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Dyslexia: To Spell or Not to Spell – The Sequel

May 12, 2013 in Featured, Special Education Articles by Jess

I think I am a fairly reasonable person. I know how to pick my battles and when to use honey to catch flies. This spelling conundrum is getting the better of me. Let me refresh your memory and then give you an update. Awhile back I shared a story about an IEP where the resource teacher and general education teacher unanimously agreed that the 5th grade student with dyslexia really didn’t need to know how to spell because, “…after all, they don’t really need it in middle school anyway and he can just use spell check.” I then put their theory to the test and found that if this student relied solely on spell check in WORD, he would still misspell 27% of the words. Read the rest of this entry →

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Reading Is Not A Natural Process

March 26, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Many proponents of ‘whole language’ feel that, since humans learn to speak their native language through immersion, the act of reading follows a similar pattern and exposure to the printed word leads to the development of reading skills.  This reasoning bears a false truth value.  A great deal of care and attention to detail must accompany reading instruction because reading is quite different from speech.

In speech, the listener is provided with many clues as to the meaning of the words presented by the speaker.  Intonation, pitch, cadence, and body language all provide context clues that assist in the comprehension of auditory signals.  Further, according to the Innateness Hypothesis, children are equipped with a blueprint for the innate principles and properties that pertain to the grammars of all spoken human language called universal grammar.  Barring neurologically-based developmental delays, children do not require explicit instruction to master the spoken language.  Universal Grammar aids the child in the task of constructing the “spoken language”.  Structure dependency of the native language and coordinate structure constraint are inherent.  Additionally, through stages in oral communication, a speaker learns from the surrounding linguistic environment the proper cadence, pitch, and intonation associated with the successful display of language ability, as well as, the rules of grammar that are language specific.  This presents speech as a natural process.  Read the rest of this entry →

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To Spell or Not to Spell: Is it important?

March 11, 2013 in Special Education Articles by Jess

It happened again. I was in an IEP for a student with dyslexia who is struggling with spelling the most. This GATE-identified young man is in the 5th grade and spelling phonetically, yet he was not receiving  services for spelling last year – which is why I am now involved in the IEP process. The meeting was somewhat tense from the beginning, but when we got to the spelling goal this is what was presented: Thomas will be taught to memorize and spell 200 of the most common sight words. Hmm. Ok. So, my response: Can we change this goal so that we are actually teaching him to spell versus just memorizing some words? This is when I got the death stare and then silence. I interpreted the silence to mean that the RSP teacher didn’t know how to write the goal because she did not know how to teach a kid who is spelling phonetically how to spell. Then she said it, and the general ed teacher agreed with a nod of his head: He is going to middle school next year and he really doesn’t need to know how to spell anymore. I mean they don’t give spelling tests. My heart started to pound and then she added the ubiquitous suggestion: He can just learn to use spell check. Read the rest of this entry →

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10 Easy Tips to Help Your Elementary-Age Child Study for a Test

July 10, 2011 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Helping your child to study effectively for tests is vitally important in the elementary years. When the groundwork for good habits is set early on, students are more likely to experience success and increased motivation. You can make a difference in your child's academic performance now and in the future by trying some of the following tips.

Studying for Math

1.  Use a dry erase board

To practice for an upcoming test, write a few math problems on a small dry erase board. Kids love using dry erase boards and many prefer them over traditional pencil and paper. Try out different color markers, too. Color increases attention, so don't be afraid of using bold hues. Read the rest of this entry →

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Spelling Defined

October 27, 2010 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Just what is the goal for spelling words?

Getting 100% on a test??? Read the rest of this entry →

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Spelling is often relegated to memorizing a list of words to spell

September 7, 2010 in Special Education Articles by Jess

Spelling is often relegated to memorizing a list of words to spell on Friday rotely, instead of thoughtfully approaching the subject and making it an exciting exploration of how the English language developed. Read the rest of this entry →

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