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What is the Orton-Gillingham approach?

The Orton-Gillingham method of reading instruction was developed in the early-20th century. It was developed to teach struggling and non-readers how to read and write. The program works with all students, especially those with dyslexia, auditory and visual processing disorder and ADHD.

Students are taught spelling simultaneously with reading. Because each student has a different learning style, all lessons are taught by seeing, saying, moving, hearing and touching the concept being taught. This is known as multisensory teaching.

The Orton-Gillingham teacher begins with the most basic elements of the English language. This includes the consonants and sounds of the consonants. As the students progress to short vowels, they begin reading and writing sounds in isolation. From there they progress to digraphs, blends and diphthongs.

Every lesson the student learns is in a structured and orderly fashion. The student is taught a skill and doesn’t progress to the next skill until the current lesson is mastered. As students learn new material, they continue to review old material until it is stored into the student’s long- term memory.

While learning these skills, students focus on phonemic awareness. This means that words are made up of segments of sounds. For example, “… in the word steak, what is the first sound you hear, the second sound, the vowel combination, and the last sound?” Students are also taught to recognize and manipulate these sounds. “ What sound does the ea make in the word steak?”

With each lesson, the student experiences confidence and success as they progress through the method. The purpose of Orton-Gillingham instruction is to provide the student with an understanding of language structure, which allows him or her to become an independent reader and writer.