As classrooms and teachers grow stronger in providing individualized and personalized instruction to every students, it’s never been more important to define and address the often-myriad literacy challenges within classrooms to ensure that all struggling students learn and improve—especially those students with dyslexia.

In “Teaching Students with Literacy Problems—Including Dyslexia,” hosted by and sponsored by Brookes Publishing, Nickola Wolf Nelson, Ph.D., Professor Emerita, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at Western Michigan University, reviewed techniques educators can use to teach their students with literacy problems.

1. First determine the unique challenge with the quadrant model

Not all reading problems are alike. Educators must first determine the student’s literacy challenge before determining how to help.

Nelson suggests using the four key profiles of the quadrant model to screen for literacy difficulties. The quadrant model displays levels of sound/word ability and sentence/discourse ability to determine skill level. For example, a student with dyslexia would be strong in sentence/discourse ability, but weaker in sound/word level ability, so when teaching these students educators should focus on the structure of words.

2. Use dyslexia identifiers

Nelson noted that while many students with dyslexia are good students and score well on tests, many still need an Individualized Education Program (IEP) and explicit instruction. Some states have introduced dyslexia legislation to offer appropriate instruction for struggling dyslexic students.

To identify dyslexia and other literacy disorders in students, parents and teachers can fill out the Student Language Scale (SLS) from the Test of Integrated Language & Literacy Skills (TILLS). Educators can then use some form of standardized testing, like TILLS, to understand students’ strengths and needs.

(Next page: Students with literacy challenges teaching tips 3-5)

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