What Is Orton-Gillingham?
The Orton-Gillingham approach was named for neurologist Samuel Torrey Orton (1879-1948) and his colleague, educator, Anna Gillingham (1878-1963) who were early pioneers in understanding the neurobiological basis of reading failure and the educational implications for its treatment. The approach has been used successfully to teach reading to dyslexic students for more than 70 years.
Its principles and guiding tenets permeate our program and are used not only in our language remediation classes but throughout our day in all subject areas and at every grade level.
WHAT SETS THE ORTON-GILLINGHAM APPROACH APART?
- First and foremost, the Orton-Gillingham approach is personalized, diagnostic and prescriptive, recognizing each student as a unique learner. There is no “one size fits all” solution nor is it a packaged program or method. Teachers that utilize this approach tailor the program to meet the needs and learning styles of each student or small group of students. In addition, flexibility is built into the approach. Practitioners know that each child will reach different stages at different times. As a result, the students flourish and learn at a speed that is right for them and in a way that is right for them.
- It is cognitive in nature, utilizing our student’s strong problem-solving and creative thinking skills to circumvent processing weaknesses. Thinking deliberately through processes increases understanding and automaticity.
- It is multi-sensory. Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning channels are stimulated simultaneously to engage and integrate both expressive and receptive pathways. This aids in processing, retention, and application of information.
- It is a language-based approach, which includes the study and teaching of the English language and its patterns for reading and spelling, which are highly predictable and regular, once understood by the student.
- In addition, it is systematic and structured as well as sequential, incremental and cumulative. For example, the elements of language are introduced systematically through applied linguistics and systematic phonics. Students read and write sounds in isolation. They blend the sounds into syllables and words. Students are taught the elements of language, like consonants, vowels, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs. Structural elements such as syllable types, roots, and affixes; the Anglo-Saxon, Latin, and Greek layers of English are taught. Students continue to review old material as they learn new, so that they are always strengthening what they have learned.
- There is continuous feedback and positive reinforcement, which promotes a feeling of success for the students. They experience a sense of accomplishment and regain the confidence that has been eroding in more traditional classroom settings. Learning becomes a positive rewarding experience rather than an anxiety provoking one. Students gain a feeling of self-worth and accomplishment.