‘Twas the Week Before Christmas – Orton Gillingham

'Twas the week before Christmas and all through the schools,
not many children were being taught decoding rules.

The sight word walls were hung on the blackboards -atrocious!
in hopes that children would learn to read through....osmosis.

The children were memorizing sight words by the dozens.
They could not decode (and neither could their cousins).

And the dyslexics - how frustrated! Their parents - how frightful!
"We need a new approach!" (How absolutely insightful!).

When out in DC
there arose such a clatter,
the teachers and principals sprang from their desks
to see what was the matter!

Away to the internet they flew like a bugle;
tore open their ipads and logged onto Google.

The moon on the breast of the new legislature
gave a luster to Structured Literacy's fabulous nature!
When, what to their wondering eyes should they see next?
But a miniature sleigh filled with....decodable text!

With a lively old driver, in a tee shirt with shorts on,
I knew in a moment it must be Dr. Samuel Orton!

More rapid than eagles his advocates they came,
and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
Now Decoding Dyslexia! Now IMSLEC! Now A-O-G-P-E!
Now IDA! Now CERI! Now ALTA and Fairleigh!

To the top of the Senate! To the top of the House!
Let's get these laws passed! Let's get them aroused!

AS NAEP scores fall when we use Balanced Literacy,
and we meet with the obstacles of rampant illiteracy,
So up to the White House-Top they flew,
with Dr. Samuel Orton (and Anna Gillingham, too)!

And then, in a twinkling, they realized their plight:
"The teachers need training! There's not an Orton Gillingham Teacher in sight!"

As they drew up the legislation and marched on the Hill,
all the research has proven that WE NEED A NEW BILL!

The advocates were dressed in literacy tee shirts from head to toe,
and they had signs giving evidence that very few seem to know!
A bundle of multisensory materials they had slung on their backs,
full of sand trays and pencil grips and Phoneme Drill Packs.

Their eyes - how they twinkled! Their message - how concise:
"Teaching our children how to decode would be really nice!"

They advocated and gave testimony and brought research to light!
And they educated and demonstrated, and they fought a good fight!
"Balanced Literacy is not working! Our children can't read".
"We need them to stop guessing! They need to succeed!"

They had a united front, and a huge entourage
that shook the House when they spoke, like a jet-engine garage.
They were feisty and clever, a right jolly old group,
and I cheered when I saw them on the White House stoop.

Their initiative with teacher colleges
and their teacher certification
soon gave us to know
what we'd be doing on vacation!

They spoke lots of words and were committed to their work.
They filled in all the gaps, and explained all the quirks.
And then, pointing a finger at whole language (for failing test scores),
They nodded their heads and went back to their chores:

"Closed syllable, Floss Rule, digraphs and blends;
short vowels and long vowels; q and u are friends;
The Open Syllable and the CLE Syllable, and the diphthong:
This training of teachers - it shouldn't take long!"

Then Orton sprang to his sleigh;
To his advocates, gave a whistle.
And away they all flew,
like the down of a thistle.

But I heard Orton exclaim as he flew off with great speed:
"We will fight for Structured Literacy until every child can read".

Jenelle Erickson Boyd, M.Ed., CDP, Author of this Blog, is an Certified Reading Specialist, a Certified Dyslexia Practitioner, and an avid advocate for struggling readers. She is a conference speaker, a teacher trainer, and is the Author/Founder/Creator of the Lil' Reading Scientists Literacy Solutuions TM OG curriculum. She is a graduate of Fairleigh Dickinson University, and is a former Board Member on the NJ Branch of The International Dyslexia Association.


To view the Lil' Reading Scientists TM curriculum, please visit our website at



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