A new Orton-Gillingham programme :Dyslexikit

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A new Orton-Gillingham programme :Dyslexikit

Post by g.carter » Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:10 pm

This was sent to me by a colleague. It’s important for the programme is one more example of how little the Orton-Gillingham people (DyslexiaAction etc.) understand synthetic phonics – yet I believe they are part of the DfES loop, together with RR and Oxford Brooks ‘Catch-Up’. Most of the SENCOs, Ed.Psychs. etc. have some Orton-Gillingham training and it is going to be immensely difficult to unravel things if we have two such different approaches running in parallel. The DfES simply must sort this out,otherwise teachers are going to be even more confused than they are already. Here is the review :

“ I've just been looking at a new, remedial programme for dyslexics and struggling readers aged 5-13. http://www.dyslexikit.co.uk/ The author studied at the Dyslexia Institute (now Dyslexia Action).

The programme consists of 35 colourful books, with each book providing instruction pages alongside photocopiable worksheet pages for the child. This brief review is based on the content of the first 5 books only.

Dyslexikit is, ‘a complete programme for reading, spelling and handwriting’, and is ‘based on sound and researched educational theory’. It is designed to be easy for parents and non-professionals to use and is well laid-out with clear and detailed instructions. Plenty of time is given over to handwriting exercises with all the lower case letters beginning and ending on the line.As with many other ‘dyslexia’ programmes, the progression through the programme is very slow. By the end of book 5 only 16, single GPCs have been covered. According to the progression chart which is printed at the back of each book, the first digraphs aren’t introduced until book 8 (ll, ss) and the first vowel digraph doesn’t appear until book 19 (ee).

As each new GPC is taught, the student is given a ‘reading card’. Each card has a picture and a clue word, along with the letter and sound, to help with remembering the correspondence. The ‘G/g/’ card, illustrated as an example in the book, has the word ‘guitar’ and the single letter G, which leads me to believe that the author doesn’t fully understand the alphabetic code.

Perhaps the worst feature of the programme is that it focuses heavily on teaching consonant blends (onsets) along with rimes, rather than phonemes; ‘...rhyme features a lot in the Dyslexikit series. It really lightens the load on a child’s weak memory’, and ‘…rhyming ability is a very important and useful skill in learning to read and spell. If you can see and hear rhyming ‘chunks’ in one word, you can use this information for reading and spelling many other words’.

The programme also emphasises the teaching and use of alphabet letter names; ‘It’s important that your child learns the alphabet’. Advice is given to buy a set of alphabet letters for the child to regularly lay out in an arc shape, until the order and names are learnt. When the child spells out words orally, the adult helper is told, ‘Remember he should use letter names, not sounds…if he repeats the letter names aloud as he writes, that’s fine’.

Copying is another exercise that is disapproved of, ‘Apart from using the models on the handwriting worksheets, copying should be avoided. It is our view that copying text really does not help your child at all’.

There appears to be no sequenced introduction or explanation of how to deal with words with ‘tricky’ spellings. ‘The’ is the first and only tricky word to appear in the first 5 books. It appears without warning near the end of book 5, at the beginning of a sentence to be read by the child, ‘The crab bit him’.

No advice is given on how to tackle reading books, decodable or otherwise.

To sum up, this is a multi-sensory, easy-to-use programme and, in its favour, it doesn’t ask children to memorise or guess words using a range of strategies. Unfortunately, its use of onset and rime, despite saying that it is ‘based on sound and researched educational theory’, and the instruction to use alphabet letter names for sounding-out, are completely contrary to the principles of synthetic phonic teaching.

Bonnie Macmillan says, '…teaching children about onset and rime as a route to discovering individual phonemes is similar logic to thinking that a person can be taught to read music by memorising chords on, say a guitar or piano. Although it may be relatively easy for a person to learn the names of some musical chords and how to play them, there is little possibility that this knowledge will lead to the ability to read musical notation, to the ability to play individual notes on these instruments in response to the corresponding written symbols.' (Macmillan p82) Recent studies 'have shown conclusively that children do not use rhyming endings to decode words; hardly ever decode by analogy to other words; and that ability to dissect words into onsets and rimes has no impact whatsoever on learning to read and spell. (D. McGuinness WCCR p148)."

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Post by ian » Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:43 pm

Another thing on onset and rime, based on analysis of adult and children's literature:
...if the 90% of monosyllabic words, which can be read through 61 grapheme-phoneme relationships, had been taught through onsets and rimes, children would need to learn 334 onsets and rimes to read the children’s literature and 534 to read the adult literature. Clearly it would take considerably longer to teach this amount of information than learning the 61 ERR grapheme-phoneme correspondences. Thus, teaching grapheme-phoneme relationships through onset-rime places greater demands on children’s memories and potentially confuses them if taught alongside GPCs (Deavers and Solity, 2000).
Solity p.14

Derrie Clark
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Post by Derrie Clark » Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:56 pm

These really are Dyslexia Maintenance Kits.

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Post by maizie » Sat Feb 03, 2007 2:01 pm

Well said. Derrie.

My thoughts exactly (having used an OG based programme in the past) but far more elegantly phrased!

Sadly, many people who have trained (for a long time) in these programmes think that they are 'state of the art' and get very upset at the suggestion that there might be far simpler ways to help 'dyslexics'.

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