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Read the Original article on International Dyslexia Association

Top 10 Things You Should Know About Reading

An achievement gaps exists

Many students enter kindergarten performing below their peers and remain behind as they move through the grades. Differences in language, exposure to print and background experiences multiply as students confront more challenging reading material in the upper grades. There is a well-established correlation between prior knowledge and reading comprehension: students who have it, get it. Students who don’t, don’t. The differences are quantifiable as early as age 3 (Hart & Risley, 2003). For some subgroups of students, the reading failure rate is even higher than their same-age peers: 52% of black students, 51% of Hispanic students, and 49% of students in poverty all scored Below Basic on the NAEP assessment. High-need students have chronic difficulty in the classroom, and teachers must be prepared to meet the challenges they face.

Learning to read is complex

Reading is a complex process that draws upon many skills that need to be developed at the same time. Marilyn Adams (1990) compares the operation of the reading system to the operation of a car. Unlike drivers, though, readers also need to:

  • Build the car (develop the mechanical systems for identifying words)
  • Maintain the car (fuel it with print, fix up problems along the way, and make sure it runs smoothly)
  • And, most importantly, drive the car (which requires us to be motivated, strategic, and mindful of the route we’re taking)

Cars are built by assembling the parts separately and fastening them together. “In contrast, the parts of the reading system are not discrete. We cannot proceed by completing each individual sub-system and then fastening it to one another. Rather, the parts of the reading system must grow together. They must grow to one another and from one another.”(Adams et al., 1990, pp.20-21).

The ultimate goal of reading is to make meaning from print, and a vehicle in good working order is required to help us reach that goal.

Teachers should teach with the end goal in mind

Because learning to read is complex, the most accomplished teachers learn to teach with the end goal of readers and learners in mind. Teachers working with young children learn to balance the various components of reading, including phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension in their every day teaching. The very best teachers integrate the components while fostering a love of books, words, and stories.

Kids who struggle usually have problems sounding out words

Difficulties in decoding and word recognition are at the core of most reading difficulties. Poor readers have difficulty understanding that sounds in words are linked to certain letters and letter patterns. This is called the “alphabetic principle.”

The reason many poor readers don’t attain the alphabetic principle is because they haven’t developed phonemic awareness — being aware that words are made up of speech sounds, or phonemes (Lyon, 1997). When word recognition isn’t automatic, reading isn’t fluent, and comprehension suffers.

What happens before school matters a lot

What preschoolers know before they enter school is strongly related to how easily they learn to read in first grade. Three predictors of reading achievement that children learn before they get to school are:

  • The ability to recognize and name letters of the alphabet
  • General knowledge about print (understanding, for example, which is the front of the book and which is the back and how to turn the pages of a book)
  • Awareness of phonemes (the sounds in words)

Reading aloud together builds these knowledge and skills. As a result, reading aloud with children is the single most important activity for parents and caregivers to do to prepare children to learn to read. (Adams, 1990).

Learning to read is closely tied to learning to talk and listen

Families and caregivers need to talk and listen to young children in order to help them learn a lot of the skills they will need for reading. When a child says "cook" and her father says, “Would you like a cookie?” he is building her knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, syntax, and purposes for communication — all of which will help her become a reader in later years. When a caregiver sings rhymes and plays word games with the children she cares for, she is helping them recognize the sounds in words (phonemic awareness). Children with language, hearing, or speech problems need to be identified early so they can receive the help they need to prevent later reading difficulties.

Without help, struggling readers continue to struggle

Many children learn to read by first grade regardless of the type of instruction they receive. The children who don’t learn, however, don’t seem able to catch up on their own.

More than 88 percent of children who have difficulty reading at the end of first grade display similar difficulties at the end of fourth grade (Juel, 1988). And three-quarters of students who are poor readers in third grade will remain poor readers in high school (Shaywitz et al., 1997). These facts highlight the importance of providing a strong foundation for reading birth through age five.

With help, struggling readers can succeed

For 85 to 90 percent of poor readers, prevention and early intervention programs can increase reading skills to average reading levels. These programs, however, need to combine instruction in phoneme awareness, phonics, spelling, reading fluency, and reading comprehension strategies, and must be provided by well-trained teachers (Lyon, 1997).

As many as two-thirds of reading disabled children can become average or above-average readers if they are identified early and taught appropriately (Vellutino et al., 1996; Fletcher & Lyon, 1998). These facts underscore the value of having a highly trained teacher in every classroom.

Teaching kids to read is a team effort

Parents, teachers, caregivers, and members of the community must recognize the important role they can play in helping children learn to read. The research shows that what families do makes a difference, what teachers do makes a difference, and what community programs do makes a difference. It’s time for all those who work with children to work together to ensure that every child learns to read. It is our shared responsibility.

Read the Original article on Reading Rockets

Seven Strategies to Teach Students Text Comprehension

Seven Strategies to Teach Students

Comprehension strategies are conscious plans — sets of steps that good readers use to make sense of text. Comprehension strategy instruction helps students become purposeful, active readers who are in control of their own reading comprehension. The seven strategies here appear to have a firm scientific basis for improving text comprehension

1. Monitoring comprehension

Students who are good at monitoring their comprehension know when they understand what they read and when they do not. They have strategies to “fix” problems in their understanding as the problems arise. Research shows that instruction, even in the early grades, can help students become better at monitoring their comprehension.

Comprehension monitoring instruction teaches students to:

• Be aware of what they do understand
• Identify what they do not understand
• Use appropriate strategies to resolve problems in comprehension

2. Metacognition

Metacognition can be defined as “thinking about thinking.” Good readers use metacognitive strategies to think about and have control over their reading. Before reading, they might clarify their purpose for reading and preview the text. During reading, they might monitor their understanding, adjusting their reading speed to fit the difficulty of the text and “fixing” any comprehension problems they have. After reading, they check their understanding of what they read. Students may use several comprehension monitoring strategies:

• Identify where the difficulty occurs “I don’t understand the second paragraph on page 76.”
• Identify what the difficulty is “I don’t get what the author means when she says, ‘Arriving in America was a milestone in my grandmother’s life.'”
• Restate the difficult sentence or passage in their own words “Oh, so the author means that coming to America was a very important event in her grandmother’s life.”
• Look back through the text “The author talked about Mr. McBride in Chapter 2, but I don’t remember much about him. Maybe if I reread that chapter, I can figure out why he’s acting this way now.”
• Look forward in the text for information that might help them to resolve the difficulty “The text says, ‘The groundwater may form a stream or pond or create a wetland. People can also bring groundwater to the surface.’ Hmm, I don’t understand how people can do that… Oh, the next section is called ‘Wells.’ I’ll read this section to see if it tells how they do it.”

3. Graphic and semantic organizers

Graphic organizers illustrate concepts and relationships between concepts in a text or using diagrams. Graphic organizers are known by different names, such as maps, webs, graphs, charts, frames, or clusters.
Regardless of the label, graphic organizers can help readers focus on concepts and how they are related to other concepts. Graphic organizers help students read and understand textbooks and picture books.

Graphic organizers can:
• Help students focus on text structure “differences between fiction and nonfiction” as they read
• Provide students with tools they can use to examine and show relationships in a text
• Help students write well-organized summaries of a text

Here are some examples of graphic organizers:
Venn-Diagrams : (29K PDF)* Used to compare or contrast information from two sources. For example, comparing two Dr. Seuss books.

Storyboard/Chain of Events : (29K PDF)* Used to order or sequence events within a text. For example, listing the steps for brushing your teeth.

Story Map : (19K PDF)* Used to chart the story structure. These can be organized into fiction and nonfiction text structures. For example, defining characters, setting, events, problem, resolution in a fiction story; however in a nonfiction story, main idea and details would be identified.

Cause/Effect : (13K PDF)* Used to illustrate the cause and effects told within a text. For example, staying in the sun too long may lead to a painful sunburn.

4. Answering questions

Questions can be effective because they:
• Give students a purpose for reading
• Focus students’ attention on what they are to learn
• Help students to think actively as they read
• Encourage students to monitor their comprehension

Help students to review content and relate what they have learned to what they already know The Question-Answer Relationship strategy (QAR) encourages students to learn how to answer questions better. Students are asked to indicate whether the information they used to answer questions about the text was textually explicit information (information that was directly stated in the text), textually implicit information (information that was implied in the text), or information entirely from the student’s own background knowledge.

There are four different types of questions:
• “Right There” Questions found right in the text that ask students to find the one right answer located in one place as a word or a sentence in the passage.
Example: Who is Frog’s friend? Answer: Toad

• “Think and Search” Questions based on the recall of facts that can be found directly in the text. Answers are typically found in more than one place, thus requiring students to “think” and “search” through the passage to find the answer.
Example: Why was Frog sad? Answer: His friend was leaving.

• “Author and You” Questions require students to use what they already know, with what they have learned from reading the text. Student’s must understand the text and relate it to their prior knowledge before answering the question.
Example: How do think Frog felt when he found Toad? Answer: I think that Frog felt happy because he had not seen Toad in a long time. I feel happy when I get to see my friend who lives far away.

• “On Your Own” Questions are answered based on a students prior knowledge and experiences. Reading the text may not be helpful to them when answering this type of question.
Example: How would you feel if your best friend moved away? Answer: I would feel very sad if my best friend moved away because I would miss her.

5. Generating questions

By generating questions, students become aware of whether they can answer the questions and if they understand what they are reading. Students learn to ask themselves questions that require them to combine information from different segments of text. For example, students can be taught to ask main idea questions that relate to important information in a text.

6. Recognizing story structure

In story structure instruction, students learn to identify the categories of content (characters, setting, events, problem, resolution). Often, students learn to recognize story structure through the use of story maps. Instruction in story structure improves students’ comprehension.

7. Summarizing

Summarizing requires students to determine what is important in what they are reading and to put it into their own words. Instruction in summarizing helps students:
• Identify or generate main ideas
• Connect the main or central ideas
• Eliminate unnecessary information
• Remember what they read

Effective comprehension strategy instruction is explicit

Research shows that explicit teaching techniques are particularly effective for comprehension strategy instruction. In explicit instruction, teachers tell readers why and when they should use strategies, what strategies to use, and how to apply them. The steps of explicit instruction typically include direct explanation, teacher modeling (“thinking aloud”), guided practice, and application.

• Direct explanation The teacher explains to students why the strategy helps comprehension and when to apply the strategy.
• Modeling The teacher models, or demonstrates, how to apply the strategy, usually by “thinking aloud” while reading the text that the students are using.
• Guided practice The teacher guides and assists students as they learn how and when to apply the strategy.
• Application The teacher helps students practice the strategy until they can apply it independently.

Effective comprehension strategy instruction can be accomplished through cooperative learning, which involves students working together as partners or in small groups on clearly defined tasks. Cooperative learning instruction has been used successfully to teach comprehension strategies. Students work together to understand texts, helping each other learn and apply comprehension strategies. Teachers help students learn to work in groups. Teachers also provide modeling of the comprehension strategies.

Behaviour Management Strategies Making connection

Behaviour Management Strategies Making connection

General tips

• Be definite – know what you want and let the children know what you expect in a calm and polite way
• Be clear about general as well as specific behaviours – lining up, entering/leaving the room, talking, doing work, listening, showing respect, trying your best
• Be aware – what will happen if you do or don’t get what you want – plan your response
• Acknowledge good behaviour and reward with specific, detailed praise
• Use proximity praise when low-level misbehaviour starts, ensuring you and the children know which sanctions apply for specific misbehaviours
• Be calm and consistent – remain polite and fair, applying school rules and sanctions consistently
• Treat the children as you would a colleague in the office
• Have a clear structure to the day or lesson – a clear pattern offers safety and security
• Be positive and keep standards high – expect the best and praise/reward those who achieve highly
• Be interested – get to know the children and form good relationships with them
• Be flexible – if your class are bored/unsettled/tired then change your plans and bend a little
• Set small targets for individuals who struggle and notice when they achieve them
• Be persistent – never give up on a child or class. Look for the solution. Behaviour takes time to change.

Behaviour matters- How literate is your school?

Controlling the class

• Learn to ‘read’ the class – be flexible and adapt your approach according to their behaviour
• Wait for silence – expect complete attention to be focussed on you. Use non-verbal techniques to gain this – stand, look and wait; pause and wait; use an egg timer, bell, clapping or shaker; hands up or on heads; establish a phrase ‘may I have your attention please…’
• Use cues – remind the children of the rules as pat of your instruction – ‘Put your hands up if you know..’, ‘When I say ‘go’ you can start your work..’
• Give them the choice – make choices and consequences simple and clear and follow through on these
• Be reasonable but don’t reason with them- have realistic expectations about what children can do and there will be no need to reason when you ask them to do it
• Use statements, not questions – say what you want to happen instead of asking why it isn’t – ‘Why are you messing around’ becomes ‘I want you to sit properly and listen’
• Use repetition – to gain attention and to ensure your message is heard and understood, repeat the child’s name until you have their full attention and repeat instructions to ensure understanding

Strategies for Children who need to be in control/are seeking revenge

• Stay calm yourself – avoid a power struggle
• For off-task behaviour, redirect the child and then walk away, expecting the work to be resumed. This avoids confrontation and the child saves face.
• Too much obvious praise too soon will have the opposite effect as the child doesn’t want to please you or appear to conform. Delay praise, keep it subtle – a nod or a smile will reinforce acceptable behaviour or a quiet word. Avoid audiences.
• Special responsibilities are a controlled way of giving the child some power – supporting younger peers in successful subjects will reinforce acceptable behaviour whilst making the child feel important.
• Rephrase what you say – use ‘you are working well instead of ‘I’m pleased with you.’ This gives control to the child – you are recognising their positive choices.
• Keep boundaries firm and consistent. Discuss and negotiate rules to involve the child and so they see the relevance to them.
• Apply consequences to the whole class and keep them logical, to avoid accusations of being ‘unfair’. Be seen to be fair and consistent.
• Be prepared to listen rather than accuse, remain positive and friendly and avoid taking the behaviour personally.
• Speak privately about inappropriate behaviour.
• Aim to reframe actions by finding positive reasons for behaviour e.g. ‘I can see you are not working yet and that you probably need more thinking time’.

Controlling behaviours

• Arguing
• Rebelling
• Defiance
• Contradiction
• Bullying
• Temper tantrums
• Dishonesty
• Disobedience

Strategies for children who show attention – needing behaviours

• Use planned ignoring/proximity praise. Ignore the child who is behaving inappropriately and praise a child nearby who is behaving appropriately.
• ‘You get the behaviour you pay attention to’ – acknowledge and reinforce appropriate behaviour.
• Sometimes do the opposite of what is expected – give the child permission to carry on – if permitted the behaviour loses its attraction. This works best when the behaviour was intended to irritate, antagonise or annoy the adult.
• Make expectations about behaviour very clear. Establish rules and boundaries and reward compliance. Use stickers, certificates and letters home.
• Develop a whole class reward system. This will encourage a feeling of belonging and working towards a common goal.
• Teach friendship skills to enable the child to make and maintain friendships.
• Express surprise at the misbehaviour.
• Pair with a good role model. Use a ‘work buddy’ system.
• Make them feel valued by organising a special job or responsibility.
• Teach child new skills – juggling/playing an instrument – to achieve a valued role.
• Label the behaviour and not the child to keep self-esteem intact. Use ‘I’ statements and acknowledge feelings. E.g. ‘When you talk during story I feel irritated and the other children can’t hear the story…’
• Teach all of the children to use ‘I’ statements: ‘I like you but I don’t like it when you push in…’
• Offer consequences for chosen misbehaviour – this makes children responsible for their behaviour and takes the stress of failure away from the adult. E.g. ‘If you continue to talk you will be moved, the choice is yours.’
• Take an interest in the child and their hobbies. Share relevant information about common interests.
• Use circle time activities to encourage cooperative group work and place problems in a social context. Foster a sense of belonging where every member is valued and valuable. Create an environment where it is safe to take risks and make mistakes.
• Introduce a special person once a week in circle time to provide an opportunity for celebrating individual strengths.
• Give as much individual praise as possible – just for being themselves.
• Extend feelings vocabulary so the child can express their needs clearly.
• Plan for success and celebrate when it happens.
• Focus on the children’s abilities and strengths – stay solution focussed.

Attention-needing behaviours

•Continuous behaviour that demands excessive attention from adults and peers
• Frequently disturbs adults and peers
• Talks out of turn
• Makes silly noises
• Constantly gets out of seat
• Interrupts lessons with attention-needing behaviour
• Works only when receiving attention

Carolyn Bromfield – University of Plymouth Trudi Fitzhenry – EPBST
Sue Cowley – ‘Getting the buggers to behave’
Continuum International Publishing Group 2006

Multisensory Teaching

Multisensory Teaching

What is meant by multisensory teaching?

Multisensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory, and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

Margaret Byrd Rawson, a former President of The Orton Dyslexia Society (the precursor to The International Dyslexia Association), said it well: “Dyslexic students need a different approach to learning language from that employed in most classrooms. They need to be taught, slowly and thoroughly, the basic elements of their language — the sounds and the letters which represent them — and how to put these together and take them apart. They have to have lots of practice in having their writing hands, eyes, ears, and voices working together for the conscious organization and retention of their learning.”

Teachers who use this approach teach children to link the sounds of the letters with the written symbol. Children also link the sound and symbol with how it feels to form the letter or letters. As students learn a new letter or pattern (such as s or th), they carefully trace, copy, and write the letter(s) while saying the corresponding sound. The sound may be made by the teacher and the letter name(s) given by the student. Students then read and spell words, phrases, and sentences using these patterns. Teachers and their students rely on all three pathways for learning rather than focusing on a “sight-word” or memory method, a “tracing method,” or a “phonetic method” alone.
When and where was multisensory teaching introduced for children with dyslexia?

Dr. Samuel Torrey Orton and his colleagues began using multisensory techniques in the mid-1920’s at the mobile mental health clinic he directed in Iowa. Orton was influenced by the kinesthetic method described by Grace Fernald and Helen Keller. He suggested that kinesthetic-tactile reinforcement of visual and auditory associations could correct the tendency of reversing letters and transposing the sequence of letters while reading and writing. Students who reverse b and d are taught to use consistent, different strokes in forming each letter. For example, students make the vertical line before drawing the circle in printing the letter b; they form the circle before drawing the vertical line in printing the letter d.

Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman based their original 1936 teaching manual for the “alphabetic method” on Dr. Orton’s theories. They combined multisensory techniques with teaching the structure of written English, including the sounds (phonemes), meaning units (morphemes such as prefixes, suffixes, and roots) and common spelling rules. The phrase “Orton-Gillingham approach” refers to the structured, sequential, multisensory techniques established by Dr. Orton and Ms. Gillingham and their colleagues.
What is the rationale behind multisensory teaching?

Children with dyslexia often exhibit weaknesses in auditory and/or visual processing. They may have weak phonemic awareness, meaning they are unaware of the role sounds play in words. They have difficulty rhyming words, blending sounds to make words, or segmenting words into sounds. They may also have difficulty acquiring a sight vocabulary. That is, dyslexic children do not learn the sight words expected in the primary grades. In general, they do not pick up the alphabetic code or system. When taught by a multisensory approach, children have the advantage of learning alphabetic patterns and words by utilizing all three pathways. Orton suggested that teaching the “fundamentals of phonic association with letter forms both visually presented and reproduced in writing, until the correct associations were built up” would benefit students of all ages.
Is there solid evidence that multisensory teaching is effective for children with dyslexia?

There is a growing body of evidence supporting multisensory teaching. Current research, much of it supported by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), converges on the efficacy of explicit structured language teaching for children with dyslexia. Young children in structured, sequential, multisensory intervention programs, who were also trained in phonemic awareness, made significant gains in decoding skills. These multisensory approaches used direct, explicit teaching of letter-sound relationships, syllable patterns, and meaning word parts. Studies in clinical settings showed similar results for a wide range of ages and abilities.

Dyslexia and its challenges discussed

Dyslexia and its challenges discussed

KARACHI, Oct 14: The concluding day of the 28th SPELT International Conference-2012 — Rainbows of ELT — at the Habib Public School on Sunday had so many wonderful workshops on offer that it became difficult to choose which ones to attend as they were running simultaneously.

The English language teachers attending the conference faced this dilemma right from the morning’s plenary sessions to the closing sessions in the afternoon. Still one workshop that deserved special mention was the one conducted by Orton-Gillingham practitioners Fehmina Khan and Faiza Faisal called ‘Dyslexia — A Bridge Some Have to Cross’.

Both the teachers used the Orton-Gillingham approach with their dyslexic students at the Centre for Assessment and Remedial Education (CARE).

The approach itself is thus named due to the joint study contributions of Samuel T. Orton (1879-1948), a neuropsychiatrist and pathologist and Anna Gillingham (1878-1963), an educator and psychologist. “Dyslexia is just one kind of learning disability. It is not that dyslexics are below average students. In fact they are highly intelligent people. But since everyone is unique, they happen to have their own different ways of learning,” explained the specialist teachers during the workshop.

“Children with dyslexia have no problem in gaining knowledge but they need to break the code of reading and writing, which may take them a while,” said Fehmina Khan.

“There are several things that can help a teacher identify a child with dyslexia. Preschool signs include delayed speech, difficulty in memorising nursery rhymes, challenges in recognising different colours and shapes, having trouble in learning the days of week and mixing up syllables in long words. And if all that goes unchecked, a child is usually diagnosed between the age of eight and 11 years when the learning challenges increase in elementary school, or even in high school sometimes when along with the previous symptoms the student will be getting poor grades, have short attention spans or have trouble with spellings and even expressing themselves”.

She said with dyslexics it was very obvious that they were smart, but they were still not achieving much with all that intelligence and no real physical problem.

Ms Khan shared a few myths about dyslexia such as more boys than girls were dyslexic; dyslexia only existed when working with the English language and that it was a lifelong disorder.

About its causes the teacher said that it was not very clear as to what exactly caused dyslexia but it did run in families.

“Fifteen to 20 per cent of the world population has reading difficulty and 85 per cent of this 15 to 20 per cent are dyslexics,” she said.

Looking at dyslexia scientifically, Ms Khan displayed through illustrations in her presentation normal brain activity where the work was broken down into three parts with one portion of the brain concentrating on reading, other working on discriminating sounds while the other one taking in visual details. “In contrast there is only one part of the brain of a dyslexic person doing all these three things. And when one area is doing everything, there is major confusion,” Ms Khan explained. “And with famous people and high achievers such as John F. Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Tom Cruise, Richard Branson, etc, all suffering from dyslexia, you cannot say that dyslexics are dumb or stupid as the ones mentioned were and are extremely bright individuals,” the other expert teacher, Faiza Faisal, said.

“The good news is that dyslexics can be taught how to read and write, though in a different way of specialised teaching which includes phoneme and phonological awareness, sound-symbol awareness, syllable instruction, morphology and syntax,” she said.

“Meanwhile, when parents are told that their child has this condition: It is no good to go into denial. Some schools with remedial classes can help, but basically the parents, teachers and schools together can bring about a positive change in a dyslexic student”.

The final day of the conference also included the launching ceremony of SPELT founder Zakia Sarwar’s book, English Language Education in South Asia: From Policy to Pedagogy and a dramatic performance on stage by students from the University of Karachi.

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