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Follow the Monster Sounds Say the Word
DOK Daily - Developing Orthographic Knowledge Daily - ICRWY
Monster Spelling Routine

ICRWY: The Mathematical Way to Learn to Read and Spell 

The ICRWY Self-Teaching Program from The Reading Hut (UK)

DOK Daily centres around 2 activities: ideal for ICRWY SEN Tutors and TAs working on a 1:1 basic in schools with children who have poor phonemic awareness and limited orthographic knowledge. However these activities are also being used with 3 year olds! 
Prevention of difficulties is far easier, and 'reading for pleasure' becomes the goal.  

Orthographic Knowledge

Orthographic knowledge represents the information that is stored in memory that tells us how to represent spoken language in written form; borrowing from the word’s etymology, it is knowledge for the correct way to write language. Orthographic knowledge is considered by many to play an important role in literacy acquisition.  

It is widely accepted that general intelligence and phonemic awareness contribute to children’s acquisition of reading and spelling skills in addition to early explicit and systematic phonics instruction which allows c
hildren to make plausible spelling attempts based on taught phoneme to grapheme correspondences. An additional skills in this regard is orthographic knowledge  (OK)(i.e., the knowledge about permissible letter patterns). OK consists of two components, word-specific (i.e., the knowledge of the spelling of specific words) and general orthographic knowledge (i.e., the knowledge about legal letter patterns of a writing system). Word-specific orthographic knowledge contributes to both reading and spelling. As discussed by Apel et al (2019) researchers across the years have been describing and measuring orthographic knowledge in different ways which can be problematic. 

Fluent reading or writing occurs because an individual has sufficient lexical orthographic knowledge to quickly recognize or produce written words, with little cognitive effort (e.g., Ehri, 20052014). However, when an individual is confronted with a word for which a lexical representation is not available, the individual must use his/her sublexical orthographic knowledge as part of the process of decoding (i.e., reading) or encoding (i.e., spelling) the word (Ehri, 2014). The idea that orthographic knowledge consists of these two levels is accepted by many experts (e.g., Castles & Nation, 2006) Sublexical orthographic knowledge must include the alphabetic principle as one aspect of sublexical knowledge. The 'kick-start' to reading and spelling via explicit and systematic phonics instruction of the 100 or so commonly used correspondences makes the process of developing orthographic knowledge easier for all. 

In order to express oneself in written language, verbal information needs to be recoded into letters (i.e., spelling; Preßler et al. 2014). Spelling skills have an influence on writing productivity (Kim et al. 2011), writing quality (Kent et al. 2014), and writing fluency (Kim et al. 2015). Moreover, knowledge of the spelling of a word enables its fluent reading, since both build and rely on the same mental representation (Snow et al. 2005). Given that orthography means “correct writing,” both lexical and sublexical orthographic knowledge are needed to achieve correct writing (and reading). 

Typically developing children can capitalise on orthographic knowledge from the earliest stages of spelling development. Developmental dyslexia, defined as a persistent and unexpected difficulty in developing age- and experience-appropriate word reading skills, is one of the most common learning disabilities affecting 5–10% of all school-age children (e.g., Snowling et al., 2020) A meta-analysis conducted by Georgiou et al (2019) demonstrated that individuals with dyslexia experience an orthographic knowledge deficit that is as large as that of phonological awareness and rapid automatized naming reported in previous meta-analyses. The lack of orthographic knowledge awareness may be the main cause of impaired reading and writing in children with specific learning disabilities (Wang et al., 2014).

Typically developing children have implicit knowledge about acceptable orthographic sequences in English (e.g. Cassar & Treiman, 1997). Moreover, studies have shown that print exposure is associated with orthographic knowledge acquisition (Stanovich & West, 1989; de Jong & Share, 2007). As children’s reading skills progress, orthographic sequences stored in the lexicon expand and provide greater opportunities for spelling unfamiliar words using an analogy strategy (Ehri, 2014). 
The gap between those who can read, and those who cannot, becomes huge. 

After working with children for over 3 decades, with a specialism in supporting neurodiveregent learners my concern is less about whether children are taught systematic phonics within KS1, even though important for all, and crucial for some, and more around whether phonemic awareness and orthographic knowledge is a daily focus. Even if children not using my whole class teaching approach (Speech Sound Pics Approach) used Duck Hands, Lines and Numbers to map words, and use the Speedy Solo and Paired Decoding technique, I find that typically developing children read earlier, and others are more effectively supported: The Monster Routine acts as early and highly engaging intervention. It is a fantastic teacher training tool as adults become aware of orthography - as 'orthographic mappers' they do not usually look at words in this way; they read and spell words without conscious effort. To teach it they need to become orthographically aware.    

If more children are to say 'I Can Read (and Spell) Without You' teachers, tutors and parents must focus on orthographic knowledge. This naturally happens when you do these two activities daily. They are independent of any phonics instruction (the 4 SSP Code Levels)

I am currently seeing if just watching the monster routine has an impact on toddlers and how quickly they learn to read and spell. The words are those that are meaningful to that child and relevant to their day!

We are Developing Orthographic Knowledge - could you commit to DOK Daily?

Do this regardless of anything else you are doing that relates to reading and spelling - it will not conflict as it's purely the mapping of words using the IPA (Universal Spelling Code. It will also save time as children will more quickly and  easily develop an understanding of spelling patterns, rules (not need to teach as they will discover)  Orthographic knowledge includes the knowledge about rules of letter sequences and also morphological spelling, which plays a decisive role in automatized word recognition. 
Fluent reading and/or spelling is hence supported by a sufficient level of orthographic knowledge, enabling the individual to quickly recognize or produce written words with little cognitive effort (e.g., Ehri 20052014). Regarding reading at the higher level (i.e., sentence- and text-level), in the Lexical Quality Hypothesis (LQH; Perfetti and Hart 2002), high-quality orthographic representations are considered to be necessary for higher reading processes, such as reading comprehension. Therefore, it can be assumed that orthographic knowledge supports the automatized single-word recognition, enabling their processing and supporting higher reading processes (i.e., comprehension at sentence- and text-level).

So what are you waiting for? 




Speech Sound Wall - Spelling Clouds

Developing Orthographic Knowledge

dɪvɛləpɪŋ ɔːθəɡræfɪk nɒlɪʤ

Two Daily Activities : DOK Daily
You will need 15 minutes. 

Free training below
You will need 15 minutes and the basic DOK bundle. 

One word per day. Choose words that interest the children. NOT a word linked with phonics instruction
Teach them the monster spelling routine with Green Code Level Words, and then their monstered name - then start using random words from the Mapped Words® library.
Monster Mapped Words® shown will be downloadable from the support group - eg elephant

ICRWY Tutor Training

Learning the Routine - Student Resource
Download the file here - it's FREE!

Follow the Monster Sounds activity

Follow the Monster Sounds,  Say the Word

When working at Green, Purple and Yellow Code Levels do this...

When at the end of the Yellow Code Level do this...

Wooden Alphabets

Don't be afraid of letter names! 
Tips like this added to the ICRWY Lessons app
Do you have questions?

shutterstock_1422406469 (3).jpg
I Can Read Without You ICRWY Technology - Self-Teaching
Speech Sound Wall - Monster Sounds - Spelling Clouds!

What is the purpose of the Speech Sound Wall - the Spelling Clouds? 
Tips like this added to the ICRWY Lessons app
Do you have questions?

Apel, K., Henbest, V.S. & Masterson, J. Orthographic knowledge: clarifications, challenges, and future directions. Read Writ 32, 873–889 (2019).

Castles, A., & Nation, K. (2006). How does orthographic learning happen? In S. Andrews (Ed.), From inkmarks to ideas: Challenges and controversies about word recognition and reading (pp. 151–179). Hove, East Sussex: Psychology Press.

Cassar, M., & Treiman, R. (1997). The beginnings of orthographic knowledge: Children's knowledge of double letters in words. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89(4), 

de Jong, P. F., & Share, D. L. (2007). Orthographic learning during oral and silent reading. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11(1), 55-71. 


Ehri, L. (1995). Phases of development in learning to read words by sight. Journal of Research in Reading, 18, 116–125.

Ehri, L. C. (2005). Learning to read words: Theory, findings, and issues. Scientific Studies of Reading, 9, 167–188.

Ehri, L. C. (2014). Orthographic mapping in the acquisition of sight word reading, spelling memory, and vocabulary learning. Scientific Studies of Reading, 18, 5–21.


Georgiou, G.K., Martinez, D., Vieira, A.P.A. et al. Is orthographic knowledge a strength or a weakness in individuals with dyslexia? Evidence from a meta-analysis. Ann. of Dyslexia 71, 5–27 (2021).

Kent, S., Wanzek, J., Petscher, Y., Al Otaiba, S., & Kim, Y.-S. (2014). Writing fluency and quality in kindergarten and first grade: The role of attention, reading, transcription, and oral language. Reading and Writing, 27(7), 1163–1188.

Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Puranik, C., Folsom, J. S., Greulich, L., & Wagner, R. K. (2011). Componential skills of beginning writing: An exploratory study. Learning and Individual Differences, 21(5), 517–525.

Kim, Y.-S., Al Otaiba, S., Wanzek, J., & Gatlin, B. (2015). Toward an understanding of dimensions, predictors, and the gender gap in written composition. Journal of Educational Psychology, 107(1), 79–95.

Perfetti, C. A., & Hart, L. (2002). The lexical quality hypothesis. Precursors of Functional Literacy, 189–213.

Perfetti, C. A. (1984). Reading acquisition and beyond: Decoding includes cognition. American Journal of Education, 93(1), 40–60.

Preßler, A.-L., Könen, T., Hasselhorn, M., & Krajewski, K. (2014) Cognitive preconditions of early reading and spelling: A latent-variable approach with longitudinal data. Reading and Writing, 27(2), 383-406.

Share, D. L. (2004). Orthographic learning at a glance: On the time course and developmental onset of self-teaching. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 87(4), 267–298.

Snow, C. E., Griffin, P., & Burns, M. S. (2005). Knowledge to support the teaching of reading: Preparing teachers for a changing world. San Francisco: John Wiley & Sons.

Snowling, M., Hulme, C., & Nation, K. (2020). Defining and understanding dyslexia: Past, present and future. Oxford Review of Education, 46(4), 501-513.


Wang, X., Li, Q., Deng, C., and Management S. O. University Z. G. Department S. (2014). An experimental study on the phonetic processing and orthographic processing deficit of the chinese reading disability. J. Psychol. Sci. 37, 803–808. doi: 10.16719/j.cnki.1671-6981

The AI Reading Teacher - ICRWY Self-Teaching
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