37 Ways to Help Students with Dyslexia Flourish in the Mainstream Classroom

As promised, here is guest post number two!

I feel honored to be featured on Rachel Lynette’s popular blog, Minds In Bloom. I’ve included the introduction to the article below. You’ll find my 37 tips over at Minds In Bloom (link below). Please enjoy and share with a friend if you’re moved to do so!

37 Ways to Help Students with Dyslexia Flourish in the Mainstream Classroom

You work so hard. You’re dynamite with your students. You spend hours preparing your classroom activities. And yet, your hard work isn’t paying off for all of your students.

You’re not alone.

Most classroom teachers have a small handful of students who misspell words, struggle to memorize math facts, or hate to read out loud. Sound familiar?

Chances are good that some of these students have dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a loaded word.

There are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings about this condition. Maybe you’ve heard a few of these myths?

  • People with dyslexia see words backwards.
  • Only boys are impacted by dyslexia.
  • People with dyslexia are less intelligent.
  • Dyslexia is caused by bad teaching.
  • People with dyslexia can’t learn to read.

Here’s what we know to be true.

Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability that can impact reading, writing, and spelling. People with dyslexia struggle to match up letters with their sounds.

Typical learners use the temporal-occipital lobe to read. Individuals with dyslexia use different neural pathways and different areas of the brain to read. As a result, reading is often slow and inaccurate.

I’m going to be honest with you: dyslexia interventions are time-intensive. As an educational therapist, I frequently schedule over 100 sessions per year with individual students.

You probably have 25 other students in your classroom, lessons to plan, and homework packets to correct. So, the question is…

What can you do right now to reach the students in your classroom who struggle with dyslexia?

37 things, actually.

Want to read more? Hop over to Minds In Bloom to read the rest of the article.


One Reply to “37 Ways to Help Students with Dyslexia Flourish in the Mainstream Classroom”

  1.  Anne-Marie,
    More of a typo I guess but number 12 is or should be text-to-speech such as Voice Dream Reader or Read2Go or Kurzweil or Balabolka.

    Your list is explicit as titled yet I can tell you it is written from a teacher’s perspective and not a dyslexics perspective.  Number 1: Making clear instructions is helpful not only to the dyslexic, but to all students. A better description would be a 30,000 foot overview, which helps if I am given a trail map as to what the class is about and where it is going to take me as a student and where I am expected to end up at the end.  Much like a trailer on a movie that is coming out or preview on a book.  Most of the comprehension for any of us to decide whether we want to take the class, see the movie or read the book comes from this 30,000 foot overview.  The interaction which is mentioned in number 2 will come easily with the 30,000 foot overview procedure.

    In your number 3 understand the “mastery” some things just do not click.  Timelines are best,  yet if someone gets into describing something with titles which include describing grammar, then you will have me lost.   Much like I was lost on Nomenclature, Vocabulary and Classification terminology used in health information technology communication.  It was just a confusing week for me at Brandeis University trying to understand the way health information technology has a difficult time describing procedures and actions in a computerized world.  This is not meant to boggle your mind but it certainly took my mind for loop to where I was almost catatonic (figuratively speaking) where I actually had to call the professor for a 45 minute conversation, of which still did not help.

    “Lots of good stuff, and some amount of confusion on this topic.  Not really surprising at this is some of the most complicated stuff in HIT.

    Hopefully the following will help, consider “things found in a toolbox” as our domain.

    Nomenclature – Simply a list of words, the definition of these words is in your head and is yours personally, not written down and agreed with anyone.  In our domain {screwdriver, wrench, hammer} would be a nomenclature.  You think you know what they are but we don’t have formal agreement.

    Vocabulary – Same as above with formal definitions for our example hammer – A metal device weighing between 10-32 ounces intended to drive nails.  Now this would eliminate a tack hammer and a sledge hammer from consideration.  This is neither right or wrong, it is just the agreed to definition of hammer for our purposes.

    Classification – Now we add grouping and relationships to the vocabulary.  A hammer if in the group of tools used to drive nails.  A nail gun is also in this category but a wrench would not be (although you can make a case that it is often use to do so, this is why you need to have clear definitions).”

    For me I was never to my knowledge oriented with the Orton-Gillingham reading program.  Most of the people that I speak to say that they are dyslexic, but they have gotten over it (as you mention you cannot get over it), then my next question is what book are you reading and how long have you been reading.  Then comes the evasive response.  But as my article points out assistive technology removes all the hurdles which the printed word created for me and today I have an unbridled thirst to consume the printed word.  There needs to be a point in time where you quit teaching the student who is dyslexic how to read.  Yes, you need to be able to go to the grocery store and pick out products, but to sit down and read a book.  I will never use Orton-Gillingham reading program or some other type of technique to read a book when I have assistive technology at my fingertips and my iPhone.  (The iOS 8 upgrade has expanded their text-to-speech to the 2 finger swipe method).  As a side note, when I am following along in text-to-speech software.  I am constantly hearing the word and seeing the word highlight it at the same time.  This is improve my ability to spell probably by 70%.

    Audiobooks are archaic text-to-speech is innovative and with applications such as Voice Dream Reader, you can read or consume up to 700 words a minute.  I have not been able to read that fast as of yet I am right at 600 on mundane reading.  On average, I am reading between 380 to 410 words a minute. All of these apps which are out there and mentioned above can read the XML files or PDF files provided through Bookshare.  Although Learning Ally has fallen behind the curve and Bookshare has advanced into a whole another level of consuming the printed word.

    The audiobooks and reading out loud.  The problems with this is that the child with dyslexia is viewing your audio presentation through imagery which is being processed up to 2000 times faster than those without the printed word.  So therefore you will lose them if you read too slow.  You too can experience this when you are listening to an audiobook your mind starts to drift and you lose track as to what it is you are listening to.  This is why were Ron Davis says that a lot of dyslexics are diagnosed with ADHD, which is a misdiagnosis.  (see Chapter 10 of his Book The Gift of Dyslexia)

    “While watching TV or playing with toys, the more interested or curious a child is in the experience, the more attention the child will put on it. But there is still some attention left over for the rest of the environment. In other words, the child is paying more attention to one thing, but is still not abandoning or excluding the rest of the environment. This is true of ordinary children as well as dyslexics, but the dyslexic child will keep attention more widely spread around the environment than the ordinary child.


    Because dyslexic children are generally so environmentally aware, they tend to be curious. Curiosity, more than anything else, can cause them to shift their attention. If they find the object of curiosity interesting, they will pay more attention to it than to other things in the environment. They automatically put most of their attention on whatever they find most interesting.

    If a dyslexic child sitting in a classroom hears a noise outside, or something moves past the window, or a student in the next row drops something, instantly the dyslexic’s attention shifts to the distraction. The other students and possibly the teacher weren’t even aware anything happened. But the dyslexic student naturally reacted because he or she noticed it and became curious about what it might be.

    Boredom also plays a role, because boredom often happens to someone whose mind is working between 400 and 2,000 times faster than the minds of the people around them. A dyslexic child who is bored will do one of two things. Either the child will disorient into creative imagination (daydreaming), or will shift his attention to something that is interesting (distractibility or inattention).”

    So for your reading section.  I think I am kind of complete on critiquing what you have written and how I process.

    You are right on about using tools such as Dragon Dictation.  This not only allows the child to be creative.  In addition, it allows them not to worry about spelling which when typing or writing.  I cannot tell you how many times I have written around a word because I do not know how to spell it.  Vince Flynn, to name a few of the dyslexic authors tend to be extraordinary authors because their ability to describe through imagery which comes naturally to a person with the gift of dyslexia.  I can tell you today when I am writing a paper for my graduate class or writing correspondence such as this words come out of my mouth that I never knew were in my mind.  So speech to text technology frees the anchors of the printed word.  This technology empowers a person with the gift of dyslexia to be able to express in words they do not know how to spell.

    There is another person, you might be interested in reading about and that is Matthew Schneps.  He recently endorsed voice dream reader and wrote a review for them.  And I have corresponded with him, and he has help me out on some of my techniques.  Here is an article about his slow yet quick emulsion into text-to-speech.  He reads at 650 words per minute and uses a white text on black background with a blue highlight of the printed word, this is the technique I have incorporated from him. http://www.voicedream.com/how-one-dyslexic-speed-reads/ this is a good article and will help you understand a little bit closer as to how we hover as we read.

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