Introduction to SSP - Module 1 slide outlines

1.     Quotation from Louisa Moats

‘The body of work referred to as the “science of reading” is not an ideology, a philosophy, a political agenda, a one-size-fits-all approach, a program of instruction, or a specific component of instruction. It is the emerging consensus from many related disciplines, based on literally thousands of studies, supported by hundreds of millions of research dollars, conducted across the world in many languages. These studies have revealed a great deal about how we learn to read, what goes wrong when students don’t learn, and what kind of instruction is most likely to work the best for the most students.’

2.     Reading studies

[Image: shows the covers of three studies into reading:

  • National Reading Panel: Teaching Children to Read
  • Teaching Reading: Report and recommendations
  • Independent review of the teaching of early reading]

3.     National Reading Panel report

‘Findings provided solid support for the conclusion that systematic phonics instruction makes a bigger contribution to children’s growth in reading than alternative programs providing unsystematic or no phonics instruction.’ (page 2-92)

4.     Teaching Reading: report and recommendations

‘The Committee recommends that teachers provide systematic, direct and explicit phonics instruction so that children master the essential alphabetic code-breaking skills required for foundational reading proficiency. Equally, that teachers provide an integrated approach to reading that supports the development of oral language, vocabulary, grammar, reading fluency, comprehension and the literacies of new technologies.’ (page 14)

5.     Independent review of the teaching of early reading report

‘Furthermore, it is generally accepted that it is harder to learn to read and write in English because the relationship between sounds and letters is more complex than in many other alphabetic languages. It is therefore crucial to teach phonic work systematically, regularly and explicitly, because children are highly unlikely to work out this relationship for themselves.’ (page 18)

6.     Explicit, systematic instruction is the preferred method for teaching decoding

[Image: four book covers:

  • Speech to print: language essentials for teachers. Louisa Cook Moats
  • Language at the speed of sight: how we read, why so many can’t and what can be done about it. Mark Seidenberg
  • Essentials of assessing, preventing and overcoming difficulties. David Kilpatrick
  • Reading in the brain: the new science of how we read. Stanislas Dehaene]

7.     Other areas of research that influence reading instruction

[Image: three book covers:

  • Cognitive load theory: Research that teachers really need to understand. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
  • Cognitive load theory in practice. Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation
  • How we learn. Stanislas Dehaene]

8.     Description of loads

Cognitive load: relates to the amount of information that working memory can hold at one time.

Intrinsic load: the inherent complexity of the material and the prior knowledge of the learner.

Extraneous load: any extra pressure that takes the student’s focus away from the learning (complex vocabulary, poorly designed instruction, distractions in the environment, fatigue etc).

Germane load: well-designed instruction that directly facilitates schema construction and automation.

[Image: a barrel shape divided into equal thirds. The bottom third is labelled intrinsic load; the middle third is labelled extraneous; and the top third is labelled germane.]

9.     Maximising Germane Load

[Image: two barrel-shaped images, each divided into three unequal layers.

  1. Barrel 1: The bottom section is labelled Intrinsic load; the larger middle section is labelled Extraneous; and the very small top section is labelled Germane.
  2. Barrel 2: The bottom section (Intrinsic load) and the middle section (Extraneous) are the same size. The top section (Germane) is much larger.]

10. Dehaene’s 4 Pillars of Learning


  • Cover of book: How we learn. Stanislas Dehaene
  • Image of a Greek-style temple. The four pillars are inscribed: Attention; Active engagement; Corrective feedback; Consolidation.]

Attention: We can only pay attention to one thing at a time. If there is more than one thing to pay attention to, one task/concept has to ‘wait its turn’ while we attend to the other.

Active engagement: Children learn efficiently only if attentive, focused, and active in generating mental models, that is, they both think about content and do something with it in the course of learning.

Corrective feedback: The error signal is internal. It is simply noting a difference between what we were expecting and what we got.

Consolidation: Enable students to build knowledge and skill to automaticity without overloading working memory.

11. Let’s recap

  • The greatest asset we have in building strong results in literacy is teacher knowledge and expertise.
  • The science of reading is not a fad or a program, but the evidence base of thousands of research studies across multiple disciplines.
  • Teachers can access the findings of this research through several key reports and quality publications including the freely available report from the US National Reading Panel and the Australian National Inquiry into the Teaching of Literacy.
  • Other key research that informs the way we teach reading includes Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory and Dehaene’s 4 Pillars of Learning framework.