Intro: Interactive Orthography

Note: Click on any word on this page to experience Interactive Orthography.

Imagine how much easier learning to read (and teaching reading) would be if the words themselves could teach readers to read them. When readers encounter unfamiliar words they simply touch them and instantly receive whatever support they need for learning to recognize and/or understand them. Instead of imagining it, try it. Every word on this page is its own help button..

Introducing Interactive Orthography an entirely new kind of instruction and support system for beginning and struggling readers. Rather than having to remember and apply confusing instructions, learners only need to remember to touch or click on the unfamiliar words they encounter.  As soon as they do, they immediately receive whatever decoding, pronunciation, recognition guidance and support they need. For words they recognize, but don’t understand, a second touch provides instant access to the word’s definitions, synonyms, roots, translations and, soon, all other relevant references.

 Experience it yourself. Click on any word. Click it again.

Or, watch this 2 minute video for a quick tour of how to use it:


Welcome to a new era of reading instruction; a more neurologically efficient way to learn to read and improve reading that compensates for variations in decoding, vocabulary, and native language as it differentially scaffolds learning. The core technology is a new ‘layer’ of orthography that we call Interactive Orthography. The main “user-interface” is a pop up box that uses animated visual and auditory cues to guide and support learners through the process of pronouncing their way to word recognition. We call this the PQ Pop-Up Try it. Click on any word on this page (and keep clicking the word it until the box turns green). Clicking on any word instantly results in a pop-up help box (the PQ Pop-Up) that guides learners through the process of decoding/pronouncing/recognizing the specific word they clicked on.  Decoding / Word Recognition Support:

Clicking through the available levels of recognition support, learners can see the word broken into more readable segments (where applicable), can see and hear the word’s individual letter sounds, can see and hear the word’s group-letter sounds, can see and hear an animated sounding out of the entire word, and finally, can have the word read to them.

Word Understanding Support:

If learners recognize the word, but don’t understand what it means, clicking the WordExplore button in the PQ Pop-Up opens the Reference Panel, which provides definitions, synonyms, roots, and translations for the word:

The PQ Pop-Up remains functioning within the contents displayed within the Reference Panel enabling learners to use the same process to recognize or understand any word they encounter in the reference content.

The instructions are this simple:

1 Whenever you see a word that you don’t recognize or understand, click it.

2 Once the word pops up in the blue box, try to read it again. If you still don’t recognize the word, click it (click inside the blue box). Watch and listen to how the letters are spoken and change their looks. Try and read it again.

3 Once recognized (initially or after the above steps) if you don’t understand the meaning of the word, click the WordExplore  button in the Pop-Up to access references and translations.

By scaffolding learners through the initial steps of help before having the word read to them, the system focuses and guides their learning to decode (rather than short-circuiting the process by just reading the word for them). By controlling the process with their clicking, learners choose just the level of help they need to recognize the word. Once they recognize the word, the popup disappears, and they continue reading right where they left off.

This ‘live on the edge of learning’ guidance not only helps learners recognize the word they clicked on, it is also the most neurologically optimal way to learn to read. Rather than abstractly teaching the relationships between letters and sounds “offline”, and hoping that it  will be later applied when the learner is in the ‘live’ stream of reading, this approach supports learners while they’re actually in the ‘live’ stream of reading. With the on-demand Reference Panel, the Pop-Up reduces dependence on prior vocabulary knowledge and supports ELL and ESL learners.

Interactive Orthography and the PQ Pop Up can be used as “Training Wheels for Learning to Read” and as a “Safety Web (safety net) for Reading to Learn.

ClassroomHome School LibraryPublic Library

Add this technology to your browser.

The PQ Pop-Up is available as an extension for Google’s Chrome browser (an extension for Edge is in the works). With the browser extension installed, learners can use the PQ Pop-Up on popular sites including:

To install the Google Chrome Browser extension version of the PQ Pop-Up, please click here.  To learn more about using the PQ Pop-Up, please click here

Embed this technology in your website, blog, or ebook.

A few lines of code added to (embedded in) a website is all it takes to make every word in that site its own reading-help button (it can also be added to individual pages). The PQ Pop-up App code is embedded in each page of this site. It’s also embedded in its sister sites: The Magic Ladder LibraryChildren of the Code, and Implicity as well as a growing number of 3rd party sites (for example: Hechingher Report).  The PQ App can be added to public non-profit content sites for free.  It can be added to subscription and fee based content sites for a small fee.  Click here to talk with us about adding the PQ App to your content.

Visit the “Magic Ladder” Library.

Their are many other components of Interactive Orthography. Working together they provide a more comprehensive system that is part instructor, part training wheels, and part safety net that we call the Magic Ladder. To showcase the PQ Pop-Up app and the other components of Interactive Orthography we have created a library of stories and games. To visit the Magic Ladder Library please click here.

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