Sunday, 25 January 2015

Supporting children with difficulties in reading and writing - Week 4


  • Important that schools respond to individual differences.
  • Teaches children to be open to differences.
  • Less expensive than specialised schools.
Early identification important as is getting parent and community involvement.
Learning happens when there is active participation from the child.

Successful inclusion in Finland:
  • All learners sharing the same classroom
  • No wall between children with special needs and others
  • Children taken individually at the back of classroom by a specialist

Reports on Reading

Key components of learning to read:
  • Explicit teaching of phonological and phonemic awareness
  • Explicit teaching of the grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPC)
  • Both reinforce the other
Phonological activities should focus on rimes in English because of the importance of rimes in English.
Systematic teaching of GPC is better than other methods such as whole word, whole language, especially for dyslexic (Ehri et al, 2000).

  • Best training is the teaching of GPC
  • Phonological awareness is paramount
  • Such teaching should be multi-sensory, with tokens (or blocks) that can be manipulated  
  • Such training benefits all children, expecially those with dyslexia and those from lower SES

General Principles

Four principles:
  • Structured and sequential - associate colours with subjects. establish learning objectives, revisit same topic several times in different way. Structure corresponds to frequency of letters in the language. Logical progression in teaching the grapheme-phoneme correspondences (GPC). From high-frequency simple concepts to low frequency concepts of more complexity. Simple digraphs (sh-) before more complex (-tion). Old English words, then Latin and French words, then Greek based letter groups. Phonics progression chart (Milne).Suffix that added to base word taught before suffixes that change the base word.
  • Phonics based- global methods are bad for dyslexic learners. They also induce social-economical effects.
  • Multi-sensory - combining a maximum of entries to the brain, simultaneously. Let children feel what is happening in their throat, mouth etc when they say words. Also manual eg when writing, touch. Must be structured, sequential, cumulative, each step mastered before moving on, memory training. Diagnostic - adapt teaching strategy depending on reaction of learner.
  • Metacognitive - constant self-questioning - how do I learn this? how will I remember? what approach is required for this task or problem? how did I succeed in a similar situation? Induces a feeling of control that is good for self-esteem. Relies on two principles: succeeding is not random, it involves a strategy, to overcome a difficulty, one must measure the extent of the incomprehension. Dyslexics often have weak memory.
What can you do to help?
  • Dyslexics will need more time to automatise processes owing to weak memory, both for storing and accessing knowledge.
  • Offer a pause for reflection every now and again and then you propose a solution to a problem, each validated strategy is put on the board, each then becomes a resource person who can help others. Card with steps on it. How did they get the answer?

Subject Specific Principles


  • Reduce literacy demands so student can access subject
  • Heavy language load - long, may sound/look similar
  • Instructions - experiment design etc
  • Memory load in instructions in class
  • Don't rely on verbal instructions, written as well
  • Instructions sequenced into short, manageable chunks
  • Prior warning of topic so they have time to pre-process some of the text
  • More repetition of terms, word walls
  • Different forms of assessment, not just written report eg video, powerpoint
If child not responding to phonics - may not have the oral language to access content, group may not be a good place for student, negative thinking (I can't do this), variety of presentation/texts. As a teacher you can never rely on one thing. What is working/not working for THIS child. 

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