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delayed reading and spelling difficulties


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Feb 10, 2002 at 1:18:13 AM
Subject: delayed reading and spelling difficulties

Thoughts and help needed.

I my role as special education teacher I am coming across a growing number of students who are presenting with reading and spelling difficulties in their 3rd or 4th year of school (about ages 8 to 9). Most of these students had not experienced any difficulties in their earlier schooling and in many cases were early readers.

I believe that because they may have depended heavily on memory of words that they have not developed the skills to decode the more vocab of the harder readers and have not developed the skills how to spell unseen or longer words.

The issues I have are
1) how to motivate these students to perhaps "learn" these skills which they have not needed to use.
2)what is the best way to go about this and am I on the right track.
3) how to convince parents what the real cause of the problem is and not" This middle school teacher is not doing their job"

Another pattern I ahve seen over the years is the push to get some of the younger readers onto "LONGER CHAPTER" style books too early. Mnay of the younger readers appear to cope with the basal readers and simlpe books and mums are moving them on too quickly and often not comprehending or able to decode the vocab.

do you find similar issues where you are and what do you do?

OZTEACHER

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 10, 2002 11:44:18 AM

Yes I do. Based on what you've described, I think you're probably right that these kids in question are sight readers who've never been given the skills to decode. Are they the product of whole language teaching? Regardless, what I'd do is use a strong phonics-based program. I forget the figure for how many sight words a child can memorize but third and fourth grade is where it all falls apart for these kids - it's just too many words! They need to start back at the beginning to gain whatever phonics skills they've missed for whatever reason.

I've known kids like this who ultimately are found to not have strong auditory discrimination skills. Do your students really know what sounds the various consonants and vowels make? For example, I have a fourth grade student who still doesn't know how to say the short vowel /u/ - she doesn't hear it at all. I'm using the LIPS program with her and she's making headway now. Everyone thought she was a great reader but again, it was her ability to cue in from context and a strong sight word base that got her this far before she was stopped in her tracks by harder and longer words. So if you've found they don't have strong auditory discrimination skills, then besides a phonics program, you may need one that focuses on this (LIPS, Reading Reflex are both good programs for this and both will also provide the phonics).

Some of these sight word readers are so good at figuring out the words through context and pictures that both teachers and parents often don't realize the child doesn't know how to sound out words. It's discovered when the books they're reading are beginning to have fewer pictures so the kids lose one major cue they've been relying on. I get angry because I think that most of these children would've done fine had their reading program been a strong one.

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 10, 2002 2:12:32 PM

how to motivate these students to perhaps "learn" these skills which they have not needed to use.

It would be helpful to know what skills is it exactly you see them as lacking and consequently what skills you intend to teach them.

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 10, 2002 3:50:54 PM

To determine what skills they are lacking, you might go to my website <http://www.spellangtree.k12.il.us>, go to the Site Map, and click on "Assessments". Print out the 10 assessments listed there and administer them as spelling checks to your class. By entering the data on the Portfolio Record Sheet, you'll see just what parts of the words are creating problems, also if they're using phonological processing skills for spelling. By doing one assessment per day, you'll complete the battery in two weeks.

Starting your students in a good developmental spelling program and adding affixes to base words may be a good place to start in building decoding skills. Having them create compound words from know words will also help them build words of two or more syllables.

You are so right about children getting to 3rd of 4th grade and suddenly we discover they haven't had adequate training at earlier levels. Grace

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 10, 2002 5:49:25 PM

Yes, this is *extremely* common. Except for the severely handicapped kids with genetic disorders (Kleinfelter's), every single kid I've had brought to me has fit exactly this profile - good intelligence, weak basic teaching, and frantic guessing which breaks down when you get out of beginner levels. This occurs not only in reading but also in math - same problem of memorization and guessing, and same pattern of failure when you get into levels that require thinking skills you haven't learned, around Grades 5 - 6.

Very frustrating for all concerned, and you're absolutely right, you as the upper elementary teacher do get a lot of undeserved blame when you should be praised for actually doing your job. I think as an extreme case of my nephew's school which went through three Grade 3 teachers in two years. The school had a work-at-your-own-pace and be creative and entertain the kids program in primary, and then at the end of Grade 3 the kids were tested and tracked, so guess who got all the blame. Both my niece and nephew started school as gifted and by high school were in the slow track. A huge loss to them and to the society as a whole when you think of the number of illiterates out there.

The most extreme case of this "Clever Hans" syndrome that I've met was a boy brought to me in Grade 4 for tutoring. He had gotten grades of A and B all through school and was obviously extremely bright, with an adult vocabulary and ability to figure out everything going on around him. But in Grade 4 his marks suddenly went down, so the parents came to me for help. When I handed a book and asked him to read, surprise! He could not read AT ALL. I gave him a Grade 2 reader, a Grade 1 reader, a primer, and finally a pre-primer. We backed up to Ladybird Book 1, the one with a 17-word vocabulary, and well, he could guess at those words, maybe 50% right. You see, nobody in his school had ever sat him down and asked him to *read*. All of those good marks came from multiple-choice tests (and he was brilliant at guessing), from workbooks where you circle the right picture or copy a word from one page to the other (and he was brilliant at figuring out clues and getting hints from the teacher) from retelling the story (and he had a great vocabulary and could get a lot out of pictures) and from oral questioning (and he was obviously smarter than his teachers). Watching a model Grade 1 class in this same school system, I saw that the teacher *never* actually had the kids read -- she asked questions, mostly about the pictures, and this was supposed to prove that the kids had read the story. So my student had learned exactly what he was taught . . .

You have to re-educate the kids about what reading is, and educate the parents about what the kids are missing. Many of the parents suspect already, of course, and a lot will be on your side. The only trouble is keeping up good report card grades and "covering the program" while you re-teach.

The idea you have been given about teaching phonics from the point of view of spelling is very practical. Any well-organized program that reviews consonants, digraphs, vowel patterns, prefixes and suffixes will give the kids what they need. Then you need to do guided oral reading and encourage them to use word-attack skills on unfamiliar words. When I'm faced with students who are just too good at guessing, I give them an interesting literature book such as Harry Potter that is too difficult for that to work, and I model the word analysis with them when they get stuck. The combination of formal lessons in word structure in spelling and modelling word analysis as a useful skill in reading something interesting usually works.

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Anonymous
Joined Apr 18, 2014
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Posted:Feb 11, 2002 9:22:42 AM

Thank you all for the responses. The students have come through a school where there is a heavy emphasis on phonic skills in the first 2 years of schooling. After that there appears to be less emphasis on this area. I have found that many middle school teachers(years 3 and 4) cover very little explicit phonic instruction. They tend to cover the spelling words used in their spelling text which may be based around some family groups of sounds or phonic patterns. However there is very little direct instruction or reinforcement of phonic elements. I do not believe that all children just "pick this up",

Thanks for the support It is just after midnight herea nd have been watching the Winter Olympics on TV Congratulations on winning your first Gold Medal

helen.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 11, 2002 9:41:58 AM

If you want a window into the research backing for your valid belief that most students need to be *taught* the sound-symbol connections, just click on the "LD In Depth" box and then on "Reading."

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 11, 2002 1:55:42 PM

You say heavy emphasis on phonic skills in the early levels, and yet they are showing weakness now. Many of us have had the experience that what the program says on paper is not what actually happens - perhaps some teachers, or even just one teacher in first grade, doesn't like the program and so doesn't actually teach it; or perhaps the program is taught for ten minites a day but kids are never tested on it so the subtle message is passed that this is not important; or quite often the program is implemented by the method of telling the whole shaggy dog story but leaving off the punchline -- in phonics instruction this means teaching letter sounds but not practicing blending in reading and sound analysis/segmenting in spelling, so phonics is never seen as useful. If you try modelling and expecting blending in reading and segmenting in spelling, the students who have learned the base skills of phonics will very quickly pick up and improve. If they haven't learned the base skills, these can be taught through your spelling program.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 11, 2002 5:30:49 PM

I agree with Victoria. I want to add, too, that 1st and 2nd grade phonics is only a beginning. This means that these kids can probably decode one and two syllable words alright, generally speaking. What happens with multisyllable words? Do they understand prefixes and suffixes? Even if they had a good start, and I agree with Victoria that it's debatable, there's still loads more to do. Even many non-LD kids would do well to have a structured reading program through the middle elementary years. Unfortunately many teachers think that it's done once the child is out of 2nd or 3rd grade.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 12, 2002 9:58:04 AM

At the early levels a kid can be "taught" phonics -- but if he's stronger visually, that's what he uses. I've worked with *lots* of kids in this category. They do "phonics" worksheets by memorizing which pictures begin with which letter, *not* by saying the word to themseles and listening (or they picture the word and see the letter in their minds). When they don't have a picture... or the words get too long and there are too many of them... they haven't learned to listen for the sounds and usually don't even realize how helpful it would be.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 12, 2002 10:48:49 AM

That's why I like the LMB LIPS program - all the nonsense words make it impossible for kids to memorize whole words. They HAVE to apply the skills they've learned. I'd never teach phonics without employing nonsense words.

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Anonymous
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Posted:Feb 13, 2002 3:39:29 AM

Agree with you entirely. That's exactly why I campaign actively against worksheets and "seatwork". Also why when someone complains that kids are being taught phonics but not learning to read,I question what exactly is being taught.

Phonics by definition is ORAL. It depends on sounds. To teach phonics effectively you have to be saying the sounds and having the kids repeat them and giving words and having kids analyze the sounds in them,and so on. Workbooks can be a useful practice or adjunct -- *with* the oral work.

Some studies a few years ago investigated American teaching styles in general and compared them to European and Asian teachers in both math and other subjects. It was notable that teachers in other places, Asian and European, wealthy and poor, spent far more time actively *teaching* than do American teachers. They spent 80% and more of their time actively engaging students in discussion while American teachers spent 50% or less. This has something to do with the fact that American schools spend by far the most money in the world for some of the poorest outcomes.

Some of the greatest improvements in learning can come from very simple and low-tech changes - for example, close the spelling book and have the kids figure out from the sound and known patterns how the word is spelled
and then check for any irregular letters. Sure it takes longer than saying "Memorize this list for Friday's test." On the other hand, once you've figured out a few hundred words, you have an idea of how to teach yourself spelling that will work for the rest of your life, whereas if you memorize those words for the Friday test all you've learned is a very bad habit of cram and forget.

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