Dyslexia – How to Help in Secondary School
My last blog explained the current definition for Dyslexia/Rose’09. http://mainstreamsen.wordpress.com/2014/10/23/dyslexia-what-is-it/ .
Next week I will look at Dyslexia – How to help in Primary
What are the Indicators? requested by @suecowley will be the following week.
‘If you get SEN right in school you raise achievement for all.’
‘I know what to say but I can’t get it down on paper’ – students with dyslexia often say this and it impacts on writing.
I like the comparison to index cards: the idea that all the information is there but not in a neat, A-Z sequential order, rather, it is thrown all over the floor.
Concept mapping may be useful – it’s the ability to brainstorm first and then begin to plan thoughts into a linear, more ordered structure. I love a programme called Inspiration http://www.inspiration.com/. This allows you to plan in a mind map or spider diagram and then press a button which changes it to a linear format. I applied for my current job using this and it made the whole process less overwhelming.
Post-it notes are good too as they can be moved around; as a whole group exercise try putting them on different walls in the classroom – this really helps to cluster themes into subheadings/paragraphs etc.
Word processing helps due to being able to cut and paste – it takes away the finality of writing – think of those students who are constantly crossing things out, moving paragraphs around with arrows, using asterisks to add bits in.
Obviously grammar and spell checker is also an advantage. Be aware of students who appear to have a wide vocabulary when they talk and yet their writing does not reflect this – it may just be that they try to use words they are confident in spelling.
Don’t assume students cannot comprehend what they are reading even if they cannot decode out loud to you. I know this is controversial but I come across students with dyslexia who have single word reading scores in the ‘well below average’ range but comprehension in the ‘average’ range. It is not reading in the decoding sense but it is reading.
Teaching reading skills to someone with dyslexia should be phonics based however, due to phonological difficulties, learning words by sight is easier for many but this will not give them strategies to decode words they don’t recognise. I advocate (but many disagree with me) a balanced approach. This encourages learning a bank of sight words for automaticity and fluency alongside a more structured, cumulative, multi-sensory phonics programme.
‘Oral language is the precursor to reading’ Snowling ’13.
Although students with dyslexia need support with letter-sound correspondence and phonological awareness, this will not help reading comprehension. Dyslexia is a language based impairment so here, oral language is key. And there is bucket loads of research to show spoken language work improves comprehension.
(There is however a difference between poor decoders/good comprehenders and good decoding/poor comprehension – crudely speaking the former may be dyslexic and the latter may have language impairment but there are many overlapping difficulties which does not make it so clear cut).
This http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1460-6984.2011.00081.x/abstract by Snowling and Hulme explains far better than I can.
For a more practical look at language in schools, Chris Chivers’ blog is worth reading. In fact for good, inclusive strategies all his blogs are useful. In fact he should be in charge of education full stop.
While I think I can teach pretty much everyone to read, I do not believe this is the case for spelling. Of course I am describing the very severe cases; for most while their spelling may never be perfect; they can get by with ‘near enough’. (a term coined by Neil McKay 2014)
Revision strategies (thanks to @scjmcd for this question)
‘I can see clearly now the rain has gone’ – pathetic fallacy
‘Lady Luck and Sister Vanity were not easy to ignore, opened up a door and let me in’ – personification
‘Light up like a candle burning when he calls me up, melt down like a candle burning every time we touch’ – simile.
More questions sourced by twitter
@Podgainy_j – ‘How to verify the knowledge gap is shrinking?’
This is a tricky one – I have written about the Matthew Effect for poor readers here www.innovatemyschool.com/industry-expert-articles/itemlist/user/5115-julesdaulby.html.
Again, oral language is key: exposing children to books in other ways such as audio, reading to them, text-to-speech for subject based information. These would all help but I don’t know if we can verify the knowledge gap is shrinking? Stanovich argues that crystallised intelligence is affected by reading difficulties so you may wish to look at this. (Does reading make you smarter/childrenofthecode.org).
@rashush2 ‘interventions or not? If yes, what helps?’
I have mixed feelings about this – if as much as possible can be done via Quality First teaching then brilliant. Some students however do need support and 1:1 teaching by a specialist teacher is the Rolls Royce of interventions. Small group work will never be able to pinpoint precisely each student’s difficulties but it is obviously a cheaper option.
What helps I have discussed above – what doesn’t help however is untrained staff. This can actually do more harm than good. The children with the most persistent difficulties need the highest quality support.
@evenicola1 ‘Is technology the answer?’
Assistive Technology has transformed the lives of many people with dyslexia. There’s text-to-speech, speech-to-text, concept mapping, predictive text, even Captura now where you can take a photograph of any text and have it read to you. (I will blog on Assistive Technology)
I like the new livescribe pen which records lessons, allows you to handwrite and then change it to text with a swipe. One of my students has this and it’s wonderful.
All these technologies remove barriers to learning and often allow students to show what they are capable of without being disabled by reading and writing difficulties.
A few interesting Research morsels from The Dyslexia Debate – Professor Elliot
“Good interventions in early years reduces later incidence of problems but those left are more resistant”
“Effective interventions for young children result in lower success rates for adolescents with reading difficulties”.
“Phonics more efficacious for younger kids but still works for older children pp 127-129 and p 136 onwards but require more work with language and comprehension”.
This has became a marathon blog (hence why I’ve dealt with identification and primary separately) – if you have got to end – phew, well done. Thanks for all those who asked questions, I hope I have answered some.