Orton-Gillingham Approach

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Orton-Gillingham Approach

The Orton-Gillingham approach:

  • is well built.
  • begins with the small fundamental pieces of the language.
  • strengthens skills to assure a strong foundation.
  • uses this foundation to teach more complex skills.

Children will learn to read! Dyslexics learn differently! They must be taught differently!

Parts of an Orton-Gillingham Lesson

  1. Summary/Review
  2. Drills—Visual, Auditory, Blending
  3. New Material
  4. Reading
  5. Spelling
  6. Review

Each lesson begins with a brief summary of what was learned the previous day. The teacher usually gives the student 3 or 4 words to read and 3 or 4 words to spell which contain the new phonogram or rule taught in the previous lesson. Also included in the lesson is a short review of any material from the previous lesson with which the child needed help.

Visual Drill
In the Visual Drill, the teacher shows the students the cards one at a time on which are written the letter/letters known. The student produces the sound the letter/letters make. When a child blocks on a sound, the teacher helps the child.

The correction is made immediately.

The teacher has the student trace the letter/letters on the table to trigger the sound. If the student still has difficulty responding, the teacher can give the student…a key word or… hand signal which in the future will help the student reproduce the sound automatically.

After the correct sound is made, the student traces the letter as he/she says the sound 3X. The missed card is placed back in the deck. This gives the child another opportunity to reinforce the sound. Many teachers have found the use of rice trays useful in which to trace the letter. This provides a reinforcement of the correct response using the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways.

Auditory Drill
In the Auditory Drill, the teacher turns the card deck so the letters face the teacher. The students should be taught to look at the teachers mouth to make sure they know the sound the teachers is giving. The teacher gives the sound of a letter, and the students repeat the sound and write the letter on paper. It is highly important that the student give the sound and write the letter simultaneously. If a child writes an incorrect letter or cannot think of the letter to write, the teacher immediately helps the child. The child then writes and sounds the letter 3X. If a student cannot think of the letter to write, or writes an incorrect letter, the teacher repeats the sound. The student repeats the sound. This allows the student to use his/her own kinesthetic and auditory cues for recalling the sound.

As multiple spellings are learned, the students will respond to a sound by writing all the possible ways the sound can be written. Example: the sound (k); at first students will learn it has two spellings:

“c” as in cat; “k” as in kitten.” Students will write:   c   k

When the student learns the rule for –ck, he/she learns that –ck sounds (k). Now the students

know three ways to spell “k”: Students will write: c    k     ck

There are rules why the letters are written in this order.

Blending Drill
In the Blending Drill the teacher places the cards in three piles of cards, letters facing up. The student places his finger under the first card, says the sound; moves to the second card, says the sound; moves to the third card, says the sound. Then goes back to the beginning, and swoops her finger under all three cards as she blends the sounds together.

With younger students or students who have blendrack difficulty blending, it is best to begin with two piles of cards. Most of the combination of letters will produce nonsense words. This teaches the student to look at each letter, think of its sound and blend the word. This especially helps students who are used to guessing. The blending drill leaves no room for guessing.

Why read nonsense words?

We want the students to be able to blend the sounds and read the words containing any combination of letters/sounds they have learned. This should be an automatic response. Just knowing the sounds and being able to reproduce them is not enough. Blending can be the stumbling block for some students.

In order to read, they need to blend the letters together smoothly. This may take much practice and repetition. An added feature of being able to read nonsense words helps students when they begin breaking words into syllables. Many syllables are “nonsense” words.

This is an example of how Orton-Gillingham starts with the small pieces of the language and build upon them. It makes smooth transitions from the basic skill levels to the more challenging skill levels of the English Language. It makes a smooth move from reading one syllable words to reading multi-syllable words. In the blending drill the letters are placed in three stacks. Knowledge and care must be taken to see that the letters are placed in the appropriate stack.Some letters are more appropriate…

…at the beginning of the stack;

…all vowels and vowel teams are placed in the middle;

…and some letters are more appropriate in the end stack.

New Material
After the student is reasonably secure with the letters and sounds in the deck, he/she is taught new material. This will be “one piece” of the language. The teacher follows a procedure in introducing this new material. Something new is usually taught in each lesson. The pace of the lessons, though, depend on the student and/or group of students. Some lessons are more difficult and may need several lessons.

Students read the sheet containing the new material. It will consist of words that the student may not have read before, but has been taught all the skills to be able to read them.

Students are set up for success not failure.

Besides this reading, students will read other appropriate material on their level and interest. When the students do read, they are applying the skills they are learning in the lessons. Students should use their finger to follow the words.

This is done for three reasons:

  1. First, to keep the place.
  2. Second, to insure left to right progression.
  3. Third, to have the finger ready to trace letters and/or divide troublesome words into syllables if needed.

In this part of the lesson the teacher dictates words, phrases, and sentences for the students to write. The words, phrases, and sentences are carefully planned and selected by the teacher. The first part of the spelling contains only the words using the new material learned in the present lesson. The rest of the spelling dictation is a culmination of all the material the child has learned thus far. No surprises are thrown in. This enables the child to use the skills learned and accomplish spelling and writing tasks he/she didn’t thing were doable.

Finger Spelling
Initially students are taught to “sort” the sounds in each phonetic word by touching one finger to the table for each sound pronounced by their mouth. This process is called “finger spelling.” For example, in the word bat, the thumb will touch the table as the /b/ is sounded; the next finger will touch the table as the short /a/ is sounded; and the next finger will touch the table as the /t/ is sounded. The child will write the letter for each sound in the order in which the sounds were heard.

In the word sack, three fingers will be used because there are only three speech sounds heard; /s/ /a/ /k/

Possible spellings: sac sak sack

The student will know to use the –ck for the third sound because the child has been taught the –ck rule.

Consonant digraphs (sh, ch, th, wh, ph) are considered one sound. Students must touch one finger to the table for these digraphs.(Ex. Chat, has three speech sounds.)

Since all the letters are heard in a blend, students must touch a finger to the table for each letter in the blend.

(Ex. Flat, has four speech sounds.)

Essential to the effectiveness of the entire lesson is the use of techniques which channel through the kinesthetic pathways. Activities involving the kinesthetic pathways must be interlaced throughout the entire lesson mentioned above. Students must feel where sounds are made in their mouth or on their lips. They must be able to transpose this sound into a written symbol. This transposition must be automatic. It does not happen all at once! It takes time and repetition under the direction of an trained teacher. Students must be able to trace letters and automatically respond with the corresponding sound.

Each lesson ends with a review of what was learned in the lesson. It ends with what was reinforced in the lesson.

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