Fluency Building Activities

Rapid Automatic Naming (RAN) is an approach used in most Dyslexia Therapy programs to build fluency & processing speed. This approach isolates specific areas where students struggle, such as letter/sound connections, easily reversible letters & numbers, and sight word recognition. My friend and Certified Academic Language Therapist colleague, Allyson, and I collaborated to design Fluency Building Activities to address these common struggles. In the videos below, you will see the RAN approach used with the Fluency Building pages.

Setting goals with your students is an important part of these activities.   There is a Goal Chart for keeping track of student’s goal and a Certificate to use to celebrate when a goal is met.  Student should also color in the conversation bubble where they have to stop with each attempt, then fill in their progress on the Goal Chart.  This will help keep them motivated and focused.

Student can color stopping point of each fluency attempt.

Student can color stopping point of each fluency attempt.

 

 

Goal Chart will help student see progress & increase motivation.

Goal Chart will help student see progress & increase motivation.

Celebrate student's fluency goal successes with this cute certificate!

Celebrate student’s fluency goal successes with this cute certificate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be sure to grab the FREEBIE at the end of this post giving you a sample to try out with your students & discover the effectiveness of this approach!!

 


Naming Sounds

Isolated letter/sound practice as you can see in this video, helps students make important connections with letters and its sounds. The student in the video above is naming the sounds & in the video below the student is saying the letter names.


Letter Names

The pages can be displayed on a Smart-Board, as shown in the video above. The spinner used was purchased on Amazon . Letters which are easily reversed visually, are isolated on this page. As the spinner spins, the student read the letters rapidly. If they say the reversal of a letter, they must correct and move forward. As with all of the pages you have access to in this product, the spinner creates the motivation to read through the pages quickly improving processing speed and visual recognition of the proper direction of these letters. Whichever type of spinner is used, will serve the purpose of providing the motivation needed to inspire your student/child to read rapidly. I guess what I’m trying to say is, whichever spinner you use is not the main focus. We just thought we’d give you another positive option for using those annoying spinners…haha!

Building automatic Sight Word fluency. I love this fun spinner idea for building fluency!

Building number fluency is important, as well. So,we decided to included RAN pages for number fluency. The number sets included in this bundle are:
*single-digits
*Teen digits
*Number groups 20’s – 90’s

 As we promised at the top of this post, here is the Sight Word Freebie of the first 100 Fry List sight words Fluency Activity pages!!

Enjoy!

Sherri & Allyson

Fluency Activity Bundle Link

Proven Strategies You can use when Conventional Approaches to Reading Don’t Work.

Are you a teacher who strives to go above and beyond for your students, especially those struggling to learn their sounds & letter names, or to spell or read?  You realize that the same conventional approaches are just not working for these students.

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Well, I can relate because I felt this way…every year of the 14 years that I taught First Grade.

 I get it.

The desire to learn more about how I could help the group of 5 to 10 students each year who struggled to put sounds together to spell or read a word, drove me to head back to college to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist.

I’ve mentioned this in a previous post, or two…

1 in 5 people or 20% of the population struggles with Dyslexia Characteristics.  This means each classroom has at least 4 to 5 students who struggle specifically with Dyslexia.

The multi-sensory approaches I was trained to use to teach students a new way of thinking about sounds in order to spell and read with more success, specifically students with Dyslexia, are scientifically proven, Orton-Gillingham based approaches.

I’d love to share with you one of the most effective approaches I use to teach my students successful spelling & reading strategies.

Spelling is the process of hearing a word, breaking it into its individual sounds, and then writing them on paper. ~Uncovering The Logic of English

The strategies used for spelling are basically used in reverse for reading.  So, how important is it for us as teachers to choose the right approach in order to lay the most successful foundation for our students so they will be equipped with the most successful strategies to apply when they spell and read?

My students know that when they enter my class, they are working to become Word Scientists. A more detailed explanation can be found HERE in this post.  Basically, we are all about de-coding the English language ~ taking apart words into its individual sounds – visually & auditory, manipulating them, and putting them together in a logical way to read or write.  Scientists manipulate chemicals or dinosaur bones and puts them together in a logical, scientific way in order to create a solution to a problem or need.  The problem we are solving is breaking the code of our phonetic language in order to read & spell words.

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Enter into the Phonics Lab…

One way my students learn to become Word Scientists is by making Auditory Word Pictures.  We do this by using Mouth Position Pictures.

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Mouth Position Pictures provide a way for students to connect the sounds they are trying to manipulate within a word by using visual and auditory pathways.  When a word is spoken in running speech, individual sounds are distorted, in a sense.

This quote explains it best…

…sounds are rarely found in their pure forms within words.  Sounds in close proximity distort one another within the flow of natural speech. ~Uncovering The Logic of English

This is especially true with the nasal sounds – m, n, ng, nk and L & R.  Each of these sounds can get “lost” in running speech unless a student knows how to “feel” these sounds in isolation.

I use this poster to introduce the concept that sounds have a “feel”.

Grab it FREE in my TpT Store!

Name Shape Sound Feel Poster

Click the graphic for link.

 

Beginning as early as Kindergarten, teachers at my school implement Mouth Position Pictures when they introduce sounds/letters.  One mouth position is introduce at a time.   Each Mouth Position Picture is placed on the classroom alphabet under the letter it represents as a constant visual reminder for students. Below is an example of the cards that are placed under  the classroom alphabet.

Slide4 Slide6Once students have been introduced to a Mouth Position Picture, it is important to provide activities to help students begin to make important sound/letter connections.  Here are examples of pocket chart activities used in a Kindergarten classroom:

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This pocket chart activity is one of the first activities the kindergarten students do after being introduced to the sound, letter and Mouth Position Picture.  Here, the student matches the Mouth Position Picture with the letter it represents.  A small mirror should be provided at this activity so the student can look at the position of their mouth when making each sound.

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In this pocket chart activity, the students listen for the Initial, Medial or Final sound, of the picture and place the Mouth Position Picture that represents the sound underneath the picture.  A small mirror should be provided for this activity.

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In this pocket chart activity the students say the picture’s name, listen for the Initial, Medial or Final sound & attach the Mouth Position Picture along with the letter.  A small mirror should be provided for this activity.

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This pocket chart activity would be a goal for kindergartners to reach by the end of the school year.  Here, students will say the picture’s name aloud and using a small mirror, break apart the sounds to create an auditory picture of each sound. Then student will match the Mouth Position Picture card that represents each of the sounds in the word. First Grade students could begin the year with this activity and then progress on to an activity requiring them to manipulate sounds in a word in order to create new words.  I will explain this activity in more detail further down in this post.

My students LOVE clip cards, so I always try to have them ready for word work stations & my Early Literacy groups.

Here are some clip cards that provide another opportunity for students to become familiar with the Mouth Position Pictures and to also make important sound/letter connections creating auditory pictures in their mind’s eye. Each of the picture clip cards have been designed with each of the mouth position pictures for the Initial, Medial or Final sound.  So you can assign any position’s sound for your students to focus on to provide multiple uses for these clip cards.Slide34 Slide42 Slide50 Slide59

(The picture of the box for the final /x/ sound is represented by two mouth position pictures b/c its sound is a combination of the /k/ & /s/ sounds.)

This is great to use as an assessment tool and/or word work station activity to review the skills of creating Auditory Pictures & connecting to letters for word building. I am collaborating with two amazing teachers who teach Kindergarten and First Grade to create independent activities that work in the KG and 1st grade classrooms.  These will be added throughout the school year to the Mouth Position Picture Activities product.

Click the graphic below to download this free Independent Activity Sheet.

mouth pic independent activity

The key to reading and writing a phonetic language is the ability to break a word into its individual sound parts and to glue it back together.                                   ~Uncovering The Logic of English

The next activity is one that I use daily with my students and build upon for the remainder ofthe school year.  The approaches used within this activity unlock the code to our phonetic language and open the door to word building, reading & writing.

When conventional approaches to spelling and reading are not effective for your struggling students, you now know another way to open their minds to discovering letters & sounds, changing the direction of their future by giving them the tools…the keys to unlocking the code to our phonetic language in a way they can understand.

If you are interested in purchasing the The Mouth Position Picture Activities, click the link below:

**this product will be 20% off Feb. 7-8 during the TpT Site-Wide Sale – use promo code: “LOVETpT” for a total of 28% off your purchases!!**Slide1

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If you have any questions, please comment below or email me at slturnquist@gmail.com.

Make it an amazing week,

Sherri

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Spelling Really IS Scientific!!

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The key to spelling right lies in using the most efficient approach.

While there are several ways to teach a student to spell correctly and effectively, approaching the art of spelling from a scientific standpoint has got to be the most efficient of all. It, therefore, goes without saying that when the art of spelling a word is approached in a scientific way, amazing things begin to happen in a student’s mind!

When I teach my dyslexic students how to spell, read and write with more success, it is this scientific approach to spelling I use. I have found it more progressive than other methods and as far as studies tell, this approach has been researched, used and proven for well over 50 years!

Students will re-train their brains to THINK about spelling strategies and rules when coding or decoding (spelling or reading) a word when applying this scientific approach.  What teacher doesn’t want to instill independent thinking within their students?!  If you are anything like me, I love when I see my students using their “smarts” to think through something & realizing they CAN do whatever task is put in front of them when they put the effort into it!!

So, to help you achieve the same level of success that I have achieved with my students, I would share with you a fun and free activity that would help you develop a scientific approach to spelling with your students and by extension, effectively turn around dyslexia.

This fun activity is designed to assist students in thinking through why a word is spelled or pronounced the way it is. When students think through words they are familiar with, they soon develop the strategies that would help them in times when they encounter words they don’t know when either spelling or reading.

To get started, you’re going to make your students “Word Scientists” for the day!

What I do in my class is; I provide my students with science goggles or lab coats to help get them into character. This makes the whole experience so exciting and really engages the students!

The “Spelling Really is Scientific” activity is editable so you can design each page for your student’s needs and to correlate with what you are currently learning or reviewing. Here’s the five-step procedure to getting the best result out of this activity.

Step 1: First, enter a word in the 3 boxes at the top of the page. I chose “picnic” for the video below.  Divide the word in three different ways, one being correct.

 

Step 2: Print out the “Syllable Division Experiment” page for each student.  You could create individual pages for each student or small group. So each group gets a page.

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Step 3: Students would now attempt to point out which of the 3 words is divided correctly. Here are some posters I have hanging up in my word work area that remind my students of the syllable patterns to look out for
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Step 4: Following step 3, students will “Work It Out!” using the “Think Sheet”. The “Think Sheet” has questions to guide student’s thought process by breaking the word into syllables and putting it back together again in order to prove…or not prove their predictions.

Step 5: There is an optional writing extension where students can reflect on what kind of prediction they made & what they learned from working through the “Word Experiment.”

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I am so excited to share this fun and meaningful activity with you!  It is a freebie in my TpT store.  Head over and download the file so you can start teaching your little “Word Scientists” effective, research-based scientific approach to spelling and reading right.

I would love to hear your feedback on this activity – Is there something more you’d like added? What were some of your student’s responses?  Let me know in the comments, message me on Turning Around Dyslexia’s Facebook Page or tag me in your post of your “Word Scientists” at work on Instagram (@turning_around_dyslexia)

Thank you!

Sherri

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Introducing Sounds & Word Building to your Early Learners

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So at this stage, it is safe to say your students have been properly introduced to the 26 letters of the alphabet. They are now able to understand and can recognize the consonants and vowels. The next best step in the right direction for your students would be to dig deeper into introducing the 44 sounds of the English Language.

However, to help you reinforce these important facts you’ve instilled in your students over time, I have created an Alphabet Anchor Chart Template to ‘build’ along with your students. You would do well to hold off placing the bottom portion of this chart until you have seen the video below.

Take a few seconds to watch this video. It would help you understand all the information that should be included on the chart when it is complete

 

Here’s what I do with my students;

When I realize my students are now able to identify and name 26 letters of the alphabet and understand basic facts such as vowels and consonant sounds as the two groups of letters, I pull out my “Name, Shape, Sound & Feel” Poster to further explain and reiterate more of these facts to help my students make the sound/letter connection.

Grab this poster for FREE in my TpT store. Click graphic for link.

Grab this poster for FREE in my TpT store. Click graphic for link.

As I hold this poster up I tell my students:

Every letter has a Name.  We have been working really hard to learn all 26 letters, so we know this fact.

Every letter has a shape.  We are all practicing tracing and some of us are writing letters, so we are aware of this fact.

Every letter has a sound.  We are going to begin learning the sounds to each of the 26 letters of the alphabet.

Every SOUND has a…FEEL!!  How do you think we might discover how sounds feel??  {prompt students toward discovering where we make our sounds (mouth) what part of our mouths (tongue, teeth & lips) help to make different sounds.

At this point in the introduction process, the door opens for you to introduce how consonant and vowel sounds “feel”.  Providing your students with small mirrors from Amazon.com or from a dollar store, so that students can see their mouth when making the different sounds will serve as a helpful visual.  This also helps them make the connection with the sound and how it “feels”.

When introducing the vowel sounds, explain to students that their mouths would be open to varying degrees as they make each of the vowel sounds (long or short).  You might say:

We know vowel sounds are open because our tongue, teeth and lips do not block the vowel sounds.

*This would be a good time in the lesson to add the Vowel information to your anchor chart*

The freebie I shared in last week’s post, the short & long vowel “Desk Helpers” is a must-have at this stage of your students learning process. Tape it on their desks for a constant visual resource when learning the vowel sounds. Please head over to the last post and get it if you already haven’t.

When introducing the consonant sounds, start with “sneaky sound buddy” letters such as ‘p’ and ‘b’. The /p/ and /b/ sounds “feel” the same, so it is important to explain to your students that to effectively tell these sounds apart they must check if their voice is ON or OFF.  I also refer to this as VOICED or UNVOICED.

Show your students how placing two fingers gently on the middle of their throat as they make the /b/ sound, they will feel a vibration. While in contrast, when they make the /p/ sound, they will not feel the same vibration because we just use air to make the /p/ sound.  I usually like to take the lesson a bit further and explain to my students how two letters that “feel” the same sound differently:

“what you are feeling is our “voice box” which is like two rubber bands and when air rushes through, the vocal cords vibrate turning our voice on.  This is why we can hear each other when we talk.  Some consonants are made just using air, like the sound of /p/ & others we use our voice, like the sound of /b/.

This procedure should be implemented repeated with more Sneaky Sound Buddy sounds pairs like:

  • t/d
  • f/v
  • k/g
  • ch/j
  • s/z

It is also important to have your students understand what blocks each consonant sound such as the tongue, teeth or lips. Some sounds such as the /k/ and /g/ sounds are harder than others to determine what is blocking.  Lead your students to ‘feel’ the back of their tongue rising and “kicking” out the sound for /k/ and /g/.

*This would be a good time to add the Consonant information to the anchor chart and display in your classroom*

At this point in the school year, teaching digraphs & trigraphs to kindergartners with success is a lofty goal, especially if they are still struggling to identify the 26 letters of the alphabet. But, I’d be remiss not to mention the more involved 2-3 letter phonograms that you may be ready to introduce to some of your kindergarten students.

Digraphs are an example of the phonograms, like th, ch, sh, ai, ay, ee, oo, each making one unique sound, as well as Trigraphs like, tch, dge, or igh, each making one sound.

In order for an early learner to be able to one day decode words for spelling and in reading, they will need to know the 74 phonograms of the English language, including Diphthongs & Combinations. In line with the process of multisensory style of teaching and learning, visual reminders of these phonograms using key pictures are important to help students make successful connections with the phonograms. See the ones I created for my students below.

Teaching and reinforcing all the digraphs and trigraphs, combinations and diphthongs are probably more appropriate for First to Third grades at this point in the year. Some digraphs, such as th, ch, sh are introduced in the Spring of Kindergarten, so grab these because they will help with the introduction & reinforcement of these phonograms.  It might be a great idea for Kindergarten, First, Second and Third graders to share the cards which are more suitable to their grades.  This way the student can progress & build their “sound deck” through the grade levels.

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Now your students have been properly introduced to and understand the 44 sounds and it is safe to say at this point, they are ready to be introduced to syllable patterns and word building!!

We always have a little fun discovering what a syllable feels like, first.  I tell my students that a syllable is simply the “opening of the mouth”.  We put our hand flat under our jaws and say our names, counting the syllables in each name.  The students LOVE this!!  Next, I help them make the connection between how vowel sounds cause our mouth to open and each syllable has to have a vowel sound in it.  I remind them that when we make a vowel sound our mouths will be open, so when our mouth opens for each syllable in a word, it does so because of the vowel sound within the syllable.

Vowels sounds make their different sounds because of the syllable pattern they are in within a word.  This is how we know to read the ‘o’ in ‘dog’ with short vowel sound and not a long sound.

I introduce the Closed and Open Syllable Patterns first.   The Closed Syllable Pattern is where the vowel is closed off by a consonant, like in the word “dog”.  The Open Syllable Pattern is where the vowel is in Final position of the syllable & is free to say its name. I show these posters at the same time:

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Grab this set of Syllable Pattern Posters which include thearrow-1se two posters as well as the other seven syllable patterns in the English language.

I would advise that you spend a lot of time with these concepts.  It takes some and in most cases, most of your students a valuable amount of time to make connections between recognizing each of the syllable patterns within words and decipher how to make the short or long vowel sound when putting the sounds all together.

I expose my students to many words that contain both Closed and Open Syllables.  This Syllable Pattern Resource contains open and closed syllable words along with word sorts & bingo games to provide your students with fun ways to learn to recognize & read Closed and Open Syllable words.
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Another multi-sensory activity I incorporate into whole and small groups is SLAP!  This is a simple, yet very engaging activity which builds auditory and visual confidence when word building.  This activity provides a very structured way for students to use successful strategies when spelling and reading.  It reinforces the sounds in the Initial, Medial and Final positions.  If you have been following me on my Facebook page, Turning Around Dyslexia, you have seen some of these videos & pictures of this game in action!

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SLAP! is an activity you can use all school year as it has a simplistic design that allows it to grow with your students throughout the school year.  This resource comes with 24 word lists for practice with elision (adding, taking away or switching sounds to make a new word) There are 3 detailed activities to help you get started using this game with your students.  The materials you need are most likely in your classroom already.

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You can grab your SLAP! activities at a special 50% off price this week!!

I would love to hear from you about how the activities included in SLAP! worked for your students or how you plan to incorporate it into your word work stations, whole or small groups times. Let me know in the comments or on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Have a great week!!

Sherri

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Setting up Early Learners for Success in Spelling & Reading

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“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”
Benjamin Franklin

Benjamin Franklin, One of the many famous dyslexics is credited with this quote. I have this written in my lesson plan book as a constant reminder of my goal for my students which is to through proper teaching, help them to become more successful with their language skills while they are with me in Dyslexia Therapy or in Early Literacy Intervention. The motive behind Dyslexia Therapy and Early Literacy intervention is to forge the next Benjamin Franklin, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison and several other dyslexics who became geniuses. Through careful implementation of these strategies, a dyslexic child could be the genius they truly are.

One thing I have come to discover in my over twenty years of teaching is the fact that a true understanding of how to build a solid foundation in Early Literacy is sadly missing or somewhat neglected in the ELA curriculum across the nation.  These important basic skills & strategies that serve as basic building blocks of the English Language are not being taught with fidelity to our early learners, thus depriving them of the opportunity to learn and understand the essentials of the Language.

In a misguided urgency to “get” children reading, the actual science of learning how to spell and read right has been lost.  Don’t get me wrong, I know that reading is very important, but if in our bid to hasten a child’s reading we skip the fundamental foundations that should otherwise enable that child to read right, we are by extension reducing the child’s ability to make letter/sound connections, develop word building skills or decode unfamiliar words when reading.  In simple terms, by skipping what is really important, we are making bad readers and spellers.

In stark contrast to what we are doing now, what we need to do is to provide a solid, systematic phonics foundation in early development which would equip our learners with the tools necessary to not just read words but to actually decode words based on their structure.  In our rush to get children reading in this part of the world, early learners are rarely taught all of the sounds for the 26 letters of the alphabet.  Thus leaving gaps in their language development and spelling skills.  Yes, there is “spell-checker”, however; adequate knowledge of the building blocks of words allows spell-checker to be used much more easily and could reduce the need for it all together.

This is the first of a series of blog posts on “Early Literacy Skills & Strategies”.  I hope to with each post, show you how easy it is to implement simple yet important early literacy skills and strategies with your Pre-K and Kindergarten students.  When the skills and strategies I am going to share with you throughout this series are implemented with fidelity, it will alleviate the need for extra intervention for the majority of your students.

I believe that the strategies and skills discussed in this series would lay a solid foundations which would give you, the teacher, the opportunity to not just enhance your teaching skills and by extension stretch your students spelling and reading knowledge but these strategies would also help to develop their abilities beyond what you have been able to do over the years.

So, let’s get right into it, shall we?

To help you build a feasible plan for effective implementation within your classroom, I would be sharing the Early Literacy Skills and Strategies in small chunks.

Look out for the freebies & product links throughout the posts as this will give you the tools you need to start implementing early literacy skills with fidelity this week if you wanted to!!

There are two quintessential foundational skills to instill in early learners and these are the skills I begin with, in my Early Literacy Kindergarten class each year.

They are:

  • Teaching the Letters of the Alphabet
  • Teaching Phonograms

The importance of these two cannot be underestimated or overstated and here is why.

  1. Teaching the Letters of the AlphabetThe best place to start is where we all do…the Alphabet.  However, we often study the Alphabet on a surface level really digging deep into alphabet knowledge.  Simply being able to sing the letters of the alphabet to a cute little tune does not equate to understanding the alphabet.It is important as a teacher to first off, teach your learners “Symbol Matching” as it allows the students to match the symbol for each letter using plastic letters and mats. Symbol matching is important because, just like you and me, when we know the symbol for something, we can easily attach other information to that one symbol.  Symbol Matching also helps students hold onto future information about each symbol. Once they are secure in the naming of letters in the order of the alphabet, give them activities {as in the second picture} with letters in random order to reinforce and assess their true understanding of letter symbols.

    So, allow students time to match upper & lower case letters attaching their names simultaneously.  If you would like a set of the alphabet mats shown in the first picture, use the link below to download:

alphabet-mats-for-early-literacy

Systematic Naming and Placing of alphabet letters, five at a time.

 

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Random Matching of Upper & Lower Case Letters

Once a student can recognize and name their letters randomly, they will be ready to attach the sound with more success.  I will go into more detail about this next step further into this blog series.

Below is a short video example of another random letter naming activity I call the “Letter Pit Game”.  You’ll need Upper & Lower case letter cards, Write-on Dice (Really Good Stuff), & the pocket chart is optional.    A Hula-hoop would be a good “letter pit” marker to help define boundaries for your students.   I write upper and lower case letters on the dice.  I use two dice so there is a dice within reach of the students.  I only use the 5 letters (upper & lower case) which we have practiced on the alphabet mats prior to playing this game.

2. Teaching Phonograms

What is a Phonogram?

Phono = “sound”

Gram = “picture”

Phonograms are pictures that represent sounds.

Phonograms may consist of 1 to 4 letters that represent different sounds in the English language.  Each letter of the alphabet makes at least one sound and each letter sound is thus considered a phonogram.  As we progress in learning each of the 26 single phonograms and their 44 sounds, this can become a big task, as certain letters such as vowels, make more than one sound.  The first activity I do with my students at this point in their learning is to build a picture- sound deck they can review at home and in their classroom.  It looks like this:

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I always tell my students that the vowel sounds are 5 of the most important sounds in the alphabet.  I introduce the short vowel sounds first then we progress from there. I created these “Desk Helpers” for a helpful visual memory tool.

Grab yours for FREE in my TpT store – just click the picture for the link.

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As students develop a solid alphabetic and phonemic foundation using the above skills and visual strategies, teachers can go on to build the important skills and strategies for spelling and reading, on this foundation.

This series is a must read for teachers looking to turn around dyslexia and help any student struggling with a language based learning difference in their classroom.

Another famous dyslexic, Thomas Edison once said: “A teacher sent the following note home with a six-year-old boy: “He is too stupid to learn.” That boy was Me”. The teacher is forgotten today because he/she did not invest in her “dyslexic turned genius”. You cannot be that teacher!

In the next post in this series, I will share how simply teaching the basic 44 sounds of the 26 letters can lead into syllable patterns & word building.

Be sure to grab your FREE Early Literacy “tools” and check out the other product links to help you get started with a successful Early Literacy plan for your students.

Have a great week!!

Sherri

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Understanding Dyslexia: Parent Guide: My Child has Dyslexia, Now What?!

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It is hard to believe this is the last full week in October!  I hope you have found the Understanding Dyslexia Series helpful and informative.  If you missed any of the posts this month, you can find them here on the Understanding Dyslexia Landing Page.

This week I’m talking to the parents of Dyslexic children.

The social-emotional well-being of your child is the best place to start after receiving a diagnosis of Dyslexia.  This can be achieved in several ways.

  • Help your child understand what Dyslexia is and that this is something that they will have their entire life; however, they can learn strategies and skills to overcome the struggles they face in spelling, reading and writing.  There are many books like: What is Dyslexia?: A Book Explaining Dyslexia For Kids and Adults to Use Together  Also, you could watch the YouTube video: What is Dyslexia?, by Dr. Kelli Sandman Hurley.  The best website, I highly recommend visiting is Understood.org This website is the learning difference hub for parents & teachers.  Anything you want to know about learning differences, including Dyslexia is right at your fingertips at Understood.  There are parent forums where you can connect with other parents in similar situations as you.  There are experts, Live on hand to answer your questions, too.
  • Make sure your child is receiving an Orton-Gillingham based intervention.  Read here about Multi-sensory Teaching Techniques. If your school does not provide this specific intervention, there are other alternatives.  Find Dyslexia Therapists who are providing services in your area by visiting the Academic Language Therapy Association {ALTA}‘s Directory of Certified Therapists.  The International Dyslexia Association {IDA} is also a great resource.
  • Knowledge is power.  The more you know about Dyslexia & the laws that apply to your state as well as national laws including 504 & SPED, you will empower yourself to be the best advocate for your child.  When your family is facing your child’s dyslexia together, everyone’s social-emotional well-being will be strengthened.
  •  All of the resources linked above are a great resource not only to empower children to understand dyslexia, but for their parents as well.

My child hasn’t received a diagnosis, but I suspect dyslexia may be why they are struggling in school…where do I go from here?

If you suspect your child has a learning difference, you may request a meeting with the Campus Intervention Team.  This “team” varies in its acronyms in every school district; however, the purpose is all the same.  Each intervention team consists of administrators, specialized teachers and your child’s classroom teacher – anyone who is directly teaching, assisting through intervention and responsible or will be potentially responsible for your child’s academic progress.  A parent or teacher may request testing for a potentially dyslexic child, but an evaluation cannot take place without parent’s consent. This particular meeting is typically referred to as a 504 ARD Meeting when testing is discussed and agreed upon by parent(s) & intervention team.

Receiving a Diagnosis or Identification of Dyslexia.

In my district, I am qualified to assess students for an identification of Dyslexia according to my school districts parameters via Texas State Dyslexia Law.  If there is not a Certified Academic Language Therapist who is qualified to assess at your child’s school, the intervention team may refer you to a diagnostician or psychologist and/or a health professional to effectively diagnose the difficulty.

Several factors are considered to effectively carry out a proper evaluation for Dyslexia, specifically.  The goal of a dyslexia evaluation is to help determine if there is an inconsistency between the child’s cognitive ability {ability at which they should be performing academically} and their actually performance in spelling, reading and phonological awareness.  A basis cognitive test, such as the K-Bit, is given to provide a baseline of cognitive abilities.  Each assessment that is given in spelling, reading, reading comprehension & phonological awareness is determined by age level.  Family history is also an important factor in carrying out a proper Dyslexia diagnosis. As mentioned in the first post in this series,  Dyslexia is-neurological in origin and typically there are family members who have struggled with the same characteristics. Having your child evaluated for a learning difference provides information about why they are struggling, as well as providing an insight into your child’s strengths.  All of this information is valuable in helping determine the best intervention for your child.

Multi-sensory curriculum & activities focus on utilizing the child’s strengths while strengthening his or her weaknesses.  I will attest to the validity of the effectiveness of a multi-sensory approach because I use this with my dyslexic students as well as non-dyslexic students who struggle in the areas of spelling and reading, with great success.  I see the most successful attitudes in my students whose parents are meeting their social-emotional needs in understanding their learning difference.  When a student realizes their strengths & positive attitudes will benefit them by strengthening their weaknesses, they receive way more than what I teach them through a multi-sensory approach. They learn life-long values and a positive mind-set for future successes.

Read more about why your child should be provided a multi-sensory approach to learning in this recent post.

I’d love to hear from you in the comments about how this series has helped you more understand dyslexia.  Are you a teacher? A parent?  I’d love to hear the different perspectives about what you found helpful in this series and if there was something specific to dyslexia you would like to find out more about.

Hang in there this week as Halloween excitement, cooler weather, costume parties & candy are going in full effect!!  At least there is not a full moon…last week was crazy!

~sherri

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Understanding Dyslexia: Signs & Characteristics

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Classroom teachers may be unable to diagnose whether or not a child has dyslexia, however; through the effective Dyslexia professional development training, teachers will be able determine with more success, the early signs and/or characteristics of a student who may possibly be struggling with dyslexia.  Then, refer these students on to a dyslexia professional or diagnostician for assessment.

Here are some possible signs and characteristics of dyslexia:

  • Delay in early language development
  • Problems with segment words and processing the differences between similar sounds
  • Slow to learn new vocabulary words
  • Experiences difficulty in copying content from a book or the board
  • Experiences difficulty in acquiring reading, writing, and spelling skills
  • Unable to recognize or read a repeated word within a book
  • Difficulty with spatial relationships, especially processing Left & Right directions, as well as difficulty participating in organized games or sports
  • Difficulty with establishing a dominant hand.  This means they will use their left hand for some tasks and right hand for another, yet never seem to write well with either hand.

Dyslexia is a difficulty with processing phonemes (sounds), thus there is a difficulty connecting the sound to a letter(s) which represent the sound(s).  Sometimes this is mistaken for a visual or auditory difficulty. Two or more learning differences can co-exists in a child.   Here are some possible characteristics which may be confused with an auditory or visual difficulty:

  • A child with dyslexia usually finds it hard to remember and/or understand what he or she hears.
  • A child with dyslexia can experience difficulty recalling the sequences of things and executing more than one direction at a time.
  • When talking, a child with dyslexia may miss or mispronounce some parts of a word or parts of a sentence.  Their words come out sounding scrambled.
  • A child with dyslexia often interchange words, replacing the actual word with a wrong or similar word instead.
  • A child with dyslexia will often know what they want to say, but have difficult “finding” the actual words necessary to express their thoughts.

Here are some other signs, though subtle, are common to children with dyslexia:

  • A child with dyslexia can show signs of withdrawing, seeming depressed
  • Sometimes, a child with dyslexia may start acting out, thus drawing the attention away from their struggles.
  • Low self-esteem & difficulty interacting with their peers and siblings
  • Sometimes, educators with a lack of knowledge about dyslexia & learning differences in general, may refer to a child with dyslexia as lazy or unmotivated because of their lack of interest in school-related activities.

Emotional signs and characteristics are as important as the characteristics which affect a child academically and should not be neglected.

Knowledge is power.  If you notice any of these signs or characteristics in your child & suspect it is because of dyslexia, I highly encourage you to seek a professional diagnostician in your child’s school or community,  to evaluate your child to discover what is causing them to struggle.  Once you have a diagnosis, the best intervention for your child can be decided.

Early intervention is always best for a child.  The earlier in their educational career they receive intervention for a learning difference, the more success they will experience.

If you have a Pre-schooler or Kindergartner and would like  to begin laying a solid foundation or enhance their learning & understanding of the Alphabetic Principle {Sound to Letter correspondence} using multi-sensory activities, take a look at these activities I use with my Early Literacy students: …did I mention this product is 50% off this week?!

Let's Explore the Alphabet

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Have a great week loving and changing the lives of your students!

Sherri

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Understanding Dyslexia: Are there Different “Types” of Dyslexia?

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Causes of Dyslexia

The causes of dyslexia are not completely understood, but with the use of brain scans from an fMRI, brain imagery studies show that those with Dyslexia have difficulty learning to read despite conventional classroom experience, traditional instruction, average to above average intelligence, desire to learn and learning opportunity. Dyslexia is caused by a difficulty with the brain’s ability to process phonemes (these are the smallest units of speech that make words each word different from the other). Read here!

Dyslexia does not occur as a result of vision or hearing problems and is not and should not be mistaken for a lack of intelligence.

There is only one official  “type” of Dyslexia. Scientists have suggested there are sub-types of Dyslexia.  None of these have panned out successfully and are still heavily debated.   Intervention and research cannot be overstated, however; as it not only helps in early identification of children who are at the risk of becoming dyslexic but also allows for early educational interventions and better outcomes.

Dyslexia 

  • Phonological Dyslexia: This impacts the left side of the brain also known as the cerebral cortex. Dyslexia affects the ability to process sounds – to connect with the letters a child sees with its sound &  they can also struggle breaking syllables in a word apart. The struggles with dyslexia varies among dyslexic individuals, and in most cases, those who receive the appropriate early educational intervention would be academically successful throughout their lives. However, the effects of Dyslexia reach into writing, reading, and spelling even in their adult lives. The impact of the cerebral cortex is in certain cases, hereditary (passed down through gene lines).
  • Dyseidetic Dyslexia: Sometimes called, “Surface Dyslexia”.  Children sometimes struggle with sight recognition of words.  They will see & read a word on one page, but not recognize it on the next page.  Reading fluency and comprehension, as well as vocabulary development is affected.  However, this “type” of dyslexia is not supported well in describing a child’s reading struggles.

Usually if a child’s reading struggles are being discussed at school, they will not refer to any sub-types of Dyslexia.

Other “types” of Dyslexia debated:

You may hear other types “loosely” use the term Dyslexia incorrectly:

  • Visual dyslexia: This can refer to a range of things.  Also referred to as visual processing disorder or Surface Dyslexia,  is a term used to describe a condition where the brain’s ability to properly interpret visual signals is impaired.
  • Auditory dyslexia: Also referred to as Auditory Processing Disorder (APD) is similar in description to the visual processing disorder. Characteristics of APD can mirror those discovered with Dyslexia.  However, different interventions are needed for both. APD effects the brain’s ability to properly process and interpret the different pitches in sounds and speech.
  • Math Dyslexia: this is an inaccurate term used to describe a math processing difference called, Dyscalculia.

So, it is important to know that there is generally one “Type” of Dyslexia.  Struggles with Phonological Awareness makes it hard for children to make the sound/letter connections they need to in order to become successful readers.  Dyslexia “looks” different with each person.

Celebrate the differences in your students this month.  Read, “Fish in a Tree” by  Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  My 4th graders and I are listening to the book this month.  It has been amazing to hear their insights, but most of all how they connect with the main character, Ally.

Happy Monday!

Sherri

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Understanding Dyslexia – Definition & Facts

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Hello!!  Welcome to the month of October!!

Did you know October of every year is Dyslexia Awareness Month?

Here on the TAD blog, I would like to join millions of people around the world in creating more awareness about Dyslexia.  I am committed to turning around dyslexia and helping people with learning difficulties.  This month I will be in honor of Dyslexia Awareness Month, I will be posting information for my readers to be more knowledgeable when the topic of Dyslexia arises. In today’s post I will detail facts about Dyslexia, as well as a thorough definition of Dyslexia.

Facts About Dyslexia

Characteristics of Dyslexia are sometimes misunderstood as an indicator of cognitive ability leading to misdiagnosis & inappropriate intervention.  Here are the facts you need to know to help identify characteristics early:

  • Dyslexia is not an indicator of lack of cognitive ability
  • Dyslexia is a difficulty with processing sounds which causes difficulty in learning the (alphabetic principle (letter-sound correspondence), spelling, & reading.
  • Dyslexia is often related to certain hereditary factors in one or more relatives.
  • 1 in 5 people or 20% of people have characteristics of Dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia is not a vision issue, it is a language-based issue.
  • People with Dyslexia have the same risk of vision problems as those without Dyslexia.
  • Dyslexia can cause struggles with speaking – not being able to find the correct word to say & other social situations.
  • Dyslexia is not just reversal of letters or reading words backwards.
  • People with Dyslexia are working 5 to 10 times harder than peers to read, spell & write.
  • Dyslexia is not curable.  It is a brain-based condition with lifelong challenges.
  • Early Intervention & accommodations will have a positive impact in language & academic development.

Definition of Dyslexia

The International Dyslexia Association defines “dyslexia” in the following way:

Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.

(Adopted by the International Dyslexia Association Board of Directors, November 12, 2002)

Contrary to popular belief, Dyslexia has been in existence for a long time and do has its evolving definitions.  As more and more knowledge is acquired about this learning different, newer more concise definitions arise.  In the late 1960’s the World Federation of Neurologists said dyslexia was, “a disorder in children who, despite conventional classroom experiences, are unable to attain the language skills of reading, writing, and spelling, commensurate with their intellectual abilities.”   We have come a long way since the 1960’s in our understanding of Dyslexia.  Although, this definition is not so far off from IDA’s more detailed definition above.

Some may believe Dyslexia only affects children, but in actuality the difficulty persists throughout a person’s lifetime if not identified and treated early.  The earlier dyslexia is tackled, the more successful the intervention will be.  However, people with dyslexia who may not have been identified early on can still learn strategies to improve their language skills.

The signs of dyslexia in early learners could go undetected.  One tendency of dyslexic children is to become frustrated by their struggles they encounter in learning to read.  They can begin the “hate” the process of reading, when our goal for them is to love this process. Other problems that can arise & sometimes disguise the signs of dyslexia in an early learner, may be:

  • low self-esteem & signs of depression
  • attitude and behavior problems at school and at home as well.
  • lack of motivation and a dislike for school
  • task avoidance

Dyslexia is learning difference,  not a disability.  And if handled correctly, a child with dyslexia could be the next Steven Spielberg or Albert Einstein…Yes!!  Both geniuses battled dyslexia.

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Sherri

TacScreen Review – Tactile Touch Screen Cover for Multi-Sensory Learning

In this day and time of the 21st Century, technology and its dividends have been infused into the educational system to aid learning.  As a result, many classrooms today have access to iPads or other brand-name mobile devices to improve the learning environment.  This not only helps to match up with new technology standards but also meets the expectations of our 21st Century learners.

Considering the diversity of learners in each classroom, meeting each of their individual educational needs is always a challenge, and even more challenging is adapting to the needs of struggling students with Dyslexia, ADHD, Dysgraphia or even Autism.

There is not gainsaying how passionate I am about the Multisenory Approach to teaching, not only for the struggling learner but for all students.  As I have always reiterated in my blog posts, I am constantly seeking new methods, researching products and apps that can efficiently enhance this concept of auditory, visual and tactile approach to teaching.  I vehemently believe that the Multisensory Approach to teaching and learning not only makes a better student by also makes a better teacher.

On product I would strongly recommend for this purpose is the TacScreen.

The TacScreen is a tactile iPad learning screen that easily fits on any tablet.  The TacScreen fuses the fundamental techniques of multi-sensory stimulation to an iPad and helps complement an overall learning process.

Susan Mon Pere, a USC Business Entrepreneurship graduate created the TacScreen in 2013 and subsequently founded TacScreen, Inc. in 2014.  The development of TacScreen was born out of a desire to help her oldest son, who had been diagnosed with dyslexia at age 7.  When Susan realized the school system wouldn’t provide the much-needed intervention for her son until 3rd grade, she knew she had to get creative and do something for her child.

Susan knew the signs and struggles of dyslexia as she struggled in similar ways growing up with dyslexia herself.  She was not only well versed on the importance of treating and tackling her son’s different learning needs early on, but also knew that to effectively turn around dyslexia with her son, the services of an Orton-Gillingham tutor and a speech pathologist would be needed.

Sitting in the OG tutoring facility Susan pondered on the possibility of infusing the “sense of touch”, like sand, to an iPad…and TacScreen was created.  Today, Susan is dedicated to sharing TacScreen with other kids mothers just like her!

In order to effectively write an informative, unbiased review, I had to test-run TacScreen because I knew that to find out if the TacScreen was everything it claimed to be, I would have to bring it right to my own students to try it out!

My student “testers were in Kindergarten through 4th grade.  Here are some of their responses after trying the TacScreen for the first time:

  • “This is Awesome! It’s like my finger is a pencil actually writing on paper.”
  • “It’s very cool! I like it because it is different.”
  • “I love the bumps!”
  • “I think it helps me remember what the letter “feels” like when I try to write.”
  • “Can I have this?”

Teachers discovered many things they loved about the TacScreen, too:

  • “The students were more engaged during the activity using the TacScreen.”
  • “I can tell this will help students keep focused on the task longer.”
  • I love having a Multi-sensory option with the iPads during stations.”

WHY YOU SHOULD USE THE TACSCREEN


There are many advantages to using the TacScreen as a multisensory learning tool.  I’m going to share my top five with you!

  1. EASY TO USE

The TacScreen is an easy tool to use in the classroom or at home.  It is very easy to apply and fits perfectly on any iPad.  It works with any app or document you have on your iPad!  The app you see in the pictures below is the “Writing Wizard”.  You will also see below in the pictures, the easy step-by-step process for applying the TacScreen to an iPad.

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The TacScreen comes with clear & easy application instructions.

 

 

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TacScreen even thought to include a specially designed cloth to remove any dust or dirt on your screen before application of the screen.

Peel back the blue tab to pull off the first screen protector before application.

Peel back the blue tab to pull off the first screen protector before application.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Align the film to the corner of your tablet & hold in place. Slowly apply TacScreen.

Align the film to the corner of your tablet & hold in place. Slowly apply TacScreen.

Once TacScreen is set on your tablet, pull the orange tab off. These protective covers are to insure your TacScreen will be dust and finger-print free when applied.

Once TacScreen is set on your tablet, pull the orange tab off. These protective covers are to insure your TacScreen will be dust and finger-print free when applied.

 

 

 

 

Now the TacScreen is ready to use!!

Now the TacScreen is ready to use!!

 

       2. ENGAGES STUDENTS IN THEIR LEARNING

  • The TacScreen was created to enhance the learning process for not just a dyslexic child, but also for growing learners. After observing all kinds of learners using the TacScreen, I am convinced that this is beneficial, especially to early learners.  However, I must add that whether or not a student has learning difficulties, this product is beneficial as it engages students, helping with retention and application of information. Hear the honest and organic responses from these students  after using the TacScreen for the first time:

3.  BRINGS A MULTI-SENSORY COMPONENT TO CURRICULUM

  • The TacScreen is an easy and effective way to improve the use of technology as an educational tool with a Tactile Multi-Sensory approach.

4. ACTIVATES THE TACTILE LEARNING MODALITY

  • With the TacScreen, there is a powerful connection students can make – learning and touching.  Multi-Sensory teaching essentially provides three important pathways or modalities for learning:  Auditory, Visual, and Tactile/Kinesthetic.  When all three pathways are activated while learning, retention of information will be much greater.

5. AFFORDABLE

  • often times, outstanding products such as the TacScreen are placed at a steep price making it inaccessible to the populace but the TacScreen is affordably priced at $19.95 and they accept P.O.’s, too!

Here is the ordering contact information:

  • If you are purchasing without a P.O., go to TacScreen’s website to place your order.
  • If you are using a Purchasing Order,  contact Susan at Tacscreen@gmail.com or 559-288-6881

If you need to enhance learning for your students or you are in need of something to help your struggling learners, TacScreen is the way to go as it brings Multi-Sensory strategies into your classroom.  Furthermore, any learner can benefit from tactile learning and since the TacScreen works with anything you download to your iPad, you could create a task-specific document for use on an iPad.  Ideal for student remediation or writing stations!

Ideas for teacher-created documents for student practice or review might be:

  • Vocabulary: Words and Definitions
  • Spelling Words
  • Sentences
  • Cursive Letters

Are you ready to change your students’ lives by bringing a more Multi-Sensory component into your classroom and teaching approach? Then choose the TacScreen!

You will experience a big difference in the quality of your teaching and in the engagement of your student’s learning.

TacScreen is certainly a great way to start.  If your ready, start here.

Let me know in the comments below how you would use the TacScreen  in your classroom.  I’d love to hear your ideas – remember, there is no better personal development than when teacher’s share their ideas with each other!

Make it a great week!!

Sherri

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