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Every teacher would love to ignite a love for reading and nurture voracious readers, but simply teaching your students how to read and asking them to read each night isn't necessarily going to help them comprehend the text that they are scanning. The key to helping your students get lost in the pages depends on whether they have developed 3 foundational cognitive skills.
What are There 3 Cognitive Skills?...
About 20 years ago, when I first began offering students one-to-one Orton Gillingham based reading remediation, I was having to bribe my students to read long lists of words, word parts, and nonsense syllables. My enticements began with candy, moved to stickers, and finally morphed into a well-stocked prize box. This worked, but I found that I was getting my students hooked on external reinforcements, and that what I really wanted was for them to be internally motivated. I wanted to kindle a joy for learning.
Did you know that visualization can be the key to unlocking memory abilities, attentional skills and enjoyment for learning? Surprisingly, the use of mental imagery for learning is not a new
Use of Visualization Throughout History:
In fact, an appreciation and recognition of visualization is sprinkled throughout history. It can be traced back as far as Aristotle in 348 B.C...
Dyslexia is consistently found to be associated with academic difficulties. As a result, many of these learners require additional help at school or in their community by a qualified professional. Alternative reading instruction is a common approach, but many of these struggling learners require a more comprehensive method. Remedial help needs to focus on strengthening areas of weaknesses, while nurturing abilities and developing compensatory learning strategies. What's more, many of these learners possess both physical and emotional concerns that also require attention...
As an educational therapist and learning specialist, hooking is one of the most valuable memory strategies that I teach my students. In fact, tedious study sessions can be transformed into a memorable and often hilarious task.
What is Hooking?
Hooking is a memory strategy in which you use the term itself that you are trying to remember to guide you to the answer...
Imagine going to the movies with your eyes closed. How much of the movie would you understand? How much of the storyline would you recall? Not much, and it probably wouldn't be very engaging. In fact, you may begin to focus on the smells and the sounds of people crunching on popcorn. Your thoughts might wander, and you could even fall asleep....
Early intervention is key as it can remediate and work around upcoming academic difficulties. This is a very important approach for students with dyslexia. Recent reports suggest that dyslexia impacts 5-10 percent of the population. Now wouldn't it be wonderful if this condition could be detected before children learned to read? Weaknesses could be strengthened and appropriate teaching methodologies could be selected, making the process of reading successful the first time. This could save the educational system a fortune and these young learners could sail through elementary school with an intact self-esteem.
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.
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:
1) Transferring the inner voice into words on the page - spelling
2) Formulation of letters or typing skills
Many teachers can not fathom how apparently simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment can be very difficult for some of their students. In fact, many students need comprehensive instruction and scaffolding to learn to plan, manage time, and organize. Executive functioning, which encompasses these skills is the last part of the brain to fully develop, and in actuality, does not reach maturation until students reach their early 20's.
How Hard Can it Really Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize?
I have to admit, when I first started working with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was surprised how challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my young, bright learners. What seemed to be clear and obvious was obscure, taxing and problematic for them.
Helping your students to develop excellent reading comprehension skills can help them to succeed in academics as well as life. But simply decoding words is not enough. Successful readers must remember content, understand inferences, maintain focus and make connections. It is a comprehensive process that requires mindful pre-reading activities, reading activities and post-reading activities.
1. Reading a summary of the chapter helps students to conceptualize main ideas so that they can read deeper and prepare to visualize the content.
2. Questioning prior knowledge about the topic can help students make connections and it can capture their interest.
While reading, tracking across the page from one line to the next can be tricky when the text is small, but for students with dyslexia or weak reading skills it can be a problem regardless of the font size.
What Exactly is Tracking?
Tracking is the ability for ones eyes to move smoothly across the page from one line of text to another. Tracking difficulties happen when eyes jump backward and forward and struggle to stay on a single line of text. This results in problems such as word omissions, reversals, eye fatigue, losing your place while reading and most importantly it can impact normal reading development.
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. A Better Solution 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 words 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?
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 on sites like Audible.com where books are read by actors or 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. What about individuals with visual impairments, physical disabilities and learning disabilities that impact reading? Are there any options for this population of learners?
You can create your own overlays by using whole sheets or cutting strips of transparent, colored report covers, dividers or overhead projector film.
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?
I’m so please to feature and share an interview with Sean Douglas and his CodPast! Sean is an internet broadcaster with experience in broadcast TV news, public relations, corporate communications and podcasting. After Sean was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult and met other successful dyslexics, he created the Codpast, to share those stories and more with the public.
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.
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?
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...
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.
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
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.
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:
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
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
If you are helping a struggling reader and you are looking for a reading program, it can be an overwhelming process to sift through the multitude of options that are currently available. Many approaches focus on the well researched Orton-Gillingham based instructional approach, however, each program offers their own materials and addresses a variety of different age groups.
What is the Orton-Gillingham Approach to Reading?...
Do your students have trouble remembering all the phonics, grammar and spelling rules? Do you have to continually review past lessons to assure that struggling readers know the foundational skills? Do you find that one day a student has mastered a concept and the next day you have to start at square one? Having to continually review the same old stuff can be a boring chore for everyone involved. However, one of the most effective methods I have employed with my students is helping them to create their own colorful, language arts handbook. What’s more, this activity can be fun, engaging, and memorable...
Most students have had the experience of knowing an answer, but they are unable to access the information in a stressful moment. This is a common difficulty when students are taking a test, as anxiety can block recall. In fact, one may be able to recall the first letter of a name they are trying to conjure from memory but fail to retrieve the whole word. In addition, they may be able to describe the word or concept but only call to mind similar words or concepts...
A common difficulty for individuals with dyslexia is word finding problems. They may know someone's or something's name one day, but are unable to access the same information the next. In fact, in those moments when they can not recall the needed name, they may be able to tell you how many syllables are in the name or even the beginning letter. This can be a frustrating and embarrassing problem, and learning memory strategies can help...
That bring delight to learning
Having to take notes by copying from a board or projection while a teacher is lecturing is challenging for any learner, because it requires students to multitask and constantly shift modes of learning. The process demands students to read, listen and write while making sense of the material. However, for students with dyslexia this teaching method can be disastrous...
Students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities often learn differently and require an alternative approach to learning basic reading. What's more, these young learners are working full tilt while sitting in the classroom and by the time they get home and have to complete their homework, they are mentally spent. As a result, tagging on remedial reading lessons to a cup that is already overflowing can be enough to turn these kids off to learning altogether....
Motivation is thought to be a common culprit that plagues students, however this couldn't be further from the truth. As Rick Lavoie said, "It is not that students become unmotivated, because all human behavior is motivated." Instead, other factors such as anxiety, a poor self-esteem, learned helplessness, depression, and learning disabilities are just a few real causes that impact learning and appear to impact motivation...
Many people think that mental math is too difficult for elementary learners, but, in fact, youngsters have wonderful imaginations and capacities to visualize that can be utilized while doing mathematical calculations. In addition, it teaches them how to use their brains in an efficient, mindful and active manner. What's more it develops working memory, executive functioning skills and attention abilities that can serve them for the rest of their lives....
Making the reading process fun over the summer months can transform an apparent chore into an enjoyable activity that young learners can relish. One can make the reading process pleasurable by integrating engaging activities, creating a fun reading environment, teaching kids how to visualize, pairing the activities with pleasantries, sharing the process with them and integrating technology such as books on tape.
What Are Some Specific Strategies?...
How can we nurture resilient, active learners that embrace challenging academic material and become successful lifelong learners? Carol Dweck suggests that what we need to do is help students shed a fixed mindset and adopt a growth mindset. What's more, Dweck contends that developing a growth mindset will also result in less stress and a more productive and fulfilling life. ...
We all suffer, from time to time, with that feeling that a name or phrase we are trying to recall is on the tip of our tongue, but somehow we just can't access the needed information in the moment. For many students this happens during stressful moments such as test taking, but for others, such as most students with dyslexia, this is a pervasive problem that requires intervention...
Slow and labored reading can make schooling a drag for many bright students, and in order to truly help these struggling learners, teachers and support personnel need to understand the root causes. The problem is that each student has their own unique contributing factors. As a result, the best way to serve each student is to begin with an investigation...
For reading specialists, educational therapists, teachers, homeschoolers, and parents.
Although there are a number of cognitive processing deficits that can cause a diagnosis of dyslexia or a reading disability, challenges with auditory processing tend to be the prevailing cause for many struggling readers. However, many of the terms used to describe these core problems can be confusing. In fact, wading through a comprehensive testing report can be overwhelming, because they are packed with complex cognitive and remedial terminology. In this blog, I hope to unscramble the tangle of terms associated with auditory processing.
A golden anniversary is an amazing milestone to reach in any relationship. It is even more remarkable when your marriage is to Dyslexia. Although this can be a challenging relationship, you can learn to work together to create success. Please join me on my 50-year journey with Dyslexia....