:: structured literacy ::

Appropriate Approaches to Instruction & Intervention

Structured Literacy instruction is an evidence-based, multi-sensory approach that integrates listening, speaking, reading, and writing. It involves an explicit, systematic and cumulative plan, making the instruction “structured.”
Teacher Planning

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Components of Effective Reading Instruction

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Phonemic Awareness

The ability to notice, think about and work with the individual sounds (phonemes) in spoken words.
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The relationships between the letters of written language and the individual sounds of spoken language. 

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The ability to read a text accurately and quickly. Fluency is important because it connects word recognition with comprehension.
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Includes the words we must know to communicate effectively. Vocabulary is also very important to reading comprehension.

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The reason for reading. If readers can read the words but do not understand their meaning, they are not really reading. Good comprehension greatly increases the joy of reading, bringing purpose and intellectual stimulation to play.

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What is taught with Structured Literacy?


Phonology is the study of sound structure of spoken words and is a critical element of Structured Language instruction.

Phonological awareness includes: Rhyming, counting words in spoken sentence, and clapping syllables in spoken words.

Sound-Symbol Association

Once students have developed the awareness of phonemes of spoken language, they must learn how to map the phonemes to symbols or printed letters.

Syllable Instruction

A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction includes teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and vowel pair.


A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. The Structured Literacy curriculum includes the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes.


Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning.


Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning.

Systematic & Cumulative

Systematic means that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. Cumulative means each step must be based on concepts previously learned.

Explicit Instruction

Structured Literacy instruction requires the deliberate teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.

Diagnostic Teaching

The teacher must be adept at individualized instruction. That is instruction that meets a student’s needs.

Find more valuable information more in IDA’s “Structured Literacy Brief.”

Shelly Bayer

Shelly Bayer, PhD

Dr. Shelly Bayer is the Assistant Director for the Center for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning at South Dakota State University where she works with faculty and graduate teaching assistants to create a culture of teaching excellence by promoting evidence-based strategies and encouraging professional and personal growth mindsets. Shelly earned her B.A. in English Education from South Dakota State University, her Masters of Education in Literacy (Certified Reading Specialist) from the University of Nevada – Las Vegas, and her doctorate in Education Administration – Adult & Higher Education through the University of South Dakota. Prior to her current employment, Shelly taught in public schools in Brookings, SD and Las Vegas, NV. Her educational background combined with her son’s identification as a dyslexic learner inspired her to work to create environments and systems that embrace the strengths of every learner and value each learner’s contributions to the process. Shelly joined the IDA-UMB Board of Directors in April 2018. She was elected as President in July 2021.