New Ways to Hack Learning [Premium]

New Ways to Hack Learning [Premium]

Almost every structured literacy program uses letter tiles and flashcards. The reason for this is that there are so many word parts and whole words to learn and the use of tiles and cards can give students visual support as they focus on various letters, letter groups, and their sounds while building up reading fluency. Some students may have difficulty learning with tiles and cards if the lessons or demonstrations proceed too quickly, or if working memory is easily overloaded or motor challenges make hands-on activities more difficult than less kinesthetic ones. Activities like word sorts may also provide a little physical activity that help students stay alert and engaged whereas more passive study may have them drifting off. For college kids and adults, flashcards […]

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Question: Keeping Up with Wilson at School [Premium]

Question: Keeping Up with Wilson at School [Premium]

Question: I have a third grade student who attends a school that used Wilson Fundations in the earlier grades. The problem is that even though my daughter did some summer work, she’s been having trouble keeping up. She’s dropped down a level from her peers so that she’s just repeating what she had been taught before. There is less stress in the lower group, but would changing her to a different curriculum be a better option? Answer: This is a difficult question to answer specifically. Ideally, someone who really knows your student could give you specific guidance on whether repetition or a new curriculum might be a better move. The Wilson Fundations program is designed for general education classrooms. It (as well as other programs […]

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The Power of the List [Premium]

The Power of the List [Premium]

For many of us, hearing about a new technology, app, or software can result in mixed feelings. We may have hope about better organizing and simplifying our lives, but also have reasonable worry about a difficult learning curve, a complicated interface, or any number of problems that can prevent us from reaping the benefits of whatever thing we are hoping might help. Enter – the simple list. If you have a weak short term or working memory, but great long-term memory and you don’t like reading lots of extra text, then lists may be the perfect productivity tool for you. Putting something down on a list can offload your working memory, but also have the benefits of reinforcing the big picture, while never losing sight […]

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Finding Your Voice [Premium]

Finding Your Voice [Premium]

Finding one’s voice is an existential issue for many – but for dyslexic folks in particular, it can be a difficult because of the nature of their challenges early in life and, of course, the school business. From a practical perspective, dyslexia can create many obstacles in expression and people may be trapped not being able to reveal the depth of their feeling and understanding. Even when the reading issues get remediated and accommodated and writing gets easier, many will still struggle – and that may drift into the adult years. WHAT TO DO? There’s a saying, “Use it or lose it”, and the dilemma for those who may have some trouble expressing their ideas is that they are more likely to be inhibited about […]

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Not Over Hurdles, But Around Them

Not Over Hurdles, But Around Them

If you have moderate to severe dyslexia, chances are that you’ve encountered many obstacles on path to higher education and career. The farther one gets in education, the more one can recognize that much of education deals with writing about things rather than doing them. If you can find a program that is more hands-on and real world problem solving, you may have hit the jackpot; if not, you may have heard the lecture that some thing that you want to do is impossible or out of-reach, but it may not be. You may need to find your way around a hurdle and not over it – like others of your peer group. Spiky profile dyslexics may find themselves getting A’s in physics, science, and […]

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Reading Beyond Level

Reading Beyond Level

Don’t restrict students to decodable readers. It’s a little like trying to feed an elephant one blade of grass at a time.   Reading decodable books has an important place in structured literacy programs for dyslexic students, but recently some in the reading community have been calling for “phonics-only” or “phonics-first” and this is not a good idea. Recently Emeritus Literacy Professor Timothy Shanahan from the University of Illinois at Chicago has also called these policies as overreach. From his recent blog post: “The National Reading Panel report (2000) is oft cited as the major support for phonics instruction. We found (I was a member of the panel) that explicit, systematic phonics instruction helped students to become better readers – based on a meta-analysis of […]

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Language Teaching and Dyslexia: What About Exceptions to the Rules? [Premium]

Language Teaching and Dyslexia: What About Exceptions to the Rules? [Premium]

The English language is especially difficult to learn if you are dyslexic – because about half of its words are not predictable by simple rules. So what to do? WORD FAMILIES Learning similar words in similar groups can be motivating for students because they learn many words at one time. Dyslexic students tend to be good at recognizing patterns, so approaches like these are well-suited toward dyslexic students. One site for word family lists can be found here. DON’T OVERSIMPLIFY THE RULES Problems usually arise when students are taught an oversimplified rule like “a silent e makes a vowel say its name”. The rule works for words like bake, bike, nose, and cute, but it doesn’t work for words like have or dance.

[…]

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Building Spatial Talents [Premium]

Building Spatial Talents [Premium]

“…Spatial reasoning has been key to numerous scientific advances, such as the discovery of the double-helix structure of DNA and the epidemiological research using maps to discover the true source of cholera outbreaks. It is also essential to many 21st-century careers, particularly in science and engineering… But are we able to see and support these particular kinds of talent in our classrooms?” — Lakin and Wai, Phi Delta Kappan   What are spatial talents? In short, they are talents that involve visualizing objects and places in 3d and being able to manipulate them at will. These are talents that seem rich within the dyslexic community, but may be overlooked or neglected in conventional school activities. It’s an important strength set to recognize because it tends […]

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Question: Advice for a Student Who Does Not Want to Disclose in High School

Question: Advice for a Student Who Does Not Want to Disclose in High School

  It is very common for people to want to choose whether they want to formally disclose their dyslexia, and to whom. This may change over the years and of course depending on particular contexts. WHY DOES A STUDENT CHOOSE NOT TO DISCLOSE IN HIGH SCHOOL? Some students may choose not to disclose as they move into their high school years because they feel as if they have become successful in remediating the most difficult steps of reading and want to free themselves from supports. Others might be outgrowing their need for an IEP and not want to attend pull-out supports once they transition to high school.

It might be that students are outgrowing their need for special education as they enter high […]

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Is There a Natural Way to Write for Dyslexics?

Is There a Natural Way to Write for Dyslexics?

  Writing is so difficult for people with dyslexia, it’s a reasonable question to ask whether certain types of writing might come more naturally than others.   AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL AND PERSONA WRITING As highlighted in Philip Schultz’s example and in his book Comforts of the Abyss, writing with a strong narrative voice, whether it’s your own voice and experiences or someone else’s, is a style of writing that comes naturally to many dyslexic people. It might be because of strong personal and emotional memories and personal responses to learning about the lives of others; it may be that the feelings and imaginings are difficult to get down on paper, but once they are there, the words may become alive to any reader fortunate to read them. […]

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If Your Student Can’t Write [Premium]

If Your Student Can’t Write [Premium]

If your student can’t write, no matter what age – prepare yourself for the long haul because so much of schooling and even many aspects of hiring and work can require writing. When writing is difficult for students with dyslexia, it may be that they are having difficulty converting feelings and images to words, trouble retrieving words, or putting them in the correct order, then writing them down with correct spelling and grammar. A significant proportion of dyslexic students will also have dyspraxia, so have trouble with sequencing and fine motor control required for handwriting automaticity. Any added difficulties may also swamp working memory, causing students to get lost in what they want to say. For many dyslexic people, dysgraphia will present a greater problem […]

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Math Strategies Instead of Drill [Premium]

Math Strategies Instead of Drill [Premium]

In the many years Brock and I spent testing and listening to dyslexic students at every level of education, we often heard first hand accounts of how they learned how to tackle difficult subjects and bypass school-related challenges. As research studies bear out (for instance, see Kirby’s study of dyslexic university students), many dyslexic students in higher education have arrived at where they are because they are deep learners, savvy about how they learn best, and strategic in how they approach school.   Brain-Based Reasons Why Math Strategies Are Better for Dyslexics Than Drill But there is also neurobiological evidence that supports why strategies may be a superior route for dyslexic learning compared to drill or simple repetition. By now, anyone who knows about brain […]

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