LIFE @ RCS

READING

 

Since Radcliffe Creek started more than 25 years ago, the Orton-Gillingham approach continues to be a vital part in helping our students become successful readers.  Teachers, who have been through extensive training in this approach, have devoted themselves to creating engaging and fun instruction while keeping each student’s individual strengths and needs in mind.

 

What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach and what makes it a unique reading program for the students at Radcliffe Creek School?

The Orton-Gillingham approach of reading instruction is a highly specialized, researched-based program especially helpful for those students who demonstrate difficulties in reading, but is also beneficial to any child learning to read and spell.  It utilizes phonetics and emphasizes visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic learning styles.  It is a highly systematic, multisensory, synthetic, explicit, phonetic approach, which simultaneously builds reading, writing and spelling skills.  Students are explicitly taught reading skills (sounds of letters and letter combinations), cursive handwriting, and spelling as one logical body of knowledge. This approach teaches the connections between sounds and letters. Instruction begins by focusing on the structure of language and gradually moves towards reading and writing. Learners move step by step from simple to more complex material in a sequential, logical manner in small groups that enables students to master important literacy skills. Students are assessed regularly to determine areas of growth and continued areas of need.

 

The Orton-Gillingham approach is language-based, flexible, and success-oriented.  Research indicates that this comprehensive approach to reading instruction is highly effective and beneficial to those students having reading difficulties. Radcliffe Creek School has successfully helped many students diagnosed with reading difficulties over the years. Students have benefited from the specialized training of their teachers and the implementation of the Orton-Gillingham strategies, multi-sensory approach, and methodologies throughout all of their classes. The use of the Orton-Gillingham approach has provided many Radcliffe Creek School students over the last 25 years with the skills to become successful readers.

 

What are the specific components of Orton-Gillingham that are taught in a reading class?

During daily 45-minute class times in an Orton-Gillingham reading class, teachers focus on the following areas:

 

  • Phonological and Phonemic Awareness: the understanding of different ways that oral language can be divided into smaller components and manipulated.

    • Sentences into words

    • Words into syllables

    • Onset and rime (Rhyming skills)

    • Individual phonemes (sounds)

  • Decoding Skills: the ability to recognize and demonstrate the knowledge of letter sounds and sound combinations that make up words in context. Students are taught how to sound out words based on their knowledge of letter sounds.

  • Spelling Skills: the ability to utilize letter-sound knowledge to spell words

  • Sight word reading and spelling: the ability to read and spell words that do not follow reading and spelling rules; students are required to visually memorize what these words look like.

  • Fluency: the ability to read smoothly and accurately at the rate equivalent to the student’s rate of speech.

  • Comprehension: the ability to demonstrate an understanding of what has been read by the student through discussions, and written responses.

 

Teachers continuously obtain data on each student’s progress in these areas through regular assessments and the results of classroom performance.

What are teachers doing to make this a fun and engaging program for those students who struggle with learning to read?

Upon entering an Orton classroom, you will see visual evidence of all of the fun activities, games, posters of rules, card boxes, and shelves of hands-on materials (various types of markers and pens, colored paper, large rolls of paper, board and card games etc.); all of these materials are essential in providing the students with an engaging and multi-sensory approach to learning how to read. Don’t be surprised if you see students tracing letters in large movements in a glob of shaving cream spread across a table or writing these letters while making the sounds of the letters using glass marking pens on the large windows in their classroom. Pudding, Jello, Play-Doh, glitter, glue, string, pipe cleaners, beads, tissue paper, highlighters, sidewalk chalk, and colored pom-poms are just a few of the materials that are incorporated into class instruction to reinforce specific skills.   Students love using their hands and doing fun things to reinforce the letter sounds/words they are working on during class.

 

Teachers spend a great deal of time creating, researching, and planning fun activities that include the essential multisensory component of this approach.  Incorporating large body movements into the instruction has proven to show good results in the progress of the students.  Students enjoy using scooters to roll down the hallway to locate and gather words on index cards to read or hop on words written in chalk on the blacktop surface. Simultaneously using as many modalities (visual, auditory, kinesthetic, tactile, etc.) as possible in learning explicitly taught letter sounds and letter combinations, and other reading skills, is the key to each student’s success in their overall reading skills.

What other programs and resources are available for those students struggling with learning to read:

  • Visualizing and Verbalizing program through Lindamood-Bell (V.V.)

  • LiPs - The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing program

  • Wilson

  • S.P.I.R.E.

  • Learning Ally

  • OGStar

  • Lexia

What programs are provided to proficient readers?

Students who have been deemed proficient in their reading skills, which includes developing higher order thinking skills, vocabulary, spelling, comprehension and fluency, are provided with a more traditional Literature class. The curriculum is derived from Maryland State Reading Standards with a focus on the process of reading. Within small groups, students read and analyze a variety of genres independently and participate in discussions to gain a thorough understanding of what has been read. The program also includes vocabulary development and explicit spelling instruction.  With the students at the center of the learning process, teachers individualize classroom instruction and activities to acknowledge student strengths and develop weaknesses.

 

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