Published on 8th February, 2022
The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily to individuals, such as those with dyslexia. The OG Approach is most identified with a one-on-one teacher-student instructional model. That said, it’s typical to see it used in small group settings as well. The OG Approach has also been successfully adapted for use with students who struggle with mathematics.
The Approach is named for Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, whose contributions were foundational and pivotal. Samuel Torrey Orton was a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist who lived from 1879 to 1948. He was a pioneer in bringing attention to reading failure and related language processing challenges. He combined neuroscientific information with remedial principles. He recognized dyslexia as an educational problem as early as 1925. Anna Gillingham (1878-1963) was a remarkable educator and psychologist who possessed an exceptional command of the English language. Encouraged by Dr. Orton, Anna began compiling and publishing instructional materials in the 1930s, laying the groundwork for student instruction and teacher training in the Orton-Gillingham Approach.
The OG Approach’s main focus has always been the learning needs of the individual student. OG practitioners create lessons and materials to work with students at their level by pacing instruction and introducing new materials based on their individual strengths and weaknesses. Students with difficulties in reading, spelling and writing, need to master the same fundamentals about language and its relationship to our writing system as any who aspires to be competent readers and writers. However, for individuals with dyslexia, they require more assistance than most people in sorting, recognizing, and organizing the raw materials of language for thinking and use.
LANGUAGE-BASED It uses applied linguistics not only in the early stages of reading and writing (phonics), but also in more advanced stages dealing with syllabic, morphemic, syntactic, semantic, and grammatical structures of language and our writing system. The Orton-Gillingham Approach always involves the student in integrative practices that include reading, spelling, and writing.
MULTISENSORY It employs all of the learning pathways: Visual, Auditory, tactile and kinesthetic techniques are incorporated simultaneously throughout all parts of the lesson.
DIAGNOSTIC AND PRESCRIPTIVE Instructors assess and create lessons based on where the student is in their current progress. Instructors work on the specific needs of the individual student. Concepts and skills are taught for mastery.
SYSTEMATIC, SEQUENTIAL AND CUMULATIVE Lessons follow a specific order or progression and build on previously taught material.
EXPLICIT AND DIRECT INSTRUCTION Instructors use direct and explicit instructions throughout the lesson. Students are taught exactly what they need to know in a clear and straightforward manner.
FLEXIBLE Instructors have the freedom to change the direction of the lesson plan based on the student's performance.
EMOTIONALLY SOUND The OG Approach focuses on reviewing previously taught material, which allows repeated practice and confidence building at the same time. Students who experience this confidence develop a positive attitude toward the learning process.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach was created with dyslexia and reading issues in mind. This method is advantageous as it focuses on and develops the individual's strengths and intelligence rather than rote memorization.
OG instruction is beneficial to everyone, regardless of their learning difficulties. Individuals who are already strong readers can benefit from OG instructions too because they can enhance handwriting, spelling, written expression, and critical thinking skills that can be applied to the English language.
For students who have stronger foundational literacy skills, such as the ability to write letters and master letter-sounds and spelling patterns legibly and effortlessly, they can focus more on higher order reading comprehension and writing skills.
In addition, the OG Approach has also been successfully adapted for use with students who struggle with mathematics (Dyscalculia). With accordance to the approach, math concepts are taught in a progression of concrete-representational-abstract manner.
Students will be introduced to new math concepts using hands-on materials (concrete), then move on to drawing or pictures (representational) and finally, converting the information into numbers and symbols (abstract). Individuals struggling with math, often have difficulty making connections at the abstract stage - the number and symbols. The OG approach instruction helps students to make sense of the concepts of number and symbols with the main OG principles (e.g., multisensory, systematic, sequential and cumulative etc.).
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