Teaching Punctuation [Premium]

Teaching Punctuation [Premium]

Learning punctuation can be difficult for many reasons – the challenges of reading, auditory and visual processing problems, symbol confusion, and working memory overload; but usually teaching punctuation explicitly and in manageable bits using multisensory and memory associations can help students master the rules and patterns. The symbols involved in punctuation are simpler than the range of marks found in math. When students are still learning, use color coding and allow students to work with a cheat sheet that has examples when they carry out their punctuation exercises. Holly at Teachstarter has a number of cute ideas for teaching punctuation. Giving the markers personalities personalizes the symbols making it easier to remember in what contexts the symbols are used and to distinguish them from each […]

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Pausing while Writing [Premium]

Pausing while Writing [Premium]

There are many reasons why students may pause while writing, but more if students are also dyslexic.   Those who remember their thoughts and experiences as nonverbal sensations will need extra steps to put their knowledge and understanding into words. Dysgraphic students will have difficulty writing and those with small working memories, may overload with all the work required for getting ideas in their head down on the page.   A BIRD’S EYE VIEW OF THE WRITING PROCESS When Brock and I were testing students, our battery for comprehensive testing included the timed writing of the lower case alphabet, sentence and symbol copy (the latter from the Coding subtests of the WISC), sentence combining, spelling test, descriptive writing of a picture, then 10 minute writing […]

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A Dyslexic’s Guide to Writing [Premium]

A Dyslexic’s Guide to Writing [Premium]

“We have so many tools to take care of the spelling, but not the tools to bring a fresh and new perspective to the world. Focus on your voice and your message, and the rest will follow.” — Tess Gadd Tess Gadd is an interface designer based in Cape Town who also writes a popular blog on Medium. She shared three strategies she uses to overcome challenges with writing. 1. PROOFREADING TOOLS “Enter Grammarly. I have been using the pro version for a year now, and it has made such a difference to my writing. Not only does it pick up mistakes, but it is also improves my ability to edit and proofread my own work.” 2. READING TOP TO BOTTOM AND BOTTOM TOP “When […]

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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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Writing: How to Start [Premium]

Writing: How to Start [Premium]

WRITING FOR THOSE WHO HAVE TROUBLE STARTING Dyslexic writers who have difficulty beginning to write often suffer from knowing too much and not too little. There will be challenges of spelling and putting ideas into words, but more often there are larger structural issues like how do I narrow what I know so that I can write what is being asked of me and where do I start with what I want to say? For students who may sit with a blank piece of paper or blinking cursor for hours, having a template for responses, developing a keyword approach like the semantic map in the previous article or mind-mapping big ideas may be a way to get the writing process started.   PRE-WRITING TEMPLATES Being […]

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Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: What Does Writing Look Like? [Premium]

Dyslexia and Dysgraphia: What Does Writing Look Like? [Premium]

What does the writing look like in students with dyslexia and dysgraphia?   IMPAIRED AUTOMATICITY, CAPITAL LETTER INTRUSIONS, and SPELLING ERRORS Students who struggle with handwriting automaticity show irregular shapes and sizes of letters. For example, look at the letter ‘e’ in the spelling test at right. They are very different from one another, showing that the student has not ‘automated’ writing of the letter ‘e’. The more variable the letters are, the more arduous to write anything by hand. Working memory is easily overloaded, and students may be exhausted after writing a few words. The spelling test also shows capital letter intrusions (capital ‘D’), likely to avoid confusing lower case ‘d’ with ‘b’, irregular spacing, and phonological as well as sight word errors. When […]

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How to Keep Writing During the Pandemic [Premium]

How to Keep Writing During the Pandemic [Premium]

Despite all of the mechanical and logistical challenges of writing for dyslexics, there are many for whom writing is a strength. What makes good writing?     So many things, but keen powers of observation, a good sense of humor, insight, feeling, these are all things that make good stories and storytelling. For some kids and adults, keeping a pandemic journal is therapeutic. It’s not limited to text. COVID comics anyone? Historians or watchers of Antiques Roadshow may recall how interesting pandemic or war time journals of the past were to transporting them into all the places and times of crises. Smithsonian has a post about the 1918 influenza diaries for those who might want to get some historical context on our present. Some people […]

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Tips for Academic Writing [Premium]

Tips for Academic Writing [Premium]

Here are tips for academic writing from dyslexic grad students and university tutors.     1. REGULAR TIME FOR WRITING Plan regular times for research and writing. Schedule breaks, transitions, and catch-up periods. Unplug from email and social media and tell people not to interrupt you.   2. USE PRE-WRITING STRATEGIES Use key words or mind mapping to get information down on paper without using full sentences. Tell someone about the topic or record yourself talking about what you plan to do or use speech to text dictation in your phone to jot down notes in Notability or another app of your choice.   3. USE PROMPTS TO STRUCTURE Simplify your question prompts or use a template (who, what, when where, why, how; statement, evidence, […]

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Best Writing Apps [Premium]

Best Writing Apps [Premium]

We’ve talked a bit about speech to text for writing, but over time, many dyslexic students may prefer to write by typing or by hand. Technology can help dyslexic writers in many different ways, depending on their needs.     For young children with little or no eideitic (snapshot picture) memory for letters may benefit by an alphabet strip pasted inconspicuously in a folder or perhaps on a bulletin board. Students who are able to write by hand, but write very little because they’re uncertain of how to spell words, benefit tremendously by apps like Easy Spelling Aid which will find the spelling of words by speaking into the microphone. It also translate words. Check out these apps! Click on photos to access their sites. […]

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Writing: Elaboration [Premium]

Writing: Elaboration [Premium]

If you were to compare dyslexic and non-dyslexic university students in writing, it’s usually the case, that on average, dyslexic students write fewer words and fewer words that are polysyllabic. The reasons are several; slowness with word retrieval, writing, and spelling, organizational challenges, and working memory overload are likely contributors. Because multisyllabic words are more challenging phonemically, not only are they harder to recognize and remember while reading, but also they are harder to spell.   THE BIG PICTURE OF ELABORATION The big picture of elaboration is that you want writers to fall in love with words, whether it’s a beautiful passage evoking imagery, or funny turn of phrase, or incisive argument. Students who are the easiest to cultivate as great writers are those who […]

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