Struggling readers

January 29, 2015

Why don’t you write more about the new tests?

I haven’t written much about PARCC or SBAC — or the other new tests that other states are taking on — in part because they are not out yet. There are some published prototypes, and I was one of several people asked to examine the work product of these consortia. Nevertheless, the information available is very limited, and I fear...

January 16, 2015

I raved about Karen Janowski's wiki UDLToolkit and the serious matter of achieving academic accessibility in classrooms when the AIM-VA blog started publishing in 2014. I turn to her recommendations today as 2015 gets rolling.

Removing Obstacles

Janowski's work as a...

January 12, 2015

With IEP "season" just beginning, says the National Center for Accessible Educational Materials (AEM), two webinars are coming in February to help educators and families know the basics and determine a student's eligibility for alternatives during instruction when books in print are barriers to learning.

Alternatives to print help to assure that students with print disabilities are...

January 7, 2015

This is not a special education "story" about instruction made accessible, but it could be.

This is a story of children in an independent school in mid-coastal Maine who read widely. One of their goals is to read and to compile grade-level lists that only include books that will engage their peers who struggle to read! The effort helps many children "carve out" identities as book...

December 31, 2014

Bravo to carefully curated lists by reliable sources where the raters and choosers share what they love best.

Here are recommendations from great sources. Raters evaluated and selected books, apps, and media that were offered during 2014 or remained top recommendations chosen in the past. The selections that follow are a mixed bag suitable for various ages. Specific age levels and...

December 29, 2015

"One Hundred Books Famous in Children's Literature" is on display for a limited time in New York City. Many books on this curated list that once were only in print are available from AIM-VA partners including Learning Ally, Bookshare, and the...

December 30, 2014

Last week, I explained why disciplinary reading strategies are superior to the more general strategies taught in schools. That generated a lot of surprised responses. Some readers thought I’d mis-worded my message. Let me reiterate it here: strategies like summarization, questioning (the readers asking questions), monitoring, and visualizing don’t help average or better readers. They do help...

December 18, 2014

Headstrong Nation's "Learn The Facts" sheet underpins current thinking by this national advocacy group of adult dyslexics and parents. The goal is to achieve greater understanding and acceptance of the challenges and strengths of those who struggle to read due...

December 17, 2014

The author of Clifford the Big Red Dog series died this week. For students with print disabilities, "ear reading" Norman Bridwell's famous books by using audiobook versions is a must. Overcoming or bypassing their disability and accessing text in the way the student learns best helps them join with peers to discuss Bridwell's stories, his life (author studies), and books by other...

December 15, 2014

When high-tech solutions are set aside, a low-tech book picking-strategy can fuel literacy instruction. This list of best books in print for struggling readers is shared by an experienced special education teacher of students with dyslexia.

Truth is &151; "for reluctant readers, cracking open new books is like running the gauntlet. Will they be able to read it? Will it make sense?...

December 12, 2014

Two "Don't Miss" websites that target parents of students with disabilities, do double duty and serve information needs for teachers, administrators, and related services personnel, too.

Both of the resources that follow are brimming with news, essential information, and hand-picked experts. Thankfully, they take on —rather than leave to someone else — the most serious concerns about...

December 8, 2014

Bookshare, an AIM-VA partner in providing accessible books to students with print disabilities, recommends titles filled with humor as 2014 draws to a close. The following staff choices have witty and quirky holiday themes. Put serious books aside for a bit, Bookshare says. Make some time for smiles and joy.

Here's the link for the full...

December 3, 2014

A flurry of built-in accessibility features involving voice and dictation from Apple are the latest operating system upgrades that benefit students who are frustrated and turned off when their textbooks and trade books come only in print.

New Tools

The additions mean students who learn differently have choices in the supports they use during a digital learning opportunity. No user is...

November 28, 2014

Teachers as "learning engineers" was a theme of a 2014 webinar focused on how to structure successful learning for students with disabilities in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education using technology and apps.

"I want you to think less like a teacher and more like an engineer," Jamie Basham told his webinar audience as part of a project of the...

December 1, 2014

Years ago, when the National Reading Panel (NRP) report came out, Congress tried to impose a national literacy sequence on American schools. Their plan only allowed phonemic awareness instruction until kids could fully segment words. Then the law would let us teach phonics… but no fluency until the word sounding was completed. Eventually we’d even get to comprehension — at least for the most...

November 24, 2014

Last week, I focused on a controversy over prior knowledge. Common core has discouraged enhancing reading comprehension through the introduction of information external to a text.

That challenges the most popular ways of introducing texts in schools — such as telling students information about the text topic or exploring student knowledge relevant to the topic. CCSS proponents bridle at...

October 24, 2013

As LD Awareness month winds down, I want to share a few words (literally!) with you. They come from the 6 Word Parent Story contest that the National Center for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) ran earlier this month. NCLD received over 1,400 entries from parents of kids with...

February 21, 2013

We know them. We LOVE them. Our kiddos who fall just below that bar — the bar that the Common Core is challenging us to raise, day after day. I wholeheartedly believe that the Common Core is creating a climate of collaborative, critical thinkers that are raising the bar for THEMSELVES. But we still have our Tier II and Tier III punkins who need an extra boost.

Research is showing that...

November 2, 2012

There's a new educational documentary that I can't wait to see, and I hope you'll try to see it as well. It's called The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia, and is directed by James Redford. Redford shares the story of his son Dylan who, by the age of ten was "barely able to read and write. To say that school was difficult for him is beyond understatement." The film shares the Redford's...

March 28, 2012

All of us who have worked with young children have worked with kids who struggle. Many of us have worked directly with kids with learning disabilities (LD). PBS NewsHour is putting together a terrific series about kids with LD as part of the American Graduate project. I encourage you to read, watch and share! Among the...

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"There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate's loot on Treasure Island." — Walt Disney