Orton-Gillingham Instruction

The Orton-Gillingham Approach


The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a direct, explicit, multisensory, structured, sequential, diagnostic, and prescriptive way to teach literacy. For some students (especially those who have dyslexia), reading, writing, and spelling does not come easily.

Traditional Orton-Gillingham instruction is practiced as an approach, not a method, program, or system. It is a time-tested approach that has been validated for over 80 years. Reading, spelling, and writing difficulties have been the dominant focus.

In the hands of a well-trained and experienced instructor, it is a powerful tool of exceptional breadth, depth, and flexibility.

The traditional Orton-Gillingham approach always puts the individual learning needs of the students first.

The following nine principles are unique to the Orton-Gillingham Academy and are considered the essential components of the Orton-Gillingham approach.

Instruction is a dynamic, continuous, adaptable process of monitoring student work and giving corrective feedback based on the learner’s profile and ongoing performance designed to promote accuracy and automaticity.

  • Instruction is diagnostic in that the instructor continuously monitors the verbal, nonverbal, and written responses of the learner to identify and analyze problems and progress. This information is the basis for planning the next lesson.
  • Instruction is prescriptive in that it contains elements that focus on resolving the learner’s difficulties and building on the learner’s progress noted in the previous lesson.

Instruction is individualized to meet the differing needs of learners who may be similar, but not exactly alike. Lessons are customized to meet the learner’s profile, culture, identity, and interests.

Instruction is a comprehensive practice based on the structure and history of the English language that integrates oral language, reading, spelling, and writing. It begins at the simplest level with phonemes (sounds) and the alphabetic principle (the relationship of sounds to letters) and progresses through complex word and text structures.

Instruction simultaneously utilizes the associations of the auditory (hearing), visual (seeing), and kinesthetic (movement) neural pathways.

Instruction is presented systematically with concepts clearly stated, modeled, and practiced. Moving from supported practice to independent practice enhances learning and memory leading to automaticity and independent application.

Instruction is logically organized and moves from simple, well-learned material to increasingly complex elements. Lessons continuously spiral back to reinforce previously taught skills in an integrated manner. Instructional decisions require flexibility and are based on the learner.

Instruction employs both synthetic and analytic processes at all levels of language; these processes are reciprocal and must be closely coordinated.

  • Synthetic Instruction progresses from the parts to the whole. For example, when reading, the learner blends individual sounds, syllables, and morphemes to read words.
  • Analytic Instruction progresses from the whole to its parts. For example, when spelling, the learner segments the sounds, syllables, or morphemes to spell words.

Instruction engages the learner in an active understanding of what they are learning, why they are learning it, and how to apply their learning in a thoughtful way. It encourages thinking and reasoning rather than reliance on rote memorization.

Instruction builds confidence and trust by ensuring the learner achieves regular success.

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