Thursday, November 7, 2019

Multisensory Instruction: Make Learning Stick!

I love playtime with my three young daughters. We sing and dance all the time. Many of the songs we sing include movements.  Adding music and movement has encouraged some fun learning experiences! My one year old has learned her animal sounds. My two year old has learned one to one correspondence up to twelve. And all three girls have learned prayers that are important to our faith. There is a lot of power in learning through multiple senses.

Over the course of my instructional coaching career, I have had the privilege of participating in several different trainings on the Orton-Gillingham approach. Orton-Gillingham is a structured, sequential, multisensory approach to teaching literacy. This approach is especially powerful for students who struggle to learn how to read and write, such as students with dyslexia. Incorporating multiple senses into instruction helps make strong connections in the brain and promotes long term retention. It's also super engaging! Just like my daughters love our singing and dancing, students really enjoy incorporating movement, talking, and tactile surfaces that engage their sense of touch. I have seen so much growth using this approach with students. The teachers at Cherry Tree are working hard to embed this type of instruction in their literacy instruction.

During phonics instruction Mrs. Holtsclaw incorporates syllable scoops and chips. Students can use their knowledge of syllable types and division rules to build words before spelling them. This is a wonderful multisensory strategy.
Every student has scoops and chips to use with support from the teacher.

One student models the scoops and chips on the board for the whole class.
Mr. Lantz uses tactile surfaces such as transparent shelf liner and felt squares when teaching phonemes to his first graders. His students sound and write simultaneously to help create strong connections in their brains.
A piece of shelf liner over the sound card provides a more tactile surface. 
Mr. Lantz added the lines to mimic Handwriting Without Tears.

Using a multisensory approach shouldn't just be limited to phonics instruction. Teachers can be creative about how they sprinkle this in throughout their day. During reading workshop Mrs. Brinkman and I have been intentional about adding predictable and repetitive movements to our minilessons and strategy groups. These movements are tied to our learning targets and the overall goals of the reading unit.

The possibilities are endless! I encourage you to have fun and add music, movement, colors, and other tools that can help students activate multiple senses simultaneously while learning. They will be more engaged and have stronger retention. This is a powerful strategy that is easy to use.

If you're interested in learning more about using syllable scoops, sound cards, or any other multisensory techniques, please let me know! I would love to partner with you and introduce these to your students.

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