Supporting Students with Dyslexia Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach Part 3 of Empowering Dyslexic Learners
This Dyslexia Awareness Month, we want to equip educators with the knowledge they need to empower their 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.
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 is an essential component of skilled reading. Students learn to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes) in words.
This approach teaches the relationships between sounds and letters systematically. It begins with basic letter-sound associations and gradually introduces more complex phonics patterns.
Students with dyslexia often struggle with decoding words. The Orton-Gillingham approach provides ample practice, using decodable texts that reinforce phonics patterns.
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.