be part of society. However, across the United States, it is reported that thirty-four percent of 4th-grade students were proficient in reading. Sixty-six percent of 4th-grade students cannot read or comprehend text (NAEP, n.d.). There are debates across the country on the best form of literacy instruction. Additionally, teachers who come out of their credential programs lack the understanding of how to teach literacy. Due to this, students struggle as readers and writers.

The nature of what is to be learned: Participants will learn about the neuroscience of literacy and how the brain learns how to read and acquire language. Participants will understand how to incorporate research-based strategies to help emergent readers.

About the learners: The participants will be certified educators with a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood education. The participants are looking for ways to better their knowledge of different literacy instructions.

Instructional content: Participants will complete a pre-assessment activity that will activate their prior knowledge and assess their understanding of teaching reading in early childhood. The learning objectives will be provided during each unit, along with a mini-lesson. There will be readings and instructional videos for participants to grasp the content. At the end of the unit, there will be check-ins for participants to pause and reflect on their learning.

Explore instructional problem/solution: Participants may not follow the same curriculum. Participants can learn how to adapt the curriculum and implement strategies that will meet the standards of the curriculum.

Goals: This course aims to equip knowledge and resources for early childhood educators to use when planning instruction. Participants will gain an understanding of the ways to teach students fundamental reading and writing skills. Participants will debunk research about the right way to teach literacy and make an informed decision on the best way to teach their students.

Performance Objectives

Learners will be able to:

  • Define the concept “science of reading.”
  • Identify the areas of the brain involved in reading.
  • State the skills of early literacy development.
  • Plan and implement strategies for students to become fluent readers.

Course Units

This mini-course includes the following units. Click Unit 1 to begin.

Unit 1: Approaches to Early Childhood Literacy Instruction

Learning Objectives

  • Participants will be able to identify the parts of the "Three Cueing System."
  • Participants will be able to name reading strategies associated with "The Three Cueing System."
  • Participants will be able to define the Science of Reading and explain its value for literacy instruction.
  • Participants will be able to describe Scarborough's Reading Rope in their own words.

Unit 2: How the Brain Learns to Read

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to describe the regions of the brain responsible for reading acquisition.
  • Participants will be able to name the types of processors and their function for word recognition.
  • Participants will be able to understand the areas of brain that contribute to reading disabilities.

Unit 3: The Foundations of Early Child Literacy

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to state the five components of reading and its importance.
  • Participants will be able to name activities that builds on the five components of reading.

Unit 4: Creating a Lesson Plan

Learning Objectives:

  • Participants will be able to design a literacy lesson that incorporates one of the five components of reading for emergent readers.

Extended Resources

Unit 1 Resources

Education, Amplify. (Host). (2019, October 14). Science of Reading: The Podcast [Audio Podcast]. Retrieved from

Is it a good idea to teach the three cueing systems in reading? Reading Rockets. (2020, May 27). Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Meltzer, E. (2020, July 11). 10 reasons the three-cueing system (MSV) is ineffective. Breaking The Code. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Schwartz, S. (2022, March 11). Is this the end of 'three cueing'? Education Week. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from,guesses%2C%20informed%20by%20context%20clues.

What is the science of reading?: Structured literacy: IMSE Journal. IMSE Journal. (2022, September 20). Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Unit 2 Resources

Torre, G.-A. A., & McKay, C. C. (2020, September 23). Developmental dyslexia: When the brain struggles to read. Frontiers for Young Minds. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Burns, M. (2020, October 6). The reading brain: How your brain helps you read, and why it matters. Scientific Learning. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Hudson, R., High, L., & Al Otaiba, S. (2013, December 12). Dyslexia and the brain: What does current research tell us? Reading Rockets. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Reading and the brain. Harvard Medical School. (n.d.). Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Sarah. (2021, August 6). Reading and the brain. Sarah's Teaching Snippets. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from

Unit 3 Resources

Fluency: Activities for your first grader. Reading Rockets. (2020, November 17). Retrieved December 5, 2022, from

Phonological and phonemic awareness: Activities for your kindergartener. Reading Rockets. (2022, September 28). Retrieved December 5, 2022, from

Kelley, S. (2021, September 30). 18 elementary comprehension activities. Education to the Core. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from

Tanner, K. (2021, December 21). 18 valuable vocabulary activities for Kids. Teaching Expertise. Retrieved December 5, 2022, from

Top 12 phonics activities for Kids in 2021 – reading eggs. (n.d.). Retrieved December 6, 2022, from

Unit 4 Resources

Lynn, N. (2022, January 10). Science of reading lesson plans for Pre-Readers. Natalie Lynn Kindergarten. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from

Orpi, D. (2022, September 8). Literacy block scheduling that aligns with the science of reading. Thrive Literacy Corner - Thrive Educational Services. Retrieved December 6, 2022, from

Science of reading: Guided phonics + beyond program – unit 3 digraphs, blends, double endings. Little Minds at Work. (2022, March 24). Retrieved December 6, 2022, from

What does a science of reading lesson plan look like? free file too. Mrs. Wills Kindergarten. (2022, October 4). Retrieved December 6, 2022, from


NAEP report card: Reading. The Nation's Report Card. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2022, from

Statistics. The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance. (2022, February 23). Retrieved November 20, 2022, from