Northshore School District Set to Introduce New Reading Instruction Program This Fall

Students around a table learning to read using phonetic method.

The Northshore School District’s Elementary Special Education Department has adopted the Phono-Graphix Reading Method to improve teaching of students who struggle with reading. This method uses a phonetic-linguistic approach to teaching and has been shown to be successful with such students.

The District piloted the Phono-Graphix method last fall and winter and conducted staff training in late June with elementary special education teachers.

Becky Anderson, assistant superintendent for special services, said the training exercise was very rewarding for all the teachers who participated.

“Teachers were actively engaged and asked insightful questions,” said Anderson. “Because the training included working with students, teachers were able to immediately apply their learning to a real-life situation with immediate feedback being provided.”

This teaching method is used for many students who struggle to learn how to read, including students with dyslexia.

Northshore is holding a “Camp Crack the Code” at Crystal Springs Elementary School this summer, and several dozen students in different grades and of varying reading levels are participating. The camp includes training for parents in how to support their students in learning to read utilizing the Phono-Graphix method. Parent training is provided in English and Spanish.

Jessica-Lynn Smith, a special education teacher at Arrowhead Elementary School, said she and the other teachers in the camp jumped right in teaching students with this system to gauge their reading levels.

“That’s what’s great about the program,” Smith said. “We can identify the gaps immediately and start teaching them.”

“This program teaches the skills and the components that students need to learn to read,” said Renita DeGraff, who also teaches at Arrowhead. “But it’s non-rules based. We’re not teaching rules. It’s what I love about it--It’s very phonetic.”

DeGraff added that this is another method to teach children how to read among others that special education teachers use to supplement general education core reading instruction. Under this system, she explained, students segment out each sound in a word. In traditional reading instruction, students used to group together letters and learned to blend them.

“They learn the code in a way that they can try out different sounds, so they don’t have to cycle through all those rules,” Smith said. “They have an idea of what sounds the letters make.”

The program will be used beginning in fall 2018.


For more information about this program, please contact Assistant Superintendent for Special Services Becky Anderson at or Assistant Director of Elementary Special Education Adra Davy at