TRT Podcast#69: What you need to know about Orton-Gillingham
What IS Orton-Gillingham anyway? Is it backed by research? What do critics have to say? We’ll answer these questions and more in today’s episode.
Listen to the episode here
Full episode transcript
Hello, Anna Geiger from The Measured Mom here, and welcome to the Triple R Teaching Podcast! You are listening to the third in our series of posts about teaching phonics.
Today I want to talk about Orton-Gillingham. This was something that was really confusing to me for a long time. A lot of people told me about it, mentioned that they used that approach, or that they were certified in Orton-Gillingham. I didn't know what any of that meant. I want to clear that up for anyone who has questions and also to address some criticisms of the Orton-Gillingham approach.
First of all, Orton-Gillingham is not a curriculum, it's an approach. There are many curricula that base their instruction on the Orton-Gillingham approach, but it looks different depending on the program. Orton-Gillingham is direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive. I know that was a lot, we're going to look at what some of those things look like in an Orton-Gillingham lesson, but I want you to know that those are the qualities of Orton-Gillingham.
Orton-Gillingham was named after Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, who both were born in the late 1800s. Orton died in 1948 and Gillingham in 1963, so this has been around for a long time. Samuel Orton was a neuropsychiatrist and a pathologist who focused on reading failure and related language processing difficulties. Anna Gillingham actually learned from him and she was also an educator and psychologist. The Orton-Gillingham Approach was pioneered by these two people and, of course, named after them.
It's generally meant for being used in a one-on-one setting, but now it's becoming more mainstream as we're understanding that structured literacy is appropriate for all learners. Now we're seeing small group lessons modeled after the Orton-Gillingham approach and even whole group programs basing their lessons on Orton-Gillingham. It was initially designed for learners with dyslexia, but now many educators believe that it is useful for all students.
The Orton-Gillingham approach directly teaches the fundamental structure of language. It begins with sound-symbol relationships and then progresses to more complex concepts.
A big part of Orton-Gillingham is its multisensory lessons, they are visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.
I'm currently being trained by IMSE, the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education, so that in a few months I should have my Orton-Gillingham certificate.
Their lessons look something like this. A few times a week, you are to use a three-part drill, which is visual and kinesthetic. The visual drill is when you show flashcards of all the sound spellings you've taught so far, and students should do something like this. A says /ă/, F says /f/, or they can just say the sound of the letter that's on the card. There's also a kinesthetic drill where you say the sounds and they write the letter that represents the sound in sand or some other surface. So, if you said, "The sound is /f/", they would say and write, "F says /f/." And when they say, "/f/," they're underlining the letter.
If you've taught them multiple ways to spell a sound, they can divide their tray into two, three, or even more. So I might say, "There are two ways to spell this sound, divide your tray into two parts. Eyes on me. The sound is /s/. Repeat, /s/."
Then they would write, "S says /s/, and SS says /s/." Later on, they would also add the C, and anything else they learn that represents that sound. Eventually with some vowels, for example, they're going to have quite a few in that sand.
The drill ends with a blending drill. So you have a board and you have cards that go on it, and each card has a letter or a set of letters depending on the sound. They have blends on single cards, and they have digraphs on single cards. You point to each item, students say the sound of it, and then blend it together. It might be "/fl/, /ĭ/, /p/ - flip." Sometimes it makes a real word, and sometimes not, so they put their thumb up or down to show whether or not it's a real word.
Then you're going to explicitly teach the new phonics skill. There are different things to include here. In the approach that I'm using they want you to use a physical object as an anchor for helping them remember the concept and to start with an alliterative sentence. For example, if I'm teaching the sound /m/, I might say, "Listen to this sentence: Many mumbling mice make music in the moonlight. What sound do you hear repeated in that sentence?" And they would say, "/m/." That's actually starting with phonemic awareness.
You're going to teach the rule, so I would say, "This is the letter M, it represents the sound /m/." Then you'd have them practice writing the letter M in the sand. Depending on how far along they are, you're also going to dictate words and sentences for them to write.
There's a very structured procedure for doing this. If I said, "Write the word 'mat,'" they're supposed to pound the word, "mat," (said while pounding fist onto other hand). Then they're supposed to break it into phonemes by tapping with their fingers, /m/-/ă/-/t/, then they pound again "mat," and then they write it on the line.
For writing sentences there's also quite a structure for that as well. You dictate the sentence, you pound the syllables in the sentence, they pound and repeat with you, you point to all the lines and say the words, they point to the lines and say the words, and then they write. It is very, very structured.
IMSE calls irregular words, "red words," which other programs may call the same or something different. These are high frequency words that need extra attention because they don't follow all the spelling patterns. The procedure for teaching red words in the program I'm using is that you introduce the word, you count the phonemes in the word, you talk about how to spell those phonemes, and you talk about what's unusual - ahout the part of the word doesn't match what you think you would see.
Then there's a very structured way of practicing the word. They write it with crayon, with their paper on top of plastic netting that you maybe use for sewing I think or some of knitting, I'm not sure, I'm not a sewer, but something like that! So they write it with crayon, and then they trace it with their finger. They integrate all these multi-sensory things. They also tap the word so they would tap the spelling on their arm. So if the word is "said," they would start at their shoulder and go down to their wrist, S-A-I-D. And then they say "said" by sliding their finger from their shoulder down to their wrist. They do that multiple times.
Orton-Gillingham gets deep into the structure of language. In addition to teaching these basic sound-spellings, children learned about syllable types and syllable division. So you're looking very closely at where to divide a word into syllables based on the position of the vowels and the consonants. Then you identify the syllable types after you've divided and read the word.
Orton-Gillingham is really about teaching phonics, but a full approach like IMSE's also includes comprehension and vocabulary. Those things though will be more something that you would come up with on your own versus following a strict scope and sequence. At least that's been my experience.
That's an overview of what Orton-Gillingham looks like. There are criticisms of Orton-Gillingham, and I think some are legit and some, maybe not so much. Let's talk about that.
First of all, many people will say, this is very old, it's been around for a super long time, and it's not backed by research. The tricky part about that is it's hard to create a study that examines the efficacy of Orton-Gillingham, and there are different reasons for that.
Number one, there's many different programs that call themselves Orton-Gillingham or legitimately are based on the Orton-Gillingham approach, they just look at things differently. It also depends on the training of the teacher. If you have a teacher thrown into a classroom, expected to teach using the Orton-Gillingham approach, and it's brand new to them, it's not going to be as effective as somebody who's taken a year or two training. It also depends on whether you're teaching it with the whole class, small group, or one-on-one. Anything done one-on-one is going to be more effective probably than a whole-group approach, just because you're able to be very diagnostic in that one-on-one setting. It's a little more tricky when you're working with a larger group.
It also depends on the severity of the disability. We're being told now that twenty percent of children have dyslexia, but there's a big range of dyslexia. You have some kids who just have slight dyslexia, and that can really be handled by some structured literacy interventions, and you have kids who are severely dyslexic.
Finally, it's hard to measure the efficacy of Orton-Gillingham because we don't know what's happening in the rest of the day. If you have a child right here, who's getting Orton-Gillingham tutoring once a day, but in the classroom they're being taught to use three-cueing as they're reading and solving words, then it's a little hard to know versus somebody who's getting Orton-Gillingham and structured literacy in the class. All that said, it is hard to research.
Recently however, there was a study reported in the Reading League Journal, and I will try to find that specific journal and link to it in the show notes. This is what the authors wrote at the end of the article,
"In summary, the findings from this meta-analysis do not provide definitive evidence that OG interventions significantly improve the reading outcomes of students with, or at risk for, word learning, reading disorders, such as dyslexia. However, the mean ES of 0.22 indicates OG interventions may hold promise for positively impacting the reading outcomes of this population of students. Additional high quality research is needed to identify whether OG interventions are, or are not, effective for students with and at risk for WLRD."
This isn't specifically saying that Orton-Gillingham methods are bad, or they don't work, it's just that statistically it has not been proven that they are significantly better.
I think it's good to remember that phonics instruction should be systematic, sequential, and explicit. That's what research tells us and Orton-Gillingham is all three of those things.
However, one specific piece of Orton-Gillingham that research has not proven to be making any kind of difference is the multisensory approach. Common sense could tell us that it makes sense that we should involve different parts of the body, but that has not been proven by research, which is interesting because the multisensory is really the heart of Orton-Gillingham.
As someone pointed out in a Facebook group I'm a part of, what you would probably really need is a study that compares kids learning with Orton-Gillingham, but leaving out those multisensory things like writing and sand and arm tapping, and then kids who received the same instruction with those multisensory techniques. I don't know if a study like that is forthcoming, but that's really what you would probably need to test the validity of these multisensory actions.
One criticism of Orton-Gillingham is that it doesn't incorporate phonemic awareness. People say that's because as the original creators of this approach created it before we really knew all the research about the importance of phonemic awareness. Now I have to say, in my experience, it's not true that OG does not include phonemic awareness because we know this now, so programs are incorporating it. However, I think there is a valid criticism that OG typically goes from print to speech rather than speech to print, which we're finding may be more effective.
I don't think this is a hard thing to change in your lessons. If you're teaching a new sound, instead of saying, this is an A and it says /ă/, or represents /ă/, you could switch it around. You could give that alliterative sentence. You could talk about the sound. You could show a card from a sound wall where the sound is represented with the picture of the mouth, and whether it's voiced or unvoiced, and you could talk about that sound.
If I'm teaching the sound spelling of, /m/ is M, after I've given that many mumbling mice sentence, I could say "The sound we're going to spell today is the sound of /m/. Look in this mirror. What is your mouth doing when you make the sound, /m/? That's right, your lips are coming together and you can hold the sound /m/ for as long as you want. Plug your nose, can you still make this sound? No, not really. So, /m/ is something that we call a nasal sound."
Now, do they need to memorize that this is a nasal sound? No, they do not, but it can be helpful to give a little bit of information as they see where it belongs on the sound wall. And then you would say, "One way we spell the sound /m/, is with the letter M." Then you could help them make the letter M in the air and make it in the sand.
Personally, I think that having them form those letters with their finger and underline is good for letter formation. I've been using the Orton-Gillingham approach with my youngest as I work to get certified, and when we started he was constantly mixing up capital and lowercase letters or forming letters incorrectly. That constant practice of writing in the sand and my insistence that he forms the letters correctly has made a huge difference. So, whether or not it helps them remember the sounds and the spellings, I'm not sure, but the value of doing that for forming letters, I found to be really important.
Another criticism of Orton-Gillingham is that there are too many rules. There are definitely different approaches to teaching phonics that are also very good, that are not as rule-heavy. I think that there is something to this criticism because when you are teaching this explicit way of dividing words into syllables and the syllable division patterns, there are so many exceptions that you have to teach that it gets a little overwhelming. So, I am still on the fence as to whether I think that these very deliberate syllable division practices are worthwhile because they do take a lot of time to teach, and I do think we need to reserve a lot of time in our lessons for students to actually practice reading connected text.
That would be my criticism of Orton-Gillingham. It feels like there's a lot of word-level activity, and not as much connected text opportunity. If you are spending a ton of time doing this long procedure for red words and doing syllable division practice and doing dictation, it can be hard to fit in reading connected text, and that's the whole point! That's what we're trying to get! I would want to be careful that I'm not crowding out the connected text reading and making that just be sort of the last thing we do, if we have time. That should really be what we're doing a lot of so kids can orthographically map these words and see the value of the isolated practice that they're doing.
One thing that I think is very good about Orton-Gillingham is its focus on encoding, which is spelling. My little guy has been a strong reader from the beginning. When I started teaching him using decodable books, he caught on very quickly, but spelling is not the same. You can be a very strong reader and be a struggling speller, or just not a very good speller.
I really like the dictation exercises in Orton-Gillingham and the sentence dictation. I have found that those are really powerful. A lot of those spelling rules that feel like a waste of time actually really come in handy you when you're spelling. I wouldn't want to say to get rid of rules altogether, I definitely don't think so, because having those as a reference is really helpful when spelling.
Another criticism of Orton-Gillingham is that comprehension, fluency, and vocabulary are not in their lessons. This really depends on the program. If you're following IMSE, which is meant to be something you can use with the whole class, they do let you know that you need to include those things in the lessons. It's just that, I think I said this earlier, you have to come up with those on your own. They give you lots of examples and ways of doing this, but I wouldn't say it's necessarily part of a curriculum. It's something that you need to come up with.
I don't think that has to be a bad thing. There's a lot of really good interactive, read-aloud programs that you can buy, or you can just do them yourself. In those you teach vocabulary and you teach knowledge and you teach comprehension skills and strategies. You have to make sure that this is important to you and that you include it consistently in your day.
Now, of course, when you're reading a decodable book, there are comprehension questions at the end. IMSE includes that in all of their decodable books, and I include those in the decodable books that you can find on my website. That is really important! You want to make sure the decodable book makes sense and lends itself to questions and discussion.
As for fluency, well, we know that fluency really depends on automaticity with word reading. I think there's a lot of that in Orton-Gillingham. After you dictate the words and they write them, they should read them again to you. You can also have other lists of words that they read. But again, my encouragement is to make sure you're including lots of connected texts, and that it's not just lists of words, but actual stories in books or passages. Definitely make sure there's plenty of time for applying the phonics knowledge that you're teaching.
This was a bit of a longer episode, but I wanted to give you the big picture of what Orton-Gillingham is all about, as well as get specific about what lessons could look like, and then examine some criticisms of Orton-Gillingham and my response to those. If you'd like to find the show notes for this episode, you can do that at themeasuredmom.com/episode69. Don't forget to check out my membership for loads of support with your phonics teaching, no matter what approach you're using. You can learn more about the membership at themeasuredmom.com/membership. We'll talk to you next week!
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A complete look at IMSE’s OG Method
For brevity’s sake, I did not include all lesson components in the podcast episode.
Get the full IMSE lesson break-down here.
- What Does Science Say about Orton-Gillingham Interventions? article from the Reading League journal by Emily Solari, et. al.
- What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach? blog post from The Orton-Gillingham Academy
- Orton-Gillingham training from IMSE
Thank you for another excellent podcast. I always learn a lot from listening to them.
Thank you so much, Gina!
We have a late dyslexia dx (gr 6) for one kiddo as he is so bright he’s been compensating for years. I’ve followed you for years now, and came looking for your take on OG as I knew you had been on a professional journey with all this…but couldn’t quite remember the content! Appreciate the integrity of sharing your whole journey on the science behind reading, and that you aren’t claiming OG is the only way. Knowing what some of the potential drawbacks are helps me ensure kiddo is getting the best help he can, regardless of method.
Thank you for your feedback! May you find the right support for your son – with a supportive parent on his side, I know he’ll be successful!
I appreciate your efforts in providing more information regarding OG, however, this is an uninformed opinion riddled with false statements that will lead to massive misconceptions that are incredibly misleading to those seeking facts and furthermore detrimental to the literacy skills of students.
To begin, the fact that this piece was written while you are in the process of obtaining your comprehensive certification through IMSE is highly concerning. Perhaps by completing the course in its entirety, engaging in IMSE’s stand alone phonological awareness training and then engaging in actually teaching it in both the whole/small group setting (not just in your home) could provide a more factual approach to your opinion. If that is not possible, perhaps your opinion should reiterate that you are using it in a home-school setting only.
You make reference to the idea that there are many organizations that say they provide “Orton- Gilingham” professional training, yet you are not explicit about which organizations you are criticizing throughout. This is misleading.
You make many false statements such as:
“It’s generally meant for being used in a one-on-one setting, but now it’s becoming more mainstream as we’re understanding that structured literacy is appropriate for all learners.” and “It’s a little more tricky when you’re working with a larger group.”
This is false. Orton Gillingham has been long associated with dyslexia. However, IMSE advocates for Orton Gillingham in all classrooms. It has for years. Simply put, it is not an intervention. IMSE is a research-based, scientific approach to reading and writing instruction to be used in Tier 1-3. It is direct, explicit, systematic, and sequential instruction that incorporates multi-sensory elements. IMSE’s program is based on the Science of Reading research. You can learn more about their advocacy for Science of Reading instruction for all here – https://imse.com/about-us/orton-gillingham-for-everyone/
“Anything done one-on-one is going to be more effective probably than a whole-group approach, just because you’re able to be very diagnostic in that one-on-one setting. It’s a little more tricky when you’re working with a larger group. It also depends on the severity of the disability. …You have some kids who just have slight dyslexia, and that can really be handled by some structured literacy interventions, and you have kids who are severely dyslexic.”
This is false. Structured literacy is explicit, systematic, cumulative, multimodal, diagnostic, responsive and multilinguistic. Stating that 1:1 is more effective than whole group instruction is simply stating that you are less confident in the whole group setting. You are also indicating that only students with slight dyslexia will benefit from structured literacy. IMSE Impact Structured Literacy Programs are IDA accredited (International Dyslexia Association) (https://dyslexiaida.org/accredited-teaching-training-programs/) and are delivered by instructors who bring unmatched experience in literacy education to each course session. This kind of instruction is impactful for all students and critical for those with dyslexia of all degrees in all three tiers of instruction.
“Finally, it’s hard to measure the efficacy of Orton-Gillingham because we don’t know what’s happening in the rest of the day.” …However, one specific piece of Orton-Gillingham that research has not proven to be making any kind of difference is the multisensory approach.”
This is false. You are quick to cite information placing doubt in the effectiveness of structured literacy, however you don’t provide any research that supports Orton-Gillingham and the multisensory approach. There are many. I encourage you to reach out to Science of Reading experts such as Dr. Mary Dahlgren, Dr. Louisa Moats, Dr. Deb Glaser, Wiley Blevins, Dr. Maryanne Wolf and get their perspectives directly.
For example: “Teaching Reading in an Inner City School Through a Multisensory Teaching Approach” (Joshi, R.M., Dahlgren, M., & Boulware-Gooden, R., Annals of Dyslexia, Vol 52, 2002).
This research states regarding the use of OG based methods: “A number of studies have demonstrated that systematic, explicit, decoding instruction that emphasized synthetic phonics yielded better results than other instructional methods. …In clinical studies, this approach has been proven to be very effective in improving reading and spelling among children with literacy problems.” Conclusion: “The results of this study showed that first-grade children taught with the multisensory approach based on OG principles performed better on tests of phonological awareness, decoding, and reading comprehension than the control groups. It may, therefore, be concluded that the higher scores for children for the treatment groups may be attributed to the multisensory approach used.”
See also, “An Empirical First Look at the Effectiveness of IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham Approach (2017). This research indicates: “…current data strongly suggests that IMSE’s OG is extremely effective with emergent readers…results show the majority of students achieved perfect or near-perfect letter and sound recognition even if they started below their peers.”
“Their lessons look something like this.”
Your explanation of the lesson structure dives into the 3 Part Drill, but is vague, misleading & misses the opportunity to share integral aspects of the lesson structures that make them powerful. The IMSE lesson structure is as follows:
Three-Part Drill & Vowel Intensive
Teaching a New Phoneme/Rule (Multisensory/Dictation)
Decoding & Learning Centers (Syllabication/Fluency/Vocabulary)
Oral Reading (Connected Text/Decodables)
“That would be my criticism of Orton-Gillingham. It feels like there’s a lot of word-level activity, and not as much connected text opportunity. If you are spending a ton of time doing this long procedure for red words and doing syllable division practice and doing dictation, it can be hard to fit in reading connected text, and that’s the whole point!”
This is false. Learning to recognize syllable types trains the brain to break words into manageable chunks. This is critical. The lesson sequence is meant to be spread out between your settings and throughout the week. Your assumption that there are not many opportunities for connected text is interesting given that there is a decodable text provided to you by IMSE for each skill. Do students need a tremendous amount of time in accountable texts? Absolutely. We know from Wiley Blevins that we should aim for 50% of our lesson in controlled texts. Do these strategies take a considerable amount of consideration for time management and efficiency? Yes. They absolutely do, but so does general teaching.
I do truly believe that you had good intentions in this podcast. My concern however, is that as someone with a vast social media platform, you have a moral and ethical right to share truthful information with your followers. You have many that look to you for valid advice and knowledge. You have a responsibility to provide that. The literacy skills of children are at stake. I kindly request that you review your statements after both completing IMSE’s professional development and have experience teaching it both in whole group and small group. I encourage you to speak directly with Science of Reading experts as well as IMSE curriculum developers directly and get their responses prior to publishing your opinion.
Thank you for your feedback, Denise! My intent of this podcast episode was not to be overly critical of OG or IMSE; in fact, I have only spoken positively of IMSE to anyone who asks and definitely recommend their certification program. My goal instead was to help people get a general understanding of what OG is and to hear some common criticisms so they can dig further.
I take issue with your comment “uninformed opinion,” as I have done a great deal of study on this topic and only have about 6 weeks left of an 8 month online certification program. I do understand that IMSE is intended to be used with the whole class, which is what I was alluding to. I’m sorry if I was misleading by using the word “recently.”
I stand by this opinion: “Anything done one-on-one is probably going to be more effective than a whole-group approach.” When you have just one person’s needs to meet, you can be more targeted and certainly save time in materials management, which allows more time for instruction. I hope we can agree to disagree on this one, as I am certainly aware of (and a huge proponent of) the value of structured literacy’s explicit, systematic, cumulative, diagnostic, and responsive approach.
Everything I have read has about OG research has stated that the multi-sensory aspect has not been proven to make a difference. I’m not saying that it doesn’t; I would think that it would, but the most recent article I’ve read on the subject (Reading League Journal) stated this as well. I think more research needs to be done, and I definitely wouldn’t say that teachers should throw out the multi-sensory piece. I very much appreciate your article titles, and I will certainly look those up and print/study if there is no paywall.
I do follow and read works of Dahlgren, Moats, Glaser (I took her full course), Wiley Blevins (I’ve read and own all his books), and Dr. Wolf. Please don’t think that I’m shooting in the dark here. You claim my opinion is uninformed, but that’s simply not true. It may be different than yours, but it is not uninformed.
You are correct that I gave just a portion of OG’s overall lesson structure in the podcast. Perhaps that was an oversight on my part, but my goal wasn’t to break it down completely. I will look into giving some links to IMSE’s program in the show notes so that readers can learn more about the full program.
I am aware that IMSE provides decodable texts. I also know that doing syllable division and dictation take a great deal of time; in my experience, more time than it takes to read the decodable reader. I don’t want to question the value of those activities, as I do believe students need some way to divide words into syllables and I absolutely love dictation, but I would encourage teachers should make sure they make plenty of time for reading and re-reading decodable text. It was my intent to communicate that and apologize if that was not clear.
You mention a defense of syllable types, and I agree. I don’t recall criticizing that in the podcast, but again, I want to encourage teachers to make sure students have time to apply this explicit instruction within the context of actual books. In saying that I don’t intend to diminish the value of the skills work.
Yes, I do believe that I have a moral and ethical right to share truthful information, and that is what I feel I did in this episode, or I would not have published it. You may find it interesting to note that before I learned about structured literacy/science of reading, I had hundreds of balanced literacy resources on this website that I have since taken down and replaced with research-based materials.
I also think that I am entitled to personal opinions, which I shared as well. There is a large group of people in the science of reading community who do not believe that OG is the best approach. Personally I am pleased and impressed with what I’ve learned in my research and training, but it’s only fair to alert my listeners to the fact that there is another side of this issue.
Based on the other comments I’ve received, I don’t believe my other listeners took this as a negative criticism of OG. It was my goal to share both sides.
Thank you again for those article links!
Thank you for this podcast. I am constantly wondering about OG as I implement it this year with my 1st grade students. I do not belive that one intervention or litearcy program meets the needs of all students, but I gave it a try with all of my 1st grade groups because my school invested a lot of money in my training. After progress monitring weekly for a few months, I realized that it was not meant for everyone. I clearly saw that OG was not targeting the needs of all of my students. I also feel that too much time is spent swtiching between materials and when you only have 15-20 minutes to work with groups of students, too much instruciton time was lost with material management (I am a very organized person that made that quick, but in my opinion, we didn’t have time to lose). I am glad that you pointed out the recent metanalysis of OG interventions and also the fact that explicit and systematic instruction is key. Also, it’s important to notes, that targeted interventions directly linked to students’ needs have always been the most effective and many researchers support that. We often should question and wonder when we are implementing something new and use data to determine the effectiveness of our teaching. Thanks again for starting this conversation, it’s an important one to have.
Thanks so much for your feedback, Kathy! I’d love to know more about why you felt this approach wasn’t working for some of your students. I do agree that switching between materials can suck up a lot of lesson time; I’m just curious to know your other thoughts on the method.
I was just trained last summer and I really like O-G. It makes a lot of sense and the “cat” and “kite” rules for spelling! Why isn’t this rule being taught at universities? It is so helpful. Students don’t have to ask me if it should be a “c” or “k” because they know because of the vowel. I use the decodable books that come from IMSE. Those are very helpful. Overall, I really like the program when working with special education.
I learned the vowel rule when my school taught Saxon Phonics.
Thanks so much for your feedback, Linda! I agree that all of us need more training in the English language and phonics!
I have been using O/G for several years and I have found that the amount of rules can be overwhelming and time consuming. Rather than rules I tend to help them notice patterns that happen often. Red words also take a lot of time when they are all doing something slightly different from each other in my RtI groups. I have been making up a “red sentence” for 4-5 words and practice this sentence with the review section several lessons in a row. (eg. gave, live, father, Tuesday = He; He gave; He gave a; He gave a live; He gave a live spider; He gave a live spider to; He gave a live spider to; He gave a live spider to…… his father on Tuesday.) They would read it for fluency practice first and then they would write it to practice the spelling. This has been successful for my 2nd-4th grade students.
I’ve heard good things about that method for building fluency … I’ll have to try it! I do agree that all the rules can be too much for some kids. Noticing patterns is a good solution!
I have been using OG for the past four years in my kindergarten class and I LOVE IT!!!! It is amazing how well my students learn to read and write!!1 They have so much more confidence!!! Like any program you adapt it to your class and the way you teach! I am so thrilled you are being trained!!! Lisa
This is wonderful to hear, Lisa! Thanks so much for sharing your experience! Are you using a particular program?
Hi, Anna! I love reading your blog and following your journey! As a mom of a big family who home schooled for 12 years ( and then went back to college for a Literacy degree during which time I leaned almost nothing that was very useful 🙄), I was lucky enough to have a friend give me Romanda Spaulding’s book, The Writing Road to Reading. Ms. Spaulding was a student of Samuel Orton. In her approach the student is given phonograms and at the time of the initial instruction of the particular grapheme, the child learns all the common sounds it makes. For example, when shown -ch the child would make all three sounds (as in cheese, ache, chef) and if I remember correctly they are recited most common to least. What are your thoughts on how this differs from OG? I really liked that as we were reading and coming upon a less common sound for a spelling ( which can happen even if limiting the text complexity as in decodables ) I didn’t have to say, “Oh yeah that also days…” So words like “was” were decodable early on as they had learned alternate sounds for -a and -s. I found it super effective vs continually teaching new sound/spelling correspondences. Then as the students work their way through the Ayres List, each word is orthographically mapped in their note book. Thanks again for all you do! You are a true giver and each day is better and brighter because of dedicated, kind people like you!!!!
That should be learned not leaned😂 Sorry…tiny iPhone keys!!!
Hi Mary I’d like to know Anna’s thoughts on that method also, and I am wondering what age were the students you were working. With this way? I’ve read The Logic Of English which says that this method may particularly help children who appreciate knowing the rules and don’t intuitively make the z sound in words like “is” and “was”. I’m working with a second grader and I think he could benefit from this kind of instruction.
Hi, Terri! I home schooled my first child from K-8th and then it varied with the rest. We used The Writing Road to Reading from K right through until the end of 3rd grade and maybe a little into 4th (I am a little cloudy because that particular student is now 32 with 2 kiddos haha). My school is now working with The Reading League to train all teachers in the Science of Reading and my home school experience really aligns with everything being taught! The piece that was missing from the “Spaulding Method” and I believe it was missing from OG until fairly recently was the phonemic awareness piece. I really like Heggerty for this. I find the correlation between phonemic awareness and reading proficiency so fascinating and I love that Anna has covered it so clearly in her info!!! Have a wonderful day!
This is very interesting, Mary! I did order that book because I’m curious about this method. This is actually opposite of what some programs do, which are more from speech to print. In some programs, for example, they actually start with the SOUND and then give all the spellings for it, versus what you’re describing, which is to start with the GRAPHEME and then give all the pronunciations for it. I don’t know if there is research to back this up, but many claim that the speech to print way (vs. the print to speech way that you’re describing) is best. Like what you’re doing, OG goes from print to speech as well, but in smaller chunks. So it sounds like the method you’re describing is OG speeded up. I’d be curious to know if the sound-spellings are taught to mastery the first time they’re introduced, or if that occurs over time. With OG, the idea is to teach each sound-spelling in detail so that it’s mastered (or mostly mastered) before moving on.
The mat is a plastic cross-stitch mat. People can find them in the craft section of Big Box stores.
I am currently teaching phonics with Amplify CKLA. It is very similar to Orton-Gillingham but we begin with teaching different handwriting strokes such as vertical lines, horizontal lines, diagonal lines, hooks, etc. Then we start teaching sounds and we use the writing stroke language to teach them how to draw the sound. We do not even teach letter names until November. I am a Kindergarten teacher. This was a very difficult transition for me but it is working!
Thanks so much for sharing more about that program, Alisha! I’m so glad to hear you’re having success with it!