Updated: Nov 3, 2020
The secret to the success of Hill reading instruction lies in the use of what is known as Structured Literacy. Based on scientific evidence, this term has been trademarked by the International Dyslexia Association, a professional organization that is rooted in the work of Mrs. June Orton who created the Orton-Gillingham approach.
The key principles of SL instruction are that it is:
Explicit – directly taught, students not expected to discover language concepts simply from exposure to language or reading
Systematic and Cumulative – teaching language concepts in an orderly, planned way while explaining how each element fits into the whole
Hands-on, Engaging, and Multimodal – teaching using all senses and creating movement and tactile experiences
Sequential – each skill taught in a logical order
Diagnostic and Responsive – use of student responses guide pace and the way concepts are presented
The key components are:
Phonological Awareness – understanding the individual sounds (phonemes) that make up words
Sound-Symbol Correspondence – understanding phonemes and the letters and letter combinations that can represent them
Orthography – understanding patterns of letter use in the writing system, as in six types of syllables that give clues to how a word is read
Morphology – understanding prefixes, roots, base words, and suffixes and their meanings
Syntax – understanding the system for ordering words in sentences so that meaning can be communicated
Semantics – understanding words and phrases by teaching word meanings (vocabulary), interpretation of words and phrases (i.e. figures of speech), and text organization.
Every lesson in reading and some aspects of writing at HSW are taught using these principles and components. Many other programs describe themselves as teaching phonics, but few have the scope of these components and breadth of this explicit methodology as the foundation of their instruction. The Hill program has 40 plus years of research documenting the success of Structured Literacy principles. Structured Literacy can be used with all students but particularly works for dyslexic students. Our students and teachers certainly convey and represent the positive outcomes of this type of instruction.