Nice article explaining why some leveled texts might not be as useful as they seem.
Many people think that the hallmark of dyslexia is letter reversals, writing letters or words upside or backwards. Although many people with dyslexia have this problem, not all of them do. It is by no means the hallmark of dyslexia that many people believe it is. ALL children have trouble with letter reversals at a young age. Dyslexic children may do it more frequently and until older ages. Some will always struggle. However, the problem has more to do with directionality issues and the special way that the brains of dyslexics work. It has nothing to do with eyesight!
Research has shown that a person with dyslexia will generally have a larger right brain hemisphere than a person without dyslexia. Dyslexics tend to be strong right-brain thinkers. This is part of why they have reading problems – reading occurs in the left hemisphere. The right-brain is where we process a lot of creative and visual-spatial thinking.
When a child with dyslexia sees a letter, he often interprets it in three dimensions. Thus, a stick and a ball are always a stick and a ball, no matter how you look at them.
And a letter S is just a snake.
It is easy to see how any young child can reverse letters, but easier to see how a child with particularly strong visual-spatial skills might not be able to understand why it matters which way you put the “objects” that make up a letter.
But have no fear, it is usually fairly easy to teach them some tricks to keep those letters straight!
To read a great article about this, check out The Gift of Three-Dimensionality We Call Dyslexia (http://www.therightsideofnormal.com/2012/10/30/the-gift-of-three-dimensionality-we-call-dyslexia/)
There is a lot of confusion about dyslexia and eye problems. Dyslexia is NOT an eye issue. Most children with dyslexia have completely normal vision. Some do have a problem with letter reversals, particularly at younger ages, but that is due to directional confusion rather than eye issues. (See Dyslexics and Letter Reversals.) Most of these students can be taught not to reverse letters with some simple techniques.
However, some people may have an eye issue which is known by several names such as: Visual Stress, Scotopic Sensitivity, Asfedia, or Irlen Syndrome. Irlen Syndrome is thought to be related to the interaction of the central nervous system and the eyes at a physiological level with light. For example, a person may say that the text seems to jump around on a page. A person with visual problems may be misdiagnosed as dyslexic because of a vision problem that makes reading difficult. It is also possible that someone with dyslexia may suffer from visual issues in addition to dyslexia.
It is important to note that there is great disagreement about the existence of Irlen Syndrome and its treatment. Researchers say that there are other known eye problems that case these problems, not a separate syndrome. They worry that people are spending money on highly advertised solutions like colored lenses and overlays without being evaluated and treated for appropriate underlying causes. In 2004, the American Optometric Association released the following statement:
There is evidence that the underlying symptoms associated with the Irlen Syndrome are related to identifiable vision anomalies, e.g., accommodative, binocular, and ocular motor dysfunctions, in many patients seeking help from colored lenses. Furthermore, such conditions return to normal function when appropriately treated with lenses, prisms, or vision therapy. When patients exhibiting the Irlen Syndrome were treated with vision therapy, their symptoms were relieved. These patients were no longer classified as exhibiting this syndrome, and therefore did not demonstrate a need for the colored overlays or tinted lenses.
On the other hand, many people feel that colored lenses and overlays are very helpful. Placebo effect? A lot more research needs to be done. It certainly will not hurt to use colored paper and colored overlays. In fact I try to print student work on blue paper just in case there is an undiagnosed eye problem. It may even be useful to use overlays while undergoing treatment if you find it cuts down on eye strain. I would stop short of investing in colored glasses without first visiting a qualified ophthalmologist. An ophthalmologist is a medical doctor. Please do not substitute a visit to the optometrist at your local glasses store!
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!
Please read about it here:
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!
This should be great for anyone who is interested.
For the past few months, I have had the pleasure of meeting with Doug Harper and a handful of eager scholars to talk etymology, online, in our LEXinars. Doug and I plan and deliver a series of cozy online seminars in which we discuss etymology, cognates, historical roots, historical languages, Proto-Indo-European, reconstruction, attestation, and spelling (okay, that last one is more me than Doug). It’s mindblowing. And it’s hilarious, as real language study should be. Doug is one smart cookie, and, while this shouldn’t surprise me, he has a way with words. So along the way, he says stuff like this:
“The language has mud on it.”
“Latin is in its pupa in the Middle Ages.”
“Old English is like clay.”
“It’s like jumping from house to house through the neighborhood looking for a fugitive.”
“I’ve seen seven-year-olds take to it like it’s birthday cake.”
I can’t even write…
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Another “Dys..” Dysgraphia is a problem with writing, often associated with dyslexia. See a nice video explaining it.