Orton Gillingham for All

SOS – A Technique to Save Spelling

In learning through OG, words are broken down into the REVLOC system and pronounced by rules. But what about sight words? Those pesky words that do not follow the rules and you just have to memorize.

OG has that covered too. I would like to introduce a learning technique called SOS. This stands for Simultaneous Oral Spelling.  One thing to remember to digest this technique is that Orton Gillingham uses multi-sensory tools to learn the English language. We want to see it, feel it and hear it – all of “it.”

Learning to spell can be challenging for anyone, but throw in a word that makes no sense in its spelling and it can throw a person for a real loop. The word might be digested only to have letters transposed or the spelling forgotten again.

That is where SOS can come in handy.

Let’s use the word, Said. In this word, the “ai” sounds like a short “e” sound.

This is sight word. There’s nothing to group it with.

In the SOS method someone would:

1.  Pronounce the word.  Say, “said.”

2.  Analyze the word. In said, the trouble area would be that the ai sounds like short e.

3.  Copy the word, naming each letter as you write it. For younger children you would have it on a word-card.

4.  Study the spelling. Look at it closely. It is spelled strangely! Talk about it.

5.  With a pencil (or fingers for younger children who have word cards), trace the word while naming each letter. Do this 3 times (VERY IMPORTANT to do it THREE times). After the word is traced, underline the word with a pencil or finger moving from left to write.

In our example word, said, trace the word three times while naming letters: “s-a-i-d – said” “s-a-i-d said”  “s-a-i-d said” (Underline the word each time with a pencil or finger)

6.  Hide the word (or if using a word-card turn it over); write the word on paper. Name each letter as you write. In our example: “said)

Write the word from memory – read – check – cover

Write the word from memory – read – check – cover

Write the word from memory – read – check – cover

7.  Read the word you just wrote. Check against the traced word to make sure you are correct.

8.  Hide-Write-Read-Check until you have written the word three times correctly, from memory.

A word can usually be retired and considered learned after 10 times of being spelled correctly. But I would start the next lesson with the same word to be sure it is committed after a break from it.

Some unphonetic sight word examples are below.

These words are good to use the SOS technique with.

  • Pre-primer: a, come, one, said, the, to, two, where, is (these would be done on word-cards at this age)
  • Primer: are, as, do, four, have, pretty, there, they, want, was, what, who (could do a combination of word-cards and writing the words depending on level)
  • Grade 1: again, any, could, give, live, of, once, put, some, were, walk, know
  • Grade 2: been, buy, don’t, many, pull, their, very, would, your
  • Grade 3: carry, does, done, full, laugh, only, small
  • Grade 4 and above: again, also, always, blood, beautiful, build, calf, clothes, cough, courage, door, debt, doubt, enough, eye, February, flood, friend, from, goes, gone, guard, guest, guy, half, ocean, often, pull, push, son, should, talk, touch, though, Wednesday, whom, whose, wolf, worm.

These are just a few examples I used from the book, How to Teach Spelling.

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