Orton Gillingham principles form the foundation of the language arts program. These guiding principles require curriculum to be individualized to meet the needs of each student. In addition, each component of the reading and writing curricula is delivered in a structured and sequential order, with learning progressing from simple to complex language concepts. Research supports the use of multisensory teaching strategies for the most effective delivery of curriculum. Continual cumulative review ensures students' mastery of skills. An important aspect of Orton-Gillingham instruction is the requirement that all Language Arts teachers be highly trained in the structure of language and the specialized strategies required to deliver instruction. All programs used to deliver instruction must be based on Orton-Gillingham principles and demonstrate research-based efficacy. The main supplemental programs used at Bridge Academy are Project Read, Lindamood-Bell, Wilson Reading System, and Diana Hanbury King's writing program.
Student groups are constructed using formal assessment, informal assessment, and teacher recommendation based on specified criteria. Students are grouped according to like-need and based on the researched framework developed by Dr. Curtis and Dr. Longo. The framework follows the Orton-Gillingham principles of delivering curriculum in a structured and sequential order with cumulative review of materials. The framework also reflects the research of Dr. Chall's stages of reading. The number of students in a group depends on the developmental skill level of the students. Those still mastering reading basic skills are grouped 3:1, and writing students are grouped 4:1. Experienced students who have moved beyond basic skills, such as those in a literature group, may be grouped as high as 5:1 to foster richer discussion.
The focus of instruction is the student's acquisition of reading, writing, and oral language at their instructional level. Learned skills are integrated for review in each subsequent lesson. In reading, decoding and encoding (spelling) are taught as a unit so that decoding principles support spelling acquisition. Daily remedial lessons include phonemic awareness and sound drills, review of principles or introduction of new principles. Application of the lesson is through reading words, sentences, or paragraphs and through dictation, using the multisensory strategy, simultaneous oral spelling.
To balance the heavy emphasis on skills instruction, the program, Junior Great Books, provides beginning learners with authentic reading experiences. Advanced learners participate in a two-stage literature class, which is in addition to their reading class.
In writing, lessons progress from simple to complex sentence construction. Paragraph writing moves from theme-based sentences to five sentence paragraphs with topic and concluding sentences, and onto expanded paragraphs, with report writing. Advanced writing classes tackle the essay and research paper while still reviewing spelling and advanced sentence construction. Cursive handwriting is taught as part of the writing lesson, using Diana Hanbury King materials. Use of writing software, WYNN, is required of all students.
The language arts curriculum encompasses all areas of English language instruction: basic phonics, advanced morphology, reading comprehension strategies, literature appreciation and critical thinking, vocabulary development, cursive, sentence construction, paragraph and essay writing, as well as research.
A variety of reading challenge incentives provide students with increased motivation and reinforcement of independent reading habits.