The Orton Gillingham Approach (Structured Literacy)

Orton Gillingham MethodThe Orton-Gillingham Approach to literacy instruction is the State-of-the-art approach for teaching ALL children to be strong readers. From pre-readers to beginning readers to delayed and disordered readers, the OG Approach thoroughly and comprehensively teaches the complex structure of the English language, and helps students to master the many variations in English reading and spelling. Since English is a phonetic language, reading and spelling must be taught through a phonetic approach. The OG Approach breaks down our language into logical and achievable chunks, and teaches skills to the point of mastery and success.

In the early 1900s, Dr. Samuel T. Orton pioneered the study of learning disabilities, and became very interested in the causes and treatment for reading disorders and dyslexia. After much research, Orton concluded that left hemisphere weakness in the brain was involved with individuals demonstrating difficulty with dyslexia. Dr. Orton began to practice multi-sensory teaching techniques that would integrate both the left and the right hemispheres during tasks involving reading. Orton was influenced by Dr. Grace Fernald, psychiatrist, who had created multisensory techniques for alphabet learning, involving air writing with the finger and arm.

Dr. Orton later collaborated with Anna Gillingham, psychologist and educator, who had designed and published learning materials which taught the underlying structure of the English language, for the purpose of phonetic decoding instruction. Orton and Gillingham together created a multisensory curriculum and teaching method which taught the structure of the English language to individuals who required a multisensory, structured, systematic, and explicit approach to literacy instruction.

Today, the Orton Gillingham Method is considered to be the state-of-the-art teaching method, not only for dyslexics and children with garden-variety reading disorders, but also for good readers and children who are at-risk for developing reading issues. The Method is also extremely beneficial when used as the reading curriculum for beginning readers who do not demonstrate signs of reading disabilities. Scientific research on the efficacy of the Orton Gillingham Method has been completed by many researchers, and this approach is promoted by the International Dyslexia Association.

There are several programs available that are based on the Orton Gillingham Approach, including the Lil’ Reading Scientists Literacy Solutions TM curriculum.

For further reading on the Orton Gillingham Method, see the following publications:

  1. Preventing Reading Difficulties in Young Children - Burns, M. Susan; Griffin, Peg; Snow, Catherine E.
  2. Catch Them Before They Fall: Identification and Assessment to Prevent Reading Failure in Young Children - Torgeson, Joseph
  3. California Reading Initiative
  4. Texas Reading Initiative
  5. The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Disorders, and Instruction - Lyon, G. Reid
  6. Summary of NIH Reading Research - Lyon, G. Reid