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All students in the classroom benefit from an Orton-Gillingham program because this approach explicitly and systematically includes instruction in decoding, encoding and comprehension strategies that are necessary for students to become strong readers. Bringing the Orton-Gillingham approach into a classroom is a huge advantage for all students, but especially for those students that are struggling.  Here are some ways that a teacher can set up the Orton-Gillingham classroom with whole and small group instruction so that all students in the classroom will benefit.

Whole Group Instruction with Orton-Gillingham

It is important that the teacher always begin with a whole group instruction.  This allows the teacher an opportunity to introduce the target skill being taught to the whole class before breaking up into groups and stations.  Together as a class the teacher can review the phonograms, spelling rules and syllable types using anchor charts and teacher/class interaction.  Because the Orton-Gillingham approach is focused on teaching one skill at a time, this allows the teacher to really dig into the target lesson and also include a quick review of already learned concepts.  This is an ideal time to use:

  • Daily Sound Card Review
  • Introduction of a New Concept (picture page, keyword)
  • Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Activities


Stations in the Orton-Gillingham Classroom

Because the heart of the work that needs to be done in the Orton-Gillingham classroom is during small group instruction, the teacher will need to utilize classroom stations for students to work independently or with partners  to make the small group instruction time effective.

These stations are basically centers where students can spend time interacting and practicing the new concept the teacher introduced during whole group instruction. If a teacher has any classroom volunteers, this would be the place to set them up for additional assistance.

The teacher will set up multiple stations around the classroom. The students will rotate from station to station during small group instruction.  The structure and routine will stay the same at each station throughout the year – only the concept that is being taught will change from week to week.  There will be times when stations can be set up for 2 weeks depending on the difficulty of the concept that is being taught.

Each station can be set up as:

Station 1 – Red Words

This station will include Red Word (sight word) work. You can have the students use sand trays to spell a list of words, or trace sight words with crayons on a bumpy surface. You can also have sight word flashcards, and students can practice together with partners. Memory game sight words or bingo games with the group works well here too.  Each week post a new list of sight words that you want the students to work on.

Station 2 – Letter Tiles

This station will include letter tiles and word building activities for the students. Have a list of words displayed with the target concept and the students can build each word with their letter tiles.  Or students can pair up and take turns dictating the words to each other and building them.

It is easiest if you have the letter tiles set up on a magnet board or on a cookie sheet.  You can also have individual bags of letter tiles for each student in the group.  Only include the letter tiles that the students need to build the words or it will get very chaotic. Students can take turns building words individually or with partners.

Station 3 – Fluency Practice

This station will include Fluency Practice. You can place some reading trackers or reading markers at the station along with the Fluency Practice/Drill you want the students to practice.  You can have your students  partner up and read through the fluency sheets with each other.  Have stickers or stamps on the table and after each row, the students can give each other stickers as a reward.   The PRIDE Reading Program Fluency Practices have one practice per concept.  You can utilize these all week.

Station 4 – Games

This station will include playing a game with the concept that the student is practicing. These games can be word sorts, word searches, dice games, etc. These games can be played  with partners or as a whole group.  The PRIDE Reading Program Games are included in the back of the Student Workbook.  There is one game per concept and can be utilized all week.

Explicit Instruction

If the teacher has set up rotating stations where students can individually and quietly work together in partners or groups,  then the teacher is free to work with one small group at a time.  This group work should include:

  • Dictation of Sounds, Words, Sentences
  • Reading of Words, Sentences and Decodable Text
  • Comprehension Strategies
  • Sky Writing, Blending Drill and Sound Segmentation
  • Assessment and Observations

Group the Students by Level

Before the teacher can begin to teach Orton-Gillingham to a group explicitly, the students will need to be placed in a level.  The teacher will begin by giving each student an initial Orton-Gillingham assessment, and then group the students by skill level.  There might be multiple groups of Level 1 but just one group of Level 2.  Each group will move at the same pace together.  

The classroom will most likely have three reading groups:

Group A

This group targets the readers that are below grade level.

Group B

This group targets the readers that are on grade level.

Group C

This group targets the readers that are above grade level.

You can use this Placement Assessment to determine which level is best to start your students(s): >PRIDE Reading Program Placement 

Scheduling and Pacing

In order for students to make the maximum amount of progress in a small group, it is recommended that the student receives an uninterrupted 20 minutes of instruction 5 days a week.  

Teachers should not feel like they have to push through an entire lesson in one sitting.  If a group needs more time with an individual step in the program the teacher can simply mark the place and then next time start off with a quick Sound Card review and then pick up where the group left off.

Some concepts may take a week or more to complete.  A number of variables including the student’s age, attention span, and the difficulty of the concept being taught will play a part in how quickly a skill will be learned. 

It is very important not to modify the program but teach it with fidelity. The goal is for the student to work through the program step-by-step slowly and carefully and close all reading and spelling gaps.

There are certain elements of the Orton-Gillingham lesson plan that will be repeated each day.  Components like the Sound Card Review and the Phonological Awareness activities are essential, especially for struggling readers.

I Have a Resource for You!

Thank you for reading my post today.  You might also enjoy reading my previous posts:

Show Me an Orton-Gillingham Lesson

The Science of Reading: What All Teachers Should Know


Please don’t leave without checking out the PRIDE Reading Program.  The PRIDE Reading Program is an Orton-Gillingham curriculum that is used by teachers, tutors, and homeschooling parents worldwide with great success.

The PRIDE Reading Program 


Karina Richland, M.A., is the author of the PRIDE Reading Program, a multisensory Orton-Gillingham reading, writing and comprehension curriculum that is available worldwide for parents, tutors, teachers and homeschoolers of struggling readers. Karina has an extensive background in working with students of all ages and various learning modalities. She has spent many years researching learning differences and differentiated teaching practices. You can reach her by email at or visit the website at

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