Why do PLD sequence digraphs in Target 2 before CCVC & CVCC in Target 3?

PLD’s teaching sequence presents Stage 1 in four parts:

Target 1: CVC
Target 2: Very early digraphs sh, ch, the, oo, ee, ck, qu, wh
Target 3: CCVC & CVCC
Target 4: ay/ai, oy/oi, er, ar, or, al(l)

Other SSP programs are structured so they present CVC, then CCVC/CVCC, and then digraphs (essentially reversing PLD’s Target 2 and Target 3). Both are workable options and the reasons PLD has intentionally made this decision are:

Decodable reading books start with VC, CVC and no High Frequency Words (HFW & formerly referred to as sight words). However, as students progress through CVC decodable book series, they are soon presented with words such as 'the' in which digraph knowledge is advantageous. Also '-ck' starts to also appear early in such texts. Hence in our thinking, a start to digraphs is advisable. When PLD’s founder, Diana Rigg ran the Speech, Language and Literacy Clinic (staffed by Speech & Language Pathologists and Occupational Therapists) we found that student progress was maximised for most students when early digraph training (i.e. 2 letters = 1 sound) was conducted.
What needs to be kept in mind is that CCVC and CVCC words typically require less teaching than the other targets within Stage 1. After all, words of this nature are comprised of CVC plus one more consonant (either at the beginning or end of words).

The screening below was administered following Target 1 and early Target 2 teaching. As you can see from the results, students will acquire Target 3 (CCVC/CVCC) relatively automatically because these words are CVC-based with one more consonant.

As the year progresses this common pattern in the screening results will be observed. On the whole, students require much more teaching time directed to Target 2. When review testing is completed, many will then skip over Target 3 and be ready for Target 4, as they acquired Target 3 skills when they were acquiring CVC skills. For some students however, this will not be the case and time will need to be allocated to these words/phonics (typically not as much teaching time as Target 2).

What are your options?

It is fine for teachers to manipulate the Teaching Sequence https://pld-literacy.org/product/foundation-teaching-sequence-manual/ and reverse the teaching weeks outlined in the Foundation Teaching Sequence Manual for Targets 2 and 3. Strong outcomes should still be evident.

If teachers follow the prescribed PLD sequence, they will be surprised to observe some of what is outlined above.

Updated on: 02/02/2022

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