The Orton-Gillingham approach was developed more than 70 years ago to help individuals with reading difficulties, such as those with dyslexia, to learn to read, write, and spell. Children with reading challenges were often blamed for being disinterested or lacking effort, but the O-G approach recognized their special needs and helped many students see the world in a new way. Over time, the Orton-Gillingham Method has allowed thousands of children to access the joys of reading, and it has been so effective that it is being incorporated into general education classrooms to help more students develop their reading skills.
What is Orton-Gillingham?
Orton-Gillingham is a specialized approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling to students with language processing difficulties, such as dyslexia. It was developed by neuropsychiatrist Samuel T. Orton and educator and psychologist Anna Gillingham in the early 20th century. Orton-Gillingham is not a pre-packaged curriculum, but rather a personalized program designed for each individual student. The approach includes phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The teacher uses visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic tools to help students learn the connections between sounds and letters. By incorporating a multisensory approach, Orton-Gillingham enables students to access worlds opened to them by reading and provides them with a foundation to become successful readers and writers.
How has it been mainstreamed?
Orton-Gillingham (O-G) has traditionally been used for remediating struggling readers, but recently it has been adapted for use in a whole-classroom setting. Many education specialists have recognized that typical reading programs in classrooms often fail many students, as shown by statistics such as only 32% of public school students in 4th grade performing at or above grade level. Furthermore, 50% of low-income 4th graders read below basic level, and nationally, there has been no significant change in 4th grade reading scores from 2011-2013. The Stern Center for Language and Learning provides these data.
Research has demonstrated that O-G's multisensory, kinesthetic, and tactile techniques not only benefit struggling readers but all students. However, O-G is not typically taught in depth in teacher training programs, as it is often considered a special needs program. Therefore, additional professional development is necessary to fully implement the approach. Schools that have undergone this training have found that their students read more proficiently, acquire new words more effectively, and comprehend texts better.
Steps to using it in your classroom
To implement the Orton-Gillingham Method in your school, it is necessary to follow a step-by-step program, which prioritizes the logical order of learning to read. Students are required to progress through levels, from simple to complex, known to unknown, and predictable to unpredictable, fostering confidence in their reading abilities. The Method calls for small-group or one-on-one instruction, even in a classroom setting. The flexibility of adapting to various learning styles is critical to students' success, achieved through the use of visual, kinesthetic, auditory, and tactile tools. Teacher training is essential, as the Method is unique and differs significantly from traditional reading programs typically taught in teacher-training programs. Teacher training can be provided by a trained professional or through a provider such as IMSE.
Learn with Koala is an excellent online tutoring platform that provides students with high-quality, individualized Orton-Gillingham instruction. Their trained tutors work with students in a one-on-one setting to develop the necessary reading, spelling, and writing skills for academic success. By using the multisensory, kinesthetic, and tactile techniques of the Orton-Gillingham Method, Learn with Koala's tutors can effectively teach students with learning challenges such as dyslexia. The success of this approach has led to the Orton-Gillingham Method being mainstreamed into general education classrooms to help more students access the power of reading. With Learn with Koala, students can gain the confidence and skills they need to excel academically and beyond. You can find and book those classes at this page.