Teaching With Reading Simplified

Those of you who follow my posts know that I am a devotee of the Science of Reading. I have trained in the Institute for Mulit-Sensory Education (IMSE) Orton-Gillingham method, and I have also trained with Reading Simplified. In fact, I am a Reading Simplified Expert Teacher/Tutor. Because Reading Simplified is a newer program, I would like to take time in this post to explain the Reading Simplified methodology and how I teach using Reading Simplified.

The goal of Reading Simplified is to teach sound-based decoding strategies in order to get learners to grade level reading and fluency as quickly as possible. Reading Simplified was developed by Dr. Marnie Ginsberg and is based on the Targeted Reading Intervention she developed at University of North Carolina. The scope and sequence of Reading Simplified is provided in the Streamlined Pathway, and new skills build upon previously taught skills. Each lesson has three main sections: Re-reading for Fluency, Word Work, and Guided Oral Reading. All readings are selected to reinforce the sound-based decoding skills being taught or reviewed in the Word Work component of the lesson.

Beginning or struggling readers of any age benefit from the structured Reading Simplified approach, and many students learn to decode words within 12 weeks.  While some students may take longer or need more targeted interventions, I have seen tremendous and rapid progress with students who I have found to be “stuck” in the IMSE Orton-Gillingham progression.

Teaching reading online presents its own set of challenges in engaging students and monitoring progress, but I have found the Reading Simplified program easy to adapt to online learning. Every component, from the initial Snapshot Assessment at intake to the Dynamic Assessment for Lesson Planning, to the Reading Development Tracker which I share with parents monthly, is designed to be used together to support ease of planning and targeting instruction to students’ most pressing needs.

What Do We Do In a Reading Simplified Lesson?

Re-Reading for Fluency

Lessons always begin with a quick check-in and presentation of our plan for the day. Then we dive into a re-read of our last lesson’s Guided Reading materials for at least a couple of pages. Re-reading is so important as a formative assessment of where the student needs additional support. Re-reading also allows the student to begin the lesson with a boost of confidence in experiencing the re-reading as easier than it was last time. Finally, as we often “buddy read” during this portion of the lesson, re-reading can allow me to model fluent reading to the student.

Word Work

Word Work is the heart of our Reading Simplified lesson. In Switch It students build and manipulate three to six sound words to practice sound based decoding and sound manipulation skills. Students also build flexible thinking skills used to decode unfamiliar words. Using the Reading Simplified Read It activity, students learn and practice the Blend as You Read strategy, also known as continuous blending. My students, especially those with working memory challenges, have really benefited from learning BAYR. Sort It is used to teach and practice advanced phonics concepts such as long vowels, r-controlled vowels, diphthongs, and word endings. Rather than learning spelling rules, which do take up a lot of working memory space, students learn by doing. They practice sorting words by sound and spelling patterns and learn to think flexibly about those words and common exceptions to learned patterns. Write It is a dictation activity and can be words, phrases, or sentences. Write It is used to support sound-symbol learning done in Read It and Sort It as well as to support reading comprehension.

For reviewing and practicing target skills, I rely on games that I have created on Wordwall. Wordwall allows me to completely customize each game to the target skill, and kids love these! We use Open the Box, Spin the Wheel, Matching, and other games to review and practice sound skills being taught. I have also used many games on the BOOM platform to provide continued practice on previously learned sound-symbol patterns.


Guided Oral Reading

The final component of our lesson is Guided Oral Reading, which is continued practice in the sound-symbol patterns presented in the Word Work component of the lesson. The most important component of Guided Oral Reading is trust. The student must trust that they will be asked to read a book that is challenging, but not too challenging, and that they will have my support along the way. I depend on decodable readers for Guided Oral Reading for beginning and struggling readers, and then as they become more skilled we transition into authentic texts such as Frog and Toad or Nate the Great (two of my favorites!). I have found some great decodables on EPIC!, Flyleaf, Phonicbooks, and Starfall, all of which are free for teachers. And of course, we follow with a few reading comprehension questions to allow me to do a quick assessment of student comprehension.

Wrapping It Up

Students are ready to go at the end of a 50-minute tutoring session, but we always take a few minutes to talk about what was easy, what was challenging, and what the student would like to read about next time. Right now the most common request is non-fiction about sharks! I am lucky to be able to find great non-fiction books at many levels on the EPIC! platform, and after careful preview I feel confident that I can provide the support to make the book a “just right” read for our next lesson.

Reading Simplified provides the scope and sequence for effective Tier 1 instruction, but where I find it is outstanding is in the Tier 3 instruction that I provide as a 1:1 tutor. Reading Simplified lessons are easily customizable to allow me to meet students right where they are and provide effective and rapid intervention. Moving a student to grade level reading fluency as quickly as possible is my goal, and Reading Simplified allows me to provide the targeted support students need to get there. Learn more about Reading Simplified by clicking on this link: Reading Simplified.

Learn about my tutoring services: Sand Dollar Tutoring – Online Tutoring for Students in Grades K-3

Please reach out for more information or to arrange a Free Reading Assessment!


Teacher and Tutor providing personalized, online Reading Tutoring for students in grades K-3.

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