Dyslexia & Dysgraphia Help

Students with dyslexia and dysgraphia benefit greatly from the SPELL-Links™ diagnostic assessment and structured literacy intervention. Our products meet and exceed the recommendations of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) for an effective reading and language intervention program.

At-a-glance program comparisons:
SPELL-Links & OG-based programs

Instructional Features

How SPELL-Links Does It

Instructional Features & How SPELL-Links Does It

Simultaneous, Multi-sensory

Teaching uses all learning pathways in the brain (visual, auditory, kinesthetic‐tactile) simultaneously or sequentially in order to enhance memory and learning.

SPELL‐Links uses the connectionist word study model based on current research, including brain imaging studies, to develop neural pathways and functional connectivity of the brain regions involved in effective reading and writing. SPELL‐Links instruction is multi-modality (multi-sensory and multi-motoric) AND multi‐linguistic. Across the writing, reading, spelling, and spoken language activities, SPELL‐Links explicitly teaches and develops the integration of phonology, orthography, and morphology using auditory, visual, tactile-kinesthetic inputs, and oral and handwriting outputs.

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Structured literacy instruction requires that material presentation follows the logical order of language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and progress methodically to more difficult materials.

SPELL-Links’ sequence of instruction is based upon an extensive body of research across multiple disciplines regarding the development of spoken and written language skills. These include phonetics; the acquisition of speech, speech perception abilities, orthographic knowledge, morphological knowledge, knowledge of semantic relationships; and the development, storage, and retrieval of robust mental graphemic representations of words in long-term memory. SPELL-Links’ organizational sequence leverages the universal biological wiring of the brain, and its sequence of structured literacy instruction gradually and systematically progresses from the patterns that are perceptually, phonologically, orthographically, and morphologically most simple to those that are most complex.

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Each new learning concept must be based on those already learned. Concepts must be systematically reviewed to strengthen memory.

​Within a single SPELL-Links lesson, each concept is introduced and explicitly tied to previously learned concepts. Words are repeated across activities within a lesson and presented again during authentic reading and writing activities at the end of the lesson to strengthen knowledge, skill, and application. Included word lists provide repeated exposure to previously learned patterns; pattern-loaded reading and writing activities at the end of each lesson provide additional opportunity for cumulative review.

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Direct Instruction

The inferential learning of any concept cannot be taken for granted. Multisensory language instruction requires direct teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction.

All concepts (declarative knowledge, procedural skills, and meta-linguistic strategies) are explicitly and directly taught with SPELL-Links’ varied interactive learning activities. Teacher-student interaction is at the forefront of the SPELL-Links curriculum and students are provided with immediate feedback on performance. Feedback is gradually faded until students meet performance criterion without assistance.

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Diagnostic Teaching

Teachers must be adept at flexible, individualized teaching that is based on careful and continuous assessment of the learner’s needs. The content presented must be mastered step by step for the student to progress.

In-depth diagnostic prescriptive assessment is conducted using the web-based SPELL-Links assessment (SPELL-3) to identify a student’s specific learning needs and to create an individualized instructional plan. As the student progresses through the prescribed SPELL-Links lessons and activities, the teacher and student use a variety of SPELL-Links progress monitoring tools (such as word lists for mastery measurement of decoding and encoding skills) to assess progress and to make adjustments. Students are expected to master each SPELL-Links activity before progressing to the next level.

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Synthetic & Analytic Instruction

Multisensory, structured language programs include both synthetic and analytic instruction. Synthetic instruction presents the parts of the language and then teaches how the parts work together to form a whole. Analytic instruction presents the whole and teaches how this can be broken down into its component parts.

SPELL-Links explicitly teaches students how to combine a variety of phonological, orthographic, and morphological units into words and how to analyze a whole word in order to identify its phonological, orthographic, and morphological properties. Students are explicitly taught a set of strategies for applying these synthetic and analytic word study skills to authentic reading and writing. Teachers use the SPELL-Links strategy monikers to prompt error analysis and error correction, gradually fading prompts as a student analyzes and self-corrects decoding and encoding errors.

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Comprehensive & Inclusive

All levels of language are addressed, often in parallel, including sounds (phonemes), symbols (graphemes), meaningful word parts (morphemes), word and phrase meanings (semantics), sentences (syntax), language passages (discourse), and the social uses of language (pragmatics).

SPELL-Links explicitly teaches students how to use phonemic and phonological awareness, letter-sound relationships, and letter patterns and spelling rules to spell regular words; use letter-meaning relationships, morphological rules, syntax, and semantic relationships to spell inflected and derived forms; and develop mental graphemic representations (MGRs) of irregularly spelled words in long term memory. Instruction is provided at word, sentence, paragraph, and text passage levels.

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Instructional Content

How SPELL-Links Does It

Instructional Content & How SPELL-Links Does It

Sound-Symbol Association

A curriculum must teach students to master sound-symbol association in two directions: visual to auditory and auditory to visual. Students must also master the blending of sounds and letters into words and the segmenting of whole words into individual sounds.

To leverage the biological wiring of the brain, SPELL-Links organizes sound-symbol association instruction, at the base word level, by sound pattern. (In multi-morphemic words, instruction is organized by morphemes.) With SPELL-Links students are explicitly taught how to simultaneously activate the phonological and orthographic processing centers of the brain when encoding and decoding words in order to develop efficient, integrated neural pathways (functional connectivity) needed for accurate and fluent reading and writing. Students are explicitly taught how to properly blend phonemes into words when decoding and how to simultaneously segment spoken words into individual phonemes as they write the corresponding letters.

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Phonology & Phonological Awareness

A curriculum must provide students with an understanding of the internal linguistic structure of words. An important aspect of this phonological awareness is phonemic awareness, or the ability to segment words into their component sounds.

Students develop the ability to discriminate, identify, segment, sequence, blend, and manipulate phonemes through extensive phonological awareness (PA) activities throughout the SPELL-Links curriculum. In these structured literacy activities, students develop precise phonological representations of words at the syllable, onset-rime, and phoneme levels and are explicitly taught how to activate and use their phonological representations of words when reading and writing. With SPELL-Links students also develop the ability to discriminate and identify syllabic stress in spoken words.

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Syllable Instruction

A curriculum must include teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language: closed, VCe, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and diphthong. Syllable division rules must be directly taught in relation to word structure.​

Each of the six syllable types is addressed in SPELL-Links through in-depth structured word study of orthographic and phonetic features of closed and open syllables, VCe syllables, vowel digraphs and diphthongs, and syllabic-r and syllabic-l vowel sounds. Students are explicitly and directly taught to map spoken syllables with their corresponding letter patterns. Syllable stress is explicitly taught in multi-syllabic words, with instruction systematically progressing from auditory discrimination and identification of syllable stress in spoken words to orthographic representation of unstressed vowel sounds in written words, to development of robust mental graphemic images of unstressed vowels in words that are needed for accurate and fluent reading and writing. SPELL-Links explicitly teaches students how to recognize, manipulate, and use syllable structure and syllable stress to read and spell words.

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A curriculum must include the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes.

SPELL-Links features extensive instruction to develop students’ morphological awareness and knowledge of inflectional suffixes, derivational affixes, and word roots. Our structured literacy curriculum explicitly teaches students how to apply their knowledge of letter-meaning relationships, morphological rules, and semantic relationships to read and spell base words and multi-morphemic words in authentic reading and writing tasks.

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A curriculum must include instruction in grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language.

SPELL-Links includes explicit instruction for developing knowledge and use of inflectional morphemes to express a variety of syntactical relationships including quantity and time, first person and third person, and noun-verb agreement. Sentence revisions, sentence variations, and editing written work for punctuation and capitalization are taught through structured oral and written language activities throughout the curriculum.

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A curriculum (from the beginning) must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.

SPELL-Links combines direct instruction in word meaning, semantic relationships, and comprehension of written text. Interactive listening and speaking activities build vocabulary development and comprehension of both spoken and written language throughout the SPELL-Links curriculum.

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"In the NICHD-funded research on specific learning disabilities (SLDs) involving language that I directed as principal investigator for over 25 years (cross-sectional, longitudinal, genetic, brain imaging, and school- based and clinic- based interventions) our interdisciplinary team published evidence showing that not all reading disabilities are the same and not all writing disabilities are the same. Findings showed that dysgraphia (impaired letter production), dyslexia (impaired word decoding/reading and word encoding/spelling), and oral and written language learning disability (OWL LD; impaired syntactic skills for language by ear, mouth, eye, and/or hand) differed… yet all three SLDs benefit from spelling instruction as in SPELL-Links.”
Virginia W. Berninger, Ph.D
Professor Emerita, University of Washington