Dr. Fran Levin Bowman, Founder
A Dynamic Educator
Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” was developed in 1984 by the late Dr. Fran Levin Bowman, a brilliant, dynamic educator with a passion for students who struggle. She started her career as a special educator in Baltimore County and quickly encountered a group of striving readers who weren’t responding to interventions. She remembered learning about Orton-Gillingham in college and decided to try it. The students’ incredible response to Orton-Gillingham ignited her curiosity, and she spent the next several years reading research and taking Orton courses. Fran became a Fellow in the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners & Educators and developed Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”. She began sharing it with teachers and tutors and her enthusiasm was contagious. Word spread quickly about Dr. Fran Bowman’s engaging course, which teachers often say is the best professional development they have ever had, leaving them empowered and excited to teach students how to read.
A Mentorship Begins
Stephanie Pratt took Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” course out of desperation. It was the early 2000s, her third grade son couldn’t read, the school didn’t know how to help him, and as a high school Chemistry teacher, Stephanie didn’t know how to help him either. They lived in a rural community with no options for students with dyslexia, so Stephanie took Fran’s course, began working with her son, and, like Fran, was amazed at the immediate progress he made. Stephanie realized there were more students like her son who needed help, shifted careers, became a special educator and reading specialist. With Fran as her mentor, she began a program for students with dyslexia at the local Catholic School, where she taught hundreds of students to read using Fran’s program. Stephanie and Fran talked constantly about dyslexia, students, reading research and, in 2015, Stephanie began helping Fran teach Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”.
Dr. Fran Levin Bowman and Stephanie Pratt at the International Dyslexia Conference in Portland, November 2019
Sarah Ann Hawkey at Dyslexia Advocacy Day in Annapolis, February 2020
A Pandemic Proposal
In February 2020, Sarah Ann Hawkey, a secondary English teacher and EdTech content developer, had just completed Fran’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” course in Rockville, MD. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Sarah Ann proposed joining Fran to adapt her in-person course for virtual delivery to registrants across the US. A small but mighty team, Fran, Stephanie, and Sarah Ann worked tirelessly to maintain the course’s energy and level of engagement in this new environment.
A Legacy Endures
In 2021, Fran was diagnosed with cancer. She asked Stephanie to carry on her life’s work by continuing to train teachers and tutors in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”. Fran died in November 2021. Our team expanded to include additional instructors and technology specialists. We are honored to carry on Fran’s legacy, working toward the day when every child reads.
Jennifer Wheat, Stephanie Pratt, Stephanie Nislow, and Sarah Ann Hawkey at World Dyslexia Assembly in New York City, April 2023
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Orton-Gillingham method?
Orton-Gillingham is a structured literacy approach to teaching reading, writing, and spelling that is specifically designed to help struggling readers. In Orton-Gillingham, the teacher explicitly teaches the connections between letters and sounds in a systematic, synthetic, cumulative, and multisensory way. Students see, touch, say, and hear each sound of the language, build words for reading and spelling, and work through syllable types, morphology, and reading fluently at the multisyllabic level.
Why do schools and families choose Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”?
Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” can prevent or effectively address and limit the severity of reading and writing problems for students with dyslexia and related learning disabilities. A large body of research shows that with appropriate, intensive instruction, all but the most severe reading disabilities can be effectively addressed. Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” provides schools and families with the knowledge and skills necessary to teach language, reading, and writing effectively, especially to students experiencing difficulty.
What’s the “Plus” in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”?
Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” includes the essentials of Orton-Gillingham “plus” phonological awareness and reading fluency exercises based on research and recommendations from the National Institutes of Health and the National Reading Panel. Our course is a highly systematic, multisensory, synthetic, phonetic approach, which simultaneously builds reading, writing, and spelling skills.
Who would benefit from Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”?
Anyone who works with students who struggle with reading would benefit from Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” training. Caregivers, tutors, attorneys, psychologists, speech language pathologists, supervisors, administrators, classroom teachers, special educators, and reading specialists have taken the training and have found the knowledge and strategies invaluable for supporting their students.
What is covered in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”?
Participants learn how the brain learns to read, how the dyslexic brain learns differently, the evidence-based components of structured literacy as laid out by the National Reading Panel, the Orton-Gillingham method of reading intervention, and how to monitor the progress of students. The instructor demonstrates strategies to explicitly and systematically teach reading and spelling in fun, mutisensory ways, then allows participants ample time to practice these strategies with other participants and receive feedback.
Do you offer in-school district training for professional staff?
Yes, we partner with school districts to schedule virtual, hybrid, or in-person training. A minimum of 20 registrants is required. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.
What certification will I have after completing Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”?
Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” is not an accrediting organization, but our course is an essential step toward certification. You will receive a certificate that confirms your successful completion of the 60-hour Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” course to provide to the accrediting organization of your choice. The Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI), for example, requires training hours, amongst other competencies, to become certified.
Will Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” prepare me for the Knowledge and Practice Examination for Effective Reading Instruction (KPEERI) exam?
Yes, Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”, in addition to CERI’s recommended modules and readings, prepare you for the KPEERI exam which assesses your knowledge of structured literacy.
Can I receive professional development credit and/or graduate credit?
If their district is in agreement, educators who successfully complete Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” are eligible for 4 Maryland State Department of Education Continuing Professional Development credits. Anyone who successfully completes Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” is eligible to purchase three non-degree graduate credits through Shepherd University.
I would like to pursue a practicum. Can you recommend an IDA Accredited Partner?
Migdal Consulting, a trusted educational consultant and certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (C-SLDS) in Frederick, MD, provides an 8–10 month practicum that meets the requirements for two Center for Effective Reading Instruction (CERI) certifications: 1. Alternate Route: Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Specialist (C-SLDS) and 2. Alternate Route: Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Interventionist (C-SLDI). Please contact Migdal Consulting for more information.
Frequently Asked Questions
I enrolled in Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” virtual course. What do I need to participate?
Please download Zoom or update Zoom to the latest version. Check your inbox for an email from email@example.com a few days before your training begins. It will include everything you need to join including the Zoom link, ID, and passcode. You will need a reliable internet connection, a device with audio and video enabled, a flat surface for demonstrations, and your multisensory kit.
Is tech support available for virtual courses?
Yes, a Technology Specialist facilitates online trainings and provides ongoing, comprehensive remote technical support, proposing resolutions to specific issues as they arise.
What’s my e-book password?
Please check your inbox for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” e-books. The case-sensitive password is in the body of the email. If you did not safelist email@example.com, your e-book email may be in your spam or junk mail folder. Please follow the directions in How to Safelist Emails to receive all course correspondence in your primary inbox.
I finished Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus”. Where is my certificate of completion?
Please check your inbox for an email from firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject Bowman’s Orton-Gillingham “Plus” Certificate of Completion sent on or after the last day of your training. If you did not safelist email@example.com, your certificate of completion may be in your spam or junk mail folder. Please follow the directions in How to Safelist Emails to receive all course correspondence in your primary inbox.