Do you have struggling readers who present with dyslexia like errors? The Orton Gillingham program was developed to address struggles such as these, and today, Emily from The Literacy Nest is here to share ideas you can use in the classroom.
So what does using an Orton Gillingham approach mean?
- It’s Structured, Sequential and Cumulative. Students begin with learning sounds, then syllables, words, and sentences. Previously learned material builds on the new material.
- It’s Language-Based. Language is taught and studied to provide deeper understanding
- It’s Multi-Sensory. Visual, Auditory, and Kinesthetic (even tactile) learning modalities are happening simultaneously with spelling and learning.
- It’s Cognitive. Instructors teach the history and the reason why language is the way it is.
- It’s Flexible. OG teaching is dynamic. It is diagnostic and prescriptive. The teacher is always looking at the student’s progress to adjust to their learning needs.
Simple and Practical Multisensory Learning Experiences
New learning is cemented in the brain when we use a visual, auditory and kinesthetic approach simultaneously. Think of all three as what’s called the language triangle.
During an OG lesson, some of the multisensory learning that takes place could be as simple as reading a word out loud as a child:
- traces it in sand
- highlights it in color
- skywrites it
- writes it and then retraces it several times with different colored white board markers
- finger spells it, or
- writes it on paper.
They see, hear, and create a sound or word all at the same time. How could that translate into a classroom?
During a Word Study block, you may consider having the following supplies, activities or centers ready:
- Sand trays or sand paper letters to practice touching, feeling and tracing new letter sounds (phonograms) or words, especially when you introduce them for the first time.
- Baskets of crayons, colored pencils, or highlighters for students to circle, underline or highlight their words as they read them out loud to someone. Rainbow writing is good fine motor practice, and spelling practice.
- Magnetic letters and white boards to practice touching and spelling words or sight words. I like the foam magnetic ones for Really Good Stuff catalogs. They sell a nice alphabetized container to hold them too.
- Use word sorts (both open and closed) to introduce or practice new words and their patterns. Sorting and categorizing is powerful brain-based learning.
- Post a word wall for your certain spelling words with a previously taught pattern, or sight words that is a living, breathing tool, not just hanging there on the wall for a nice display! Add to it, review it, and play games with it. One of my old favorites is Mind Reader.
- Give dictation of sounds, nonsense words, words, and sentences. Insist students say the sound, word or sentence out loud first, finger spell it (one finger up for each sound, thumb first) and say it out loud as they write it.
Teach the rules of syllabication and syllable division. Do they know what a syllable is? It’s a word or word part with one talking vowel and can be said in one breath. Teaching the 6 syllable types is helpful. C.L.O.V.E.R. is the in acronym in O.G. we use to show the order in which the 6 types are taught.
During Your Literacy Block
Keeping a listening center up and running, even in the upper grades! This is a critical tool for struggling readers, particularly for the dyslexic reader, that I’ve seen used too infrequently. Make sure students have a copy of the text to follow along, a highlighted place marker, and perhaps a short activity sheet to complete as a follow up. Kids love a trip to the listening center. You can even set one up at a computer with two headphones and a cord splitter.
During an OG lesson, I dictate 2-3 sentences towards the end of the lesson. A great deal of accountability is placed on the child.I do NOT point out the mistakes they make, at first. They use C.O.P.S. to check their work. Once they are satisfied, then I may say, “I see a word that doesn’t look right. Can you find it?” This clues me in on what’s going on here. They may not have grasped the spelling pattern of a particular word yet in the lesson, or they need some review of a certain skill or phonogram. I never dictate a sentence that has new material they haven’t seen or read before. Once again, I’m checking for application of new knowledge.