Orthographic Mapping: What it is and How You Can Use it in Your Reading Instruction with Michelle Sullivan


Listen to the full episode to hear about orthographic mapping:

With so many “buzzwords” circling through the educational world, it’s hard to keep them all straight. What do they mean? How is this different from what I’m already doing in the classroom? What type of activities do I need to be implementing in order for my students to be successful? 

All of these questions relate to the idea of orthographic mapping. Luckily, I have brought on guest Michelle Sullivan to help give us some insight on this topic. So in today’s episode, we’re discussing exactly what orthographic mapping is and why it is so crucial for your reading instruction.

Michelle Sullivan has a decade of experience as a reading interventionist and instructional literacy coach. Her expertise, especially around foundational skills, are sure to help all learners. She believes that all students can learn and her mission is to help build teacher knowledge until every child can read.

Let’s first start with the basics. Orthographic mapping is a cognitive process we’re using in our brain to permanently store words into long term memory. So essentially, it’s what the brain is doing, not an actual activity. With the science of reading gaining momentum in the educational world, it has brought this idea of orthographic mapping, which isn’t a new concept, to the forefront of our minds in order to help students learn. 

Michelle helps explain why this idea is so important for our students, for it’s more than just having words stored in our brains. Orthographic mapping also has positive effects on reading comprehension and fluency. Beyond those, there are so many reasons why it’s important, which Michelle helps breakdown for us throughout the episode. 

However, in order to efficiently map a word, there are prerequisite skills that need to take place, which are automatic letter sound association, proficient phonemic awareness, and the ability to have word study. Michelle dives into each skill and explains how to work on that skill that will improve their ability to map a word. She also shares three simple and low-prep activities to implement in your classroom that involve orthographic mapping.

With such a complicated word, Michelle does an amazing job at breaking down and explaining each step and process of orthographic mapping with ease. She shares so many useful and effective strategies and ideas for you to take in and implement in your classroom. While orthographic mapping was just another buzzword, you can now use it successfully with your students.

In this episode about orthographic mapping, we discuss:
  • A break down on the science of the brain when it comes to learning and processing words
  • A clear explanation between frequency and sight words, along with heart words
  • 3 types of activities teachers can do to promote orthographic mapping
  • Why direct instruction is key to phoneme orthographic mapping
  • Michelle’s biggest tip when it comes to orthographic mapping

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About The Literacy Dive Podcast:

Do you find yourself seeking new ideas when it comes to literacy instruction in elementary classrooms? The Literacy Dive Podcast was created to offer actionable steps and to share information for teachers, like you, who are always looking to improve their craft! ELA is our jam and we are excited to dive into all things reading and writing with you!

Your host, Megan Polk, is the creator and owner behind The Literacy Dive and loves to support students and their teachers with curriculum, literacy instruction, best practices, and engaging literacy activities.

Dive in with us every Monday for a new episode from Megan! She, and her guests, will chat about various literacy topics and will bring you tips and tricks that can easily be implemented in your classrooms. You can tune in wherever you get your podcasts! Listen to The Literacy Dive Podcast on platforms like AppleSpotifyStitcherGoogle, and more! If you find value from listening to this podcast, please rate this show, leave a review, and follow!

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Hey, I'm Megan!

I am a literacy specialist and curriculum designer who loves sharing tips and ideas to help students thrive in literacy! It brings me joy to await those a-ha moments and to see light bulbs turn on!

I have a huge passion for reading and writing and love to co-mingle the two any chance I get! You can expect to learn new strategies and ways to keep your students engaged during your literacy block! I am so glad you’re here!

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