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Structured Literacy is an umbrella term designed to describe an effective reading program. When reading instruction is supported by research and it is explicit, systematic, and cumulative, this instruction is what we call structured. When this evidence-based approach integrates reading, writing, speaking and listening, this is what we refer to as literacy. Hence, we now have the term Structured Literacy.  

Structured Literacy instruction must contain certain elements to be classified as an effective reading program. These elements are:

  • Phonology
  • Sound-Symbol Association
  • Syllable Instruction
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Systematic
  • Cumulative
  • Explicit Instruction
  • Diagnostic Teaching

The PRIDE Reading Program is built on these Structured Literacy principles. The PRIDE Reading Program is a highly effective program for teaching struggling readers to read, write, spell, and comprehend based on how they learn best. This is how the PRIDE Reading Program fits into a Structured Literacy Model:


Phonology is a crucial element in Structured Literacy instruction. Phonology is when all the different sounds in language come together to form speech and words.

Phonemic awareness is the central focus in phonology. This is where students distinguish, segment, blend and manipulate sounds.  

The PRIDE Reading Program uses phonemic awareness activities within each lesson to give students numerous opportunities to practice and master phonology. A few examples of what the students practice in phonology in the program are:

Identify rhymes – “tell me all of the words you know that rhyme with the word “heel.”

Listening for sounds – “close your eyes as I read some words to you. When you hear the “” sound, raise your hand.

Manipulating sounds in words by adding, deleting or substituting – “in the word LAND, change the L to H.”  (hand)

Sound-Symbol Association

Sound-Symbol Association is when students learn how to associate the sounds to printed letters. Sound-symbol association must be taught and mastered in Structured Literacy with a multisensory approach.

This means the students must see it (visual), hear it (auditory) and move with it (kinesthetic). 

When a new sound is taught in the PRIDE Reading Program, students are introduced to a Picture Page. These keywords prompt each student to remember a particular letter or sound relationship. Thereafter, students are also asked to trace, skywrite, use arm tapping, write on their palms and paper and build words with letter tiles. They are given sound, words and sentence dictations in every step of the program.

Syllable Instruction

Syllable division rules are necessary for students to learn since dividing words into separated parts helps increase the process of decoding in Structured Literacy.

Knowing all the rules for syllable division helps students read and spell words more fluently and correctly. When approaching a larger more difficult word, students will then be able to tackle the word effectively by separating it into chunks. 

On the back cover of the Student’s Workbook in the PRIDE Reading Program is a set of Elkonin Boxes to help the students build phonemic awareness. The students are instructed to listen to a word and then move the Sound Markers with their fingers into a box for each sound in the word. As the students progress in the PRIDE program, they eventually break the words apart into syllables, and separate each syllable into sounds.

The PRIDE Reading Program includes the teaching of all basic syllables and syllable division rules. Types of syllables include closed, vowel-consonant, magic e, open, consonant, -le, r- controlled and diphthongs. Students are taught each rule individually, and have multiple opportunities to practice each rule.


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

Understanding that words connected by meaning can be connected by spelling can be critical to expanding as student’s vocabulary.

Students learn to isolate each concept in the PRIDE Reading Program by underlining, linking, dividing, and boxing letters and letter combinations, suffixes and prefixes. Students continually identify vowel sounds and letters in addition to the concepts when reading and learning new words. In the PRIDE Program, students are taught strategies to segment and manipulate words according to their affixes and roots. From this training, the students will be able to recognize an unfamiliar word simply by identifying the affixes and the base or root word.


Syntax in Structured Literacy is the sequence in which words are put together to form sentences. This includes grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language.

In the PRIDE Reading Program, students read relatively simple sentences, often composed of nouns and verbs. As the program progresses, the syntactic complexity of reading also increases. Students go from reading words, to sentences to an entire decodable reading passage in each lesson. The program provides students with direct instruction about the rules of grammar and the exceptions to common syntactic rules.


Semantics is the study of meaning. This curriculum in Structured Literacy must include instruction from the very beginning in the comprehension of written language.

Semantics and vocabulary development are a continual process in the PRIDE Reading Program. Students are asked to discuss challenging words that they will come across in the program in every lesson. Students will discuss synonyms, homonyms, and multiple meaning words when encountering them. Vocabulary strategies that are used with the students during sentence and text comprehension practice include:

  • Visualizing
  • Modeling
  • Prior knowledge
  • Classifying
  • Context clues
  • Using the word in a sentence
  • Discussing multiple meaning words
  • Breaking a word into its sounds and syllables
  • Identifying parts of a word that students know
  • Comparing and contrasting with other words
  • Use of graphic organizers


Structured Literacy instruction is systematic meaning that the organization of the curriculum follows a logical order.

The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and elements and progress methodically to more difficult concepts and elements.

The PRIDE Reading Program provides a very set Scope and Sequence that gradually moves students through a developmental process from the very beginning levels of literacy to accomplished reading mastery. With each lesson the teacher utilizes multisensory instruction, games and activities, fluency drills, and engaging stories.  


Structured Literacy instruction is cumulative meaning each step must be based on concepts previously learned.

The PRIDE Reading Program is based on a spiral curriculum. Recently learned concepts are spiraled into all of the lessons that follow to provide more practice and repetition with all previously taught skills. PRIDE spirals these concepts within each level. Students have multiple opportunities to build on their previously learned knowledge. Each new concept in the Scope and Sequence is introduced in the Introduction Lesson, then practiced along with previously taught concepts in both the Practice and the Reinforcement Lesson. Previously taught concepts are spiraled through the Practice and Reinforcement Lessons as well as more comprehension review.  

Explicit Instruction

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

The PRIDE Reading Program provides a complete and heavily scripted out Teaching Guide. This scripted guide is a valuable resource for both new instructors as well as veteran teachers. The scripted out Teaching Guide provides direct instruction that requires constant student and instructor interaction and maximum student verbal participation as well as student interaction with the text.

Diagnostic Teaching

In Structured Literacy, the teacher must individualize instruction for each student. This is instruction that meets each student’s needs. The content presented must be mastered to a degree of automaticity. 

In the PRIDE Reading Program, the lessons are flexible in nature, allowing the instructor to differentiate instruction according to the needs of each individual student while still providing the learning necessary for students to succeed in learning to read. After each new skill has been taught and mastered, students are given a Progress Check. If the student passes this with 80%, they can move on to the next concept. If they do not pass the Progress Check, the instructor goes back to the skill and works through it with the student again until it has been mastered. Differentiating instruction and frequent progress monitoring ensures that the student’s goals and expectations are clear so that each instructor can adapt instruction as needed.

Thank you for reading my post today! You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

Show Me an Orton-Gillingham Lesson

The Science of Reading: What All Teachers Should Know

How is Orton-Gillingham Evidence-Based Instruction?


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

PRIDE Reading Program

Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at info@pridereadingprogram.com or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com
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