Welcome to The Riggs Institute
The Riggs Institute is a self-supporting, non-profit literacy agency
and publisher. We offer language arts curriculum for teachers and parents and formal
training seminars as well.
The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking
Our method of instruction, The Writing & Spelling Road to
Reading & Thinking, begins by teaching manuscript letter formation
through dictated instructions (no copying or tracing), together with a sufficient
set of sound/letter relationships (the alphabetic principle).
This accommodates the Webster-Oxford spelling system which "standardized" English
spelling in the early 1860's, and remains virtually unchanged after 140+ years.
These phoneme/grapheme relationships are taught together as "explicit" phonics,
"in isolation" (without key words, pictures or letter names) as recommended in the
1985 federal synthesis of reading research done by the nation's leading reading
professors, "Becoming a Nation of Readers" (BNR).
This instruction takes only four of the first nine weeks in Grade 1--all without
The 120 collective years of research and experience that have produced this updated
method began with Dr. Samuel T. Orton, the earliest neuroscientist to research the
functioning of the human brain in learning language skills (1923-1948). Dr. Orton
used a very similar phonics base and collaborated with successful classroom teachers
to combine his non-discriminating multi-sensory techniques with
Classical Direct and Socratic instructional approaches
to teaching. His first successful applications went to re-establish language-skills
memory in brain-damaged World War I veterans. Other physiological organic or trauma-induced
brain-damaged individuals (i.e. stroke patients) were treated similarly until his
death in 1948.
Romalda Spalding and The Writing Road to Reading
Using Orton's methods to teach normal primary students was designed by one of his
last teacher-collaborators, Romalda Spalding, who authored The Writing Road to Reading
in 1957. She believed, and we believe, that her method represented Dr. Orton's final
conclusions that this method should be used for primary children, both to prevent
and correct learning disorders, and most importantly to establish high literacy
in virtually all primary children. This promise gave birth to our motto:
- An Equal & Optimal Learning Opportunity Through Multi-Sensory Language
The Riggs Method
The Riggs Method incorporates the phonics-based spelling with rules system dating
from the Webster-Oxford standardization of English spelling, but also provides realistic
phonemic/graphemic correspondences from contemporary dictionaries. It is possible
to teach correct spelling as well as regional dialects and varied pronunciations
across the English-speaking world. This phonetic system and the rules of English
were regularly taught in colleges of education and were incorporated in orthography
student texts during the pre-"Dick and Jane" era (the 1920's and before), in a time
when children who were privileged to attend school almost all became highly literate.
It simply requires a realistic alignment of worldwide speech patterns with the English
spelling system (and our slight revision of the phonograms). See
Dr. Linnea Ehri's research and commentary on the importance of the grapheme
over the phoneme.
Augmenting the instruction to finely integrate grammar and syntax, creative and
organizational composition skills, and vocabulary development saves time, money
and attention, and points out the relevance to that which the student already knows.
We use roots, prefixes, suffixes, homophones and homographs, antonyms, synonyms
and graphic organizers to provide for a high-expectation, skills-based, complete
language arts method designed to accompany any vocabulary-rich literature of the
user's choice. Chronologically arranged daily lesson plans, with initial "how to"
scripting, make the method teacher friendly and potentially the most creative program
any teacher or parent may be privileged to use. It is the most cost effective, in
that it equips a teacher for life for about $200. Students use only paper, pencil
and their minds.
Instruction begins at a 6-year-old's listening and/or spoken comprehensible vocabulary
levels which researchers Chall, Seashore and Flesch determined to be between 4,000
and 24,000 words. Because phonics instruction is first, fast, complete and multi-sensory
(the latter to address all neurologically based "learning styles"). Beginners very
quickly spell, write, and then read what they can already listen to and/or say with
understanding. Primary children find this fast-paced, common sense, independence-establishing
experience challenging, exhilarating and fun! Remedial students of all ages love
this program because it doesn't look "babyish." They can easily be convinced that
it truly is a life-changing college course in linguistics simply because it is so
different from any other phonics system they may have learned.
Language Arts & Cognitive Development
The Writing & Spelling Road to Reading & Thinking (subtitled A Neurolinguistic
Approach to Cognitive Development and English Literacy, title of our SAU
accredited training seminars) is now the most complete and up-to-date "Orton-based"
language arts method available. We believe that it complies with the "No Child Left
Behind (NCLB)" research-based requirements. It is self-training
for many teachers and parents, and gives them the practical help they need to teach
the following language arts "strands" and cognitive development:
- "Explicit" Phonics with dictated Initial Letter Formation
- The Alphabetic Principle
- Phonemic & Graphemic Awareness
- Correct Spelling w/47 Rules
- Fluent Oral and Silent Reading
- Oral and Print Comprehension
- Pronunciation & Speech
- Creative & Organizational Composition
Analytical & Inferential Thinking
- Auditory/Visual/Verbal/Motor Cognitive Development in:
"Independent evaluation of our programs has affirmed our academic excellence,
with full WASC (Western Association of Schools and Colleges) accreditation, for
grades K-12 in 2010. The national IOWA tests pay tribute to the education that our
students receive by consistently averaging in the 90th and above percentile for
core total scores. St. Joseph Academy students, taken together as a school, are
working approximately four years ahead of the national objective standards for K-8
students. Likewise, taken as a school group, they are performing better than 97%
of other K-8 schools.
Our high school students are performing better than 94% compared to other high schools
nationwide. Performance by our students ranks them in the top 3% of grade schools
and the top 6% of high schools in the nation."
- St. Joseph's in San Marcos, CA