What to do if you can’t afford dyslexia tutoring

Recently, I responded to a mom who was looking for tutoring services for her son with dyslexia. They do not live near any dyslexia specialists, providers, or tutors. Although our prices are very affordable compared to other in-home tutors in the Atlanta area, the options we had were out of her budget.

I realize there are many parents out there in the same situation, so I thought that what I wrote to her may be helpful to other families.

Here are 3 options if you can’t afford a dyslexia tutor:

1. Work with a tutor doing a practicum for a lower fee per session until they are certified. (send us an email at ladderlearning@gmail.com to see what we have available. Or email your local branch of the International Dyslexia Association)
2. Find a parent, grandparent, babysitter, etc. who can do the Barton Reading and Spelling System with the student at home. If you’re in the state of Georgia and are a member of the Georgia Cyber Academy you can get sent to you for free. Otherwise, you can buy it at www.bartonreading.com First, you need to make sure the tutor can pass the tutor screening and your student passes the student screening.
(If the student doesn’t pass the Student Screening, we might be able to work with him online until he’s ready to pass.)
Yes, it can be difficult to work with your own child. If nothing else, you can try to get them through the first 3 levels of the program, and we can take over from there– and you have saved yourself some money that way.
3. You can try to get your school district to provide the tutoring and pay a tutoring company  like ours directly. Other parents have been successful with this if they either get an advocate, lawyer, or are knowledgeable about their rights. (Typically, these families have older students who have been failed by the school system for many years, and there is a history of neglect on the school’s part.) You must know your rights, the law, and be very assertive about what your child needs. More information about this can be found from this website: www.wrightslaw.org We are happy to work directly with a school district to do tutoring services.
NOTE: The MOST important thing is that no matter what the school says, DO NOT WAIT to start the intervention your student needs. Because of the “Matthew Effect,” without the correct type of help our students with dyslexia only continue to fall further behind as time goes on. http://www.wrightslaw.com/info/test.matthew.effect.htm
Hopefully one of these options will work out for your family!
PS–Research shows that children who do not read proficiently by the end of 3rd grade are four times less likely to graduate high school on time… and dropping out of high school increases your odds of ending up in prison dramatically.  I’m not trying to scare you, but I want you to know the facts so you make the best decision for your child. Yes, there are dyslexic high-school dropouts who started successful companies and became billionaires too… but I’m sorry to say they are few and far between, and that isn’t a chance I recommend taking with your child’s future.

What is the best way to teach a dyslexic spelling?

On an email list I participate, Susan Barton recently wrote this response to a tutor who was looking for the best program for a child who has what was termed Orthographic Dyslexia (a sub-type where spelling is more of a difficulty than phonemic awareness). Here is her response (shared with permission) with some great links to do further research:
No other O-G program focuses on spelling as strongly and intensely as the Barton Reading & Spelling System.
Yet all of the research shows that spelling and reading and strongly linked, and you need to work intensely on both skills.
Here is a link to a great article called Why Spelling Matters that quotes the research.
The International Dyslexia Association has a 4-page fact sheet on Spelling (“Just the Facts…Spelling”), which states that people with dyslexia have “conspicuous problems” with spelling and writing. The fact sheet quotes the research and explains how spelling needs to be taught.  You can download and print their fact sheet by going to:
Also show them the article called “Brain Images Show Individual Dyslexic Children Respond To Spelling Treatment”  published on MedicalNewsToday.com, in February 15, 2006.  Here’s a summary:
Brain images of children with dyslexia taken before they received spelling instruction show that they have different patterns of neural activity than do good spellers when doing language tasks related to spelling. But after specialized treatment emphasizing the letters in words, they showed similar patterns of brain activity.
These findings are important because they show the human brain can change and normalize in response to spelling instruction, even in dyslexia, the most common learning disability.
To download that article, go to:
And in case any teacher claims that a student can just use a spell checker, read this article by a dyslexia advocate, entitled “To Spell or Not to Spell:  Is it really that important?” by clicking on this link:

Multisensory Winter Holiday Practice

If you’re looking for a fun, simple idea to practice your Orton-Gillingham tutoring clients over these winter holidays, Orton-Gillingham tutor Heather Groce has a wonderful idea to share:

Multisensory Winter Holiday Bingo
Multisensory Winter Holiday Bingo

“I made a bingo game for segmenting phonemes. I bought a Christmas go fish card game at Dollar Tree. Then I taped them together in different order to make “BINGO cards”. I saved one set of cards out of the box to use as my caller set. I circled phonemes/graphemes/blends that are only found in that particular word. So,when I call out the phoneme/blend they will look at the word and see if that sound is in the word. If it is then they mark it.Just like a BINGO space. So,for example,when I call out /oo? They should mark the “igloo”. I hope that makes sense and is helpful. I believe I will be playing this with different cards for all the holidays. If you can’t find the cards,you could use stickers and index cards to create your boards.”

Thanks Heather for sharing!

Great simple idea for multisensory practice

If you are looking for a simple way to practice building decoding skills and fluency along with an Orton-Gillingham program, this mom/tutor has a great idea for a DIY board game where you can change out the words. She’s using the Barton Reading and Spelling System, but you could use this concept with any Orton-Gillingham program’s word list (real or nonsense words would work great). What a wonderful idea for at-home practice between lessons! I love the simple ideas, because they usually are so versatile. Also, I love how this is a larger game, so that gets your kids moving around while they learn– always a great thing!

Required materials:

  • posterboard
  • markers
  • post-it notes (squares)
  • tokens
  • dice
  • washi tape (optional)

Reversing Reversals Series

Good Sensory Learning is a great company that makes workbooks and curriculum for students with dyslexia and other learning challenges. They recently came out with a new set of activities in their Reversing Reversals series. Reversing Reversals is a wonderful series that involves fun exercises and activities for students who need help with b/d, p/q, and other types of reversals of letters, numbers, or words. My students love the different activities where they are racing to beat their time (by circling all the b’s or p’s or q’s in a row) or coloring all the b’s one color and d’s another to make a neat picture. These are easily transportable activities that parents, tutors, or teachers can use with their students to help them improve their attention to detail and reduce those reversals!

Reversing reversals products

CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK Confusion – Multisensory Monday

Hi everyone! I had a wonderful holiday season and am looking forward to a great 2016!

For the first Multisensory Monday post of this new year, I have a simple trick called the “Chair Kick.” Thanks to Karin Merkle of Rapid City Dyslexia Care for teaching me this great idea, which has worked wonders for one of my online students who has dyslexia.

The “CHair kiCK” trick

This simple trick works great for kids who are confused between the sounds of the digraphs “ch” and “ck” (because they look so similar).

Make a drawing like this one for your student:

CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK confusion
CHair kiCK Trick for CH/CK confusion

Tell your students that the “ch” digraph is a nice comfy CHair. The round part of the h is the poofy cushion and draw a stick figure sitting down on the /ch/ chair. Then tell your students that if they tried to sit down on the “ck” instead, they would get a kiCK right in the behind. If you’re more talented than I, you could draw the k as a leg that is kicking up.

Then when your student comes across the ch or ck in reading, you ask them if the digraph is the /ch/ chair to sit down on, or the /k/ kick one.

This is also a great one to demonstrate and act out!

For some free, printable worksheets to work on digraph sounds (especially good for older kids), check out http://www.funfonix.com/

Also check out Sarah Z.’s post today about the Floss Rule AKA FLSZ rule. Sarah will be dedicating the first part of the year to the OG (Phonics First) spelling rules.

 

 

Multisensory Monday: Rabbit Rule

This week, Sarah Z. has a great video with an activity to go along with the Rabbit Rule (when to double consonants in the middle of a 2-syllable word, like “rabbit” and “letter”).


See her full post here: http://www.rlacortongillingham.com/rabbit-rule-for-spelling-multisensory-monday/#sthash.yzHmiwXA.vcx3surc.dpbs

Awhile back, I posted this activity, which goes nicely with the Rabbit Rule, so I wanted everyone to take another look at this: Bunny Hop.

In The Barton Reading and Spelling System, this is similar to the Happy Rule (from Level 4). If you are Barton trained and want to do this activity with a Barton student, you could have them do this after they tap syllables: put up one ear if they hear a short vowel in the first syllable, and another ear if they can’t hear anything closing that short vowel off. Then they will know the next sound they hear needs to be doubled.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday season, and Sarah and I will return with more Multisensory Monday posts in 2016!

Multisensory Monday: Criminal Red Words Book

I currently have several students who especially struggle with learning their “red words” (non-phonetic words for spelling). So, I decided to try something new– a product from Kendore Learning called the Criminal Word Book Set.

criminal word supplies should

Here is Syllables Executive Director Jennifer Hasser describing how to use the workbook:

This kit appealed to me, because it’s an inexpensive multisensory workbook with a few basic (easy to transport) supplies, and it involves acting out a story: your students are detectives, and they are pursuing the “criminal words” (criminal, because they are breaking the rules). They have to gather evidence, follow the trail left by the criminal, then catch and fingerprint the suspect! How fun (and in the process, they learn their red words!)

The workbook comes with 153 pre-printed pages of high-frequency red words (they follow the Kendore/SMART sequence and include commonly used non-phonetic words such as “were”, “come”, and “thought”) as well as a blank page to create your own. When I re-arranged the words to follow the Barton sequence, I was left with a few words in Level 3 and about a third of the words in Level 4 that I had to create on my own, but this was not too difficult, and overall it was a good time-saver to have the template. Also, the words are listed alphabetically in the front of the book, so it is easy enough to copy the words that follow the O-G scope/sequence you are using or customize a workbook for a particular student.

The workbook would also be great for small-group or whole-class practice for teachers using an O-G program.

You can buy the workbook separately, or buy their “kit”, which includes the workbook, a red plastic screen to create the tactile words, and some fingerprinting “ink” (which is not messy- it just rubs off cleanly). You will have to copy the pages out of the workbook to use them though, as they are double-sided. You will need to provide a red crayon (or red colored pencil seems to work also, maybe this would be more appealing for older kids) and pencil.

Here is how the kit works (demonstrated with the word “should”):

First your student will gather evidence by placing the plastic screen underneath the page for the word “should” and trace the word with the red crayon/colored pencil, while saying “S-H-O-U-L-D” and underlining it while saying “Spells should”.

Then, your student will follow the criminal’s trail by tracing their (now bumpy) crayon letters with their fingertips and while saying “S-H-O-U-L-D spells should”. This is great multisensory (visual-tactile-auditory) memory work!
criminal word gathering evidence should

Your student then traces the word “should” 3 more times (while saying the letter-names out loud, for the auditory piece).
criminal word tracing should

Lastly, your student needs to catch and fingerprint the suspect! They do this by folding the page and remembering the letters and writing the word (accessing their memory of the word to help reinforce those pathways). They fingerprint the suspect (to provide a nice “finger-space” when writing) and double-check that they wrote the word correctly (caught the correct criminal). Repeat 2 more times, so they have written the word 3 times.

criminal word writing should

criminal word fingerprinting should

You then have space to have the student write a phrase or sentence with that word, if you want them to.

If you really want to get into the spirit of this activity, I suggest some props: a magnifying glass, a detective hat… you could even cut the page off at the fold point and hide them around the room for your student to find and apprehend (write the word they are practicing on the back).

Kendore Kingdom also makes a similarly-themed handwriting workbook (with phoneme/grapheme practice as well as individual letter practice!), and a card game to go along with the criminal words theme, called Cops and Criminals. One of our tutors here at LLS has been using this game with her Orton-Gillingham students to help them learn their sight words, and she tells me it is a lot of fun for the kids!

Multisensory Monday: WordWright Game

It’s no secret that I love to play games (card games, board games, word games…) so for me, the best part of my job as an Orton-Gillingham tutor is that it involves playing games with my students! Games work for reinforcing and learning new concepts for all levels and ages. Best of all, games are especially powerful for my ADHD students who need as much interactive (and fun) learning as they can get.

I think all of us Orton-Gillingham tutors also understand that there is really no more powerful language tool than the study of morphology– you get a lot of “bang” for your buck, because when you learn a root or affix, you not only learn how to pronounce many words, but it also helps you with your spelling, writing, and vocabulary. I fondly remember learning Latin and Greek roots when I was in a school which taught using the Orton-Gillingham approach and this started me down my life-long journey as a lover of words.

So, for today’s Multisensory Monday, I am featuring something which combines these two concepts: morphology and games. It is a new game called WordWright, by the Defined Mind designers in Chicago. Defined Mind is a sister-and-brother team whose mission is “to help all people– disadvantaged and privileged alike– empower themselves through games.” I think that is a great idea, because there is really nothing simpler yet more powerful of a hands-on learning tool than a card game!

Here is their KickStarter video:

This game consists of a standard deck of 52 playing cards, but instead of suits, they’re roots (and affixes), and the goal of the game is to construct words from the cards using morphology (mostly from Latin). They have many different games that you can play with their card deck.

Here are some examples of games you can play with the WordWright deck:

They’ve already reached their goal, but you can still go support them to get a copy or two of the game (and you can even donate one to a teacher who needs it for their classroom). For just $5, they will send you the printable version and the ability to print as many copies as you need for your classroom, which is very affordable. And the graphics on the cards look super!

WordWright looks like it would be great for some of your more advanced Orton-Gillingham students, or if you are using a program that gets into roots/affixes early as some OG programs do. It would also be a wonderful addition to any classroom for around 3rd grade and up!


This week, Sarah Z. At RLAC has a Thanksgiving activity: making a UR Turkey! This is a great craft project for your classroom to celebrate the holiday and do some word work at the same time!

Multisensory Monday: Vowel Team Chart

There are so many vowel teams and so many possible spellings that is can be difficult to try and make sense of them all– So today, I have a multisensory activity to help organize your vowel teams!
OG Vowel Team Chart finished p1

I have a student in our online Orton-Gillingham program who is struggling with reading and spelling words with vowel teams. It looked like he needed some sort of conceptual graphic-organizer to figure out what sounds/spellings were possibilities for a word with a certain sound. He has learned almost all of the more common and some of the less common vowel teams for reading, but still gets several of them mixed up with one another.
On his online whiteboard, we have the vowel teams organized into a chart, by sound and by placement in the word (beginning/middle or end), with the more frequent spellings in front of the less-frequent ones. I figured putting this chart on paper would be a great multisensory practice activity to help him internalize the structure behind English vowel teams.

Vowel Team Chart

This activity can be modified to suit your scope/sequence and individualized to what graphemes/phonemes your student already knows.

What you will need:
Vowel Team Chart BW, Cardstock, and Scissors OR Letter-Tiles with vowel teams from your program (optional)

To make a reusable puzzle:
Print out the pages on cardstock and cut out the vowel teams you want to use on the last page
— laminate everything if you want them to last a bit longer and you want to re-use this as a puzzle-style activity (or, if you use a program with letter-tiles, you can use those to place in the boxes on the chart).

OG Vowel Team Chart Puzzle
 
To make a permanent reference chart:
You can have the student make their own personal chart by gluing down the vowel teams onto the chart for their own reference. They may also write a Key Word or draw a picture to go with each vowel team placed on the chart. If you use the LiPS program, you can also have them place LiPS mouth-pictures next to the sounds on the chart for reference.
 
OG Vowel Team Chart finished p2
 

As an alternative, you can have your student glue down or write in the vowel teams on the chart and then cover with paper flaps, so your students can quiz themselves on the vowel teams in each section of the chart.

Extend the activity by having your student organize the vowel teams by frequency of use; time your students and see how quickly they can complete the chart; have your students come up with a way to color-code the chart– points for creativity!

Check out Sarah Z’s post today— she has a game for “double duty” nouns and verbs (words that can be both, like dust and bat). This is a great idea for our students who need more grammar practice!