Effective Reading Instruction

from The International Dyslexia Association, “Effective Reading Instruction”, www.dyslexiaida.org/effective-reading-instruction/

The most difficult problem for students with dyslexia is learning to read. Unfortunately, popularly employed reading approaches, such as Guided Reading or Balanced Literacy, are not effective for struggling readers. These approaches are especially ineffective for students with dyslexia because they do not focus on the decoding skills these students need to succeed in reading.

What does work is Structured Literacy, which prepares students to decode words in an explicit and systematic manner. This approach not only helps students with dyslexia, but there is substantial evidence that it is more effective for all readers.

Structured Literacy instruction is marked by several elements:

Phonology. Phonology is the study of sound structure of spoken words and is a critical element of Structured Language instruction. Phonological awareness includes rhyming, counting words in spoken sentence, and clapping syllables in spoken words. An important aspect of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness or the ability to segment words into their component sounds, which are called phonemes. A phoneme is the smallest unit of sound in a given language that can be recognized as being distinct from other sounds in the language. For example, the word cap has three phonemes (/k/, /ă/, /p/), and the word clasp has five phonemes (/k/, /l/, /ă/, /s/, /p/).

Sound-Symbol Association. Once students have developed the awareness of phonemes of spoken language, they must learn how to map the phonemes to symbols or printed letters. Sound-symbol association must be taught and mastered in two directions: visual to auditory (reading) and auditory to visual (spelling). Additionally, students must master the blending of sounds and letters into words as well as the segmenting of whole words into the individual sounds. The instruction of sound-symbol associations is often referred to as phonics. Although phonics is a component of Structured Literacy, it is embedded within a rich and deep language context.

Syllable Instruction. A syllable is a unit of oral or written language with one vowel sound. Instruction includes teaching of the six basic syllable types in the English language: closed, vowel-consonant-e, open, consonant-le, r-controlled, and vowel pair. Knowledge of syllable types is an important organizing idea. By knowing the syllable type, the reader can better determine the sound of the vowel in the syllable. Syllable division rules heighten the reader’s awareness of where a long, unfamiliar word may be divided for great accuracy in reading the word.

Morphology. A morpheme is the smallest unit of meaning in the language. The Structured Literacy curriculum includes the study of base words, roots, prefixes, and suffixes. The word instructor, for example, contains the root struct, which means to build, the prefix in, which means in or into, and the suffix or, which means one who. An instructor is one who builds knowledge in his or her students.

Syntax. Syntax is the set of principles that dictate the sequence and function of words in a sentence in order to convey meaning. This includes grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language.

Semantics. Semantics is that aspect of language concerned with meaning. The curriculum (from the beginning) must include instruction in the comprehension of written language.

Structured Literacy is distinctive in the principles that guide how critical elements are taught:

Systematic and Cumulative. Structured Literacy instruction is systematic and cumulative. Systematic means that the organization of material follows the logical order of the language. The sequence must begin with the easiest and most basic concepts and elements and progress methodically to more difficult concepts and elements. Cumulative means each step must be based on concepts previously learned.

Explicit Instruction. Structured Literacy instruction requires the deliberate teaching of all concepts with continuous student-teacher interaction. It is not assumed that students will naturally deduce these concepts on their own.

Diagnostic Teaching. The teacher must be adept at individualized instruction. That is instruction that meets a student’s needs. The instruction is based on careful and continuous assessment, both informally (for example, observation) and formally (for example, with standardized measures. The content presented must be mastered to the degree of automaticity. Automaticity is critical to freeing all the student’s attention and cognitive resources for comprehension and expression.

References

Brady, S. (2011). Efficacy of phonics teaching for reading outcomes: Implications from Post-NRP research.  In S. Brady, D. Braze, & C. Fowler (Eds.), Explaining individual differences in reading (pp. 69–96), London: Psychology Press.

Denton, C. A., Fletcher, J. M., Taylor, W. P., Barth, A. E., & Vaughn, S. (2014). An experimental evaluation of Guided Reading and explicit interventions for primary-grade students at-risk for reading difficulties. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 7(3), 268–293.

Ehri, L., Nunes, R. S., Stahl, S., & Willows, D. (2001). Systematic phonics instruction helps students learn to read: Evidence from the National Reading Panel’s meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 71, 393–447.

Foorman, B., Beyler, N., Borradaile, K., Coyne, M., Denton, C. A., Dimino, J., Furgeson, J., Hayes, L., Henke, J., Justice, L., Keating, B., Lewis, W., Sattar, S., Streke, A., Wagner, R., & Wissel, S. (2016). Foundational skills to support reading for understanding in kindergarten through 3rd grade (NCEE 2016-4008). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance (NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE website: http://whatworks.ed.gov

Kilpatrick, D. (2015). Essentials of assessing, preventing, and overcoming reading difficulties. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

McCardle, P., & Chhabra, V. (Eds.). (2004). The voice of evidence in reading research. Baltimore, MD, Paul H. Brookes.

National Early Literacy Panel (NELP). (2008). Developing early literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, DC: National Institute for Literacy.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Bethesda, MD: National Institute of Child and Human Development.

Seidenberg, M. (2017). Language at the speed of sight: How we read, why so many can’t, and what can be done about it. New York: Basic Books.

Resources for Reading, Literacy and Dyslexia

Literacy instruction should adhere to the guidelines provided by the National Institute for Literacy. These guidelines can be found in a pamphlet called Put Reading First, which can be downloaded free – click here to download pdf. These guidelines emphasize five crucial aspects of reading instruction, including phonemic analysis, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and text comprehension.

Spelling and Writing Programs:

  • Neuhaus Scientific Spelling
  • Spellography
  • Step up to Writing

Voice Recognition Software.  Dragon Naturally Speaking

Websites:

The Rocky Mountain branch of the International Dyslexia Association – provides a forum for parents, educators, individuals with dyslexia and researchers to share their knowledge about the disorder. This branch offers workshops and resources to increase and improve public awareness about dyslexia.

Learning Ally – free membership to individuals; access to digitally recorded books as well as other resources.

The Florida Center for Reading Research – information about research-backed reading resources.

The National Association for Gifted Children (202-785-4268)

Scholarships and Financial Aid

Reviews.com, a website dedicated to conducting data driven and unbiased research about topics that can help make an impact in people’s lives.

AffordableColleges.com

Scholarships and Financial Aid for Students with Disabilities

Books:

Overcoming Dyslexia, by Sally Shaywitz.  Further information about specific evidence-based reading programs;  also provides a good deal of other information about understanding dyslexia and its treatment.

They Say My Kid’s Gifted: Now What? , by F. Richard Olenchak

Dyslexia Basics

from The International Dyslexia Association (IDA)

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability. Dyslexia refers to a cluster of symptoms, which result in people having difficulties with specific language skills, particularly reading. Students with dyslexia usually experience difficulties with other language skills such as spelling, writing, and pronouncing words. Dyslexia affects individuals throughout their lives; however, its impact can change at different stages in a person’s life. It is referred to as a learning disability because dyslexia can make it very difficult for a student to succeed academically in the typical instructional environment, and in its more severe forms, will qualify a student for special education, special accommodations, or extra support services.

What causes dyslexia?

The exact causes of dyslexia are still not completely clear, but anatomical and brain imagery studies show differences in the way the brain of a dyslexic person develops and functions. Moreover, most people with dyslexia have been found to have problems with identifying the separate speech sounds within a word and/or learning how letters represent those sounds, a key factor in their reading difficulties. Dyslexia is not due to either lack of intelligence or desire to learn; with appropriate teaching methods, dyslexics can learn successfully.

How Widespread is Dyslexia?

About 13–14% of the school population nationwide has a handicapping condition that qualifies them for special education. Current studies indicate that one-half of all the students who qualify for special education are classified as having a learning disability (LD) (6–7%). About 85% of those LD students have a primary learning disability in reading and language processing. Nevertheless, many more people—perhaps as many as 15–20% of the population as a whole—have some of the symptoms of dyslexia, including slow or inaccurate reading, poor spelling, poor writing, or mixing up similar words. Not all of these will qualify for special education, but they are likely to struggle with many aspects of academic learning and are likely to benefit from systematic, explicit, instruction in reading, writing, and language.

Dyslexia occurs in people of all backgrounds and intellectual levels. People who are very bright can be dyslexic. They are often capable or even gifted in areas that do not require strong language skills, such as art, computer science, design, drama, electronics, math, mechanics, music, physics, sales, and sports.

In addition, dyslexia runs in families; dyslexic parents are very likely to have children who are dyslexic. Some people are identified as dyslexic early in their lives, but for others, their dyslexia goes unidentified until they get older.

What are the Effects of Dyslexia?

 The impact that dyslexia has is different for each person and depends on the severity of the condition and the effectiveness of instruction or remediation. The core difficulty is with word recognition and reading fluency, spelling, and writing. Some dyslexics manage to learn early reading and spelling tasks, especially with excellent instruction, but later experience their most debilitating problems when more complex language skills are required, such as grammar, understanding textbook material, and writing essays.

People with dyslexia can also have problems with spoken language, even after they have been exposed to good language models in their homes and good language instruction in school. They may find it difficult to express themselves clearly, or to fully comprehend what others mean when they speak. Such language problems are often difficult to recognize, but they can lead to major problems in school, in the workplace, and in relating to other people. The effects of dyslexia reach well beyond the classroom.

Evidence does not support what many take to be indicators or predictors of dyslexia, including clumsiness, fine motor problems, attention deficits, creativity, or handedness . . . read more 

– International Literacy Association 2016.

MultiSensory Rationale

MultiSensory Rationale

Why use MultiSensory Instruction?

Students with dyslexia often exhibit weaknesses in underlying language skills involving speech sounds (phonological) and print (orthographic) processing and in building brain pathways that connect speech with print. The brain pathways used for reading and spelling must develop to connect many brain areas and must transmit information with sufficient speed and accuracy. Most students with dyslexia have weak phonemic awareness, meaning they are unaware of the role sounds play in words. 

These students may also have difficulty rhyming words, blending sounds to make words, or segmenting words into sounds. Because of their trouble establishing associations between sounds and symbols, they also have trouble learning to recognize words automatically (“by sight”) or fast enough to allow comprehension. If they are not accurate with sounds or symbols, they will have trouble forming memories for common words, even the “little” words in students’ books. They need specialized instruction to master the alphabetic code and to form those memories.

When taught by a multisensory approach, students have the advantage of learning alphabetic patterns and words with engagement of all learning modalities. Dr. Samuel Terry Orton, one of the first to recognize the syndrome of dyslexia in students, 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.

What is an Evaluation?

When a child is struggling to read, someone will probably suggest that he or she be tested for dyslexia. What does it mean to be tested? You might think that of a test as something you take in an afternoon. Someone scores it and tells you how you did. Evaluation is a more accurate word to describe the process of determining if someone has dyslexia. The word evaluation encompasses identification, screening, testing, diagnosis, and all the other information gathering involved when the student, his or her family, and a team of professionals work together to determine why the student is having difficulty and what can be done to help.

Why Get One?

An evaluation is the process of gathering information to identify the factors contributing to a student's difficulty with learning to read and spell. First, information is gathered from parents and teachers to understand development and the educational opportunities that have been provided. Then, tests are given to identify strengths and weaknesses that lead to a diagnosis and a tentative road map for intervention. Conclusions and recommendations are developed and reported. When a student is having difficulties with reading and spelling, an evaluation is important for three reasons.

1. Diagnosis An effective evaluation identifies the likely source of the problem. It rules out other common causes of reading difficulties and determines if the student profile of strengths and weaknesses fit the definition of dyslexia.

2. Intervention planning An effective evaluation develops a focused remedial program. Students who have a specific learning disability in reading (dyslexia) need a specialized approach to reading instruction to make progress. It is crucial that this specialized instruction begin at the student's current level of reading skill development, rather than at the student's grade level. An effective evaluation helps parents and teachers see which specific skills are weak and where reading and spelling instruction should begin.

3. Documentation An effective evaluation documents the history of a student's learning disability. One purpose of this documentation is to determine eligibility for special services, including special education. Documentation is also important for obtaining accommodations on college entrance exams (ACT, SAT), in college, or in the workplace.

Identify Early

  • The identification of a reading disorder (dyslexia) needs to happen as soon as it is suspected by a parent, teacher or physician. Individuals need intervention so they can learn to read and go on to be skilled readers. Developmental dyslexia is a language-based disorder that is neurological in origin. It affects reading and it runs in families.

     As children grow older difficulty with reading can begin to become more obvious. As the demand for good reading and related skills (spelling, writing, test taking) increases in quantity and quality a child with poorly developed reading and writing abilities begins to fall behind. Parents and teachers often don’t realize reading is the problem. When speed and accuracy are compromised because a student cannot accurately decode new vocabulary, reading slows down in a greater effort to understand or comprehend the text. Frustration can take over as the student begins to feel like they “just don’t get it”.

    Skilled readers develop a large storage system of word representations having built this across years of reading instruction, practice and application. Skilled readers can digest words quickly, accurately moving through text building meaning and reflecting on what is being taken in. When it is difficult to process print accurately and quickly developing ideas from reading is labor intensive. It is difficult to generate creative thinking when the reading is slow and the volume is overwhelming.

     Reading fluently (accurately and quickly) for meaning is what drives a reader through the print. Evaluation of Dyslexia or a reading disorder identifies a phonological, language- based disorder, and related deficits such as poor spelling, reading comprehension, and sometimes attentional problems. “The most identifiable and consistent characteristic of dyslexia is encapsulated in a phonologic weakness.” Dr. Sally Shaywitz, Overcoming Dyslexia

     The phonological weakness can be treated successfully if the right instruction and enough of the right instruction is put into place. It is important to establish exactly what areas are giving a student difficulty and impeding achievement. A phonologic weakness makes reading difficult, slow and labor intensive. Verbal skills, such as listening and understanding complex information, are different from reading and usually not affected by the phonologic weakness. It is not uncommon for a person with a reading disorder to have an impressive knowledge base about a particular subject. These higher level verbal abilities can disguise a reading disorder.

     A phonologic deficit makes it hard for a person to decode or pull apart sounds (phonemes) in a word. How smart a person is does not matter. Individuals try to decode words they can’t read by using pictures or they guess a word based on the surrounding text or the beginning sound of the unknown word. Younger students try to cope or compensate by memorizing a large store of reading vocabulary. Memorizing all the words you need to be able to read is one way to read, but it is not the best or most efficient way to read. It breaks down when a student starts to come across a lot of words they have never seen or heard before.

     Reading English means that a person has to master the sound system of the language not the way a word looks. Our language is alphabetic not a picture language. Reading efficiently requires knowing the sounds and the rules that field of study or vocation. Even though they may be able to read material related to their particular interest a lack of reading fluency may still be existent and spelling is difficult. Writing is really hard when spelling is not fluent In school age children it is important to document overall achievement (grades, work samples, standardized tests) to gather evidence of strengths as well as weaknesses in achievement.

Who Does Them?

A full psycho-educational evaluation is best done by a Licensed Clinical Psychologist who specializes in this type of testing.

 Upon request, we can provide a short list of evaluators to you.  Our office can review the results of your testing and provide intervention for the identified deficits.

What should be Included?

Background information

Information from parents and teachers tells us a lot about a student's overall development and pattern of strengths and weaknesses. Because dyslexia is genetically linked, a family history of dyslexia indicates that a student is more likely to have dyslexia. A history of delayed speech or language also puts a child at-risk for reading difficulties. It is important to know the types and length of time of any interventions the student has received at school, home, or through tutoring, as well as the student's response to the intervention. School attendance problems should be ruled out. A history of poor attendance, alone, can explain an identified weakness in skill development.

 Intelligence

Until recently, an intelligence test was considered to be a necessary part of the evaluation because the diagnosis of a learning disability was based on finding a significant difference between IQ and reading skill. Poor achievement despite average or better intelligence was considered a key indicator. Current regulations no longer require that such a discrepancy be present when making a diagnosis. This change in the regulations came about because many studies have shown that intelligence is not the best predictor of how easily a student will develop written language (reading and spelling) skills. Instead, oral language abilities (listening and speaking) are considered the best predictors of reading and spelling. A formal measure of intelligence is not always needed to document average intellectual abilities. For younger children, parent information about language development and teacher information about the child's ability to learn orally may indicate average intellectual abilities. For older students or adults, past achievement in school or work may indicate at least average intelligence.

 Oral language skills

Oral language, simply stated, refers to our ability to listen to and understand speech as well as to express our thoughts through speech. Oral language is made up of low-level skills, such as recognizing and making the sounds within our speech, and higher-level skills, such as getting meaning by listening to someone speak or creating sentences to express thoughts. Students with dyslexia typically have adequate higher-level language skills. Indicators of higher-level oral language skills include being able to understand an age-appropriate story and spoken directions, to carry on a conversation, and to understand and use words that are age appropriate. If a student has average higher-level oral language skills but much difficulty developing written language (reading and spelling) skills, the need for evaluation for dyslexia is recommended.

 Although students with dyslexia usually have strong higher-level language skills, they typically have problems (a deficit) in low-level language skills (see following section "Phonological processing"). This deficit limits the ability to learn to read and spell using the sounds of the language. Young children with dyslexia often have delays in language development, but their higher-level language skills are usually age-appropriate by the time they enter school. Difficulties with higher-level language skills suggest a need for a language evaluation by a speech-language pathologist to rule out language impairment.

 Word recognition

Word recognition is the ability to read single printed words. It is also called word reading or word identification. Tests of word recognition require that students read individual words printed in a list. The student is not able to use cues, such as the meaning of a sentence, to help them figure out the word. Tests of word recognition that score both accuracy and the time it takes for the student to read the words (fluency) are particularly useful. Students with dyslexia often become accurate but are still very slow when reading words. Both accuracy and the speed of word reading can affect understanding what is read.

 Decoding

Decoding is the ability to read unfamiliar words by using letter-sound knowledge, spelling patterns and chunking the word into smaller parts, such as syllables. Decoding is also called "word attack". Decoding tests should use nonsense words (words that look like real words but have no meaning, such as frut or crin) to force the student to rely on these decoding skills rather than on memory for a word already learned.

 Spelling

Tests of spelling measure the student's ability to spell individual words from memory using their knowledge of, for example, letter-sound pairings, patterns of letters that cluster together to spell one sound (igh in high; oa in boat), the way plurals may be spelled (s, es, ies) and so on. Spelling is the opposite of word attack but is even more difficult. It requires separating out the individual sounds in a spoken word, remembering the different ways each sound might be spelled, choosing one way, writing the letter(s) for that sound and doing the same, again, for the next sound in the word. Spelling stresses a child's short and long-term memory and is complicated by the ease or difficulty the child has in writing the letters, legibly and in the proper order. Spelling is usually the most severe weakness among students with dyslexia and the most difficult to remedy.

Phonological processing

Phonology is one small part of overall language ability. It is a low-level language skill in that it does not involve meaning. Phonology is the "sound system" of our language. Our spoken language is made up of words, word parts (such as syllables), and individual sounds (phonemes). We must be able to think about, remember, and correctly sequence the sounds in words in order to learn to link letters to sounds for reading and spelling. Good readers do this automatically without conscious effort. However, students with dyslexia have difficulty with identifying, pronouncing, or recalling sounds. Tests of phonological processing focus on these skills.

 Automaticity/fluency skills

Students with dyslexia often have a slow speed of processing information (visual or auditory). Tasks measure Naming Speed (also called Rapid Automatic Naming). Sets of objects, colors, letters, and numbers are often used. These items are presented in rows on a card, and the student is asked to name each as quickly as possible. Naming speed, particularly letter naming, is one of the best early predictors of reading difficulties. Therefore, it is often used as part of screening measures for young children. Slow naming speed results in problems with developing reading fluency. It also makes it difficult for students to do well on timed tests. Students with both the naming speed deficit and the phonological processing deficit are considered to have a "double deficit." Students with the double deficit have more severe difficulties than those with only one of the two.

The Science of Reading

from "The Science of Reading (A Response to the New York Times", by David Hurford, the IDA Examiner Vol 9, Issue 1 https://dyslexiaida.org/the-science-of-reading-a-response-to-the-new-york-timesIt is encouraging that the New York Times showed an interest in the very...

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Adolescent Literacy

Truths about Adolescent Literacy Adolescence is not too late to intervene.  Interventions do benefit older students. Older students with reading difficulties benefit from interventions focused at both the word and text level. Older students with reading difficulties...

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Resources for ADHD

ADHD Basics: ADHD: The Basics (National Institute of Mental Health) New ADHD Guidelines: 5 Things You and Your Child's Doctor Need to Know New ADHD Guidelines: American Academy of Pediatrics  ADHD-related Issues (National Center for Learning Disabilities) Everything...

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Symptoms of Dyslexia

Is My Child Dyslexic? Individuals with dyslexia have trouble with reading, writing, spelling and/or math even though they have the ability and have had opportunities to learn. Individuals with dyslexia can learn, but they often need specialized instruction to overcome...

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Consultation

Consultation

Testing/Assessment/Screening/Consultation

While most of our clinical practice is Direct Instruction and Remediation, we are experts in the interpretation of psycho-educational evaluations.  We can do some educational testing, screening and benchmarking for language-based problems as well as design intervention programs based on testing results.  Some of the services we offer include:

  • Review the Assessment/Evaluation you already have.  Many of our clients already have a full PsychoEducational Evaluation, and have been referred to us for Intervention.  Others may have one from another City or State.  We can review and analyze your Evaluation, help you understand what it means, and make recommendations for Intervention based on your testing.
  • Help you determine if you need an eval.  We can make recommendations for additional testing if we think you need it.  Or we can do some testing ourselves depending on our availability and what you need or refer you to a competent provider.  Read more . . . What is an Evaluation, and Do I Need One?
  • Review other testing (like Normative tests given at school, or Benchmarking results) and recommend best-practices for intervention.
  • Review your IEP or 504 Plan and recommend best-practices for accomodations and school services.
  • For our existing clients:  answer questions about school placement (or refer you to an appropriate service), summer programs, and other support services.
  • Diagnose Dyslexia