The Orton-Gillingham (O-G) instructional approach is used at Lakes and Bridges, and all of our faculty receive training from an Accredited Training Fellow with the Orton-Gillingham Academy.
Every day at school, Lakes and Bridges student innovators participate in small-group instruction for reading, writing, spelling. These flexible, skill-leveled groups are known as PIE (Personalized Instruction and Enrichment) groups. PIE groups are taught using the O-G Approach and follow structured lessons that are planned weekly and account for the group's strengths and challenges (diagnostic and prescriptive). Each multisensory lesson follows the same sequence that includes visual and auditory phonogram drills, phonetically-controlled words and sentences to read and spell, review and reinforcement, sight words, and oral reading. New information is introduced on the first day of the week, and an assessment is done on the last day of the week to determine learning growth.
It takes a skilled and knowledgeable practitioner to deliver PIE group lessons. Instructors must be constantly alert, prepared, and able to adjust the lesson as necessary. This is why we are so committed to having our faculty trained in the O-G Approach.
The O-G Approach is:
- Diagnostic and Prescriptive: O-G lessons are individually paced and structured. Instructors continuously monitor and assess students' progress to identify strengths and challenges, and lessons are then created to build upon those strengths and resolve those challenges. For example, an instructor knows, through constant assessment, that a student is struggling with the "-tch" rule, so she will be sure to offer the supports the student needs to learn the "-tch" rules with confidence, as fast as possible but as slowly as necessary for useful and stable learning.
- Direct and Explicit: O-G lessons are presented by instructors and are formatted so that students have clear expectations of what is to be learned, why it is to be learned, and how it is to be learned. Every lesson provides specific drill and practice in sound/symbol relationships, blending of sounds to read, developing automaticity, isolation of sounds for spelling, reading and connected text, attention to handwriting, and generalizing skills.
- Multisensory: With the O-G Approach, learners feel and touch to help compensate for visual and/or auditory difficulties. Using the visual, auditory, kinesthetic, and tactile pathways aids in the processing, retention, and application of information. Engaging and integrating all channels of reception and expression is key.
- Cognitive: the O-G Approach requires students to understand the structure and logic of language-- which is exciting and stimulating for these innovators, many of whom have above-average intelligence. O-G lessons require learners to think deliberately through processes that are automatic for non-dyslexics, so they can use their cognitive strengths to help compensate for perceptual difficulties.
- Structured, Systematic, and Sequential: O-G lessons are taught in a consistent order that moves from simple, well-learned material to newer and more complex material. Information is stored more efficiently when it proceeds in a logical order and builds systematically. Curricular content unfolds in linguistically logical ways that facilitate student learning and progress. For example, instructors will introduce the concept of a syllable and ensure that skill is mastered before introducing closed syllables, then silent-e syllables, and then open syllables, etc.
- Synthetic and Analytic: with the O-G Approach, students are taught to understand the relationships and principles of language; they dive in and look at ways to pull it apart and put it together.
- Cumulative: Because rote memory is often weak for individuals with dyslexia, instruction must build upon and incorporate previously taught elements. A major component of an O-G lesson is review and reinforcement.
- Alphabetic and Phonetic: the O-G Approach stresses the alphabetic principle-- the individual speech sounds that make up spoken words, and the sound/symbol correspondence of those individual speech sounds.
- Emotionally Sound: instructors are intentional about providing successful learning experiences for students. With success comes increased self-confidence and motivation.