Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Dyslexia Awareness Month

October is dyslexia awareness month. Dyslexia affects 20% of the population in the US and represents 80-90% of all those with learning disabilities. It is the most common of all neurocognitive disorders. A common misconception is that people with dyslexia are not as smart as their peers or they are lazy. Neither of these are true. Most people with dyslexia have at least an average IQ and they work exceptionally hard.

What does it feel like to have dyslexia? There isn’t a way to really show you how it feels, but the following are a couple of activities that you can do to see how much brain power it takes to complete a simple activity. 

Reading Disability

Many people who have dyslexia often say the letters/words seem to jump or move about the page. Check out this website: Dyslexia Simulator. How difficult was it for you to read the information? 

Writing Disability

Writing involves so many skills it's really amazing that people learn to write. It involves spelling, handwriting, memory, and thinking. To give you an idea of what it's like to have a fine motor/handwriting difficulty, try writing with your non-dominant hand.  You can do it, but it's difficult. You probably struggle with stamina. I doubt you would be able to to write with your non-dominant hand all day. If the problem is spelling/reading related, try to answer this question by writing a paragraph. 

What is your favorite animal?

Rules: You can only use your non-dominant hand. You cannot use the following letters in your writing: a, r, t. You cannot use words with more than 2 syllables. 

I'm sure you have great ideas, but how did these rules limit the knowledge you were able to share? Many times our students with dyslexia cannot  fully share their knowledge when writing. 

Math Disability

Each letter of the alphabet is assigned a number. A=1, B=2, and so on. You have 1 minute to solve the following problems but you cannot make a cheat sheet with the number each letter represents.

1. A+H= 

2. B+Y=

3. G+K=

4. Z+Z=

5. X-F=

6.  V-P=

7. L+R=

8. H-B=

9. M+N=

10. D+U=

How much mental stamina did these tasks require? Could you keep this level of focus all day? Where you really able to show your level of knowledge? How did it make you feel?

Keep these in mind as you work with students who have any type of a disability. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Explicit Syllable Strategy™

Holy Moly! This has been a year! I just finished up my 23rd year of teaching special education and it was a doozy! I am so lucky that I have spent all of my years at the same school and I don't plan on moving until I retire. Has anyone else there spent their entire teaching career in one school? I think if you are lucky enough to fall in love with the culture of your school you are a very blessed teacher.

I have been working on something exciting over the last few years. It is called The Explicit Syllable Strategy™. I have been using it with my students who can understand the content-specific vocabulary and skills but cannot decode grade-level text independently. Since I have been using this strategy in my classroom, I have moved several students out of my special education reading support group and back into their grade-level classroom reading groups.


I feel like I have hit that golden button for my students. When my kids no longer need my support, then my job is complete.

So, do you want to know my secret? You can implement The Explicit Syllable Strategy in less than two minutes and be on the way to unlocking reading for your students! This strategy should be used with a strong phonemic awareness and phonics instruction. The science of reading has taught us that the majority of students who are reading below grade level do not have a strong foundation in phonemic awareness skills and these skills are crucial for kids to read.

When students struggle with decoding multi-syllable words fluently it greatly impacts their reading. They need to practice decoding multi-syllable words in isolation but also use The Explicit Syllable Strategy to modify their reading texts by underlining the syllables in each word. This is an example. 

It will take less than a minute to mark up a text like this for a student, but it helps their brains ‘see' the different syllables. As they practice reading texts that have been segmented into syllables for them, their brains will begin to make the connection between syllables, sounds, and the graphemes that make them up and they will begin reading more fluently. This modification allows students to still read rigorous texts while working to master reading multi-syllable words. The combination of The Explicit Syllable Strategy™, teaching phonemic awareness skills, and the big word strategy will increase your students’ reading ability significantly.  

Want the materials without the hassle of making them yourself? I've got you covered! 

The Explicit Syllable Strategy™ is owned and created by One Room Schoolhouse.

Monday, May 16, 2022

Finish the Year Strong

AHHHHH! It's the end of the year and we are all exhausted! What are we going to do? My nerves are shot. Patience is gone. Kids are FULL of energy and ready for summer break. (Who isn't?) The problem is we still have a couple of weeks of school left. 

So what's a teacher to do?

How do you get through the end of the year? 

Games. Kids LOVE games. With a couple of pieces of construction paper, markers, and scissors, you are ready to go. 

Start off by asking kids what their favorite board games are and what makes them so great. After a discussion, give students a piece of paper to plan out their game board. 

Here are the steps that students need to follow:
1. Decide the theme of the game (space, favorite character, cars, etc.)
2. Design the game board and add lots of colors. They will also need to make game tokens for each player. They may need to make dice or a spinner to determine how many spaces the player moves.
3. Figure out the rules and write them down.
4. Create questions. (This is the educational part. Students cut cards out of construction paper. They write the question on one side and the answer on the bottom/back of the card.)
5. After students complete their games, they celebrate with a game day. They take turns playing each other's games and reviewing the content they have learned this year.

You can take the best games and laminate them to use in your class next year. This is a great item for your workstations/centers!! 

This game is played like Shoots and Ladders. The student had to write all of his numbers within the square. After he added the shoots and ladders, he asked for help making the game tokens. He decided that each player would roll 2 dice and add them up. Then, they would move that number of spaces. Super simple, but lots of fun!

This game is played like Sorry. Students have to answer a math fact question. If they are correct they roll a die and move that number of spaces. There are also special cards so players can steal each other's position on the board.

Hope these games give you some inspiration.

Hang in there. It's almost summer!


Sunday, January 30, 2022

Ad-Free YouTube Links

Do you worry the ads on YouTube aren't appropriate for your students? I know an easy trick to eliminate these ads. You can use the link in your learning management system, Google Slides, or programs like Seesaw.

First, go to YouTube and find the video you want your students to watch. Click 'share' at the bottom of the video.

Next, click 'embed.'

This is the screen that pops up. You will want to highlight the part of the link that begins with https until just before the quote marks.

Here is a closer view of the code. Notice the section that I have highlighted. 

After you have the link highlighted, you can copy and paste it where your students can access it. 

Here's what your desktop will look like with the new, ad-free link. The video fills the entire screen.

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