As a private Orton-Gillingham tutor, I don't require my dyslexic students to memorize words that can be read phonetically. I only teach non-phonetic LEARNED words, which trims the list considerably for my students! Authentic LEARNED words are those words that cannot be sounded out or read phonetically. By that definition, "I", "can", "in", "on", and "and" are not LEARNED words since they are based on phonetic rules that a beginning reader knows.
In addition, some words are LEARNED words even though they are phonetic, since the word appears in the students' reading and writing vocabulary before the phonetic rules will be mastered. For that reason, I do teach a few high-frequency words which my students need to LEARN by sight before they will know how to read them phonetically.
For example, "says" and "does" will always be learned words because they are non-phonetic. However, "talk" and "easy" are learned words for a kindergartener since these words will appear in students' reading before the phonetic rules for these
words will be mastered.
During my Orton-Gillingham training and supervised internship, I have developed a lesson-planning and record-keeping system for teaching and monitoring true Learned Words, also called RED words. I have created five different lists of Learned Words, divided by degree of difficulty and organized into a pacing guide for when a reader will need to know the vocabulary in each list. However, every student is different, and the introduction of LEARNED WORDS should be individualized to the student!
The lists are for sale individually and as a bundle. With each list, I have provided a chart for recording the introduction of Learned Words, and the chart should be used for ongoing assessment of mastery for reading and spelling the Learned Words. Also, all of the Learned Words are available on 2" x 4" word cards, printed in red, for making a Learned Word deck for simple review and practice.
I use a single set of the Learned Word Lists 1-5 for each student I tutor. Not all the words on the list have to be taught to every student. It depends on where the child is in his decoding mastery. Be conscious to teach only those words that are truly non-phonetic, and expose the student to a only a very few phonetic high-frequency words. Since teaching the rules of phonics is what a struggling reader has to rely on to improve his reading skill, learning phonetic words by ”sight” will only confuse him.
Below is a description of the Orton-Gillingham process for teaching Learned Words:
• Tutor provides a word card with learned (non-phonetic) word written in red ink.
• Student traces the letters three times, saying the letter names and then the whole word after each tracing. Student underlines the word as he says the whole word.
• Student attempts to write the word on the dry erase board.
• If he writes it correctly, student writes the word in his learned word notebook. If misspelled, he repeats the procedure.
***I am certified as an Associate-level tutor by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (www.ortonacademy.org).