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The Science Behind Orton-Gillingham: Why It Works

When it comes to effective literacy education, the search for impactful teaching methodologies is on the rise. A popular approach that is helping educators everywhere address all instructional tiers is the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach. Based on the science of reading (SoR), OG is a widely recognized methodology focused on a systematic, sequential approach that utilizes multimodal instruction for teaching reading and spelling.

Understanding Orton-Gillingham: A Methodology Rooted in Science

Developed in the early 20th century by Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, this structured, multisensory approach has become synonymous with effective remediation for individuals with dyslexia and other reading challenges.

At its core, the Orton-Gillingham methodology recognizes that language is a complex system and tailors instruction to the unique needs of each learner. The evidence-based approach focuses on teaching students the connection between phonemes and graphemes through the use of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways. Using multiple pathways to teach and review concepts helps solidify the connection between what students hear, say, see, and write.

Orton-Gillingham isn’t just a methodology; it’s a testament to the power of research-driven strategies in unlocking the door to literacy for every individual, regardless of their learning profile. As we delve into the intricacies of Orton-Gillingham, we discover a methodology that not only stands the test of time but continues to evolve, grounded in the ever-advancing landscape of scientific understanding in literacy education.

Neurological Alignment: It Starts in the Brain

The magic of OG lies in its alignment with the brain’s neurological processes. The evidence-based approach focuses on teaching students the connection between phonemes and graphemes through the use of auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways. Using multiple pathways to teach and review concepts helps solidify the connection between what students hear, say, see, and write.

Multisensory Learning: The Key to Success

At the core of OG is its multisensory approach. Engaging multiple learning pathways simultaneously—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—ensures a deeper, more comprehensive understanding and retention of language concepts. Learners who hear, see, write, and speak a word or phrase create stronger neural connections, reinforcing learning and retention.

Consistent Corrective Feedback and Individualized Instruction

One of OG’s hallmarks is its adaptability. OG focuses on a prescriptive-diagnostic teaching methodology. OG-trained educators diagnose their students’ academic abilities and/or limitations, then prescribe an appropriate course of action through tailored lessons to suit each learner’s unique strengths and challenges. With an emphasis on corrective feedback, students must master each skill before they move on to the next. By identifying specific areas of difficulty and employing targeted strategies, OG fosters a supportive learning environment where students can thrive.

The Efficacy of Orton-Gillingham in Practice

Its integration of neuroscience, personalized instruction, and multisensory techniques signifies a progressive stride toward inclusive and effective literacy education. Numerous success stories stand as a testament to the transformative power of the Orton-Gillingham approach. Students who once struggled with reading, spelling, and language comprehension have deveoped confidence and proficiency through this method. By building a solid foundation in phonemic awareness, morphology, orthography, semantics, syntax, and more, learners equipped with the power of OG are sure to become more adept readers and writers. 

Check out IMSE Impact Structured Literacy Professional Development and begin your journey toward unlocking the potential of every learner and revolutionizing literacy in your classroom with Orton-Gillingham.

Top Orton-Gillingham Resources for Educators and Parents in 2024

The journey of learning to read and write can be a challenging road for many individuals, especially those with dyslexia or other language-based learning differences. The Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach has proven to be a beacon of hope, providing effective strategies to teach reading and writing skills. 

As we step into 2024, we wanted to gather a list of the top Orton-Gillingham resources available for both parents and teachers to empower learners with the tools they need for success.

Orton-Gillingham-Based Training

Distinguished by their evidence-based, multisensory methods, Orton-Gillingham-based trainings are beneficial for all students. Emphasizing a structured and systematic approach, they empower educators to break down words into smaller, more manageable components. The multisensory approach ensures a thorough understanding through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic elements, making the learning process more accessible. There are many OG training options that can be found on the International Dyslexia Association website, including The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE).

Digital Resources

In the height of the digital age, it is important to note that there are a variety of resources out there for educators and parents alike to use both in the classroom and at home. IMSE offers an abundance of free digital resources that keep students engaged no matter where they may be including printable activities, digital slides, videos, and more! 

Additionally, the integration of digital resources such as apps like Pocket Phonics or OgStar Reading Complete not only expands Orton-Gillingham’s reach but also reinforces its effectiveness in addressing the diverse needs of learners in today’s technologically driven educational landscape.

Multisensory Learning Tools

Multisensory learning tools transform the reading experience by engaging multiple senses simultaneously, enhancing comprehension and retention. Many items can be used while incorporating the Orton-Gillingham approach in a lesson or during storytime, such as:

Tools for educators and parents like OG in a Bag or OG+ in a Bag can help make bringing Orton-Gillingham from school to home easier than ever! 

Education Blogs and Podcasts

Blogs and podcasts form a dynamic duo of resources that can guide parents and educators on their journey toward providing their student(s) with a strong literacy foundation. 

Blogs provide a real-time platform for educators and parents to share experiences, stay up-to-date on innovative practices, and follow the ever-changing landscape of where literacy stands today. On that same note, podcasts offer insights through expert interviews, discussions, and practical tips that can be easily integrated into daily routines. Some top literacy blogs and podcasts to follow include:

Blogs

Podcasts

Support Communities

Educators and parents should always actively engage with the Orton-Gillingham community through online forums. These platforms offer a space for educators and parents to share experiences, seek advice, and access a supportive network dedicated to improving literacy outcomes.

  • Online Forums: Join communities dedicated to Orton-Gillingham to share experiences and seek advice from a network of educators, parents, and specialists, like yourself.
  • Parent Support Groups: Engage with local or online support groups to connect with others facing similar challenges.

As we navigate the educational landscape of 2024, the Orton-Gillingham approach continues to play a vital role in fostering literacy skills in individuals with learning differences. Whether you’re a teacher seeking professional development or a parent supporting your child’s learning at home, these top OG resources provide the tools and knowledge needed to make strides toward reading and spelling success. By embracing these resources, we can collectively contribute to creating a more inclusive and supportive learning environment for all.

Step-by-Step: How to Implement Orton-Gillingham in Your Classroom

Educators everywhere are eager to create an inclusive and effective learning environment that caters to learners of all capabilities. Implementing the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach supports children as they develop the skills necessary to become successful readers and writers. Developed in the 1930s, this structured, multi-sensory approach has proven successful in teaching reading, writing, and spelling to all learners, including those with dyslexia and other language-based learning difficulties.

At its core, OG is an instructional model that provides direct and explicit instruction.  Foundational skills are introduced systematically with cumulative review. The OG approach integrates visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities into instructional routines. The goal of OG is to create a foundation for language that fosters a fluid transition from learning-to-read to reading-to-learn. 

When it comes to implementing OG, it starts from the ground up. We have detailed a step-by-step implementation process for educators to get OG instruction off the ground and their kids reading with success. 

Step 1: Educate The Educator

Before diving into implementation, grasping the fundamental principles and methodologies of OG is essential. Educators can acquire comprehensive knowledge of the English language structure (i.e. phonemes, graphemes, syllable types, orthography rules, etc.) through workshops, online courses, and other available resources. Teachers empowered with extensive knowledge of the English language are critical for effective implementation in the classroom.

Step 2: Assessment and Individualization

Understanding students’ literacy levels is paramount to effectively guiding their learning. Conducting comprehensive assessments is vital to pinpoint individual strengths and weaknesses in learning. This data enables educators to customize instruction, meeting each student at their unique learning point. By crafting personalized learning plans that target areas needing improvement, a tailored and differentiated approach ensures every student receives the support they require.

Step 3: Multi-sensory Instruction

The heart of OG lies in its multisensory instruction. The multi-sensory component is the simultaneous use of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic pathways to input learning by sight, sound, and writing.  When learning using a multi-sensory approach, students associate a printed letter with its name (visual) and its spoken sound (auditory).  Students tap into the kinesthetic modality by making associations between the printed letter and feeling its sound as it is formed in the mouth and also by feeling the motion of the arm as the letter is written or traced. This multi-sensory approach actively engages students throughout the entire lesson, reinforcing the taught material effectively.

Step 4: Structured and Sequential Approach

Another fundamental aspect of OG is its structured and sequential method for teaching language skills. It begins with foundational elements like phonemic awareness and phonics, beginning with simple, frequently-used concepts, and gradually advances to more complex concepts. This deliberate construction ensures that each lesson builds upon prior knowledge logically and progressively.

Step 5: Repetition and Reinforcement

Repetition is key to mastery. Offering abundant opportunities for students to practice newly acquired skills via the Three Part Drill, interactive activities, daily encoding activities, decodable readers, and games is crucial. Moreover, regularly revisiting previously learned material enhances retention, fortifying deep mastery of concepts.

Step 6: Ongoing Monitoring and Adjustments

It’s important for teachers to continuously monitor students’ progress through ongoing formative assessments like spelling, text reading with decoding, and other progress monitoring tools. Adjusting teaching strategies based on individual performance to adapt learning plans accordingly is essential as flexibility is key to effectively meeting the needs of the students in any classroom.

Step 7: Collaboration and Support

Literacy instruction is not an individual endeavor. As a teacher, collaborating with other educators, specialists, and parents creates a supportive network where insights are shared and strategies are built. At the end of the day, educators are there to enrich the learning experience of students and provide support where needed.

Implementing the Orton-Gillingham approach in the classroom requires dedication, patience, and a commitment to individualized instruction. By embracing its principles and methodologies, teachers can create a nurturing environment where every student can flourish in their language skills. Contact us to learn more about the implementation of Orton-Gillingham in your classroom.

Success Stories: Orton-Gillingham
Transforms Reading Abilities

Reading is not just a fundamental skill; it’s a gateway to knowledge, imagination, and success. However, for some individuals, reading can be a challenging and frustrating experience. Fortunately, evidence-based teaching methods and interventions like the Orton-Gillingham approach have been transforming reading abilities for decades.

Transforming Reading Abilities with Orton-Gillingham

The Orton-Gillingham approach is a structured, multisensory method used to teach reading. Originally designed to help individuals, particularly those with dyslexia and other reading challenges, improve their reading, spelling, and writing skills, it is now shown to benefit all students across all Tiers of instruction. 

Orton-Gillingham is an explicit, systematic, sequential, and cumulative approach that utilizes multi-sensory techniques to help students process and retain information more effectively.

With the Orton-Gillingham approach, students are able to learn cognitively and become more confident in their reading, writing, and language skills. As they develop these essential skills, they begin to believe in their own abilities and are more willing to engage with text. As students become more confident, educators will often see:

  • Improved reading fluency
  • Enhanced reading comprehension
  • Spelling and writing proficiency

The Orton-Gillingham approach enables reading to be an accessible skill for individuals who previously struggled. Its systematic, multisensory, and individualized approach helps students build the strong foundation they need to become confident, proficient readers and writers. With Orton-Gillingham, reading difficulties need not be a barrier to success; instead, they become stepping stones to brighter futures filled with literacy and knowledge.

Orton-Gillingham Success Stories

Be sure to check out some recent success stories where schools embraced the Orton-Gillingham approach through IMSE Impact Structured Literacy Professional Development.

Albuquerque’s Mountain Mahogany Community School Boosts Reading Proficiency Rates by 25% with IMSE

In 2022, Mountain Mahogany’s New Mexico state assessment scores in ELA revealed that 50% of students were proficient in reading, a 25pp improvement from 4 years prior when the school began implementing the IMSE Orton-Gillingham approach.

Read their story >>

Grand Rapids, MN District 318 Sees Literacy Transformation With Science of Reading

Many educators in ISD 328 had originally believed the Orton-Gillingham methodology to be a resource effective only for dyslexic students. However, they now embrace the approach and credit it as the main reason behind the incredible improvements and success they are seeing across all tiers of their students.

Read their story >>

Learning Acceleration, Not Learning Loss

The Hoboken Public School District is a leading example of how to combat the learning loss caused by the pandemic. By prioritizing literacy education and implementing the IMSE Orton-Gillingham approach, the Hoboken school district is training its teachers to provide explicit instruction that helps every student read at grade level.

Read their story >>

Idaho West Ada First-Grade Teacher Taps PTA to Train in Orton-Gillingham

Jolynn Aldinger’s initial impression of Orton-Gillingham was that it is an approach used for intervention groups. However, after receiving a grant from her PTA to take IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham training, she was able to unlock the power of Orton-Gillingham reading instruction in her general education classroom.

Read her story >>

Orton-Gillingham’s Impact on Self-Esteem Part 4 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

As we have learned in this blog series, the journey of a student with dyslexia can be challenging. Dyslexia is not just a matter of struggling with reading and writing; it often affects a student’s self-esteem and emotional well-being. When students with dyslexia face challenges, they may feel like they’re falling behind their peers, leading to feelings of frustration, inadequacy, and even shame. These emotional struggles can have a lasting impact on their self-esteem and overall confidence. However, there is hope on the horizon.

The Orton-Gillingham approach, a research-based, structured, and multisensory method for teaching students with dyslexia, can profoundly impact the self-esteem of these learners. 

Orton-Gillingham tailors instruction to each student’s specific needs, and by progressing at their own pace, students can master each skill before moving on. The approach also engages multiple senses, allowing students to see, hear, and touch the words they are learning. This multisensory experience creates a strong foundation and enhances memory, boosting their self-assurance.

Educators trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach create a nurturing and patient atmosphere. This support encourages students to take risks, try new strategies, and build self-esteem. Educators and students can celebrate the small victories and achievements together to instill a sense of accomplishment and confidence. 

Students with dyslexia are not defined by their learning differences; they are unique individuals with immense potential. The Orton-Gillingham approach acknowledges this potential and equips students with the skills and confidence they need to succeed. 

Educators should be prepared to equip students with dyslexia with the tools and strategies they need to build self-esteem, face challenges with resilience, and reach their full potential. With the Orton-Gillingham approach, their journey transforms from one of frustration to one of empowerment and confidence.

Be sure to check out the rest of the series released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Supporting Students with Dyslexia Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach Part 3 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

For students with dyslexia, learning to read can be an uphill battle. Still, with the proper support and strategies, they can overcome these challenges and build the self-confidence necessary for achieving success in the classroom.

The Orton-Gillingham approach is an evidence-based and highly individualized method for teaching students with dyslexia. Named after its pioneers, neuropsychiatrist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator Anna Gillingham, this approach has a proven track record in helping dyslexic students progress toward skilled reading and writing. It is based on the idea that individuals with dyslexia benefit from a structured, sequential, and multisensory teaching approach.

Key Principles of the Orton-Gillingham Approach

Structured and Sequential

The Orton-Gillingham approach breaks down reading and writing skills into small, sequential steps. Students progress through these steps at their own pace, ensuring they have a strong foundation before moving on.

Multisensory Instruction

This approach simultaneously engages multiple senses (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). Students touch, see, hear, and speak the sounds they are learning, creating strong neural connections.

Phonemic Awareness

Phonemic awareness is an essential component of skilled reading. Students learn to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words.

Systematic Phonics

This approach teaches the relationships between sounds and letters systematically. It begins with basic letter-sound associations and gradually introduces more complex phonics patterns.

Decoding Practice

Students with dyslexia often struggle with decoding words. The Orton-Gillingham approach provides ample practice, using decodable texts that reinforce phonics patterns.

Sight Words

While emphasizing phonics, it also includes sight words that do not follow regular phonetic patterns but are learned by orthographic mapping.

Empowering Educators with Orton-Gillingham

Educators play a pivotal role in supporting students with dyslexia. By incorporating the Orton-Gillingham approach, they can create an inclusive learning environment that is beneficial to all students and necessary for some. Critical strategies for educators include:

  • Professional Training: Educators can undergo training in the Orton-Gillingham approach to gain the expertise needed to effectively support students with dyslexia.
  • Individualized Instruction: Tailoring instruction to meet each student’s unique needs is essential. Students with dyslexia benefit from one-on-one or small-group instruction.
  • Decodable Texts: Providing students with decodable texts that match their skill level allows for practice and reinforcement of previously taught phonetic patterns.
  • Assistive Technology: Incorporating assistive technology, such as text-to-speech software and speech recognition tools, can be a game-changer for dyslexic students.

Supporting students with dyslexia using the Orton-Gillingham approach will empower them to embrace their full potential by becoming more capable readers and writers. Through a learning environment that is structured, multisensory, and individualized, educators can encourage students with dyslexia to face their academic challenges and strive to become the best students they can be.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Diagnosing and Identifying Dyslexia Part 2 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners

Dyslexia, a complex and often misunderstood learning difference, affects millions of individuals worldwide. Recognizing its signs and symptoms and understanding the crucial process of diagnosis is a vital step toward providing support and empowerment for dyslexic learners. 

While educators and parents can recognize early signs, a formal diagnosis requires the expertise of professionals such as educational psychologists, neuropsychologists, and speech-language pathologists. Their specialized knowledge and assessment tools are crucial in accurately identifying dyslexia and differentiating it from other learning difficulties. A professional evaluation involves interviews, standardized tests, and observations to comprehensively assess an individual’s cognitive strengths and weaknesses in reading and language processing.

The Dyslexia Diagnostic Process

A formal dyslexia diagnosis is not a one-size-fits-all process. It involves multiple components, including:

Interviews

Incorporating interviews into the diagnosis process allows professionals to collect developmental and educational histories with the individual and their parents. This can include milestones such as speech and language acquisition, the age at which the child began to talk, and other developmental markers. Understanding a child’s early developmental journey helps professionals assess whether there were any early indicators of dyslexia, such as delayed language development or difficulty in learning the alphabet.

Professionals may also explore family history during interviews. This can help uncover any potential genetic links to dyslexia, as it tends to run in families.

Standardized Tests

Standardized tests are a cornerstone of the dyslexia diagnosis process, offering objective and quantifiable data about an individual’s reading and language skills. These may include phonological awareness, word recognition, reading fluency, and reading comprehension measures. These standardized tests dive deeper into diagnosis by:

  • Using objective assessments
  • Measuring essential components (phonological awareness, phonics, comprehension, etc.)
  • Comparing performance
  • Gauging severity
  • Tracking progress
  • Ensuring consistency

Observations

By conducting observations in structured and natural settings, professionals understand how dyslexia affects an individual’s daily life. When combined with interviews and standardized test results, these insights contribute to a more accurate diagnosis. Observations also offer valuable information for tailoring strategies and interventions, as they provide a firsthand look at the challenges and coping mechanisms of the individual. In the context of dyslexia diagnosis, observations are instrumental in painting a holistic picture of how dyslexia impacts an individual’s reading and language behaviors, guiding support and intervention decisions.

Early diagnosis allows for timely interventions tailored to the individual’s specific needs. The sooner dyslexia is identified, the sooner strategies and support can be implemented to mitigate potential emotional distress and academic challenges. Recognizing early indicators and acting upon them is essential to fostering an inclusive educational environment where all learners can thrive.

By understanding the complexity of dyslexia and the role of professionals in the diagnostic process, we can create environments where every learner’s unique abilities are celebrated and nurtured. Stay tuned for more insights and strategies as we explore the path to Empowering Dyslexic Learners this Dyslexia Awareness Month.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Empowering Dyslexic Learners: Understanding Dyslexia Part 1 of 4

Dyslexia is a common learning difference that affects 20% of individuals worldwide. It’s a term we often hear, but what does it mean? Understanding dyslexia is the first step toward empowering dyslexic learners to reach their full potential. 

Dyslexia is a neurodevelopmental condition that primarily affects an individual’s reading, writing, and spelling ability. It’s not a result of a lack of intelligence, effort, or vision problem. Instead, dyslexia stems from differences in the brain’s language processing, particularly in phonological awareness, decoding, and fluency. These challenges can lead to difficulties in accurately and quickly recognizing words, which, in turn, affect reading comprehension.

Understanding Dyslexia

In a typical classroom, there are likely to be several students facing dyslexia-related challenges. Despite its prevalence, dyslexia often remains undiagnosed or misunderstood, indicating the need for increased awareness and support.

Far from a one-size-fits-all condition, dyslexia presents many profiles and presentations. These variations stem from the complex interplay of genetics, brain structure, and environmental factors. Dyslexic individuals may exhibit a spectrum of challenges, making each case unique. Some may need help with decoding words, experiencing difficulty in accurately and fluently translating written symbols into speech. Others might face comprehension issues, where they can read but struggle to understand or remember what they’ve read. 

The severity of dyslexia can range widely, from mild to profound. This diversity underscores the need for personalized assessments and interventions. Recognizing the variability in dyslexic profiles enables educators, parents, and specialists to provide tailored support that addresses the specific needs of each individual.

Common warning signs of dyslexia in young learners include:

  • Delayed language development
  • Difficulty in learning the alphabet
  • Struggling to rhyme words
  • Challenging to follow multi-step directions
  • Slow progress in acquiring early reading and writing skills
  • Reversing letters or numbers, such as confusing ‘b’ and ‘d’
  • Frequent spelling mistakes
  • Slow, choppy reading
  • Guessing after repeated exposure to letters or words
  • Poor comprehension

Recognizing the signs of dyslexia, especially in its early stages, is paramount for timely intervention. Early indicators may appear as early as preschool or kindergarten, and identifying them enables educators and parents to provide crucial support. By recognizing these indicators and addressing them proactively, we can empower dyslexic learners to overcome obstacles and build the foundational skills needed for academic success and a positive self-concept.

Be sure to check back for the rest of the series to be released this Dyslexia Awareness Month:

Orton-Gillingham for Intervention

Again and again, the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach is proven to be a powerful tool in teaching students with dyslexia and other language-based learning challenges. Its structured, multi-sensory approach is unmatched in its effectiveness in literacy instruction. But what about its application in an intervention setting? Reading interventionists have a unique position in the learning-to-read pipeline; their instructional knowledge and strategy must equip them to handle any learning situation. Orton-Gillingham is invaluable in reading intervention as an essential asset for educators seeking to make a difference.

The success of OG lies in the tailored approach provided to each individual’s unique learning needs. This personalized methodology becomes even more vital for reading interventionists– ensuring all students receive comprehensive and targeted support, whether they are beginners struggling with the basics or more advanced readers struggling with comprehension. 

What Does Orton-Gillingham Look Like in Intervention?

The OG approach focuses on building foundational skills, addressing gaps, and fostering reading fluency. The multi-sensory nature of OG engages students’ different learning modalities, following a structured sequence teaching phonological awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension. A key distinction of OG in intervention is its ability to identify and target specific areas of struggle while also considering the learner’s strengths.

One-on-one intervention, especially using approaches like Orton-Gillingham, is highly personalized and focused on addressing the specific needs of the individual learner. It begins with an initial assessment to understand the learner’s current reading and spelling abilities, as well as their strengths and challenges. Based on the assessment results, the educator develops an individualized lesson plan that targets the learner’s areas of difficulty. These lessons are sequenced logically, starting with foundational skills and progressing to more complex concepts.

OG utilizes multisensory techniques to engage multiple senses and enhance learning, including activities like tapping out syllables or using manipulative materials. Through these activities, the educator will work on building the reader’s skills of:

  • Phonological awareness
  • Phonics
  • Reading practice
  • Spelling and writing
  • Sight words and vocabulary

Regular review sessions should reinforce previously learned concepts and ensure retention, along with ongoing assessments to track the learner’s progress and make any necessary adjustments to the instruction. As the learner becomes more proficient in foundational skills, the tutor gradually introduces more complex reading materials and challenges.

Orton-Gillingham Activities for Intervention

Morpheme BINGO

Engage students with familiar games while sneakily incorporating learning components. Create a BINGO card grid and place syllables, sounds, or morphemes in the grid spaces. The teacher will dictate a concept, and if the students have it on their board, they will cover the concepts with a token until someone has BINGO. This activity not only reinforces morphemic awareness but builds comprehension. 

Arm Tapping

Help students master irregular words through multisensory review. Create a stack of cards containing the words your students are learning. Reveal the words one by one by holding the cards with your non-dominant hand in front of you. Have students tap left to right using their dominant hand. Right-handed students start with their right hand on their left shoulder, and left-handed students start with their left hand on their right wrist. State each letter of the word while your students tap down their arms, and once they tap out each letter, state the whole word while creating a sweeping motion down the arm. Think of this sweeping motion as underlining the word. 

Sound Repetition to Word Building

For struggling readers who have a difficult time with phonological awareness, hands-on activities can make all the difference; plus, engaging visual, auditory, and tactile (fine motor) pathways never hurt. Take a plastic tray, cookie sheet, tabletop, or other medium and cover them with shaving cream or sand. Call out a known sound and have your students repeat the sound. Then, they should use their fingers to write the letter that makes that sound while verbalizing the letter name and sound (/d/ d says /d/). By utilizing their fingers to write the letter, they are accessing thousands of nerve endings that transfer patterns to the brain while solidifying the connection between sounds and letters.

While OG is an intervention tool with countless success stories, effective implementation requires well-trained educators. Finding the right OG training program is crucial for interventionists to get the best results with their students. The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE) stands as a leader in OG training, offering expert-led comprehensive courses that equip educators to unlock the transformative power of OG and create an inclusive, empowering, and effective learning environment for struggling readers at any level.

Orton-Gillingham’s personalized, multi-sensory approach bridges gaps and empowers struggling readers to unlock their full potential. By embracing Orton-Gillingham and accessing top-notch training through IMSE, reading interventionalists can make a lasting difference in the lives of their students.

Orton-Gillingham for Special Education

The Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach is a valuable resource for children with special educational needs and their instructors. Its individualized, structured, and multisensory nature allows educators to provide personalized instruction that addresses the specific learning needs of each student. It provides educators with a customizable plan to teach reading and vocabulary skills, focusing on step-by-step learning and incremental development. 

What Does Orton-Gillingham Look Like in The Special Education Classroom?

Orton-Gillingham is often integrated into the overall literacy instruction in the special education classroom. Teachers align OG principles with the broader curriculum, incorporating strategies and techniques into reading, writing, and language arts activities. This integration ensures students can transfer their learning from explicit OG instruction across subject areas.

Teachers using the OG approach regularly assess and monitor student progress. They use various assessment tools to identify mastery and areas that require further instruction. Continuous assessment helps inform instructional planning, allowing teachers to adjust lessons to meet students’ individual needs.

The OG approach incorporates multi-sensory techniques to engage multiple senses in the learning process. Through seeing, saying, sounding, and writing letters, students i special education can build skills to help decode and encode words. The emphasis on multisensory learning ensures student engagement and optimal learning for students with special educational needs. 

Students receiving special education services will see gains in reading proficiency through a comprehensive 10-18 week curriculum based on Orton-Gillingham. With 30 minutes of instruction per day, three times a week, and 90 minutes of core instruction, their progress will be monitored monthly or bimonthly. This structured literacy approach ensures that special education students make tangible advancements in their reading skills.

OG Activities for the Special Education Classroom

The tailored and systematic approach of the Orton-Gillingham method makes it a valuable resource in the special education classroom, empowering educators to effectively teach literacy skills and empowering students to grasp what they are learning. A wide range of OG activities are available for implementation, providing substantial support to students with special educational needs. Some activities include:

Sound-Blending and Segmenting

Sound blending (putting sounds together) and segmenting (pulling sounds apart) are skills that are necessary for learning to read and spell. In this activity, students practice blending individual sounds together to form words. The teacher may provide phoneme cards or use a multisensory approach by having students tap or move objects as they blend sounds. For example, the teacher might say the sounds /b/ /a/ /t/ and the students blend them together to say the word “bat”. Blending and segmenting activities can help students to develop phonemic awareness, a strong predictor of reading achievement.

Multisensory Letter-Sound Association

Multisensory letter-sound association involves utilizing various senses to reinforce the connection between letters and their corresponding sounds. Through activities like air writing, using letter tiles, magnetic letters, or writing letters in sand, students can explore different letter shapes and sounds. They trace the letters with their fingers while simultaneously vocalizing the associated sounds. This approach enhances the understanding of how letters visually represent specific sound. By engaging multiple senses during these activities, students can strengthen their comprehension and retention of letter-sound relationships. 

Dictation and Spelling Activities

Spelling is crucial for literacy development, and the Orton-Gilingham method offers an effective strategy. In this approach, students listen to a word or sentence, write it down, and break down complex words into syllables or sounds. Students then use multisensory strategies, such as tapping and segmenting sounds, and apply their knowledge of letter-sound relationships. This structured and supportive approach helps students achieve automaticity in spelling, preventing frustration and ensuring they don’t fall behind in their literacy skills. 

Decoding Practice

By providing repeated opportunities for decoding text and incorporating multi-sensory techniques, students develop strong spelling skills through dictation exercises. This approach is comprehensive and effective for all students and especially beneficial for those with learning differences. 

By implementing the Orton-Gillingham approach in the special education classroom, educators can provide targeted and systematic instruction to students with language-based learning differences, helping them develop strong reading, writing, and language skills while building confidence and independence.

Searching for an Orton-Gillingham Approach for Your SpEd Classroom?

Implementing OG in the special education classroom requires specialized training for teachers. The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE) offers comprehensive OG training programs for educators. It equips teachers with the knowledge, skills, and resources necessary to implement OG techniques in the special education classroom effectively. By investing in high-quality OG training, teachers can enhance their instructional practices and provide equitable literacy instruction to all their students.

Investing in the right OG training, such as the programs offered by IMSE, empowers teachers to implement this evidence-based approach effectively and significantly impact their student’s academic success. For more information on OG training available to all teachers, check out IMSE.com!

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