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Louisa Moats Resources


Teaching Reading is Rocket Science – What Expert Teachers of Reading Should Know and Be Able To Do

This paper was prepared for the American Federation of Teachers by Louisa C. Moats, project director, Washington D.C. site of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Interventions Project, and clinical associate professor of paediatrics, University of Texas, Houston, Health Sciences Center. Her work is supported in part by an “Early Interventions for Children with Reading Problems” grant, funded by the NICHD.

Reading is the fundamental skill upon which all formal education depends. Research now shows that a child who doesn’t learn the reading basics early is unlikely to learn them at all. Any child who doesn’t learn to read early and well will not easily master other skills and knowledge, and is unlikely to ever flourish in school or in life.

Click here to Louisa Moats paper Teaching Reading is Rocket Science.


Teaching Decoding

Louisa C. Moats

As it has become increasingly apparent that substantial numbers of children are failing to become skilled readers, a consensus is emerging among reading researchers, practitioners, and policy makers concerning the critical role that decoding plays in the reading process (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998).

While this renewed interest in phonics is certainly a welcome development, we will make limited progress unless decoding instruction is grounded in what we know about the stages of reading development, the structure of the English language, and the strategies students employ to learn it. Decoding instruction might be termed the “technical” part of teaching reading. It requires knowledge of language, including phonology and the structure of orthography; knowledge of how children learn language; and strategies for teaching a writing system incrementally even as the purpose of reading is kept in focus.

Click here to Louisa Moats paper Teaching Decoding


How Spelling Supports Reading

The complexity of English gives us seemingly infinite choices among words when we’re searching for the right way to express ourselves, and the language’s regularity makes reading, speaking, and writing those words an achievable goal. Spelling instruction may be old fashioned, but its importance has not diminished with computerized spell checkers— and there’s no reason to believe that it will diminish in the foreseeable future. Much about spelling is puzzling

Louisa Moats has written several articles on this topic including How Spelling Supports Reading. http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/winter0506/Moats.pdf


Whole Language High Jinks – How To Tell When “Scientifically-Based Reading Instruction, Isn’t”

In this practitioners’ guide, Louisa Moats explains how educators, parents, and concerned citizens can spot ineffective reading programs that surreptitiously hide under the “scientifically-based” banner. While the field of reading has made enormous strides in recent years, discredited and ineffectual practices continue in many schools. Although the term “whole language” is rarely used today, programs based on its premises are as popular as ever. These approaches may pay lip service to reading science, but they fail to incorporate the content and instructional methods proven to work best with students learning to read.

Moats exposes popular but scientifically untenable practices in reading instruction, suggesting ways of separating the wheat from the chaff, and explains the elements of good reading programs.

Click here to the Louisa Moats Whole Language High Jinks article 


Whole Language Lives On: The Illusion of Balanced Reading Instruction

By Louisa C Moats

Published By: The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation

Regular readers of this foundation's publications and web site know we believe strongly that schools should utilize "best practices" that are supported by scientific research. Three things are clear about early reading:

  • Millions of children are needlessly classified as "disabled" when, in fact, their main problem is that nobody taught them to read when they were five and six years old.
  • We know what works for nearly all children when it comes to imparting basic reading skills to them.
  • We also know what doesn't work for most children. It's called "whole language."

Louisa Moats, has been a project director of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) Early Interventions Project in Washington, DC, a multiyear study of early reading instruction. She is one of the world's leading voices for the application of reading research in teacher preparation and classroom instruction. Louisa Cook Moats describes the whole-language approach; shows why it doesn't work and how it has been disproven by careful research; and explains why it nonetheless persists in practice and what should be done about that.



The Children of the Code is a project of Learning Stewards, a non-profit organization founded in 2008.

The Children of the Code Project is a ‘case in point’ for how poorly our society understands learning and the personal and societal costs of unhealthy learning. The COTC project has produced over 140 video segments that cover subjects ranging from the origin of writing to the neurology involved in producing the virtual language experience we call reading.

The conversation with Louisa Moats is a compilation of two phone interviews conducted in October and November of 2003.  We found Dr. Moats to be a teacher of teachers who is dedicated to improving children's lives by improving their literacy. 



Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS)

Voyager Sopris Learning

Louisa C. Moats Primary Author

LETRS provides in-depth professional development on the foundations of scientifically-based reading, spelling, writing, and language instruction. LETRS participants learn why certain practices are necessary and effective; what is likely to be needed for whom; and how to implement assessment and instruction. LETRS assumes that good programs must be implemented by knowledgeable teachers in order to be effective.

The content and teaching methods of LETRS have been developed by Dr. Moats over many years, with input from participants, trainers, and independent reviewers. With LETRS, teachers return to the classroom knowing about the mental processes of reading and the field-tested instructional strategies that work for every type of learner.

Hear an interview with Louisa Moats at: http://www.voyagersopris.com/services/professional-resources/professional-books/letrs-second-edition


From the LDA Book Shop

Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers 2ed

Louisa Cook Moats

2010, 304 Pages, Paperback, $69.00

One of the most popular and influential reading textbooks has been comprehensively and meticulously updated in this second edition from renowned NCTQ-recommended expert Louisa Moats, with the very latest research. The new edition of this bestselling text helps elementary educators grasp the structure of written and spoken English, understand how children learn to read, and apply this foundational knowledge as they deliver explicit, high-quality literacy instruction.

With updates and enhancements to every chapter, this edition of Speech to Print fully prepares today's literacy educators to teach students with or without disabilities. Teachers will find:

  • in-depth explanation of how the book aligns with the findings of current scientific research on reading, language, and spelling
  • expanded information on the critical elements of language, including orthography, morphology, phonetics, phonology, semantics, and syntax
  • new and improved exercises teachers can use to test and reinforce their own knowledge of language content
  • teaching activities that help teachers connect what they learn in their coursework with what they'll be doing in the classroom
  • new chapter objectives that make it easier to plan courses and review key concepts
  • more samples of student writing to help teachers correctly interpret children's mistakes
  • expanded sample lesson plans that incorporate the language concepts in the book
  • a cleaner, easier-to-navigate layout

A core textbook for every preservice course on reading instruction, this accessible text is also perfect for use in inservice professional development sessions. Educators will have the knowledge they need to improve literacy outcomes for their entire class.

Contact LDA if you wish to order this book.


Speech to Print Workbook: Language Exercises for Teachers 2ed

Louisa Cook Moats and Bruce Rosow

2011, 272 Pages, Paperback, $49.95

A comprehensive update in this highly anticipated second edition, from renowned NCTQ-recommended expert Louisa Moats. Updated meticulously with the very latest research, the new edition of this bestselling text helps elementary educators grasp the structure of written and spoken English, understand how children learn to read, and apply this foundational knowledge as they deliver explicit, high-quality literacy instruction.

The new edition of Speech to Print fully prepares today's literacy educators to teach students with or without disabilities. Educators will be ready to deliver high-quality reading instruction in elementary classrooms and teach children the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills they'll need for the rest of their lives.

Contact LDA if you wish to order this book


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