The Classroom Teacher

Working with Dyslexic Students

Characteristics of Students with Dyslexia

Strengths:

1. High verbal intelligence: understanding information verbally better than written, understanding concepts when taught orally, good oral language, sophisticated listening vocabulary

2. Excellent thinking skills: reasoning, problem solving, conceptualization, imagination

3. Often highly creative

4. Respond well to multisensory learning

5. Read much better in context

6. Can compose meaningful content even though written work may not reflect this

7. Can do satisfactory work if given ample time and help

Areas of Difficulty:

1. Difficulty processing information

2. Difficulty following directions

3. Difficulty sequencing information

4. Memory difficulties: weak visual memory, difficulty getting info to long-term memory, difficulty retrieving info from memory, difficulty with phonological memory (holding information about sounds and words in memory)

5. Apparent short attention span

6. Confusion with directionality

7. Lack of organizational skills

8. Slow work rate

Struggles with Reading, Writing, and Spelling

Reading:

a. Difficulty learning the names of letters and their associated sounds

b. Inaccurate word calling (especially reading single words in isolation)

c. Lack of fluency

d. Reading comprehension difficulty

e. Possible reversals, omissions, transpositions of letters and words

f. May omit endings of words

g. A limited amount of time spent in reading activities


Writing:

a. May reverse, omit, or transpose letters and words

b. Great difficulty in copying

c. Tends to rush through work making handwriting poor

d. May use manuscript instead of cursive

e. Written work tends to deteriorate toward the end of a written exercise

Spelling:

a. Poor memory for spelling

b. May reverse or omit letters in written spelling

c. Often can spell a word correctly orally but not written

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Suggestions for the Classroom

1. Provide much structure and a consistent daily routine

2. Provide assistance in organization

3. Preferential seating (near teacher and away from distractions)

4. Directions should be simple and brief with only one step at a time (repeat as needed) (and check for understanding)

5. When making an assignment, use more than one modality: verbally make the assignment, write the assignment on the board, tape record if needed

6. Use memory aids: charts, concept cards, visual and auditory reminders

7. Use highlighted texts

8. Stress verbal participation

Suggestions for Assignments and Grading

Assignments:

a. Shorten- if possible break assignments into a series of shorter assignments

b. Allow extra time

c. Substitute oral assignments for written ones

d. Use alternate assignments in place of pen and paper

e. Assign group projects

f. Use study sheets whenever possible (especially since copying form the board is so difficult)


Grading:

a. Grade verbal participation

b. Weight grading- more points for key essential elements

c. Balance grading system: (1) Allow poor test takers to raise grades with homework or bonus points (2) Drop lowest grade each week or take 2 to 3 grades per week on written work