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Transforming Readers

Few skills are as fundamental and transformative in education as reading.

Backed by decades of research and practice and aligning with the principles of

the science of reading, the Orton-Gillingham (OG) reading intervention

evidence-based strategies stand as a beacon of hope for learners navigating

the complexities of language acquisition. It is one of powerful tools that we use at The Lang School to ensure that students have a strong foundation to support their growth as readers. Originally designed to aid individuals with dyslexia, its efficacy has transcended its initial scope, proving invaluable instruction for both neurodiverse and neurotypical learners alike. This post explores the Orton Gillingham approach in order to shed light on its transformative power for learners across the cognitive spectrum.

Understanding Orton Gillingham:

Orton-Gillingham is a structured, systematic approach to teaching reading, spelling, and writing. In simple terms, the Orton Gillingham approach is a unique way of teaching reading and spelling that uses different senses to help students understand and learn the structure of our language. When we say it's explicit, it means teachers are very clear and direct when they teach, leaving no room for confusion. Kinesthetic means we use hands-on activities, like tracing letters in sand or tapping out sounds on a table, to make learning more engaging. Multisensory means we involve different senses, like hearing, seeing, and touching, to reinforce learning. And when we say it's direct, it means teachers teach each step clearly and in a straightforward way, ensuring students understand before moving on. It's a fun and interactive way of learning that helps our students to become great readers and spellers.

Orton Gillingham can also be adapted for older students, focusing on advanced concepts like morphology—the study of word structure and meaning. In this context, Orton Gillingham might involve breaking down complex words into their roots, prefixes, and suffixes to help students understand their meanings and use in different contexts.

By delving into morphology, Lang students learn to decode and comprehend more sophisticated vocabulary, which is crucial for understanding complex texts. Understanding word parts helps them connect words they know and new words they encounter, enhancing their comprehension. By engaging multiple senses through activities like word games, writing exercises, and discussions, our students can reinforce their understanding of word structure and meaning in a way that suits their learning styles and preferences. This active engagement with the material leads to deeper comprehension and retention of information.

Orton Gillingham at Lang:

The Orton-Gillingham approach recognizes that each learner is unique and instruction is tailored to the student's specific needs and learning styles. As I reflect on my over thirty-year journey teaching reading, memories flood back. For the past two years, I've had the privilege of teaching at the Lang School, where I've encountered a unique cohort of students: the twice exceptional. Teaching reading to these bright minds comes with challenges, but the rewards are immeasurable.

At the Lang School, my role extends beyond imparting reading skills; I'm tasked with filling in the gaps and laying a solid foundation for students who often find reading challenging. Meeting each student where they are requires a delicate balance of patience, understanding, and adaptability. It's about recognizing their strengths while addressing their areas for growth.

One of the most fulfilling aspects of my job is witnessing the transformation in my students' attitudes towards reading. I'll never forget when one of my students turned to me and said, "You're amazing. I like reading now." Those words confirm my belief in the power of personalized education and its impact on a child's life. Another heartwarming experience was when a student chose to work with me during a movie celebration. These examples, among many others, remind me why I chose this profession

Yet, teaching bright students with unique learning needs requires constant innovation and creativity. It's paramount to keep them actively engaged, whether through movement activities, educational games, or carefully selected reading materials. Balancing challenge and support, pushing them out of their comfort zones while ensuring they feel successful every step of the way, is key. Each day brings new opportunities and challenges, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

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