Tucson, AZ – July 5, 2011
Dyslexia is a learning disability where the brain does not properly recognize or process visual images into understandable language. The arrangement of letters, words, and numbers is often confusing, and it can inhibit a student’s ability to read, spell, write, and sometimes even speak. Dyslexia is most widely associated with reading difficulties, but it can manifest itself in many other ways as well. Dyslexic students often have difficulty with sequencing activities, such as putting the days of the week in the correct order, remembering telephone numbers, or arranging alphabet letters. Directions can be problematic, whether it’s reading a map or distinguishing left from right. Telling time on a clock, particularly in increments of less than 5 minutes, is frustrating for many students with dyslexia, and they often demonstrate poor handwriting and organizational skills as well. Dyslexia can be an enormously frustrating experience for students, and the cause of much embarrassment. Affected students are still sometimes viewed as “slow” or intellectually limited because of their struggles with reading and writing, but research reveals that the vast majority of dyslexic kids are of average or above-average intelligence. It’s estimated that between 5-10% of the global population has dyslexia, and people such as Steve Jobs, Thomas Jefferson, Michael Jordan, and mystery writer Agatha Christie all have (or had) it.

Teachers are often the first people to suspect dyslexia in a student, and early intervention is critical. While dyslexia is a life-long challenge, there are many methods, therapies, and options that can significantly reduce its impact on students. This week, I’ve selected three resources for dyslexic students of all ages. The lessons either use technology creatively in order to downplay the effects of student dyslexia, or in one case, a worksheet to practice spatial orientation skills that are often difficult because of dyslexia.

This week’s Joann’s Picks column on the Gateway’s home page, www.TheGateway.org will be featuring lesson plans and resources for teachers of dyslexic students. Peggy’s Corner presents background information on the subject along with suggestions of multi-sensory lessons to help dyslexic students. In addition, we will be also be featuring many more reading lessons and activities the Gateway’s Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/TheGateway.org) and Twitter (http://twitter.com/Gatewaytoskills) pages. With the proper coaching and tools, dyslexia can be effectively managed, and dyslexic students can thrive. They may need a little extra time, patience, and innovative teaching to get them there, but they are fully capable. Follow us on Twitter and Like us on Facebook so you don’t miss anything.

Discussions will continue on last week’s theme of Movies on both pages. All of the weekly Gateway columns and resource selections are archived on the following blog site: http://thegatewayto21stcenturyskills.blogspot.com/.
Resources covered in this week’s columns include:
Spatial Orientation: Left or Right?
Subjects: Language Arts
Grade: K-4
Created especially for dyslexic students, these two worksheets ask students to mark check boxes indicating whether an object is facing left or right. Answer sheets are provided. These worksheets were produced by the American Dyslexia Association, which offers information and free worksheets for teachers and parents of dyslexic children.

“Blood on the River” Reading Project http://www.thegateway.org/browse/dcrecord.2011-06-18.6811102329
Subjects: English Language Arts
Grade: 6-8
In this lesson, students read “Blood on the River: James Town – 1607” by Elisa Carbone and select one of two types of technology to respond to the book. This method is particularly useful for students who have difficulty with writing. This lesson is a product of Digital Wish, a non-profit organization whose mission is to modernize K-12 classrooms and prepare students for tomorrow’s workforce.

Phantom Tell Booth
Subjects: All
Grade: K-12
This activity is particularly geared towards students who have difficulty with written communication, as it provides an alternative for responding to assignments. The teacher can create a place in the classroom where a flip camera can be set up for students to use independently to document their solutions or methods of solving a variety of class and/or independent study problems. This would be especially useful for weekly assigned critical thinking problems that have open ended responses. This activity was created by Digital Wish, a non-profit where teachers create wish lists of technology products for their classroom, and donors then connect with their favorite schools and grant classroom wishes through online cash or product donations.

About The Gateway to 21st Century Skills

The Gateway has been serving teachers continuously since 1996. It is the oldest publicly accessible U.S. repository of educational resources on the Web and the oldest continuously operating service of its kind in the world. The Gateway is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and supported by over 700 quality contributors. The Gateway to 21st Century Skills is the cornerstone of the Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) which is a JES & Co. program.

About Joann Wasik- Author of Joann’s Picks

Joann is the Metadata Cataloger for The Gateway for 21st Century Skills. Her primary responsibilities for The Gateway include locating and cataloging standards-based K-12 lessons and activities for The Gateway, as well as writing the “Joann’s Picks” weekly column. Before joining The Gateway in 2006, Joann had been involved with numerous projects at the Information Institute of Syracuse at Syracuse University, including virtual reference with the Virtual Reference Desk (VRD) project; virtual reference competencies and education with the Digital Reference Education Initiative (DREI) project; and metadata cataloging with the Gateway for Educational Materials (GEM). Her previous experience also includes technology training and positions in academic libraries. She also conducts freelance research for business and educational clients. Joann holds B.A. and M.A.T. degrees in English from Boston College, and an M.L.S. degree from Syracuse University.

About Peggy James- Author of Peggy’s Corner

Peggy received her B.S. in Molecular and Cellular Biology from The University of Arizona, and continued on to earn her M.Ed. from the U of A as well. She has taught physical science and chemistry at the high school level. She is working toward her endorsement in Gifted Education, and has been actively involved in coaching and volunteering in Odyssey of the Mind and Academic Decathlon. She has a passion for teaching critical thinking and creativity in the classroom. She has done work writing, evaluating, and aligning lesson plans to standards as a curriculum consultant with the National Education Association Health Information Network. She is very excited to help create a collaborative environment for educators to discover new resources that will enhance their teaching!

About the GLRC

The Global Learning Resource Connection (GLRC) is a public-private collaboration which brings to fruition ongoing work between JES & Co., a U.S. 501(c)(3) education research organization, corporate sponsors and education agencies worldwide. Leading the initial corporate involvement are founding worldwide partners Microsoft, Cisco, Cengage/Gale, the National Education Association (NEA), and other leading corporations in process. The GLRC ties together several significant semantic web technologies developed through funding from the National Science Foundation and is designed to support cyber learning. The GLRC supports the implementation of the mapping of major collections of learning resources in systems around the world to the machine-readable expressions of the learning outcomes based on the Achievement Standards Network (ASN) modeling and technical framework. The work will implement the international linking of those resources through trans-jurisdictional mapping of learning outcomes by means of Semantic Web/Linked Data principles for teacher/learner access and use. For more information about the GLRC, contact Terry Smithson at TerryS@JESandCo.org or visit us www.JESandCo.org.

About JES & Co.

JES & Co., a publicly funded 501(c) (3) education research organization, is a leader in research and deployment of education programs based on open standards. With 20 years of experience in interoperability and portability of educational resources, organizations around the world come to JES & Co. for leadership and guidance on education programs and initiatives. Since its establishment in the early 1990s, JES & Co. has led and managed The Achievement Standards Network (ASN), The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, The Gateway to 21st Century Skills (formerly known as GEM), the Dell Academy, the Intel Student Certification Program, and Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. For more information about JES & Co. or the Global Learning Resource Connection, visit www.JESandCo.org.

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