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Monday, December 23, 2019

Dyslexia Workshop Highlights

Good morning! I want to say "Happy Christmas Break" but I actually saw a post by a teacher who was headed to school today! Yikes! So I'll just say, I hope you are on Christmas Break or it is in your very near future. ;-)

I don't have a lot of plans for Christmas break. Our family is local so we will get together with them to celebrate. We have Christmas Eve services at church tomorrow. Today my only goal is to get some writing done. I'm over half way done with my second Bible study...really would like to have it available in the spring. Prayers appreciated!

Okay, on to what this post is all about. I know I already shared Kid Writing that I heard about through this workshop, but I wanted to share my other biggest takeaways as well. It was just too much information for one post--especially since I'm a bit long-winded. ;-)

The workshop was called Dyslexia: Help Children Who Struggle to Successfully Read, Write, and Spell, by Mark Weakland. I was drawn specifically to this one because it was advertised as providing helpful strategies for students with dyslexia and not just the science behind it (important, but I've already learned a lot about that). Mark Weakland did not disappoint--and neither does his website! Check him out at Mark Weakland Literacy. It was a workshop geared to Tier I instruction (so applicable to all, not just reading specialists).

  • Oral Phonological/Phonemic Awareness is so important. We started using Kilpatrick's one minute activities a few years ago. This year I administered the PAST at the beginning of the year and again in December to the students that I work with and I've seen a lot of improvement! These activities are found in Equipped for Reading Success (affiliate link) by David Kilpatrick:

  • The program that we use for phonics and phonemic awareness continues to impress me. Pathways to Reading has been around for a long time, but the strategies that it uses (Segment and Write and Old Word/New Word) are some of the strategies Mr. Weakland suggested (just by another name). He did give me some ideas for Intermediate teachers to do some Word Ladder activities with morphemes (instead of sounds) which was pretty cool.
  • Handwriting is important for students with dyslexia, from proper print formation to teaching cursive. I was excited to see our new handwriting curriculum, Handwriting Without Tears, as one of the suggested resources. Whoop! Whoop! 
  • Three things to prevent and correct reading difficulties: aggressively teach phonological awareness to an advanced level (this is the Oral PA activities and Heggerty as well), directly, explicitly, and systematically teach phonic and spelling patterns to a point of mastery K-5, and provide many opportunities for children to read extended text (adapted from Kilpatrick's Assessing, Preventing, and Overcoming Reading Difficulties affiliate link).

  • Read, read, read! Despite overwhelming research and evidence that children should be allowed time for independent reading while at school (Allington suggests 90 minutes spread throughout the day!!! Right...but can you at least get in 20 or 30?), the average student is only given 7 minutes a day to read independently at school. 🙁 Please, please, please make sure you are teaching students how to become independent readers and give them time do so. It can be done--even in K! Yes, you may have to get creative with one or two kiddos, but don't let that stop you from providing that time. Here's a blog post I wrote that links to a great lesson about three types of readers: pretender, dutiful, and engaged. 
  • Write, write, write! Reading, writing and spelling are all connected. Make time for independent writing as well. No sentence starters, no sentence frames. Let them write
  • Spelling is for Reading. Mr. Weakland feels very strongly about teaching spelling to help struggling readers. Abandon the test if you want, but don't abandon the daily spelling instruction. His points: daily instruction, effective sequence, teach to mastery (differentiate lists as needed), and teach spelling strategies.
  • Fluency. Repeated readings. Decodable text. Partner reading. Use poetry. Remember that for a student with dyslexia our goal is not necessarily to make them a fast reader, but an accurate reader.

And finally, I love this quote from the resource book he gave us...
"Knowing how important reading and writing are, the question then becomes "How can we program more reading and writing opportunities into our teaching day, especially opportunities that are authentic and engaging?"

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