Teaching Assistants & Literacy Support

Many schools use non teaching staff to help pupils with their reading, but they need the right tools, training and ongoing support to make a significant impact. The Educational Endowment Foundation (EEF) has created this list for improving the use of learning support assistants. As they point out, the staff are already in the school and in the budget, so the next decision is to find an evidence based literacy intervention which is both affordable and suitable for non teaching … Read More

b/d Reversal

The tendency to reverse b and d is a huge embarrassment for older students who struggle to get the mirror image letters straight. On dyslexia discussion boards, the question keeps coming up, “How do we help our dyslexic students stop reversing b and d?” Letter and number reversal is something that tripped me up for years and I have evidence still in a scrapbook which I started at the age of 6 or 7. (Apologies to middle aged Canadians who … Read More

Inclusion – deep, wide and welcoming

This is a post about inclusion in schools, not just the inclusion of policy documents but the inclusion of real-life school, the inclusion that states explicitly, “you belong here regardless of how hard you find this”. At the start of each That Reading Thing training, participants read the following: 1. What did Cal tell that big man at the pub? He was mad! 2. Bliss is in the galaxy of Blob. When you reach Blob, you have to stop at … Read More

Literacy Methods: Shame or Safety?

I was speaking at a high school where I had one hour to train 30 staff members in spelling with the English code which meant no time for the usual asides, quips or soapbox moments. I found myself saying, “I love the idea of very high expectations, but…” and moving on before I could expound. I did get to share this slide, but, again, with no time to discuss the concept of every classroom being a “shame free learning space”. … Read More

What Older Struggling Readers Need

¬†Older struggling readers need: 1. to change their minds about reading Reading includes speech and sounds so they learn to use their ears as well as their eyes. English is a code which can be decoded for reading and encoded for spelling. 2. new strategies for attacking unfamiliar words – to replace guessing badly Discover the complete English code Say the sounds and listen for a word Check for meaning in context. 3. confidence All learning needs to be both … Read More

3 Misconceptions of Struggling Readers

Lacking an MRI scanner, I have to depend on intuition (ie mind reading) when trying to figure out what’s going on inside the brain of a struggling reader. Following are a few of the more common misconceptions that struggling readers live with but never vocalise unless asked. When my son was four, someone asked him is he was going to go ice-skating. He replied, “First I’m going to get my balance, then I’m going to start skating.” He didn’t understand … Read More