Our Reading Programs

Multisensory phonics-based methods are an appropriate alternative for those students, estimated at 15% to 20% of the school population, who have difficulty with whole language and basal reader approaches to reading.

Multisensory methods have proved to be effective for dyslexic students and those with difficulties in language and memory. We match each student with a specific multisensory program to best address his or her needs.

The multisensory programs we offer include Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Reading System, Project Read® Reading Comprehension, the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing™ Program and the Nancibell® Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program. These structured techniques are used to remediate reading and spelling difficulties.


The Orton-Gillingham method, based on sound theoretic principles, is a systematic, multisensory, and phonetically based approach that is highly effective for teaching reading, spelling and handwriting to learners of all ages. This diagnostic method analyzes a student’s strengths and weaknesses and can help those who have not succeeded using other reading methods. It can be used to teach both beginning readers and those who have some “holes” in their knowledge and skills. Structured and sequential teaching ensures that the individual experiences continuous and visible success.

The Orton-Gillingham approach to language instruction addresses the simplest sound-symbol relationships and logically integrates the auditory, visual and kinesthetic elements to reinforce optimal reading and spelling skills. Students learn the basic building blocks of the English language – the phonemes – and then progress to syllables and word parts such as prefixes, roots, and suffixes. In spelling, they learn the many spelling rules that govern the language. The Orton-Gillingham lesson plan integrates reading and spelling skills and builds in continuous practice and review. Students progress from the smallest elements of the language to reading books and applying their spelling skills when writing sentences.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Have difficulty matching sounds with their associated letters
  • Find it difficult to sequence sounds
  • Read aloud in an uneven, halting manner
  • Frequently “skip over” words or fail to notice punctuation
  • Have difficulty remembering spelling patterns

Wilson Reading System

The Wilson Reading System is a twelve-step reading and writing program based upon the Orton-Gillingham philosophy. The program was designed to increase a student’s reading and spelling skills to a mastery level. The ultimate goal is for students to be able to independently apply these skills to their academic studies.

The Wilson Reading System’s twelve steps are direct, sequential, and multisensory, and go beyond the scope of traditional phonics. Students start with sounds and progress to syllables, words, sentences, stories, and finally to books, learning from constant review and practice. The steps follow the six syllable types found in English, and we teach the sounds that relate to the syllable being studied. Each lesson introduces new concepts while reinforcing those already learned. Students experience success because they read only text that contains what has been previously taught.

While the Wilson Reading System was originally designed for students with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, the program has proven beneficial to all students.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Find it difficult to read isolated words
  • Often must guess at words from context
  • Are poor spellers

Project Read® Reading Comprehension

Project Read® teaches students to analyze the structure of expository (report form) and narrative (story form) writing. It presents concepts and skills to students in sequence, with each dependent on learning the one before it. Teachers use multisensory strategies and materials to teach students from grade two through adult to use language independently in all their studies.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Struggle to distinguish the main idea from detail
  • Have difficulty with complex thinking skills such as drawing conclusions, inferring, and predicting outcomes
  • Have difficulty analyzing a story into its parts

Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® Program

The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) Program provides specific instruction for students with weak phonemic awareness. Phonemic awareness is the ability to process the individual sounds, or phonemes, within spoken words. Students who cannot judge the sequence of sound units within spoken words cannot grasp the alphabetic principles upon which English reading and spelling are based. When reading, speaking, or spelling, they often add, omit, or reverse sounds in words. Research indicates that strong phonemic awareness is the foundation for reading and spelling success.

The LiPS® program teaches students to feel the actions of their lips, tongues, and vocal cords, and to notice and label them. Using this new ability to “feel sounds,” students learn to count, identify, and order sounds within words. They then use this “motor kinesthetic feedback” to read and spell. The LiPS® program enables children and adults to think, often for the first time, about how to read and spell.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Add, omit, or struggle to sequence word sounds when reading or speaking
  • Add or omit letters or syllables when reading or speaking
  • Avoid reading and are reluctant to read aloud
  • Write with simpler words than they use when speaking

Nancibell® Visualizing & Verbalizing® Program

The Nancibell® Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program for Language Comprehension directly teaches students how to better understand and remember language. Many students who experience difficulty with language comprehension (oral or written) are not forming mental images from the words they read and hear. They only grasp “parts” of oral and written language, such as a few facts or details, rather than the main idea. This is referred to as weak concept imagery.

The Nancibell® Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program strengthens an individual’s concept imagery. The student begins by verbalizing descriptions of pictures and then progresses, as mastery is achieved, to imaging words, single sentences, multiple sentences, whole paragraphs, and finally, to entire sections of text. The program improves student’s reading comprehension, oral language comprehension and oral language expression. The ultimate goal of the program is for students to transfer these skills to their academic studies. To help ensure this transfer, we also teach note-taking and critical thinking skills.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Accurately read isolated words
  • Often must reread to understand
  • Have difficulty sequencing information
  • Words seem to “go in one ear and out the other”
  • Are unable to remember information for quizzes and tests
  • Have trouble following multi-step oral or written directions

The Commonwealth Learning Center is an independent, non-profit teaching facility and is not affiliated with Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, Pat Lindamood, Phyllis Lindamood, or Nanci Bell.

Learners visit our tutoring centers from a wide range of locations. Following are some of the most common:

Beverly, Boxford, Brookline, Danvers, Dedham, Dover, Hamilton, Lynnfield, Marblehead, Middleton, Milton, Natick, Needham, Newton, North Reading, Norwood, Peabody, Reading, Salem, Topsfield, Wakefield, Waltham, Watertown, Wayland, Wellesley, Wenham, West Roxbury, Weston, Westwood, Wilmington

Our Writing Programs

We provide writing and grammar programs to fit the individual needs of each student. Programs are designed to teach all levels of writing from the basic sentence to research reports. Some students need to learn or review the basic grammar rules of the language. This is usually taught in conjunction with teaching other composition skills.

Project Read® Written Expression

Project Read® Written Expression is a language arts program for students who need a systematic learning experience with direct teaching of concepts and skills through multisensory techniques.

The foundation of written expression is the basic sentence. This program is designed to give students mastery of sentence structure as well as paragraph development and composition. Sentence structure is presented in a sequential order beginning with the simple sentence and moving to complex sentence structures. Comprehension skills are also developed as the student learns about the structure of written language. This program is appropriate for students of all ages.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Have difficulty understanding grammar and the functions of parts of speech
  • Write in run-on or incomplete sentences
  • Always use the same sentence structure when writing
  • Have difficulty organizing a paragraph and writing longer compositions


Our Math Programs

We provide individualized programs for children and adults to develop and improve math skills. Much of what we do is driven by the student’s math curriculum. Our philosophy is to move from concrete to semi-concrete to abstract. We also help students create strategy notebooks for reference. These are like math recipe books and contain algorithms for the skills they have learned. For example, a student might have a page in the strategy notebook devoted to adding fractions with unlike denominators.

Elementary Math

We offer programs for students of any age who wish to develop their math skills. Programs may include instruction in whole numbers, fractions, decimals, time, money, measurement, elementary geometry, and word problems. The programs are designed to meet the specific needs of the learner. Instruction moves from the concrete to the abstract, when appropriate for the student. It often begins with hands-on materials and pictorial representation and then advances to symbolic computation and problem solving. Strategies are incorporated from a variety of programs, including:


This multisensory approach engages students on auditory, visual and tactile/kinesthetic levels. Students count aloud as they touch the single TouchPoints once and double TouchPoints twice.

To ensure that students arrive at the right answer, it is important that they touch the TouchPoints in the correct Touching/Counting Pattern for each numeral. Computations are easier using TouchMath® because all basic operations are based on counting. In TouchMath® addition, students count forward. In subtraction, they count backward. In multiplication and division, they count in sequences. Students touch, count and repeat each problem and answer aloud to reinforce fact mastery.

The Landmark Method for Teaching Arithmetic

Children with learning disabilities are not necessarily deficient in mathematics due to an inability to grasp spatial tasks or estimate quantity. Their difficulties often lie in language dysfunction. These language-based problems preclude them from effectively developing mathematical abilities.

The Landmark Method for Teaching Arithmetic utilizes direct presentation of math grammar and encourages students to speak in complete sentences, to convey an entire thought, and to develop a consistent rehearsal pattern for math facts.

Students who benefit from direct presentation of math grammar are often those who have expressive language problems. These students typically provide one or two word answers to problems. This program helps students with language-based learning disabilities create math sentences and engage in class discussions.

Copyright © 1995 Landmark School, Inc. and Christopher Woodin

On Cloud Nine® Math

To develop concept and numeral imagery, the On Cloud Nine® Math program integrates and applies imagery to the cognitive process of computing and conceptualizing math and mathematical principles.

The program moves through three basic steps to develop mathematical reasoning and computation using: manipulatives to experience math, imagery and language, and computation to apply math to problem solving. The use of manipulatives serves two purposes: to make numbers and mathematical concepts concrete, and to serve as a base for establishing numeral imagery. Students learn to image the concrete, attach language to their imagery and apply that imagery to the computation. For example, when asked to add the numbers 4 + 3, children who are drawing on their images may see 4 cars and 3 more trucks to show 7 vehicles. They know the answer because they can “see it.”

On Cloud Nine® Math is suitable for all grade levels and is for students who have difficulty learning math facts, grasping mathematical relationships, doing word problems, and higher math.

The Commonwealth Learning Center is an independent, non-profit teaching facility and is not affiliated with Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, Pat Lindamood, Phyllis Lindamood, or Nanci Bell.

Advanced Math

Programs for Pre-Algebra, Algebra I and II, Geometry, Pre-Calculus, Calculus, Statistics, and Trigonometry are available. These instructional programs are suitable for secondary school students and for adults preparing for college entrance or high school equivalency examinations.

Our Study Skills Program

Commonwealth Learning Center’s curriculum for teaching study skills is carefully structured to sequentially build new skills on learned ones, including how to organize time, materials, and information. Our study skills program begins with an assessment of each student’s current study habits and a learning styles inventory. The teacher then uses this information to tailor instruction to capitalize on the student’s strengths. The Landmark Master Notebook System, a two-column method of note-taking, enables the student to take effective notes from oral and written sources. Students learn to find a selection’s main idea, to paraphrase, and to write summaries, reports and research papers. Teachers address textbook reading skills, preparing for tests, and test-taking strategies. Once students master basic study skills, they learn how to apply the newly learned strategies to their current academic studies.

This method is particularly effective for students who:

  • Have difficulty organizing materials
  • Have trouble completing assignments independently
  • Exhibit inconsistent homework quality
  • Have difficulty planning and executing multi-step projects such as research papers
  • Receive poor test grades despite understanding the topic

Our Test Preparation Programs

SAT, PSAT, SSAT, and ISEE Exam Preparation

Our Centers prepare students individually for college admission (PSAT, SAT) and private high school entrance (SSAT, ISEE) exams. Our instructors are English and Math specialists who monitor each student’s strengths and weaknesses throughout the program and adjust individual programs as he or she progresses. The program familiarizes students with the tests’ format, including various question types, and teaches strategies for answering questions and building vocabulary. We teach test-taking strategies that relieve anxiety and increase confidence, and build valuable skills for a student to use long after the examination is over.

CLC administers the SSAT on Saturdays according to the national test schedule.

Individualized MCAS Test Preparation

We offer tutorials in MCAS test preparation. The MCAS, or Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System, evaluates how well students are meeting the Massachusetts Department of Education’s learning standards. CLC prepares students for the English/Language Arts and Mathematics strands of the Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks. Based on the student’s school MCAS report or a CLC administered pre-test, we are able to determine the specific areas where improvement is needed. Our experienced teachers then design a program for each student to enable him or her to achieve an acceptable score on the MCAS exam. A post-test can confirm the level of improvement.

GED Test Preparation

General Educational Development (GED) tests are a group of subject tests which, when passed, certify that the taker has high school-level academic skills. The GED is comprised of five tests: Language Arts Reading, Language Arts Writing, Social Studies, Science, and Mathematics.

Only individuals who have not earned a high school diploma may take the GED tests. Common reasons for GED recipients not having received a high school diploma include adult immigration to the United States, homeschooling, leaving high school early, the inability to pass required courses or mandatory achievement tests, the need to work, personal problems, and wanting to get into college early.

Our Academic Support Program

Many students need more support and direct instruction than they receive in school. At Commonwealth Learning Center, tutors work one-to-one with students on homework assignments, preparing for tests and on other academic work with which they need assistance. Within the context of their academics, students work on skills such as following directions, effective reading of a textbook and strategies for organizing their time and materials. This extra support has helped many students who have problems with organizing, paying attention or completing assignments independently. Our goal is threefold:

  • to develop students’ independence and self-esteem by directly teaching appropriate learning strategies
  • to help students transfer and apply these skills to their everyday school situations
  • to teach students to effectively monitor their own learning

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