Brain Links

Decoding Tips for the Dyslexic Learner

Decoding and Phonics

Decoding is the ability to apply your knowledge of letter-sound relationships, including knowledge of letter patterns, to correctly pronounce written words. Understanding these relationships gives children the ability to recognize familiar words quickly and to figure out words they haven't seen before. Although children may sometimes figure out some of these relationships on their own, most children benefit from explicit instruction in this area. Phonics is one approach to reading instruction that teaches students the principles of letter-sound relationships, how to sound out words, and exceptions to the principles.

Strategies for the Teacher

Decoding Strategies:

1. Sound it out

2. Chunk it/Break it up

3. Find smaller words inside the word

4. Think, "Does this make sense?" If not, go back and reread.

(The ultimate goal of reading is to make meaning!)

5. Use what you know about the text

6. Use picture cues when available

It is very important to give young readers opportunities to use multiple strategies. If a young reader only knows how to sound out a word, chances are he or she will get very frustrated--if while reading a text, there are multiple words he or she doesn't know, sounding those out takes a long time! That is why young readers should understand how to use all of the above strategies so they have an arsenal of strategies ready to use.

Math and Science Connection Tip

Remember to point out important stems and roots to help the student understand the meaning of the word.


Math: tri- means three as in triangle

Science: bio means water, ology means study of as in biology

Help them pull it apart to better understand the word meanings.

High-Yield Strategy


1. The teacher and/or students create a set of cards reflecting various vocabulary terms, images, models, assessment items, or content associated with the TEKS in the unit of study.

2. Students work cooperatively in small groups or with partners to sort the cards into various categories, first through an open sort and second through a closed sort.

 OPEN SORT: student create their own categories, sort the cards, and justify their thinking.

 CLOSED SORT: teacher provides the categories and asks student to re-sort their cards into these new categories and justify their thinking.

3. As students sort, the teacher should circulate among the groups asking for justifications, but not correcting errors yet. Instead, the teacher may pull a card and ask students to first justify their categorization. Rather than telling students they are incorrect, the teacher should ask students to “re-think” their categorization.

4. Teacher clarifies/verifies as a whole group.

5. Students may transfer the sorting categorization cards into a graphic representation in their journals.

NOTE: To save preparation time, write terms on the white board, and ask students to form group and create their own card set using note cards or notebook paper cut into rectangles. For assessment item sorts, present groups with a worksheet or test and ask them to cut the items apart into separate “cards.” If the card set has images, copy one set of the images for each group and ask students to cut the images apart to create their card set.

Other Recommended games to try: Odd One Out, Fact or Fib, Item Sort

For the Adventurous

Reading in the Mathematics Classroom ASCD

Brought To You By Your Campus Dyslexia Providers

Myth Buster

Myth: The population of Dyslexics is at 5 percent.

Fact: The population of Dyslexic students is between 10 to 15 percent or 1 in 5 students.