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The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) established a new Math Institute in the spring of 2008. (Find AOGPE at www.ortonacademy.org. )
AOGPE President Angela Wilkins writes in the Winter 2008 Academy News that “it is clear that teachers, administrators, and parents are searching for effective approaches to teaching math based on the Orton-Gillingham principles.”
In an accompanying article, Marilyn Wardrop explains how O-G methods can be used.
The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 2000 revised and updated their standards and identified “equity” as their first principle for school mathematics. They note that equity requires accommodating differences to help everyone learn mathematics.
Regrettably, she says, remedial and special education is particularly weak in math instruction. As a result, there has been a primary emphasis on the acquisition of basic skills and traditional arithmetic; clearly there is a need for differentiating or adapting mathematics.
Orton-Gillingham instruction teaches the structure of the English language through an effective approach that is multisensory, structured, sequential, cumulative and emotionally sound. Key to this instruction is “multisensory.”
Dr. Joyce Steeve, in 1979, wrote one of the earliest papers advocating the same teaching principles for teaching mathematics.
These multisensory strategies for teaching math are effective for all students. They use a visual, auditory, knesthetic, tactile (VAKT) approach that caters to struggling students by not insisting that they simply sit still and learn the material.
Students manipulate tangible concrete objects that help them conceptualize abstract concepts.
Here are some strategies Wardrop suggests:
Demonstrated knowledge includes 3 things — comprehension of task demands, articulation of one’s own approach to the learning of similar tasks, and a grasp of the appropriate strategies for the task. When teachers hear the student’s thinking process and see the work that results, they can easily diagnose and prescribe lessons on a day-to-day basis.
Manipulatives make math concrete. Best practices in math education call for teaching of concepts with concrete materials and examples. Learning is enjoyable and all senses are engaged while making connections between the concrete and the abstract.
Mathematical language can be difficult, just as the talk about vocabulary terms, semantics, and syntax are when speaking about language. So use diagrams, drawings and cue cards to reinforce mathematical language. Give directions clearly; repeat key vocabulary often and reinforce it continually. Connect new words to known words by using interesting information that generates rich connections. Practice technical terms such as “numerator,” “denominator,” “quotient,” “multiples,” and “factors” repeatedly in multisensory activities (use word cards, tactile surfaces and reference charts).
Drawings are crucial to helping a student translate and visualize math concepts. This is the link between concrete and abstract levels of understanding. When students make their own drawings, explain verbally, and write in journals they are reinforcing understanding. Retrieval is more certain when they are not just writing on cookbook worksheets.
Students should verbalize step-by-step while solving a math problem. O-G routines build confidence and independence in this way. Students’ own orally composed original word problems or drawings can be adapted for review. Teacher and student can take turns writing and adding carefully measured complexity to word problems; this can reinforce students’ reading and writing skills.
Color coding or visual cueing focuses attention and assists in sequencing steps in place value work. (For example, a separate color may be designated for the ones, tens, and hundreds columns.) Such a method helps with recall of information. In word problems, identiy starting and stopping points by highlighting puctuation in color. Highlight important key words to cue an appropriate response. These strategies help a child become independent.
Always move from simple to complex (a key O-G tenet). And use a variety of methods when presenting new information. Teach alternate strategies: manipulatives; drawing; looking for patterns; trial and error; acting it out; recording results on a table or chart. In these ways students are enriched as they bridge the gap to traditional algorithms and generalizations.
Integrate math into O-G language instruction in other content areas. Count sounds and syllables in words; then add, subtract, multiply or divide them. Create fractions that compare vowels and consonants, or create ratios and graphs. Construct concrete or shape poems out of multiplication and division matrixes. Find math concepts in the context of a story. Factual and fictional literature can easily be adapted by specifying the numbers of whales in a pod, or specific distances on a voyage. In this way, math is incoroprated into narrative themes, reading writing, listening and even oral history. Here again, it is easy to include math manipulatives and drawings. Students will be less anxious and even enjoy this (sneaked in) extra practice.
Get up, sit up, move. Many of our students are kinesthetic learners who learn by doing. Skip count across the floor; stand while working with manipulatives; write on a white board with lots of space to produce big arm movements.
Wardrop is referring in her article to work by Thornton Bley; Chinn and Ashcroft; J. Foss; DC Geary; Gersten, Jordon and Flojo; R. Kramer; M. Montague and A Jitendra; the NCTM 2000 statement of principles; Steven Stahl, J Steeves; and Ron Yoshimoto. For details and titles of their work, consult the article by Wardrop, “Orton-Gillingham Multisensory Math.”
sole source: The AOGPE Academy News, Winter 2008. Articles by Angela Wilkins and Marilyn Wardrop.
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