The Literacy Nest

Top Ten Tips for Teaching Consonant Blends

Monday, November 5, 2018

Consonant Blends activities

Decoding and encoding consonant blends is among the most important concepts you teach your beginning readers. This is a skill they will use across multiple syllable types, in both single syllable and multi-syllabic words and even in reading and writing Latin roots and Greek combining forms. 

Your students may come to you already confident with some types of consonant blends, or without any knowledge whatsoever. One of your early teaching decisions needs to weigh their knowledge and needs about blends, and create a pace of instruction that meets the needs of each learner. I have a few general guidelines and consonant blends activities which you may find helpful. The following tips and activities are going to work well for lots of your Orton-Gillingham lessons or other structured literacy lessons. You and I are always seeking tips and fun and engaging Orton-Gillingham activities, right? Well, let's get started!

Multisensory Math Activities That Really Work

Thursday, November 1, 2018


Many children and adults struggle with math. Teaching multisensory math techniques as well as incorporating multisensory math activities into lesson plans is not only best practice for students with dyscalculia, but can be helpful for all learners.

I'm thrilled to welcome a guest blogger today who can explain what multisensory math is to you. Adrianne Meldrum will offer links and references to multisensory math curriculum for dyscalculia as well.

“Hands shoot up all around me, a forest of arms straining and connected to minds that understand, to minds that know.  A slight twinge of shame flushes my cheeks.  I feel anxious and exposed.  This feeling has become as familiar as water.  Every day the nervous flutter, the twinge inside, the blank, the sinking reminder that I don’t get it, that I don’t belong here, that I am alone.”

When I read this passage from My Thirteenth Winter, a memoir of a student with a math learning disability, I wept for my students.  This is what they feel when they go to school.  Many of them with high IQs but are faced with the deep shame that they can’t do math.

Effective Decoding Strategies To Improve Reading

Thursday, October 18, 2018

effective decoding strategies for decoding words

Many teachers are familiar with decoding strategies that may emphasize the use of picture clues, meaning and self-monitoring. Sometimes these decoding activities are even given cute nicknames to help students remember. 

While we want students to monitor our students and their reading for accuracy to make sure it makes sense, often these kinds of decoding strategies taught typically in younger grades barely touch decoding skills or WORSE, they may call a child's eyes and attention AWAY from the text, which is the opposite of what we want to do, especially for budding or struggling readers. 

Students absolutely need additional tools to solve unknown words in reading. There are a number of important strategies that will help students decode effectively and will sustain them over time, no matter what grade they're in or how old they are. Let's dive into decoding strategies that are suitable for all children and adults. 

The following decoding strategies have long been used within the Orton-Gillingham lesson plan as part of the Orton-Gillingham approach, but anyone can utilize them as part of their structured literacy framework. 

If You Suspect Dyslexia In Your Child

Monday, October 1, 2018

dyslexia symptoms

If You Suspect Dyslexia...

Perhaps your child is struggling with reading and writing and you are questioning what might be going on. Maybe you’ve seen a list of red flags for dyslexia and see some of them in your son. Reading may have been hard for you and now you are seeing similar challenges in your daughter. If this sounds like you, you may suspect dyslexia. Dyslexia is the most common reading disability and occurs along a spectrum of severity. But if you have that suspicion, what should you do next?

Tips for Teaching Consonant Digraphs

Sunday, September 23, 2018

digraph activities

Many children have some knowledge of consonant digraphs when they start their Orton Gillingham lesson with an Orton-Gillingham tutor, although few really are familiar with the term digraph, its definition, or all of the digraphs we teach in Level 1. Here are some tips for making digraph instruction multisensory and memorable. A digraph is 2 letters that make 1 sound. Combinations such as sh, th, ch and ck are digraphs.

When first introducing digraphs, I like to concentrate with children on the sounds that they hear. For example, if I were teaching the sh phonogram, I might ask a student to show me the sounds in the word shop and shut using tiles or counters or blocks. At this point, the student should be able to identify that there are 3 sounds in each word. After listening for which sound is the same, I would show the student the written words and ask them to identify which letters were making the /sh/ sound. If the student was unable to recognize that the sound was made by sh, I would tell them and have them mark the letters. By first focusing on the sound they hear, it reinforces the idea that a digraph is a single sound.
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