Michael Heggerty was a great veteran educator at the elementary level. He was active in the education world for over 30 years, of which 28 as a classroom teacher. All through his life, Dr. Heggerty has always been life-long learning himself and his CV includes two master credentials and one doctorate degrees.


When Dr. Heggerty was a 1st-grade teacher, he was working on a research project about the key role phonemic awareness plays in the process of how to acquire and master reading skills best. For the succeeding years, he continued his research and started to develop materials for a consistent and efficient curriculum for phonemic awareness development.

Michael Heggerty went on to (in 2003) establish Literacy Resources Inc. and he published “Phonemic Awareness”, his first version of the now so well-known curriculum for phonemic awareness lessons. The full title read: “Phonemic Awareness, the Skills To Help Students Succeed! This was Heggerty’s finished product of his classroom work and research. Trough the years, Dr. Heggerty has presented his research results and his highly acclaimed instructional design at numerous conferences and other meetings.

Dr. Heggerty later took an administrative position to serve as an “Assistant Curriculum & Instruction Superintendent” for several years before he retired, and though he was no longer teaching in a classroom setting, Heggerty’s work and efforts continued (and continue) to have an impact on the learning process of so many through his improvements and innovations of educational methodologies both as a teacher and while working with Literary Resources. Also interesting in this context is this post about “Whooo’s Reading.” Unfortunately, Dr. Heggerty died all too soon in 2013, yet his elementary education legacy is living on through his research and curriculum for Phonemic Awareness.

Phonemic Awareness Curriculum – English Pre-Kindergarten
The pre-kindergarten Phonemic Awareness curriculum lessons (the purple book) use nursery rhymes get 3 and 4-year-old students introduced to language through play. These lessons are including the same 10 daily skills of phonemic awareness as the English kindergarten curriculum and the English primary curriculum. All pre-kindergarten lessons include a few fun elements and ideas to incorporate the philosophy of phonemic awareness into their daily activities. By the time preschool is over, students will have begun building build up a pretty vast repertoire of standard nursery rhymes which will help them enjoy playing with language and they’ll better understand where stories come from.

Phonemic Awareness Curriculum – English Kindergarten
The kindergarten Phonemic Awareness curriculum lessons (the blue book) will spend more valuable time on each of these skills. These lessons are covering all consonants, digraphs, short vowels, rime patterns, and blends, while long vowel words will be introduced later in the curriculum. The yellow book, by comparison, goes much further regarding long vowels and will introduce students to R-controlled vowels, multisyllabic words, and special vowel sounds.

Phonemic Awareness Curriculum – English Primary
Heggerty’s primary curriculum (the yellow book) will typically be used in grades 1 through 3. It may also be used in small groups or individual students in higher grades if they need to do remedial work on certain skills. The revised version of the English Primary Curriculum has added more instructions for teachers, such as optional hand motions to enhance some skills. This section additionally comes with correct responses so teachers can present these lesson at a quick and consistent pace. All these curricula align with the Grade 1 Common Core Education Standards for Phonological Awareness. Check out also this post on how online learning works, an interesting article about the impact of new technologies on education.

These curricula are all written in a highly user-friendly way and many teachers have successfully implemented them without any formal training. Most teachers, though, will definitely benefit from some sort of formal instruction as that will also include an explanation about Dr. Heggerty’s research and the theory of phonemic awareness. Formal instruction also comes with sample lessons. Today, there a few more highly interesting multi-media developments in the world of phonemic awareness and language reading skills. See also this post about Reading Wonders. 

Every single point in the development of word-level reading of a child is substantially influenced and affected by Phonological Awareness skills. This goes all the way from simply learning different letter names to efficiently and effectively adding multisyllabic, new words automatically to the child’s word vocabulary.

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