Great question. The degree of accommodations and or modifications should be individualized.

SPELLCHECK Severely dyslexic students may need to dictate written work or keyboard work using spelling check. One favorite teacher of ours told us that she had a breakthrough with a student of hers when she allowed him to take spelling tests with spellcheck! Most of his spelling errors at that time were so severe that they couldn’t be recognized by spell check. When this student saw that he finally had success with writing and spelling his outlook and effort increased dramatically. We forget that spellcheck can be a great trainer as well as corrector of spelling. Use the better spellchecks whenever possible. Microsoft Word’s spellcheck used some of Dyslexic Advantage’s community members to help with their spelling corrections! The best spellcheck software (free Grammarly or Ginger) have contextual grammar too that will give feedback about correct uses of certain words and their spellings.

ALLOW STUDENTS TO FOCUS ON WRITING INDEPENDENT OF SPELLING

Students should be allowed to focus on their written work independent of spelling because working memory demands make it difficult to do both until the mechanical aspects of writing have become more automatic. Spelling should be learned, but as a separate discipline for young students as well as those with severe challenges.

For older students (including those in college), teachers can encourage their dyslexic students to not ‘dumb down’ their writing by encouraging them to use advanced vocabulary when appropriate, but circling words to let the teacher know that they were uncertain about their spelling. Later some of these words can be checked and written correctly in a spelling journal.

Check out this thoughtful post by an English Professor for her students:

“Spellings are one of the biggest barriers for students who are lacking confidence in their writing, and this generally leads to disengagement with the task and the subject. Being honest with students about our own barriers to learning is really important. My students are trained to do a number of things:

* When proof reading work, circle any words you are not certain you have spelled correctly (or used correctly), so I will know you were unsure when I mark your book.

* When writing, if you have used a dictionary (electronic is ok too!) to check a spelling, underline the word and write ‘checked’ in the margin, so that you know it’s right and can look back in your book next time you need to use it.

* They are NEVER too old to do a spelling test, or use ‘look, cover, write, check’!

* Remember that poor spelling does NOT make you a bad English student, it just means you have to be more aware of what you are doing. I would far rather see you use advanced vocabulary spelled wrong, than read something boring because you were too scared to use it!”

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