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Sunday, December 30, 2018

Implementing the Orton-Gillingham Reading Approach in a Small Group Setting

Happy New Year!! Today's guest post features an amazing SPED teacher, Allison from @sweetlysped, who implements the Orton-Gillingham Approach into her classroom every day. She has many fabulous ideas and insights on how easy it can be to start using OG in your classroom!

Hi! Hello! My name is Allison Rios and I am a resource teacher for kindergarten-3rd grade students at a public school in the suburbs of Denver. My student base primarily includes children with learning disabilities, attention needs, and speech-language impairments. I am living out my dream while serving this special population and I thank my lucky stars to work with such a loving {and feisty} squad.

This past summer, I was super thrilled to immerse myself in an Orton-Gillingham training program to deepen my literacy instruction. As a new{ish} teacher, I’ve discovered that my skills are honed and sharpened every single year. I shudder to think back on my first year and my lesson “plans.” Oh boy. Hooray for self-reflection!

Total honesty moment. I had heard the term “OG” many times and thought, “Sure. It’s the OG of reading programs {see what I did there?} But how is it actually different than any other reading approach?” Cue face-palm moment! Prior to this training, I’m going to go ahead and say that I knew nothing about reading instruction. You don’t know what you don’t know, right?

Orton-Gillingham has provided my students with a targeted structure that specifically outlines clear and sequential procedures. Before I became “OG enlightened”, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my plans were often thrown together with a little bit of this and that and not much direction. Now, I’m able to live out my best phonics/phonemic awareness life with my students every day!

We’re very lucky that our school built in a literacy intervention block every single day and, because of this, I am able to work with small groups daily in a pullout setting. Each grade level has designated about 40 minutes for intervention every day; here is where I had to think a little creatively. I wanted to pack as much intentional instruction as I could in that 40 minute block, give or take 10 ish minutes {hello, behaviors!} I’ve included a sample picture of my daily lesson sheet below:

I’ve seen loads of templates and decided to take what I liked from each format to best suit my students’ needs. Remember those behaviors I mentioned? Oofta, some days are a doozy! Juggling 79 balls in the air at once proved to be slightly ineffective for this overly-ambitious SPED teacher. I decided to target reading skills {visual drills, words/phrases/sentences/red words to read, and comprehension work} on individual days. Alternatively on writing days, the students demonstrate explicit work with auditory drills and word/phrase/sentence dictation. We also sprinkle in some COPS editing and grammar work because there is never enough of that in the elementary world!

The pictures below show an auditory drill {the kids live for any chance they have to write on the tables!} and an independent task box work station. I downloaded these task boxes from Colby’s TPT {and NO she did not ask me to plug her awesome resources! I just want to share the incredible products she has created because I use them EVERY day and it has saved me oodles of time!} Again, remember those tricky behaviors? While I’m providing direct instruction at my front table with 2-3 students, there are 2-3 students at the back table completing a task rotation independently for 15 minutes. Task boxes are my go-to because it provides incredibly clear expectations with previously taught skills. We can always use plenty of b/d reversal practice! Sometimes the students will check their own work and, at other times, they will check with a buddy. This provides a lot of enjoyment as the kids get to engage in their “be the teacher” dreams.    

A new shift for me has been to incorporate phonemic awareness drills every. single. day. Seriously, why is this never taught college? It took me 7 years of teaching to learn from my fellow colleagues about the importance of phonemic awareness work. One of my favorite phonemic awareness activities involves a portion of an egg carton and WHATEVER manipulative you have on hand. The students have an egg carton cut for the exact amount of sounds in the provided words. {My primary kiddos are living in the three and four sound world right now.} The students repeat the given word and drop a manipulative into each section as they say the individual sounds. Blending is the magic word, friends! After the sounds are identified, the students then blend the word back. I LOVE this strategy because it provides a visual for our students who struggle with automaticity in sound identification. Students can be asked what the beginning/middle/end sounds are and, even though they don’t have the letters written in front of them, they have a visual to connect to.

If you want to be fancy, Special Inspirations has a nifty phonemic awareness task box in which students can manipulate the sounds that correspond with a given picture! :)

Ok, let’s talk games! If we’re not playing games in small group, my kids aren’t having it. I ADORE every game I have downloaded from Colby’s TPT. This POP! game is genius because the kids don’t even realize that they are practicing their letter sounds/blends. The kids take turns pulling cards to read the letter patterns and move their pieces along the board. Fingers crossed they don’t pull a POP! card! Also, how cute are these little game pieces?!

One final thought about planning targeted instruction for a limited amount of group time is to be very mindful about the skills/word choices presented. As SPED teachers, we don’t really have a “program” to follow that gives us a day-to-day plan on what to teach {a blessing and a curse, if you ask me}. Whether it’s a reading or writing day, I take words and sentences from the book we are reading together as a group that incorporates our specific skills {blends, digraphs, -ng and -nk endings, etc.} for the students to either read or write in our drills. As a bonus, I use these same words for our phonemic awareness practice. My second graders are currently working with the ch digraph/-tch trigraph. On reading days, I intentionally present words with that digraph and trigraph {as well as our previously taught patterns} and the students read a book which includes multiple opportunities to read these patterns. Similarly for writing days, the students have many chances to identify the sounds in our auditory drill, as well as the dictation activities.

Well, friends, I sure am happy to share a slice of daily life from my classroom small groups! A beautiful facet of OG is that there are endless possibilities in terms of practice opportunities for students. With time and creativity {and awesomely inspiring fellow teachers}, we can implement mindfully developed lessons that target EXACTLY what our students need. After all, SPED teachers do enjoy juggling many balls in the air at once {just, maybe not 79}.

Hop on down to @sweetlysped on insta and I’d love to chat about your favorite strategies!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

An Orton-Gillingham Based Multisensory Approach to Teaching Sight Words

Are you curious to know exactly what RED WORDS are? How to teach them? Are you wondering, why are they difficult to spell? *Scroll to the bottom for a list of red words!*

Hopefully I can answer some of your questions that I know you have been wondering about for years!

My teaching career so far has only been in private schools and working primarily with students diagnosed with dyslexia. When I hear talk about sight words and high frequency words, the two terms often get mixed up and I certainly get confused.

I teach using the Orton-Gillinham Approach which is a direct and explicit way of teaching children how to read. We also teach students how to spell by using a multisensory, direct, and explicit approach. When I read through the Fry or Dolch high frequency word lists they are exactly that: high frequency words. However, I do not consider them sight words. To me sight words can only be recognized by sight. They can not be phonetically sounded out. There are words included in the Fry and Dolch lists that are phonetic and can be sounded out. For instance, I can teach a student how to read and spell the word play when I teach the sound and spelling generalization of ay.

Therefore, in the Orton-Gillingham Approach when we teach sight words (that are true to the title), we call them RED WORDS because they are truly nonphonetic or unphonetic words that cannot be sounded out. An example of a red word is "said," if you have seen a student spell it "sed" they are sounding it out correctly and phonetically. Since "said" is not spelled phonetically we have to memorize it. Students with dyslexia may have difficult time learning the spellings of these words since spelling phonetic words is already challenging enough.

It is important for my students with dyslexia to understand what words they can sound out (that are phonetic) and what words they can't sound out (hence our RED WORDS).

Since red words cannot be sounded out, we have to practice memorizing them for spelling and recognize them for reading. We do this through using a multisensory approach.

Below are some multi-sensory ideas for ways to practice red words:

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Use playdoh to smash the letters, spelling the red word three times. It is important to note that with red words we are smashing the letters not the sounds.

Have students find the red words in their reading passages and trace them with a red marker while saying the letters.

Solve red words puzzles and then spell the word in red sand using two fingers while simultaneously saying the letter names.

Highlight red words in red during fluency drills. This will help students recognize that it is a red word and they can't sound it out.

Create a mobile word wall individualized for each student or use red words for your spelling tests. 

Create a Red Words bulletin board/word wall! I had this up all year in my classroom and my students used it EVERY day! 

Some other fun ideas include Sky Writing the letters, playing hot lava (reading red words on notecards), spelling in shaving cream, red paint, hopping or skipping while spelling the letters, passing a ball back and forth while spelling, playing PIG in basketball but using red words instead of PIG or HORSE....

I hope this blog post gave you some ideas about what red words are as well as multisensory ways to teach them! 

Monday, February 12, 2018

My Orton-Gillingham Based Classroom


Hi there! It has been far too long since I wrote a blog post! Life has been quite busy with moving to a new state, planning a wedding, and going back into the classroom full time!

 I was lucky enough to have a small class size full of amazing students diagnosed with Dyslexia in grades second and third. Therefore, everything I do, for eight hours a day, is based on the Orton-Gillingham Approach! I teach all subjects and incorporate many multi-sensory techniques. In this post I am going to take you on a tour of my classroom and include some of my favorite Orton-Gillingham based activities! Orton-Gillingham Classroom Decor Pack available click here

That is what my classroom looked like at the beginning of the year! I created an alphabet banner with the Orton-Gillngham Keywords I used. Alphabet Banner available click here

Below is my small group area where I conduct all of my small group Orton-Gillingham lessons. Poster available click here

I created a Red Words (non-phonetic words) bulletin board to help my students with those tricky words that you just can't sound out! Red Word Wall available click here other versions available too!

Red Words/Learned Words Bulletin Board Display!  Orton-Gillingham Approach

I hope you gathered some ideas for your own classroom! 

Here are some Orton-Gillingham Resources that you may like, click on the image to go directly to the pictured product: 

Orton-Gillingham Classroom Decor Bundle!

Orton-Gillingham Phonics Posters

OG Syllable Division Posters (Color)
Syllable Types Posters Color Version (Orton-Gillingham)

Simple Suffixes (-s, -ing, -ed) Posters

Advanced Suffixes Poster Set
Prefixes Poster Set

Editable Bright Phonics Word Wall