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We have been using the amazing Orton Gillingham Method for several years now. If you need a run down on what O.G. is and who needs it, start here.
As we have dialed in our reading instruction to be more systematic and based in science, we have seen such tremendous growth in our students’ literacy skills and ability. And, multi-sensory, a major characteristic of the Orton Gillingham method, makes it more fun!
There are so many incredible instructional resources and ideas out there. We have narrowed it down to our FAVORITE 15! While most of these resources pertain to phonological awareness and phonics, know that Orton GIllingham techniques and philosophies should be implemented in all 5 components of reading. Today’s focus is on foundational skills; stay tuned for our fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension favorites too!
These 15 are not in any particular order. Although, if they were, this might just make #1. Elkonin boxes are used to help students isolate and identify the individual phonemes (or sounds) in word. They are great because they make something abstract, tangible. Our routine is to say a word. Students repeat the whole word. Then, a chip or object is pushed up one at a time as the sound is said in isolation. Then, the word is blended back together again. Deletion, substituation, and other basic and advanced phonemic awareness skills can also be taught and practiced. We love to keep it fresh and fun by using seasonal Elkonin Boxes and fun, new objects. You can find these templates in our Free Resource Library monthly. See Elkonin Boxes in action here.
If you have been researching the science of reading, you know how vital explicit, direct instruction is. Cracking the code of language does not happen naturally for most children. These E.T. (Explicit Teaching) card decks will help you teach the letter(s) or graphemes with their corresponding sounds or phonemes. They include a key word so the letter and sound is anchored to a real object.There is a Basic ET set and a Vowel Teams set. Both can be purchased as a bundle in our Reading Rev Shop or separately here. You can also use these videos for online practice: Primary ET drill, Vowel Teams ET drill. Remember, practice and repetition are key components in Orton Gillingham!
I saw this suggestion on a social media post and it may be my very favorite resource! It takes the idea of Elkonin boxes and phoneme isolation and allows you to add letters. Recent research is showing that phonological and phonemic awareness can be strengthened by allowing students to use and see the letters. Best practices in Phonological and Phonemic Awareness instruction are being debated, but the truth is that using magnetic ten frames allows students to practice several key foundational reading skills at the same time! In this video you can see students reviewing previously taught concepts that the teacher recognized needed more practice. You can find our favorite ten frames here.
The next MUST-HAVE is a phoneme card deck and blending board. These are often common-place when talking about O.G., but it’s because the impact is great. The first step is to review the sound(s) each letter makes in isolation. These can be simple consonants, advanced vowel teams, or even affixes! The second step is to blend those phonemes on the blending board. Here’s the magic… most of the “words” that end up being made are nonsense or not real words. This forces students to actually use the phonetic patterns to decode the words instead of reciting words they have previously orthographically mapped or memorized. Here is a 3 part-drill explanation and here it is modeled with first graders. Don’t underestimate the value of this drill for older students and more advanced phonetic concepts! Blending and reading nonsense syllables will help your students be able to tackle multi-syllabic words. Our favorite phoneme card deck comes from Brainspring. Our favorite blending board is an Etsy find where you’ll get to support a Colorado small business!
Sand trays are another O.G. favorite. While the blending board reinforces decoding (or reading), the sand tray reinforces letter-sound connection and then encoding (or spelling). It also is a great place to teach and reinforce letter formation. When spelling, students need to be able to think of a sound and write its corresponding letter. The tricky part is there is often more than one letter or grapheme that can create that sound. This exercise gives students lots of practice with identifying and forming the letters and then later, choosing the appropriate letter when they are spelling. Explicit instruction on how to use the sand is a must and will save your sanity. We buy our varying coarse and color sand from Michaels and our trays are cookie sheets from the dollar store.
Letter tiles give students a chance to think about the sounds and letters that make up a word without the task of letter formation and writing. It is a fun, safe way to play with word building. Letter tiles can be used in many different ways for students of all ages. We love using letter tiles to show syllable division. You can see that in action here.
There are several great magnetic letter tiles out there. We especially love the Wilson Magnetic Letters for building single syllable words. We also love paper tiles so digraphs and multiple letter graphemes (like -ll) can be on the same tile. These can be laminated and are cost effective. Simple scrabble tiles and alphabet fridge magnets are also easy to find. We then just add our vowel team or phonetic pattern in the mix! There is even an electronic version of letter tiles by Really Great Reading.
Probably our single most used resources are our Sound Box and Syllable Scoops templates. We use these two template EVERY SINGLE DAY! Both of these templates can be found in any of the sample weekly units in Reading Rev’s Free Resource Library. We put them back to back in a page protector and students can write on them with a dry erase marker. These fine point, eraser-included white board markers are perfect.
Use the sound boxes for single syllable words and the syllable scoops for multisyllabic words. You can see both modeled in this lesson.
When we first set out on our Structured Literacy journey, we found that we would teach a concept, complete some amazing practice sheets and activities, and move on. Then later, we’d realize a student was struggling with a concept, but we couldn’t go back and reference what had been previously learned. That’s when we created the Everything Reading Notebook. It is a build-as-you-go guidebook for all 5 components of reading. It can be created in a composition notebook or can be printed for students who need more visual support. You can hear all about it here!
Pocket charts are fairly new in our list of O.G. Must-Haves. We are loving the simple, non-tech way that pocket charts let us practice fluently reading word lists. They are great to sort words into patterns and endless repetition is possible.
We love double sided pocket charts so they can be flipped around for different ability groups or patterns. We even found one with green, yellow, and red so we could distiguish between green and red words! Table pocket charts are also a new find and are great for small group or one-on-one instruction.
Kids often dread worksheets and packets. And, the “aaahhhhaaa” moments usually come when skills are reinforced with practice that is fun, light-hearted, and instant feedback can be given. We use student white boards all the time for this reason! Word chains, games, and contests can all be done easily with wipe boards and dry erase markers. You can find out more about our favorite games here.
We also discoved Syllable Boards by Really Great Reading. Each syllable goes on its own board. Guess how many boards you need for “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?” We know because we did it! Students were shocked and thrilled that we could actually read and spell this word by breaking it into syllables! And, each syllable needs a working vowel. Because vowels are royal, we put a crown on them. To find out just how special we make vowels, read this “It’s Always About the Vowel!” blog. You can find the mini crowns here.
Red Words (or Heart Words) is another O.G. standard. Writing the words with a crayon over a screen provides tacile sensory imput. You can read all about teaching red words and get a great tutorial here .
Our latest red word hack is to create a red word mini-notebook. Before, we had red word papers everywhere and it was hard to go back and practice. This allows students to retrace, read, and practice their red words. After a student has proven mastery in both reading and spelling the word, that page can then be torn out so new red words are the focus.
No matter what grade you teach, it is important that you are following a scope and sequence. It’s also crucial that all students receive phonics instruction. Even your proficient readers need explicit phonics and morphology instruction! If they don’t get it, they will most likely eventually struggle to decode long, unfamiliar words and spelling will be an issue. Our favorite way to ensure all students get what they need is to teach a phonetic pattern to the whole group and then differentiate the words students are practicing. Our word lists have basic, intermediate, and advanced words for each of the 36 patterns. These lists are a HUGE teacher time saver, and can be found in our Free Resource Library! You can find our scope and sequence there too!
Reading instruction should be FUN! If your phonics and reading lessons are boring, you aren’t doing it right! Wear the silly shirts. Practice with games. Perform Reader’s Theaters. Have award shows. Read and make recipes. Create silly words. Bring in props. Have contests and showdowns. DO ALL THE THINGS to bring reading instruction to life. It matters. Kids will learn more, perform better, and will never forget it.
There has been so much conversation about decodables lately, and for good reason. If you would like to know more, start here.
Please remember that by definition, a decodable is a text in which the child reading it has been taught the phonetic patterns and irregular words within. That means a decodable text for an emergent kindergartener is going to look different than a decodable text for a third grader working on advanced vowel teams.
Here is a compolation of many amazing decodable resources both free and for purchase. We did not create the original, but have added on to many others’ great input. You can also find Reading Rev Decodable samples for older students in the Free Resource Library.
This is our latest soap box. Research shows the correlation between penmanship and literacy. Please take the time to teach your young learners correct pencil grip and letter formation. It is much more difficult to go back and remediate later after bad habits have been formed. Dedicate time and energy to explicit instruction in penmanship. We love these tactile lower and upper case letter cards by Didax. We also recommend teaching cursive. Here is why.
Kids also LOVE writing with fun pens, smelly markers, and highlighters. Place a jar of Flair Pens out and call them “teacher pens.” These teacher pens can be used when corrrecting their own work. It suddenly feels like fun and the correcting process is not as dreaded!
We could go on and on. We laminate everything and the personal laminater is the BEST! We use clear bingo chips on Elkonin boxes, to highlight a pattern in text, or as game pieces. Put anything you can in a page protector so it can be reused…
Finally, help students bridge phonics and comprehension. Point out patterns in real, authentic, high interest texts. Read picture books and have rich, engaging conversations about them. You are never to old for a great picture book!
The truth is, you could get every single one of these amazing resources, and it might not be enough. Without an understanding of how reading development works and why each of these resources is helpful, you will not see your students’ optimal growth. Systematic literacy instruction takes a knowledgable teacher who understands how to assess, teach, monitor progress, and remediate.
If you would like to have this knowledge, join our 3-day Orton Gillingham class this June 13-15 or July 11-13. Accredited through Colorado School of Mines and worth 1.5 credit hours for license renewal and lane change credits, this class could change everything.
Hurry! Space is limited. Early Bird Pricing good through May 1, 2022! Find out more HERE!