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Florence One elementary schools adopt multi-sensory approach to reading

April 3, 2019 GMT

FLORENCE, S.C.– During their April meeting, the Fellows in Education members learned about additions to the academic programs at Dewey L. Carter Elementary School.

The Fellows in Education program is sponsored by Florence One Schools, The School Foundation and the Greater Florence Chamber of Commerce. The program allows business and community leaders to get an in-depth look into Florence schools.

At the beginning of the meeting, Dewey L. Carter Principal Wendy Frazier told the fellows about the teachers receiving Orton-Gillingham training.

“It’s a multi-sensory approach to teach kids how to read,” Frazier said. “It deals with phonics, its deals with reading, it deals with writing and it deals with sensory things. There’s just so much research that points us to multi-sensory techniques.”

The Orton-Gillingham approach uses activities, such as a pan with shaving cream, for students to learn their vowels to form and learn words. Dewey L. Carter Elementary began using the Orton-Gillingham approach about a month ago, Frazier said.

“In just the few weeks we’ve used it here has been incredible,” Frazier said.

Frazier said she’s seen some students going from only knowing 17 sounds to 35 sounds in a two-week period of using the Orton-Gillingham method. Frazier said using this method will allow the students to be better prepared for school.

“It’s huge,” Frazier said. “We have so many students who come in who are so far behind. If we can bring them in and get them jumpstarted using this one strategy, then we won’t have to spend nearly the amount of time we spend now catching them up.”

So far, the school is using the method for kindergarten to third-grade classrooms. Next year, the school will start the program from the first day of school in kindergarten, Frazier said.

During the fellows’ visit to the school, they got to visit a teacher working with students using the Orton-Gillingham method.

In addition to the teacher training in Orton-Gillingham, Frazier also announced Dewey L. Carter’s plans to add a second Orton-Gillingham teacher. This will allow the school to double how many third- through fifth-graders receive Orton-Gillingham teaching.

The school will also add another reading recovery teacher. Reading recovery is a program that works with first-grade students who need extra help with learning to read.

The Orton-Gillingham training isn’t just located at Dewey L. Carter Elementary. Florence One Schools is providing the training for all elementary schools in the district.

Superintendent Richard O’Malley said the Orton-Gillingham method has an unbelievable record for moving student achievement in reading across the country.

“We just felt it would be one of the best investments for our district to invest in Orton-Gillingham,” O’Malley said.

O’Malley also said the overall feedback has been incredible.

The Fellows in Education’s last meeting will take place on May 7 at South Florence High School.