What will my child do in dyslexia class?
Dyslexia instruction is provided in a small group setting with peers with like needs. There are no more than five students in a group. Students receive additional focused intervention as appropriate for their reading needs. Instruction is evidence-based and scientifically proven to be effective. Instructional lessons are explicit and systematic, focused on components of the program that best meet student needs. Dyslexia lessons contain critical, evidence-based components:
- Phonological awareness - Students analyze the internal sound structure of words.
- Sound-symbol association - Students build speech sound knowledge as it relates to corresponding letters or letter combinations that represent those sounds. Lessons are organized with explicit introduction of letter-sound patterns and systematically practiced and reviewed.
- Syllabication - Instruction includes the six basic types of syllables in the English Language (closed, open, vowel-consonant e, r-controlled, vowel team, and final stable syllable.
- Orthography - The written English spelling patterns and rules are taught.
- Morphology - Small units of meaning are combined to form words.
- Syntax - Sequence and function of words in a sentence are driven by principles to convey meaning (grammar, sentence variation, and the mechanics of language).
- Reading comprehension - Readers interact with text to find meaning. The ability to extract and construct meaning through text is with accurate and fluent word recognition, vocabulary, listening comprehension, background knowledge, and interest.
- Reading fluency - Fluency is the ability to read text with sufficient speed and accuracy so that comprehension remains intact. Students learn to read with expression through multiple practice opportunities.
Our ability to learn and remember is more successful when we use all learning pathways in the brain. Students are actively engaged with language concepts. They see vowel teams, for example, and hear how they sound. Lessons often include hand gestures and manipulating plastic letters to help the mind transition from learning to application.
Lessons purposefully progress from easier concepts to more difficult material. Language and print concepts are explained one at a time, rather than left to discovery. Concepts are introduced and modeled with ample opportunity for practice with immediate, corrective feedback before the student practices independently. As learning progresses, concepts previously taught are reviewed to strengthen memory.
How is dyslexia or reading intervention different from small-group instruction with the teacher?
Reading diagnostic measures provide educators with specific areas of need. Reading specialists are adept at prescriptive or individualized teaching, based on continual assessment of learning. If a student struggles with a particular concept, he or she will receive additional opportunities to practice. Every student has different learning needs and challenges. Prescriptive practice with materials scientifically proven to be effective is critical to reading gains. More importantly, students transition to a quiet setting with peers, where they can practice freely and receive additional praise and support.
How is writing impacted by difficulties in reading?
Writing is dependent on many language skills and processes and is often even more problematic for children than reading. Writing places a significant demand on working memory and attention because different skills are used at the same time - generating language, putting thoughts into words, spelling, handwriting, and mechanical rules of sentence structure(s). A student may show mastery of these individual skills, but when asked to combine them, handwriting often deteriorates. To become fluent writers, students must master individual skills with automaticity.
When should reading intervention begin?
A Connecticut Longitudinal Study (Fletcher, Lyon, Fuchs & Barnes, 2007) followed more than 400 kindergarten students. Students were chosen by random and represented a broad sample of communities across the state. Beginning in kindergarten, these students were administered an extensive battery of assessments each year - annual assessments were collected until the end of high school.
- Between first and ninth grade, the bottom 25% of students in reading achievement remained there for the remainder of the study, with very few exceptions.
- At about 6th grade, all students seemed to reach a plateau in their reading level.
- The gap between these good and poor readers never closed.
These recurring findings have resulted in practices that emphasize prevention and early intervention in reading instruction. Our diligent work in research over the past several decades has proven the kinds of instruction that can be used to effectively address early reading problems. It is not necessary to wait years before intervention is provided.
A key component of early intervention is to avoid years of failure, negative perceptions of self and the ability to learn.
When should reading intervention end?
Program timelines are different for each student. It's possible for a student to have dyslexia, or other reading difficulties, but strong early instruction allows him or her to be successful within the classroom setting. Some students receive pull-out, targeted instruction and advance quickly, no longer needing intensive reading instruction. Other students progress more slowly but progressively strengthen reading skills since the program is cumulative in delivery. Students who no longer leave the classroom for dyslexia instruction are placed on "monitored status," meaning that we closely monitor reading in the classroom setting. If data indicates a decline, the student may return to the program for additional practice and instruction.