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Orton-Gillingham Theory of Teaching Struggling Rea

By Angelica Rojas
Dr. Anne Harvey Ph.D
Reading 520 Dyslexia
January 24, 2017
In the 1930’s neurologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton and educator, psychologist Anna Gillingham developed the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading instruction for students with dyslexia. The theory is structured on the English language and combines multi-sensory techniques that help dyslexic students to read. In addition the approach is also structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive, and flexible. The program incorporates three learning pathways which are kinesthetic, auditory, and visual. Orton-Gillingham approaches are renowned for helping dyslexic students, but can also help any struggling readers (IMSE).

The Orton-Gillingham approach involves the explicit and systematic teaching of language sounds (phonemes) / phonemic awareness. Phonics instruction teaches children the relationships between the letters (graphemes) of written language and the individual sounds (phonemes) of spoken language. Once children recognize the written letters and sounds associated with each letter, this will allow students to recognize words, break words apart and create new words. The key is that students will remember words which will help them learn to read. I would like to think that students are secretly building their “word bank” (

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Furthermore, what makes this instructional approach so successful is the one-on-one or small group instruction. This strategy is most effective in helping students achieve reading success. Teachers must first go through a certification program in which they must complete the following:
30 hours of coursework taught by a Fellow of the Academy
50 hours of supervised classroom or group instruction using the Orton-Gillingham Approach, consisting of 40 to 50 minute long lessons over the course of one academic year under the direction of a Fellow
5 observations of complete lessons by the Supervising Fellow (

Once the teacher has completed the certification process he/she will be ready to begin a journey in changing many student lives.
The Orton-Gillingham approach has been proven to be very successful, that today we have forty plus programs that incorporate the Orton-Gillingham approach. These programs also include an emphasis on phonemic awareness, fluency, and strategies for spelling and comprehension ( Some of these programs focus on mostly elementary and high school students, but also include adults, and English Language Learners with learning disabilities. The top five programs to help students with dyslexia are:
All About Learning Press
The Barton Reading ; Spelling System
Language! The Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum
The Lexia-Herman Method
Read Naturally
Orton-Gillingham has the most research of any program to support its approach and has helped millions of students with dyslexia and students with reading disorders. It’s instructional approach and well trained instructors sets this program apart from the rest. The Orton-Gillingham approach is always focused on the learning needs of the individual student. This approach is very unique in several facets:
Personalized: recognized the students individual needs
Multisensory: Students use all learning strands, seeing, hearing, feeling, and motion
Diagnostic and Prescriptive: the instructor continuously monitors the verbal, non-verbal, and written responses of the student in order to understand both the student’s challenges and progress.

Direct Instruction: Teachers teach the what, why, how (what is being taught).

Sequential, Incremental, and Cumulative: Learners move from the simple, well-learned material to the more complex, only after mastering each step along the way.

It’s unique approach has been proven over and over again that this approach works and can help students with learning disabilities; so much so that many new and more modern programs are formated around the main concepts of this instructional approach.
Dyslexia Training Program. What Works Clearinghouse Intervention Report.. (2017).
Retrieved 25 January 2017, from
HVVS, H. (2017). Academy of Orton-Gillingham. Retrieved 24 January 2017, from
Lemming, M. (2015). A short monograph on how the Orton-Gillingham method of instruction helps
children with dyslexia to learn to read with greater fluency. Language In India., 15.(8), p.100.
Retrieved from|A430452892&v=2.11&u=nm_a_wnmu&it=r&p=AONE&sw=w&authCount=1#
Orton Gillingham. (2017). Dyslexia Reading Well. Retrieved 25 January 2017, from
Put Reading First K-3 (phonics)


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