Teachers Planning Literacy Instruction
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Dyslexia: Frequently Asked Questions is designed to be a resource for teachers, administrators, and parents to address the educational needs of students with dyslexia.  It provides information on the resources and services available to students with dyslexia through general education, as well as any student with dyslexia who may qualify to receive services as a student with a Specific Learning Disability (SLD) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504). 

Structured Literacy is the term adopted by the International Dyslexia Association in 2014 that is meant to be inclusive of all programs and approaches that teach reading through an explicit and systematic approach.

Instructional Principles of Structured Literacy:

  • Explicit & Direct
  • Systematic & Sequential 
  • Cumulative
  • Diagnostic
  • Multisensory
  • Progress Monitoring

Instructional Content Areas of Structured Literacy:

  • Phonology
  • Sound Symbol
  • Syllabication
  • Morphology
  • Semantics & Syntax

An example of Structured Literacy is the Orton-Gillingham instructional approach. It is designed to address the needs of struggling readers who have difficulty with reading, spelling, and writing, including those with a specific learning disability, such as dyslexia. There are many programs based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, including The Wilson Reading System®S.P.I.R.E.®The Barton Reading and Spelling SystemLEXIAThe ABeCeDarian Reading Program, and more.
To access a chart of reading systems that are based on the Orton-Gillingham approach and read more about the approach, visit this resource from the Reading Well. Scroll down to the bottom of the page to see the chart.

The following are links to programs currently in our library that incorporate the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction.

•  Explode the Code
•  Fundations
•  Wilson Just Words
•  Letterland
•  The Sonday System 1
•  System 44
•  The Gillingham Manual
•  Wilson Reading System

If you would like more information about Structured Literacy approaches which are often recommended for poor decoders and students with dyslexia  (e.g., International Dyslexia Association, 2017) check out this article.

According to the Virginia Department of Education, the goal of literacy instruction in Virginia is to ensure that all children have the necessary skills to become successful readers, writers, speakers, and listeners with the critical thinking skills that are required to be successful as they progress and transition through the stages of their lives.

State Literacy Plan

Virginia's Guidelines for Educating Students with Specific Learning Disabilities

VDOE Literacy Resources

The National Reading Panel’s analysis made it clear that the best approach to reading instruction is one that incorporates:

  • Explicit instruction in phonemic awareness
  • Systematic phonics instruction
  • Methods to improve fluency
  • Ways to enhance comprehension

Put Reading First

Rubric for evaluating reading materials for K-5

Evidence-based practices are instructional techniques that meet prescribed criteria related to the research design, quality, quantity, and effect size of supporting research, which have the potential to help bridge the research-to-practice gap and improve student outcomes (Cook, 2011).  

The International Literacy Association states that adoption of a program indicated, as “evidence based” does not guarantee reading success. Teachers and administrators must also evaluate methods and programs through the lens of their particular school and classroom settings. They must determine if the instructional strategies and routines that are central to the materials are a good match for the children they teach.

Improving Reading Outcomes 

Assisting Students Struggling with Reading: (RTI) and Multi-Tier Interventions in the Primary Grades

Foundational Skills to Support Reading for Understanding in Kindergarten Through 3rd Grade

Studies show that the best way to teach kids to read is to pair them up with books at their instructional or independent reading level.  Students can build their fluency and comprehension skills when they read books that are on their level, allowing them to concentrate on comprehension instead of struggling in decoding unknown words.  Richard Allington states in his book What Really Matters for Struggling Readers (2001) that struggling readers are probably reading books that are above their reading level and should be provided with appropriately leveled texts.

Lexile Framework for Reading

Allington, R. (2012). What Really Matters for Struggling Readers. New York: Addison-Wesley.

For questions or additional information about literacy supports, contact Wendy Phillips, Coordinator of Reading.