Scott Fisher’s enthusiasm is contagious. "The thing I love most about teaching is that moment of discovery, when children make connections and their little brains explode," says Scott, who teaches kindergarten at Asheville’s Isaac Dixon Elementary. "You can see it in their faces. It's priceless." Scott also believes the Orton-Gillingham (O-G) training he recently went through is priceless. "O-G training has had a huge impact on my understanding of both the English language and developmentally appropriate teaching practices for reading and writing."
On one hand, Scott uses it in the classroom in his small group work. "I’ve also been incorporating O-G principles and activities into my whole-class Fundations curriculum, which covers phonics and language development. I’ve got a much stronger grasp on the spelling patterns of our language, which makes me better prepared to answer students’ questions. O-G supplements make my lessons much more enjoyable for students."
He’s seen the O-G approach impact non-dyslexic students as well. "So far, the O-G additions I’ve made have really hit home with my high flyers who were sometimes bored with whole-class phonics instruction. I simply slip slightly more advanced rules and patterns to those students who are ready, while reinforcing basic phonetic instruction for the entire class."
All students seem to appreciate Scott’s daily warmup. "In our Fundations curriculum, we warm up daily with drill sounds, repeating the letter name and keyword and sound of many letters (it sounds like "K, kite, /k/!"),” he says. "Because O-G is a multisensory approach, our trainer and O-G Fellow Susie van der Vorst recommended I added a tactile element to the drill. Now my children are all repeating the drills while simultaneously using two fingers to trace the letter on the carpet. They are engaging their visual, auditory and kinesthetic/tactile senses, strengthening the pathway to the brain."
Incorporating the O-G approach in the primary grades is critical according to Scott. “Everything about a student’s career hinges on those first few years."
Scott is thankful to OpenDoors of Asheville for inviting him to participate in O-G training. "For people like me, with a huge curiosity and thirst for understanding, it’s been a very rewarding experience. In my mind, every teacher should be given the option to learn the O-G approach."