Introducing Riggs Phonograms

The Riggs Institute’s Phonogram Cards come in a boxed set which includes instructions and teaching tips for introducing children to these 71 English spelling patterns. On the back of each card, you will find additional tips--and step-by-step directions for teaching these Orton/Riggs phonograms.

We teach about four per day, and teaching the first twenty-six involves taking the time to carefully teach students exactly how to form each of the letters of the alphabet. The directions on the back of the cards makes each of the teaching steps clear, and even these first twenty-six phonograms are not difficult when we take things one step at a time. The teacher does this; her students follow; and everyone gets plenty of time in which to practice.

After letter formation has been taught and mastered (using the script on the back of cards 1-26), students use their new letter-formation skills to learn the rest of the first 55 phonograms. Again, the teacher introduces about four new phonograms per day, and again she uses multi-sensory instruction to help students learn.

  1. The teacher holds up each new phonogram card
  2. She immediately tells her students which sound(s) the phonogram represents
  3. She has her students repeat the sound(s) of the phonogram
  4. She shows them how to write the phonogram
  5. She has them write the phonogram (from dictation on the first 26)

Using this type of explicit, multi-sensory instruction enables every student to get off to a successful start, regardless of his or her individual learning style, because the critical information is reaching each student’s brain through multiple neurological pathways, including each student’s primary pathway.

Since learning these phonograms gives children a working set of spelling patterns that will enable them to spell and read tens of thousands of whole words, Riggs teachers carefully introduce these patterns (the Orton/Riggs phonograms) to students, following the script on the back of each card. They take their time, helping their students to see, hear, say and write each new phonogram. Then they help them practice.

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