What is Orton Gillingham?
Orton Gillingham is an approach designed to target reading, spelling and writing skills. It is an evidence-based approach frequently recommended for students who demonstrate challenges in these areas, particularly students with a diagnosis of dyslexia or a reading disorder.
Orton Gillingham is phonetically based, meaning that it educates students on how letters are linked to certain sounds, and in what context (e.g. when a “c” followed by “e,” “i” or “y” it says the /s/ sound). The approach is systematic, structured and repetitive, so that each lesson builds on previous knowledge and has a predictable routine.
It is also multi-sensory, in order to target all pathways of learning: visual, verbal, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. The instruction is customized to fit the student’s individual needs related to literacy.
How does Orton Gillingham work?
The Orton Gillingham approach is comprised of five levels. Upon initiation of therapy, a pre-test will determine which level best suits the needs of the individual. Each session includes a review of the phonetic rule learned in the previous session, through a variety of multi-sensory exercises. These activities include letter and sound identification, blending of sounds to create non-sense words, reading and spelling both words and sentences, reviewing of sight words, and oral reading practice.
The student must demonstrate mastery of the target skill (90% or greater on both reading and spelling tasks), before learning new material. Upon completion of a level, a post-test is given to determine the student’s understanding and retention of the knowledge for that level, before moving on to the next.
Orton Gillingham is typically provided by a Speech Language Pathologist, Reading or Academic Specialist. It is most effective when the student participates in sessions at least twice a week.
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