Explicit Phonics

Explicit phonics means teaching students the relationship between symbols and sounds in the English language rather than lists of sight words. Students learn the “basic code” of English, meaning the 71 phonograms for 43 elementary sounds, which compose almost every English word. A phonogram is the written expression of a sound. So, for instance, the word “ship” has three sounds: sh, i, and p. The “sh” is one sound written as two letters, and students learn the sound by hearing it, writing it, and saying it. Similarly, students learn that the letter “a” has 4 main sounds, and that in certain circumstances “a” will sound like “glad” and in others like “glade,” in others like “gall” or “walk.” Phonograms such as these are the primary and most basic components of an explicit phonics program.

Students also learn 47 different spelling rules that help them combine phograms in correct writing. Because English is a mixture of several languages—principally Anglo-Saxon, German, French, and Latin—students must learn explicit rules to make sense of English’s variety and richness.

This curriculum, which requires students to hear, to say, and to write phonemes at the same time, develop habits of care, neatness, and patience from an early age.

Learn More from Headmaster Trent Kramer

Our parent information meetings are a great opportunity for parents to learn more about our curriculum and culture. Headmaster Trent Kramer leads the Northern Colorado campus, which is completing its second year. 

Next Steps

We encourage you to explore this site and learn more about our program. If you would like to see this campus opened in Fall 2023, please submit a non-binding and confidential expression of interest.  

  • Friday, May 27 – Deadline to sign up for public comment at the public forum 
  • Tuesday, May 31, 4 p.m. – Public Forum at Durango High School auditorium
  • Friday, June 3, 8 a.m. – District interview with Ascent Classical’s leadership team; the public is encouraged to attend, but there will be no public comment
  • Monday, June 13 – District board will vote on the Ascent Classical Academy of Durango charter application

If you are unable to attend the public forum but would like to show your support, please submit a written comment here


Additional Resources