Although originally developed as a response to children with difficulties in reading, writing, and spelling, Orton-Gillingham is an approach that benefits all students in these critical learning areas.
Our elementary teachers are trained, certified Orton-Gillingham tutors who integrate the brilliant “Orton” strategies into their regular teaching. This enhances the learning of all of our students. In addition, The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori employs an Orton-Gillingham Specialist to assist children with significant challenges in a tutoring setting. For more information, read on …
By Kathy Schriewer, Orton-Gillingham Specialist
Two summers ago as my daughter was preparing to enter the world of all day school I began to prepare myself for reentering the working world outside of our home. I had spent the last six years tutoring children privately using the Orton-Gillingham approach to help students who experience difficulties with reading, spelling and writing. After receiving my Orton Gillingham training here in Cincinnati, I had commented that this approach would benefit every child and should be a part of every curriculum. Upon meeting Mr. Teller I was elated that here at The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori Montessori it is precisely that!
As the Orton-Gillingham specialist at The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori I provide support to those children who require extra help in the areas of reading, writing and spelling. The approach is valuable to any child but to a child experiencing difficulties in these areas it can often be essential. Orton-Gillingham is a multi-sensory approach that uses all pathways of learning simultaneously. These pathways involve seeing, hearing, touching, writing and speaking. Letters which represent the single sounds of speech are presented to the student and then immediately carried over into words that have meaning for that student. By integrating all of the learning pathways, the individual student’s weaknesses are lessened.
We progress from the very simple to more complex, putting in as much reinforcement as necessary. Orton-Gillingham follows a structure with a sequential presentation of these letters and patterns. However, the tutor or teacher must be diagnostic in determining when and how the skills are to be presented to each student. During each lesson with my younger students, we review any skills presented during a previous lesson and also any sounds or patterns that have been problematic. I provide a blending drill to practice putting those sounds together and introduce a new consonant sound or vowel pattern. I then give numerous opportunities for reading and spelling of words, reviewing what has been taught. With the older students we follow the same format but with a greater focus on suffixes, prefixes and roots, as well as reviewing all possible spelling patterns previously taught. With all of the students, we discuss and I provide ample opportunity to apply the rules of our language such as the six types of syllables, short vowel signals, the silent e rule and adding suffixes to words, etc.
My very basic description of the Orton-Gillingham approach is that it empowers learners to understand and use our language effectively. They are given the tools to understand the reasoning and logic behind why a word is spelled and pronounced a certain way. The logic of this approach supports the student when his/her memory fails and when encountering an unknown word. The step by step progression enables the learner to achieve a sense of mastery and competence.
In my short tenure at The Good Shepherd Catholic Montessori, I have seen much progress in those children who are receiving the tutoring. The children at GSCM have been a joy to work with. They bring an enthusiasm and desire to learn that makes my job very easy. The confidence and the pride they exhibit when a new skill is mastered are exciting to me. The highlight of utilizing this approach is having a child approach me with a question or a word that challenges the logic of what I have taught them. It is at that point that they are truly understanding and applying the logic of our language. Together we analyze the word, its origin and usage and then I know that they have mastered the skill or concept. I believe that the Orton-Gillingham approach provides every learner with the skills and knowledge necessary to become a successful reader.