Orton Gillingham Lesson-Part 2

In the first part of an Orton Gillingham lesson we practice phonemic awareness, blending, and letter-sound correspondence. After that, it is crucial that students review and reinforce previously learned skills.  The student must also learn new information and practice this new skill in their reading and writing. Concepts taught and reviewed cover ALL strands of reading and language to foster skilled reading.

Review and Reinforcement (R&R):

This section of an Orton Gillingham lesson involves the student reading and spelling words and sentences. The skills reviewed in this section come straight from the student’s card pack (discussed in my earlier blog post here).  These usually include ten of the previously taught skills that need to be reviewed to reinforce the concepts.  They are also based on the tutor’s diagnostic notes from previous lessons about student errors. Students in the Orton Gillingham approach require many more repetitions of reading/spelling a skill than traditional learners.  Fluent readers may only need to read a word 1-4 times to be able to read it with automaticity.  An Orton student may take 30 or more times to secure a new skill. 

In the R&R portion of my Orton lessons, I ask the student to read aloud a list of words and at least two sentences. I provide immediate error correction as he reads. I then dictate words aloud for him to spell.  The student can spell on paper, a white board, note cards, etc. I do recommend having the surface be one that is semi-permanent.  That way the student can read back all of the words he spelled before moving on.  You can also check for errors more easily if he does not have to erase it before writing the next word. You can also use these spelled words to layer in other skills such as syllable division, syllable type sorting, grammar, fluency, etc. 

Example of an Orton Gillingham Lesson by Orton Gillingham Mama

New Information in an Orton Gillingham Lesson:

I follow a scope and sequence of skills that moves from simple to complex.  Many people ask me about different Orton Gillingham sequences.  A Fellow in the Orton Gillingham Academy and mentor of mine once told me, “Don’t be so bound by a sequence that you lose sight of what each student needs.”  An Orton Gillingham tutor should be skilled enough to follow a general sequence, but flexible enough to individualize what skill is taught next. So, based on student errors, areas of mastery (determined by initial and ongoing assessments), and my sequence, I decide what skill I will introduce next.

In this section I explicitly teach a phonics skill, syllable type, spelling rule, syllable division rule, morpheme, or a grammar topic.  This includes a visual for the student to add to his binder (see picture below), examples, words to read and spell, and sentences to read and spell.  There are multisensory techniques and/or games to support this learning as well.  I also intentionally weave in skills that need further review from previous student errors.

Oral Reading and More:

The last part of my Orton Gillingham lessons includes some combination of oral reading, comprehension, grammar, written expression, vocabulary, and a new information recap.  With my younger students, I try to incorporate a decodable text that focuses on the new information skill.  For example, if I taught the -ck rule, I could read with him Mack and Betts.  With my older students, I might pick a book that focuses on a morpheme such as sub-.  For that we might read a non-fiction story about submarines that submerge.  Within the text we work on building vocabulary knowledge, comprehension, and highlighting grammar topics.  When possible, I also ask the student to practice written expression organization, sentence building, grammar, and/or punctuation.  And finally, we have a short recap of the new information from our lesson.

-ck Decodable text by Orton Gillingham Mama

There is SO much to include in each Orton Gillingham lesson.  Each one is individualized to the specific needs of the student.  Quality Orton Gillingham lessons are also layered to provide extra review and space to cover all strands of literacy. And while balancing all of the key Orton principles and layered necessities, we also try to:

“Go as fast as you can, but as slowly as you must.”

-Anna Gillingham

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