Orthographic Mapping

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Collective Teacher Efficacy is the collective belief of teachers in their ability to positively affect students. With an effect size of d=1.57 Collective Teacher Efficacy is strongly correlated with student achievement; it is John Hattie’s “new number one” influence. 

Orthographic Mapping - Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach

A theory of how children progress through different phases of reading should be an asset to parents and teachers; they can monitor and structure the stage of progress of the developing reader. 

Orthographic Mapping can be considered the final 'phase' of reading, that takes place without conscious thought. In literacy, orthography refers to writing words with the proper letters in the correct order according to accepted usage. 

Fluent reading requires you to have orthographic recognition; accurate spelling requires you to have orthographic recall. 

Orthographic mapping is the process competent readers use to store written words so that in future encounters with that word or similar letter strings they are able to automatically recall that word or letter string without needing to go through the decoding process again. In this sense, a 'sight word' is one that is instantly recognised. When a word is (phonics) decoded, which can only occur with good phonemic awareness (awareness of the smallest units of spoken sounds in the word) and well-developed 'code knowledge' the student can link to this to other similar word patterns already stored in long-term memory.


Orthographic mapping (OM) involves the formation of letter-sound connections to bond the spellings, pronunciations, and meanings of specific words in memory. It explains how children learn to read words by sight, to spell words from memory, and to acquire vocabulary words from print. This development is portrayed by Ehri (2005a) as a sequence of overlapping phases, each characterized by the predominant type of connection linking spellings of words to their pronunciations in memory. During development, the connections improve in quality and word-learning value, from visual nonalphabetic, to partial alphabetic, to full grapho-phonemic, to consolidated grapho-syllabic and grapho-morphemic. OM is enabled by phonemic awareness and grapheme-phoneme knowledge. Recent findings indicate that OM to support sight word reading is facilitated when beginners are taught about articulatory features of phonemes and when grapheme-phoneme relations are taught with letter-embedded picture mnemonics. Vocabulary learning is facilitated when spellings accompany pronunciations and meanings of new words to activate OM. Teaching students the strategy of pronouncing novel words aloud as they read text silently activates OM and helps them build their vocabularies. Because spelling-sound connections are retained in memory, they impact the processing of phonological constituents and phonological memory for words.

Orthographic Mapping in the Acquisition of Sight Word Reading, Spelling Memory, and Vocabulary Learning

Linnea C. Ehri 

Pages 5-21 | Published online: 26 Sep 2013








The Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach


'Every student deserves to become an Orthographic Mapper as quickly and easily as possible'

So when using 'orthographic mapping' readers do not need any 'clues; they don't stop to work out the word through phonics decoding or any other form of analysis, as they instantly know the word. All words become true 'sight words' as read with automaticity, regardless of any distractions! (if they see the word 'orange' on an apple they want to say 'orange' even though they SEE the apple!) 

Our focus is on HOW students can get to that stage as QUICKLY and easily as possible. 

This means UNDERSTANDING the phoneme to grapheme mapping, and using the spelling patterns to learn new words; reaching the 'self-teaching' stage as quickly and easily as possible.

What is essential is that the focus is on:

CODE MAPPING (how the phonemes map to the graphemes)
VOCABULARY KNOWLEDGE (they need to know what words mean)  

And of course the opportunity to apply these skills (reading authentic texts)

Vocabulary learning is facilitated when spellings accompany pronunciations and meanings of new words to activate orthographic mapping.

SSP teachers regard the formation of connections between graphemes and phonemes to be essential, and start at the phoneme level. SSP students do not segment words into onset and rime or syllables.


We teach children to read and spell in 3 Phases.


Phase 1 Phonemic awareness - Isolation, Segmentation, Blending and Manipulation (Addition/ Subtraction) This Includes the mapping of phonemes on paper using Duck Hands, Lines and Numbers.Unique to SSP are 'phoneme monsters' that enable even very young children to map the phonemes on paper, segment (order) and blend. Even before the 'pictures' of the speech sounds are introduced children are manipulating phonemes. Pre-school students can be seen blending 13 phoneme words using the phoneme monsters!


'Follow the Monster Sounds to Say the Word'
13 Phonemes ! 


Monster Manipulation ! Note that although we do this activity within Phase 1 it is the highest level of phonemic awareness and many children will find it difficult, even though ready to transition to Phase 2, when they also map the Sound Pics (graphemes)

Phase 2

This is the phase undertaken within Reception and Year 1.

Spaced repetition is used to teach the 4 Code Levels, with each student working through at their own pace.


We are teaching phonemic awareness to the advanced level, teaching and reinforcing phonic skills and decoding.
Students practise reading connected text.


There are no 'silent letters' or a 'magic e'. Every phoneme 'maps' to a grapheme.

Phase 2.PNG

Once they start using Duck Hands, Lines and Numbers they start to self-teach using words they know.
Make use of environmental print! 

Phase 2 and the Transition to Phase 3.

Students are now out of the explicit phonics teaching stage and no longer need the 30 Minute Phonics Program 

They continue with:

Speedy Solo, Paired and Group Code Mapping/ Decoding 
The Speedy Six
Speech Sound Pic Detective 

Vocabulary Work

Snap and Crack and Rapid Writing can still be used at a more advanced level. 


A growing body of research (see Kilpatrick, 2015) shows that once typically developing readers become reasonably proficient at phonic decoding they begin to ‘self-teach’.  This self-teaching hypothesis proposes that every time these readers encounter an unfamiliar word, they work out the 'Code Mapping' by attending to the structure of the word. They then use this new knowledge to establish an orthographic representation of the word in their long-term memory. In readers with good phomemic awareness the storing of the word in long-term memory occurs after one to four exposures to the word.

More coming soon!


Our 'Code Mapping' patent relates to the visual representation of the 'pictures of the sounds'.