8 Ways To Help Students With Dyslexia
Students with dyslexia are some of the most brilliant, creative, and exceptional minds you will ever teach. That being said, dyslexia is a learning disability which can greatly impact a student’s ability to process and produce in the areas of reading, writing, and spelling. The good news is there are many proven strategies that educators can use inside the classroom to help support these learners in achieving success in their day to day academics. We’ve put together 8 ways to help students with dyslexia in the classroom.
1. Consider Your Space
A well planned space can be a crucial component in helping your students with dyslexia succeed each day.
- Provide preferential seating to help students focus and see materials
- Display visual schedules
- Eliminate distractions when possible
- Seat students near peers who can offer buddy support
- Utilize helpful anchor charts and other visuals for key concepts
- Declutter spaces and walls to help with focus
2. Enhance Instructions
One of the most powerful things you can do to help your students with dyslexia is to strengthen and enhance your instructional practice. Instructional strategies that you should build into your everyday practice include:
- Present new material in smaller, more manageable chunks
- Pre-teach essential vocabulary and terms
- Use concept-checking questions throughout lessons
- Provide rubrics which outline successful assignment components
- Give self-monitoring checklists and questions
- Simplify directions and deliver step-by-step instructions
- Teach concepts using various modalities (oral, visual, kinesthetic, etc.)
3. Establish Clear Routines
Having clear and predictable routines and structures can help students with dyslexia stay organized and prepared. Post visual copies of schedules and read them aloud each day and provide verbal reminders throughout the day. Remember, your students with learning differences may need more cues to help with transition times as well.
4. Utilize Helpful Materials
Over the years there have been so many wonderful tools and products which have shown to help students with dyslexia learn and understand material better. Some to consider include:
- Speech to text software
- Reading pens
- Hi-lo books
- Letter and number strips
- Individual anchor charts and graphic organizers
- Large print worksheets and books
- Colored strips or bookmarks
- L-shaped cards
5. Modify Tests and Assignments
While not every student with dyslexia will need modifications and accommodations on tests and assignments, many will benefit from this additional level of support. Examples of this include:
- Ongoing, formative assessments instead of only summative assessments
- Checking for understanding in different ways (oral reports, posters, video presentations, etc.)
- Extended time on tests and assignments
- Having questions and test items read aloud
- Providing sentence starters for written items
- Quiet, private spaces to complete work and tests
- The ability to dictate responses instead of writing them
6. Pre-Teach Content
If you have students with dyslexia, frontloading new material can be an extremely effective strategy to help them succeed. Prior to the start of new content, provide students with materials such as:
- Key Vocabulary
- A glossary of terms
- Graphic organizers (pre or partially filled)
- Key Takeaways
7. Diversify Instruction
The use of multi-sensory learning activities and choice will benefit all learners in your classroom, but especially those with learning differences such as dyslexia. Multi-sensory activities which utilize things such as touch, song, visual images, movement, etc. have proven especially effective for those students with dyslexia, as evidenced by long-standing successful programs such as Orton-Gillingham.
Additionally, providing choice in activities allows students to play into their strengths and choose activities and learning styles which feel more authentic and purposeful to them.
8. Cultivate A Supportive Culture
One of the most vital aspects of any successful classroom is the culture that is cultivated by all members of the community and facilitated by the teacher. Creating a safe, supportive, and flexible environment where students feel free to take risks, explore, and make mistakes benefits all students, but especially those who might struggle with their confidence because of learning differences such as dyslexia.
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