An Overview of The Writing Road to Reading Program

WRTR Book Cover.jpg

Spalding’s The Writing Road to Reading is a total language arts program that integrates essential research-based components, and educational philosophy, and a methodology consisting of time-tested principles of learning and instruction.

The Spalding method is:


When teachers explain the purpose of each new task and how students will be able to use their new skills, attention and motivation are enhanced. Explicit instruction means that every new skill, procedure, or concept is modeled, i.e., explained and demonstrated.


Interactive instruction means that teachers continually engage students in dialogues and activities and ensure that all students participate. After providing explicit instruction, teachers ask questions that check not only students’ knowledge and understanding but also their ability to use higher-level thinking (e.g., applying, reasoning, analyzing, and evaluating).  Teachers guide and prompt (coach) as students attempt each task. Teachers continue to provide support (scaffold) as needed and withdraw support (fade) when students can independently perform the task.  As students articulate what they have learned, reflect on their performance, and then perform each task independently after achieving mastery, they develop habits of mind that serve them well throughout their education and their lives. Activities that are relevant to the objective and advance students’ learning develop mastery. 


Diagnostic instruction means that during this daily interaction, teachers carefully observe each student’s progress and differentiate instruction to meet individual needs. They identify children who understand the model, those who will need extra help in small groups, and those who will need challenge. Teachers do not stop teaching and then diagnose, because diagnosing is built into daily instruction just as asking higher-level questions is part of checking students’ understanding.


Romalda Spalding learned from Dr. Orton to divide each task into its component parts, teach them sequentially, and talk about each part. Sequential instruction is structured to proceed from the simple to the complex and is cumulative across all grade levels.


Multi-sensory instruction means that students see, hear, say, and write using all channels to the brain, the stronger channels reinforcing the weaker. Using all four sensory channels reduces the amount of practice required for mastery and helps prevent or overcome learning difficulties. The success of The Spalding Method , even with children who have severe language problems, is in large part due to the multisensory nature of the method.


Integrated instruction means that the connection between speaking, writing, and reading is constantly taught and reinforced. High-frequency words analyzed for pronunciation and spelling rules in the spelling lesson are studied for meaning, usage, morphology, and parts of speech in the writing lesson. Learning is enhanced when students apply language arts skills in other subjects. In short, the components of Spalding methodology are not taught as discrete entities. They are part of a cohesive whole, each part working in concert with the rest.