Teachers at Morningside never rely on just one program or textbook. Each Fundations lesson focuses on carefully sequenced skills, including alphabet awareness, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, decoding, vocabulary, fluency and spelling. It is designed to help teachers quickly identify and address reading, spelling and writing challenges. These strategies are common at schools for students with learning disabilities, but extremely rare in mainstream public schools.
Morel knows firsthand how unusual it is for public school teachers to understand and embrace such techniques. Consistent training and use of the reading manual and Fundations means all teachers know what normal progress looks like and can immediately spot problems when a student is struggling to read. As in many states, Georgia law prohibits schools from specifically identifying kids as having dyslexia. These students are monitored every week to check their progress.
A Dyslexic Child in the Classroom – Dyslexia the Gift
To show mastery in a particular area, such as closed-syllable words with a vowel-consonant-consonant-vowel pattern, the students need to be able to read 10 nonsense words that follow that pattern in a minute or less. Since adopting the program, student achievement overall has increased significantly at Morningside.
This is the latest data available; the test used by the state changed in But it also helps significantly that the school has the financial resources to match that commitment. And none of it is cheap. Sofianos readily admits that the school could not pay for any of this without parent support. For schools without such support, adopting similar programs may seem prohibitive. For its part, Atlanta Public Schools is working to replicate elements of the Morningside approach district-wide, including recently purchasing Fundations for schools throughout the district.
There is no doubt in my mind. My early experiences have become my bridge to understanding dyslexia and the plight of students whose strengths go unnoticed in the classroom. A confession: I get a significant thrill from reading research that confirms my personal suspicions.
Case Study: Ten year old child with severe dyslexia
Last fall, the fifth graders in my class were the lucky recipients of iPads—one for each student. Sally Shaywitz. Furthermore, he does not understand the taught material and he has difficulty listening and following instructions.
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As a result of his struggles, Bryan was held back in kindergarten. An initial Occupational Therapy evaluation was performed at Brain Harmony. Pre- and Post-testing measures were taken using informal and formal testing measures; client and parent interview, clinical observations, and the Beery-VMI.
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Bryan was referred to the doctor to reassess his dyslexia diagnosis. Bryan completed sessions of the Focus Sensory and Motor program at a frequency of one session per week for one hour over a period of 6 months during his Occupational Therapy sessions. Bryan was re-evaluated in January at the age of 6 years, 10 months. The Beery — VMI test is a neuropsychological test that analyzes visual construction skills.
It identifies problems with visual perception, motor coordination, and visual-motor integration.
In my 21 years of experience as a therapist, I have never seen this type of progress in such a short period of time. He came to us in the summer after being retained to repeat Kindergarten. After 6 months of OT 1x per week and 14 sessions of Sensory Motor sessions of ILS, he no longer reverses his letters, his writing is beautiful with correct spelling, his memory is improved and most importantly he enjoys reading!
Bryan does not avoid reading and is excelling in school.