What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach?

2 min read
Mar 13, 2023 9:30:00 AM

The Orton-Gillingham Approach (also referred to as Structured Literacy) is a researched-based approach to teach reading and writing to people with language-based learning issues like dyslexia. It is generally taught one-on-one or in small groups (maximum 1 to 5 ratio).

The Approach was created by neuropsychiatrist, Samuel T. Orton and Anna Gillingham, an educator and psychologist. Orton’s focus on reading and language processing issues in the 1930’s combined with Gillingham’s instructional materials formed the bases for the student and teacher training that has become the Orton-Gillingham Approach. The first Orton-Gillingham manual was published in 1935. 

Orton-Gillingham is an instructional approach that follows a very deliberate scope and sequence.  OG is focused on an individual student's learning needs in the area of reading, writing and spelling.  Certified Orton-Gillingham (OG) instructors design lessons and materials that are specific to the student's current level and pacing needs.  The skills presenting in the direct and explicit lessons are practiced to mastery so that students become competent readers and writers.

OG Materials


It has several key features:

1) It is Multisensory - Lessons use all major pathways to the brain and use visual, auditory and kinesthetic learning methods

2) It is Individualized - All students have lessons built around their unique learning elements

3) It is Sequential and Incremental - Concepts are taught in-order and build upon previous learnings

4) It is Cumulative - Previous concepts are consistently reviewed with new concepts

5) Is is Explicit - Lessons are clear and understandable by the students.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach, at its core, works by teaching students the structure of words.  It helps students break down language from the simple to the complex.  For example, letters and sounds are learned first in isolation then blended into syllables and words.  By understanding the structure of words, students with dyslexia are able to become more proficient at decoding and spelling.  OG is not reliant on memory.  Instead, the focus is on the rules and generalizations of word structure.  The systematic approach and constant review of material increases the automaticity of skills.

The Orton-Gillingham Approach offers a flexibility and depth that other program-based methods are unable to facilitate. 


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