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Standards of Practice

Our Orton-Gillingham Standards of Practice

OG Canada is a society and the accreditation board for Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Orton-Gillingham training providers in Canada. While it must be remembered that the Orton-Gillingham approach to Structured Literacy is not a system or a program, these are our standards of practice of the Orton-Gillingham approach that guides OG Canada in all that we do.

This infographic introduces the concepts contained within our Standards of Practice. See below for more detail on each piece.

Content of instruction: What our Practitioners teach

Our accredited training provider’s curricula and individual Practitioner’s scope of instruction must include explicit instruction in the following elements of Structured Literacy.

  1. Phonological Awareness: 
    1. The study of phonology: (sounds in the spoken language) 
    2. Direct phonological awareness instruction: The ability to distinguish, segment, blend and manipulate sounds. 
  2. Phonics: 
    1. Sound/Symbol Correspondence: Instruction must cover the mapping of sounds (phonemes) to symbols (graphemes) and vice versa. 
    2. Syllable Instruction: Instruction must include the 6 syllable types and include explicit instruction on how to apply this knowledge into decoding and encoding words. 
  3. Vocabulary: 
    1. The study of morphology: Including explicit instruction on prefixes, suffixes, bases as units of meaning within a word. 
    2. The study of syntax: The principles which dictate the function and sequence of words placed in a sentence. This includes grammar, sentence types and mechanics. 
    3. Semantics: The study of the meaning of language 
    4. Direct and indirect vocabulary instruction integrated throughout. 
  4. Fluency – Strategies and knowledge of how to support automatic and accurate reading 
  5. Comprehension - Strategies that allow students to unlock the semantics and meaning of language at the word, phrase and passage level. 
  6. Writing - Includes spelling, handwriting, & composition instruction.

Principles of instruction: How we teach


Simultaneous multisensory instruction is a core principle of Orton Gillingham instruction. Multisensory means that instructors make use of learning tools that engage all learning modalities (Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic and Tactile-VAKT). Simultaneous means that students learn using multiple modes of instruction at the same time. Each lesson should be as multisensory as possible which could include, but is not limited to speaking while spelling, the use of tactiles and tracing to solidify concepts, visual aids for concept introduction and consolidation and overlearning activities that engage multiple senses..


Systematic and sequential instruction requires instructors to follow a carefully planned sequence of instruction that always works from the simple to the complex ensuring that foundational skills are taught and developed before moving to more advanced skills. For example, students should not encounter unfamiliar letter patterns while practicing with the patterns they have learned. Each lesson component should provide ample opportunities to review and develop these skills using explicit and multisensory instruction.


Explicit instruction models and walks students through each key literacy skill in a detailed way that does not leave the student to make jumps in knowledge on their own. Direct instruction is given using multisensory learning aids and clear modelling of the skills using gradual release of responsibility (ie: I do, we do, you do).. Students are not expected to develop their skills based on incidental exposure, worksheets or vague instruction.


Intensive instruction is intervention given in small group or individual settings, at an appropriate frequency that corresponds to the size of the gap between the student’s level of proficiency, their cognitive proficiency, and that of their grade-level expectations.


In prescriptive & diagnostic case management, instructors are committed to continually assessing and diagnosing their students’ progress thereby ensuring that they are continually working at the student’s level to build skills to automaticity. Student’s progress is monitored, tracked and the intervention is modified if improvement is not occurring at an appropriate rate.


The root of OG Canada's standards of practice stems from socially and emotionally sound instruction, thereby preserving the self-confidence and self-esteem of all of our member’s students. As such, practitioners should provide an emotionally sound learning environment that is encouraging, positive and supportive.


Instruction should include both synthetic and analytic perspectives. In synthetic instruction, students learn parts of language and then learn how they relate to the whole. In analytic instruction students first see the big picture and then learn about the parts of which it is comprised.


OG is an approach, not a system. As research presents new evidence in the science of structured literacy instruction, OG Canada trainers and members will review and consider new research and evidence-based practices based on the core standards outlined in this document.


Hempenstall K & Buckingham J, (2011) Read about it: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading; Birsch J (2011) Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills (3rd ed); Rose J, (2009) Department for Children, Schools and Families; National Reading Panel (2000) Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction; Gillingham & Stillman, (1997) The Gillingham Manual (8th ed)

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