Preschoolers cannot read, but they are actively learning language. Difficulties mastering language at a young age predict later difficulties mastering reading.
True! In fact, “ear reading” is key for students with dyslexia.What exactly is “ear reading?” It is listening to audio books as a way to take in the printed word. Audio books are available from the library or from web based services such as Audible; however, children with dyslexia qualify for free or low cost audio books from two great organizations, BookShare and Learning Ally. BookShare is a service through the government, and it is free of cost for qualifying students. Learning Ally is a non-profit organization with a yearly membership. If your child has a diagnosis of dyslexia, Read Write’s staff can certify her as eligible for one or both of these excellent services.
If a child is blind, he learns to read braille with his hands. If a child has a print based learning disability such as dyslexia, he needs to learn to read with his ears. There are many ways to learn new information: you can read it, listen to it, watch it, or experience it. No one way is better or worse than the others. The important thing is that you learn the new information! It is no surprise that students with dyslexia learn best by listening, watching, and experiencing. Therefore, “ear reading" is a powerful and necessary tool for them.
Many parents and teachers are concerned that “ear reading” will take away from “eye reading,” but nothing could be further from the truth! “Ear reading” allows students with dyslexia to experience texts at their intellectual level - not their “eye reading” level. It allows them to get the same well documented benefits of wide independent reading as their peers: expanded vocabulary, increased background knowledge, and a LOVE of reading! In fact, “eye reading” can even be counter productive for a student who is receiving dyslexia therapy. In dyslexia therapy, we work tirelessly to re-train the student’s brain and banish guessing. If a student with dyslexia is thrown into a text with words he has not yet learned to decode, he will go back to his old habits: guessing based on the first letter and shape of the word or guessing based on the context.
Parents and teachers can encourage “ear reading” by sharing in the fun. No kid wants to feel different, so make “ear reading” the norm in your family or classroom. Parents, model listening to audio books in the car and check out audio books from the library for your other children. Teachers, allow any child to listen to an audio book during silent reading time. This generation is so lucky to have this powerful technology readily available on devices they already use every day!
Remediated dyslexics will be able to read and spell once they have completed their intervention program, but they will always do so more slowly than their peers. Reading will still require more mental effort than it does for someone without dyslexia. Therefore, they will continue to benefit from “ear reading” even when they are young adults studying for the MCAT or taking their first class in law school!
About the author: Hunter Oswalt is the director here at Read Write Baldwin County. She is a alumna of Vanderbilt University and enjoys spending time with her two children, riding bikes and eating banana moon pies!
Do the terms IEP, 504, IDEA, FAPE, LRE, RTI, etc. leave you feeling like you have done a swan dive into a bowl of alphabet soup? All of these terms can be very overwhelming, and downright frightening at first. And just when you think you have a grasp on your knowledge…BAM…something gets changed or reauthorized! Read Write Baldwin County is here to help!
Our advocacy services are available on a variety of levels to help you better understand the processes, terms, and services being offered to your child in the public schools. A Parent Consultation allows you to meet with a specialist to discuss your child’s IEP/504/other plan. The Written Recommendation service will provide you with a report of suggested goals and accommodations for your child’s IPE/504/other plan. Meeting Attendance will provide you with a specialist to join you at school meetings to advocate for your child. You decide what level of help best fits your situation. Just like the first word in IEP our advocacy services are INDIVIDUALIZED for every child and every family.
Our instructors come from a variety of backgrounds, and we have a variety of educational experiences in both private and public-school settings. I spent 32 years as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools in Georgia. We all bring different experiences and knowledge to the table to help you navigate “the soup”.
We look forward to hearing from you if you need Advocacy help.
About the author: Mary Fuller is a retired teacher and speech-language pathologist. She spent 32 years in the Georgia school system. She loves antiquing, traveling and teaching. We are so happy to have her at Read Write!
Great news! We have selected a Dyslexia Hero! We were overwhelmed with the participation in our survey and we want to thank all classroom teachers! Y'all rock!! It was a tough choice but we are excited to honor Autumn Zellner, our Dyslexia Hero 2017! Congratulations!
Check out some strategies she uses below!
Tips from a classroom teacher for working with Dyslexic students:
- Reading is hard! It is even more difficult if you struggle with Dyslexia. Rather than one long lesson, try two or three short lessons. Giving students time to absorb the lesson and take breaks will help with focus.
- Reading should be fun! Students should be reading and reading often, but they should also be given opportunities to fall in love with reading. Listening to an audiobook, hearing a read aloud, or sharing a book with a reading buddy will increase a student’s motivation to read.
- Read in the mornings, no one is at their best in the afternoons.
- Set reading goals and know that a student may not be able to read an entire book in one setting. You read a page and I’ll read a page, can be a good compromise, it also allows for an opportunity for on the spot modeling of good reading skills.
- Get excited about an author. I LOVE Mo Willems. Students get excited when they see that you are excited. Model what a love of reading looks like.
Author: Autumn Zellner
You know that saying: “every gray cloud has a silver lining”? I think it’s safe to say that we all have tough days, days when it’s really difficult to find that silver lining, if we even bother to look. But, it is out of the mouth of babes that we can find solace in simple “silver lining” philosophy.
I was reminded to always find the silver amid the gray when we received an email from a parent this morning which read: “Last night Ruby came home so proud of how much she was able to read in her library book (Junie B Jones). She had to show me how fast she could read to page 8. She said, ‘I know other kids probably can read a lot more in same time, but for me this is a lot!’”
The strength and self-confidence to outwardly express her pride in reading even though her peers are reading more, is quite humbling to me. Not only is she focused on the good, she’s focusing on her own growth rather than comparing herself to her peers. – Hold on to that ideology, Ruby! It will serve you well in adolescence and adulthood!
Mom continued, “[Later that night] after getting sick, I told her it looks like she will be home today. She said, ‘At least I can read my library books.’”
Ruby’s refreshing “silver lining” philosophy cheerfully calls us to remember how far we or our children have come in respective goals and to simply keep moving even if we are a mile behind the closest runner. And, suddenly, the thought of a sick little girl who is stuck in bed until the fever breaks has been illuminated by the thought of a little girl who is dyslexic, lying in bed, reading Junie B. Jones independently.
About the author: Lydia Price is a Read Write instructor who loves hearing student success stories. She is often inspired by her students and wants to share some of those moments with our readers. Lydia's favorite part of working at Read Write is getting to know the children and watching them enhance their various strengths as they improve their math or reading skills!
*Permission was granted by both "Ruby" and her mother to share this email.
At Read Write, we strive to create a safe, supportive, compassionate learning space for children with learning differences. I thought it would be nifty to see what they had to say about our efforts. So, for our monthly activity, we started a “pen pal” project. Rather than writing letters to each other, they were asked what they would tell a new student.
Kids don’t often articulate how they feel about their learning environment to the teacher. We can make assumptions based on their attitude and demeanor but they rarely actually tell us how they are feeling.
Our “pen-pal” project was meant for me to evaluate the success of our environment through the students’ eyes. But it was more than that, I ultimately and inadvertently empowered the students. We received notes that read, “It’s not like school. It’s fun!” and “You get to express yourself here!” and “Don’t worry! They are going to help you read and school will get easier!” and “We get to play games!” When I looked at all the notes, I realized that I have shown them that we care about their opinion and that their experience is valid enough to encourage someone else. Essentially, I sent a message to them: “You matter.”
It’s always great to hear their feedback and evaluate how to improve our environment but most importantly, they know we support them and they get to support new students! We have hung these notes in the lobby of our office. The most recent one to be posted reads, “Don’t worry! I’m new too!”
Author: Lydia Price
Yesterday, I taught the perfect lesson and I want to tell you about it.
Typically, John pops into the office talking about baseball or basketball or swimming or what he ate for dinner last night. After a quick life catch up, we get to work and John is diligent. He takes things slowly and thinks through the spelling rules he has learned.
Yesterday was no different, he settled in to his seat, ready to get to work. But unlike most days, I wasn’t swiveling around to grab materials or sharpen pencils. I hadn’t even opened the teacher manual. I just sat in front of an empty desk across from John and smiled. He said, “what?” and I replied, “John, you’ve been working with me for about a year now and I have to say, I’m impressed with how much you have grown. I have some very exciting news for you.” He perks up. “Today, you are going to learn how to read two syllable words. I’m going to teach you the rules!” I held my hand up for a high five. He looked up and me, gave me a big ole high five and got to work.
Yesterday, I watched John confidently read two syllable words.
I knew he was excited, but I was shocked to see him strut into my office today without mentioning baseball, the Chicago Bulls, or chicken nuggets. Instead, he sat down and said, “Ms. Lydia, today I explained syllable division rules to my teacher and guess what! She asked me to explain it to the entire class!!”
See, yesterday, I watched John read two syllable words accurately, something he’s never been able to do before. And today, John got to stand in front of his class and show them how to attack unknown multisyllabic words. He got to be the reading expert for the first time.
This lesson was perfect because it rippled. John was able to carry what he learned forward as a more confident reader and because of his confidence, he shared his knowledge with others.
Seize the summer! Summer is the perfect time to help kids get caught up or enhance their current skills. They aren’t exhausted, stressed, or preoccupied with school and extracurricular activities. Academic camps also help combat summer learning loss! Read Write is so excited to offer several opportunities for your little, middle, or older learners. Together, we can help ensure these students can take on next year!
Check out the full list of summer camp options at Read Write! Camps are designed to be educational, challenging and above all else, FUN! Call to reserve your spot. Limited space available!
Reading Readiness, developed by Neuhaus is designed to give your child an introduction to the five essential components to become a successful reader. This small group class offers a multisensory and interactive curriculum that is both engaging and fun. It is important for children to feel confident when first learning to read. Reading Readiness gives them the building blocks they will need to continue on to be an independent reader.
Dates: June 6th - 15 th and July 11th – 20th
Days & Time: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 1-2 PM
Basic Language Blast Off: Blast off into reading! Does your rising 1st or 2nd grader show the characteristics of Dyslexia? This program is for them! Students will receive intensive, explicit instruction in reading, spelling, and writing as part of an Orton Gillingham curriculum, the only research based method to remediate the weaknesses of dyslexic students. Students will have FUN learning the multisensory way with a highly qualified instructor in a small group setting (2-4 students). Your student will make out of this world progress! ***A parent consultation is required before enrolling your student due to the therapeutic nature of this program.
Dates: June 6th – August 3rd
Days & Time: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10-11 AM
Authors in Training is a summer camp for 4th-6th graders that will meet 10am-noon on Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays from July 11th-20th. Campers will read a story together, and then they will write, edit, and publish their own narratives! This camp is a great opportunity for kids to sharpen their reading comprehension and narrative writing skills in a small group setting during the summer months. Lively discussions, graphic organizers, and imagination will be core components to this camp.
Dates: July 11th – August 20th
Days & Time: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday 10- Noon
Be Our Guest: Social Skills & Etiquette Camp: Come join the fun at our Social Skills and Etiquette camp! We will discuss skills such as communicating with others, interpreting social cues, listening, and conflict resolution, just to name a few. We will also focus on proper etiquette and manners and will even learn to set the table! We look forward to having you as our “guest.”
Dates: June 20th-22nd & July 11th-13th
Time: 9-11 AM
Study Skills Success is designed to teach camper how to successfully manage classes, homework, and tests. We will also discuss time management, and beneficial tips for staying organized in and out of the classroom. Our Study Skills Camp will not only prepare students for the upcoming school year but also any academic challenges they may face in the future.
Dates: Middle School: July 25th-27th, High School: Aug 1st-3rd
Time: 9-11 AM
Oh, The Places You’ll Go: College Prep is led by Lydia Price, a dyslexic and alumna of Hollins University Class of 2015. During her tenure as a Hollins student, Lydia served as a Student Success Leader and Freshman Resident Assistant. As a Student Success Leader, she was responsible for advising a cohort of 20 first year students. Come join her to discuss transitioning to college, study strategies, class selection, time management, stress management, and compensatory skills. Get set for success and calm your nerves about going off to school in the fall!
Date: June 9th
Time: 10- Noon
- No homework. No tests. Summer means less stress! Students are more open to learning without the stress of school which makes the summer a perfect time to start (or ramp up) academic therapy.
- When school is out, students have more time to play, be with their families, and ...attend academic therapy! It's much easier (and more enjoyable) to fit in without sports practices and bus schedules to work around.
- Research shows that students tend to lose academic skills over the summer. Students with learning differences are especially at risk! Prevent the summer slide by enrolling in academic therapy.
- The summer is a great time for students to gain confidence in their skills and abilities. Students who participate in academic therapy in the summer months start school with an extra pep in their step and confidence to tackle the year ahead! (Parents feel better too!)
- Have fun! Academics can be fun? Yes! Our instruction is hands on and interactive. Learning is fun at Read Write! Fight the "I'm bored!" refrain from your kids with an activity that sharpens the brain - summer therapy at Read Write!
At Read Write, we invest in our instructors and encourage professional development. You may have read "The Magic Potion," "Ready to Read," and "4 Ways to Advocate for Your Dyslexic Child." All the blogs and continuing education have been diverse and that's part of what makes Read Write such a wonderful place. Please continue to enjoy our blog as we share more and more of our learning.
For my professional development project last fall, I read The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan by Ben Foss. Since this book was written as a roadmap of sorts for parents of children with dyslexia, I knew I would meet my goal to better understand the parent perspective surrounding this often-invisible disability.
In the book, Foss shares many stories from his own life with dyslexia and acts as a helpful guide for the reader as he explains this common learning disability and presents a clear map for tackling it. The author provides strategies for success, such as identifying a child’s strengths, using assistive technologies, and advocating for accommodations in school. This mix of stories, science, and legal advice make for an engaging and practical read. I would highly recommend that any parent of to a dyslexic child take the time to read this book!
IEP. SLD. 504. FAPE. Navigating special education services in the public schools requires learning a new language. Need a translator? Here are a few tips and tricks gleaned from Kelli Sandman-Hurley's book Dyslexia Advocate! How to Advocate for a Child with Dyslexia Within the Public Education System. This book provides a step by step guide to advocating for your child with dyslexia.
1. Get a binder. A thick one. When you are trying to have your child found eligible for special education services - and even after your child starts receiving these services, you should document and date everything. Keep samples of your child’s school work, copies of report cards, print outs with testing results, and emails. For those kids who appear to be doing okay in school but homework requires a lot of time and guidance, Sandman-Hurley recommends keeping a homework log. Make a simple table and document the name of the homework assignment and how long it took the student to complete it.
2. Embrace the D Word. Although schools in our area have made great strides in acknowledging dyslexia, it still confuses parents when schools say things like, “We don’t test for dyslexia.” Let me clear that up: public schools do not diagnosis dyslexia - or any other condition for that matter. Instead, they test to determine eligibility under specific categories. Basically, students with dyslexia qualify for special education services because Dyslexia is listed under Specific Learning Disorder (SLD) which is the term you will see and hear when talking to schools or reviewing paperwork. While the student’s eligibility category will be listed as “Specific Learning Disability,” Sandman-Hurley encourages parents to have the specific condition of dyslexia documented in their child’s paperwork as well. This will help the teachers and professionals who work with your child understand her learning profile better than the vague, umbrella term “Specific Learning Disability.”
3. The more goals the merrier! The vast majority of Individualized Education Plans (IEPs), that I see for students with dyslexia have only 1 goal for reading, but most students with dyslexia have many needs when it comes to reading! Sandman-Hurley points out that needs should drive goals. A dyslexic student likely needs a goal to address weak phonological processing, poor decoding, poor spelling, and a slow reading rate. If your child needs it, make it a goal!
4. Send a handwritten thank you note. Appreciation goes a long way. Acknowledge a job well done by a particularly helpful teacher or administrator because it helps establish a sense of partnership between you and the individuals that spend the majority of the day with your child and are tasked with helping her overcome her learning challenges.
The terminology, abbreviations, and reams of paperwork can make the process of overseeing your child’s special education services seem daunting. Read Write offers advocacy services for those parent who want a knowledgeable professional on their side. We help parents advocate for their students through consultations, reviewing documents and attending school meetings. We would be honored to help guide you through the process. A knowledgeable parent is a powerful tool!
Read Write is excited to offer a Reading Readiness program for students ages 4-6. This class is ideal for those young minds who may need that extra push. We follow a protocol developed by Neuhaus, one the country’s top training and research institutions for teachers. We will use a multi-sensory approach with a small group of students. The activities are engaging, fun, and most importantly encompasses the five components to teach pre-readers. We hope to work with different pre-schools on the eastern shore to deliver the instruction at the child’s location to provide a convenience to parents as well as provide instruction at our Daphne office.
Early intervention is a proactive and preventative step to help prevent potential leaning gaps. Effective pre-reading instruction at an early age helps mold your child into a confident reader. According to the National Reading Panel, there are five essential components in teaching young minds to read.
Phonological awareness- ability to hear and manipulate individual sounds
Phonics- knowledge that letters of the alphabet represent phonemes, and that these sounds are blended together to form written words
Fluency- the ability to recognize words easily, read with greater speed, accuracy, and expression, and to have a better understanding of what is read
Vocabulary- knowledge of words and their definition
Comprehension- understanding meaning in text
A hands on teaching approach that incorporates all of these components at an early age can give your child the boost they need to start that kindergarten year and become a reader. Be on the lookout for more exciting programs and opportunities coming to the Eastern Shore soon!
About the author: Martha is one of our newest Read Write team members. She was previously a special education teacher in Mountain Brook, Alabama and Learning specialist at Bayside Academy. When she is not teaching she is spending time outside, hopefully on the water, and with her family and friends. She is looking forward to her first group of little ones who are Ready to Read!
Parents, do you ever find yourself dreading homework time? Not only can homework be a stressful task for students, but it can be very hectic for parents as well. If your child has a learning disability, this can be especially challenging and you might find yourself feeling helpless or discouraged. As frustrating as it sometimes may be, it’s important to remember that many children who have learning disabilities also feel high stress levels while at school. Children thrive when they feel they have a “safe place” to come home to every day. Preventing extra stress at home is key, and one way of doing this is to practice patience. Sometimes that’s easier said than done! Below are 5 tips for remaining patient with your child.
Determine your child’s learning style - It’s easy to grow impatient when your child is not understanding his or her homework and study material. Children have different ways of learning, and sometimes these ways are much different from our own. If your child is a visual learner, looking over pictures, diagrams, or highlighting important material might be beneficial when studying for a test. If your child has an auditory learning style, he or she processes information by listening and may benefit from having you read assignments aloud. Taking into account these different learning styles are helpful when acknowledging your child’s strengths while keeping him or her engaged.
Set time limits - Often parents quickly lose patience due to the lengthy amount of time spent on homework. Establishing limits to help your child with homework is key. Set an alarm and let your child know that you will only be helping during that certain amount of time. While this will help you maintain patience, it also instills self confidence in your child as he or she learns to work independently.
Plan Ahead - Make an agenda each afternoon for how homework and studying will be accomplished. List subjects in order of importance and patiently work through them with your child. If an assignment is too complicated at the time, work ahead to the next assignment and go back to it later. This will help you keep the peace and will also keep your child relaxed which will facilitate the “safe place” you are creating in your home.
Get creative - As we all know now, every child is different and learns in different ways. When homework gets hectic, sometimes it helps to get creative and think outside of the box. Does your child have a hard time sitting still for long periods of time? If so, maybe take them outside to go over spelling words. If your child has difficulties staying focused, come up with fun games to help facilitate studying. Sometimes changes as simple as these can really help to lessen frustrations and avoid the loss of patience for the parent.
Focus on the bigger picture - Although these times may seem very daunting and as if they will never end, there will come a day when homework is a distant memory. Because of this, it’s important to keep things in perspective. While homework and studying may be a challenge right now, remember that “this too shall pass” and changes come with every season.
Overall, every child is different and has it’s own social, emotional, and intellectual qualities. It’s important to value these differences. Children can be very challenging, but of course they are the most rewarding and selfless challenge we will ever endure as parents. Demonstrating patience with your children is a wonderful way of showing them love and understanding. Remember that practicing patience is not always easy, but given a little time, it is definitely achievable!
Laura Doyle serves as Student Support Specialist at Read Write. She has a bachelor's degree is psychology and currently working on her masters. She offers a variety of services to help students cope with the social and emotional aspects of their learning difference.
As an instructor, administering dyslexia therapy can be a bit nerve racking. You see, our students do not trust educators anymore. What is different about us? Do we have a magic potion that will suddenly reveal the code that will let them read? I respond, “No, but you can trust me anyway.” But why? Why trust me?
I’m currently taking a course with the Academy of Orton Gillingham and finishing up my practicum. I work directly with a fellow, and he has helped me navigate this pressure to answer the question, “Why trust me?” I’ve learned it is not about knowing all the student’s educational gaps as we start therapy, it is about knowing how to identify them as they appear. Through this practicum, I have learned that no student’s profile will illuminate the road map to success from the start but not to worry! The gaps will absolutely reveal themselves over time. And, when they do, it’s time to get to work. Dive into that crevasse and slowly fill it with knowledge. This approach contains the magic in what we do.
One of our core values at Read Write is love of learning. Joyful and genuine curiosity applies to teachers and students alike, even though we may be learning different things. These opportunities to engage in professional development are the source of our magic. Constant growth as educators allows us to diagnose difficulties our students experience, and prescribe research-based solutions. Anyone can purchase the curriculums but not everyone can teach the curriculums effectively. Our commitment to professional development gives each instructor the confidence and support they need to educate each unique child with a language based learning disability. This commitment is our magic potion.
About the author: Lydia Price is a Barton Certified instructor at Read Write Baldwin County. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins University and is currently pursuing the Associate level Certification from the Academy of Orton Gillingham. When she's not working on professional development, Lydia enjoys a good barbecue, laying in the hammock with a book, and visiting with friends.
School is out for the holiday! But, that does not mean your child's learning should stop. Winter break is the perfect time to reinforce skills in a fun way! It is also the perfect time to focus on skills your child may have struggled with over the past semester. Keeping your child engaged and learning during the holidays is a great way to make the transition back to school in January easier! \
READ: Read a poem or nursery rhyme aloud to your child. Have you child identify words that rhyme! Then, have your child generate other words that rhyme. Older students can read or listen to an audiobook. After finishing, watch the movie & have your child illustrate his/her favorite part!
WRITE: Keep a journal! Have your child write about fun things they have done/want to do over the holiday. Don't be overly concerned about spelling; focus on content. It is important to find something positive to say about your child’s writing. Another way to integrate writing into the holiday is to have your child write Christmas cards or thank you notes to loved ones.
SIGHT WORDS: Play Go Fish with your child's sight words! Have your child use Play-Doh to "build" their sight words.
MATH: Have your child help you cook or bake over the holiday! Measuring, counting & budgeting to prepare a meal is a great way for your child to apply his/her math knowledge.
OTHER ACTIVITIES: Have a family game night! Play tic tac toe - instead of using x's and o's use b's & d's. Games provide many learning opportunities! Younger children- winter break is a perfect time to learn your address & phone number or practice tying your shoes. Older students- learn one new word a day.
About the Author: Katherine Beckmann is an instructor and administrative assistant at Read Write's Mobile office. Katie has over 8 years of teaching experience, and as a mother of 3, she also has lots of experience keeping kids engaged over breaks and holidays!
Question: Can dyslexia impact math performance?
Yes - difficulty with math can be related to dyslexia. According to research, dyslexics have trouble with directionality, sequencing, and rote random memorization. A lot of math involves "showing your work" in specific places, so difficulty with directionality can lead to problems with things such as carrying numbers and borrowing. Also, many math concepts require students to memorize and use a series of steps. This can be challenging for a student with dyslexia due to their trouble with sequencing. Additionally, schools expect students to memorize math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division) from an early age. Typically, the dyslexic student can explain the concept behind math facts and they can get the answer if given enough time and some manipulatives; however, they have a very difficult time recalling the facts quickly and accurately. Timed math fact quizzes can be torture. Finally, we can’t forget the dreaded word problem! Students with dyslexia can have such difficulty figuring out the words in these problems that they cannot even begin to solve them. All of these things can make math challenging for students with dyslexia.
However, some students with dyslexia struggle with math over and beyond these typical pitfalls. These students might have another condition, dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is the learning disability related to math. Students with dyscalculia have lots of difficulty understanding the logic behind math concepts. Like dyslexia, dyscalculia is a brain based condition. Dyscalculia is not as well known nor as well researched as dyslexia, but many scholars believe it to be almost as common.
At Read Write, we love working with dyslexic students on their math! Our approach is very hands on with lots of manipulatives to help the students understand the concept. Once they understand it deeply, they can remember the steps much better. We also emphasize place value as a way to help students know and remember where to put the numbers. And, we practice, practice, practice!
We also enjoy working with students who have dyscalculia. We go back to the foundational skills and help students fill in any gaps they might have. With intensive, systematic intervention, all students can become capable mathematicians! Let us know if we can help.
Feel free to send us more questions. We may turn some of them into an Ask the Specialist Blog!
About the Author: Hunter Oswalt is the Director of Read Write's Baldwin County office. She is a state certified reading specialist and has earned the designation Certified Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) from by the Academic Language Therapy Association.
Mark went to a small private school where he was struggling academically. Unfortunately, his teacher did not have the background or training to help Mark succeed and grew frustrated with him. One morning, Mrs. Doe moved Mark’s desk to the corner and explained to him that he was never going to get it. She told him that she had tried “everything and nothing works. You are simply un-teachable.” Since Mark “just could not learn” he was to sit at a desk in the corner and not “disrupt the other learners.”
Hearing these types of stories, I feel infuriated. I jump to judgment, characterizing this teacher as a bad person. A cruel person, really. But she’s not. Remembering to take a breath, I shift my perspective and as my anger dissolves, I feel overwhelming sadness. You see, no teacher begins teaching ill intentioned. We come into this field with dreams of molding young minds and helping children grow into thoughtful, productive adults. Unfortunately, this particular teacher was unable to help Mark and therefore, she likely felt she had failed him because he was failing. She’s frustrated and heartbroken in her own right.
Thankfully, he later received conclusive testing and was diagnosed with dyslexia. He now gets the appropriate therapy and accommodations to help him thrive. When I met Mark he was intelligent, confident, and most importantly, happy. A caring adult did ask, “Could it be Dyslexia?” and Mark benefited tremendously. It is in these moments that I feel grateful for our community of advocates, teachers, parents and dyslexics who work so diligently to raise awareness. We are helping students and teachers become more effective and confident in their roles.
In our last blog post, we highlighted Ed’s story. I want to follow that ‘call to action’ story with one of gratitude and hope. A few years ago, another Alabama advocate told me that the hardest aspect of advocacy is hope. He said, “No one wants to jump into a puddle of gloom and doom.” He is absolutely right, and with our movement, I feel blissfully optimistic. I am optimistic that we can expand our intervention strategies to not only help students but teachers as well, that we are compassionate for students and teachers, a like. So, in this month of gratitude, I would like to say thank you for hope.
About the author: Lydia Price is a Barton Certified instructor at Read Write Baldwin County. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Hollins University and is currently pursuing the Associate level Certification from the Academy of Orton Gillingham. When she's not working on professional development, Lydia enjoys a good barbecue, laying in the hammock with a book, and visiting with friends.
October is dyslexia awareness month! The state of Alabama has made great strides in acknowledging dyslexia and informing teachers about its signs, symptoms, and treatments. However, there is still a huge need for increased awareness and understanding across the state!
Before moving to Alabama and becoming a reading specialist, I began my career as a middle school teacher in Texas, a state with dyslexia legislation. Despite Texas’ progressive stance on dyslexia, I never saw a diagnosis of dyslexia on a student’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), attended a professional development about teaching students with dyslexia, or heard other teachers or administrators talk about it. I am certain that many of my students suffered due to my lack of awareness about dyslexia.
One student in particular stands out: When I met Ed, he was a goofy sixth grader with slicked back hair and a big smile…and a history of struggling in school. He had been held back before and only passed to the sixth grade by attending summer school. Since we were a new school for Ed, he gave us the benefit of the doubt and believed us when we said we would help him. I’m embarrassed to admit that I assumed that his difficulty with reading, writing, and spelling resulted from poor instruction in the lower grades or learning English second language or maybe even a lack of interest on his part, but I never considered dyslexia as a possible cause of his struggles. Ed made it through sixth grade with a lot of help, but he slipped further behind in seventh grade. I vividly remember a conversation I had with him in the hall one day during class: he told me he was dumb and that I couldn’t help him and that he couldn’t wait to drop out of school.
Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happened. Ed dropped out of school and out of my teaching life; although, I think of him often. I’m now convinced that Ed matched the profile of dyslexia: he had poor decoding and fluency skills causing him to have weak reading comprehension and written expression. If I had known as a beginning teacher what I know now as a reading specialist, I could have identified his dyslexia and provided him with appropriate accommodations and instruction. Most importantly, I could have provided him with understanding. An understanding that he was not dumb. An understanding that he just processed information differently.
For Ed and all the misunderstood kids out there, October is all about spreading dyslexia awareness to teachers, students, parents, and the broader community. Every time a caring adult looks at a struggling student and thinks “Could it be dyslexia?” is an opportunity to change a life for the better.
About the Author: Hunter Oswalt serves as Director of Read Write Baldwin County. She is a state certified reading specialist and has earned the designation of Certified Academic Language Practitioner (CALP) from the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA).
October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Get your facts straight by checking out this article written by Julie Rentz, Director of Read Write Mobile. We will be sharing information all month long so check back with us! For instant updates, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram.
Summer reading … What a bummer! Not at Read Write! This summer, our goal was to inspire our students not only to read their assigned summer books but also enjoy reading all summer long. To do that, we started an initiative: Dart Through Summer Reading. For every 20 pages a student eye read or for every 40 minutes a student ear read, they earned a balloon. At the end of the summer, the students could cash in their balloons for a chance to throw a dart at paint filled balloons, which were attached to a canvas. We called it our End-Of-Summer Dart Art Party.
When I started this initiative at the beginning of the summer, I was expecting some participation but I did not expect so much excitement! The students were off and running. As fast as I could restock the balloon cup, the students were tacking them up with their cartoon. I recruited the help of my fellow instructors to cut out paper balloons. It was just too much; my hand was going to fall off! Everyone happily pitched in and we kept the balloon cup full.
But looking at the walls of the learning center, realizing that the creators of “Up” would be jealous, I thought, “there is no way I can fill enough balloons or buy enough canvases for what these students have earned.” That was a pretty exciting moment… A bit overwhelming but so exciting!
Enter, Kate. Kate is the newest instructor at Read Write and she was a lifesaver during this event. Kate and I brainstormed a bit and finally decided that we needed to cap the number of times a student could throw a dart. We decided the cut off was 10 balloons. Anyone who earned more, received 10 chances to throw a dart and the received a goody bag in addition. Kate even created balloon rockets out of straws, string and balloons, which we stuffed in goody bags. We were so impressed with the students; we got trophies for our three highest earners who earned 82, 53, and 40 balloons!
Read Write is so proud of all our students! Thank you guys for working so hard all summer and coming out to celebrate YOUR accomplishments!