"Across all written languages, reading development involves: a re-arrangement of older structures to make new learning circuits; a capacity for specialization in working groups of neurons within these structures for representing information; and automaticity - the capacity of these neuronal groups and learning circuits to retrieve and connect this information at nearly automatic rates."
~ Dr. Maryanne Wolf, Proust and the Squid
An extensive body of current research conducted across multiple disciplines has shed new light on how best to teach students to become effective readers and writers. These leading researchers tell us that it's time to shift away from traditional phonics word study methods and move towards connectionist methods of word study instruction. It's time for SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing.
SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing is based on the current reading science research, including brain-imaging studies. The curriculum uses a Connectionist Word Study approach to teaching reading and writing, employing multi-linguistic and meta-linguistic word study instruction. This approach "builds" literacy with instructional methods and activities that develop, connect, and integrate the different processes and regions of the brain involved in effective reading and writing. With SPELL-Links students develop specialized knowledge and skill in the five language blocks of word study - phonological awareness, orthographic knowledge, semantics, morphological knowledge, and mental orthographic images and simultaneously engage and connect multiple language centers of the brain to establish and strengthen the vital neural functional connectivity within the brain that is needed for efficient reading and writing.
In order to successfully read, write, and spell, the human brain must “re-purpose” regions of the brain biologically designed for other purposes, develop specialization of neurons, create new circuits and connections attuned to written language, and develop efficiency within these newly formed neural connections to achieve functional connectivity. Learning to read and write is not just about acquiring knowledge, it's about establishing functional connectivity. For most students, this re-wiring of the brain requires multi-linguistic and multi-modality instruction using Connectionist Word Study instructional methods. Spell-Links to Reading & Writing provides this research-based instruction.
SPELL-Links uses a speech-to-print word study approach to leverage the brain's innate, biological wiring and organization for oral language. Unlike traditional phonics and word study programs which begin with the written letter and teach students to match the letter to a sound, with SPELL-Links students first learn how to attend to the sound structure of spoken English words and then how to connect and combine sounds, letter patterns, and meanings to read and spell words. This is exactly how the brain works in good readers and writers!
With SPELL-Links students also learn meta-linguistic word study strategies—the ability to think about, talk about, organize, and interpret the sounds, letters, and meanings of words. In this way students develop the executive function skills that empower them to independently apply their word study knowledge, skills, and strategies to successfully and independently read, write, and spell every day, not just during the classroom lesson or on the weekly test.
The brain is biologically-wired only for oral language—speaking, listening, and understanding—not for written language - reading and writing. There are no genes specific to reading and writing. There are no neurological or biological structures specific to reading and writing. In order to successfully read and write each brain must “re-purpose” regions biologically designed for other purposes and create new circuits and neural connections.
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