The Barton Reading & Spelling System is Based on Orton-Gillingham Methods

Girl boy booksBarton Reading and Spelling System

The Orton-Gillingham Method was developed in the 1930’s by Anna Gillingham and Dr. Samuel Orton to design a whole new way of teaching the phonemic structure of our written language to people with dyslexia.

The goal was to create a sequential system to show how sounds and letters are related and how they act in words and to show how to attack a word and break it into smaller pieces. They discovered that people with dyslexia learn by involving all of their senses: visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic.


• ​Phonemic Awareness:  Children learn how to listen to a single word or syllable and break it into individual phonemes. They also have to be able to take individual sounds and blend them into a word, change sounds, delete sounds, and compare sounds—all in their head. These skills are easiest to learn before someone brings in printed letters.
• Phoneme/Grapheme Correspondence:  Students are taught which sounds are represented by which letter(s), and how to blend those letters into single-syllable words.
• The Six Types of Syllables that compose English words:   If students know what type of syllable they’re looking at, they’ll know what sound the vowel will make. Conversely, when they hear a vowel sound, they’ll know how the syllable must be spelled to make that sound.
• Probabilities and Rules:  The English language provides several ways to spell the same sounds. For example, the sound /SHUN/ can be spelled either TION, SION, or CION. The sound of /J/ at the end of a word can be spelled GE or DGE. Dyslexic students need to be taught these rules and probabilities.
 Roots and Affixes:  Are taught to expand a student’s vocabulary and ability to comprehend (and spell) unfamiliar words. For instance, once a student has been taught that the Latin root TRACT means pull, and a student knows the various Latin affixes, the student can figure out that retract means pull again, contract means pull together, subtract means pull away (or pull under), while tractor means a machine that pulls.


• Simultaneous Multisensory Instruction:  Research has shown that dyslexic people who use all of their senses when they learn (visual, auditory, tactile, and kinesthetic) are better able to store and retrieve the information.
• Intense Instruction with Ample Practice:  Instruction for dyslexic students must be much more intense, and offer much more practice, than for regular readers.
• Direct, Explicit Instruction: Students with dyslexia do not identify intuit everything about written language. They must learn reading and spelling directly and explicitly, each and every rule that governs our written words. They must learn one rule at a time, and practice it until it is stable in both reading and spelling, before learning a new rule.
• Systematic and Cumulative:  Students with dyslexia are usually quite confused about written language. They must go back to the very beginning and learn a solid foundation with no holes. They learn the logic behind our language by learning one rule at a time and practicing it until they can automatically and fluently apply that rule both when reading and spelling.  Previously learned concepts are continuously woven into current lessons to keep them fresh and solid. The lessons must make logical sense from the first lesson through the last one.
• Synthetic and Analytic:  Students  with dyslexia must be taught  how to take the individual letters or sounds to put them together to form a word (synthetic), and  how to look at a long word and break it into smaller pieces (analytic). Both synthetic and analytic phonics must be taught all the time.
• Diagnostic Teaching:  I continuously assess student’s understanding of, and ability to apply, the rules. I ensure the student isn’t simply recognizing a pattern and blindly applying it. And when confusion of a previously-taught rule is discovered, it must be retaught.