The Orton-Gillingham method is multisensory. This means that it uses the visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic learning modalities. One of the tactile/kinesthetic approaches I use with the kids in the PRIDE Reading Program is Sky Writing. Whenever I am teaching a new concept, I have the kids use the Orton-Gillingham Sky Writing to memorize the formation of the letters and also the sound that it connects to.
“What is Orton-Gillingham Sky Writing?”
The student writes a letter in the air and names the letter at the exact same time she is writing it. She then underlines the letter in the air and says the letter’s sound. This approach allows the student to use her whole body when learning the correct letter formation and sound it makes. She will also visualize the letter or letters floating in the air.
When doing the Orton-Gillingham Sky Writing, the student will stretch her arm out as far as it can go. She uses her pointer and middle finger to form the letters in the air at least two feet high. She can feel the energy flow from her body into the sky this way. She is using her entire body to form the letters! This whole body movement helps her cement the idea of how each letter is formed, both physically and audibly. This whole body experience uses her muscle memory to store the information to her brain, which then is used later on when she is writing with a pencil on paper.
“How do you do it?”
I first model it for my student by forming the letter in the air, while saying the name of each letter and then the sound the letter makes. The student then follows my instruction forming the letters in the sky independently three times. A sample script I use from the PRIDE Reading Program using the Orton-Gillingham Sky Writing is as follows:
Hold up short a Sound Card. “We are going to Sky Write this sound. Let me demonstrate first.” Stand up and extend your dominant arm all the way out in front of you. “Ready?” /ĕ/ (say the sound) e (Sky Write and say letter as writing it) /ĕ/ (underline the sound and say the sound).”
Have student repeat 3 times.
See it in Action
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the website at www.pridereadingprogram.com