Researchers estimate that dyslexia affects at least one in 10
people. As defined by
the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is a
neurobiological learning disability, unrelated to intelligence,
characterized by differences in the way the brain processes
language. These differences result in difficulties
developing skills that are important for reading and
writing. While it cannot be outgrown, individuals with dyslexia
can learn strategies to help them overcome the unique challenges
Last year, while teaching at Lakeside Middle School in Anderson
County, South Carolina, my colleague Keri Compton and I came up
with seven strategies specifically for social studies teachers.
These mini-tasks, based on our Literacy Design Collaborative
(LDC) training, use hands-on activities to build confidence and
help students reflect on their learning while they’re improving
their reading and writing skills. Here they are:
People, Objects, Settings, Engagement and
As a middle grades social studies teacher in Florence School District 1 — an area of South Carolina along I-95 known as the “Corridor of Shame” for its poverty and low-performing students — I have a theory. I believe all students benefit from rigorous, literacy-based classroom instruction, and students from poverty benefit the most. The ability to read and understand complex texts is the best way to distinguish students who are college and career ready from those who are not.
Want to see where good teaching happens? Watch what students are
doing in the classroom. Sounds obvious, maybe, but as SREB senior
vice president Gene Bottoms says, “We observe teachers
and what they’re doing all the time — but we miss a big piece of
the puzzle if we don’t see what the kids are doing as a
So SREB asked My Student Survey to see how our training in
powerful literacy and math teaching tools is paying off in the
The research is clear: Students who are not reading proficiently by the end of third grade are much more likely to face poor academic outcomes. For this reason alone, we know it is incredibly important that children learn to read well early in elementary school and continue to build on those reading skills throughout the rest of school.
It’s no secret that reading skills are essential for success, both as a student and later in life. And educators know that reading proficiently by the end of third grade is crucial to students’ continued development. Up until third grade students learn to read; after that, they read to learn. It is paramount that students read proficiently by the end of third grade so they are prepared for later learning.