Structured Literacy: Effective Instruction for Students with Dyslexia and Related Reading Difficulties - International Dyslexia Association (2023)

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Structured literacy (SL) teaching is the most effective approach for students who experience unusual difficulty learning to read and spell printed words. The term refers to both the content and methods or principles of instruction. It means the same kind of instruction as the terms multisensory structured language education and structured language and literacy.

Structured literacy teaching stands in contrast with approaches that are popular in many schools but that do not teach oral and written language skills in an explicit, systematic manner. Evidence is strong that the majority of students learn to read better with structured teaching of basic language skills, and that the components and methods of Structured Literacy are critical for students with reading disabilities including dyslexia.

Content of SL Instruction: Language

Dyslexia and most reading disorders originate with language processing weaknesses. Consequently, the content of instruction is analysis and production of language at all levels: sounds, spellings for sounds and syllables, patterns and conventions of the writing system, meaningful parts of words, sentences, paragraphs, and discourse within longer texts.

Phoneme awareness. Becoming consciously aware of the individual speech sounds (phonemes) that make up words is a critical foundation for learning to read and spell. A phoneme is the smallest unit of speech that can change the meaning of a word. For example, the different vowel phonemes in mist, mast, must, and most create different words. Although linguists do not agree on the list of phonemes in English, it has approximately 43 phonemes–25 consonants and 18 vowels.

In preschool and early kindergarten, children typically learn the underpinnings for phoneme awareness, including rhyming, counting spoken syllables, and reciting phrases beginning with the same sound. By the end of kindergarten, children should identify each speech sound by ear and be able to take apart and say the separate sounds of simple words with two and three sounds. More advanced phoneme awareness skills, especially important for spelling and reading fluency, include rapidly and accurately taking apart the sounds in spoken words (segmentation), putting together (blending) speech sound sequences, and leaving out (deleting) or substituting one sound for another to make a new word. These exercises are done orally, without print, and should be part of instruction until students are proficient readers. A large proportion of individuals with dyslexia has difficulty with this level of language analysis and needs prolonged practice to grasp it.

(Video) Webinar - Effective (and ineffective) reading instruction by Nancy Young 29Oct19

Phoneme awareness is an essential foundation for reading and writing with an alphabet. In an alphabetic writing system like English, letters and letter combinations represent phonemes. Decoding print is possible only if the reader can map print to speech efficiently; therefore, the elements of speech must be clearly and consciously identified in the reader’s mind.

Sound-Symbol (phoneme-grapheme) correspondences. An alphabetic writing system like English represents phonemes with graphemes. Graphemes are letters (a, s, t, etc.) and letter combinations (th, ng, oa, ew, igh, etc.) that represent phonemes in print. The basic code for written words is the system of correspondences between phonemes and graphemes. This system is often referred to as the phonics code, the alphabetic code, or the written symbol system.

The correspondences between letters and speech sounds in English are more complex and variable than some languages such as Spanish or Italian. Nevertheless, the correspondences can be explained and taught through systematic, explicit, cumulative instruction that may take several years to complete.

Patterns and conventions of print (orthography). Through explicit instruction and practice, students with dyslexia can be taught to understand and remember patterns of letter use in the writing system. For example, some spellings for consonant sounds, such as –ck, –tch, and –dge, are used only after short vowels. Some letters, like v and j, cannot be used at the ends of words. Only some letters are doubled. Some letters work to signal the sounds of other letters. These conventions can all be taught as part of the print system or orthography.

Print patterns and conventions exist as well for representing the vowel sounds in written syllables. It is a convention that almost every written syllable in English has a vowel grapheme. Structured Literacy programs usually teach six basic types of written syllables: closed (com, mand), open (me, no), vowel-consonant-e (take, plete), vowel team (vow, mean), vowel-r combinations (car, port), and the final consonant-le pattern (lit-tle, hum-ble). Recognizing written syllable patterns helps a reader divide longer words into readable chunks, and helps in understanding spelling conventions such as doubling of consonant letters (little vs. title).

Morphology. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in a language. Morphemes include prefixes, roots, base words, and suffixes. These meaningful units are often spelled consistently even though pronunciation changes as they are combined into words (define, definition; nation, national; restore, restoration). Recognizing morphemes helps students figure out and remember the meanings of new words. In addition, knowledge of morphology is an aid for remembering spellings such as at-tract-ive and ex-press-ion.

Syntax. Syntax is the system for ordering words in sentences so that meaning can be communicated. The study of syntax includes understanding parts of speech and conventions of grammar and word use in sentences. Lessons include interpretation and formulation of simple, compound, and complex sentences, and work with both phrases and clauses in sentence construction.

(Video) Implementing structured literacy in the classroom - PART 1: Phonological awareness

Semantics. Semantics is the aspect of language concerned with meaning. Meaning is conveyed both by single words and by phrases and sentences. Comprehension of both oral and written language is developed by teaching word meanings (vocabulary), interpretation of phrases and sentences, and understanding of text organization.

Reading comprehension is a product of both word recognition and language comprehension. Throughout structured literacy instruction, students should be supported as they work with many kinds of texts—stories, informational text, poetry, drama, and so forth, even if that text is read aloud to students who cannot yet read it independently. Reading worthwhile texts that stimulate deep thinking is a critical component of Structured Literacy.

Principles and Methods of SL Instruction

Explicit. In SL instruction, the teacher explains each concept directly and clearly, providing guided practice. Lessons embody instructional routines, for example, quick practice drills to build fluency, or the use of fingers to tap out sounds before spelling words. The student applies each new concept to reading and writing words and text, under direct supervision of the teacher who gives immediate feedback and guidance. Students are not expected to discover or intuit language concepts simply from exposure to language or reading.

Systematic and cumulative. In an SL approach, the teacher teaches language concepts systematically, explaining how each element fits into the whole. Instruction follows a planned scope and sequence of skills that progresses from easier to more difficult. One concept builds on another. The goal of systematic teaching is automatic and fluent application of language knowledge to reading for meaning.

Hands-on, engaging, and multimodal. Methods often include hands-on learning such as moving tiles into sound boxes as words are analyzed, using hand gestures to support memory for associations, building words with letter tiles, assembling sentences with words on cards, color-coding sentences in paragraphs, and so forth. Listening, speaking, reading, and writing are often paired with one another to foster multimodal language learning.

Diagnostic and responsive. The teacher uses student response patterns to adjust pacing, presentation, and amount of practice given within the lesson framework. The teacher monitors progress through observation and brief quizzes that measure retention of what has been taught.

(Video) Introduction to Structured Literacy | Danielle Thompson, International Dyslexia Association, Oregon

References

Birsh, J., & Carreker, S. (2019). Multisensory teaching of basic language skills, 4th ed. Baltimore, MD: Brookes Publishing.

Brady, S. (2011). Efficacy of phonics teaching for reading outcomes: Implications from Post-NRP research. In S. Brady, D. Braze, & C. Fowler (Eds.), Explaining individual differences in reading (pp. 69–96), London, UK: Psychology Press.

Denton, C. A., Fletcher, J. M., Taylor, W. P., Barth, A. E., & Vaughn, S. (2014). An experimental evaluation of Guided Reading and explicit interventions for primary-grade students at-risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7(3), 268–293.

Ehri, L., Nunes, S. R., Stahl, S., & Willows, D. (2001). Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71, 393–447.

Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., Furgeson, J., Hayes, L., Henke, J., Justice, L., Keating, B., Lewis, W., Sattar, S., Streke, A., Wagner, R., & Wissel, S. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade (NCEE 2016-4008). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website: http://whatworks.ed.gov

(Video) Dyslexia and Structured Literacy: What Every Teacher (and Parent) Should Know

International Dyslexia Association. Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading. https://dyslexiaida.org/knowledge-and-practices/

Kilpatrick, D. (2015). Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

McCardle, P., & Chhabra, V. (Eds.). (2004). The voice of evidence in reading research. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

Moats, L. C. (2010). Speech to print: Language essentials for teachers, 2nd ed. Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing.

National Early Literacy Panel (NELP). (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child and Human Development.

Seidenberg, M. (2017). Language at the speed of sight: How we read, why so many can’t, and what can be done about it. New York, NY: Basic Books.

(Video) Dyslexia Conference Recording | EdTech to Enhance Structured-Literacy Instruction

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) thanks Louisa Moats, Ed.D., for her assistance in the preparation of this fact sheet.

The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). IDA encourages the reproduction and distribution of this fact sheet.
If portions of the text are cited, appropriate reference must be made. Fact sheets may not be reprinted for the purpose of resale. © Copyright 2020. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA). For copyright information, pleaseclick here.

FAQs

What are 6 key features of the structured literacy approach? ›

Key features of structured literacy

explicit, systematic, and sequential teaching of literacy at multiple levels – phonemes, letter–sound relationships, syllable patterns, morphemes, vocabulary, sentence structure, paragraph structure, and text structure. cumulative practice and ongoing review.

Is structured literacy the same as Orton Gillingham? ›

The term “Structured Literacy” is not designed to replace Orton Gillingham, Multi-Sensory or other terms in common use. It is an umbrella term designed to describe all of the programs that teach reading in essentially the same way.

What method of reading instruction has proven to be effective with students who have dyslexia? ›

Systematic and Cumulative

According to the IDA, effective reading instruction for students with signs of dyslexia is both: Systematic, meaning that the reading material is organized in a logical, coherent manner, beginning with the most basic concepts and progressing to more difficult ones; and.

What are the three structured literacy teaching principles? ›

Three teaching principles guide how structured literacy instruction can be implemented within the classroom: Systematic and cumulative instruction. Explicit instruction. Diagnostic instruction.

What is a structured literacy approach for dyslexia? ›

Structured Literacy prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is effective for all readers.

What is an example of structured literacy? ›

For educators: How to teach structured literacy

You directly model a skill using multiple examples, and you verbalize your thought process at the same time. For example, you could use explicit instruction to show students how to segment a one-syllable word into individual sounds.

Is structured literacy the same as the science of reading? ›

Structured literacy is an approach to teaching reading that is based on the science of reading and years of research into how a child's brain acquires and processes information. As a result, structured literacy avoids assuming a child will identify or discover patterns in words to efficiently read and spell.

What is the opposite of structured literacy? ›

Balanced literacy is centered around activities that surround children with quality literature and promote a love of reading, whereas structured literacy teaches the structure of language through explicit, systematic, sequential instruction.

How does Orton-Gillingham help with dyslexia? ›

Orton-Gillingham places an important emphasis on multisensory approaches to learning. Because students with dyslexia lack a level of phonemic awareness, learning reading skills through a phonics-based approach that incorporates all senses is highly effective.

What is the best teaching method for dyslexia? ›

The Orton–Gillingham Method

This popular method has long been used to teach children with dyslexia how to read. By focusing on the connection between letters and their sounds, children can assign more meaning to the language and develop better overall comprehension.

What are 3 interventions that can be implemented to help students with dyslexia? ›

For dyslexia, effective interventions should include training in letter sounds, phoneme awareness, and linking letters and phonemes through writing and reading from texts at the appropriate level to reinforce emergent skills.

What are two strategy recommendations interventions for students with dyslexia or other reading or language disabilities? ›

Allow the student to use a text reader like a Reading Pen or text-to-speech software. Use speech-to-text software to help with writing. Have on hand “hi-lo” books (books with high-interest topics for students reading below grade level). Provide extra time for reading and writing.

Why is structured literacy particularly beneficial for students with dyslexia? ›

They help children to grasp the alphabetic principle—the idea that reading involves a code in which sounds in spoken words map onto letters (graphemes) in printed words—as well as to develop strong phonemic awareness, decoding, and spelling skills.

What are the five methods of teaching literacy? ›

Effective instructional programs and materials emphasize the five essential components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

What is the best approach for literacy instruction? ›

Understanding Best Practices

Teach reading for authentic meaning-making literacy experiences for pleasure, to be informed, and to perform a task. Use high-quality literature. Integrate a comprehensive word study/phonics program into reading/writing instruction. Use multiple texts that link and expand concepts.

What content is taught in structured literacy? ›

Structured Literacy teaches the structure of language across the speech sound system (phonology), the writing system (orthography), the structure of sentences (syntax), the meaningful parts of words (morphology), the relationships among words (semantics), and the organization of spoken and written discourse.

What are the 4 components of a balanced literacy? ›

During balanced literacy Reading Workshops, skills are explicitly modeled during mini-lessons. The mini-lesson has four parts: the connection, the teach (demonstration), the active engagement and the link.

What does structured literacy look like in practice? ›

It follows a sequential order of skill introduction - all the concepts are organized ahead of time including the order in which you introduce sounds, the order in which you introduce rules, the order in which you build onto higher-level skills.

Is structured literacy just phonics? ›

Put simply, Structured Literacy is explicit, systematic teaching that focuses on phonological awareness, word recognition, phonics and decoding, spelling, and syntax at the sentence and paragraph levels.

Does structured literacy include writing? ›

A Structured Literacy approach is a highly explicit and systematic way of teaching all important components of literacy. These components include both foundational skills (e.g., decoding, spelling, handwriting and letter formation) and higher-level literacy skills (e.g., reading comprehension, written expression).

Is Fountas and Pinnell a structured literacy program? ›

The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is an intensive, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention for students who find reading and writing difficult. The goal of LLI is to lift the literacy achievement of students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading.

How do you teach reading to struggling readers? ›

10 Strategies for fluency
  1. Record students reading aloud on their own. ...
  2. Ask kids to use a ruler or finger to follow along. ...
  3. Have them read the same thing several times. ...
  4. Pre-teach vocabulary. ...
  5. Drill sight words. ...
  6. Make use of a variety of books and materials. ...
  7. Try different font and text sizes. ...
  8. Create a stress free environment.

What is Orton Gillingham method? ›

Orton–Gillingham is a structured literacy approach. It introduced the idea of breaking reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time.

Is Fundations structured literacy? ›

Fundations Counter Evidence by Indicator Gateway 1 Fundations Counter Evidence by Indicator Gateway 2 Fundations® is widely adopted to thoroughly and systematically solidify students' foundational skills with a research-based structured literacy approach.

Is Fountas and Pinnell a curriculum? ›

Who is it for? Fountas & Pinnell Classroom™ is a cohesive, multi-text approach to literacy instruction for all students in grades PreK–6.

Is the Orton-Gillingham approach effective? ›

Many reading programs include Orton–Gillingham ideas, including a “multisensory” approach, which is considered highly effective for teaching students with dyslexia.

How hard is the Orton-Gillingham training? ›

Completing an Orton-Gillingham training program is not an easy undertaking. It's a long process. You may have juggled teaching full-time with your OG practicum (as I did years ago when I trained), had a family to care for, or paid for it out of pocket.

What grade level is Orton-Gillingham for? ›

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is the underlying foundation of all multisensory, structured literacy instruction. This course is designed for classroom teachers in third grade and up.

What can teachers do for students with dyslexia? ›

9 Tips for Teaching Students With Dyslexia
  • Introduction to dyslexia difficulties.
  • Avoid obsessing with Spelling and grammar (SPAG) corrections.
  • Provide lesson recordings.
  • Be careful when asking questions to dyslexic students.
  • Allow extra time (25% or more)
  • Give clear instructions.
  • Provide alternatives (reading lists)
28 Jul 2021

How do you engage students with dyslexia? ›

Accommodations involving interactive instruction
  1. Use explicit teaching procedures. ...
  2. Repeat directions. ...
  3. Maintain daily routines. ...
  4. Provide a copy of lecture notes. ...
  5. Provide students with a graphic organizer. ...
  6. Use step-by-step instruction. ...
  7. Simultaneously combine verbal and visual information.

What are some accommodations for students with dyslexia? ›

Eight Accommodations for Dyslexia
  • Provide one-step directions at a time. ...
  • Extend time for reading and writing assignments. ...
  • Preview and review. ...
  • Post the schedule for the day or class period. ...
  • Avoid habituation* by keeping instruction between 10–15 minutes and providing a variety of activities for practice.
12 Apr 2013

What role can a teacher play in helping the children with dyslexia? ›

What can teachers do to help dyslexic children? Provide students with multisensory experiences relevant to each book they read, such as tales and colouring pages. Choose novels that have a lot of repetition of words and phrases. As you read, take a dramatic pause to allow students to fill in the refrain.

How do you cater students with dyslexia? ›

Allowing additional time to complete tasks. Explicit instruction in reading and spelling using a structured synthetics phonics program. Using assistive technology to read text aloud (for example, a C-pen reader or text to speech software) Providing sound charts and other visual supports to assist with spelling.

What are the key components taught in structured literacy? ›

Structured literacy (SL) approaches emphasize highly explicit and systematic teaching of all important components of literacy. These components include both foundational skills (e.g., decoding, spelling) and higher-level literacy skills (e.g., reading comprehension, written expression).

What are the 4 components of a balanced literacy? ›

During balanced literacy Reading Workshops, skills are explicitly modeled during mini-lessons. The mini-lesson has four parts: the connection, the teach (demonstration), the active engagement and the link.

What does a structured literacy lesson look like? ›

A structured literacy is a literacy lesson that has a few key components: It follows a sequential order of skill introduction - all the concepts are organized ahead of time including the order in which you introduce sounds, the order in which you introduce rules, the order in which you build onto higher-level skills.

What are some key differences between a structured literacy approach and a balanced literacy approach? ›

In a balanced literacy classroom, beginning readers read leveled texts using the three-cueing system. In a structured literacy classroom, early readers read decodable texts that include already-learned phonics patterns.

What are the five methods of teaching literacy? ›

Effective instructional programs and materials emphasize the five essential components of effective reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension.

What is the best approach for literacy instruction? ›

Understanding Best Practices

Teach reading for authentic meaning-making literacy experiences for pleasure, to be informed, and to perform a task. Use high-quality literature. Integrate a comprehensive word study/phonics program into reading/writing instruction. Use multiple texts that link and expand concepts.

Is structured literacy just phonics? ›

Put simply, Structured Literacy is explicit, systematic teaching that focuses on phonological awareness, word recognition, phonics and decoding, spelling, and syntax at the sentence and paragraph levels.

What does an effective literacy program look like? ›

But we feel that no matter what program is popular at the time, an effective literacy program should always encompass these six basic components: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and writing.

What are examples of balanced literacy approach in your teaching practice? ›

There are several elements of a balanced literacy classroom: read aloud, when the teacher reads aloud to the students; shared reading, when students follow along as the teacher reads; guided reading, when students read together in a group with minimal instructor guidance; independent reading, when students read on ...

What are the 3 components of balanced literacy? ›

Many balanced literacy models are composed of three major components: Reading Workshop, Writing Workshop, and Word Work. Reading A-Z provides a wealth of leveled Pre K-6 resources that can be used in a balanced literacy setting — from whole-class and small-group instruction to individual practice.

What elements of structured literacy do students with comprehension difficulties require? ›

Vocabulary. Vocabulary knowledge is critical in reading comprehension. All instruction should be in a language rich environment. Specific vocabulary instruction activities include teaching morphology, classroom conversation, reading aloud, wide independent reading, word-learning strategies and word play.

Is structured literacy the same as the science of reading? ›

Structured literacy is an approach to teaching reading that is based on the science of reading and years of research into how a child's brain acquires and processes information. As a result, structured literacy avoids assuming a child will identify or discover patterns in words to efficiently read and spell.

Is Fundations structured literacy? ›

Fundations Counter Evidence by Indicator Gateway 1 Fundations Counter Evidence by Indicator Gateway 2 Fundations® is widely adopted to thoroughly and systematically solidify students' foundational skills with a research-based structured literacy approach.

Is Fountas and Pinnell a structured literacy program? ›

The Fountas & Pinnell Leveled Literacy Intervention System (LLI) is an intensive, small-group, supplementary literacy intervention for students who find reading and writing difficult. The goal of LLI is to lift the literacy achievement of students who are not achieving grade-level expectations in reading.

What are the principles of developing literacy? ›

Six Guiding Principles to Help Classroom Teachers Boost Student Literacy
  • Establish a culture that supports literacy. ...
  • Explicitly teach skills. ...
  • Create a compelling classroom library for independent reading. ...
  • Confer with students individually during independent reading time. ...
  • Talk about books. ...
  • Write about books.

What are the characteristics of a balanced literacy instruction? ›

A typical balanced literacy framework consists of five components including read aloud, guided reading, shared reading, independent reading, and word study. Skillful teachers use their knowledge of literacy development and processes to decide where to go next.

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1. IDA Dyslexia Webinar | Bring Online Structured Literacy to Life
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3. Structured Literacy in Kindergarten: 5 Key Changes That Made All My Students Readers
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4. Podclassed S2:E6 | Intervention for Students with Dyslexia: A Structured Literacy Approach
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