Periaktoi – those spinny set pieces

Word of the day: periaktoi



Periaktoi (“perry-act-toy”) are theatrical prism shaped set pieces that turn to define separate scenes. The face of a periaktos (singular) is painted to represent a scene. The periaktos will traditionally have have 3 faces, but can have more. It is thought that have 3 faces gives the quickest scene changes. When periaktoi are used on stage, there are typically more than one matching periaktos that are moved in synchrony and highly coordinated.

The word itself is Greek, as it comes from Greek theatre. The initial base is <per> which denotes round, or revolving. It is seen in words such as <perimeter> the measure around something. <Periodontal> means to go around the tooth. The second base is <aktos> which denotes “carry”.  The word sum for <periaktos> is peri+i+aktos. It is something that is rotated and carried. Before set pieces were on wheels, they would have to be picked up and carried to be moved or rotated.

Now you can enjoy your theatre a little more when you see periaktoi moving around the stage.


6 different scenes using a 3 sided periaktoi video

3 different cityscapes video

Photo credit to Lexi Marton –

Matrix of candidate

Let the Best Candidate Shine

Matrix of candidate

Matrix of candidate

In honor of election day, I wanted to shine some light on the word <candidate>. This word originates from the Latin word <candere> which means to “to shine, to be white”. It is where the word <candle> comes from. An <incandescent> bulb means to shine within, as it shines within a light bulb. A <candidate> is someone aspiring to be in office. In Roman times, a person seeking office would wear white, specifically a white toga. Well, let’s see who will shine today.


Dyslexia Warning Signs App

APP TESTER NEEDED: Dyslexia Warning Signs

Dyslexia Warning Signs app is a simple app designed for professionals that have no experience or knowledge with dyslexia, but who are professionals that parents come to for help. This app is currently in its testing phase and that is where I need your help. I am looking for parents who would be willing to download this free app on their iPad, take the questionnaire, and give me their feedback on the experience. Feedback should be emailed to I need feedback on look/feel, usability, information provided, and additional features that would be helpful. Thank you again for your help and support.

Download app on your iPad here. It’s free.

Why we teach the difference between a grapheme and a phoneme.


graphemes and phonemes of the word “school”

All children need to be taught what a grapheme and a phoneme is and why. A grapheme is the letter representation of a sound, while a phoneme is the sound representation of a letter or letters. The reason why this is important in English is because we don’t have a one to one letter to sound correspondence. So we use two or three letters to make up a sound such as ‘sh’ making a shushing sound. Likewise there are some phonemes (sounds) that are represented with more than one grapheme. The /z/ sound as in the beginning of “zoo” is typically thought of as spelled with a ‘z’, but it is also spelled with a “s” in words like ‘please’ and ‘design’.

The reason to use these distinctions is mainly to assist in spelling, although it does also have a place in reading. I point out a great video by Pete Bowers who explains about the spelling of ‘school’. Note that he talks about how there are 6 letters in ‘school’, but only 4 graphemes and 4 phonemes. While some may wonder why there is a silent ‘h’ in school, there really isn’t. The ‘ch’ represents the /k/ sound, such as in Christmas. The teaching of kids in the lower elementary grades that there are phonemes and graphemes helps them significantly with spelling.

If we were to break down words according to not only their letters but by phoneme and grapheme, it makes it easier for kids to see and remember the words for spelling and reading at a later time.

How to Respond to “Your Child Just Needs to Read More”

Stack of books

Stack of books

One of the most common recommendations that families with struggling readers get is “your child just needs to read more”. Let me analyze why this phrase is not helpful and in some cases might be hurtful.

There is an implication in this statement that a child is not spending time reading. At the International Dyslexia Association conference, it was stated that a fluent reader reads in two days what a struggling reader reads in one whole year. This is jaw dropping for parents and teachers. The thought might be, lets have those struggling readers read more. One of the flaws in that statement is that a struggling reader is expending a lot of energy when they read. That student is often exhausted when they read for the same amount of time as a fluent reader. A struggling reader is decoding every syllable in every word. That last sentence has 20 syllables and 10 words. So instead of quickly recognizing the 10 words, they are stopping to process each 20 syllables, deciphering the vowels, determining schwas, and that’s not to mention the dropped schwas. As far as time goes, a struggling reader would need to increase their reading time by 182. That is logistically impossible.

There is another implication of “your child just needs to read more” is that the practice of reading leads to improved reading. It has been found that guided reading does not improve decoding skills. It increases compensatory skills which mask decoding difficulties. Asking someone who wears glasses to take of their glasses, look at an object and “see better” would be a ridiculous request. That is how someone who is struggling in decoding feels when they are told to “read more”. The skill that will help them read better relates to explicit, direct multi sensory instruction, or an Orton-Gillingham based approach. Another common approach in schools is for kids to take home a passage and read it 5 times for the week to increase fluency. This task teaches a dyslexic student to memorize the passage, because that is a compensatory skill they learn when they aren’t allotted the skill of decoding.

So I am asked, “how do I respond to that request?” Education is the answer. Sometimes it needs to be put into perspective. This may be different if it comes from a teacher verses a friend. Teaching others about the multitude of processes your child endures while reading helps them to understand it is not about “more time” reading. It also helps them to see that reading doesn’t click for everyone the same. Educate people about the skill of decoding and what works. Explain to them that reading is not accessible unless the skills of decoding is present. The time focus for a struggling reader should be on instruction and not leisure reading, until the student masters ALL the tasks of decoding. Once a student has mastered decoding then reading more will be a decision between the student and the child, but until a student is decoding, it’s best to spend that time in a more fruitful way.

California Dyslexia Law 2015

CA dyslexia bill
Today, Governor Brown signed into law, AB1369, a California Dyslexia Law. It is the first time in 30 years that dyslexia has been addressed.

It should be noted that there is not a mandate for teachers to use a specific program, but with the guidelines by the state forthcoming it will be expected that multi-sensory structured literacy will become the method for reading remediation. Additionally, it give parents, teachers, and administrators guidance on what is effective, as delineated by the scientific evidence.

Additional California law is expected to follow to address the inadequacies of screening for dyslexia and the need for teachers to be trained in the risk factors and implementation of these reading interventions.

Book Review: Thank you Mr. Falker

Thank you, Mr. Falker

Thank you, Mr. Falker book by Patricia Polacco

Thank you, Mr. Falker, by Patricia Polacco, is a book about a little girl who loves books with a great desire to read, but it doesn't come easy. Her strength of art keeps motivated through school. When the family moves to a new school, the girl's dislike for school grows, teasing begins, and so do the somatic complaints.  The new 5th grade teacher Mr. Falker connects with her and teaches her to read. The book never mentions that she has dyslexia, but it is implied.

See this book read by actor, Jane Kaczmarek.

Declaration of Independence From All Ineffective Literacy Methods for Students With Dyslexia

In CALIFORNIA, July 4, 2015

The unanimous Declaration of Independence

from all

ineffective literacy methods for students with Dyslexia 

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve an ineffective educational method connected by Dyslexia, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the Laws of IDEA entitle them, the decent respectful opinions of mankind requires a declaration cause which impel them to revolt.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all students are not created equal, but that all students are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are free, appropriate public education.

To secure these rights, the Educational system, deriving their powers from the laws governed by our state and country, that whenever an Educational method becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Educational methods, laying its foundation on such principles for students to seek Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that certain Educational methods for Dyslexia long established should not be changed for light and transient causes: and accordingly all experience hath shown, that students are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations occur within the educational systems, it is their right, it is the duty, to throw off such Educational practices, and provide new interventions to guard for their future.

The student who is suffering with Dyslexia; now it is necessary to alter Educational practices. The history of the California Educational system has a history of repeated injuries and usurpations for such students, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over their School Districts. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to to candid world.

Districts have refused to follow the IDEA related to Dyslexia, indicating that it does not exist; it needs to for the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

Certain educations organizations have forbidden his Legislators to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance in literacy

Districts have called together their administrative bodies in such a way that its effect, and seeming purpose of fatiguing families into signing IEPs in which they do not agree that meets their child’s needs

Districts have endeavored to prevent the families from feeling they have the right to evaluation and testing, or interventions for that matter

Districts who have evaluated students have obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing to qualify students for a myriad of unfounded reasons.

Districts have combined with others to subject us to:

Following unacknowledged rules, regulations and policies; such guidelines which do not exist and cannot be found in writing among their district writings

Blocking access to evidence-base multi sensory direct explicit structured and systematic intervention; Only allowing the use of ineffective curriculum that only frustrate our child, leaving them grades behind

Depriving our children of the opportunity to read

Depriving our children of the opportunity to write and spell that is on par with their intellect

Ridiculing our children’s efforts, by way of telling them to “try harder”

Stabbing and stealing their self esteem, a secondary effect of they Educational system’s inability to effectively remediate our children’s reading and spelling

Absconding with their desire to learn; dashing their hope they can learn beyond.

Imposing a financial burden upon our families because the California Education system has failed to teach our children the basic inalienable right to read and to write, leaving families who want their capable children with Dyslexia to be literate to employ tutors trained in evidence-base multi sensory direct explicit structured and systematic which should be and could easily be available at every educational institution in California

For segregating those children, who are fortunate enough to have the Educational system agree to help them, by placing them with peers who do not have such similar educational goals

For the stronghold that takes place when a family should speak out about such Educational rights, and declaring these families should be fought in the area of due process

We do not want the attentions that has been bestowed upon us. We have warned them from time to time of the attempts of unwarrantable erroneous literacy interventions. We have reminded them of the circumstance of our right to a free and appropriate public education. We have appealed to their humanity and have requested the disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our children’s education. They too have been deaf to the voices of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounced the efficacy of these Educational methods to teach our children with Dyslexia in literacy, and hold them as unknowing, unlearned in the ways, yet those we must over come for the sake of our Children’s livelihood.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the children with Dyslexia of California, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Legislators of California for the rectitude of our intentions, do solemnly publish and declare, That these children and students have at their disposal the evidence based and effective interventions at their disposal at each and every educational institute erected in the the state of California. Being absolved from all previous ill mannered and ineffective literacy programs for our children of Dyslexia shall be dissolved and abolished from their curriculum. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of IDEA, we mutually pledge to each other our Loves, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Written by Lisa Klipfel

Adapted from the Declaration Of Independence of the United States of America


United We Stand Against All Ineffective Literacy Methods for Students With Dyslexia

United We Stand Against All Ineffective Literacy Methods for Students With Dyslexia

Why the DIBELS is not a Complete Screening for Dyslexia



Screening for dyslexia should include several measures. It should screen for rapid naming, phonemic awareness and sound to letter correspondence at it’s minimum. Family history of learning to read can be a significant factor as well.

Phonemic awareness is a major problem with those with dyslexia. This is the idea of knowing what a particular letter, or set of letters, called graphemes sounds like. Much of the literacy tasks, book, shows that you see on the market focus on initial sound literacy. A “cat” starts with the sound /k/. The problem is that many dyslexic students struggle with middle and last sound phonemic awareness. This is why it is so difficult for them to rhyme. Phonemic awareness includes many other tasks such as phoneme isolation, phoneme segmentation, and phoneme deletion.

Rapid naming is the ability to state the name of an object quickly. It is a necessary school for reading and fluency of reading. Although the DIBELS screens for the accuracy of reading, rapid naming is a critical skills used in this task.

The question is brought before us. If the only screening tool is the DIBELS, who is getting left out? The DIBELS is a well normed test. It screens for nonsense words in first grade, but is not normed beyond 1st grade. There needs to be a more robust screening. We need screening that would involve phonemic awareness that involves isolation, deletion beyond just segmentation.

Moreso, we need to not just do screening but to look at the data and what it is telling us about what intervention needs to be put into place. Data without action is useless.

I’m providing a great article from Dr. Wolf which further explains these two concepts.

Does My Child Have Dyslexia?

Reading a picture book

Reading a picture book

“Does my child have dyslexia?” is a common question for parents who’s children are struggling in reading. Some parents have never heard of dyslexia. Some people have heard of dyslexia, “isn’t that seeing backwards?”  Children with dyslexia often have written difficulties associated with letter reversals, but that does not mean that a child reads backwards. Below is a list of things that can be seen in children struggling with dyslexia, that is beyond writing reversals.

Guesses at a word: Children may see the beginning letter is a b and guess any word that starts with b. In the beginning of their reading journey the guessed word does not make sense to the context – bat, ball, bag, bear when the word is bicycle. As they get more savvy, the guessed word could fit the context – boat, bat mobile, hot air balloon, or any other vehicle that goes. A child who is guessing is not decoding words.

Unable to Rhyme: Early reader books and many picture books are written to rhyme. Stop before the second rhyming word and ask the child to guess what word is next. They have to think of a rhyming word that fits the context. The cat in the ____. Twinkle, twinkle little star, how I wonder where you ____. Up above the sky so high, like a diamond in the _____. Inability to rhyme is very common for children with dyslexia. They can often struggle with the end sounds of a word, which is what rhyming is all about.

Inability to read a word more than once correctly. A dyslexic reader reads inconsistently. When they are beginning, not tired, they do better, but after a couple pages (or paragraphs…or even sentences) they get tired and aren’t able to use their coping strategies as well. A student may be able to read a word on one page (or line) but on the next page (or sentence) they cannot, as if it is a foreign word they have never encountered before. There can be a few reasons for the this. It’s possible that at the first encounter of the word they guessed correctly and the second they guessed incorrectly. Another possibility is that they decoded the word properly the first time, but when needing to decode it a second time they have become tired from decoding all the words in between (and before encountering that first word).

Little words are skipped or stumping. Prepositions don’t contain content, such as for, that, with.  The reader is just skimming to the next important word to give context to what they are reading. Prepositions seem insignificant to them, especially if they are an irregular word that can’t be decoded such as “of.”

Blending strain. A reader may be able to sound each sound out, but not retain in working memory their sounds to blend all the words together. If the reader sounds out a blend, they may not see “pl” blends and sounds out each letter separately. This makes for a more exhaustive reading experience.  Another blending error that is common is to use a sound from the previous word into the current word. So if the phrase is “wild frog,” they might say “wild dog.”

Loving pictures in books. Looking at pictures in a picture book gives clues to the story. It is why picture books exist. Most dyslexic children prefer picture books and as they get older will gravitate to graphic novels and comics. It may also due to the fact that they are typically right brained processors as well. You may find that when you turn a page, they put their hands on the page over the words in order to look at the pictures. This could be unintentional or intentional. One may also find that even though all the words are read by the adult, the child insists on continuing to review the picture prior to turning the page. They are reading the story by picture and most likely be able to tell you the story without ever reading a single words.

There are so many other signs, but I find these to be huge in the initial phase of learning to read.

If you want more information about dyslexia or want your child to be screened for dyslexia, contact Lisa.