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

Implementing the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach supports children as they develop the skills necessary to become successful readers and writers.

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.