Years of research in the Science of Reading have indicated that reading is not a natural process like learning to speak. According to an EdWeek article, “Written language is code.” And the research conducted over the last few decades is clear: Children need systematic phonics instruction to be able to crack the code and learn to read. However, phonics is not the only answer here.

Structured Literacy is a term adopted by the International Dyslexia Association that refers to the many programs that teach reading based on the research behind the Science of Reading. Structured Literacy supports explicit, sequential, systematic, prescriptive, diagnostic, and cumulative instruction to benefit all learners, both general education and remedial. 

Structured Literacy should be combined with all five pillars of literacy – plus language comprehension, spelling, and writing – to provide students with the appropriate tools and techniques they need to master the art of reading.


Where Orton-Gillingham Fits

Orton-Gillingham has long been associated with dyslexia. However, it is also an approach that supports the Science of Reading movement and Structured Literacy in every classroom. 

Earlier this year, The Measured Mom came out with a podcast that breaks down Orton-Gillingham and details her experience with IMSE training. During the podcast, she explains that Orton-Gillingham is not a curriculum but an approach. Orton-Gillingham is a direct, explicit, systematic, and sequential approach that incorporates multi-sensory elements. These elements are usually listening, speaking, seeing, and writing. 

Orton-Gillingham has gained popularity since the 90s as an approach that provides young readers with the foundational skills they need for reading. This approach breaks reading and spelling down into smaller skills that students can build upon over time. 

Structured Literacy programs that utilize the Orton-Gillingham approach and other strategies have proven that they are effective for all students, whether in the general education classroom or in remediation programs. 


Implementing Orton-Gillingham in the Modern Classroom

Unfortunately, many people believe that Orton-Gillingham is an outdated approach and is not relevant for our learners today. However, that is not the case.

Orton-Gillingham was originally created for students who needed one-on-one instruction but has since become broadly used in small and whole-group lessons. While teachers may see results more quickly in one-on-one instruction, students everywhere are benefiting from the Orton-Gillingham approach in various settings. 

Research cited in the EdWeek article mentioned above states that when learning to read, children generate more long-term success when they are taught sound-symbol correspondence rather than remembering words as wholes. While Orton-Gillingham has long been associated with explicit phonics instruction, with the more widely adopted Structured Literacy approach, we are seeing approaches like Orton-Gillingham be utilized for fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary as well. 

The largest component of Orton-Gillingham is the multi-sensory element. As we continue to see Structured Literacy and the Science of Reading be adopted in the modern classroom, it only makes sense to adopt the elements that have consistently shown results for students. Bringing in multi-sensory elements doesn’t have to mean you change your lesson plans around, either. It can be as simple as incorporating flashcards or tactile-kinesthetic movement into your lessons. 

Visit our Orton-Gillingham resource site to dive deeper into how you could be bringing Orton-Gillingham, Structured Literacy, and the Science of Reading into your classroom today! 

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