Accommodations for Dyslexia

Strategies for helping one student with dyslexia in science

Study Question: Can regular discussion of homework problems help a student with dyslexia increase their homework and test scores?

Selecting a Focus

The student, Shana (this is not her real name), was diagnosed with dyslexia during third grade in a school in Wyoming, and moved to Manhattan at the beginning of this semester. According to the Mayo Clinic (2014), "Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading due to problems identifying speech sounds and learning how they relate to letters and words." She had a 504 plan in Wyoming, but unfortunately, we did not have access to this plan. Special attention to Shana's progress as she adjusted to the school and the course work was given, as we had little idea of where she was in the science curriculum in Wyoming and what her normal academic progress is. Shana began the semester with a very rocky start; of the 12 assignments in the first unit, she turned in four of them late, two of which were both late and incomplete, failed to turn in one assignment completely, and had to correct both quizzes in order to obtain passing grades. When Shana scored a 45.6% on the unit post-assessment, it was determined that something had to be done to help her succeed in science. It was decided to try to focus on her homework, as comprehending and completing the homework would hopefully help her increase her test score, as well.

Collecting Data

Data was collected in the form of grades; Infinite Campus is used to record grades in the classroom, and regular referral to the overall grade and discussion with Shana about her grades occurred. No strategies other than discussing grades was used during the first unit, so all grades from the first unit of the third quarter are included as pre-strategy data. The strategies discussed below were used during the second unit of the third quarter, so all grade data from that quarter is included as data, as well. Most data was collected solely through grades, however, Shana was encouraged to keep track of her own successes and share why she thought she did well on those assignments, as well.
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Studying the Professional Literature

Research was done through the Kansas State University Library database and through a Google Scholar search. Much of the research showed that students should be given extra time on homework, modified homework, the option to answer verbally, or allowing students to use a text reader or a partner (Morin, 2015). Another suggestion was to preview and review all concepts (Stevens, 2013).

After the research was done, it was decided that the student teacher would work with Shana during homeroom to try and increase her success. The procedure was to meet with Shana in homeroom before any homework due dates and go over the assignment with her, acting as both a text reader and a partner, which were suggested strategies. This was chosen because, as the teacher for that unit, the student teacher knew all of the information and the correct answers and was best able to explain the concepts in a variety of ways until Shana understood. As a part of this, each question would be read to the student and the student would be allowed to answer verbally, which is another suggested strategy from Morin's list (2015). Reading the questions allowed to Shana was done because, according to Korbey (2013) who was quoting Trelease (n.d.), "a child's reading level doesn't catch up to his listening level until about the eighth grade." While Shana is currently in the 8th grade, this statement referred to all students, so it is even more vital to read aloud to students with learning disabilities such as dyslexia. This strategy was used during the entirety of the student teacher's unit.

Action Plan

Shana was met with during homeroom the day before each homework assignment was due, and the student teacher read through the assignment with her and helped allowed her to talk through it verbally and correct any misconceptions.
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Organizing Data and Data Overview

Before Implementation Turn-In Rate and Test Scores

Out of 12 total graded works, 4 were late, 2 if which were incomplete, and one was missing.

Shana received a score of 21/30 on the first quiz, which was corrected from an original 7/30 on the quiz.

Shana received a score of 26/30 on the second quiz.

Shana turned in her review questions both late and incomplete, and received a 41/90 (a 45.6%) on the unit assessment.

After Implementation Turn-In Rate and Test Scores

Out of a total of 10 graded works, two were late and one was missing. All turned in work was complete.

Shana received a score of 6/10 on the first quiz, and a score of 14.5/15 on the second. Neither was corrected.

Shana turned in the review questions on time and mostly complete; she received a 90% on the unit assessment.

Analyzing and Interpreting Data

The unit covered four weeks of Wave Science, and included 10 assignments, two quizzes, and a final assessment, which is very close to the same as the first unit taught to Shana this semester. Before each assignment was due, Shana came in to go over the assignment. The questions were read to her, and she often answered them out loud before writing down answers. Shana turned in two of these assignments late, and failed to turn in one assignment at all. Shana also only got a 6/10 on the first quiz; however, she then got a 14.5 out of 15 on the second quiz, and a 45/50 on the unit post-assessment.

Despite the continued rate of late assignments, Shana did not have any incomplete assignments, and she scored a 90% on the final assessment, which is twice as high as the 45.6% she scored on the final assessment of the first unit. Therefore, although the read aloud and partnership did not help Shana get her assignments turned in on time, it seems that the strategies did help her be more successful in comprehending the information and being able to meet the objectives of the unit. This increase in comprehension is probably due to the fact that her listening level is well above her reading level at this time, so listening to the questions as they were asked on the homework assignments made it easier to comprehend, which then made answering the questions on the final assessment easier because she had already answered them once on the homework.

When asked about her success on the unit assessment, Shana stated that she thought that this unit made more sense than the last one; she said that she didn't understand electricity and that's also why she didn't bother to turn in the homework that she didn't understand what to do. Shana also said that she thought that getting help on the homework helped her understand the test questions.

Further Research

New strategies to try could include using text-to-speech software and an isolated space for test day, allowing Shana to turn in her homework during the homeroom meetings in order to increase homework timeliness, and turning responsibility for scheduling and following through with the read aloud and partnership on homework over to Shana. It was also noticed as the unit continued that at first Shana did not complete any of the homework until homeroom, but as the unit continued, Shana had some of the questions answered before homeroom and just wanted assistance understanding the questions she couldn't do on her own. This independence should be encouraged, and hopefully Shana will eventually deem this strategy unnecessary as she can succeed on the science homework on her own.

Kara Schnake

Student Teacher

References

Korbey, H. (2013). Why reading aloud to older children is valuable. Retrieved from: http://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/05/14/why-reading-aloud-to-older-children-is-valuable/.


Mayo Clinic (2014). Diseases and conditions: Dyslexia. Retrieved from: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/dyslexia/basics/definition/con-20021904.


Morin, A. (2015). At a Glance: Classroom Accommodations for Dyslexia. Retrieved from: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/at-a-glance-classroom-accommodations-for-dyslexia.


Stevens, A. (2013). 8 classroom accommodations for dyslexic students (that benefit all students). Retrieved from: http://www.readinghorizons.com/blog/post/2013/04/12/8-dyslexia-accommodations-for-students.aspx