Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sharing our Reading Journey~ helping a struggling reader

This is something I have been wanting to post about for some time now~ our reading. I have two dyslexic sons I teach at home. One is a moderate dyslexic, now remediated, while the other is a severe dyslexic.

I have found some programs that have really worked for us very well and since many continue to struggle with trying to find the right fit or the right program to help their dyslexic child in the area of reading remediation I thought I might share some of the things I have done and learned along the way which have proved to be quite successful.

I would like to point out that any struggling reader whether diagnosed with dyslexia or not can benefit from these programs. A struggling reader is just that a child who has difficulty in reading. Therapies and remediation is needed regardless of the label.

I originally started with Wilson Reading Program because it came highly recommended to me by many reading specialists and also others at our local school district. I quickly found that Wilson ( OG based method) would not work for my youngest severe dyslexic. He had been working with Wilson at his local school ( much more watered down with the implementation, which play a huge part in the success of any OG based program your using or implementing)
And he also started working with the LIPS program as well with a reading specialist at the school. ( again, the implementation was not correct due to lack of resources within our school district)

Both programs showed some but little success. It was most certainly a combination of poor implementation and lack of resources of the programs. My son also came away with a horrible feeling and anxiety toward reading of any kind, reading on his own, reading out loud and even listening to a story wasn't exactly interesting or pleasant for him. To be more blunt he literally hated reading and everything that had to do with it, which can be everything you can imagine; reading directions on his school work, reading his NDS/Wii games, reading road signs etc... literally anything that dealt with reading was taboo for him. We had a long road ahead of us but I was up for the challenge.

I started researching reading programs after having the boys diagnosed and found one program of particular interest. I contacted the author of the program and began to learn more. It was a phono graphix based program~ a program that emphasizes phoneme awareness and "sound to print orientation".

I found Read America and began learning about Carmen McGuiness and read the book Reading Reflex.

After working through this book I decided upon a program:

ABeCeDarian, a PG (phono graphix based reading method) based reading program. You can read more about it from the link provided. Written by Dr. Michael Bend, PhD.
Note: There is a yahoo group you can join to learn more and even get help from reading tutors, reading specialists, and also Dr. Bend himself who can answer questions and help along the way.

We saw almost instantly the difference between the OG Method and the PG Method ~ it was most certainly a fit. My son actually enjoyed our reading lessons and I would make up fun games for the fluency charts and it really brought back his confidence and interest in reading.

From there I could see my son needed just a bit more practice with specific word parts so I was recommended Phonics for Reading to use before we moved into the other AbeCeDarian Books. My son placed right about where I thought he would be ~ the last level number three. We have been working this book all year long and my son absolutely loves it. He has been very conditioned to working remediation programs so there are no bells and whistles, no games, nothing fancy just a very good multi-sensory comprehensive reading approach that has helped his reading decoding and encoding (spelling), vocabulary, comprehension and fluency take off.

The Lessons are broken down into these parts as follows:
New Sound that is emphasized for the lesson
A. New Words
B. Challenge Words ( looping/segmenting is used for syllables)
C. Word Parts
D. Words and Word Parts (words are broken down into affixes)
E. Sight Words ( these would be every day words like the dolch lists etc..)
F. Passages (student reads a short story)
G. Practice Activity (comprehension questions about story read)
H. Practice Activity ( exercises that works with words/word meaning/usage
I. Practice Activity( exercise that words with specific words introduced in lesson)

Using the Teachers Manual there are also spelling exercises and ways of tracking fluency as well from the reading passages.

We follow a set routine daily with these lessons. I should mention that the lessons from first glance may look short but each lesson is fairly comprehensive and for us, I find that it is best each day to go back and review certain areas. ( the new word sounds, the new challenge words, word parts and sight words) This helps reinforce your efforts in helping them become much more fluent and helps build great confidence. ( so we work Parts A - E each time we work on the lesson).

We are about half way through this program and this is the last level for this book, so we will need to move on. I had to break it to my son lightly and quickly showed him his next program he will be moving into, which he was very pleased about. Once again the experience and guidance from Dr. Bend and his group came through for us.

(I decided against going back to Abecedarian Level c due to the great amount of success and enthusiasm my son has expressed toward this new program which will take him through the upper grades as well)

Rewards Intermediate will be our next program we will move forward with. I was very happy to see how the program runs, here is a sample pdf from their site. Here is an overview of the full program.

You can only imagine how please I was to see that I could continue this kind of modality with my son - seeing his success and his interest and love of reading return has been such a gift to us, it has opened many more doors to his world and will continue to open many more doors and opportunites for him~

I am hopeful that some of this information is helpful to some who may be struggling with teaching their children to read. It can be a long road but the effort and work is so very much worth the journey.
Many times programs that are a fit and work well ~ you will see a child be able to work more consistent in their efforts and will see things begin to flow for them and their processing of the newly learned skills. If you see your learner is struggling continually after using a program for 6-8 weeks it may not be the right fit for him/her. Look toward a different method or modality toward teaching reading. There are so many programs out there, finding the right method can help make things much more successful.

Happy Reading~

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