Students attend Cambridge School because they have been diagnosed with a language-based learning difference — such as dyslexia, dysgraphia, ADHD, auditory processing disorder, or executive function difficulties — and have struggled in traditional academic settings. These bright children thrive at Cambridge through the support of our:
- Language-based curriculum that utilizes evidence-based programs
- Explicit, direct, and systematic instruction that is carefully individualized to meet the needs of each child
- Multisensory teaching techniques that create more concrete and complete learning experiences
- Classroom instruction supported by cutting-edge technology
Enhanced by small classes, our approach allows each student to progress at his or her pace, leading to increased mastery of skills and improved self-esteem.
Additionally, all Cambridge School teachers, regardless of their content specialty, are trained in the language programs we use, including, but not limited to:
- Wilson Reading System® (Level-1 certification)
- Orton-Gillinham methodology
- Lindamood-Bell® Learning Processes
- Hochman Basic Writing Skills
- Story Grammar Marker®
Our language-based curriculum includes three, 45-minute periods of language instruction daily, including language, written expression, and reading. Information regarding the programs and approaches we use at Cambridge can be found below.
Language (Phonemic Awareness, Reading, and Spelling)
Orton-Gillingham is the original sequential, multi-sensory, phonics-based methodology. Basic sound/symbol associations are introduced by incorporating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic modalities. A three-part drill engages these senses while students are introduced to and integrate new phonetic concepts. The program engages students through the use of multi-sensory tools including sand-trays, blending boards, vowel tents, “air writing”, and writing screens. Students build phonemic awareness and increase phonological processing — foundational skills for reading and spelling.
Wilson Reading Programs
Wilson Reading Programs are based on the Orton-Gillingham philosophy. Through direct, sequential, multi-sensory instruction students learn the structure of the English language and increase decoding and encoding skills to a mastery level. Lessons introduce new concepts while reinforcing those already learned.
Wilson Reading System®
The Wilson Reading System® is the foundation of all Wilson intervention programs including Fundations® and Wilson Just Words®. The Wilson Reading System® is an intensive program for students in grades 2 – 12 who are not making sufficient progress through their current intervention or require more intensive structured literacy instruction due to the level of their language-based learning difference. At Cambridge School instruction in the Wilson Reading System® is provided in 1:1 or small group settings.
Used in our Lower School, Fundations® is an early intervention program based on the principals of the Wilson Reading System®. Through research-based strategies and systematic and explicit instruction, Fundations® provides comprehensive instruction in reading, spelling, and handwriting.
Wilson Just Words®
Used in our Middle School, Wilson Just Words® is a word study program with an emphasis on phonemic awareness, word structure, and fluent decoding and encoding skills. Just Words® is designed for students with decoding and encoding skills that are below average. It provides information at a sophisticated level with an accelerated introduction to the six syllable types and spelling rules.
Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®)
The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® Program for Reading, Spelling, and Speech (LiPS®) program builds phonemic awareness. It begins with discovering how speech sounds are articulated and extends into reading and spelling multisyllabic words with contextual application. LiPS® uses a multi-sensory approach to increase knowledge of letter symbols and their corresponding sounds. Cambridge language specialists guide students to identify what is “working” in their mouths (lips, tongue, jaw) to discriminate and identify the subtleties that exist between speech sounds. Students are also guided towards self-correcting their errors using feedback from feeling the positions used in the production of sounds. Multi-sensory instruction aids in comprehension of concepts.
The Seeing Stars® Program for Reading Fluency and Spelling is a Lindamood-Bell program that helps students develop symbol imagery for sounds within words and visual memory for orthographic patterns. Cambridge uses aspects of the Seeing Stars program to help students build symbol imagery skills, such as “air-writing” simple and complex syllables and high-frequency prefixes and suffixes. In addition to working with word parts, sight words are also presented so that students have a stronger base of sight words that they can read and spell with success.
Hochman Basic Writing Skills
The Hochman Basic Writing Skills program helps students develop expository writing skills. The goal of the writing program is to enable students to express clearly and accurately in written form the ideas they are able to verbalize. At the heart of this program is intense work at the sentence level. Multi-sensory activities that include sentence expansion, sentence starters, and conjunctions empower students to develop the skill of writing linguistically complex sentences.
Cambridge language specialists also provide direct instruction in the process of writing, which gives students the structure and organizational strategies integral to the task. Lessons emphasize planning, outlining, proofreading, and editing. Study skills including note taking, paraphrasing, and summarizing are incorporated as well. Mechanics of language, writing, and grammar are included and practiced. The primary emphasis is on providing a framework for organizing written expression while building linguistic complexity.
Since many students have difficulty applying the writing skills learned in one class to the subject matter of another, reinforcement is important. Therefore, teachers of science, social studies, mathematics, art, etc. help to carry over and reinforce the skills the students have learned in their writing classes. This consistent reinforcement of writing skills assures that students learn to think and write with precision and confidence.
Framing Your Thoughts®
To help students further internalize the fundamentals of sentence writing, teachers utilize the Framing Your Thoughts® Sentence Structure program. This sequential, systematic curriculum teaches sentence structure from simple to complex. Multisensory teaching techniques incorporating graphic symbols and colors help students understand sentence parts and how they function, and students gradually learn to construct compound complex sentences with accuracy and creativity.
Directionality and Handwriting Exercises
Directionality and handwriting exercises are an important component of our Lower School program and are performed daily. To develop handwriting fluency, it is essential for students to internalize the formation of letters beginning with proper top to bottom and left to right movement.
Using multi-sensory techniques, manuscript writing is taught in Lower School I & II using the D’Nealian™ method, and cursive writing is taught in Lower School III & IV using the WilsonⓇ sequence for letter formation.
In addition to handwriting practice, students also receive instruction in touch typing skills to increase keyboard awareness, speed, and accuracy.
Reading (Fluency and Comprehension)
Story Grammar Marker®
Story Grammar Marker® is a research-based program that provides explicit, systematic instruction in narrative development and expository text comprehension. Its multi-sensory approach is designed to develop oral language skills, written expression, critical thinking, and perspective taking. The SGM® program explicitly teaches the overall organization of a story, such as character, setting, initiating event, and resolution. This practice of externalizing story elements using visual tools effectively reduces the load on working memory and allows students to focus on translating their ideas into words. Additionally, the SGM® tools and maps highlight the microstructure of text, which is the use of linguistic devices that convey meaning and promote critical thinking. While this method effectively advances literacy skills, it also enables students to understand emotions, motivations, and perspectives and to more effectively retell the story.
Visualizing and Verbalizing®
The Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program for Language Comprehension and Thinking is a Lindamood-Bell program that helps students develop concept imagery — the ability to create an imaged gestalt from language. The program applies concept imagery to reading comprehension, following directions, oral language comprehension, higher order thinking skills, expressive language, and writing. At the heart of the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program are 12 structure words. This helps students to develop the skill of “making a picture or movie” in their minds as they read from the text or as they take in auditory information, for example, storytelling. As the student becomes skillful with the strategies in this program his/her reading comprehension, listening comprehension, critical thinking, and expressive language skills improve.
Read Naturally® Live
Read Naturally® Live is a highly effective web-based fluency intervention that provides a framework for our students to improve their reading fluency skills. This research-based reading program combines teacher modeling, repeated reading, and progress monitoring to improve the speed and accuracy that is crucial to effective reading. Read Naturally® Live also supports vocabulary development and promotes comprehension. The platform’s powerful strategies and tools increase students’ self-esteem and inspire them to take greater responsibility for their own success.
Additional Language Enrichment
The language of inferences, sayings, and idioms can be difficult to grasp for learning different students — children who can be very literal in their thinking. The entire school community is instructed in “The Idiom of the Week” which is an interesting way for the students to enrich their language and assist them in moving from concrete to more abstract thinking. Exposure to inferences, sayings, and idioms also helps with reading comprehension skills.
Storytelling, a unique art form, is part of the Lower School curriculum. Storytelling creates a bridge between written and oral language and improves listening, reading comprehension, and literacy skills. Storytelling also builds self-esteem, exposes students to cultures through folklore, provides problem-solving techniques for conflict resolution, and teaches students how to relate with empathy toward others.
Greek and Latin Word Roots
Middle School I & II students learn Greek and Latin word roots to help them increase vocabulary and reading comprehension. Each week, students are presented with strategic vocabulary instruction through Greek and Latin word parts. Students are empowered with a useful, transferable technique for making sense of unfamiliar vocabulary across content areas and on standardized tests. Classroom exercises encourage students to think about word relationships, determine correct usage in context, complete analogies, and use words in writing and discussion. Teachers also provide students with multi-sensory activities that include these word roots so that they become internalized.