Ehri’s Phases of Reading Development (part 2)

Ehri’s Phases of Reading Development (part 2)

Written by: Morgan Mason

October 11, 2023

In the second part of this blog post, we will delve into the last two phases of Ehri’s Five Phases of Reading Development, shedding light on the pivotal stages that bridge the gap between decoding and comprehension. (blog part 1)

Phase 4: Consolidated-Alphabetic Phase

The Consolidated Alphabetic Phase marks a significant shift, where readers refine their skills to effortlessly decode words and expand their sight vocabulary. This phase is characterized by the acquisition of a vast array of words which can be recognized instantly, leading to increased reading speed and the ability to channel cognitive resources towards understanding the deeper meaning of the text. Moreover, readers in this phase begin to develop metacognitive abilities, enabling them to monitor their own reading, make adjustments when comprehension fails, and apply strategic approaches to enhance their overall understanding. They can effortlessly read a wide range of texts with accuracy, fluency, and comprehension. At this stage, reading becomes a means of acquiring information and enjoying literature.

Educators should engage students in higher-level comprehension strategies, critical thinking activities, and exposure to diverse genres to foster a deep appreciation for reading.

Phase 5: Automatic Phase

The ultimate goal of reading development is achieved in the automatic phase. In this final stage, the culmination of years of development results in a reader who navigates text with unparalleled ease. At this stage, reading becomes a seamless and fluent process. Readers can effortlessly recognize words, decode complex vocabulary, and comprehend the content deeply. Decoding becomes virtually effortless, paving the way for higher-order cognitive processes such as critical analysis, inference, and interpretation. At this stage, the reader not only comprehends the text’s surface content but also engages deeply with the material, drawing connections, evaluating perspectives, and synthesizing information.

“Incorporating Ehri’s phases of reading development into lesson planning can greatly enhance the effectiveness of teaching strategies and support students’ literacy growth.”

1. Diagnostic Assessment: Begin by assessing students’ current reading levels to determine which phase they are in. This will help you tailor your instruction to their specific needs and provide targeted support.

Elementary student interested in a book.
Photo by Allison Shelley for EDUimages

2. Phonological Awareness Activities: In the early “Pre Alphabetic” phase, focus on phonological awareness activities such as rhyming games, alliteration, and segmenting sounds in words. These activities build a strong foundation for letter-sound relationships.

3. Letter-Sound Correspondence: During the “Partial Alphabetic” phase, introduce explicit instruction on letter-sound correspondence. Use engaging activities like word sorts, phonics games, and interactive exercises to help students connect letters to their sounds.

4. Decoding Practice: As students move into the “Full Alphabetic” phase, provide ample opportunities for decoding practice using phonetically regular words. Gradually introduce more complex phonics patterns and multisyllabic words.

5. Word Analysis and Vocabulary: In the “Consolidated Alphabetic” phase, focus on word analysis skills. Teach students how to break down unfamiliar words using prefixes, suffixes, and root words. Introduce vocabulary-rich texts and discuss word meanings in context.

6. Fluency Development: Emphasize fluency in the “Consolidated Alphabetic” and “Automatic” phases. Use repeated readings, choral reading, and timed readings to improve students’ reading speed and accuracy.

7. Comprehension Strategies: Introduce reading comprehension strategies, such as predicting, questioning, summarizing, and making connections, as students progress through the phases. Provide opportunities for guided discussions and activities that enhance understanding.

8. Literary Analysis: In the later phases, encourage students to analyze texts more deeply. Explore literary elements like character development, plot structure, and symbolism to foster critical thinking skills.

9. Independent Reading: As students advance through the phases, incorporate independent reading time. Offer a variety of texts that are appropriate for where they are in their development to promote engagement and autonomy.

10. Differentiation: Differentiate instruction by grouping students based on their reading phases and needs. Provide targeted support to struggling readers while challenging proficient readers to delve into more complex texts.

11. Progress Monitoring: Continuously assess students’ progress within each phase. Adjust your teaching strategies based on their development and provide additional support as needed.

12. Cross-Phase Connections: Highlight the progression from one phase to another to help students understand the overall reading development journey. Show how the skills they acquire in one phase build upon and contribute to their growth in the next.

“By incorporating these ideas into your lesson planning, you can effectively integrate Ehri’s phases of reading development into your teaching approach, fostering a well-rounded and scaffolded learning experience for your students.”

By incorporating these ideas into your lesson planning, you can effectively integrate Ehri’s phases of reading development into your teaching approach, fostering a well-rounded and scaffolded learning experience for your students.

Ehri’s Five Phases of Reading Development offer a comprehensive roadmap that illustrates the intricate journey readers undertake as they progress from pre alphabetic knowledge to automatic reading proficiency. Teachers can effectively leverage Ehri’s five phases of reading development to enhance their instructional strategies and support students’ literacy growth. Each phase builds upon the previous one, culminating in a reader who not only decodes words but also comprehends and engages with the text on a profound level. Understanding these phases can guide educators, parents, and learners alike in supporting and nurturing the development of reading skills, ultimately fostering a lifelong love for reading and learning. By aligning their teaching methods with Ehri’s phases, educators can provide a scaffolded approach to reading development that caters to the diverse needs and abilities of their students, ultimately nurturing proficient and confident readers.



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  • Morgan Mason

    Morgan earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education from Ball State University and her Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Butler University’s EPPSP program. She has served as a grade 1, 3, and 4 classroom teacher and an instructional coach.

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