A successful elementary reading program is based on dyslexia research, and is benefiting an entire class of young students.
At Plainfield Elementary School in Pen Argyl, Pennsylvania, second graders, stand up, raise their arms, and “sky write” the letter K. “Kay. Slide down, slide in, slide out,” they chanted.
They repeat the words while tracing a letter K with their fingers on textured paper, feeling the letter physically. They then wrote the letter K with a pencil.
The multisensory approach is combined with flashcards which show vowel pairings, long and short vowel sounds chanted, and various spelling tricks. It is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach which dates back to the 1930s. It has previously been used to teach children who are dyslexic in private sessions, but not a whole classroom.
Educators now believe that the approach has value in traditional classroom settings, as they work to improve reading levels. They find that when children are explicitly taught the rules of letter formations and letter combinations and sounds through multisensory lessons, the students reading skills are bolstered and they are prevented from falling behind at the beginning.
The Pen Argyl Area School District is one of eight districts which are using the multisensory method to participate in a three year state pilot program testing evidence based literacy. While it is too soon to say if the program is working, Pen Argyl has seen promising results.