Tips and Resources to Support Students With Dyslexia During Distance Learning


Tips and Resources to Support Students With Dyslexia During Distance Learning

Distance learning has created a plethora of unique challenges for educators, students and parents. There is nothing typical about it, even if you are a typical teacher or a typical student. Now put yourself in the chair, or at the kitchen table, of a student with dyslexia. With as many as 15-20% of the population as a whole displaying some of the symptoms of dyslexia, it’s not surprising that the majority of the public has heard of this reading disorder. While not every student with dyslexia qualifies for special education, every child with reading difficulties deserves the ability to access the curriculum. How can we, as educators, meet the needs of our students with dyslexia, whether diagnosed or not, during this uncertain time of distance learning? It’s not an easy question to answer but there are some accommodations that can help. 

Educators talk to each other, a lot. We get paid to talk. It’s what we do.  From talking to colleagues, it is evident that no two districts have approached distance learning in the same way. Some districts have given students access to teachers’ previously recorded video lessons. Others have taught live via zoom or some other form of a virtual classroom. Some teachers have taught the whole group while others taught small groups. In reality, the majority of my teacher pals have taught a hybrid of all of the above. In a typical setting (remember the classrooms we used to go to?) we offer accommodations to those kids who need support.  Distance learning should not be any different. Whether the child has an IEP or not, if he has difficulty reading and spelling, it is our job to teach them the skills they need to succeed. Is this easy? No. Is it easy during distance learning? Absolutely not! 

While Structured Literacy, a systematic way of teaching reading, is immensely effective, it is not always possible when teaching a group of students via distance learning. To ensure that your students with dyslexia have equal access to the curriculum, offer the following high tech to no tech tools. 

Just so you know, we may get a small share of the sales made through the Amazon affiliate links on this page.

Reader Pens

These highlighter size pens are amazing tools. Simply scan the pen over the text and the text is read aloud to the student. Many have built-in dictionaries. A great feature of Reader Pens is that the student can scan an entire sentence or a single word that may be giving him difficulty. Ranging from $150 – $250, these tools are not cheap but many parents may choose to purchase them for their kids who struggle. Amazon has some pricey but quality options.

Text-to-Speech

Text-to-Speech (TTS) is available on most online programs. StoryWorks, ReadWorks and most of the districts’ adopted online curriculum have this feature. With a simple click, this feature allows the student to have the passage or question read aloud to him. Many text-to-speech features highlight the word as it is being read aloud so the student can track the text. 

Speech-to-Text

The speech to text feature allows the student to speak what he wants to be typed on the computer screen. These features have come a long way. While the feature often needs time and practice to “learn” the student’s voice and cadence, it can be a very useful tool to the kids who have difficulty with spelling. It’s also a great tool for those kids who find the actual writing process so taxing that they write simple sentences when, in fact, they have great ideas to convey – if only they could speak it instead of write or type it. The best part is there are many speech-to-text features that are free for educators. 

Audiobooks

Audiobooks are available, often for free, for popular novels. This is a low-tech way for your student to be able to participate fully when you teach novel studies. Sites such as LibriVox and  Lit2Go have hundreds of free titles. 

Good Old-Fashioned Adult Time

While distance learning has added a great deal to our parents’ plates, nothing beats reading with your child no matter how old he is. Here are some outstanding book lists for all age levels you might want to check out.

I am not insinuating that these strategies replace direct instruction. They don’t. What they DO, however, is give the students, and their parents, the tools they need to be successful. 

Also Check Out:

Tips and Resources to Support Students With Dyslexia During Distance Learning


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Valerie

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Valerie is a Special Education teacher.  She loves reading, enjoying fine wines (as fine as you can get on a teacher's salary), and laughing. If she isn't in her classroom, you can find her with her feet on the pavement walking off the stress of the day or singing as loud as she can, often at the same time.

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