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Changing the way people think about teaching


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 as well as formal training seminars.


The Riggs Institute is a self-supporting non-profit literacy agency founded in 1979 by Myrna T McCulloch. We support our literacy initiatives (curriculum, “awareness of the issues” and training and assistance in collaborative efforts across the world) through the sale of our curriculum materials and training, which are in keeping with our IRS status as a 501(c)(3) agency. We operate under a board of directors, all of which are unpaid, voluntary positions.


Parents and teachers have long known that a child’s brain can soak up information like a sponge. But now, researchers have scientific evidence to back up the theory, along with advice on ways to help children reach their full potential. Steve Nadia – Technology Review “Kids Brainpower”


The most important component of this program, which enables virtually every learner to learn, is the simultaneous multi-sensory methodology used to teach it. Each student’s “learning style” is addressed, neurologically, through four avenues to the mind.

The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking

The Writing and Spelling Road to Reading and Thinking, written by the Institute’s founder Myrna T. McCulloch, still teaches the phonetic structure of correct English spelling. Twenty-six letters from the 45 sounds of English speech, using 71 common phonograms (letters and combinations of letters which make a single sound in a given word). These are taught in four weeks, simultaneously with dictated letter formation instructions designed to prevent or correct common reversals and to develop cognitive visual/directional motor skills.

These sound/symbol relationships are then applied in the dictation of 2100+ of the most commonly used spelling words. Forty-seven rules of spelling, plurals and syllabication are stressed along with a memory-aid marking system. This method begins where English-speaking primary level children are in their spoken and comprehensible vocabularies (4000 to 24,000 words) when they begin first grade. The intent is to enable them to spell, write and read what they can already say and understand by the end of grade two.

Methodologies Used
To address all “learning styles” without risking discrimination, Orton, Spalding and Riggs (mentor to our founder/author Myrna McCulloch) say we must use four pathways to the brain:

  • sight
  • sound
  • voice
  • writing

We teach using multi-sensory, classical direct, Socratic instruction and dictation, thus teaching through the stronger avenues while remedying any weaker avenues without the necessity of pre-testing. Direct and Socratic instruction includes presenting the concepts through questioning rather than exclusively telling, illustrating those concepts, helping students to practice the concepts, using teaching charts which are created with the students, then assigning and assessing work to determine mastery. Dictation is prominently featured in this method to build comprehension and the requisite auditory and phonological awareness and processing skills necessary for students to think, spell, and write on their own.

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