FIVE CLASSROOM PRACTICES YOUR DYSLEXIC KIDS DON’T NEED

From Emily Gibbons at The Literacy Nest

“Being fair doesn’t ALWAYS mean doing the same thing for everyone. 
The minute we as teachers and parents let that sink in, we can begin to free ourselves of some of the things that felt like non-negotiables, but honestly, should be for a dyslexic child. So here are five things they do not need. Why? It’s all about leveling the playing field.

FYI- This is an opinion post based on working with dyslexic children for 16 years and speaking with hundreds of teachers who work with them.

1. The Same, Weekly, Spelling List And Test As The Rest Of The Class
Weekly spelling tests are great for kids with excellent rote memory. You get your words on Monday, you practice all week, cram on Thursday night and test on Friday. The cycle starts all over the next Monday. We don’t create successful spellers in this cycle. And if you have dyslexia, you need a structured approach to phonics and spelling that focuses on one pattern, rule or skill at a time. Too many lists go home that teach TOO MANY RULES.  It’s difficult to teach spelling skills for mastery when there are too many skills within one list.

2. Timed Math Fact Tests
This is another rite of passage in many classrooms as is the weekly spelling test. Kids need practical strategies that will help them build flexibility and fluency with their math facts. Rote memorization of facts is a source of stress for many children with dyslexia. Anyone under stress knows one thing: learning will not happen with fear. Give tools, practice things like skip counting and looking for patterns in multiples, instead.
3. The Same Homework
When I was a classroom teacher, I was guilty of giving out the Monday packet to be completed and turned in by Friday. There is a great debate going on about giving homework at all.  Cutting the quantity for a dyslexia child is leveling the playing field when you consider the amount of time and mental energy it takes to get through a single homework assignment, especially after a long school day. For older students, cutting quantity might be easy to do when you have been assigned a report. But the pathway to get there can be reformed with assistive technologies.

4.  Unsupported Sustained Silent Reading
Let’s be clear. SSR is NOT the same as structured independent reading time within a literacy block. SSR is futile if a child is reading a book that is too challenging or abandoning books every day. No one wants to see a struggling reader left out to pasture in a manner of words. Teachers need to assist children with appropriate book choice and then check in with them through mini conferences or use of a sticky note or reading log. This should happen more frequently for dyslexia readers. Dyslexic readers should have access to audio books as much as possible.

5. Marked Down For Spelling Errors
I see this happening a lot with dyslexia kids. Listen, they know they have a hard time with spelling. Circling a bunch of spelling errors in red or purple or marking them down will not help them improve. I will say, however, as an O.G. teacher that holding kids with dyslexia accountable for the lessons that have had explicit phonics instruction is a good thing. We teach for mastery in O.G. If my student has mastered the FLOSS Rule, then I will expect them to try their best to apply that rule in their writing. The key is to have accountability in spelling in small doses, not overwhelmingly long lists of rules.”
http://www.theliteracynest.com/2016/11/five-classroom-practices-your-dyslexic.html

Below is a great letter…

Below is a great letter written by JM Lawrence of Grapevine, TX to help a parent respond to an email from a teacher about her child’s behavior during a language art activity. The teacher indicated that she knew the child had difficulty with reading and spelling. The child also said, “this is only easy for people who can read”. Some of the laws she references are specific to TX, but it’s a great letter that I thought needed to be shared. Thank JM!

Dear _______, _______, _______

I am sorry to hear from your email that X continues to struggle with reading and spelling, which causes her to act out. Her disability, dyslexia, is at the root of the issue and it is time to protect her access to the education offered her peers. Emotionally, you can see that X would rather “look” angry and defiant than “stupid” to her classmates. She is NOT choosing this behavior, it is her protection mechanism that has developed in your building, in response to teachers and administrators choosing to delay appropriate instruction to teach her to read using methods scientifically developed for students with the characteristics of Dyslexia. While our district is not choosing to participate in the Pilot for Act 69 Early Dyslexia Screening and Intervention, it does not mean that our school does not have the obligation to do the right thing and assess my daughter for Dyslexia and provide Free Appropriate Public Education including reading instruction that meets her needs.

John King’, US Secretary of the Department of Education, used these words in his testimony before a Senate committee, “But, the IEP team would be expected to address the screening for Dyslexia as a part of the assessment of the needs of a student who is struggling.“ This is Secretary of education acknowledging that IEP assessment teams should reasonably be administering testing instruments that can be used to identify Dyslexia? As the voice of the federal department of education, he is voicing support of for my daughter who struggles to read, being identified, for her disability and then being “taught to read.”

I am requesting that the district follow federal disability guidelines and provide my daughter with “Dyslexia” testing because her characteristics are those of a student with Dyslexia, whether or not she qualifies for Special Education, our school has the federal responsibility to help her learn to read. If the school does not have a person that is qualified to identify Dyslexia, then I am requesting an Independent Educational Evaluation of my daughter with a credentialed Dyslexia provider.

Please respond to this request in writing within the next 5 business days. Until the district chooses to follow the law and provide X an appropriate education for a child who can be identified by section 504 ADA laws, when an assignment requires her to read and write, at grade level, please send her on an errand to a place where she can be helped through the assignment.

I look forward to hearing that you have received this correspondence and how you will be addressing my daughter’s needs for FAPE.

Sincerely,

To tell or not to tell….. your child

The following is from Kyle Redford, Dyslexic and Educator.

To see Kyle’s story watch “The Big Picture: Rethinking Dylsexia”.

http://dyslexia.yale.edu/PAR_PrivacyDilemma.html?utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=postplanner&utm_source=facebook.com

 

“When students see their teachers and parents whispering and being discreet,
it screams of shame. Additionally, if it’s a secret, it’s also scary.
The Privacy Dilemma 
by Kyle Redford


As a teacher, I have encountered many parents who feel that sharing information about their child’s learning challenges will hurt their child’s self-esteem or diminish their chances of being successful in school. The truth is, when students see their teachers and parents whispering and being discreet, it screams of shame. Additionally, if it’s a secret, it’s also scary. It is human nature to fill an information void with worst-case scenarios. Ironically, a decision made to protect a child can often breed shame and fear.

It is understandable why parents choose to whisper and hide their child’s academic challenges; they don’t want their sons or daughters’ potential to be limited by low expectations.

Many parents also fear that the information or diagnosis will land in the wrong hands or in some file that will follow the student around and ultimately hinder his chances of getting into an elite school or college somewhere down the line. The problem, however, is that fear can prevent the student from getting access to key remediation or accommodations from which he/she would benefit.

The reality is, students don’t grow out of their dyslexia. Despite the legitimate excitement that results from a “good year” or a learning breakthrough, dyslexic students carry their unique challenges and strengths with them through the grades. Certainly their specific challenges will morph over time. For example, decoding words and spelling are a main obstacle in the early school years; in secondary school, keeping up with the volume of reading and writing is the central challenge. Over time, dyslexic students normally become more adept at dealing with their academic soft spots, but special support is critical to helping them achieve their full potential. The truth is, information about a student’s dyslexia needs to follow that student around. Instead of worrying about what is in their child’s file, parents should make sure that crucial information is shared among their child’s teachers.

I cringe when I think of all the instructional time I have lost with certain students while trying to second-guess what is impeding their learning in the classroom. With the right information, teachers are able to develop an academic plan to help dyslexic students minimize their weaknesses and maximize their strengths. For example, using a computer for tests and daily assignments can often be critical to a dyslexic student’s success. The computer’s “spell-check” and standard font allow ideas to be more readable and help to eliminate many mechanical obstacles that can hinder expression of ideas and understanding. Additionally, teachers can offer dyslexics extra time to read class novels and texts, as well as give them advance syllabuses so they can get a head start with required reading over the summer. Spelling mistakes stop looking like “careless errors” and Franklin Spellers and computers help bring students’ editing skills in line with the quality of their ideas.

Educators often indulge the privacy myth without confronting it, thus reinforcing the idea that there is legitimately something to hide. If asked to defend a decision to keep academic information from teachers or students, few will. Most educators say that their discretion is a way of respecting the parents’ wishes, but they would rather be given the permission to speak openly and honestly with students and other teachers. Unfortunately, teachers usually remain silent on this point when parents ask them to keep information private. To challenge parents on a decision to be private takes a lot of courage and conviction.

Another reason parents embrace secrecy is that they want to protect their child’s sense of his own potential. They worry that access to information about their child’s academic profile will make their child feel inferior or deflate his/her ambitions. However, with few exceptions, most students crave candid conversations about their academic strengths and weaknesses. These conversations help students understand how they learn as well as devise thoughtful strategies to overcome their challenges. An honest dialogue also helps students develop the language and vocabulary necessary to advocate for themselves in school.

Offering students specific information helps to demystify their academic anxiety. It helps them understand that just because one thing is hard for them does not mean they will struggle in all areas of school.

Case in point: until a fourth grade student of mine had her test results explained to her, she was privately terrified. Being assigned a new special reading teacher and witnessing hushed conversations between her teachers and parents had confirmed her worst private fear: she WAS stupid.

I could sense her confusion and anxiety as she shifted from being the queen of class commentary into someone who rarely paid attention and turned off during critical instruction. I convinced her parents that she needed to have someone explain her learning evaluation to her. They were reluctant to allow me to use the word dyslexia, but I managed to convince them of the benefits of giving her school struggles a name.

It was amazing what our conversation did for this student’s confidence. Once she was able to have someone explain why reading and writing were hard for her, she admitted that she had been hiding her school difficulties for years. This admission, however, came only after she learned that the same tests that identified her dyslexia also indicated that she had very strong higher-order thinking skills. I was able to reassure her that, as she got older, school would become more focused on the things she was good at, such as abstract thinking, and less on the things she struggled with, like mechanics. Most importantly, our discussion gave her permission to see herself as something other than a poor student. It infused her with the confidence that allowed her to put her school challenges in perspective.

And despite her parent’s fears, this student had no trouble with the dyslexic label. She immediately started using it to describe herself, even with her classmates. I am convinced that if parents could witness the relief and hope that wash over students when they are presented with clear information about their learning profiles, they would never choose the secrecy option again.”

Dyslexia – Knowledge, Awareness, and Empowerment

This fall, my friend Sara and I taught a community education class on Dyslexia and received many positive comments from those that attended, so we decided to do it again.

 

Here are the details:

Dyslexia – Knowledge, Awareness, and Empowerment

Dyslexia is a learning challenge facing many children.  Come learn about dyslexia and other learning difficulties.  The main objective of the class is to discover tools and attitudes that will empower students with learning struggles.  This is a great survey course for parents and instructors.

Classes are Monday evenings at Ordean East Community School on Feb 22th, 29th and March 7th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

 

Click here to sign up.

 

 

I will also be hosting a community education session:

 

Struggling Learners – What a Parent Should Consider

 

Is this year hard for your child? How can you help your child be more successful at
school? Homework takes hours and we’re still in elementary school, should it be this
hard? We’ll talk about reasons why kids struggle, how to help and how work with his/her
teacher.

 

This class is Tuesday, Feb 9th at Lincoln Park Middle School from 6:30-8:30pm.

 

Register here.

DYSLEXIA SYMPTOMS

From Jill M. Ham, Ed.S. Educational Consultant and Dyslexia Expert from Children’s Dyslexia Center of Georgia

Jill list many of the symptoms that might indicate you want to learn more about dyslexia (reading), dysgraphia (writing), and/or dyscalculia (math).

Reading
#1 Issue: CAN read fluently due to memorizing SIGHT WORDS, but cannot decode unfamiliar words, spell correctly, or write complete sentences with punctuation.
• Reading is slow and choppy, not fluent, but reader can re-tell story
• Reading is fast and fluent, but can not recall the information read
• Struggles with attaching the correct sound to the correct letter
• Will say the individual sounds r-a-t but can not tell you the word at the end of sounding it out
• Will say the letter name instead of the sound when trying to sound out a word
• Can not remember the same words on the next page when reading a book that repeats
• Cannot decode unfamiliar words that they have not memorized
• Skips words when reading
• Omits words when reading
• Inserts words that look visually similar, for example instead of reading HOSE it would be HORSE or HOUSE
• Avoids reading and will always check to see how many pages are in the book first
• Eye Sight is Fine, but Vision Therapy May Be Recommended

Writing
• Handwriting is tiny, small, large, and changes size
• Writing takes a very long time to due and very laborious
• Always struggled with writing letters in a fluid motion, many children draw their letters with circles and sticks
• Has a hard time copying notes from the classroom teacher or white board
• Phonetically Spells words (missing vowels or silent letters)
• Struggled or still struggles writing the alphabet without hesitations (hesitations occur when the writer pauses or has to stop and think which letter or how to form the letter)
• Will inverse letters when writing (writing letters from the bottom to top, instead of top down)
• Will reverse letters: d, b, p, q, z and many times write a j for g and a g for j
• Struggled or still struggles with remembering the difference between: b, d, p and sometimes m and w or n and u and we typically see the j and z reversed
• Will capitalize the B and D when writing so they do not reverse the lowercase b and d
• Will write uppercase letters mixed in with lower case letters
• Will write above and below the line without using the correct pencil grip

Working & Long Term Memory
• Executive Functioning Deficits
• Struggles with Working & Long Term Memory
• Hard time breaking task or multiple steps into parts
• Takes a long time to learn new concepts
• Learning vocabulary words and commutative information is extremely challenging
• Learns better with visual (concrete information) and hands on

Math
• Struggles with memorizing addition and subtraction facts
• Struggles with word problems in math
• Struggles with memorizing and recalling multiplication facts
• Struggles with multiple step math problems
• Very creative in arts, music, dance, drama, but has a hard time staying focused
• Does not understand the concept of time and struggles telling time
• Struggles with money and counting money
• Struggles with going backwards and forwards on the number line

Homework & Sensory
• May Exhibit Signs of ADD or ADHD
• Low Self-Esteem and Very Self Conscious
• Fidgets, rocks, moves or tries to avoid when given a reading, spelling or writing task
• Homework and studying takes HOURS and MELT DOWNS occur
• Parent is re-teaching information daily/nightly
• May teach new information and 30 minutes later the child does not remember the information presented

Struggling Students

Struggling Students: What a Parent Should Consider

 

Tuesday – April 28, 2015

 

6:30 pm – 8:30 pm

 

Denfeld High School

 

Duluth, MN

 

Why has this year been so hard for my child at school? This class will include an overview of some warning signs of dyslexia (difficulty reading) and dysgraphia (difficulty writing), current research, assessment, ideas on how to help, and some of the advantages of this type of thinking.  Class is offered through Duluth Community Education.  Registration fee is $15.00. To register contact Janis Kramer 218.336.8760 x2 or instructor Deb Dwyer @ dwyers@boreal.org or 218-340-7393

“The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”

Michael Sledd writes “The 8 Skills Students Must have for the Future”  on Edudemic.com.  The original article is from Pearson’s 2014, “The Learning Curve”.  These are the strengths of many of the children I work with. As they work so hard on some foundational skills it’s important to remind them that their area of strengths are valued.  —

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Dysgraphia

Many of the learners I work with struggle more with writing than they do with reading.  Although dyslexia and dysgraphia often coexist, children with motor and spatial dysgraphia, more than dyslexic dysgraphia, need Occupational Therapy. In addition to Orton-Gillingham tutoring, which provides solid instruction in language, Occupational Therapy helps with motor planning and an overall understanding of space in general.   A combination approach results in the strongest outcomes for struggling students.

From Dr. RIchard Selznick Blog: “School Struggles, Learning Disablities and Other Kid Stuff” from March 6, 2015.

When children struggle with written expression, “OT,” or Occupational Therapy appears to be the go to recommendation that is often given.

Writing has been shown to be the single most complex skill domain of the academic process.   The following quote from “Developmental  Variations & Learning Disorders” says it well:

“The transmission of thoughts onto paper calls for a delicate and highly complex process of neurodevelopmental integration.   Writing necessitates synchronizing all of the developmental functions (described in part I).  Writing is a final common pathway of these functions, a confluence of processes demanding attention, spatial and sequential production, mnemonic facility, language ability and motor skill.”

Motor skills (the skills targeted in OT) are the tip of the iceberg.   It’s a good first step.  What’s the next step?  Most of the time, I am not hearing the next step.  I only hear about the child getting, “OT.”

Beyond OT, a child needs much more remediation to address their deficits in writing (which are becoming more and more pervasive with the kids I am seeing).

For some time I have been beating a drum (although I understand no one is really listening), that a child struggling with writing needs to work first at the sentence level and master the skill of writing a good sentence before moving on to more complex operations.

Analogous to reading remediation, a child needs to work at very simplistic levels initially, derive a sense of mastery and then move forward to higher levels of complexity.

Most of the kids that I assess have little ability to understand what goes into writing a sentence or a paragraph, so to have them writing lengthy essays is way beyond them. It’s somewhat like asking someone to lift 25lb weights when they can barely lift 10lbs.

Takeaway Point:

Once your child has a had a good dose of “OT” to address his or her writing, ask, “Now what?  What’s next?”

What’s next needs to be the heavy lifting of writing remediation.

2014 M1READ, Reading Credit 2014

 

 

If you’re working on taxes and you’ve paid a tutor to help your child learn to read, you might be eligible for the MN Reading Credit. This credit is currently available only for the 2014 tax year.   The following is directly from the Department of Revenue form:

mom work

 

Who is Eligible?

 

You may be able to receive a refundable credit for non-reimbursed expenses you paid to assist your qualifying child with meeting state-required academic standards.  To be eligible for this credit, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Your child has been evaluated for an Individualized Education Program(IEP) and does not qualify;
  • Your qualifying child does not meet standards for reading competency;
  • You paid a qualifying instructor to tutor your child in order to meet state academic standards in certain areas of study; and
  • The expenses you paid to the instructor meet the criteria identified below.

 

The following is a link to the form,

 

http://www.revenue.state.mn.us/Forms_and_Instructions/m1read_14.pdf