Literacy Leadership Blog

News and reflections from experts and practitioners on the latest literacy research, events and daily practice

< Back

We all learn differently, and that's okay!

Categories: Assistive Technology, Audiobook Library, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, General, Learning Disabilities, Student Centric Learning

No student wants to look or feel differently in class. If they do, there’s a greater potential for loss of confidence in the learning process. Feelings of failure can creep into our psyche and drag us down. This includes our grades. When this happens we retreat never to reach our full academic potential. Did you know that only 36% of fourth graders today read on grade-level and one in five students has dyslexia? Did you know that students who do not read proficiently by the 3rd grade are four times more likely to drop out of school?

 “I Feel Dumb”

Outside influencers can make the situation worse for struggling learners. Sometimes well-meaning teachers or parents label a child dumb or lazy, or a bully picks on a student to the point of isolation from friends. Our friend, Max always felt inferior to his classmates. He has trouble understanding what he reads. Some classmates call him names. What Max, and students like him, need to hear is...“Everyone learns differently and that’s okay!”

Building Reading Confidence 

“If a child feels bad about themselves as learners and cannot keep up with school work, then we as teachers are doing something wrong,” says Nelda Reyes, a Texas elementary teacher and dyslexia specialist. “It is unthinkable that with all the technology and assistive devices we have today that kids who struggle to read feel unsupported." 

Eye reading vs. Ear reading

There are many ways we learn new information – we can read it, listen to it, watch it, and touch it or a combination. No method is better or worse, we just have to understand what type of learner we are. The important thing to remember is that if we can comprehend more information and feel confident as a learner, then the strategy or resource we use is doing its job. Ear reading may be one of your chosen teaching solutions.  

Using audiobooks is an auditory learning strategy that thousands of teachers rely on to level the learning field and provide multiple models of representation as in a universal design for learning environment to deliver accessible education materials.

Do you believe that when a child listens to an audiobook and sees text simultaneously, they aren’t learning?

Ear reading can be an effective tool because if we have dyslexia our brains do not process information fast enough to absorb print. Sadly, many people still believe that 'learning through listening in a multi-sensory way' is somehow cheating.  “Nothing could be farther from the truth,” says Mrs. Reyes, “especially for students who have the intellectual ability to learn well, but lack the ability to keep pace with grade-level curriculum.”  

Read for Fluency 33 days consistently for 20 minutes

“Some educators believe that “eye reading” above a student’s decoding level can be counter-productive for a student who is dyslexic or receiving dyslexia intervention,” says Terrie Noland, VP of Education Initiatives for Learning Ally. “Dyslexia therapists often want to banish the act of guessing words – a strategy that students with dyslexia use to disguise their inability to decode words fluently to discern meaning. If a student with dyslexia is thrown into text with words he has not learned to decode, he will revert back to old habits of guessing based on certain letters or shape of a word.”

Learning Ally recommends reading for 33 days, 20 minutes a day to ensure reading fluency happens. “This is a statistically-proven formula we’ve tested with students of all ages and demographics and it works,” says Terrie Noland. “Allocate the time and struggling readers will improve critical thinking and foundation skills such as expanding vocabulary, increased background knowledge, reading in context, and fostering a love of reading. It is no surprise that students with dyslexia learn best when they use a variety of learning stimuli -- listening, watching, and experiencing a story or textbook. Audiobooks with human narration work the best to keep students engaged and reading consistently.”

Start today to build a growth mindset for struggling readers. Tell them it’s okay to read in different ways. Give them the tools and the time to make reading happen. Demo Learning Ally and see how you can the magic happen for more learners.  

Sign up for the Whole Child Literacy Newsletter

Join our community and get the latest sent right to your inbox! Stay up to date on the latest news, research, and practical guidance.