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The Gift of Orton-Gillingham Math

First grade teachers Mrs. Rockwell and Mrs. McGraw share how they implemented Orton-Gillingham (OG) Math in their classroom and the many benefits of this approach.

As an educator the goal is to always create meaningful and engaging lessons that deepen the understanding of all students. Teachers spend countless hours reflecting on how to make sure every child not only understands the concept but to make sure you are pushing all students to master the standard. The multisensory math instruction has provided the structure to not only review and extend the standard in a quick 5 minute drill but has us given the ability to easily differentiate groups to meet students at their level.

“The OG math bars have given the students confidence to tackle any math standard. Our class loves math because they all know they are 'good at it.”

The big question is, what makes the OG Math approach better? In our co-taught classroom we have students at many different levels. All students are working on the standard and using the bars in a hands on approach to make concrete connections. As learners progress some may continue to solve problems using the bars while others may begin drawing pictures or moving to an abstract way to solve the problem. The great thing about everyone using the bars is it all looks the same despite the level of understanding. When a child becomes unsure of how to approach a problem the student knows they can grab their bars to help make those concrete connections. The OG Math approach can be used for countless standards from addition and subtraction, missing numbers, word problems, place value and understanding data all while creating a concrete understanding of number sense.

The greatest gains we have seen this year is the deep understanding all students have and a strong number sense. The hands on use of the bars created a concrete understanding of the math strategy counting on. The bars are different colors and have coordinating circles for the specific number.

“So for the problem 6+3 the student will grab the associated bars. The student knows 6 and will just add on the extra 3 to find the sum of 9. The student doesn’t get lost putting a number in their head or where to start on a numberline. Furthermore, the concept of adding is pushing the bars together and the students have a model right in front of them to prove their thinking."

This approach to math has not only excited us as teachers but the students love it. It doesn’t matter the lesson, the students are engaged and we as teachers can feel confident where to drive our instruction. We have taught for numerous years and now feel we can approach math in a way to teach all different learning styles.

By: Mrs. Rockwell and Mrs. McGraw, 1st Grade Teachers

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