Teachers Planning Literacy Instruction


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). 

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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  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 http://www.dyslexia-reading-well.com/orton-gillingham.html. 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

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

National Reading Panel Report 

Rubric for evaluating reading materials for K-5

"National Reading Panel - Teaching Children to ... - NICHD." 2013. 23 Jun. 2015 Report

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.

Intensive Interventions

Improving Reading Outcomes 

Instructional Interventions That Have Proven to Be Successful with Low-Achieving Students

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  

Cook, BG. "Unraveling Evidence-Based Practices in Special Education." 2013 http://sed.sagepub.com/content/47/2/71.abstract

"Evidenced-Based Instruction - International Reading Association" 2013. 23 Jun. 2015 http://www.reading.org/general/AboutIRA/PositionStatements/EvidencedBasedPosition.aspx

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.

As students enter upper elementary, middle school, and high school, literacy demands become more complex. Basic literacy skills do not automatically transition into advanced literacy skills, although they are entailed in all reading tasks. At the secondary level, systematic literacy instruction must take on a new look because students share teachers across the day and across disciplines. To facilitate the shift into proficiency with advanced literacy, all teachers will want to teach their students the unique literacy strategies for their discipline and its associated, sophisticated genres.

Haynes, M. (2015). The next chapter: Supporting literacy within ESEA. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.
International Reading Association. (2012). Adolescent literacy (Position statement, Rev. 2012 ed.). Newark, DE: Author.
Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review78(1), 40–59.

SIM™ is a comprehensive adolescent literacy program that tends to both student needs and teacher needs.  SIM™ practices and materials have proven effective through more than 30 years of research and classroom experience.

Adolescent Literacy Position Statement

SIM Overview

Learning Strategies Overview

Content Enhancement Overview

As outlined in the work of Fountas and Pinnell, Guided Reading is a context in which a teacher supports each reader's development of effective strategies for processing novel texts at increasingly challenging levels of difficulty" (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996, p. 3).

General Session: Balanced Literacy

Breakout Session: Guided Reading

Breakout Session: Assessment

Breakout Session: Literacy Stations

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

Literacy Resources

Learn more about multisensory apps
Showcase of Literacy Materials
Learn more about our Showcase of Literacy Materials available in our lending library
Multisensory Orton-Gillingham
Learn more about Multisensory Reading
Literacy Wheel
Learn more about Specially Designed Elementary Literacy Instruction
Learn more about free accessible instructional materials for children with IEPs.
Virginia's Guidelines for Educating Students with Specific Learning Disabilities
Virginia's Guide to Educating Students With Specific Learning Disabilities.

Dyslexia Resources

Dyslexia Awareness Training Module. Required for initial and renewal licensing beginning July 1, 2017.

Dyslexia Training Module
Dyslexia Awareness Training Module. Required for initial and renewal teacher licensing beginning July 1, 2017.