Reading & Spelling with a Visual Learner

Dusted off and polished up – because the myth of learning styles never goes away. Not all That Reading Thing students are disaffected and disengaged. Pete is in his twenties and formally diagnosed as severely dyslexic. He reads well but his spelling is a huge embarrassment to him. He’s accomplished in many other areas and can clearly explain his strategies for reading and writing. Reading: “I know all the words by sight”. (and he does – sort of) Spelling: “I … Read More

four floor flour – Sight or Sound?

Many dyslexic adults can read a lot but experience anxiety when required to read aloud, so I decided to practise reading Trivial Pursuit question cards. The difficult bit was not what I expected. “Which musical did the Daily Express hail: A fine, four-fendered, fabulous night?” The word that stumped Pete here was four, not because he didn’t recognise it but because it had been filed in his memory in the same slot as flour and floor and those three words … Read More

Ghoti = Fish (no it doesn’t)

Ghoti spells Fish. This thing still shows up on social media and still makes me sigh heavily. It also still gets used by literacy professionals as “proof” that the English language is “not phonetic”. More heavy sighing. If we’re being honest about the English language, we have to admit that it comes with a complex written code. There are a lot of ways to represent the sounds that we say. However – and this is a big big deal in … Read More

Literacy for Young People on the Outside of Education

Years ago now, during the Round 8 funding for mentoring young offenders, I sat in a meeting where a woman from the Basic Skills Agency stated categorically that you couldn’t sit a teenaged offender down at a table and teach them to read. It just wasn’t possible. It was early days for That Reading Thing and, lacking guts, I let that comment slide by while fuming at the arrogance of a specialist who was consigning our most vulnerable teens to … 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

Books for Struggling Readers: 3 – lowest ability

It can be quite difficult to find “real reading” material for those who are working hard through the Foundation Levels of TRT. They can read the decodable sentences but, if they’re not flying towards the Advanced Levels, it’s important that they have something to read that is all of: possible, challenging and age-appropriate. Here are my two favourite solutions for two very different age groups. Star Quest Several years ago, the local youth offending team asked me to work with … Read More

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