Part of being a successful Orton-Gillingham teacher or tutor means being prescriptive. This means you tailor your Orton-Gillingham lesson plans to meet the specific needs of your struggling readers. Just as important as being prescriptive is being diagnostic. This means that based on a student’s performance within a particular task, you are able to make informed decisions about the kind of practice they need going forward for subsequent lessons. You can be diagnostic at any point in the lesson, whether it’s the three part drill, a review game, S.O.S. dictation, or oral reading.
Today, I am discussing how to help a student with error correction. Feedback is given immediately to students whenever you are implementing the Orton-Gillingham approach. Ultimately, we want students to be able to pick up on their own errors and correct them. They need to be able to articulate why they are making a change in order to correct an error.
Helping them get to this level of critique takes time. They will need your scaffolding, and you will need a collection of thought-provoking, diagnostic questions. The questions aren’t posed to try and trick them into finding their errors. They are merely there to guide their decision making. Above all else, responsibility is placed on the student as often as possible. Do you find yourself talking an awful lot to your students and spending too much time explaining? Please stop! You are giving them the work to do with your guidance. It isn’t always easy and you let them know that you understand that.
I’m going to break the types of error corrections into sections, so you can either read them all or skim to the one you really need for your student right away.
Questions for Consideration Before Assessing Errors
- What do you think is the root cause for the error?
- Is the error directly related to their reading difficulties or is there an outside factor affecting performance? (ie. attention, fatigue, anxiety, low self esteem, hunger, vision or hearing)
- Is the error possibly related to your lesson pacing? Could you have spent more time on a prior lesson, or reviewing more? Which progression for Orton-Gillingham lessons are you following?
- Is there a deeper phonological awareness deficit, word retrieval or working memory issue?
- Is it a fluency issue? If so, look at their miscues and other reading behaviors carefully
Error Corrections During Phonogram Drills
Error Corrections During Review or Games
- Name the letters: Students touch and say each letter OUT LOUD.
- Trace the letters: Also known as penciling, have them use a pencil or stylus and trace right over each letter and spell it out loud. If they word is in a book, write the word on a dry erase board.
- Build the word with letter tiles or magnetic letters before writing it.
Error Corrections During “What Says?”
Error Corrections During S.O.S.
- What vowel do you see? What does it say?
- Why did you use (fill in the blank)?
- Tell about why you have a (fill in the blank) in your word.
- As you spell the word out loud, touch and say each letter.
Error Corrections During Dictation
Error Corrections During Oral Reading
- For decodable text, try having students pre-read the first sentence or paragraph to try and tell you what kinds of words they might find in the story. Can they highlight one example?
- When they make a reading error: Tell me about the… I’m confused about that part.
- Try that again. Does that make sense?
- If a student is stuck on a particular word, try the tracing method mentioned earlier. What vowel do you see there? For older students you can ask: How may syllables? How do you know where to divide for that word?