Individualized Instruction in Reading and Spelling Using the Orton-Gillingham Approach
Orton-Gillingham is a research-based instructional method developed more than half a century ago by Dr. Samuel T. Orton, a neuropsychiatrist, and Anna Gillingham, a gifted educator and psychologist. Orton-Gillingham is a multi-sensory, individualized, explicit, structured, sequential, cumulative, and cognitive approach to teaching reading and spelling. Students are taught all the levels of the language including phonemic awareness, sound-symbol correspondence, the six syllable types and syllable division, the morphology of affixes and roots, and the rules that govern all these levels. This comprehensive approach to reading instruction also dramatically improves their spelling, comprehension and vocabulary.
A multi-sensory approach is achieved by employing all the learning pathways: Auditory, Visual and Kinesthetic/Tactile. All of these elements are used to reinforce each other to achieve maximum retention. Learning spelling simultaneously with reading is a crucial part of multi-sensory learning.
An individualized approach is used for each and every student. Some students require additional repetition of concepts or different techniques to achieve the same level of mastery. The teacher is always operating in a diagnostic-prescriptive mode to determine the appropriate teaching strategies to use with each student. Each piece is reviewed until a student demonstrates mastery. This is achieved by writing individualized lesson plans as well as modifying the lesson plan while it is being delivered.
Each and every concept is taught explicitly. Students who struggle with the written language do not intuit the elements of language as others do. Every sound-symbol correspondence and every rule that governs our language is taught directly and explicitly, as needed, and practiced to mastery before moving on to new information.
An assessment is administered to each student to determine the appropriate level to begin instruction. The language is taught by first introducing the simplest elements, as needed, and then progressing forward systematically. The advanced language structure is taught by introducing the syllable types, the affixes and the roots. Rules are taught at each level where appropriate. All of this is done in a sequential, cumulative fashion with previously taught material reviewed as new material is learned in order to achieve automaticity.
A student is taught how to segment a simpler word into its phonograms and a longer word into its syllables for spelling, while at the same time they are taught how to blend individual phonograms and syllables together for reading. This synthetic and analytic method is taught at the onset of instruction and reinforced at all times.
This approach allows a student to always be working at their challenge level and to enjoy a high degree of success during every lesson. This boosts their confidence and self-esteem and makes learning a rewarding and enjoyable experience.