Appropriate Intervention Does not Include a Curling Iron

It's important that your teacher have the right tools

It’s important that your teacher have the right tools

When comparing tools, a mechanic cannot fix a car with a curling iron and a glue gun. A mechanic could try to glue on the fuel pump or the spark plugs, but they would not get very far. It is similar to a teacher not having the tools necessary to teach a child to read. A dyslexic child needs a highly specialized technique, called Orton-Gillingham, in order to read effectively. Without that technique, or tool, they will be ineffective, as the mechanic with the a curling iron.

It’s important that the intervention is evidence-based and Orton-Gillinghma has over 30 years over research and effectiveness. Ask your teacher about their training. See if there is the possibility that they can be trained, as this will be the most effective way for your child to have reading remediation.

When -ed Puts a Kink in Your Spelling

The three sounds of -ed

The three sounds of -ed

When adding the suffix -ed to make a past tense, you might assume it always makes an /id/ sound, but in reality there are three sounds of -ed. It can say /id/ as in wanted. It can also make the /t/ sound as in looked. The third sound is /d/ as in called. When we converse we don’t think about the different sounds we make when talking in past tense, but we need to when we convert it to writing.

It may seem arbitrary when we say -ed one way or another but there is actually a very systematic way we say each of these sounds. The /id/ comes out when the end of a word is /t/ or /d/. I call them the Ted words, because they are either t or d.

The /t/ sound comes from the sounds /s/, /k/, /p/, /f/, /sh/, /ch/, /x/, unvoiced /th/. These are sounds that are called “unvoiced”.  These sounds are said in our mouth and not in our throat. With words that end with these sounds, we naturally say the /t/ sound when making something past tense with -ed. I teach my kids this sentence to help them remember the unvoiced sounds. Skip has the fishchex. Remember that these are sounds are not letters. So, if you have a soft c that says /s/, or if you have the unusual gh with the /f/ sound, you would say the /t/ sound – fenced, laughed.

The /d/ sound comes from the voiced sounds, essentially all the other sounds not listed above. Instead of listing off 11 sounds, I usually just teach the first two and by default all the others will be /d/ sound.

The importance of teaching the 3 sounds of -ed, is mainly for spelling. Spelling -ed is not the complicated piece, it is distinguishing it from words that end in: -pt, -ct, -ft, -st, -nd, -rd, -ld. It is only these 7 endings in which older students seem to get confused. You will see words spelled: malld, reflecked. When a student is spelling in this manner, this is the concept that has eluded them.

It’s important for them to understand the concept of “passed tense”, but what throws a wrench in things with words like swept. Although there are only a few past tense exceptions, those spelling patterns can be taught as well. I find that this concept plagues the older student often as words get longer. They like the fact that it is only 7 endings to watch out for. Giving older students hope for spelling is so important. With exposure to the explicit rules and review they can master this concept!

Independence in Checking Your Writing for a Dyslexic Student

How you check your writing

How you check your writing

When a student with dyslexia writes, they use a lot of brain power to get their thoughts onto the page. Most dyslexic students are unable to process their thought, capitals, punctuation and spelling all in one moment as they put pen to paper. Most students have to review each process separately. I like to use the acronym: CHOPS.

C- capitals. Go back to see where capitals need to be? Where are there capitals that don’t belong?

H- handwriting. Is it neat? Are your o’s closed? Are your t’s crossed? Can you make out each letter?

O- out loud. Read your writing out loud to make sure it sounds right.

P- punctuation. Do your sentences have a punctation at the end? Any commas, or quotation marks needed?

S- spelling/sight words. Do all of your words look right? Do you need to look any of them up?

This simple acronym can help your writing become easier to read by others, especially teachers and writing critics.

An older child with dyslexia using Orton-Gillingham approach

It is possible to use the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach with an older student with dyslexia. An older student has the advantage of more schooling and exposure to reading and spelling rules. The problems is that some of them have stuck and some of them have not. The OG method allows for the systematic review of the phonological process to see areas of need.

I love to help older students because it is like being a detective in a real world mystery (where no death has occurred). The OG method give me a secret treasure map of where to find the treasures needed at every turn of reading and spelling. The students come with some negative experiences related to reading and writing. I have always felt that half of my job is keeping them positive, while the other half is teaching the actual skills they need. We work together to gain mastery over the weak area. The students are always amazed at some of the things that they never learned in elementary, middle school or even high school. Sometimes it is something they have never learned, and sometimes it is looking at it from a new perspective.

If you would like me to work with your older student, contact me.

When to add an -es to word rather than just an s

Add -ed when word ends in s, ss, sh, ch, x, z

When to add -es

What is the rule about when to add an “es” to the end of a word rather than just an “s”? It may be simple when we talk, if we are native English speakers, but when writing why does the “es” happen? The reason it happens is purely for sound.

The -es is added to words that end in s, ss, sh, x, ch, or z. All of these letter sounds have a similar /s/ sound when saying it’s sound making just adding an “s” awkward to say. Therefore, orally we added another syllable when added a plural or verb change so that it is easier to say.

misses

fishes

fixes

watches

fizzes

This is an important distinction for spelling. When reading, students seem to read the ‘es’ well, but get tripped up as to when to add the ‘es’ rather than just the ‘s’.  I hope these key words will help your student remember when ‘es’ is needed.

How to choose spelling of -ce or -se at end of a word

how to spell words with "ce" or "se" ending

ce or se spelling?

When spelling words, sometimes it is difficult to know how to use two similar sounding sets of letters, such as “ce” or “se” at the end of a word. Dyslexia makes spelling difficulty, but when there are similar sounding ending happening, it can make spelling even more difficult. Lets look at two ways to choose the “ce” or the “se” ending.

The first area, that I will discuss is sound. Notice that some words that end in “se” are actually said with a /z/ sound, such as nose and surprise. When you are trying to figure out whether these words should end in “se” or “ce”, choose “se”. The reason is that “ce” ending should not have a /z/ sound, they will have a /s/ sound such as pace.

The next contemplation is for words that are similar to each other with the only different is the letter of c or s, such as advise and advice. The rule of thumb for this differentiation is that the word ending in ‘se’ is a verb, while the word ending in ‘ce’ is a noun.

Sometimes the nuance of a small letter with a similar sound can really put a wrench in the spelling. I hope this helps your student make some correct choices when needing to spell some of these advanced words.