Orton-Gillingham methodology says to be structured and flexible?! But, how can I do both?
There is no doubt that Orton-Gillingham (OG) asks a lot of the interventionist. Following a curriculum is definitely a huge help because a good OG curriculum will be structured, sequential and cumulative. In other words, each lesson will be structured around the core components of Orton-Gillingham including practicing phoneme sounds, reading words based on taught patterns, spelling words based on spelling patterns and rules, sight word practice, morphology, vocabulary, and reading & writing comprehension. Each lesson will be sequential in its order and cumulative, starting with simpler reading concepts and building to more complex concepts. Take a look at our Smart ALEC Scope & Sequence for a clearer picture of a sequential and cumulative curriculum.
Good OG instruction does not just hit on all the key components of a lesson in each lesson, but rather it starts with the simpler topics growing in a sequential and cumulative manner. Throughout good OG instruction we as interventionists should be keeping track of the concepts we have taught so that we don’t ask our student to read something we have not taught them yet, though this absolutely happens from time to time and my students will always say “Becky, I don’t know that yet.” and I will reply with “Ah, yes, you are right I have not taught you that yet.” This is all to say sometimes it’s hard to keep track of all the phonemes, all the spelling rules, all the morphology - what can I say, OG asks a lot of the interventionist! But, we have some helpful FREE tracking tools coming at you in next week’s email.
And then, there is the one extra kicker, the one final twist that OG throws at you - flexible instructions! WHAT?! really?! It needs to be structured, sequential, cumulative, AND flexible! When you're first starting out this really feels like an unfair and absurd expectation. But, what does this mean and how can we help you achieve this standard?
If you have access to a solid OG curriculum that is structured, sequential, and cumulative than achieving the standard of flexible is a lot easier. With a solid curriculum as your base, you can start to be creative, fun, and flexible. This really means paying attention to your student. What are they struggling with? What comes easily to them? What just won't stick even though you have gone over it many, many times?
Being flexible means slowing down and staying on one lesson for two sessions if needed, speeding up and challenging your higher level student to apply their knowledge beyond just the questions on the page, and finally, adding in extra work only in the area that you see the student needs. With your subscription to Smart ALEC you will have access to extra materials and work sheets in order to more easily make the lessons flexible.
Staying flexible can also look like making the lessons individualized - you know your student, you know what video games, sports, books, movies, animals they love and can talk for hours about - pepper in references. The other day I was teaching one of my students ‘oy’ and he had previously told me his favorite baseball team was the Kansas City Royals, so I added this into his decoding words and to his spelling words and when I played a game of hangman with him where the phrase was Kansas City Royals. These are all ways to keep it flexible while still using a structured, sequential and cumulative curriculum.