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our approach:
structured literacy


"Structured literacy is much more successful than many typical literacy practices for meeting the needs of children with dyslexia and other literacy problems"
The International Dyslexia Association

What is "structured literacy"?

Structured literacy 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). Structured literacy also emphasizes oral language abilities essential to literacy development, including phonemic awareness, sensitivity to speech sounds in oral language, and the ability to manipulate those sounds.

Some of the ways we teach through structured literacy are:

Reading Spelling Writing

Orton-Gillingham Method

Orton-Gillingham is a highly structured approach that breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills involving letters and sounds, and then building on these skills over time. It was the first approach to use explicit, direct, sequential, systematic, multi-sensory instruction to teach reading, which is not only effective for all students but essential for teaching students with dyslexia.

Orton-Gillingham (OG) practitioners design lessons and materials to work with students at the level they present by pacing instruction and the introduction of new materials to their individual strengths and weaknesses.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach is derived from two sources:

  1. A body of time-tested knowledge and practice that has been validated over the past 80 years

  2. Scientific evidence about how individuals learn to read and write; why a significant number have difficulty in doing so; how having dyslexia makes achieving literacy skills more difficult; and which instructional practices are best suited for teaching such individuals to read and write.

Hochman Method/Writing Revolution

This method enables students to master the skills that are essential if they are to become competent writers. In turn, those skills equip students to become better readers, to communicate more effectively in writing and speaking, and most importantly, to elevate their thinking.

The Six Principles of the Hochman Method are:


  • Students need explicit instruction in writing, beginning in the early elementary grades.

  • Sentences are the building blocks of all writing.

  • When embedded in the content of the curriculum, writing instruction is a powerful teaching tool.

  • The content of the curriculum drives the rigor of the writing activities.

  • Grammar is best taught in the context of student writing.

  • The two most important phases of the writing process are planning and revising.

Latin & Greek Roots

The many compelling reasons we teaching Latin and Greek word roots to language students include:

  • Building vocabulary – When students know, understand, and can identify root words, they are able to grow and expand their own vocabulary. Having a solid understanding of roots will help students be able to predict the meaning of and confirm unknown words they encounter. Greek and Latin roots help students connect new and unfamiliar words to words that they know and understand.

  • Improving spelling – Greek and Latin roots usually have predictable spelling patterns. The more roots students know, the more their spelling will improve. If students know how to spell common root words, they will probably be able to spell any word that has a root in it.

  • Empowering students when they understand the rules to the English language. Teaching Greek and Latin roots is just one way you can help your students understand the rules to our language.

  • Building confidence  as a reader and a writer  – Both of these things I just mentioned will have a huge impact on your students as readers and writers. When students vocabularies improve, they feel confident to read more challenging texts AND they are willing to use more descriptive and specific words in their writing.

Structured Word Inquiry

Structured Word Inquiry (SWI) is a scientific investigation of words: how word parts, structure, origin, and history over time come together to tell the story of what words mean, how words are connected, and how they are spelled.

Structured Word Inquiry is about understanding larger patterns across words, i.e., shared roots/bases/families, as much as understanding the evolution and structure of one word. Students learn investigative tools to understand new vocabulary, and so they can apply SWI across every discipline. When students use roots or a word's structure to understand new vocabulary in a content area such as math or history, they are applying their SWI understanding, exposure, and skillset.

Using linguistic tools like word sums and lexical word matrices, students analyze words into elements such as bases, prefixes, and suffixes. By understanding the spelling of other words in that family, students can create meaningful connections across the language to build proficiency in orthographic analysis.

Vocabulary, Language
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