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Educator’s Wish List



An educator who works with dyslexic students recently reached out to share the wonderful news that she had been gifted with a significant sum to purchase items for her fledgling dyslexia program. Her dilemma, common to many, was figuring out the wisest way to spend the money entrusted to her.


It would be universally agreed that the true “magic” for helping students with dyslexia doesn’t arrive in a box from Amazon but rather comes from the creative mind of a well trained educator. Moving past that truth, the fact is that great teachers can benefit from materials! What follows is a suggested wish list based on the author’s experience in working with dyslexic children for nearly two decades.


Beloved Bookshelf Reference Volumes


Having reference books at one’s fingertips makes lesson planning and word selection for practice sessions much easier. Here are some favorite reference books.


PS: Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots

P.S. Prefixes, Suffixes, Roots gives a concise meaning phrase for each affix or root, plus word lists and sample sentences for each. There is often a basic and an advanced level word and sentence list, making this resource quite useful for the teacher or tutor working with students at various levels.


Megawords Complete Set

Owning a set of Megawords consumable workbooks 1 - 8 and the corresponding teacher manuals is like having a knowledgeable colleague on your bookshelf, ready to offer a slight spin on your usual way of presenting syllable division, phoneme introduction, suffix rules, or alternate ways to practice emerging skills. The Megawords series has a somewhat different order of presentation and combines language elements in slightly different ways than usual, however, it is these differences that make it a powerful resource when the tutor or teacher wants fresh ideas. The higher level books cannot be beat for solid teaching of advanced Latin and Greek connectors, schwa word endings, and for straight-forward presentations of those essential advanced topics. Whether the Megawords books are used as a worktext to anchor tutoring instruction or as a reference source for the teacher/tutor, they are a must-have for every Orton Gillingham practitioner’s shelf.


Everything You Need to Know and Exactly Where to Find It

William Van Cleve’s Everything You Need to Know and Exactly Where to Find It is simply a masterpiece. It gives, in a logical progression, a thumbnail of commonly taught phonograms, affixes, roots, connectors, and spelling generalizations on one side of the page. On the back of that page is a listing of reference books complete with page numbers containing information on the topic listed on the front of the page. Near the back of the book is an excellent treatment of more advanced topics including chameleon prefixes and Greek and Latin connectors.


Unlocking the Power of Print by Dorothy Blosser Whitehead is a tutoring reference written for volunteers who would be working with dyslexic students under the supervision of a Fellow. Mrs. Whitehead includes a handbook for how tutoring lessons would ideally unfold, suggestions on how to teach key procedures associated with Orton-Gillingham approach lessons, sample lesson plans, word and sentence dictation lists for basic phonograms as well as basic syllable types. Hidden within the book are wonderful directions for random nonsense word wheels and family pattern practice wheels. Unlocking the Power of Print is the go-to book for a tired tutor who needs a wise advisor on the shelf to help with simple suggestions to craft a masterful lesson.


Student Materials


Fun materials can make lessons and reviews more engaging, resulting in stronger retention of the material presented. This list covers suggestions for items small to large that would be used by the student during lessons.


Recipe card covers

These plastic sleeves designed to keep splats off recipes written on 3x5 cards find a new purpose at the intervention table. Use the sleeves over words intended for students to segment into syllables. Skinny Expo markers write onto the sleeves to code and divide the words, then are instantly erased with the swipe of a paper towel or whiteboard eraser. No more “Pencil Mark Ghosts” on your word cards when you use the recipe card covers.


Small, magnetic whiteboards

Having a stash of small magnetic whiteboards opens a whole world of possibilities for the student at the intervention table. The student can pull down cute magnets for each sound in the dictated word, use magnetic letter tiles to spell out words, use the whiteboards to practice letter formation or red words, or write out base words, then make the necessary changes to rehearse suffix rules and add a dictated suffix.


Stretchy bands for chair legs

Putting stretchy bands between the front chair legs of student chairs allows restless students to bounce their feet or push against for a bit of movement as they work while seated. Providing fidget opportunities for students seems to improve focus on the task at hand.


Board Games


Bring out a board game along with words-to-read cards, and watch the smiles light up students’ faces. Rolling a single die or a pair of dice to determine the number of word cards to read each turn adds a fun, random factor to the activity. The tutor and student can alternate turns in a 1:1 tutoring situation, with the students getting a bonus turn each time they roll a 6. Small group situations could have students each read from a stack of cards selected specifically for them, or share a common stack. After the word cards are correctly read, the student takes a turn at the board game.


Crocodile Dentist is a quick, weirdly appealing game in which players push down a tooth from the plastic crocodile’s open mouth. The mouth randomly “bites” an unlucky player and that round ends with a loser giggling and rubbing his or her finger just a bit. Two to five players can enjoy the same round of Crocodile Dentist.


Connect Four is a slightly longer game of strategy for two players. Players try to get four checkers in a row by dropping them into a vertical board. Strategy to block opponents or to distract them into not noticing a looming four-in-a-row adds to the cognitive benefits of this game.


Time for a Splurge


For some, coming into an unexpected sum of money to spend on materials means it’s time for a splurge. If that is the case, there is no better place to splurge than on The Literacy Nest’s literacy bundles.


The Complete Orton-Gillingham Bundle, to support Orton-Gillingham Lesson Plans, Part 2 is a treasure trove of printable learning pages, games, teaching posters, and stories. All the material is organized by usage and concept, so if you are teaching blends, you can search through the materials offered to support practicing blends. The same is true of all the concepts. Emily Gibbons, the author, is at the Certified level with OGA, so she brings the OG teaching principles into her materials on every page. You can use her materials with confidence that they support your Orton-Gillingham lessons.

An excellent pre-purchase tutorial, complete list of all topics offered and explanation of the electronic formats available are on the Teachers Pay Teachers product page.

Which materials will work best for your intervention tool chest? Take a picture of your new tool and post it on the Cindy Hall Consulting Facebook page. We would all enjoy seeing your selection!


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