Literacy teaching is a complex matter that needs to be addressed with care. In order to teach reading and writing, teachers need to choose and utilize a method that best suits their audience. The most common approaches to reading approaches are Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy; however, they are not suitable for students with learning disabilities, such as dyslexia (International Dyslexia Association [IDA], 2015). Therefore, other methods need to be employed to ensure that all children can learn to read. The present paper reflects the Structured Literacy and Orton-Gillingham (OG) Method as alternatives to conventional reading instruction methods.
Structured Literacy is a systematic approach to reading instruction approved by IDA (2015) for children with dyslexia. The method is based upon consequential teaching of all aspects of literacy, including phonology, sound-symbol association, syllable instruction, morphology, syntax, and semantics (IDA, 2015). All the material needs to be organized in a logical order beginning from the easiest concepts with progression to more complicated ones (IDA, 2015). Structured Literacy does not suppose that students can naturally deduce any ideas and assumes that all of them need to be carefully explained through continuous student-teacher interaction (IDA, 2015). However, teachers need to assess the progress of their students using both formal and informal methods to adjust their teaching schedules depending on the progress of their students (IDA, 2015). The approach is based upon solid theoretical ground, and its effectiveness is confirmed by numerous studies.
The OG method expands the principles of Structured Literacy by synthesizing neuroscientific information and principles of remediation to create a structured, sequential, multisensory teaching method. The approach is based upon the principle of simultaneous association of visual, audial, and kinesthetic language stimuli and directing training based on units a student can use without difficulty (Henry, 1998). The approach originated when the neurological hypothesis made by Samuel Torrey Orton was compiled and published in the form of instruction material by Anna Gillingham (Henry, 1998). Today, the approach is widely used for teaching dyslexic students.
There are different elements of OG lessons shown in the video published by Niemanville (2016). First, the teacher trains the sound-symbol association by quickly reviewing how the spelling rules of vowels and consonants using flashcards. After that, the student proceeds to write the practice of the alphabet and graphical representation of vowels. Then, the teacher asks to practice different spelling of the sound [ai] by distributing words into four columns. Finally, the teacher and the student play a board game to review the spelling of the sound. In summary, the first part of the lesson is dedicated to phonics and spelling the words using the rules of the language. The teacher promotes the multisensory approach by letting the student use all of her senses in different activities. The second part of the lesson is dedicated to morphology teaching utilizing the same principles. At the end of the lesson, the student practices reading. The lesson seems well-rounded, and the student feels comfortable and demonstrates progress.
The OG approach is an efficient method of providing literacy instruction to students with learning disabilities. The central benefits of the approach are the creation of a stress-free environment and the ability to focus on the individual needs of every student. However, the method cannot be utilized for all the students, as it requires a teacher for every student, which is very resource-heavy. At the same time, the teachers need to have the highest level of proficiency to utilize the OG approach.
Teachers can promote remediation in normal classes by utilizing different methods. Among the most commonly used methods not mentioned in the video by Niemanville (2016) are writing journal entries and participation in reader theaters (Lee, Gable, & Klassen, 2012). I also encourage my students to record their reading and come back to it to find flaws and mistakes. Remediation is vital for acquiring adequate literacy skills.
The content of this week’s module is directly connected to the Biblical worldview. The methods learned in the module promote literacy learning to every child, even with dyslexia. In the Bible, it is said: “until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4:13, New American Standard Bible). This implies that every person needs to be able to read Holy Scriptures, and the approaches learned in this module allow everyone to find great comfort in reading the Bible.
In conclusion, Guided Reading and Balanced Literacy methods do not apply to students with learning disabilities. Structural Literacy is more effective for dyslexia students as it is systematic, cumulative, and based on explicit instruction and diagnostic teaching. The OG method adds the idea of Structural Literacy by taking into consideration neuroscientific information and promoting multisensory learning. These methods are coherent with the Biblical worldview.
Henry, M.K. (1998). Structured, sequential, multisensory teaching: The Orton legacy. Annais of Dyslexia, 48, 3-26.
International Dyslexia Association. (2015). Effective reading instruction for students with dyslexia. Web.
Lee, G.-L., Gable, R., & Klassen, V. K. (2012). Effective reading remediation instructional strategies for struggling early readers. In 4th World Conference in Educational Sciences (WCES-2012), Barcelona, Spain. Web.
Niemanville. (2016). Maya’s Orton-Gillingham lesson. Web.