I was going to write an article about my new-found love of working with orthography that Kelli Sandman-Hurley (of the Dyslexia Training Institute) introduced me to, but Kelli says it better.
I now use these techniques with all of my students to supplement the Orton-Gillingham program (Barton Reading and Spelling System). I continue to attend seminars and classes to learn more about linguistics and orthography. I attended a weekend seminar with Pete Bowers (The Word Works Literacy Center) and Gina Cooke (Linguist Educator Exchange) whom Kelli talks about in this article. Mind blown! World rocked! Soon I begin working with Michel Rameau of Real Spelling who started it all!
Sometimes it is hard to remember how important games can be to learning. It is SO easy to say that we just don’t have times for games because we have so much material to get through. But I am reminded that just because something comes out of my mouth, doesn’t mean it goes into their brains!
Research studies have shown that activities which involve social interaction and body movement improve memory and learning. Games involve both interaction (sadly, only with me!) and bodily movement. It is a great way for students to construct their own learning, moving information from short-term memory to long-term memory.
There has also been a lot of research on the effect of emotion on learning. Strong emotions tend to effect memory in both positive and negative ways. (You remember that day you had the car accident as well as the day you first saw Paris!) I sometimes wonder if the enjoyment of playing a game will create a more permanent memory. I hope so.
Of course, I have to assure that the games I use are closely aligned with our learning objectives. They are fun, but, well, not TOO fun. Students are working hard while they play.
That is why I have invested time and money to make sure that there are plenty of appropriate games to play. Some I have purchased, others I have created. Many of these games can be played in more than one way, spelling or reading words, or applying or recognizing spelling rules. I also have made some games with phrases and sentences so that we fluency is part of the play, too. Hopefully, I can assure that students have fun while learning at DYScover Learning!
The heart of any dyslexia instructional service is a program based on the Orton-GiIllingham method. Read more about the Orton Gillingham approach to literacy instruction here. At Dyscover Learning, the foundation of our literacy is the Orton-Gillingham based Barton Reading and Spelling System.
The Barton system is an Orton-Gillingham based program designed for one-on-one instruction. We teach students to listen to a single word or syllable and break it into individual phonemes (sounds). They also have to be able to take individual sounds and blend them into a word, change sounds, delete sounds, and compare sounds. Using blank tiles to represent phonemes keeps the initial focus on the sounds rather than the alphabetic letters.
Next, we introduce phoneme-grapheme correspondence with letter tiles and digraph tiles. A grapheme is an alphabetic letter or group of letters which represents a phoneme. So, basically, we are helping students match sounds with letters or letter combinations. With the understanding that a grapheme can represent more than one sound, we introduce the most common sounds of consonants and digraphs, and the short sounds of vowels at this point. Students then work on breaking real words and nonsense words apart, and putting them back together. These skills are the basis of reading and spelling. Students at this stage read and spell single syllable words which may contain digraphs (ch, sh, th, etc.) and consonant clusters (bl, cr, str, etc.).
The system progresses through learning the six basic syllable types of English. Although tiles are available if needed, students at this level generally begin using an iPad app to save time with shuffling tiles. (There are MANY more tiles than shown in this picture!) As they progress, students will know when a vowel may be long or short, or when it will turn to a schwa sound. Students with dyslexia must learn reading and spelling by rules and probabilities. Student will continue learning vowel digraphs, suffixes and prefixes and their impact on reading and spelling. They will also study morphology, the study of the forms of words). Latin and Greek roots and their influence on words and their meaning will help them generalize their learning.
Throughout the program, students are read and spell phrases and sentences, read stories, practice rhyming, develop fluency and comprehension, and learn some basic grammar. At each level, students practice with real words and nonsense words. The use of nonsense words forces student to apply the rules they are learning to without being able to rely on visual memory. In other words, they have never seen these words, so they MUST use the concepts they are using. We also have procedures for learning sight words (words which may not seem to follow standard rules). At every level, the things students are reading and spelling are comprised of ONLY words built with skills they have learned. This is because dyslexics are so often accustomed to guessing, that we want students to be able to use what they are learning to accurately spell and decode words.
There is so much more to this program than I can explain in a few paragraphs! In addition to the extensive Barton program, DYScover learning has added some quick and simple comprehension activities that have been designed to enhance the comprehension in the original program. Additional instruction in morphology is also added in, particularly to help students understand that sight words make more sense than they may seem to at first glance. Fluency practice will be added if students are deemed to need it. We have purchased short books that also are designed to accompany the system, as well as games that are great for extra practice.
Some additional options are also available if necessary. We have a multi-sensory grammar program available. Stories and novels are available for checkout that are about dyslexia or have main characters who are have dyslexia.
If you choose DYScover learning, we can’t guarantee a miracle, but we are confident that you will see tremendous growth in student reading, spelling and all-around literacy!