How can we accommodate the needs of struggling readers, so they can quickly master this critical skill? Pedagogy, an educational method that assumes the learner to be a "blank slate" and dependent on the teacher for guidance, evaluation, and the acquisition of knowledge, is a common approach when assisting struggling readers. However, it is often forgotten that these students do have a wealth of prior knowledge that can be utilized. In addition, many of them have specific learning deficits that have left their learning capacity riddled with booby traps that ambush the encoding of information and sabotages confidence. So how can we reach these capable learners? Luckily, there are three steps that dismantle these snares and fortify each student's academic infrastructure.
1) Uncover Cognitive Deficits and Best Ways of Processing Information
First, we need to reveal any cognitive deficits and best processing styles. Comprehensive psycho-educational testing is a great option that reveals areas of weakness that need to be addressed. However, if this is not a viable option, you can always try my free dyslexia screener and executive functioning screener. You may also be able to define specific deficits just from working with a student. For example, you might notice that they have trouble following directions. Perhaps they reverse letters and words when writing. All of this is valuable information and can help to define areas of cognition that need attention. Additionally, finding a learners best ways of processing information can help you to select the best teaching methods. The Student Processing Inventory is an excellent online resource that can provide you the needed information.
2) Uncover Current Reading Skills and Areas that Require Further Instruction
Second, we need to uncover a student's present reading abilities as well as areas that demand additional attention. Learning to read is a long and complex process and there is no need, in most cases, to start from scratch. Instead, it's important to assess each student's current knowledge and specific needs. The Good Sensory Learning Assessment is a quick and affordable option that offers teachers, reading specialists, and parents a simple evaluation that will help guide instruction so remedial needs can be targeted. In addition, the assessment can be used after a remedial intervention to help define areas of growth as well as those topics that require continued support and attention. The subtests include:
- Letter names and sounds
- Rhyming Words
- Syllable Divisions
- Word Blending
- Beginning Sounds
- Middle Sounds
- Ending Sounds
- Blending Sounds to words
- Drop the first sound
- Drop the last sound
- 1st Grade Sight Words
- 2nd Grade Sight Words
- 3rd-grade sight words
- Nonsense closed syllables
- Nonsense open syllables
- Nonsense silent e syllables
- Nonsense R-combination syllables
- Nonsense Consonant LE syllables
- Vowel combinations
- Blends, Digraphs, and Trigraphs
- Ending Blends
- Compound Words
- Multisyllabic Words
3) Find Multisensory and Fun Materials
Third, we need to find the best, multisensory, and enjoyable materials that can assist with learning. There are two types of resources that can help.
- Cognitive remedial activities strengthen processing skills, such as working memory, processing speed, tracking, language processing, and more. The more these activities are game-like the better, so learners can enjoy the process of building their own cognition. CLICK HERE to learn more about these tools.
- Remedial reading resources need to offer a structured, organized, and memorable way of teaching. You can use an Orton Gillingham based reading program, but I also incorporate Orton Gillingham and phonics-based fun activities and games to help kindle a joy for learning. https://goodsensorylearning.com/collections/reading
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator, and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning. She is also the director of Learning to Learn and Learning Specialist Courses.
- Blog: https://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/
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- Courses: http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/
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