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 it presents.
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 Relationships
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 result.”
So SREB asked My Student Survey to see how our training in powerful literacy and math teaching tools is paying off in the classroom.
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.