3 Easy Ways To "Gamify" Your Structured Literacy Lessons

One of the biggest misconceptions and things that I hear, and you may as well, is that the science of reading is a new fad or just phonics. The reality is that the instruction that we have used for years with dyslexic learners is the "science of reading" come to life. The collection of research that is the science of reading is not new. We have decades of research and evidence about teaching reading, and we know that it is a complex process with many different components. Structured literacy covers all of the elements of literacy instruction. 

The umbrella term, Structured Literacy, was coined by the International Dyslexia Association to describe effective reading instruction that is essential for students with dyslexia and beneficial for all. Structured literacy (SL) encompasses more than phonics. It addresses language at all levels: sounds, spellings for sounds and syllables, patterns and conventions of the writing system, meaningful parts of words, sentences,...

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Knowing the Hidden Impacts of Dyslexia

dyslexia resources Oct 28, 2022

Even though the official Dyslexia Awareness Month is ending, it remains a daily topic of conversation and concern for those impacted by dyslexia. I encourage you to continue discussing dyslexia, reading instruction, and the science behind learning. We want to bridge the research to our instructional practices and address social and emotional wellbeing to provide the best outcomes for dyslexia learners. For this reason, I want to revisit this blog which addresses the hidden impacts of dyslexia. 

As educators and parents, we often hyper-focus on the academic components surrounding reading and writing for dyslexic learners. This makes sense because dyslexia shows itself in the educational setting. And yet, there is so much more that dyslexia impacts. Unknown to most people, many impacts of dyslexia reside below the surface, hidden from view, yet their effects can be profound.

This image  is a powerful reminder that what you see isn't the whole picture. This is...

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Did You Know That October is Dyslexia Awareness Month?

dyslexia resources Oct 07, 2022

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month! Do you know that dyslexia is a topic around the globe? It's true! 

Dyslexia impacts people across all languages, races, socio-economic statuses, and genders. While the prevalence rates for dyslexia may vary somewhat across writing systems, there appears to be core deficits across writing systems in the area of phonological deficits (Goswami, 2015). 

I have had conversations with people worldwide regarding dyslexia and its instructional and emotional impacts on our children. We are all seeking the best ways to help close the reading gap and meet student needs in a way that preserves their emotional well-being and sets them up for success.

Unfortunately, there are still people and scholars that think dyslexia does not exist. To that, I say, look at the brain neuroscience, the fMRI, and the years and years of research about dyslexia, and then #saydyslexia because our children deserve to have educators and our society understand their...

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Why Use Audiobooks with Dyslexic Learners?

books reading resources Jul 08, 2022

The topic of audiobooks comes up often and is an accommodation that I recommend for all of my students. Audiobooks have gained popularity among the general population, with 1.3 billion dollars in 2020. While audiobooks are an excellent tool for anyone, they provide additional benefits for those with dyslexia or other learning differences. We know the importance of becoming literate in our society, but how do audiobooks weigh into our children's reading goals? Let's dig into some of the benefits and possible obstacles.

Benefits of Audiobooks

Audiobooks provide access to grade-level and higher-level text

Why is this important? We need to provide students with the tools to access the curriculum. Audiobooks provide this bridge. Students are given audiobook access for curriculum reading for multiple reasons. 

Audiobooks level the playing field

Audiobooks are an accommodation that helps ensure our dyslexic learners can access the curriculum. It levels the playing field as students...

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How To Build Phonemic Awareness In A Fun Way

If you have read the National Reading Panel (2000), or one of the many other research reviews, you may have heard the terms phonological awareness and phonemic awareness. These lay the foundation upon which letter-sound correspondences are built.
English is a morphophonemic language. The alphabetic orthography, or spelling system in the English language, represents both meaning and sound. Therefore, we can connect the terms phonological awareness and phonemic awareness to the Greek combining form "phon" meaning  'sound".  
Phonological awareness and phonemic awareness are parts of the larger phonological processing umbrella, which "includes many aspects of speech and language perception and production" (Scarborough & Brady, 2002). Under this larger umbrella of phonological processing, we know that phonological awareness provides the underpinnings for reading and writing. Here is a simplified breakdown of phonological awareness.
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10 Books Every Dyslexia Educator Should Own

books dyslexia resources Mar 18, 2022

If you are anything like me, you ran out of space on your bookshelf a long time ago but can't stop buying books! Seriously though, as educators, I believe that we are lifelong learners, and therefore, I tend to seek out books that further my knowledge and help me improve my craft of teaching. 

If you follow me on Instagram, you will often see me sharing books for educators and students. In October, I shared my list of books every dyslexia educator should own. Read it HERE.

Now, I'm sharing ten more books about literacy, writing, learning, and dyslexia that I think are worth the reading. 

Working memory is a topic that often comes up in meetings with parents and schools surrounding dyslexia. Some children have a learning profile that indicates a need for further assistance with working memory. You can catch an entire episode on working memory on the Together in Literacy podcast. Find the episode HERE.

 The first two books I recommend are an excellent way to...

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Is there a link between reversals and dyslexia?


While we want to be alert for the early indicators of dyslexia, there continues to be some misunderstandings surrounding reversals and dyslexia. One of the most frequent questions I receive from parents and educators alike is, "Is there a link between reversals and dyslexia?" 

While many people identify reversals as a dyslexic trait, this is not a characteristic associated with dyslexia. There is no evidence that dyslexic minds see or read letters or words backward. In addition, dyslexia is not caused by a problem with vision but is linked to a phonological processing deficit. See the International Dyslexia Association definition on dyslexia below . 

Reversals and Handwriting Development

Many children reverse letters as they begin to learn to read and write. As students learn letters and handwriting skills, we may see letter reversals until age 7 to 8. This is a normal age range for children to still have some reversals in their handwriting. Backward writing and reversals...

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What Research Says About Articulatory Awareness in Reading Instruction

This week on Instagram when I shared the alphabet chart I use with my early learners, including mouth formation cues and corresponding keywords, I received a question about the research behind articulatory awareness regarding reading instruction. It is so important that our work be grounded in current research, so I appreciated this question and want to address it here. 

In my work with students, we focus on the speech-to-print approach. I explicitly teach phonemes, or those individual speech sounds, to students. We begin by introducing the sound and connection to the mouth formation. Research shows that our brain makes memory traces of sounds by paying attention to our mouth formations. When we begin with this sound, we're laying the foundation for knowledge of graphemes. This articulatory awareness anchors our phoneme-grapheme correspondences.

Obviously, I am a big proponent of beginning my literacy instruction by focusing on speech production and then linking that...

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Top Teacher Tips for Parents To Help Students Study at Home

dyslexia resources Jan 13, 2022

This week, I'm sharing 7 tips to help children study at home. As a teacher or practitioner, you might not find this post relevant, yet it is. Not only will these tips help parents who read this post, but as educators, we can continue to support our students by suggesting these strategies be put in place at home as we work with families in establishing good study skills that align with students' needs and that move learning forward.

Use Time Wisely

Setting aside designated time to work on assignments, papers, etc. is a good habit for all students but can be especially needed for students who require extra time to process information or complete tasks. Setting a timer and working on an assigned task within that time frame can help keep students focused on the task at hand. If the timer dings before the job is complete, take a mini-break or continue working if appropriate.

Ask for Assignments Ahead of Time 

Just as our children may need extra time on assignments and tests...

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How to Improve Metacognition Skills in Our Students

problem solving resources Jan 06, 2022

Have you ever run up against something that isn't working? I've seen this in my students, other adults, and even myself. It is frustrating for all of us.

When this happens, it's helpful to take a step back. In our fast-paced world, we often miss the importance of stepping back, reflecting, analyzing, and altering approaches so that we may move forward. 

The other day one of my kids was trying to get into the barn to feed the horses. There is a latch and chain that secures one of the doors, and it needs to be unlatched before the door will open. I was in the garden, and I could hear loud banging as she tried to push the door open without unlocking the chain. 

I could hear her frustration. As I walked over to help her, I saw that she was just repeating the same movement of pushing the gate forward when she just needed to pull the gate back to unlock it. 

It made me think of our students and classrooms where we are sometimes just pushing forward, hitting a wall,...

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