Using Structured Comprehension to Improve Children’s Reading Fluency

A reading comprehension strategy that moves from concentrating on sentences to paragraphs. This framework provides learners with proper contextual info, corrects any incorrect cues in the sentences, answers any questions learners may have about the sentence, and asks learners questions to clarify the content further.

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

The many challenging problems for learners with dyslexia is learning to read. Sadly, popularly employed reading tactics, like Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy, are not useful for struggling readers. These tactics are ineffective for learners with dyslexia because they do not concentrate on the decoding skills these learners need to succeed.

What works is Structured Literacy, which prepares learners to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner.

The Parts of Structured Literacy Instruction

Phonology: is the study of the sound structure of spoken words and is a vital part of Structured Language instruction. Phonological awareness involves rhyming, counting words in spoken sentences, and clapping syllables in spoken words. An essential facet of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness, or the capacity to segment words into their component sounds, which are named phonemes. A phoneme is the tiniest unit of sound in a given language that can be seen as being distinct from the other sounds in the language. For instance, the word cap has three phonemes (/k/, /ă/, /p/), and the word clasp has five phonemes (/k/, /l/, /ă/, /s/, /p/).

Sound-Symbol Association: Once learners have developed the awareness of phonemes of spoken language, they should learn how to map the phonemes to symbols or letters. Sound-symbol association must be taught and learned in two directions: visual to auditory (reading) and auditory to visual (spelling). Moreover, learners must master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into individual sounds. The instruction of sound-symbol associations is often known as phonics. While phonics is a component of Structured Literacy, it’s integrated within a rich and deep language context.

Syllable Instruction: A syllable is a division of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction involves the teaching of the six fundamental syllable types in the English language: closed,vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and vowel pair. Knowledge of syllable types is an essential organizing idea. By knowing the syllable kind, the reader can better establish the sound of the vowel in the syllable. Syllable division rules sharpen the reader’s awareness of where a long, unknown word  may be divided to aide in reading accuracy.

Morphology: A morpheme is the tiniest unit of meaning in the language. The Structured Literacy curriculum involves the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes. The word instructor, for instance, contains the root struct (which means to build), the prefix in (which means in or into), and the suffix or (which means one who). A teacher is one who instills knowledge in his or her learners.

Syntax: Syntax is the set of principles that decide the sequence and function of words in a sentence to express meaning. This involves grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language.

Semantics: Semantics is that facet of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum starts must involve instruction in the comprehension of written language.

How Essential Skills are Taught in Structured Literacy

Systematic and Cumulative. Structured Literacy instruction is systematic and cumulative. Systematic means that the organization of content follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must start with the many fundamental ideas and parts and progress methodically to challenging ideas and parts. Cumulative means each step is based on ideas formerly learned.

Explicit Instruction. Structured Literacy instruction requires the explicit teaching of all ideas with continuous learner-educator interaction. It is not assumed that learners should instinctively deduce these ideas on their own.

Diagnostic Teaching. The educator must be adept at personalized instruction. That is teaching that meets a learner’s needs. The teaching is based on continuous assessment, both informally (for instance, observation) and formally (for instance, with standardized measures). The material presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity. Automaticity is vital to freeing all the learner’s attention and cognitive resources for comprehension and expression.

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