Last year, the lower school implemented the Orton-Gillingham Approach within its lower school classrooms. The approach itself is a direct and explicit way to teach literacy when reading, writing, and spelling do not come easily to individuals, like those with dyslexia. With the use of well-trained and experienced instructors, it is a powerful tool for struggling students. The essential curricular content and instructional practices demonstrated from the Orton-Gillingham Approach are extracted from time-tested knowledge, scientific findings on how people learn to read and write, and practice that has been consistently validated over the past 80 years.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach is most often used in a one-on-one teacher-student instructional dynamic, however, that does not mean its application within small group of children is uncommon. It maintains focus upon the specific learning needs of an individual student. Orton-Gillingham practitioners design lessons and materials to work with students at the level they present struggles in by pacing instruction and the introduction of new materials to aid them in their individual strengths rather than further hinder them in their weaknesses.
LMP’s Learning Specialist, Laura Nolan, works as a trained associate of Orton-Gillingham. Her role within the school is to provide extra academic support for any student struggling to keep up with class standards. She discusses the role of Orton- Gillingham in teacher training.
“All the teachers who are implementing the Orton-Gillingham approach have to go through OG training with a specialized OG trainer. OG is an approach to reading that isolates sounds and spelling rules and then repeats the skills every day in the same manner. I would not say it is the most exciting approach to reading. However, our teachers add extra activities and games to make the learning engaging and fun for the students,” said Nolan.
She also saw great improvement in the kids using this method.
“I have seen students grasp the specific phonemes being taught with more mastery and use the skills within their reading and writing. It is only the first year where both grades are using the program within the entire grade so I expect next year we will see even greater successes,” said Nolan.
Lower school Principal Lynna Varitek regardw the approach and its establishment at LMP as a valuable learning tool.
“OG has been around for a long time. Some of our teachers had already been trained and were using the methods/strategies in their teaching. We decided to move forward with training all of our K/1 teachers and use the program with fidelity after researching it and deciding as a group that we all felt it was the best fit with our curriculum.”
Varitek said that it works well for Lower school with how “the students are really grasping their phonics and we feel confident we will have better readers as a result.” When asked about any learning curves to the whole program she said “yes, preparing the materials and implementing the routines of the program took a bit of time. Our teachers are rock stars and did a great job learning the ins and outs of the program and implementing it with their students.”
The Orton-Gillingham approach is used daily for K/1 students and seems to be received well within Lake Mary Prep’s lower school classrooms with no complaints or issues from students or teachers. The goal of the approach matches the goals of Lake Mary Prep, where administrators and instructors aim to push students to be the best they can be without any challenges preventing them from their full potential. The approach works, and so long as this program works for teachers and their students, Lake Mary Prep will continue to utilize its aid within classrooms.