In our one of our Premium magazine issue, we wrote about the scientific basis of late blooming and why dyslexics students – and gifted dyslexic students in particular are likely to be this way.
Shelley Wear, a long-time Dyslexic Advantage volunteer and teacher of dyslexic students shared this note in which we thought we’d share with you because it raises a very important issue for students in middle school:
“Fantastic article on “The late Bloom”! I have seen some of my middle school students with LD jump 2-3 grade levels during 6th-8th grades. I find that students who need decoding skills don’t seem to get taught it after about 4th grade, unless they are being assisted by a parent, sibling, speech pathologist, or other professional such as a tutor.
Teachers aren’t required to teach decoding after that because they assume everyone got it and even the textbooks go to comprehension skills in every subject from there. I make sure to include decoding and fluency practice for my students in my Core Literacy class (all students regardless of disability or lack thereof) in the middle school I teach at have an extra literacy class in addition to English.
General ed classes work on strictly vocabulary and written work, but I like to focus on decoding, fluency, practicing what good readers do – teaching them to preview text, make predictions, stop and visual passages like a movie in their head, and make connections to their personal lives through novel based learning adding projects, etc.
Last year, after working on learning the vocabulary and doing exercises on sequencing and following directions, we engaged in a hands-on project that was difficult, tedious, but paid off in spades. Students created big paper machines with moving parts based on the Colossal Paper Machines that were donated by our local Tractor Supply Company.
Students had to read and follow difficult directions (some of which stumped even me), but the outcome after a few tears and tantrums spouting off “I can’t,” was that every student grew as their machines were completed. I had the local newspaper do a story on it and they gave us a full-page layout as a result. I say all this just to chime in that “the late bloom” is a real thing that I have personally seen in my classroom…
Once students get a taste of success, the walls come down and it seems to just flow more naturally from that point. I am not saying that all students make the same progress, but as a middle school teacher, I can see huge progress from 6th to 8th. I think that is why I love working with this group so much….
We just have to remember as teachers, if they can’t decode, it doesn’t matter what the subject is…you must stop and teach them that skill or else the rest is like being on a hamster wheel…”
Thanks Shelley for your wonderful insights and advice!