Important Podcast about reading instruction in the schools

Why American kids aren’t being taught to read by American Public Media reports goes into detail about the importance of making sure our educators are properly using the science behind reading instruction. Here at Ladder Learning, we understand the science behind dyslexia and other reading disorders. We keep up with the latest research to ensure that our students are receiving the best instruction possible.

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)

Multisensory Monday: TacScreen Review

Hi Everyone,
I know it’s been awhile since I posted for Multisensory Monday– it’s been a busy time at Ladder Learning as we prepare for many new students this summer!

TacScreen
TacScreen

Today I have a video review of the TacScreen, which is a great multisensory tool for travelling Orton-Gillingham tutors or those who just want another option to keep their students engaged (most of our students love some occasional iPad work to break up the lesson.) The TacScreen would be ideal for students with ADHD, Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, and Autism Spectrum.

I was sent a free copy of TacScreen to evaluate it, although I had previously purchased a few for my tutors in Atlanta to use. I have been personally using the TacScreen for a few weeks now, and I can definitely say I’m going to leave it on my iPad and continue to use it in my tutoring sessions!

If you would like to purchase your own TacScreen cover, you can do so at www.tacscreen.com

Summer Sign-up Last Day!

Hi everyone,

Today is the last day to sign up for our GREAT DEALS on our summer tutoring packages! We offer experienced tutoring in-home or in-school in the Atlanta metro area or ONLINE with our Literacy and Math specialists. We specialize in DYSLEXIA, DYGRAPHIA, DYSCALCULIA, SLDs, and ADHD!

If you miss the 4/15/16 deadline, you can still register with us for summer tutoring, just go ahead and fill out the form on our home page instead and we’ll contact you with more information.

If you have any questions about summer tutoring with us, please contact Dite at 404-654-3557 or ladderlearning at gmail.com

Soft-C and Soft-G sounds

Hi everyone,
I want you to check out Sarah Z’s post from yesterday for Multisensory Monday (I took the day off). She has some great ideas of how to help your students remember that C and G make their soft sounds /s/ and /j/ before E, I, and Y. It involves a great hands-on art project that your students will love! This would be great for students with dyslexia, ADHD, and ELL/ESL students too.
You can see her video here: http://www.rlacortongillingham.com/multisensory-monday-soft-c-and-g/

Dyslexia Reading a Clock – Multisensory Monday

Multisensory Monday Post from Sarah at RLAC
Please also go check out Sarah’s excellent video post today, which is about when to spell with C or K and a nice mnemonic drawing your students can make to remember this concept!

Telling Time on an Analog Clock

One thing that can be VERY difficult for our students with dyslexia is telling time using an analog clock. I know I struggled with it due to my dyscalculia, and only in my 20s did I finally figure out how the darn things work!

There are several ways to introduce reading an analog clock using multisensory activities.

First Concept: the Clock is really 2 number lines!

Ronit Bird is my hero, because she makes difficult concepts understandable to people like me with dyscalculia. I so wish I could have been taught math by her! Here is a wonderful video she has made about reading a clock:

Here is a similar concept, showing a home-made number line turned into a clock:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yw31gABRkoc

Clock-Wise and the Hour Hand

First, teach your students that a DAY = 24 hours, but we count the day in 2 halves so the clock has half of 24 or 12 hours on it.

Clock-Wise
Clock-Wise

Then, show your students, and practice, which way is clock-wise. Have them watch the second-hand on a real analog clock– which way does it always go? Practice winding a watch– forward/backward so they can see which was is clock-wise. Make some drawings where you can only draw circles clock-wise. When you play many card games with 3 or more people, play passes clock-wise, so that is another good time to practice the concept!

Once a child has a good concept of counting from 1-12 on a simple number line and a good grasp on the clock-wise direction, they can be shown how to figure out the hour hand on a clock (many 4 year olds can do this, although dyslexic kids may take longer) and show them that the small hand is the one which points to the hour (because there are fewer hours than minutes, so it needs a smaller hand).

One VERY important concept which is lost on a lot of students unless explicitly taught is that the hour hand MOVES during the hour (so slowly it is hard to see)… it may or may not be pointing close to the number of the actual hour. Think about where the hour hand is for the time 4:59– it’s actually pointing right at the 5. One way to practice this concept is to use a geared clock to show that the hour hand moves. This is something a child will not get much practice with if you are using a teaching clock without gears!

Judy teaching Clock with gears
Many instructors like to use this “Judy” clock, because it contains gears and moves like a real clock. Of course, you could use a real clock for the same purpose, with the plastic face taken off so that you can manipulate the arms.

 

Introducing the Minute-hand

Then, once they can skip-count by 5’s and count to 60, they can be shown the minute hand and start the process of learning to tell time to the minute.

clock flower with minute petals
There are many versions of this idea to make a clock into a flower with the minutes included, so your students can learn the minutes.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

When you have a difficult concept, never underestimate the amount of practice that it can take for the skill to become automatic. The more practice the student has access to, the more likely the concept will stick and that reading an analog clock will become a life-long skill that student can use.

Here is another great video which talks through all the steps for telling time from an analog clock (great for older students too!):

 

Here is an online, interactive clock to play around with that simulates the movement of all 3 hands (hour, minute, second): http://www.visnos.com/demos/clock

The Language of Time

After your student is adept at reading off the hours & minutes on the clock, you can then start to talk about the language of time. Your student will need some basic idea of simple fractions (halves and quarters). Some suggested vocabulary terms to define and practice:

  • A.M.
  • P.M.
  • noon
  • midnight
  • O’Clock
  • Half Past
  • Quarter Past
  • Quarter ‘Till
  • 5 Past
  • 5 ‘Till

This is one thing which will be especially difficult for dyslexic students– all the ways we talk about time. So, if you say “half past 3” or “quarter-til noon”, they must parse the language in that and really understand what you mean. Your students will need LOTS of practice saying the time in various ways. How many ways can you express that it is 5:45? You could say “it is 5:45 A.M.” or “it is 5:45 in the morning” or “it is a quarter ’till 6”. But they’re all referring to the same time.

Telling time can also be very difficult for students with dyscalculia or dyspraxia. If you have worked through all the concepts and practiced-practiced-practiced, but your student is still not fully capable, maybe having their own special teaching watch could help. This was developed for children with dyspraxia, but it would certainly make it easier for all students who struggle with telling time: http://www.dyslexiadublin.ie/easyread-time-teacher-watch-red-blue.html

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.