How the Sonday System Incorporates the Characteristics of Structured Literacy
Research shows that a structured literacy approach helps students with reading difficulties. The International Dyslexia Association (IDA) compiled the research results that identified the characteristics of structured literacy. Details are available on the IDA website: https://dyslexiaida.org/effective-reading-instruction/
Systematic and Cumulative
Defined as:The organization of material follows the logical order of language. The sequence begins with the easiest and most basic concepts and elements and progresses methodically to the more difficult. Each step is based on concepts previously learned.
How the Sonday System incorporates this criterion:Skills are introduced from simple to complex and each lesson builds on previous learning. The Sonday System aligns with Orton-Gillingham's presentation of sounds, concepts, and elements of the English language. The most common sounds are introduced first. Concepts spiral throughout subsequent lessons and are reviewed throughout the product to strengthen mastery. Each lesson contains the following essential elements: 1) A review of what has been previously taught. 2) The introduction of new material. 3) Practice with connected text.
Defined as:Instruction requires direct teaching of concepts with continuous student–teacher interaction and does not assume students will deduce concepts.
How the Sonday System incorporates this criterion:The curriculum is built to be taught face-to-face in small groups. Lesson plans ensure that effective multisensory instruction can be taught the same way by different teachers. The lessons guide the teacher to directly teach a sound or concept, and reinforce it with tracing to strengthen neural pathways. Students then practice reading and spelling words using the sound or concept. Reading and spelling errors are addressed at the moment they occur, with multiple opportunities for students to demonstrate mastery. Lessons contain explicit instructions for teachers, thus limiting the need for improvisation and improving consistency of instruction across settings.
Defined as:Teachers must be adept at individualizing instruction (even within groups) based on careful and continuous assessment, both informal (e.g., using observation) and formal (e.g., using standardized measures). Content must be mastered to the degree of automaticity needed to free attention and cognitive resources for comprehension and oral/written expression.
How the Sonday System incorporates this criterion:Direct instruction ensures that errors are identified and corrected during a lesson. The lesson structure promotes continuous student–teacher interaction. Instructions are consistent by design so both students and teachers are familiar with how the lesson is taught. This allows the teacher to focus more on students—differentiating instruction and reinforcing skills not yet mastered. Errors are identified and addressed at the table, enhancing diagnostic and data-driven decisions.
Mastery Checks for Reading and Spelling are found after every third level to assess proficiency. These checks allow a teacher to quickly identify a student’s proficiency in fluency, decoding, and spelling. A plan can be prescribed based on these data results.
The Sonday System Teacher Resource Book contains multiple assessments including a placement test to pinpoint where instruction should begin as well as pre- and post-tests to document growth over a set period of time. The Sonday System Pre-Reading Survey Assessment checks students’ ability to hear and process sound. This assessment can be used to identify students who are ready for phonics instruction as well as determining if these skills are strong enough to begin learning to read.
Defined as:Instruction is scaffolded and begins with teaching of the simplest, most basic language concepts and elements, then progresses systematically to more difficult and complex concepts and elements. Instruction in every lesson moves from teaching of skills to functional use and application of skills. New concepts are related to previously taught concepts, skills, and information—and presented in anticipation of future learning.
How the Sonday System incorporates this criterion:Instruction meets students at their current level and progresses as they develop. Concepts introduced in the Sonday System follow the Orton-Gillingham scope and sequence. The first four steps in every lesson review previously taught material, requiring students to read and spell sounds, then to read words and practice fluency. Step 5 introduces new content for students to read and spell. Step 6 (one-third of the lesson time) focuses on phrases, sentences, and connected text to support reading fluency and comprehension.
Defined as:Multisensory instruction purposefully integrates and stimulates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-motor pathways to support memory and learning of both oral and written language skills.
How the Sonday System incorporates this criterion:Lessons direct students to see, hear, and feel content simultaneously. Two multisensory strategies are the hallmark of the Sonday System: tracing and Touch Spelling. When reading a difficult word, students trace the letters while saying the letter sounds, then blend the sounds together to read the word. Touch Spelling addresses spelling errors. Students identify the sounds within the word using their fingers to represent each sound, or phoneme. Touch Spelling is a highly effective multisensory strategy for segmenting and blending. When these strategies are utilized, content is learned faster and is more secure.
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