Struggling Readers

Second graders using Essentials - Support activities for struggling readers

New resource for supporting struggling readers!

Download a table of extra support activities for young Essentials students who are beginning readers. The concepts introduced in these activities provide students the additional tools they need to read dozens of Foundations readers earlier than they would otherwise be able to, and the extra practice builds fluency and confidence. Provide additional practice and an entertaining Foundations reader with every Essentials lesson!

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Supporting Children with Auditory Processing Weaknesses

We recently received the following question from a parent using Logic of English Foundations with her five-, six-, and seven-year-olds.

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Overcoming Visual Challenges: Learning to Read and Write with LOE Foundations

We received the following letter from Adriana Buttafoco in 2013 when she was beta testing our Foundations curriculum.

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Help! My Child Can't Read

You are not alone. Two-thirds of U.S. students read below grade level and between 25% and 30% are functionally illiterate.

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Shame and Vowels: The Story of a Struggling Reader

Vowel sounds highlight the concept of phonemic awareness and the ability to both glue words back together and break them into their individual sounds.

Recently, I had this driven home to me when I was working with a sixth grader whom I tutor. This student has been in the public schools and can read and spell thousands of words. Nevertheless, he struggles with reading and spelling and does not perceive himself to be smart. He has read and spelled below grade level his whole school career.

As I have been working with him, I have noticed he often mumbles. I had not wanted to push him too hard, because of his low self esteem. Today I realized it is his cover up for not knowing the vowel sounds. Up until this point, he has sounded out words that he already knows how to spell. He must think ahead to the spelling and as he knows the sounds of the written vowels he says them correctly when sounding them out. However, today he stumbled greatly over the word "children." He could not sound out the second syllable and seemed particularly hung up on the short E sound. Like many struggling students he began to shut down.

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Addressing Cynical Students

Providing Real Help to Struggling Readers

Many parents and teachers feel discouraged when their enthusiasm for the Logic of English is not met with equal enthusiasm by their struggling reader or speller. As the student's parent or teacher, you see the advantage of teaching spelling rules and phonograms and may feel very excited about teaching. Nevertheless you must respect your student's cynicism. Written English has not made sense to them and the years of struggle have added up. Likely this is not the first time someone has announced that a new curriculum, program, or tutor will help them. Many students have repeatedly been disappointed. They have developed a cynical attitude with good reason.

Rather than confronting their cynical attitude, embrace it as a healthy response from someone who has repeatedly met disappointment. Understand that the pain of failure in basic skills like reading or spelling is not overcome in a day or a week.

Here are a few tips for working with cynical, struggling students:

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The Logic of English Made Me Cry!

Tears of relief and of untapped pain are a common response to reading Uncovering the Logic of English. The book goes to the heart and provides relief to the hurting.

Underneath the confident, poised exterior of many highly educated English speakers is a deep anxiety and pain that there is something wrong with them. They struggle with written language and try to hide their embarrassment. I believe this pain is at the root of our national debate on reading education.

Though it has been more than a decade since scientific research has conclusively demonstrated that systematic, explicit phonics is necessary for learning to read, as a nation we still do not buy it.

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Learning Disabilities and Learning Styles

In The World Needs All Kinds of Minds, Temple Grandin shows the images of her brain and how her visual cortex is more highly used than in the control groups. She then demonstrates how this strength is what facilitates her work as an animal researcher and scientist. She believes that most tech geeks, scientists, and engineers fall on the Autism spectrum. Her point is well taken that there are a variety of minds and that as a society we benefit from this variety.

As I have worked with students that would be labeled with a variety of learning disabilities, I continue to wonder if it is not that there is something wrong with the child, but something wrong with the idea of standardization. We seem to value being at or above the mean in everything. But if we stop and think, this is not possible.

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The Gift of Struggling Students

As a teacher, the greatest gift I have been given is students who do not think like me. The students who are most different from me have taught me the most. They have stretched me to look from new perspectives, to see the world from new angles and by doing so have taught me more than any of my "formal" education.

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How Denise Discovered The Logic of English

As I have spoken around the country, I have discovered a pervasive affliction: English spelling appears inconsistent, illogical, and for some impossible. This ache resides not only within our schools: public, private, and home, but within the hearts of professionals who cannot spell, parents who cannot answer their children's questions, intelligent adults who were in special education, employers who are despairing at the low literacy rates of the workforce, and on through all levels of society. The logic of English speaks straight to people's hearts and their greatest insecurities.

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