Friday, October 11, 2019

A Brief Introduction to The Orton Gillingham Approach

A Brief Introduction to The Orton Gillingham Approach
By Maura Baker

The Orton Gillingham Approach (sometimes referred to as the O.G. Approach) is a multisensory, detailed, organized method of teaching reading and literacy. A lot of the time, it is used to teach students with Dyslexia because of the way it is structured. The O.G. Approach was first touched upon by Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham in the 1920s. They both studied learning differences and working together they trained many teachers in this new approach to teaching literacy. Over the years, as more and more Dyslexia advocates have come along, the Orton Gillingham Approach has become more popular and is even being used in some schools in the U.S. But what exactly is the Orton Gillingham Approach? Let’s take a closer look at this teaching method. 

Teaching the Rules of Spelling

A big part of the O.G. Approach is directly teaching student spelling rules. Most of the time in schools, students are expected to learn the spellings of words, but that’s not the case with O.G.. Students are directly taught the spelling rules of the Enlgish language. Since it’s difficult for Dyslexic students to figure out spelling rules from just simply reading, this is very helpful.  Here are some examples:

The Plural Rule
  • When the word ends with a normal vowel or constant (ex. p,r,a), add “S” to the end- Jackets
  • When the word ends with a sound that comes through your teeth (ex. sh, ch) add “ES” to the end- Couches
  • When the word ends in “F”, take away the “F” and add “VES” to the end- Wolves

The Double Letter 
When a one syllable word ends in one consonant and you want to add a suffix beginning with a vowel, double the last letter to keep the vowel sound short. Ex. hop + ing = hopping
The TCH/CK Rule 
  • When a one syllable word ends in “CH”, you add a “T” before the “CH”. Ex. ditch 
  • When a one syllable word ends i, the “K” sound, it’s spelled “CK”. Ex. Tack

Syllable Types 

Syllables are very important in the English language. They determine the sound of a vowel in a word and thus, how the word is read. There are syllables types and rules that are told to students being taught with the O.G. Approach so they know what to expect in a word in terms of vowel sounds. One mnemonic sometimes used to remember these syllable types and their functions is C.L.O.V.E.R. Here are the different syllable types and what they mean for the sound of a vowel:

Syllable (with C.L.O.V.E.R)
C - Closed Syllable
A syllable where the vowel sound is short
Ex. Got 
L - Consonant LE
A syllable that ends in a consonant, LE. The vowel sound can be long or short
Ex. Puzzle (short vowel sound), Bugle (long vowel sound)
O - Open Syllable
A syllable where the vowel sound is long 
Ex. Go
V - Vowel Teams
A syllable where two or more vowels (for consonants and vowels in the case of “eigh” making a long “A” sound like in the word sleigh) join together to make one sound.
Ex. Good, day, key
E - Vowel Consonant E
A syllable ends in a silent “E” to make the vowel sound long.
Ex. Cake
R -R Controlled Vowel
A syllable where “R” follows a vowel and makes a sound that is neither a long vowel or a short vowel sound.
Ex. Car, for, near, hurt, her

Red Words

Whether you are familiar with O.G. or not, you are probably aware that there are many irregular words in the English language, which means they are not spelled like they sound. These words are called red words. Most of the time in schools, students are expected to just learn how to spell these words from seeing them on a “word wall”, but that’s not how it works in O.G. When learning to spell red words, students tap out the words, which basically means they tap the table once for each letter. Plus, since O.G. is based one one-to-one teaching or with a small group of students, it is very individualized, so if students want to do other movements that help them memorize how to spell the word, then they can do it to add a kinesthetic component.

This only scratches the surface of The Orton Gillingham Approach. The Orton Gillingham Approach is so helpful to students because of how explicit it is. The method doesn’t assume students will learn how to read from just reading without a purpose. It helps many Dyslexic students across America because of how flexible it is and because it can cater to many students and many learning types. As Dyslexia awareness becomes a larger part of public school, Orton Gillingham and many other similar methods of teaching literacy will be more popular and will be used in more classrooms. If you are interested in learning more about The Orton Gillingham Approach, there are many books and articles on the subject. Our personal favorite resource is the website for Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. Here is the link: 

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