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Skill Overview

What is directionality?

Directionality refers to the way written text is organized.  The student's ability to hold a book properly, identify the top and bottom, follow the text from left to right, identify the first word and the last word, and track from word to word, and from one line to the next are all important skills needed for fluent reading. 

What tasks should students be able to demonstrate to indicate mastery of this skill?

  • Hold a book with proper position (upright, top to bottom and front to back)

  • Identify where to start and stop reading on a page

  • Turn pages in proper sequence

  • Follow words from left to right and from one to the next

  • Track text from one line to the next


Why is understanding directionality important to reading?

A student's ability to appropriately handle books and to navigate through text indicates an understanding that text is organized in a sequential way. Directionality supports comprehension by providing an understanding of how text works so that students can focus on gaining information from the text.

What diagnostic can be used to determine if there are deficits in understanding concepts of print?

Structured Literacy Tools

To Mastery

Systematic and Explicit

Sequential and Cumulative

Modeling is the best way to teach directionality.  When reading aloud to students,

  • point out to students the first/last word on a page, punctuation, and sentence structure;

  • use a pointer or finger to model directionality skills, such as top to bottom, left-to-right progression, word by word tracking and the return sweep. 

When students are exploring books independently, encourage them to track to practice these directionality skills.

When working with students, require students to track across pages using directionality skills, as these skills are the same with any type of printed documents.

Directionality can be taught as early as students begin interacting with books.  Directionality skills can be taught simultaneously and are typically taught and modeled when reading aloud with children in whole group, small groups, and individually.

The Concepts of Print continuum below organizes the cumulative progression of teaching students about how texts work. Once students know the basic parts of a book, they can begin learning how to navigate through the print of the book in the proper direction and focus on the message the print carries.

Mastery is achieved when students can independently demonstrate their understanding of and articulate directionality skills, punctuation, print constructs and can track print properly.

Practice Resources

Downloadable Files From BRI Resources
Downloadable Files From Literacy Partners
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