Orton Gillingham Coaching: Scope & Sequence, Should I Use One? What Does Multi-Sensory Look Like?

Scope & Sequence, the Way to See the Macro & Micro of OG

Your Orton Gillingham Scope and Sequence is your roadmap as a teacher, and it can also serve as a check-list. It’s a great way to see the broad picture of your subject.

Many curriculums that are as comprehensive as OG come with a scope and sequence. In the OGforALL Scope and Sequence Workbooks, each book comes with a broad scope and sequence as well as a smaller, “what’s in the book,” scope and sequence.

How Do You Know it’s an OG Scope & Sequence?

Orton Gillingham starts with the most basic unit of sound, the phoneme, and builds a connection between the sounds (auditory) of letters with what a student sees (visually) and writes or feels (kinesthetic).

This is the three-prong, multi-sensory approach that makes Orton Gillingham, Orton Gillingham. Multi-sensory is effective because it helps imprint pathways in the brain. By using the three ways of learning each lesson, the pathways are reinforced.

What does that have to do with the Scope & Sequence in Orton Gillingham? It means that even though you may find the letters and concepts in a slightly different order in OG Scope and Sequences, if it doesn’t start with letter sounds and it’s not multi-sensory, it’s not an Orton Gillingham approach you are teaching.

How Important is It in OG to Follow a Scope & Sequence?

If you look up “Orton Gillingham Scope & Sequence” on the Internet, you will find different versions. And, you may have a curriculum you already use that has a scope and sequence in it, but how important it is to follow it?

It’s fine to play around with the order based on the needs of your student, but it’s important to have a scope and sequence and follow it as closely as you can, because OG is an approach that is known as sequential, at least in a semi-specific order, and it is cumulative – each lesson builds on the next.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do an assessment of your students. Here is a free assessment from Florida Department of Education.

Assessments help know where a student is in the learning process and help cater to that student’s needs, but I always start from the beginning of my scope and sequence.

When I took my first OG course I had no idea that S said /s/ and /z/, or that you could “read” a letter or “spell” a letter. This information was all new to me – new and fascinating!

An “Ah-Ha” Moment

Early in working with kids, I had a second grader who struggled with spelling and I saw him have an “ah ha” moment. They gave me his sight word list every week, and I covered those words in his lesson, but I also went through the Consonant and Vowel Reading Decks. I went through the syllable patterns and some short vowel rules.

Suddenly, I got the word that he was “cured!” and doing much better. I believe just knowing the sounds of the letters caught him up in his learning. This was just a student struggling with spelling because he didn’t know that letters made multiple sounds or how to put them together properly. Having rules associated with letters and syllables helped him, even in his sight words.

An Example on Multi-Sensory

A multi-sensory lesson asks the student to use three senses to learn. Auditory, visual and kinesthetic.

As an example, we will use the letter M

Associating a letter (visually) with the name of the letter (auditory).

Using the Reading Consonant card with M on it.

  • Teacher: what is this letter name? And the keyword.
  • Student: M, magnet (or man)

Then, associating the letter (visually) with the sound of the letter (auditory)

  • Teacher: What does it say? And what’s the keyword.
  • Student: /m/, magnet (or man)

Then, associating the letter with the feel of the letter in the mouth – say it – as the student says either the name of the letter or the sound of the letter while tracing the letter – either writing on paper or in a sensory method like these sandpaper cards. I also have the student say the keyword when tracing the letters.

All of this is to reinforce retention and recall with your student.

The “M” example is to show multi-sensory in action in a simple way. In other lessons, you would do dictation for the auditory and kinesthetic lessons by having a student write what they hear as a word, phrase or sentence, and read out loud what is written. You can also do phonemic awareness exercises, and much more.

Final Word

The scope and sequence should start with letters – sounds with key words and letter formation – using the multi-sensory approach. 

There’s nothing wrong with changing things around in a scope and sequence based on your needs as a teacher or tutor – you know your students! But, following it as closely as possible is a good idea. Using a scope and sequence is very helpful in seeing Orton Gillingham as a whole, as well as the cumulative affect it has. The bottom line is, the scope and sequence is the ship, but you are its captain.

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