Voyager Sopris Learning EDVIEW360 Blog Series
Recent Blog Posts

Phonics Routines to Love! What Literacy Coaches (and All Educators) Need to Know

Updated on
Modified on June 20, 2024
  • Phonics

We know explicit, systematic phonics is an essential pillar for beginning readers. According to the Report of the National Reading Panel (2000), systematic phonics instruction yielded significant improvements across a wide range of age groups. Phonics instruction was found to enhance word reading, spelling, and comprehension skills. But what does quality phonics instruction look like in the classroom? Routines play a big role.

Classroom Environment

In my experience as a classroom teacher, we did not often get a glimpse of our peers’ teaching once we left our teacher-preparation program. You might question your practices and wonder if the instruction you are providing is on par with the other educators around you. Should the classroom be quiet with students working independently? Or should the teacher be in front of the class instructing the whole group?

When it comes to phonics instruction, the classroom should be noisy. According to Julia B. Lindsey in her book, Reading Above the Fray (2022), “When children are learning sound-spelling relationships and applying them, they should be extremely vocal.” (p.90). Therefore, a quiet classroom is not ideal when it comes to teaching foundational skills. Coaches and administrators should promote interactive lessons where teachers engage their students as a whole class, employing techniques like choral response and echoing the teacher. Let’s. Get. Loud!


When it comes to observations, knowing what to look for is important. From an outsider perspective, phonics lessons might look very basic. The teacher is telling students exactly what they need to know via explicit, systematic instruction. The entire class is responding together often and no one is raising their hands to answer. There is not any discovery learning happening during the “I do” “We Do” component and it may appear the lesson is not rigorous enough. However, this is a myth. According to Dr. Anita Archer, author of REWARDS®, we have to keep the “teach” in teacher (2019). Foundational skills lessons should involve high interactivity, maintaining a familiar routine while the teacher delivers direct instruction. This leaves nothing to chance. You cannot apply new knowledge if that knowledge does not already exist. 

Solid Routines

Finally, now that we understand phonics lessons require high levels of participation from the entire class, what exactly are the teacher and students engaging in? The answer is: Quality routines aligned to best practices. Day by day, these lessons will follow similar routines, with only the skill level varying. Most phonics programs have their own instructional routines included and it’s important every teacher follows those routines to create consistent results amongst the grade level. Coaches and administrators should know these routines, too.

For example, a word-blending routine might look like this:

  • Teacher: Points to the word and then points to each grapheme (spelling).
    • Sheep
  • Students: Say each phoneme (sound). Then, blend continuously.
    • /sh/ /E/ /p/ shhhhhhheeeeeeeep sheep
  • Teacher: What is this word?
  • Students: sheep

Every day, the routine remains consistent, but with different words. Students clearly understand what is expected during each routine and feel confident participating in the tasks. According to Reading Rockets, "Repeated routines are not boring to students. They reduce the memory load on students and enable them to focus on new skills or concepts.” (Phonics in Practice). This is a recipe for success.


If you want to learn more about phonics routines to love, I hope you’ll listen to the upcoming EDVIEW360 podcast when I’ll be a guest. I’ll share more routines for the most important foundational skills in the primary classroom.

Learn more



National Reading Panel. (April, 2000). Report of the National Reading Panel.

Lindsey, J. B. (2022). Reading Above the Fray (p. 90).

"Phonics in Practice." Reading Rockets, WETA Public Television, n.d.,https://www.readingrockets.org/reading-101/reading-101-learning-modules/course-modules/phonics/practice.

Related Products
About the Author
Jessica Farmer
Jessica Farmer
Farmer Loves Phonics

Jessica Farmer is the force behind Farmer Loves Phonics, a literacy advocate in the world of education on social media. With a bachelor's degree from Florida International University, Farmer also holds a reading endorsement in Florida. Her journey into the science of reading began in 2020, spurred by the onset of the pandemic. In response, she took to TikTok to create informative content, aimed at assisting parents in supporting their children's learning at home. Since then, she has maintained a consistent presence on TikTok and Instagram, offering valuable resources and insight for parents and educators. 

Learn more about Jessica Farmer