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11 Commonly Talked About Topics to Break the Cycle of Reading Failure for Students with Learning Differences

Categories: Curriculum & Access, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, Learning Disabilities, Student Centric Learning, Teacher Best Practices

Nearly two thousand U.S. educators responded to Learning Ally’s 2018 annual survey about their challenges working with one of the most vulnerable student populations – students who struggle to read.

On our survey, nine out of ten educators said they believe Learning Ally audiobooks enable students to better comprehend grade level text, keep academic pace, read independently and build stronger reading habits.

Additionally,educators stated these priorities for 2019:

  • Provide a balanced literacy approach for students who need extra reading support through reading instruction and access to information in digital format to reduce barriers to reading, such as decoding skills.
  • Develop skills in studying and organizing and improving executive function.
  • Increase reading independence by motivating students to read daily.
  • Encourage students to overcome negative attitudes towards themselves as learners.

Reading – The Top Priority for Our Nation’s Schools

Students who do not read proficiently by the third grade are four times more likely to drop out. The 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as the Nation’s Report Card, revealed that only 36 percent of eighth graders and 37 percent of high school students read at a level of proficient or above. These statistics, coupled with the fact that one in five students has dyslexia, indicate an alarming number of students in our nation’s schools are underperforming.

Without early intervention and solutions to address reading barriers, children with learning differences who enter school as bright and curious learners will fail to meet expectations. Older students, who never receive the reading support they require to succeed academically, will lack confidence and face years of uncertainty.

Most-Talked-About Topics in 2018

Breaking the cycle of reading failure for students with learning differences is a critical goal for educators at all levels. The question is how. Here are some of the topics that dominated the conversation in 2018.

1. Learned Helplessness

Tracy Block-Zaretsky of the Dyslexia Training Institute help us to identify symptoms of dyslexia that may show up later in a child’s learning process because they have been masked. Some well-meaning caregivers and teachers may also be pitching in a little too much.

2. Digital-Accessible Books

Schools are broadening their efforts to offer digital-accessible books to accommodate students with learning disabilities. Kristin Longmuir features lists of popular books and recommended reading by grade-level curriculum and Lexile level to save teachers time and schools money.

3. Multi-Tiered Learning Approach

Penny Moldofsky, Director of the Literacy Institute for Woodlynde School in PA, recommends a multi-tiered learning approach to ensure grade-level access to reading materials and to help students make mental movies of text, so they spend less time figuring out words and more time enjoying reading.

4. Cognitive vs. Decoding Skills – “Automaticity”

Terrie Noland explores Cognitive Load Theory and the neuroscience of how struggling readers’ brains work, explaining how they must execute lower-level reading processes such as decoding with “automaticity” before they can master higher-level comprehension skills.

5. Multisensory Reading

Dyslexia specialist Dana Blackaby describes the effective use of assistive technology to create multisensory reading experiences (seeing text and hearing it read aloud). Along with an explicit structured literacy approach, she has used this strategy to turn struggling readers into grade-level achievers.

6. Personalized Learning Improves Social and Emotional Skills

Most educators agree it is very important to give students the freedom to choose books that match their interests, hopes and dreams and the time to read grade-level material, not just leveled readers. We also know that students who enjoy reading feel more empowered to learn.

7. Science of Reading Engagement

Learning Ally CEO Andrew Friedman discusses his views on shaping the future of “reading to learn” using data, science and automation. He also emphasizes the importance of personalized learning to focus on not only academics but social and emotional behavior as well.

8. Diverse Literature

Diverse literature reflects and honors the lives of young people and helps them to mirror their own experiences. Teachers use these type of stories that are “curiously written” to help more children and teens discover their identities and feel more valued and included.

9. Growth Mindset

No student wants to look or feel different. In this Think Inclusive article, learn why psychologist, Carol Dweck, advises teachers and parents to reinforce that all children can learn with the right encouragement and resources.

10. Applied Behavior Management Intervention

Terrence Gordon knows about diversity and bullying. He discusses his experiences working with kids of all backgrounds and the many behavioral issues that may apply to struggling learners – "a broken family," "living in poverty," walking through "run-down neighborhoods," and “not being able to read well.”

11. Reading Accommodation

Audiobooks, read by skilled voice artists, enable struggling readers to improve skills in prosody, the melodic flow of reading and phonemic awareness and the ability to hear explicit sounds of letters and letter patterns that form words. Human-read stories are far more engaging. They help students make meaning of information, teach them to pronounce words correctly and improve their vocabulary, comprehension and critical thinking skills.

To learn how your school or district can transform more struggling readers into grade-level achievers, schedule a quick demo or call 800-221-1098.

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