Reading Comprehension

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Underlining words for comprehension + dyslexia

(#2/5 Stick Shift Blogs)

Children want to read and be like adults. Then dyslexia trips them up with decoding difficulties. If they’re lucky, they’ll find a dyslexia reading program like an Orton Gillingham one: Barton, Wilson or a book like “Toe by Toe”.

 

brainstorm homework

It can take 2 hrs a week one to one tuition @ $60h for one or two years to get to reading grade. It’s a significant investment and a great gift. But, do you know what each one of these dyslexia programs will say? They clearly state in their terms that they commit to the effectiveness of their ability to teach reading but not comprehension. Why?

 

It might surprise you. Because you might assume that if you can decode each word and understand each sentence then surely you will have comprehended the text? I have a great deal of respect for these programs for stating this fact. Ask a dyslexia reading tutor about the curious experience of seeing a child successfully read every single word, understand it, yet, when asked “What did it say?” They are so surprised to say “I don’t know.” Have you experienced this? Reply with ‘yes’ if you have 

Let’s use our stick shift analogy to understand this. Automatic thinkers move into the comprehension gear automatically. But ‘manual thinkers’ need something to move them into that gear. I could explain more about the interplay between working memory and phonological processing, but in terms of ‘stick shift’ they are stuck in first gear trying to get into second. You see, comprehension is actually another skill of ‘Filtering’ information while reading. What gets dyslexics like me and my students into second gear?

The answer? Would you believe me if I said “underlining with a pencil”? Too simple? At BulletMap Academy we train children to filter by underlining individual words while they read. At least one word underlined per sentence or paragraph. There are lots of reasons why, which would take another post. But try it. If you have dyslexia, do a children’s comprehension test and underline the story as you read it. PM me with your experience 

Underlining is harder than it sounds. Us dyslexics often think “everything is important” or “nothing”. Often Highlighting whole paragraphs. But underlining individual words reliably shifts you from just reading into the filtering gear for comprehension.

The rule is “one line a word”. Crazy, but trust me, it works. But please don’t go telling your dyslexic child ‘just underline the individual words like Darius says’, Ok? It’s hard. Not as hard as reading. But hard. It takes an hour of one to one training, and quite a few hours of practice to get it.

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Next time, I will talk about getting into the third gear. Learning to take summary notes instead of just copying everything down. Click next


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