|Orton-Gillingham at Craig|
Dr. Samuel Orton (1879-1948), a professor of neuropsychiatry and neuropathology at Columbia University, was the first to suggest a physiological basis for reading disabilities apart from mental defects and brain damage. Anna Gillingham (1878-1964) was a psychologist and teacher at the Ethical Culture School in New York and after learning of Dr. Orton's work, became one of his research associates. The two were the first to bring together neuropsychiatric information with principles of remediation. Their collaborative efforts led to the formulation of a structured program for the remediation of dyslexia which has been in use since the 1930's and has generated a multitude of "Orton-Gillingham" based programs developed since that time.
The Orton-Gillingham approach is a structured, systematic phonics method that proceeds from the single sounds of speech presented to the student through visual, auditory, and proprioceptive pathways, hence the term "multisensory", to more complex phonograms, words, sentences and finally stories. Students learn to read, write and spell simultaneously. All Orton-Gillingham approaches are: language-based, multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative, cognitive and diagnostic, and prescriptive.
There are several organizations throughout the country that train teachers to administer the traditional Orton-Gillingham instruction and provide certification for those who master the principles. In addition, the original principles that define the Orton-Gillingham approach have given rise to many of the Orton-Gillingham based programs in use today, each with a comprehensive collection of teaching materials directed at various age levels, and each fully embracing a multisensory method of instruction.
At The Craig School, teachers administer a number of these programs including Project Read, Lindamood-Bell, the Wilson Reading System, Preventing Academic Failure, Blue Book, LiPS, and others. An experienced teacher will draw from several different programs in order to gear her or his strategy to the particular needs and learning style of the child.
It is generally viewed that reading comprehension is a controlled process (e.g. attention demanding) and decoding is an automatic process (not attention demanding). However, in some individuals, decoding has not become an automatic process and remains an attention demanding operation. Consequently, poor readers, who experience greater difficulty in breaking the spelling-to-sound code, are exposed to much less text than their more skilled peers and quickly lag behind in academic achievement.
At The Craig School each new student is tested for his/her ability in phonetic analysis. If the student is found to be in need of phonetic reinforcement, one of our three phonetic therapists will create an individualized, one-on-one program for the student based on a modified Orton-Gillingham method.
The Orton-Gillingham approach to the study of phonics uses auditory, visual, and kinesthetic cues to reinforce the decoding process during each stage of the program. The basis of the program is the sound-symbol-associative key-word method outlined in the Blue Book. Short vowel sounds are introduced and only when these essential sounds are mastered, are consonants and consonant blends introduced.
The mastery of phonic elements is reinforced as children read through the series of Let's Read books. The series progresses from monosyllables with short vowel sounds in Book 1 through more complex diphthongs, digraphs, suffixes and prefixes in Book 9. Oral reading, which includes self-correction based on Blue Book key-words is essential.
Syllabication begins as soon as the student has mastered the basic vowels and consonants. For students who do not automatically process reading, syllabication is considered essential to reading success. To those students handicapped by auditory confusion and by inability to quickly recognize words, syllabication offers an approach to their problem by eliminating guesswork.
These three basic instructional tools: The Blue Book associative keyword approach to phonics, the Let's Read Series, and the step-by-step syllabication instruction are the integral parts of the reading instruction at The Craig School.