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2019 Reading, Literacy & Learning Conference

PC1-A-B - An Introduction to Structured Literacy

Nov 7, 2019 8:00am ‐ Nov 7, 2019 4:00pm

Credits: None available.

Standard: $20.00


This symposium introduces the key features of structured literacy, with examples of structured literacy approaches for phonemic awareness and word reading, spelling, and written expression. For each of these domains, core features of SL are emphasized and contrasted with non-SL approaches to instruction. Other symposium prese ntations highlight assessment techniques that are especially valuable in the context of SL approaches, as well as issues in preparing teachers to implement SL.


The symposium chair previews the structure and topics of the symposium. She introduces each group of presenters and their topics. She also summarizes the broad goals of the symposium, for audience members to gain a clearer understanding of the characteristics of SL teaching in different domains of literacy; differences between SL and other approaches to literacy instruction; and reasons why SL benefits struggling students, including those with dyslexia.

Structured Literacy Approaches for Phonemic Awareness and Word Reading

Stephanie Al Otaiba

Dr. Al Otaiba and her co-presenters begin with a focus on phonemic awareness skills, and the precursor phonological sensitivity, starting with awareness of the first sound in a word, and then incorporating the alphabetic principle and word study. They describe criteria for evidence-based programs, with web-based resources to support the implementation of explicit and systematic instruction, and with examples of motivating games for practice and teaching transfer within intensive interventions.

Structured Literacy Approaches for Spelling

Louisa Moats

Dr. Moats describes SL approaches to teaching spelling, beginning with the spelling of simple one-syllable words and proceeding through multisyllabic words. She emphasizes the idea that good spelling in English depends on multiple kinds of language knowledge (e.g., phonology, orthography, semantics, morpho-syntax). She also explains the value of alphabetic and linguistic knowledge for spelling unpredictable or “irregular” words.

Structured Literacy Approaches to Teaching Written Expression

Charles W. Haynes

Dr. Haynes and his co-presenters detail SL techniques for written expression, starting with word-level strategies. The presenters then provide a carefully structured sequence of activities at different levels (e.g., sentence-level, micro-discourse, and paragraph-level instructional strategies). It includes many effective visuals and practical ideas for teachers in improving the written expression of students with writing disabilities.

Assessment to Inform Structured Literacy Teaching

Melissa Farrall

This presenter discusses the role of assessment in implementation of SL instruction. She emphasizes assessment techniques such as error analysis that can help educators better target instruction in the context of these approaches, including examples of specific student data and their implications for instruction. The presenter also explains why poor performance on broad measures of reading comprehension should be regarded primarily as a “flag” for further assessment.

Preparing Teachers to Implement Structured Literacy

Louise Spear-Swerling

This presentation summarizes some of the challenges in preparing teachers to implement SL approaches. These challenges include failure to set priorities in teacher education, limited knowledge of SL in many teacher educators, and lack of adherence to standards that are useful for implementing SL. It concludes with some possible ways to address these challenges, including the value of the IDA Knowledge & Practice Standards and the IDA accreditation process.

(Part 2 – afternoon)

Lessons Learned Implementing Structured Literacy

Martha Hougen

Implementing Structured literacy requires a coordinated, systemic approach. In this symposium, leaders representing state departments, district administrators, and classroom teachers candidly discuss their challenges and attempts to address those challenges. When Structured literacy is implemented well, with strong systemic support, teacher efficacy and student achievement increase.


Implementation of SL requires coordinated support from all levels of the education system. This symposium focuses on the roles played by the state department, school districts, a teacher, and teacher educators. The speakers were selected based on their extensive experiences implementing evidence-based reading curricula in classrooms. The symposium begins with an overview of structured literacy. The remainder of the symposium is focused on sharing experiences and lessons learned by a state department official, an administrator of a large urban district, a classroom teacher, and teacher educators. A panel fielding questions and providing answers concludes the symposium. Participants are encouraged to be actively involved, participating in the dialogue and sharing their personal experiences.

Lessons Learned: Advocating for Legislation

Margie B. Gillis

Increasing numbers of states are passing legislation related to dyslexia and many of those states mention structured literacy in their bills. Representatives from two of those states describe the work that they’re doing to ensure that these policies are implemented in the best interest of the students they serve.

Lessons Learned: Districts’ Implementation of Structured Literacy Instruction

Louise Spear-Swerling & Carrie Thomas-Beck

This session describes the process of developing a model of professional learning for structured literacy Instruction for administrators and teachers and the “Readiness to Benefit Factor.” The importance of the roll-out and getting buy-in from all is discussed. Barriers to making systemic changes in a district are highlighted. Finally, the evidence of the impact of successful implementation of structured literacy Instruction is shared.

Louise Spear-Swerling, Martha Hougen, Stephanie Al Otaiba, Louisa Moats, Charles W. Haynes, Melissa Farrall, Margie B. Gillis, Regina Boulware-Gooden, and Carrie Thomas Beck have no relevant financial or nonfinancial relationships to disclose.


  • Louise Spear-Swerling, Ph.D., Department of Special Education & Reading Professor, Southern Connecticut State University
  • Stephanie Al Otaiba, Ph.D., Patsy and Ray Caldwell Centennial Chair in Teaching and Learning, Boad Member, Southern Methodist University, Interntional Dyslexia Association
  • Louisa Moats, Ed.D., Primary Author, Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading
  • Charles W. Haynes, EdD., CCC-SLP, Professor, Clinical Supervisor, MGH Institute of Health Professions
  • Melissa Farrall, Ph.D., Program Manager, Stern Center for Language and Learning
  • Martha Hougen, Ph.D., Consultant and Author
  • Margie B. Gillis, Ed.D., CALT, President, Literacy How, Inc., Research Affiliate, Fairfield University and Haskins Laboratories, Literacy How
  • Carrie T. Beck, Ph.D., Dyslexia Specialist, Oregon Department of Education
  • Regina Boulware-Gooden, Ph.D., Provost of Academic Planning, Neuhaus Education Center


  • 0.65 - ASHA CEU
  • 6.50 - Clock Hours

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4/6/20 5:18 pm

What a fantastic workshop! Thank you!

Mindy White
8/26/20 12:33 pm

I really enjoyed listening to An Introduction to Structured Literacy, and I learned several things that I can immediately take to my classroom.