by Paula Fisher

Structured Literacy

This is Kaikorai Primary School's fourth article in a series relating to Structured Literacy. In this article we will be looking at Orthography.

Orthography or Orthographic Mapping is an important element that is taught to children at Kaikorai Primary and incorporated into our Structured Literacy lessons.

The content of Structured Literacy is integrated into our class reading programmes.  

What is Orthography or Orthographic Mapping?

Ortho = straight and graph = writing.  So if we put the two parts together we get 'correct writing'.

Orthography refers to the conventions in a spoken language that are used to represent its word in writing.

Mapping refers to connecting sounds in words to letters/spellings in print.

Therefore, orthographic mapping is the process by which readers store written words for immediate, effortless retrieval.

Orthographic mapping leads to the development of sight words.

Orthographic mapping = sight words learning.

A sight word is any word that you can read instantaneously or automatically without effort.

Why is Orthography Important?

Research evidence shows us that the key to building fluency in reading is orthographic mapping.

Skilled readers possess the necessary tools to orthographically map - to map the sounds of words in our head to the letters on the page so that they become permanently stored instantly recognisable words.  

Skilled readers have the tools to hear and manipulate sounds - they are able to move from basic decoding to the creation of a lot of words that can be read by sight.

How do you teach Orthography?

When we teach orthography, we focus on:

*Teaching word patterns systematically

We explicitly teach students how to use word patterns when they are attempting to read and spell new words 

*Breaking words into syllables

Understanding syllables helps students learn to spell words correctly.

We teach different types of syllables (open and closed) and what occurs when syllables join together within a word.

*Using word hunts

Word hunt activities help students make connections between spelling words and reading words. We use texts students have previously read and focus on patterns within words, following the particular spelling patterns they are learning.

*Practise through repetition

We provide a wide range of tools and opportunities for students to practise listening to, making, and writing words.