The instructional approach is made up of components that ensure that students are not only able to use learned strategies, but can also explain the howand whyof phonological strategies. Marcia Henry (1988) suggested that teachers and students can both benefit from a vocabulary that is consistent and focuses on the process of thinking about reading. These specific vocabulary words that she recommended to utilize during decoding and spelling instruction are woven throughout the IMSE OG lesson components. How To Teach SpellingEach component aligns with Gough & Tunmer’s Simple View of Reading, recognizing that students who can decode words accurately and understand the meaning of words as they read will be able to understand what they are reading. Simply stated: Decoding x Language Comprehension = Reading Comprehension. IMSE’s OG method is explicit, direct, systematic, structured, and multisensory to deliver proven instruction to support structured literacy skills for life.

An Overview of IMSE’s OG Method

Phonological Awareness

Phonological awareness is an umbrella term that describes a set of skills that help students to identify and manipulate units of oral language. Activities that focus on the concept of a spoken word, rhyming, syllables, phonemes, and phoneme manipulation provide opportunities to hear sound patterns and develop skills that enhance decoding. Through training, teachers and parents are supported to understand the importance of this essential skillset and how phonological awareness skills effectively promote reading independence.

Three Part Drill

Referred to as the “word building method”, this intensive drill starts with identifying individual sounds and then blends sounds to build words. The three parts of the drill focus on linking associations of how a letter looks, sounds, and feels and promotes the link between what the student sees (visual), hears (auditory), and feels (kinesthetic) when writing in the sand. This linkage is what Anna Gillingham coined as the Language Triangle, or multi-sensory approach. The three part drill specifically addresses these associations and provides repeated exposure to promote mastery of the learned sound-symbol relationships. The three steps include:

Visual Drill– The teacher shows the letter and the students state the sound. The goal is for the student to rapidly transfer letter symbols into sounds.

Auditory/Kinesthetic Drill– Focuses on auditory training for oral spelling. The teacher dictates the sound and the student states the letter and then writes the letter in the sand.

Blending Drill– Blending sounds into words is a necessary linguistic task for beginning and struggling readers. Repeated practice in blending reinforces the ability to state individual sounds and then blend the syllable as a whole to enhance automaticity and fluency.

The Three Part Drill is conducted three times per week as a rapid drill which enhances mastery, preparation for multisyllabic word reading, and activates all sensory pathways to make an imprint on the brain and build memory.

Vowel Intensive

Vowels are found in every syllable of a word and their sounds tend to be more difficult to learn than consonant sounds. Students must master the short vowel sounds in isolation to transition into reading. This brief, intensive focus on short vowels is implemented through kindergarten and as needed for older students.

Teaching a New Concept

This introductory lesson is conducted at the beginning of the week with the of helping the student to develop a strong connection to anchor the target concept. The target concept may be a sound or a spelling rule. This explicit, direct instruction incorporates all sensory pathways and provides the student with exposure to correct pronunciation, related objects, brainstorming of words that contain the new concept, practice with all known spellings of the sound, acquaintance to the new concept in literature, and practice with reading at the word, phrase, or sentence level. These components offer an overall, multisensory experience with sounds and spelling rules to foster reading and spelling success.

Correct letter formation is also a component of each introductory lesson in kindergarten. For beginning learners, correct letter formation is essential. The teacher guides the student’s thinking by assigning a verbal association and emphasis on sensory-motor output. According to Henry (1998), students must learn to write with their hands, eyes, ears, and voices. This is another example of the multisensory approach.

Practice Dictation

After being introduced to a new concept, the teacher will then guide the student through errorless practice in the application of the concept to the spelling of words, phrases, and sentences. This practice dictation places an emphasis on the parts of the whole. The teacher promotes the student’s use of strategies to isolate the syllable and identify the sounds through the delivery of Simultaneous Oral Spelling (SOS). This step-by-step process engages the student in activating visual-auditory-kinesthetic associations to develop good habits and establish a sound-symbol relationship when writing. Specific strategies are taught to help the student to break syllables into sounds to increase accuracy in the spelling process. The student focuses on self-editing strategies to check sentences for accuracy of capitalization, organization, punctuation, and spelling.


A syllable is a unit of pronunciation within a word that contains a vowel sound. The vowel sound may be alone or surrounded by consonants. During syllabication, the students are explicitly taught to break a multisyllabic word down into smaller parts-or syllables. They can identify each of the four syllable patterns and seven syllable types to apply correct pronunciation to each syllable and successfully decode the word. The first two types, open and closed syllables, make up for nearly 75% of all syllables in our English language. Learning to divide words into syllables provides students with another strategy to analyze unfamiliar words and gives them an advantage when reading and spelling challenging words with more than one syllable.

Red Words

In addition to learning the letter-sound correspondences in phonetic words, students must also know how to read and spell irregular words that are commonly found in text beginning at the primer level. Decoding strategies will not offer the student help for words like the, said, any, friend, and cough. These tricky words are called “red words”, as a reminder to “stop” and retrieve the word from memory. The instructional sequence of teaching a new red word activates all of the sensory pathways, integrating a progression from gross to fine motor steps that build visual-motor memory for the spelling of irregular words.


Students demonstrate reading fluency when they can accurately and automatically decode words while understanding the text. Also, fluent readers apply appropriate pacing, stress, intonation, and pay careful attention to punctuation while reading. Teachers can promote fluency with various interventions including repeated readings, choral reading, oral reading fluency drills, nonsense word reading, and daily rapid word charts. Teachers and parents may learn how to assess and monitor student progress while accessing available resources to promote fluency.


Vocabulary building expands and deepens throughout the school years and strengthens comprehension. Explicit vocabulary instruction is highly effective and can be integrated into all subject areas and aspects of learning. Effective word learning strategies include contextual analysis, morphemic analysis, and the use of a dictionary/thesaurus. IMSE’s Intermediate Training provides an extensive look into the research, implementation, and resources to support morphology instruction.


Several strategies can be done before, during, and after reading to deepen comprehension. Teachers can enhance their knowledge in the delivery of techniques selected to help students monitor comprehension, use metacognition, complete graphic organizers, generate inquiry, and summarize information.


If you’re looking for a full overview of IMSE’s Orton-Gillingham method, make sure to sign up for our virtual training! Not only do you receive all the same instruction and materials, but there are also designated times for breakout roomsQ&A sessions, and opportunities for practice with peers and lesson planning. IMSE has gone to great lengths to ensure that the virtual setting is just as positive of an experience as our in-person options. Click here to learn more about our training flexibility and options!

About The Author

Dr. Kirstina Ordetx is a Level 4 Master Instructor with The Institute for Multi-Sensory Education (IMSE). She holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in pediatric neurology.  Dr. Ordetx is an educational specialist with over 25 years of clinical experience, research, and consultation. She is a certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist through the Center for Effective Reading Instruction, a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Executive Functions Coach, and a registered Licensed Mental Health Intern. Dr. Ordetx has published two books that compile her research and practice in Theory of Mind.  She has served on accreditation committees for the Florida Council of Independent Schools, is a university adjunct professor in developmental and child psychology, and presents at various national and international conferences. Dr. Ordetx is head of school for a private academy in Lakewood Ranch, Florida specializing in the multi-sensory education of students who have language and learning-based differences. She is the Executive Director of the Pinnacle Pediatric Therapy Group, a multi-disciplinary, pediatric therapy clinic.