Last week IMSE-trained educator Jolynn Aldinger was featured in a national education story where she discusses the literacy growth she has seen with her students over the past five months. Jolynn is a first-grade teacher at Galileo STEM Academy, a magnet school in Idaho’s West Ada School District. 

As a teacher for 20 years with a Master of Education with an emphasis in elementary reading and writing, Jolynn thoughtshe knew the best way to teach reading – until working with a few students that she just could not reach. A friend suggested that she research the Science of Reading.  She did and has not looked back since.

JoLynn’s initial impression of OG was that it is an approach used for intervention groups, and did not realize the impact it could have for tier 1, mainstream students. A supportive PTA gave her a grant to take IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham training. After implementing what she learned this past summer – just two months after the training, the progress she saw in her students has not only been emotional but mind-boggling. 

Her previous students who did not know how to write sentences or even that Q goes with U – were learning much faster. They learned two-letter consonant blends, learned to apply spelling rules for when to use digraphs and trigraphs, introduced vowel teams, and many other advanced concepts. Students also learned various components of an OG lesson that includes the three-part drill, phonological awareness, red words, syllabication, and language comprehension. 

JoLynn Aldinger’s first graders give a thumbs down to indicate when they see a nonsense word. 

I love the silk hat on the top shelf. “Yesterday, all my kids were able to write this sentence out and I was just amazed,” says Aldinger. ”I have 24 kids in my class, and this year, almost 70% are reading on grade level.” 

 This is really high, considering that just 33% of fourth-grade students performed at or above the  NAEP Proficient level on the reading assessment in 2022. Jolynn was the first West Ada School District teacher to have undergone IMSE training.  

“We are missing too many kids,” says Aldinger. “You can put a band-aid on K-2 kids and think they will be okay – until you figure out in third they can’t read or spell.”

To unlock the power of Orton-Gillingham reading instruction in your general education classroom – and avoid the K-2 literacy band-aid solution that does not work – join the tens of thousands of general and special education teachers, ESL and EL teachers that have sought empowerment and support through IMSE to be able to teach reading more effectively and quickly. Please visit IMSE’s asynchronous courses and learn how easy it is to get started.

Check out the full story in The 74.

Excerpt from the story:

“I would have kids walk in my classroom who have read ‘Harry Potter,’ but they can’t spell Harry or Potter.” 

Now she <JoLynn> shows off her students’ improvement to anyone who will listen. And she asks other teachers if they’ve listened to “Sold a Story,” a podcast about how whole language or “balanced” literacy dominated reading instruction in U.S. schools. Research shows the approach, which focuses more on access to books and using pictures or other clues to guess words, can leave students without the phonics skills to become strong readers.  

In the fall, one of JoLynn Aldinger’s first graders at Galileo STEM Academy in Eagle, Idaho, could barely write a word or a complete sentence. By the end of January, he made substantial progress. (Courtesy of JoLynn Aldinger)

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