Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Students who will benefit from Phonics Blitz lessons are identified by giving a one- minute oral reading passage and Relly Great Reading's short informal Decoding Surveys. The oral reading and decoding surveys are administered individually, and take only two to seven minutes per student to administer and score. Students who meet a benchmark score on the oral reading and have an accuracy rate of 97% or higher demonstrate grade level reading skills and do not need the Decoding Surveys. The school enters the oral reading and decoding survey scores into Really Great Reading’s Grouping Matix and the school receives recommended groups.
Many of our materials are designed for older students – particularly older struggling readers.  For instance, Phonics Blitz is a set of lessons designed for students in grades 4 and up. Its format, pace and content is deliberately planned not to be “babyish.” However, the skills we teach to these struggling adolescent readers are the same skills you might teach to young beginning readers.  Many of our other tools are designed specifically for young or beginning readers. We have tools for students who are building the basic pre-reading skills of phonological awareness and letter identification.
Phonics Suite instruction can be used with students as young as 2nd grade, although most schools use it in 4th grade and beyond. The assessment tools offered in Phonics Suite can even be used with younger students (starring in the middle of first grade). The phonics skills taught in Phonics Suite lessons are covered in many core K-2 reading programs. However, those who qualify for Blitz and Boost didn’t master those skills when they were originally taught.
The scope and sequence for teaching phonics skills is the same, no matter the student's age. In Phonics Suite, the instruction has been modified to be more appropriate for older students and be respectful of their age and maturity level.
Phonics Suite lessons can be taught by a wide spectrum of people, from paraprofessionals with very little experience to seasoned literacy professionals. We provide several resources that enable a variety of teachers to be successful with the instruction. Really Great Reading offers workshops to introduce teachers to the Phonics Suite family of products and provide them with background.  Click here for details.
To fully determine which lessons are most appropriate for your students, we recommend that you assess all potential students with the Beginning and Advanced Decoding Surveys and use our Grouping Matrix to match students with lessons. Click here for more info on assessing and grouping students.
Generally, the first implementation of Phonics Blitz (one teacher serving 12 students in 2 groups of 6) costs approximately $1,225. The first implementation of Phonics Boost is slightly more expensive (one teacher serving 8 students in 2 groups of 4) costs approximately $1,480. The second implementation is always much less expensive because the initial purchase includes the lesson plans and all the manipulatives needed for multiple implementations.

If your classroom is wired with an LCD projector or an Interactive Whiteboard, you can deduct approximately $300 from the first year implementation costs described above.
In Blitz and Boost, all students begin with Lesson 1. The first few lessons establish cognition of how closed syllables with short vowel sounds work, familiarize the student with the routines in the lessons, and give the student a chance to understand the importance of reading accurately.  Even if you have determined that student’s weaknesses are primarily with more advanced phonics (such as variant vowels and nonsense multi-syllable words), the student should still start on Lesson 1.
Phonics Blitz and Phonics Boost are very similar in structure.  However, Phonics Blitz is for students with mild to moderate decoding difficulties, whereas Phonics Boost is for students with more significant decoding difficulties. Click here for details.
It’s our opinion and experience that many students are placed in Rewards before competently reading single syllable, simple words. There is some overlap between Rewards and Phonics Suite instruction. However, many schools say they use Phonics Blitz and Boost to prepare students for Rewards.
Students who have decoding weaknesses often have fluency issues. It’s only when decoding is well established and relatively automatic that students can become fluent readers. So although Phonics Suite focuses primarily on decoding, the result is fluency.
Students who have decoding weaknesses don't always have vocabulary or comprehension issues. Many students who complete Phonics Blitz or Phonics Boost lessons immediately improve their vocabulary and comprehension scores. They can lift text from the page more efficiently and thus match what they read to their known vocabulary, making comprehension more certain.
Phonics Blitz can be taught in groups as large as 12, and Phonics Boost can be taught in groups as large as 6. For students who are in grades 2-3, Boost can be taught in group sizes as large as 12.
We have several documents that describe much of the research behind our instruction. Click here to see these.  In addition, several schools have given us data on the effectiveness of the lessons. Here are some examples.
The passages for Blitz and Boost vary in difficulty. The passages progress from easiest to hardest, and the passages in Boost are easier than the ones in Blitz. You can use these charts to see the grade equivalency level for each of the passages.  We have had some comments that the passages in Boost are still too hard for some 2nd and 3rd graders. If this is the case, and you would prefer to use easier passages, we suggest Read Naturally passages.  However, the passages should not be controlled text; they should be something close to grade-level passages.
The passages used in the Phonics Blitz and Phonics Boost are not leveled, but they do vary in readability according to the Flesch-Kincaid readability tests. The passages in Phonics Blitz range in readability from 4th to 7th grade levels.  The passages in Phonics Boost range in readability from 2nd to 4th grade levels.
The passages are expository. We tried to pick topics with high interest to a wide range of students, including grades, ages, and sexes. Sample topic categories include US cities (Seattle, New York), sea life (Jellyfish, Stingrays) transportation (Hot Air Balloons, Roller Coasters, Boats), famous sites (Machu Picchu, UFOs and Roswell, and Pompeii), air travel (Wright Brothers, The First Woman to Break the Sound Barrier), and the human body (Skeleton, Our Five Senses).

Many schools have avoiding calling Phonics Blitz and Boost instruction “reading classes.”  Instead they market it to their students as “linguistics” or “the structure of English words.” The classes are much more appealing to older students that way.
To teach the lessons with fidelity, they are required. The multisensory approach is important for students. Our Phonics Kits are a highly recommended complement to the lessons.
Yes. The student workbooks are designed to simply reinforce and practice the concepts being taught in the lessons.
Yes. Everything else (the lesson plans, the student manipulatives, and the teacher manipulatives) is durable and meant for repeated use and multiple implementations.
Each Phonics Blitz lesson is designed to take about an hour.  However, lessons can be given in periods as short as 30 minutes. For teachers who have 90-minute intervention blocks, one and a half lessons can generally be taught in one block period.
The RGR program moves quickly, is appropriate for older students and engaging for adolescents.  It incorporates cutting edge technology and is more user friendly than many other programs.
DDS is informal and can quickly and accurately determine if a student has gaps. DDS takes just 4 -7 minutes, WADE takes 30-40 minutes.
Yes. Lessons are designed to be taught in 60-minute blocks, but we offer flexible scheduling options that allow teachers to break lessons into smaller chunks that can be taught in 30- or 45-minute blocks. This makes the lessons ideal for an RtI setting.
Younger students enjoy Phonics Boost lessons because they are taught strategies for attacking multi-syllable words. Thus, even students as young as 2nd grade can easily decode words like “quintuplet” and “catastrophic” by Lesson 26 in Phonics Boost. This appeals to and excites younger students because they are given the skills they need to decode big words that were previously inaccessible to them.
Reading nonsense words is one of the only ways to help students break the guessing habit, especially those students with strong vocabularies.  Students must use knowledge of common spelling patterns to read a nonsense word -- they cannot rely on background knowledge, existing vocabulary, or context to guess the word.  Also, they cannot look at the first letter or two and guess the word.  They must use phonics knowledge to consistently decode nonsense words accurately.

For more information on nonsense words, click here.
Really Great Reading’s Online Letter Tiles allow teachers to reinforce the concepts taught in the Phonics Blitz and Phonics Boost lessons. In addition, the second edition of Phonics Blitz has an optional add-on software for use with interactive whiteboards.

 

Click here to find more information about Phonics Blitz Online and Letter Tiles Online.

The color tiles are used in phonemic awareness lessons and activities to represent the phonemes (individual speech sounds) in words. In phonics lessons, the color tiles can be used to represent speech sounds, and letter tiles can be placed underneath the color tiles to show how each sound is spelled.

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