Inclusive Phonics Instruction

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Return to: Jocelyn Testa's Portfolio Page | ETAP 623 Spring 2022 (Byrne)

Course Overview and Purpose

More than half of students in the U.S. educational system are struggling readers. How can we fix this?

This course is designed for educators, parents, or anyone who engages with early readers and pre-readers. 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?

The course consists of some content to read, some graphics and images, some links to videos or additional resources, some podcast suggestions, and links to other curriculums and resources to seek inspiration from. At the conclusion of the course, participants will use available resources to develop a comprehensive lesson plan that includes components essential to reading development and inclusive for all learners involved.

Please move forward into this course with an open mind, a dedicated heart, and the willingness to better ourselves as educators, parents, and anyone else for the sake of our children.

Needs Assessment

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. 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.

Performance 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

Course Units

Unit 1: The Foundations of 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 Comprehensive 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.

Extended 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.

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.

Literacy Resources. (2003). Heggerty Phonemic Awareness.

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

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.