LD Putting It All Together

Dan, a Case Study

Dan, a middle-aged dyslexic student with a second grade reading level, could not learn well using a traditional phonics reading approach. He was convinced to come back to the local literacy center when promised a new tutor, Katherine Barratt. As you read Katherines description of their time together, notice how she identified the issues he was having and the techniques she used to help him.

Dan was highly motivated to learn to read. It was his most important goal in life. During the beginning phase of our work together, I identified the sources of his tremendous difficulty and frustration:

  • Sound-symbol relationships.
  • The extent of his confusion with language configuration in general.
  • His lack of general sight word recognition that made oral reading and phrasing very labored and uncertain.
  • Duplicating certain blended sounds.
  • Inability to verbally copy sounds I said.
  • Sensitivity when attempting to say isolated sounds. I backed off from this almost immediately.

Building Dans trust and self-confidence was our first goal. The process became all important. As a starting place, he was willing to return to the phonics program he had previously used and actually brought his book to our first session. It was obvious the book was way beyond his ability level. We decided to use:

  • The book covering the short vowel sounds.
  • Consonant combinations plus my own materials as our baseline.
  • Techniques such as rhyming schemes, picture identification, integrated spelling and copying exercises.
  • The computer as our work place, so lettering was clear and could be manipulated to accent in bold, break words apart, build rhyming and multiple meanings, build sentences, encase some exercises in boxes, and finally print all work for Dans notebook.

He enjoyed working with multiple meanings of simple short vowel words he was learning and explaining how he knew these meanings from general life experience. For example, we used his knowledge of the word shot in the contexts of buck shot, shot in the dark, take a shot, shot of rum, get shot, and get a shot (inoculation).

As I integrated comprehension passages, I found the programs reading material was generally irrelevant to what Dans life was like, particularly what he enjoyed doing in his recreational hours. It was difficult for Dan to connect with the language in these generic supplements, and his oral reading was not improving. I also noted that he was not transferring word and sound identification from our exercises to the context. Rather I observed that he was doubly taxed trying to learn and recognize vowel patterns that were in words from the phonics program that he did not yet know. To him, these could have possibly been no clearer than reading in sticks and stones. At this point, our sessions took a dramatically new direction, and I began to capitalize on the language he knew based on his interest and knowledge in rebuilding cars, carpentry skills, and employment as a machine operator/repairer.

Reflection 23: From the introduction above and the video, describe at least four techniques Katherine used to help Dan learn to improve his reading skills.

Student Profile Worksheet

To assist you in working with your LD students, you can download a Student Profile Worksheet. The profile sheet contains an outline of the four domains where you and your students can create goals and develop strategies to assist in skills attainment, emotional influences, management, and motivation. To guide you in filling out a student profile sheet, see a Sample Student Profile Worksheet.

We hope you learned a great deal from this course! Many students in our programs will benefit as you apply what you have learned. If you would like more information about LD and ADD students, the next page contains additional resources.

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Developed by Adult Basic Skills Professional Develoment (ABSPD), Reich College of Education, Appalachian State University
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