Scientific Based Reading Research (SBRR): Methods & Examples

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Learning to read impacts a child's ability to live a full and happy life. Thanks to scientific based reading research, teachers have the knowledge and techniques necessary to teach their students how to be great readers.

Reading Instruction

Reading instruction is a critical part of school for children. The ability to read impacts their academic performance in other subjects and allows them to become independent learners. In 2000, the National Reading Panel, made up of a variety of educational experts, put together a report that details the most important aspects of reading instruction. These six areas are phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, guided oral reading, and comprehension.

This lesson will define these six critical areas of reading instruction, and provide ideas on how you might teach them in the classroom.

Guided oral reading is one of the six components considered most important in reading instruction.
students reading in small group

Critical Strategies

These six strategies for teaching reading are all related. For your students to become successful readers, you must address all six areas.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is understanding that words are made up of phonemes, or sounds. When children can separate the word ''cat'' into three separate sounds by saying /k/-/a/-/t/, they are demonstrating their knowledge of phonemic awareness. Here are a few ways to teach phonemic awareness.

Word Families

Teach students that rhyming words belong in word families, or words with the same ending. For example, sing, bring, thing, ding, and ring are all in the ''-ing'' family. This helps students practice listening closely to the different sounds that make up a word. You may give students a word family, such as ''-at,'' and have them say as many words as they can that belong in that family.


Phonics is the understanding that the written letters of the alphabet represent different sounds, and these sounds make up words. Once students hear the sounds in the word ''cat,'' they then need to learn that the letters ''c,'' ''a,'' ''t'' blend together to spell the word ''cat.''

Alphabet Book

Have your students find pictures in magazines that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Tell them to write the letter ''a'' on a piece of construction paper and glue pictures that begin with the letter ''a.'' Repeat this with one letter a day until they've made a complete book.

Letter Bean Bag Toss

Write the letters of the alphabet on flashcards and place them in random order on the floor. Have students take turns by holding the bean bag and listening for the sound. Tell them a sound, such as /t/, then see if they can throw the bean bag to land on the letter ''t.''


When we teach vocabulary, we are introducing students to new words and their meanings. Learning the meaning of unfamiliar words helps students comprehend more when they encounter these words in text.

Picture Vocab

After you've explained new words and their meanings, have your students demonstrate their understanding by drawing pictures to represent the vocab words. You may split students into groups or have them work individually to create a picture vocab book or poster.

Vocab Hunt

This activity is appropriate for students who have mastered phonemic awareness and phonics skills, and can read well independently. Copy several passages that include the vocabulary words out of the text your class is reading. Have students read the passages and highlight the words. In groups, allow students to talk about the meaning of the words in the context of the text. When students actually read the book, they will be prepared to understand more because of their exposure to the more difficult words.


Fluency is the ability to read text accurately, at an appropriate pace, with expression. The more our students read, the better their fluency. If students are constantly stopping to sound out words, it slows down their reading, which impacts their understanding.

Timed Tests

This activity is most successful when working with one student at a time. Hand your students a 100-word, grade-level passage and give them a timed test. Set the timer for one minute and have them read the passage as quickly as they can. At the end of the minute, write down the number of words they read correctly, subtracting the errors. Have students graph their progress over time, and watch their fluency rate improve.

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