Entry # 1: Intro to the Darwin Remedial Reading Program – Part 1/2

– The aim here is to provide teachers, tutors and parents with the guidance and support that will allow them to implement the Program with comfort and confidence.

To stimulate confidence in this work, testimonials are being presented. The first one is upcoming while the others can be viewed by going to www.abcofreading.com, and then referring to Examples of Effectiveness and Letters of Acknowledgement.

Before going any further I would like to mention that not only am I a special education teacher (retired), but much more significantly, I am dyslexic myself. In other words, it was the insight I acquired from my own struggles that has allowed me to develop a program that is producing truly exciting results.

Testimonial

When I first met a severely dyslexic 12 year old, she could not read words such as log, hut and tap. However, within 15 minutes of her first session she was applying the Program’s unique decoding techniques and was independently reading words of this nature.

Her resource teacher had sat in on the session and was so impressed that she bought the Program then and there. She was using it within a couple of days and continued to do so until she retired. She later mentioned that within the two years she had used the Program she didn’t encounter a single child who didn’t benefit from it.

Side Note: To avoid excessive pronoun clutter (e.g. he/she), the masculine pronoun is used when a student is being referred to as this reflects the prevalence of males to females with learning difficulties.

 

Intro to the Darwin Remedial Reading Program – Part 2/2

The prime focus of the Program is on the vowels. The rationale here is that since they lack consistency of sound, they are the most difficult part of a word/syllable to decode. The other major points of concentration are on comprehension and syllabication.

It is important to keep the focus of a remedial approach narrow, especially in its early stages, as too much information tends to overwhelm and frustrate struggling students.

The Program’s simple nature allows students to experience success relatively quickly. This is significant because it develops the student’s confidence as it is the powerful forces of progress and faith in one’s ability that fosters further growth.

Re the Program’s Recommendations: In order to best address your students’/child’s needs, don’t hesitate to adjust them.

Reading Comprehension – Essential Forerunner Skills

Comprehension –  Forerunner Skills:  Punctuation, Fluency & Expression

These skills need to be intentionally taught to weak readers – the incidental approach doesn’t meet their needs.

Punctuation: Inform the student that a coma signifies a short pause and a period a longer one and that in both cases the voice is slightly lowered; the length of a question mark’s pause is the same as that of a period while the voice is slightly raised.

The following techniques develop all three forerunner skills.

Modelling: The tutor reads a short sentence or part of a longer one and then has the student re-read it. Continuing with the text, the procedure is repeated 1-2 times more. This is followed by solo reading by the student. If needed, carry out this exercise 2-3 times during a session.

There is no cause for concern if the student appears to be reciting the text from memory as mimicking will still develop the required skills.

Joint Teaching: Here the tutor reads a couple of sentences along with the student. The tutor could either inform the student that s/he will be doing this or s/he could jump in whenever the need to do so arises.

Students appreciate these approaches as the built-in assistance promotes success. In addition, the environment produced by these techniques tend to be stress-free – another factor which encourages learning.

A word of caution: Techniques such as attempting to improve fluency by reading against the clock has a testing element to it. Therefore, it’s recommended that it only be used if it does not cause the student to become apprehensive.

Side Note: Please note that if the efficacy of an approach has been questioned by professionals but is working well for your student/child (there is progress without undue stress), by all means use it.

Re Pre-School Children: Warning Signs of Impending Reading Difficulties

Warning Signs

The child has:

  • difficulty verbally communicating his needs, wants, … ; 
  • a limited vocabulary;
  • difficulty articulating sounds.

Parents, should you wish to have information on timelines for language developmental, refer to the internet. However, do understand that the information you will encounter is not set in stone.

Should your child’s seemingly limited language development cause concern, don’t hesitate to discuss this matter with your child’s physician and/or a speech and language specialist.

 

 

 

Remedial Reading – Syllabication

Remedial Reading  – Syllabication

Syllabication is the process of dividing a word into its parts. This process makes it easier to read challenging multi-syllable words.

A syllable is a word or part of a word that has a vowel that can be heard. For instance:

  • pet has one vowel and therefore is a one syllable word;
  • boat has two vowels but as only the ‘o’ is sounded, it is a one syllable word;
  • contain has three vowels but as only the ‘o’ and ‘a’ are sounded, it is a two syllable word – con/tain.

Syllabication tends to be the bane of weak readers be they 8 or 80.

As there are many exceptions to the syllabication patterns, the objective is to teach the concept that words that can be divided into parts rather than stressing particular patterns.

For exercises that allow students to grasp the concept of syllabication, you can refer to the Darwin the Dragon Reading Program or prepare your own.

Syllabication should be introduced when the student starts to encounter multisyllable words.

Side Note: As the Program also accommodates adults, it has two sets of teaching instructions as well as two titles – the one mentioned above and the Vowel First Method.

Remedial Reading: Parental Participation – Help or Hindrance

  • Parental tutoring should only be carried out if the sessions rarely result in unduly stress and frustration for either the child or parent. The reasoning here is that negative emotions not only inhibit learning but, more significantly, they can also affect the child/parent relationship.

    Therefore, if parental tutoring isn’t going well an alternative approach should be considered. For instance, parents could:

    • hire a tutor – see blog entry 10 for tips on choosing a tutor;
    • look into having a trained school volunteer assist their child;
    • use the services of a reputable learning centre;
    • consider linking up with parents whose child also has a learning problem and tutor each other’s children.

Parents as tutors

 

Incidentally, a child’s limited progress doesn’t rest on his shoulders but on the shoulders of the teaching system. A system where far too many teachers graduate from university without sufficient knowledge on how to assist students with persistent learning problems and where the some teachers aren’t keeping up with their professional development..

The next posting will address tips on choosing a tutor.