Teachers Need Help to Screen and Teach Children with Dyslexia

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A state law requires reading interventionists to screen all students in grades K-2 and all new students for dyslexia. We have to complete 2 hours of training in dyslexia screening, intervention, accommodations, and using technology.

The state DOE has not made any recommendations about the best (or any) screening method.  In our district, we use DIBELS to screen our K-2 students. What’s the best method of screening?

Our teachers desperately need good professional development resources!

From Dr. Melissa Farrall, co-author of Wrightslaw: All About Tests and Assessments, Second Edition

Screening Children

It’s good to hear that children in your state will be screened for dyslexia early. We know Early Screening is at the Heart of Prevention.

DIBELS-N, now called Acadience Learning, and AIMSweb are both good ways to screen young children.

I also find it very helpful to have children recite the alphabet. Reciting the alphabet (without singing) is an important predictor of reading success. Writing the alphabet is a huge predictor of writing skill . . . even at the high school level.

And it’s always a good idea to have the child’s hearing and vision checked.

Then what…?

The trick is what you do in response to the results of the screening. Children who do poorly on the screening need a quick response.

We know early identification and intervention are key to teaching children with dyslexia to read, write and spell. We also know that many elementary school teachers receive little or no training in college on how to teach children with dyslexia and other learning differences.

Direct Instruction

If a child has signs of dyslexia, it is important to dive in with direct, systematic instruction in phonemic awareness, phonics, and spelling.

It is important to ensure that children receive a large enough dose of instruction – for example, children in first and second grade need to have a minimum of 45 minutes daily.

Children also need access to good literature to develop their language and thinking skills.

There is no benefit to waiting…

Professional Development

I think the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) has the best training on issues related to reading disorders.  https://dyslexiaida.org/  

The LETRS program (Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling), developed by Dr. Louisa Moats and Dr. Carol Tolman, is excellent and offers modules that focus on different aspects of reading. https://www.voyagersopris.com/professional-development/letrs/overview

I also like Project Read by the Language Circle folks. https://www.projectread.com/

Check your state branch of the IDA to learn about professional development in your area. https://dyslexiaida.org/ida-branches/  Some state branches have Teacher Portals.  Most state branch websites offer links for staff development and information specific to teacher and teacher training needs.

In some states, IDA board members provide professional development to school districts. For example, the NJIDA website says, “IDA New Jersey Branch also provides personalized professional development programs throughout the state . . . We also provide regional events, so watch for upcoming events and programs. If you would like IDA New Jersey Branch to provide a program in your school or community, please send your request ….”

Dyslexia in the Classroom: What Every Teacher Needs to Know is a FREE publication intended to open the door for these teachers to understand dyslexia. https://dyslexiaida.org/dyslexia-in-the-classroom/

The National IDA annual conference is an excellent professional development conference dedicated to dyslexia. The IDA accredits teacher training programs and began certifying individuals in 2016.

More Resources

Teacher Preparation Key to Effective Instruction includes the components of Structured Literacy.

Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading (Revised April 2018)

  1. It really helped when you elaborated on identifying a child’s dyslexia on time. My sister suspects that her son could have a learning disability because he’s not keeping up with the other kids at school. From what she mentioned, I think her kid could be dealing with dyslexia, so I’ll email your tips to my sister right now.

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