EFFECTIVE READING INSTRUCTION
Structured Literacy is a comprehensive approach to literacy instruction that research has shown is effective for all students and essential for students with Dyslexia. It is characterized by the provision of systematic, explicit, and cumulative instruction. Unfortunately, these strategies contrast instructional approaches common in many classrooms today (e.g., Whole Language, Balanced Literacy, Guided Reading, and Three-Cueing System Models such as Reading Recovery and the Leveled Literacy Intervention).
Reading Rockets offers a free self-paced professional development course for teachers called Reading 101. It was developed in collaboration with the Center for Effective Reading Instruction and The International Dyslexia Association with hopes of having Structured Literacy instruction implemented in all classrooms.
WHAT IS TAUGHT IN STRUCTURED LITERACY?
Phonological Awareness (PA) is a key foundational skill for learning to read well. PA is the ability to separate and manipulate the sounds in spoken language, including words in a sentence as well as syllables and individual sounds in a word. Helpful PA teaching resources include Heggerty's Phonemic Awareness and Bridge the Gap Curriculum, David Kilpatrick's Equipped for Reading Success, and Sounder and Friends. French resources include Phonemique and Watermelon Works.
Decoding and spelling skills must be taught explicitly, including letter-sound associations (alphabetic principle), morphology, and strategies for reading phonetically irregular and multi-syllable words. Instruction is supported by the use of sound walls and decodable texts. Spelling instruction also includes explicit instruction of spelling rules and guidelines.
Fluent reading is a product of strong decoding and strong language comprehension. Students who lack reading fluency must focus their attention on figuring out the words, leaving them little attention for understanding the text. For students who have not yet developed reading fluency, silent reading and round-robin reading are not effective uses of instructional time. Rather, techniques such as repeated readings and fluency drills can help.
Readers cannot understand what they are reading without knowing what most of the words mean. As children learn to read more advanced texts, they must learn the meaning of new words that are not part of their oral vocabulary. Specific vocabulary instruction activities include teaching morphology, classroom conversation, reading aloud, wide independent reading, word-learning strategies and wordplay.
Instruction addresses many contributors to language comprehension including background knowledge, vocabulary, syntax, semantics, verbal reasoning, sentence processing, knowledge of literacy structures and conventions, and skills and strategies for close reading of text.
Written expression instruction includes the mechanics and conventions of writing, composition (handwriting, spelling, punctuation, syntax), semantics, as well as the phases of the writing process (composition, revision, and editing).