Orton Gillingham Teaching Philosophy


The Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy is the go-to remedial tool for those with Dyslexia and works beautifully for anyone learning the English language. Sadly, there are many misconceptions about the Orton Gillingham Approach. It is my hope that this article clears up some of those misconceptions, as well as provides you with a synopsis of our Basic Language Course and Practicum Extension for those wishing to learn the Orton Gillingham Approach.


Frequently asked questions:

  • Who owns the Orton Gillingham Approach?
  • Is the Orton Gillingham Approach a scripted curriculum?
  • Is the Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy a framework teachers can use to teach several subject areas?
  • If I do not receive my Orton Gillingham certification from a “magical” place, will it make a difference in the lives of my students/children?

I will take the questions above and flesh out each to hopefully bring clarity to some of the common misconceptions.

Who owns the Orton Gillingham Approach?

Who owns the Orton Gillingham Approach? No one. The Orton Gillingham Approach has been around since the 1930s and it is a teaching philosophy. The Approach is not owned by any agency or organization. Having said that, there are many learned individuals who have developed their own programs & accreditation standards that have spun off of the Orton Gillingham Approach.  

The Orton Gillingham Online Academy practicum supervisors are experts in the field of Dyslexia & O-G. One is the International Dyslexia Association Branch President for the state of Indiana & an O-G Certified Master Trainer through IDA. Another is a Florida State University professor with 35 years of experience working in the field of Dyslexia and O-G (O-G trained by Dr. Marge Tillman & David Schenck). Another has a doctorate in curriculum and Administration and is a Reading Specialist who has spent years facilitating O-G trainings for teachers across the country. Our staff is highly qualified and gifted to provide the scaffolding needed to guide our participants successfully through the certification process.

If we are going to truly make a difference in the lives of those with Dyslexia, it is vital that we work together as a team and to collaborate with one another. The Orton Gillingham Online Academy has students from all across the globe. Paths are appearing where they have never been before. We have course participants from Thailand, Singapore, Mongolia, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, Indian reservations in the United States, and several remote areas that would not have had access to the Orton Gillingham Approach if it were not for our academy. 

Dr. Orton and Anna Gillingham came up with this amazing philosophy, now, let us get it out there to make the world of difference for those with Dyslexia!

Is the Orton Gillingham Approach a scripted curriculum?

Many believe the Orton Gillingham trainings teach a curriculum, or a scripted program. The Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy is a framework and NOT a program. During our Orton Gillingham training, trainees will learn the elements that must be included in every lesson and how to incorporate those elements. There are many agencies offering Orton Gillingham training. Some agencies may provide a handful of resources and the trainees are expected to plan and deliver their lessons on their own, with very little guidance other than to follow the framework. Others may provide scads of materials for the trainees to use in their planning, as well as unlimited mentorship from OG experts.

The materials that Orton Gillingham Online Academy provide for those taking our coursework have been created & forged over many years of teaching and experience. There is a school of thought that materials and prepared lessons should never be provided during OG trainings, as this takes away from the diagnostic and prescriptive essential elements. However, we know that teachers are busy, and that prep time is limited. The plethora of materials we provide as a part of our training serve as a guide, and our prepared lesson plans can and should be tweaked to best meet the varying needs of the students.

Is the Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy a framework teachers can use to teach several subject areas?

The Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy provides the teacher a framework for delivering successful lessons; therefore, it is best teaching practices to use this framework across curricular areas. Whether a teacher is teaching reading, science, math, or history, teaching in such a way that is multisensory, cognitive, cumulative, synthetic & analytic, sequential, structured, diagnostic & prescriptive is the way all lessons should be planned and executed for an optimal learning experience.

If I do not receive my Orton Gillingham certification from a “magical” place, will it make a difference in the lives of my students/children?

Many school districts, parents, teachers, & therapists are confused about just where and who to turn to for “THE” Orton Gillingham training. There seems to be a misconception that this training must be delivered by a specific Orton Gillingham “place” out there somewhere. Yet, when they begin to search for answers, they notice many options available, which adds to the confusion. They read and are told that there is only one place that they can turn to for Orton Gillingham certification. Inevitably, the questions then arise, “Who are all of these other agencies and organizations that offer Orton Gillingham training if indeed there is only ONE place to turn? Are they not of value? Are they not making a difference in the lives of individuals who need the Orton Gillingham Approach the most?

Our course facilitators have over a hundred years of combined experience teaching children with Dyslexia using the Orton Gillingham Approach. Our student data speaks volumes about the efficacy of our coursework. Below is just a few of our many graphs to show student progress using the principles and philosophy taught in our courses.


First Benchmark Assessment:


Second Benchmark Assessment:


First Benchmark Assessment (second student on 10/18/14):

Second Benchmark Assessment (3/10/15):

Third Benchmark Assessment (8/11/15):

Fourth Benchmark Assessment (5/9/16):

Now, some may look at these data points and be mystified that it took a year and a half to achieve the skills noted in benchmark four. Keep in mind, this student began her remedial intervention in second grade and was severely behind her grade-level peers (as noted on her first benchmark assessment). The remedial process is a marathon and not a sprint. This student had to exert a lot of cognitive effort to achieve such amazing results and at the same time, keep up with her regular school work and extracurricular activities. I question programs that promise an overnight fix.


Now that we have addressed some of the misconceptions about the Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy, I am going to dedicate the rest of this article to providing for you a snapshot of our Basic Language Course (OG Level 1) & Practicum Extension. The content and materials embedded in our Level 1 course revolves around the Orton Gillingham lesson plan. Below gives a nice pictorial of what is covered in this course:




Our Orton Gillingham Comprehensive course work is based on Orton Gillingham principles. This Basic Language Course (Level 1) is all-inclusive and will send you on your way to teach foundational literacy skills using this amazing, research-based approach.


Included in this Course:


  • Overview of Dyslexia and the Orton Gillingham Approach
  • All components of a successful Orton Gillingham lesson
  • Initial and benchmark assessments
  • Teaching resources
  • Demonstration videos
  • Unlimited access to course content


After completion of the Orton Gillingham comprehensive course requirements, the academy will award participants with a certificate of completion.


An outline of the modules included in the Basic Language Level 1 course are as follows: 

  • Introduction & Welcome
  • Module # 1: Basic Language Pretest
  • Module # 2: Introduction to Dyslexia 
  • Module # 3: Overview of the Orton Gillingham Approach 
  • Module # 4: Overview of the Orton Gillingham Lesson Plan
  • Module # 5: Initial Assessments & Lesson Plans
  • Module # 6: Orton Gillingham Visual Drill
  • Module # 7: Orton Gillingham Auditory Drill
  • Module # 8: Orton Gillingham Blending Drill 
  • Module # 9: Introduction of a New Phonogram 
  • Module #10: Orton Gillingham Spelling 
  • Module # 11: Orton Gillingham Reading
  • Module # 12: Non-phonetic Sight Words (Red Words)
  • Module # 13: Basic Language Midterm
  • Module # 14: Syllabication 
  • Module # 15: Handwriting 
  • Module # 16: Multisensory Grammar
  • Module # 17: Spelling Patterns & Rules
  • Module # 18: Complete Lesson Demonstration 
  • Module # 19: Final Exam 
  • Module # 20: Video Observation Assignment

The course comes with all necessary materials to deliver successful Orton Gillingham lessons.

Click here to Read the FAQs


The Orton Gillingham Online Academy offers certification in Level 1 Basic Language. This Orton Gillingham Level 1 Practicum Extension involves 108 hours of practicum supervised & mentored by an Orton Gillingham specialist.


NOTE: This practicum extension is only available to those who have successfully completed the Basic Language (Level 1) course.


Included in this Course:


  • Assigned supervisor/mentor
  • Ongoing support
  • Detailed lesson planning feedback
  • A complete portfolio
  • Letter of recommendation
  • Certification


After completion of the Orton Gillingham Practicum Extension requirements, the academy will award participants with a letter of recommendation and Level 1 certification.


An outline of the Level 1 Practicum Extension requirements is as follows:


Following the Level 1 Scope & Sequence (suggested order of presentation of phonemes, rules, & patterns), the practicum student will submit the following required assignments:


  • Lesson 1: Video submission of open/closed syllable patterns 
  • Lesson 2: Video submission of /sh/ lesson
  • Lessons 3-9: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 10: Video submission of /all/ lesson
  • Lessons 11-13: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 14: Video submission of /-nk/ lesson (-ink, -ank, -onk, -unk)
  • Lessons 15-20: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 21: Video submission of silent-e lesson (magic e)
  • Lessons 22-32: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 33: Video submission of the stick vowel rule lesson (soft c) 
  • Lessons 34-49: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 50: Video submission of /oa/ lesson
  • Lessons 51-64: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 65: Video submission of /-dge/ lesson (soldier rule #2) 
  • Lessons 66-69: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 70: Video submission of VC/CCV lesson
  • Lessons 71-82: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 83: Video submission of /-sion/ lesson (voiced and unvoiced)
  • Lessons 84-91: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 92: Video submission of /augh/ lesson
  • Lessons 93-100: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback
  • Lesson 101: Video submission of /sc/ lesson (stick vowel rule) 
  • Lessons 102-108: Lesson plan submissions with reflective feedback


Additionally, a portfolio will be submitted to the practicum supervisor upon completion of the practicum requirements. The portfolio provides an opportunity for the Practicum Extension participant to summarize the experience and to reflect on knowledge and insight gleaned during the practicum.


Below I will cover the following commonly asked questions:

  • What items are needed during an OG lesson?
  • How do I edit my OG lesson plan?
  • What do I need to consider during an OG lesson?
  • What is involved during the first day assessment for pre-readers?

What you will need with you when you tutor:

  • Lesson plans
  • Phonogram deck
  • Notebook paper and/or primary paper
  • Multisensory tools: TacScreen, carpet sample (often carpet warehouses will donate a carpet sample if they know it is for a good cause. I have collected several over the years), small sand tray, drawing app on iPad, waffle canvas, or any other tactile surface
  • Mirror (for the student to see mouth, lips, & teeth placement of a sound when necessary.)
  • Pencils (more than one) and pens
  • Red pencil or pen for red words
  • Blue or green crayon
  • Note cards for red words
  • Book for student to read 
  • Kleenex (small pocket pack is plenty)


  • Dry erase board with markers & eraser
  • Educational Games (only if time after complete lesson has been delivered.)

How to Edit your lesson plan:

Before the lesson:

  • Make sure your lesson has a review of the sounds or rules you have recently introduced.
  • Make sure you have allotted equal time for all of the essential parts of your lesson plan (drill work, spelling, & reading)
  • Did you plan for using all pathways of learning in the drill work (visual, auditory, & kinesthetic/tactile)?
  • Based on your assessment of your previous lesson, did you include in this lesson areas with which the student had difficulty in the last lesson?
  • Be sure the spelling section contains concepts, rules, &/or sounds the student has already been introduced to, including the newly introduced in this lesson.
  • Have you selected reading materials that are right for your student? Be prepared for teachable moments should the student come across unfamiliar words. Be sure to have a back-up plan should your selected book be too difficult for the student.

After your lesson:

  • As a reflective practitioner, it is important to assess each lesson. Were there any areas of difficulty? How did your student perform? Were you able to get through all essential parts of the lesson in the allotted time, or did you plan too much or too little for one lesson?
  • Did you document your student’s areas of difficulty?
  • Did you have all the supplies you needed to deliver a successful lesson plan?

*NOTE – It is okay to divert off the lesson plan only when necessary to take care of any unforeseen struggle your student may be having.

To consider during a lesson:

*NOTE – As mentioned, it is important to be a reflective practitioner & the best way to do that is to actively analyze strengths & weaknesses during a lesson, as well as document any areas the student may need additional review.

  • Keep distractions in the learning venue as minimal as possible.
  • It is good to watch the time during your lesson to make sure you are giving an equal amount of time to all parts of the lesson.
  • Be sure your supplies are easily accessible to minimize any delays in the lesson.
  • Be sure to give your student ample positive reinforcement during a lesson. This is very difficult work for them and they will need continual incentive to keep up optimal effort.
  • If your student is writing on an iPad with a drawing app, on a wipe off board, sand tray or any such surfaces other than paper, be sure to record any of your student’s mistakes so you can add those concepts, sounds, or rules in subsequent reviews.
  • There will be times you will need to divert off your plan to best meet the needs of your student. During these times you will want to make certain all aspects of your lesson is fair for your student. For example, if you skip the part of the lesson where you introduce something new to your student, you will want to make certain you do not add that new sound or rule to your spelling or reading portion of the lesson.
  • USE ALL MODALITIES OF LEARNING IN EVERY LESSON (Does your student SEE it, HEAR it, FEEL it, and SAY it in every lesson? Be sure he does all correctly before you move on to something new.

First day assessment for pre-readers:

  1. Introduction, establish a rapport with the student.
  2. Discuss with the student why s/he is being tutored. Discuss the alphabetic principle at a level that the child can understand (i.e. Every letter of our alphabet has a sound and we put those sounds together to make words).
  3. Ask the student to say the alphabet and record the student’s responses.
  4. Ask the student to write the alphabet in order.
  5. Ask the student to count orally and record the student’s responses.
  6. Ask the student to start at one and write the numbers in order.
  7. Administer the OG visual drill cards, just the single consonants and vowels. Ask them for the name of the letter and ask if they know the sound that the letter makes.
  8. Administer the auditory drill, only with the cards that the child could identify the sounds during the visual drill.
  9. Try blending drill with only the cards that the student was able to identify correctly in the visual and auditory drills.
  10. Bring an enjoyable book to read to the child.
  11. Lesson Closure: Always end on a positive note.

I hope this article provides you with a nice overview of the Orton Gillingham teaching philosophy, as well as a snapshot of what we offer in our Basic Language Course and our Practicum Extension. This course is comprehensive and comes with everything needed to deliver successful OG lessons to your students/children. For further information on this course, click on the following link:

OGOA Basic Language Course

Practicum Extension

Keep doing what you are doing because the world needs what only you have to offer.


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