• OG Page

  • The Approach

    Orton-Gillingham (also referred to as the Structured Literacy Approach) is a multi-sensory, phonics based approach to teaching students who have difficulty with reading, spelling and writing. Students who struggle with these language elements benefit from being taught directly and systematically. The OG approach helps them to sort, recognize and organize the parts of our language. The strategies students learn enable them to read by decoding letter combinations and to spell by encoding letter combinations. 
  • Multi-sensory
    The Orton-Gillingham approach is multi-sensory. It uses much more than the traditional visual and auditory methods to present and teach information. In each Orton-Gillingham lesson, the tutor teaches concepts using as many senses as possible: visual, auditory, kinesthetic (muscle movement) and tactile (touch). The more ways a student receives and processes information, the deeper the pathway will form in the brain and the better the student will recall the material.
    Many schools use the whole language approach to teach reading and spelling, but this approach does not suit children with learning differences or disabilities. With the Orton-Gillingham approach, students start by reading and spelling individual sounds. They then move on to blending sounds together to make syllables or words. All sounds are introduced in a systematic and sequential order and are practiced to the point of being automatic. This approach is referred to as Phonics.
    The Orton-Gillingham approach is flexible to meet the needs of each student. After establishing what a student already knows, lessons are then prepared to suit his or her specific needs.
    If you would like to read more, Wikipedia has a good description of the Orton-Gillingham approach, phonics and the whole language approach. Our Blog also covers these topics in more detail. Understood.org (a branch of the National Center for Learning Disabilities) describes Orton Gillingham as “the gold standard for teaching students with dyslexia”; read more on their website. 
  • Anna Gillingham (1878–1963) was an American educator and psychologist.  She introduced a systematic and orderly approach of categorizing and teaching the 70 phonograms (single letters and letter pairs) that represent the 44 discrete sounds found in English.  Gillingham combined this approach with Dr. Orton’s multisensory teaching methods to produce the Orton-Gillingham approach and documented it in The Gillingham Manual.  Although first published in 1935/36, this manual is still contemporary and is on every O-G tutor’s bookshelf.

    Samuel Torrey Orton (1879–1948) was a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist at Columbia University.  He was a pioneer in the study of children with reading difficulties.  Dr. Orton wanted a way to teach reading that would incorporate both the left and right brain.  He suggested combining movement (kinesthetic) and touch (tactile) learning strategies with traditional visual (reading from text or chalkboard) and auditory (listening to a teacher talk) learning. Today we call this multisensory learning.