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SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing and SPELL-Links Class Links for Classrooms

  • Kenn Apel, PhD
  • Julie J Masterson, PhD
  • Jan Wasowicz, PhD
  • Anne Whitney, EdD
SPELL-Links™ to Reading & Writing and SPELL-Links™ Class Links for Classrooms™ are instruction and intervention products for struggling readers and suitable for students with dyslexia. The SPELL-Links™ products use a speech-to-print word study approach that leverages the brain's innate, biological wiring and organization for oral language.  
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SPELL-Links Grades 3-5 Q-global Printables (Digital)
9780749173500 Qualification Level A

Once ordered, the digital asset is accessible by logging into Q-global and visiting the Q-global Resource Library. It is a downloadable file.




Publication date:
2012 (SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing), 2017 (SPELL-Links Class Links for Classrooms Books 1 & 2)
Age range:
Preschool to year 13 (SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing), Preschool to year 3 (SPELL-Links Class Links for Classrooms)
Qualification level:
Completion time:
SPELL link - we are only licenced to sell digital - print can be purchased directly from here.

Product Details

SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing delivers all components of assessment and instruction identified as crucial for developing reading and spelling skills by the US Department of Education-funded Center on Instruction.

SPELL-Links Class Links for Classrooms provides everything needed to deliver a year of high-quality, hands-on Tier 1 classroom instruction to meet reading foundational skills.


  • Empower students to independently apply their knowledge and strategies to reading, writing, and spelling every day — not just during the classroom lesson or on the weekly test.
  • Teach students how to attend to the sound structure of spoken English words and then how to connect and combine sounds (phonology);
  • Progress with letter patterns (orthography, mental orthographic images);
  • Conclude with meanings (semantics, morphology) to read and spell words.


The individualized and flexible design of SPELL-Links ensures that there is a word study solution for everyone.

  • Improves all aspects of literacy: reading, writing, spelling, speaking, listening, and vocabulary.
  • Addresses Tiers 1, 2, & 3 students as well as Special Education, Speech-Language Impaired, ESL, Title I, and students with dyslexia.
  • Curriculum includes quick and easy lesson plans for word study to improve reading and writing success.

SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing Skills and Content

  • Rhyming
  • Segmenting syllables & phonemes
  • Vowel discrimination
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Letter-sound relationships
  • Letter patterns & spelling rules
  • Vocabulary knowledge
  • Syllable stress identification
  • Letter-meaning relationships (morphological knowledge)
  • Semantic relationships
  • Storage and retrieval of mental orthographic images of words in long term memory
  • Spelling
  • Decoding
  • Reading fluency
  • Writing

SPELL-Links Class Links Book 1 Skills and Content

  • Rhyming
  • Segmenting syllables & phonemes
  • Vowel discrimination
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Letter-sound relationships for consonants 'b, p, t, d, v, z, k, j, f, s, m, n, x, r, l, g, h, w, y, q' and all short vowel sounds
  • Letter patterns & spelling rules
  • Vocabulary knowledge
  • Mental orthographic images of words
  • Spelling
  • Decoding
  • Reading fluency
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing

SPELL-Links Class Links Book 2 Skills and Content

  • Rhyming
  • Segmenting syllables & phonemes
  • Vowel discrimination
  • Alphabetic principle
  • Letter-sound relationships for consonants 'k' and hard 'c'; 'r, l' after a vowel; /z/ sound spelled with 's', consonant digraphs 'ng, th, wh, sh, ck' and double consonants 'ff, ss, zz, ll'
  • Letter patterns & spelling rules
  • Vocabulary knowledge
  • Mental orthographic images of words
  • Spelling
  • Decoding
  • Reading fluency
  • Reading comprehension
  • Writing

Now Available!

Digital Assets: Lessons Sets and Reproducibles for SPELL-Links to Reading and Writing

You can now choose to replace your paper materials with a digital version, or purchase the curriculum for the first time. The Q-global Resource Library hosts SPELL-Links customizable, digital Lesson Sets for Grades K-2, 3-5, or 6-12, as well as all the reproducibles needed for each lesson. Each grade range can be purchased separately or as a digital kit.

Introducing SPELL-Links Wordtivities!

Word study instruction for stronger spelling, vocabulary, and reading outcomes

SPELL-Links Wordtivities helps you develop students' literacy and language skills in the classroom and beyond. Through active engagement with the sounds, letters, and meanings of words, your K–12 students strengthen, integrate, and learn to apply multiple components of oral and written language to improve their spelling, word decoding, reading fluency, and reading comprehension; build depth and breadth of vocabulary; and enhance writing performance.

  • Spend less time planning lessons with dozens of grab-and-go activities on hand.
  • Be more organized and less stressed with a ready-made plan for literacy instruction.
  • Easily integrate with your existing core curriculum, so you can get started without starting over.
  • Get inspired and reenergized about teaching structured literacy in your classroom or clinic.

Skills & Content

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Spelling
  • Vocabulary
  • Decoding
  • Automatic word recognition
  • Oral expression / Syntax

SPELL-Links Wordtivities advance student performance with written language by organizing instruction into recognizing and producing spoken sounds (phonology) and developing and strengthening cognitive connections for effective, functional integration of phonological, orthographic, and semantic/ morphological processes while reading and writing.

Intended Use

SPELL-Links Wordtivities is intended for use by classroom teachers; aides and other paraprofessionals; interventionists (speech-language pathologists, reading specialists, learning disabilities teachers, etc.); and parents.

It can be used as a stand-alone word study program within your existing language arts curriculum or in conjunction with SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing Word Study Curriculum.




Sample Lesson

The following sample lessons are available.

The following resources are available for SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing and SPELL-Links Class Links for Classrooms.


The following Product Sample is available for SPELL-Links Wordtivities.

Research & Materials


Research Base for SPELL-Links

Jeanne Wanzek, Brandy Gatlin, Stephanie Al Otaiba & Young-Suk Grace Kim (2016) The Impact of Transcription Writing Interventions for First-Grade Students, Reading & Writing Quarterly, 33:5, 484-499, DOI: 10.1080/10573569.2016.1250142

View Report

Outcomes Report: SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing

(2005) Monograph No. 1, Evanston, IL: Learning By Design, Inc.
(Data also published as:  Integration of language components in spelling: Instruction that maximizes students' learning. (2004) Apel, K., Masterson, J.J., & Hart, P. Language and Literacy Learning in Schools, New York: Guilford Press.)

View Report

Outcomes Report: SPELL & SPELL-Links to Reading & Writing

(2005) Monograph No. 2, Evanston, IL: Learning By Design, Inc.
(Data also published as: The effects of a multiple linguistic, prescriptive approach to spelling instruction: A case study. (2004) Kelman, M. & Apel, K. Communication Disorders Quarterly, 25, 2, 56-66.)

View Report


Are there embedded pre-tests/diagnostic assessments within the SPELL-LINKS program to help identify skill/lesson and starting point?

If you are using SPELL-Links via the Curricular or Supplemental Model, there is a suggested Scope and Sequence in the manual. Additionally, the SPELL-Links assessment software (SPELL-2; sold separately) prescribes the SPELL-Links lessons (target patterns) and starting point activity within each prescribed SPELL-Links lesson for a single student.

How long are the lessons?

Each SPELL-Links lesson consists of multiple activities, so the length of time required to complete a SPELL-Links lesson will vary. On average, an activity can be completed in 30 minutes but could take more or less time depending on student variables such as nature and complexity of disorder and attention and motivation factors, size of instructional group, and clinician familiarity with methods and activities. Frequency/intensity of intervention is determined by student need. When using SPELL-Links Class Links for classroom instruction, the lessons are part of the daily reading block.

How do you determine if a student has a mental orthographic image (MOI)?

Spelling error analysis shows deficits in any one of the linguistic underpinnings of word-level reading and spelling (phonological, orthographic, morphological, mental orthographic image (MOI)/representation) will manifest as specific patterns of spelling errors in the student's spelling of words. Professionals well-trained in linguistic word study can observe patterns within students' misspellings. For the rest of us, the SPELL-Links assessment software (SPELL-2), for example, uses spelling error analysis algorithms to identify deficits in a variety of underlying linguistic skills including storage and retrieval of mental orthographic images (MOIs) of specific words and word parts, including affixes.

The term dyslexia may be confusing to professionals and the public in general, isn't it important to just say difficulties/challenges in reading/writing and define these rather than saying "dyslexia?" Same with any term we need. I thought "dyslexia" was "word blindness." I have heard dyslexia to mean reading comprehension difficulties.

The International Dyslexia Association defines dyslexia as "a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge." Many state education departments have adopted this definition. More important than the label is identifying each student's specific deficits so that intervention can be tailored to the unique needs of the student.

What do you suggest to do when you have a limited staff for an entire elementary school (i.e., one special education teacher, one reading interventionist) with regard to increasing intensity of treatment?

This is a real challenge and a problem that is set to grow as more students are identified through mandatory screening for dyslexia. A multi-faceted approach is needed to provide students the services they need with limited staff. This can include early (preschool) programs that will help to reduce the need for intervention and intensity of services needed once a student enters school, early screening and identification to provide early intervention before students fall significantly behind their peers, targeted intervention so each student receives only the instruction s/he needs, evidence-based instruction to achieve results as quickly as possible, and use of clinical tools and independent activities that deliver the repeated exposure and practice needed.

How and when would you integrate fluency instruction into practice?

"First, it's imporant to distinguish between fluency and reading rate (wpm). Reading fluency is defined as ""reasonably accurate reading, at an appropriate rate, with suitable prosody, that leads to accurate and deep comprehension and motivation to read"" by Hasbrouck & Glaser (2014). Reading rate is one component of the three primary components of fluency (accuracy, rate, and expression) and develops as a student gains automatic word recognition. Multi-linguistic word study instruction, when properly done, leads to automatic word recognition and improved reading rate. For most students, reading fluency will emerge as reading rate improves. If not, there may be other factors--for example, oral language syntax comprehension deficits--at play that need to be addressed. "

Have you seen improvement for students with dyslexia in terms of their response to intervention?

Students with dyslexia DO respond to intervention but they require more intensive, explicit, and systematic instruction and practice than students who struggle with reading and writing for other reasons, for example, students who come from a low-print, low-verbal home, ELL students, students with oral language disorders, and student who do not receive evidence-based instruction in the classroom ("dysteachia").

Do you ever see memory deficits in these students?

Working memory deficits are not uncommon in children who struggle with written language.

Do you tend to see patterns of errors with dyslexia within this program?  

There are sub-types of dyslexia and no two students are identical. This is why, in a special education context, a diagnostic assessment is so important; intervention should not be a one-size-fits-all approach. At the larger general education level, robust structured literacy instruction using SPELL-Links Class Links, for example, can be preventative but can also intensify the individualized plan in special education when crafted by the education team together.  

What is the recommended age/grade level? Could it be used for secondary students (grade 6-12)?  

A speech-to-print structured literacy approach, and the SPELL-Links program itself, is appropriate for students of all ages as documented by published research.  

Could you address any distinctions between dyslexia, hearing loss, and auditory processing disorder in identification and implications for intervention?  

These are three very distinct disorders which may co-exist. Regardless of the disorder, all students would benefit from structured, speech-to-print, multi-linguistic literacy instruction. Modifications may be needed both during assessment and intervention, for example a student with a hearing loss would benefit from added visual cueing, but the framework of diagnostic assessment and instruction would remain the same.  

Is it common for a student to be a great reader and decode well, but spelling is terrible?  

It's possible that a student can be a poor speller and yet have strong reading skills. More commonly, however, if a student is a poor speller, weak reading skills often co-exist. Weak decoding skills could be masked by strong vocabulary and compensatory strategies such as guessing a word from context. Or a student may decode accurately but not efficiently, automatically, so on the surface reading decoding may seem "normal" but the student's comprehension may be compromised due to inefficiency of decoding. If a student presents with poor spelling, it's important to carefully examine decoding skills that on the surface may appear to be within normal limits.  

What separates SPELL-Links/Class Links from other dyslexia intervention programs?  

There are many distinguishing components. Most notable is SPELL-Links' speech-to-print (vs. print-to-speech) approach. A comprehensive description of what separates SPELL-Links from other dyslexia intervention programs can be found here on this page under the Resources tab!  

What were the improvement results of the FL project?  

In the study conducted by the Florida Center on Reading Research (FCRR), low-performing first grade students who received SPELL-Links Class Links intervention in small groups outperformed the control group with moderate effect sizes across different measures of spelling and curriculum-based writing. You can read and link to the study on the Resources tab of this page.