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RSLI and The Orton-Gillingham Approach


Below lists the Orton-Gillingham specifications, along with explanations how our programs relate to this approach.

OG – Although dyslexic students share similarities, there are always differences. A proper OG approach must be personalized for each student.

RSLI – We rely on the instructor to determine how to personalize implementation of our reading programs. First, the proper program must be determined, which may or may not depend on age. For this, you must know the maturity level of your student, and know what he or she can handle. For example, a ten year old may see a long word list and immediately withdraw. This child may need our Blast Off to Reading program which has shorter lists and shorter exercises (longer word lists are in the back of the book if needed). Otherwise, a more confident ten year old may use A Workbook for Dyslexics.

When using our program(s), you may find that your student is remembering and applying everything that has been taught, therefore, there is no need for the intense review that is built in to the program. You may not have to go through each flash card, or do every exercise. This extra reinforcement is there, if needed. You may find that your student needs more practice than the program delivers. It is not difficult to find reinforcement materials to work on. With that said, our programs do not require that a sound or rule be mastered before moving on. The constant, built-in review will result in mastery at some point. On the occasion where it does not, supplemental material can certainly be applied.

OG – A multisensory approach using the eyes, ears, hands (tactile), and motion (kinesthetic) is needed.

RSLI – Our programs use a multisensory approach in that the eyes are used to read, the ears are used to hear what is read, and the hands are used to write. Sand or sky writing (the kinesthetic requirement) is often mentioned regarding this aspect of the OG approach, however, we only recommend this for the very young student who are still learning letter formations. Older students usually don’t need this, however, sometimes tactile practices are helpful in reinforcing direction of same shaped letters (such as ‘p’, ‘d’, and ‘b’). This is not included in our program, although recommendations to address number and letter reversals are included in the text. We do mention that one can create “feel boards” for the letters, or employ other types of tactile ideas such as sand writing if the instructor feels it would be helpful.

OG – The student must be monitored continuously throughout instruction in order to assess progress and areas that are problematic. Data will be used in moving forward to develop a lesson that is prescriptive (designed specifically for the student).

RSLI – Since our programs are designed for one-on-one, it is natural that the instructor will continuously monitor his or her student. As our programs are laid out and already structured, the instructor does not have to carefully plan the next lesson. While this does not make for a tailored instruction (specifically for a particular student) the review given and the lessons are meant to negate the possibility of missing a sound or rule, and to offer practice (if needed). We do recommend that, after a lesson has been taught, that phonics related games be played. This is where tailoring comes in. Games should be selected based on where practice is most needed. For this we recommend tablet or PC apps (some are specific to our programs – such as Bitsboard, for the iPad, or Starfall Learn to Read), or other games that we offer on our website (which are all tailored to our program).

OG – Direct instruction that explains to the student what is to be learned, why it’s to be learned and how it’s to be learned.

RSLI – Each lesson states what is to be taught (and learned), clearly, usually at the top of the first page. For students who are older, our program may also give a bit of history, why a word is spelled the way it is. For example, ‘ch’ as the /k/ sound is usually found in a word that is technical in nature, and these word are of Greek origin. We also like students to reach conclusions for themselves. For example, listen to the past tense words “jumped”, do you hear the ‘ed’ at the end? How about the word “listed”?  As for how a sound or rule is to be learned, after the first few lessons, students will know what to expect, since the structure is consistent throughout our programs.

OG - Phonics must be taught stressing that words are made up of individual speech sounds and letters represent those sounds.

RSLI – In our programs, the sounds, as well as the letters that make up those sounds, are taught in accordance with speech. This is done systematically from the most used sounds to the least.

OG – Applied linguistics should be taught, which includes syllabic, syntactic, morphemic, and grammar. This is done by using reading, spelling and writing to involve the student in the integration of our language. In addition, language patterns regarding sentence structure and word order should be addressed, as well as common patterns and sentence formation typically used by writers.

RSLI – Our programs teach the smallest units of sounds, to the more complex, along with examples of how words can morph into other words by adding a suffix (and, for our older program for older students, a prefix). Grammar, however, is not emphasized, since our programs primarily teach decoding. Students will receive a lot of practice reading and writing sentences, in which they will see many examples of complete sentences. Some aspects of ELA will be addressed, since they are necessary to understand the meaning of a sentence (such as apostrophes for ownership). Once long vowels are taught, instructors are urged to start their student in reading books, where the instructor guides the student with his/her finger.  Books should be selected based on what the student would find enjoyable.  Our goal is to develop a love of reading, and once we find an author or a subject matter that the student loves, we try to “hook” them, and then, with every book that a student reads, he or she will be closer to fluency. In addition to fluency, the student’s writing will improve since he/she will become more familiar with the written word.

OG – Reading should be taught in a systematic, structured manner. The order should be presented with thought on the relationship between material previously taught and currently taught. This should be sequential, incremental and cumulative. From the least complex to the more complex, only after mastery.

RSLI – All of our programs are extremely structured, systematic, sequential and cumulative. Once a new sound or rule is introduced, it will be incorporated in many future lessons.  Review will also be done by the flash cards for further repetition. We don’t, however, wait for mastery of a concept to move on. Our experience has shown that when a student gets hung up on a particular sound or rule, they don’t need to stop learning. Since the problematic concept will be seen many times, at some point the concept will “stick”, and the student will “get it”. If we stall the program for mastery, the chance that the student will become frustrated will increase, and boredom may set in. In addition, studies have shown that the longer a program takes, the less effective it is. We like to keep moving. Instructors should make mental notes of the areas that are problematic and reinforce the material by way of phonics related games.


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