Precision Teaching

When you think of Precision Teaching, think of three P's:

Any activity can be broken down into infinite parts, practiced and measured.  My Breakfast Reading Program provides a basic structure in the printable materials.  However, as a coach, you can develop your own targets of precision.  The goal of precision teaching is to reinforce a skill as many times in a short period of time.  Therefore, keep the number of targets for the skill to a minimum.

Example #1:  Sight words

In Lesson #1 for sight words, two groups of five words are the precision target.  The "I Say - You Say" technique for a 60 second practice drill using Worksheet #1, provides a minimum of four reinforcements for each word based on a 3 second pause between words (60 seconds/(5 words * 3 second interval)).  The frequency increases up to 12 reinforcements per word if 1 second pause between words (60 seconds/(5 words *1 second interval)). 

If after several lessons, you notice the student is having trouble with three words, two from group #1 and one from group #2.  Using Worksheet #2, you can target 30 seconds of practice to find and use the "I Say - You Say" for problem word #1, then 30 seconds for problem word #2, and then problem word #3.  After the practice session, you would still use worksheet #2 for the one minute performance task where the student says all the words.

Example #2:  Consonants

You notice the student is really having trouble with the number of consonants presented in a lesson.  Rather than teach all 5 - 7, you could focus on two at a time, using the consonant picture worksheets and/or Worksheet #3.  If necessary, only focus on selected target one day and new targets the next day.  As progress is made, you could then increase the number of targets practiced in each timing. 

That is, if the beginning sounds are the only target on Monday and the ending sounds are the target on Tuesday, you may be able to introduce both sets on Wednesday in the same practiced timing session.  If not, repeat beginning sounds on Wednesday and ending sounds on Thursday.  By Friday, all sounds should be able to be introduced in one timing practice session.

Example #3:  Vowel Sounds

In the regular program, all five short vowels and all five long vowels are presented at the same time.  However, they are repeated for the first 10 lessons, so fluency with the vowel sounds should increase lesson to lesson.

However, if the student is frustrated, again, you can create your own target for precision teaching.  You could focus on two short vowels at a time (short a and short u).  You could focus on one vowel letter at a time for both short and long sound using the one vowel/two vowel rule (letter a - long and short sound).

Example #4:  Identifying vowels and/or vowel rules and vowel sounds

One of the critical skills for reading and for My Breakfast Reading Program, is the ability to identify vowels within a word.  Without that skill, the student can't apply any phonemic analysis to decode the word.

If the student is having trouble identifying vowels and/or knowing if the vowel is long or short, use the following precision activities using worksheet #3 or #4.  Also, have the vowel picture sheets available for the student to view for assistance.

Identify vowels:  Non-verbal activity

Identifying vowel rules: Non-verbal and verbal activities

Saying the vowel sound: Verbal activities

Building on the previous activities, this time the student would mark the vowel(s) and then say the corresponding short or long vowel sound.

As you can see, you can use the precision teaching technique in breaking down a complex skill into smaller parts and then build upon the mastery of each previous skill until the complex skill becomes automatic.  In this case, the ultimate goal is to be able to recognize and say the vowel sound in less than one second.  Once this is accomplished the next level of skill is the sound blending of beginning and/or ending consonants.  


In summary, Precision Teaching allows you to create your own target for instruction, practice it and then chart the progress.  You can either chart your new precision task or chart progress when the student applies it to the preset activity within the program.

My Breakfast Reading Program breaks the analysis of reading skills down into manageable parts.  You have the liberty to break skills down into even smaller tasks. 

However, over the course of a lesson, My Breakfast Reading Program breaks down the skills for mastery but in the end, the student needs to apply the skills in either rapid naming, sound blending and or reading short sentences and/or story activities.  Therefore, your smaller tasks should ultimately have a goal of a higher more complex task.

Analogy #1:  Typing

Remember typing class?  You worked on several letters at a time in a timed practice session.  The next level of activity was typing words made up of the current letters practiced and/or previously learned letters in a timed activity where you charted your progress.  Eventually, you were also introduced to formatting letters, resumes, etc...  You didn't have to think about the keyboard.

Analogy #2:  Sports

Pick any sport you and/or your student is familiar with.  Break down the skills into very small parts - "splinter skills".  Think of practice sessions.  The coach had you practice these skills over and over, both during a short timed drill but also over a period of time.  Remember, you don't master tasks with one practice session.

After many of the "splinter skills" are practiced, you then have a scrimmage to apply these skills.  The highest level in integrating the skills is in a real game.  In this case, you have to adjust and adapt based on the repertoire of skills.

Resources for identifying "splinter skills":

The following link, also found in the Section: Your Research, provides a detailed analysis of many skills required for reading.  The link is included with permission from the University of Oregon.

Big Ideas In Beginning Reading  At the top of the link are five categories, such as Phonemic Awareness.

Click on a category and on the left column, there are four sub-sections, such as How to Teach It.  These sub-sections provide very good examples of "splinter skills" that you can incorporate with precision teaching.  In many cases, the dominoes printed materials can be used.

The above links provide alternative methods for attacking words.  My Breakfast Reading Program firmly believes that to attack an unknown word, the vowel sound is the key.  Therefore, My Breakfast Reading Program stresses identifying the vowel sound first. 

Precision Teaching as a Science:

In the Your Research section, there are several links related specifically to Precision Teaching.  Additionally, in the Search section on that page, there are several key works (precision teaching, celeration charts) that you can use to get an in-depth knowledge of Precision Teaching and charting, particularly with the Standard Celeration Chart.