Episode 37 - Word Reading Instruction and Support for Struggling Readers with Katie Pace, Miles, PhD

Episode Summary

Katie Pace Miles, PhD, joins the READ Podcast to discuss the foundations of word level reading instruction. Dr. Miles explains orthographic mapping, a fundamental strategy for literacy development, in which readers map out letter patterns, sounds, spelling, and meaning to learn words. She discusses the essential building blocks for orthographic mapping, demonstrating to READers that children do not learn to read by memorizing whole words. Dr. Miles discusses her current work of training pre-service teachers to deliver high-quality interventions to struggling readers in New York City. This episode is timely for Dyslexia Awareness Month as Dr. Miles discusses essential instructional practices to support students with dyslexia that are effective for all emerging readers.

Top READ Bookmarks
Each episode, host Danielle Scorrano identifies key takeaways or “READ bookmarks.”

1. Orthographic Mapping
Listen to 19:07 – 21:35 to learn more.

Orthographic mapping involves the mapping out of letter patterns and sounds, spelling, and meaning to learn words. Orthographic mapping enables readers to secure newly learned words into memory to build automaticity.

Did you know? The root, ortho- means correct and ­-graphy means process of writing.

Orthographic mapping is not whole word reading. Whole word reading is NOT the way children’s brains learn to read.

“I actually think it's quite understandable where the confusion has come in – where practitioners think individuals read or we learn best when we memorize whole words – because it looks like proficient readers are reading whole words that they have memorized… But we are actually paying attention to all the letters in a word and the letter sound relationships.”

2. Skills needed for orthographic mapping
Listen to 21:40 – 24:29 to learn more.

Students need multiple exposures using explicit, systematic instruction to use orthographic mapping in order to build automaticity, and the number of exposures differs based on the child.

“English has a sophisticated orthography where different combinations of letters can make one sound, and so you need extensive phonics knowledge in order to be successful with orthographic mapping.” 

To build word reading automaticity, emergent readers need the knowledge and skills in phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, letter-sound relationships, and phoneme segmentation.

Read more about orthographic mapping: 
Orthographic Mapping Facilitates Sights Word Memory
Miles, K. P., & Ehri, L. C. (2019)
Reading development and difficulties: Bridging the gap between research and practice (pp. 63-82) 

3. Intervention work in New York City
Listen to 11:27 – 15:05 to learn more.

As the pandemic unfolded, Dr. Miles sought to address the needs of preservice teachers and students in local communities who were not receiving enough literacy support.

“There were simply not enough supports for these emergent readers. As someone who knows the development of literacy the way I do and the way my colleagues do, it was an unacceptable situation.”

Dr. Miles aligned her university field work programs with high frequency remote tutoring to ensure preservice teachers received training in evidence-based interventions, and the participating emerging readers received these interventions to build their literacy skills.

“I felt like I was looking through a zoom at all these individuals that had skills that needed to be improved. And simultaneously they had a skillset that could be leveraged to support students in our communities around Brooklyn and elsewhere in New York City.”

Since the program began, Dr. Miles and her team have worked with 650 preservice teachers and over 1,000 students in underserved communities throughout New York City. This year, their goal is to serve over 800 teachers and 2,000 students.

“We broke out of the preexisting notions of what field work needed to look like in the university setting.”


Learn more from Dr. Katie Pace Miles       Connect with Dr. Miles on Twitter

Learn more about word level reading instruction from past READ experts:

Episode 28 with Dr. Louise-Spear Swerling       Episode 34 with Dr. Carolyn Strom


Or, download READ Podcast using your favorite podcast platform with direct links below:

TIP: In your podcast player, search for 'READ: The Research Education and ADvocacy podcast.' The show may not appear if you only type in READ.

Sign up for early access to each month's podcast!

Stay connected to future episode launches of READ podcast.

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: The Windward School, 40 West Red Oak Lane, White Plains, NY, 10605, US, http://www.thewindwardschool.org . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact.


READ Podcast is produced by The Windward School and The Windward Institute. READ is hosted by Danielle Scorrano.

About READ: READ, the Research Education ADvocacy Podcast connects you with prominent researchers, thought leaders, and educators who share their work, insights, and expertise about current research and best practices in fields of education and child development.

Note: All information and insights shared demonstrate the expertise and views of our guests and does not constitute an endorsement by The Windward Institute or The Windward School.