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Like reading, writing is a complex process that requires students to multitask. In fact, all students must master a number of fundamental skills before they can be expected to become competent writers. However, for students with dyslexia, the process can be even more challenging as their learning disability may impact cognitive tasks such as spelling, word finding, as well as the formulation and organization of ideas.

What are the Fundamental Skills Required to Write?

The fundamental skills include: ·  Transferring the inner voice into words on the page - spelling ·   Formulation of letters or typing skills ·   Access to a rich vocabulary and creative ideas ·   Awareness of grammar, sentence structure, and literary elements ·   Cognizance of transitions, and paragraph structure...  

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Not all students require the same remedial process even though they

struggle with the same academic difficulties.  Diverse combinations of cognitive processing weaknesses and deficits can unite to create the "perfect storm" that can cause challenges with reading, math, writing, spelling and more.  In fact, no two students have the same cognitive profile, so to provide the optimal solution, one needs to consider both a student's strengths and weaknesses when designing a remedial approach.   Occasionally, I like to present the questions emailed to me from parents and teachers.  This week, I will share an email that I received from a parent in England as well as my response...

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When reading, do you ever find it difficult to track from one line to the next?  This can be tricky for anyone when reading small text, but for many struggling readers, it remains to be a pervasive problem.

In the past, students have used a finger, highlighter or bookmark to keep place.  In addition, some Apps, such as Dream Reader, will even highlight a line of text or even individual works when text is read aloud.  But wouldn't it be nice to drop some of those tools and be able to visually scan text with ease?...

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Audiobooks are wonderful learning options that  make reading accessible to students with a variety of learning preferences as well as disabilities.  For some time, they have been available at a cost one sites like Audible.com where books are read by actors and authors.  However, they are often a costly choice that many can not afford.  Luckily, free options on sites like Project Gutenberg and others are wonderful, but sadly they only offer audiobooks that are in the public domain.

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Audiobooks for Students with Disabilities: A Comparison

BeeLine Reader: Dyslexia and ADHD Technology Improves Word Tracking Abilities

Improving Spelling for Students with Dyslexia 

Developing Writing Skills for Students with Dyslexia 

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It is common knowledge that the brain has two hemispheres and that they are bridged by a bundle of nerves that travel across the corpus callosum.  However, because this overpass exists, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is always used.  In fact, you will often hear of people claiming to be right or left brain dominant, and many people function quite well using predominantly “half a brain.”  But if we could learn to unite the power of both hemispheres and assimilate experiences for optimal learning, wouldn’t that be great?

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Can Hemisphere Integration Exercises Help Students with Dyslexia?

Student Mind Maps: Revealing the Remedial Needs of Struggling Writers

Understanding Dyslexia: 
If 10 kids were lined up in a row, did you know that one or two of them would probably have dyslexia? Dyslexia is the most common type of learning disability.  However, many people don’t believe that dyslexia is a true disability.  Instead, they think it is a difference and that these individuals are wired in a special way.  People with dyslexia see what other people see, but sometimes their brain understands or remembers things incorrectly.

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Dyslexia Explained for Kids

You can create your own overlays by using whole sheets or cutting strips of transparent, colored report covers, dividers or overhead projector film. 

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Teaching Metacognitive Skills: A Fun, Free Illustration and Download

Many students plod through schooling as passive learners and they never learn to take control of their own cognition.  In contrast, others learn to be active participants in the learning process and develop metacognitive skills.  Metacognition is the awareness of one’s own cognition or thought process and it involves higher-order thinking that enables understanding, analysis, and control.  For many concrete learners as well as those that struggle with attentional issues, this notion can be difficult to grasp.  However, the process can be taught through visual aids, demonstrations, discussions, group work, and graphic organizers.  

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Quick Individualized Solutions for Struggling and Dyslexic Readers

There is no single reading program or method that will address all the needs of struggling readers, because each learner has his or her own unique strengths and weaknesses.  In fact, there are many cognitive processing weaknesses that can effect young learners and if you want quick and optimal results, it’s important to pursue a comprehensive evaluation.  A good assessment will help uncover the areas of difficulty.  Then educational professionals, such as an experienced reading specialist or educational therapist can focus on strengthening those specific areas of cognition. 

What Are Some of The Cognitive Processing Areas That Impact Reading?

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The Different Types of Dyslexia: Targeting Intervention

Dyslexia was first identified back in the early 1980's and the condition has received an enormous amount of research and professional based attention.  However, many educators and clinicians are still mystified about how to best pinpoint the specific needs of each student with dyslexia.  

The primary underlying cause of this confusion is the fact that there are many cognitive weaknesses or deficits that can trigger a diagnosis of dyslexia.  So much like a dart board, if service providers continue to aim interventions at the wrong place, they may play a frustrating game and they will certainly never hit the bull’s-eye...

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Learning the letters can be a lot of fun! Here are 5 Strategies that your children will be sure to love.  
1) Fill a tray with a light coating of sand, ground coffee, flour, or rice.  Make sure that the tray is a contrasting color so that when the kids make the letters, they can see the surface of the tray underneath.
2) Form the individual letters out of food that starts with that letter.  For example, make the letter B out of sliced bananas, carve the letter O in the rind of an orange, or make the letter M out of mustard.

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5 Strategies that Make Learning the Alphabet a lot of Fun

Help for Struggling Readers: Creating Your Own Color Overlays

For more of my blog posts go to http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/

Reading Disabilities Can Impact Math Too: Strategies for Adding and Subtracting Numbers

Many students that struggle with reading can also experience trouble with some mathematical concepts.  In particular, difficulty with directionality can impact both reading and math as it can manifest as confusion when discriminating left from right, East and West, as well as letter, word and number reversals.  There are numerous mathematical concepts which require directionality, and compensatory strategies can help these students navigate around this hurtle.  Because number lines tend to be displayed horizontally from left to right, adding and subtracting numbers can be difficult to understand and execute for some students.  So what can we do to help?​  Read more

10 Easy Ways to Strengthen the Weaknesses Associated with Dyslexia

New estimates suggest that 1 in 10 children have dyslexia, and that it is the most common type of learning disability.  Dyslexia is a language-based issue that impacts academics in the areas of word decoding, reading comprehension, reading fluency, word retrieval, writing, spelling and some mathematical computations such as word problems.  Although dyslexia is widespread in schools, many students remain undiagnosed.  In addition, many others that are diagnosed never receive the needed remediation.  So what can we do to help these underserved individuals?  First, we can learn to recognize the common warning signs so that these students can be formally tested.  Second, we can learn how to help these students strengthen the weaknesses associated with dyslexia.

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Dyslexia is the new, hot topic in education around the globe, and it is frequently featured in educational conferences, news articles, YouTube videos, and even movies.  New estimates suggest that as many as 1 in 10 children have this difficulty, making it the most common type of learning disability.  Although dyslexia is common, many with this condition remain undiagnosed.  Furthermore, many others who have received this diagnosis don’t fully understand it and never receive the needed remediation.  So, how can we help this underserved population? 

Here are some suggestions:

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Student Learning and Confidence can Skyrocket by Changing One Approach 

Students’ forearms prop heavy heads and eye lids become fatigued and weighty. Information fills the room, but the restless audience remains impervious as attention is stolen by fleeting thoughts and boredom.  If this is a common scene at your school, most likely the learning environment is passive.  Although a passive learning environment can accommodate large numbers of students, it is often an ineffective scholastic milieu.  In contrast, an active learning environment should have the opposite effect on students.  This way of teaching encourages creativity, self directed learning, mindfulness, interaction, discussion and multisensory ways of processing.   Read more

10 Strategies that Transform Passive Learners into Active Learners

  1. ​Solving Dyslexia: 15 Weaknesses and 10 Steps to Remediation
  2. ​Reading and Spelling Difficulties: 7 Main Causes
  3. ​Building Self Confidence and Combating Stress for Struggling Readers
  4. 5 Fun Ways to Teach the Vowel Combinations or Vowel Teams
  5. 108 Online Games that Offer Cognitive or Educational Benefits
  6. Helping Students to Record and Turn in AssignmentsWhy Do Finnish Schools Finish First?
  7. 10 Ways to Improve US Education
  8. The Difference between a Tutor, Learning Specialist and an Educational Therapist: Choosing Your Best Option
  9. 10 Ways to Help Students Cope with Making Mistakes
  10. ​​Careless, Lazy and Unmotivated are Three Labels that Should be Banned from Education

More Advice from Dr. Warren

Having an understanding of how each student processes information and conceptualizes ideas is key in the remedial writing process.   Students can think in a sequence of images, a series of words, webs of pictures, an outline of phrases, a collage of imagery, a patchwork of terms, movie-like scenes and more.  By evaluating the ways your students conduct the process, you can help them to tweak their method so that writing can become a fluid and enjoyable process.  This can be done through discussion, but what I find to be most helpful is having your student(s) conduct a drawing of how their mind works – a mental mind map.  Read more