Anna Gillingham first published her landmark manual in 1936, with later editions in 1946, 1956, and in 1960. She, and her long time associate Bessie Stillman, spent years creating and developing a sequential, graphemic-phonemic multi-sensory approach to teaching reading. They realized that alphabetic phonics, in which phonograms are taught and used to construct words, was the key to help all children to gain the automaticity to read. They painstakingly developed a way to see how language develops from single, closed syllables, through syllables containing digraphs and diphthongs, to the multi-syllabic words that make up our ability to communicate. So thorough was their work, that no better teaching of language and reading has ever been produced, nor could ever be produced, because Gillingham and Stillman fully documented the development of reading.
Ultimately, the Orton-Gillingham approach should be used in all classroom settings, not just for the special education population. Certainly, the dyslexic student will benefit from the multi-sensory and structured approach to teaching language, as will the regular education student. The key to finally bring Anne Gillingham’s work to all students is the training of educators. This training can be done for all educators, in all types of classrooms. This training does not require the purchase of expensive textbooks series, software, and computers. The training will show teachers how to incorporate what they currently have in the classroom, while helping them to cross-reference materials with hand-made materials, classroom bulletin boards, and simple multi-sensory learning centers.
Orton-Gillingham is NOT a program with step by step “teacher speak.” Orton-Gillingham is the natural development of language. The well-trained educator would be someone who could teach a child how to read with just a pencil and some blank writing paper, if no other materials were available.
So, let the training of educators across the United States begin!
For more information on training, contact the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. This is a non-profit organization established under the New York State Department of Education, Board of Regents, to establish and maintain professional and ethical standards for educators and practitioners of the Orton-Gillingham Approach. The Academy does not sell or endorse any particular program. The Academy does offer educators the opportunity to take courses and complete practicums in order to obtain levels of proficiency: Associate Level, Certified Level, and Fellow. See the link to the Academy for more information.