Twenty Six Things Moms of Dyslexic Children Want You To Know

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

You all know me as a certified dyslexia practitioner using the Orton-Gillingham approach, but first and foremost, I am a mom to four amazing children, all under the age of five. (And, no. I don't sleep very much.) Many might not know that my four children are my rainbow babies who came after four little precious angels and a very looong wait. Isn't God so good all the time? He had a perfect plan for my husband and me. I know the trials men and women go through to become parents and it's all worth it, but certainly not easy when you're in the thick of it. So if you are one of those women, please know that I am saying an extra special prayer for you today.  My children mean the world to me and I am especially grateful to be entrusted to be their Mommy.

On this Mother's Day, I have the pleasure of sharing twenty-six messages from amazingly dedicated women who fight for their babies every day. Why do they fight? They do it not only to help them become successful learners, but to create a quality of life that every person deserves. They want their the gifts, strengths and potential to shine through despite the struggles. I am deeply honored that these women took the time to answer my question about a week ago when I asked what moms of children with dyslexia do. You are going to LOVE what they said.

At The Literacy Nest, I strive to build a bridge between parents and educators, and to build long lasting connections. By spreading dyslexia awareness and information about resources that can help children who struggle with reading, I hope to bring everyone together to work towards a common goal: successful learners.

So I give you this post. It's dedicated to all of you moms out there fighting the good fight to get what your kids deserve in order to succeed. You are truly supermoms!

Happy Mother's Day! 

Moms of children with dyslexia are...

  1. Nicole: "My child's biggest advocate and will go to the end of the earth to make sure she is happy and loves learning!"
  2. Wendy: "Will take on the big elephant one small step at a time. Will always remember you are your child's biggest advocate. Will foster the positive despite the struggle. Will find pride in progress, not perfection."
  3. Amber: "Are so inspired and proud of how strong and brave their child is while facing reading challenges in every part of their day."
  4. Autumn: "Want their child's gifts and intelligence to be seen and acknowledged.
  5. Maureen: "Will make finding the proper resources a full time job."
  6. Chrissie: "Are always in awe of how funny, quirky and intelligent their child is despite not being able to decipher their handwriting!"
  7. Amy: "An expert on their children and a valuable asset/resource for schools."
  8. Joan: "Will fight and cry and do and spend to help her child get the instruction that works!"
  9. Brandi: "Will always love their children no matter how terrible the handwriting is."
  10. Gerri: "Will be amazed at what their child can accomplish!"
  11. Tammy: "Never stop believing in their future!"
  12. Soumella: "Are super moms who super love their super kids."
  13. Amy: "Are their child's champion!"
  14. Tina: "Never stops advocating for their child."
  15. Bonnie: "Will never give up on their child."
  16. Erin: "See the potential while advocating for the present."
  17. Kim: "Understand the struggle...everyday."
  18. Alejandra: "Celebrate every small accomplishment."
  19. Erin: "Can do better research than the FBI."
  20. Jane: "Will do whatever it takes."
  21. Susan: "Resilient and patient."
  22. Sparky Mama: "Fight hard to level the playing field. Never give up. Feel like they homeschool even if they don't because they spend so much time teaching to make up for the slack in public education. Wish others understood how hard their child works to just barely make passing grades. Wish grades weren't based on all the things that are difficult for dyslexics (organization, neatness in writing editing). Wish their child got an awards day for all the efforts, not the grades."
  23. Vanessa: "Feel upset for our children and all dyslexics due to the lack of understanding of what dyslexia is and how it affects people. Advocating is exhausting. My daughter feels even more exhausted on a daily basis."
  24. Molly: "Advocate"
  25. Hope: "Are superheroes."
  26. Marisa: "Are warrior moms with undying advocacy for her children and often want to help others with dyslexia as well as building community awareness. Some begin a tutoring business and others go as far as to take political action to change policy that will benefit those with dyslexia."

Top Five Reasons To Use Audiobooks With Struggling Readers

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Top Five Reasons to Use Audiobooks with Struggling Readers

Does your child struggle with reading? It’s a common problem among children, which is why many parents are turning to audiobooks for help. They are a great tool that can make reading more interesting for kids that don’t want to read. Due to all the benefits associated with audiobooks, some teachers use them in the classroom to help their students improve their reading skills. 

Here are the top five reasons to use audiobooks with struggling readers:

  1. Kids tend to pay more attention when books are read aloud. It captures their attention and makes it easier to stay focused on the story than it is when they read silently. 
  2. Audiobooks help kids make a connection with the story. Instead of concentrating on the words and how to pronounce them correctly, they can listen and imagine they’re part of the story. 
  3. It helps kids to improve their fluency by helping them learn how to pace themselves when reading. Kids learn how to pause between sentences and how to pronounce words correctly.
  4. The narrators make the stories come alive as they change their tone and expressions to match the scene they’re reading. As a result, kids learn how to do the same and it teaches them that reading can be fun and entertaining instead of something to dread. 
  5. It helps to improve listening skills. Since kids have to listen to the story as its being read, they learn to pay attention and listen more intently in class and to you when you’re talking.

Here is a common misconception that I want to clear up right now.

"Isn't listening to the book instead of just reading it kind of like cheating?"
If you have somebody in your ear telling you this, here are some articles for back-up:

Where can I find audiobooks for my child?

Speech to text apps are great and there are even better ones coming out every day. One of the best I've seen come out in 2017 is Speechify because you don't have a terribly robotic voice. Robots reading text really matter to kids. They want real voices. For that reason, here are some of the best choices that have the highest quality.

Since 1 in 5 students in your class are dyslexic, it is imperative to have audio text. If you are a classroom teacher with grant money or planning your school year budget, investing in audio book subscriptions, a good listening center, ereaders, and headphones are worth every penny.
  • First, look into two sites: Learning Ally and Bookshare. Call to see if your state has funding money to provide one of these audio book sites in your classroom. Many have, but sometimes schools don't know about it. 
  • Many reading anthology series and text books come with audio CDs and access to read them online. As long as your district has purchased them you should be able to have them in your classroom. 
  • No listening center? Buy a pair of headphones and set a child up at a computer to read. If you have mobile tablets in your classroom, even better. I want to caution you that the voice on some e readers sounds robotic. Your child may not like having to hear a robot voice read to them. (Would you?) Always check if it's an adult with a pleasurable reading voice. 
  • Next, check some of the free sites online. Here is a pin from one of my Pinterest boards to access over 600 free audio books. 
  • Use your local library for books CD.

Using audiobooks is a simple and effective way to help struggling readers become more literate. It’s also a great way to introduce good readers to books that are above their current reading level. 

If you looking for further resources to support your struggling readers, please be sure to check my store. It's also Teacher Appreciation Week!

I'm having a store sale on 5/9/17-5/10/17. Remember to use promo code THANKYOU17 to save 28% off. I'm also having a giveaway of one Post-It Treasure box. There are TONS of different styles included. It's more post-its than the law allows. Just sayin. If you want to win the treasure chest, enter in the Rafflecopter below. I'll choose a winner on Friday, 5/12/17. Thank you! 

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How To Incorporate Movement Into Orton-Gillingham Lessons

Friday, April 7, 2017

Everyone needs movement in their life, am I right? For me personally, I love my Zumba classes or just dancing with my kids in the kitchen. Kids need to MOVE. Brain breaks have become increasingly important in classrooms as we have even more demands. I'm finding as a dyslexia practitioner using the Orton-Gillingham approach in my lessons, I need to work on this. Each lesson is packed with activities, but I know I could use some fresh ideas for getting my kiddos to move. I know you are going to love the ideas Nancy, my guest blogger, is offering all of you today. She has some incredibly useful, creative and practical tips you can implement right away. (Don't you just that?) If you have any questions or comments at the end, please let us know. Thank you!

My thanks to Emily for the invitation to share my journey with you. Let’s get moving!

It’s Friday evening, and I walk into the home of a student, ready to give a lesson. My grade-four student looks tired and immediately tells me about his long, and very frustrating, week completing assignments that took three times longer than his peers. I know this wonderful student would prefer to be playing a video game with his best friend or out playing hockey with his championship team. Sadly, Friday evening is the only time available for his second lesson of the week (and he really needs more than two).

All of you can relate to what I am talking about. Far too many children are spending time in lessons outside of school. They miss out on free play, sports, socialization – fun! For many of these students, it can be SO tough mentally to focus outside of school. Even the most applied students need – and deserve – a teacher who can provide ways to keep up the momentum. One solution to add to your toolbox? Get your students up and moving!

My interest in weaving more movement into the learning process began almost as soon as I started my own practice. Many of my students were gifted athletes. Others had been diagnosed as ADHD. Some were both! I started out by changing the keywords in the OG program I was using to teach most of my students at that time. Each keyword became an action-related word. Next, I tied the actions together for phoneme-to-grapheme and/or grapheme-to-phoneme correspondences that had more than one keyword (such as the three ways to sound out <ea> or the 6 ways to spell /er/). The keywords were tied into elaborations or, for the longer ones, what I soon called ‘silly stories’. All were acted out – the goofier the better! I branched into rules (for which I coined the term MOTTs, as they apply most of the time), and I created kinesthetic mnemonics to remember the exceptions. My students were laughing as they learned and practiced! One day, a parent observing the lesson said to me, “Nancy, you need to put all of this into a book.”

Fast forward to 2017. I have now written that book, SecretCode Actions™, in two editions – one for teachers, another for parents. Secret Code Actions is a tool – not a program – written to enhance any reading/spelling program (OG or otherwise). Movement was the foundation upon which my book was built, and the kinesthetic mnemonics are still a central component, but the book grew far beyond that. In my efforts to address the gap in teacher and parent knowledge of evidence-based instructional essentials, the information about each concept expanded greatly. Now each concept includes Clues and Alerts for Sounding (Phonology), Spelling (Orthography) and Meaning (Morphology, Semantics and Syntax), giving insight into valuable information connected to specific concepts and their mastery. I also developed activities to enable practice in an extended way, including team or personal best races to practice concepts such as allowable spelling positions or rapid correspondence recall (e.g. the grapheme options for all the long vowels).

In addition to writing the book, over the last six years I have spent countless hours (especially during my two-year Master of Education in Special Education program) exploring the research supporting the need for the greater movement I advocate. In a nutshell:
  • Physically activity is essential for all children – but children are moving less and less. We need to use every opportunity to get our children up and moving.
  • Physical activity fuels the brain and gives energy to all learners.
  • Using movement increases engagement and helps recall.
  • Increased physical activity is beneficial for children with ADHD.
  • Mnemonics are valuable for children with learning disabilities.

Beyond the research itself, my clinical experience has proven to me that movement tied to a specific skill (linked to a mnemonic, game or competition) is very engaging and enables learners of all ages to remember reading/spelling concepts more easily and quickly.

Those who teach OG are usually using a multisensory approach, but in many cases that instruction is limited to the visual, auditory and tactile modalities. So, how might a multisensory approach be expanded to include gross motor movement? 

1.      Plan your lessons so that you weave in movement throughout the lesson:
a.       As part of your warmup – Review previously learned concepts by practicing them using movement.
b.      During part of the teaching of a new skill – See, hear, say, trace and then move!
c.       To give a brain break to re-energize a student who is having trouble focusing – Stand and perform an aerobic-related movement.
d.      To ensure a student doesn’t sit too long during writing practice – Stand and perform a stretch-related movement.
e.       As part of your lesson closure – Do a movement-based game or activity that is either related to a newly taught skill or to previously taught skills.  

2.      If your space is limited, many movements can be done on the spot. Even in a small office, a student can run on the spot (<r> = /r/), pretend to pump (/p/ = <p>), or act as if trying to dodge a page (practicing when to spell /j/ as <dge>).

3.      Be prepared to be flexible. There are many excellent programs based on the OG approach, and each has a slightly different sequence. Some of you may also supplement your teaching with programs not categorized as OG; these, too, have their own sequence. Once you have established a movement/keyword order you like, if that order does not align to another sequence being used with a student, either hold off teaching the whole movement until all concepts have been taught or give a short synopsis of the concept that has not yet been taught, and tell your student, “We’ll be digging into this more deeply later.”

4.      Customize for students as needed. For example, the wording in the third part of my elaboration for grapheme <ea> (going in the grapheme-to-phoneme direction) is usually, “BREAK that guessing habit!” For one student, however, the words became, “BREAK the world’s record!” since she was on track to compete at an Olympic level in her sport. The movement (pretending to break a stick over a raised leg) remained the same.

5.      If you teach online, stand up and move during your lesson. Set yourself a timer!

6.      If you have access to a yard during lessons, take your student outside! Use the lawn, the trees, the steps from a deck to the yard itself, the sidewalk, the patio… Using sidewalk chalk, draw a grid in which to practice phoneme segmentation. (I call this Parent Edition activity, “Split and Smoosh!”)  

7.      Keep asking yourself: “How can my student learn/practice this specific skill while moving?

I am passionate about the need to bring movement into the teaching of reading and spelling. I see it as a solution to the lack of time, and a way to engage our learners. Some of our learners need 350+ repetitions, and using movement to practice skills provides unobtrusive and fun opportunities to provide that repetition.

During my professional development sessions for teachers, and presentations to parents, I always deliver this message to my audience: “We need to get our children moving as we teach the code!” Then, I get the audience up and moving as we practice a code-based concept!

Can you instantly (and consistently in the same order) recite the many phoneme-to-grapheme options for “short o”? Can you remember which words are the exceptions to spelling /ch/ as <tch> following a single short vowel? Kinesthetic mnemonics help teachers to remember the code too! I invite you to explore some sample pages from my book (both Teacher and Parent Editions) at my website:  
Nancy Young B.A., M.Ed.
Reading, Spelling, Writing Specialist
British Columbia, CANADA

Nancy Young is an experienced educator and speaker with extensive knowledge of evidence-based approaches to teaching reading, spelling and writing for both the general classroom and intervention programs. At present, Nancy provides consulting services to schools and individual families across Canada. This includes teacher PD and coaching, reading/spelling/writing 

Would you like to win a copy of the parent of teacher edition of Secret Code Actions? Enter the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win! One winner will be announced on Thursday, 4/13/17. Good luck!

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