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Teaching Tips

Decoding: The Golden Ticket to Independent and Automatic Reading

October 18, 2022

by: Ramon Torres

2 mins

Decoding could be the secret cheat code to helping students become independent and automatic readers. On this week’s episode of Literacy Matters, Dr. Julia Lindsey chats with Cheryl to take a deep dive on the world of decodable texts and their hidden powers.  

Dr. Julia Lindsey, distinguished author of Reading Above the Fray: Reliable Research-based Routines for Developing Decoding Skills, shares with us her extensive background as a literacy-focused teacher & consultant to give us the inside scoop on how decodable texts can be harnessed to improve student literacy skills.  

From exploring their benefits to knowing how to spot red flags, Dr. Lindsey is here to give us a lay of the decoding landscape. 

What Exactly Is Decoding? 

As Dr. Lindsey explains, “decoding is like the golden ticket into getting kids to become independent readers.” Decoding is the act of taking everything that students have learned about sounds and spelling and then applying them to be able to speak words out loud.  

From simple words such as “cat” to multisyllabic words like “tyrannosaurus,” decoding allows students to interpret each letter and understand what they mean when put together. Students recall previous phonemic lessons and coalesce them independently. 

Creating Orthographic Maps 

As our understanding of word recognition has evolved, it is more apparent that decoding skills are the most efficient and effective route to learning new words. It’s more than just a guessing game. 

When students repeatedly decode words, it creates an orthographic map which is a network of connections between a spelling, a pronunciation, and a meaning. The more orthographic maps that students create, the better they become at long-term automatic word recognition.  

Decodable Texts Are the Way to Go 

The term “decodable texts” can mean a variety of things depending on who you ask. Based on research, it refers to a series of texts with a high proportion of words that a student knows and can read successfully given their current knowledge of sounds and spelling.  

Practice makes perfect and with decoding, it is no different. Decodable texts solidify students’ ability to make sense the letters they are processing while sharpening their orthographic maps.  

Learning Without Tears is committed to helping you become the literacy heroes your students need. By partnering with experts in the field, Literacy Matters is diving deep to explore the tips, tricks, and resources that make a world of difference in and out of the classroom. 

To further explore the effectiveness of decoding skills with Dr. Julia Lindsey, watch the full episode of Literacy Matters with Cheryl Lundy Swift


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