How Does Really Great Reading Align with Dyslexia Intervention



How Does Really Great Reading Align with Dyslexia Intervention?

According to the International Dyslexia Association (2015), students with dyslexia require structured literacy instruction in phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and semantics.

Kilpatrick (2015) believes that there are three components necessary for successful reading intervention programs: “1. Eliminating the phonological awareness deficits and teaching phonemic awareness to the advanced level; 2. Teaching and reinforcing phonics skills and phonic decoding; 3. Providing opportunities for reading connected text.”

How to teach a child to read with dyslexia

The Really Great Reading approach contains critical, evidence-based components of phonics for dyslexia instruction. Our explicit, systematic, engaging, multisensory, and developmentally appropriate programs teach students the key skills they need to become efficient and accurate decoders. These skills lead to their success not only in word identification but also in comprehending what they read.

Using phonics programs for students with dyslexia

The International Dyslexia Association (2015) also states that instruction for students with dyslexia should be systematic and cumulative, explicit, and include diagnostic teaching. Our instruction is systematic, explicit, and multisensory.

Student practice is cumulative and controlled. Begin by teaching the fundamental skills of phonological awareness and phonemic awareness, focusing on the initial instruction of segmenting and blending individual phonemes within words.

Download our Phonological Awareness Assessment 

Manipulation of phonemes and letter-sound fluency are taught next. Then, we move on to encoding, decoding and phrase, sentence, and passage reading. Teachers are able to use our complimentary, diagnostic assessments to pinpoint, and then correct, their students’ specific areas of weakness. Our assessments cover decoding, phonemic awareness, letter-sound knowledge, and sight word knowledge. 

Evidence-based reading interventions for dyslexia

We also have Phonics Boost, which is a program specifically designed for older emerging or struggling readers in Grades 3-12. These students require a slower teaching pace and more targeted dyslexia reading strategies that involve practice with both phonemic awareness and phonics concept tasks.

Explore Phonics Boost

HD Word is also appropriate for older students who need to quickly fill in gaps in their decoding skills. At Really Great Reading, we wholeheartedly believe that strong foundational reading skills instruction can help struggling readers, such as those with dyslexia, overcome the reading hurdles before them.

Explore HD Word

Addressing dyslexia with phonics programs

At the heart of Really Great Reading’s instruction is phonics; students are taught to understand the systematic relationships between sounds and the spellings of those sounds. Our digital and printable sound-spelling wall can be used to help students connect sounds they hear, speak, and write to the spellings that represent them in words.

Systematic, explicit phonics instruction is critical for students with dyslexia. In fact, Eide (2011) explains that brain research has shown that “the use of intensive phonics is the only way to teach dyslexics and learning disabled individuals how to read and is the best way for everyone to learn to read.”

Dyslexia and reading comprehension

Although not the immediate focus of our instruction, orthography and morphology are naturally enhanced when decoding is taught through our approach. Part of what we are helping students do is digest multisyllabic words by breaking them into six-syllable types. When students see patterns in these decodable chunks, affixes naturally expose themselves.

Spear-Swerling (2016) indicates that “at more advanced levels of word reading and spelling, interventions should also explicitly and systematically teach structural and morphemic analysis (e.g., recognition of common prefixes, roots, and suffixes), as well as useful spelling generalizations (Lovett, Lacenzera, DePalma, & Frijters, 2012; Masterson & Apel, 2010).”

In the Really Great Reading lessons, prefixes and suffixes are explicitly taught along with their meanings, and when prefixes and suffixes are isolated, base/root words are often naturally exposed and then explored.

Our complimentary Webinar Series, Erasing the Misery of Reading and Spelling Multi-syllabic Words, demonstrates explicit, scaffolded teaching of multi-syllabic word decoding with various multisensory techniques, including a manipulative that is easy to access or create for use with students of all ages and grades. 

Phonics teaching methods for children with dyslexia

Dyslexia is characterized by effortful and slow reading, lacking fluency (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2008).

“In order to decode unknown words fluently, readers need to develop at least the following knowledge and skills to a fluent level: knowledge of sound-symbol relationships, blending of sounds into words, recognition of reoccurring patterns across words (phonograms), and coordination of phonemic/ orthographic and meaning information to determine exactly the right word” (Torgesen, 2006).

Really Great Reading lessons teach to students’ understanding rather than their memory. The lessons teach flexibility, strategies, and common patterns rather than having students memorize a list of syllabication rules that are difficult to apply. It is important to understand that we absolutely target students’ true understanding of the underlying substructures of words: syllable types, prefixes, suffixes, base words and root words, and spelling patterns.

Rather than not targeting their memory, we are targeting their conscious understanding of these features, allowing them to recognize these patterns more fluently. It is only when a student has a conscious understanding of these features that he or she can really build up automaticity with decoding. The International Dyslexia Association (2017) states that “it is important for these individuals [students with dyslexia] to be taught by a systematic and explicit method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing, touching) at the same time.”

Multisensory phonics instruction for dyslexia

Throughout our programs, children are actively engaged in learning concepts using their whole bodies. They listen carefully to words and phonemes, move their bodies to help build their phonemic awareness and manipulate objects during phonics instruction. Using multiple pathways into the brain seems to help students learn the concepts faster and retain them better. This allows our programs to move quickly through a robust and rigorous phonics scope and sequence.

We have been refining our approach for the last 10 years, and even teachers with a great deal of experience with other programs are often quick to recognize that our approach is more succinct, efficient and digestible than many other approaches. We know it works well with all students, including dyslexic students.

Our program teaches students to play with the sounds in spoken words and then to analyze and attack those words on paper in developmentally appropriate ways. Countdown, Blast Foundations, HD Word, and Phonics Boost lessons set students on the path to becoming successful decoders and, ultimately, successful and fluent readers.




Eide, D. (2011). Uncovering the logic of English: A common-sense approach to reading, spelling, and literacy. Minneapolis: Pedia Learning.
International Dyslexia Association. (2015). Effective reading instruction for students with dyslexia. Retrieved from
International Dyslexia Association. (2017). Dyslexia basics fact sheet. Retrieved from
Kilpatrick, D. A. (2015). Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.
Torgesen, J.K. & Hudson, R. (2006). Reading fluency: critical issues for struggling readers. In S.J. Samuels and A. Farstrup {Eds.}, Reading fluency: The forgotten dimension of reading success. Newark, DE: International Reading Association.
Shaywitz S. E., & Shaywitz B. A. (2008). Paying attention to reading: The neurobiology of reading and dyslexia. Development and Psychopathology, 20(4), 1329-49.
Spear-Swerling, L. (2016). Instructional considerations for students with dyslexia. Retrieved from rief_DyslexiaConsiderations.pdf
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