Thursday, 5 December 2019

Addressing learning challenges in reading

Students who have a disorder in one or more of the learning processes involved in language often experience significant difficulties with reading comprehension. There are a number of underlying causes that can be addressed by structured, scaffolded instruction and practice to develop reading skills. 

We know from the research into reading delays that students with learning disabilities typically rely on working memory to process and understand words. This requires more attention and cognitive energy than when reading subskills are fluent and automatic. 

Building from the bottom up

In BrightFish Reading, we employ a mastery-based methodology that helps students improve their word recognition processing and develop comprehension strategies to extract information from text.

The reason that we start each story unit with word recognition fluency is that it builds mastery of word and phrase-level subskills to the point of automaticity. This overlearning approach ensures that processing becomes virtually automatic so that students can free up cognitive capacity to attend to the meaning of what is being read. Students combine automatic processing with explicit instruction and scaffolded practice in vocabulary and comprehension strategies as they build a story from words to phrases to paragraphs and finally the full text. 

Remediating skill gaps

There are a number of strategies that you can use with your students to strengthen their skills development. Here are a few suggestions for activities that can develop these important reading foundations based on underlying deficits:

1. Review Patterns: Auditory processing disorders can cause issues with the ability to distinguish differences in sounds. Problems in visual perception can include reversing letters and skipping words. In BrightFish Reading, you can use data from the Student Progress report to see errors in visual match and sound match activities. Together with your student, review the trials for each story unit and look for patterns of errors. Choose the most common pattern, such as missed starting consonants, and work on those first. Then move to the next pattern.

Isolating patterns of errors can help focus remediation on specific skill gaps.

 
2. Set Word Challenges: Ask students to identify words from each passage that they find challenging. Have them keep a journal where they write down difficult words and their definitions. Work on the words together to discuss their meaning and application in the passage. 

3. Use Graphic Organizers: The graphic organizers used in BrightFish Reading can be downloaded from the Teacher’s Guide page as blank templates that can be printed. These are excellent resources to assist students as they work through the questions onscreen, but also to identify, organize and remember important ideas from what they read.

Read more of my strategies here.

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