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Fuzzbuzz books for dyslexia

Discussion in 'Special educational needs' started by billandsplodge, Sep 28, 2010.

  1. From one end of the country ot the other, we have primary schools filled with teachers who don't know how to teach beginning reading. Countless children fail to learn to read adequately due to the faulty instruction they receive. Instead of giving them the accurate label of 'instructional failure', these students are labled 'dyslexic' or 'SEN' or whatever deficit can be thought of that puts the responsibility onto the student and allows our teachers and schools to avoid addressing the fact that most teachers enter the classroom woefully under-prepared to teach beginning reading.
    Having failed at the hands of well-meaning but inadequate teachers while at school, some students try again as adults which requires a great deal of courage. Yet again, they are victims of teachers who are not adequately skilled at teaching beginning reading and who, no matter how well-intentioned, just set these students up to fail again.
    The service that Creasey is involved in offers hope to these people but does not take any responsibilty for failing to deliver an adequate service. The guy described above was led down the garden path for two years. Image what that did to him.
    The last thing people like this need are more 'enthusiastic amateurs' who just end up causing more damage. If someone hasn't got the knowledge and skill to teach beginning reading to students who are not easy to teach, then they shouldn't be offering this service.
    Coming onto a discussion forum like this to ask advice demonstrates that teachers don't even know where to go for the right information. When they are given good advice that isn't what they want to hear, they get deeply offended and shoot the messenger.
  2. If I've understood it correctly, the dual route model does two things; as a theoretical model it explains most of the reading phenomena that have been observed in reserach - the type of reading errors made by expert readers, masking and priming effects etc. As a computer model it has so far been the most effective at reproducing those phenomena. But the dual route model is a top-down descriptive model derived from looking at reading as a complex skill and decomposing it into its component parts - a bit like a bird's eye view zooming in. It doesn't explain what happens between cells in the brain - or whether the dual routes are hard-wired or whether they develop as a person learns to read. Or how semantic connections are made.

    If you start to build a model of reading from the opposite, bottom-up direction - from how the brain processes visual and auditory information - you get connectionist models. These propose that the way neurons behave and the information they process affects the number and strength of the connections between them. The pattern of connections that emerges as a result of informational input determines how reading takes place. Coltheart's criticism of connectionist models appears to be (in 2005 at least) that they didn't explain as many reading phenomena as the dual route model. That's fair comment, except that the ability of connectionist computer models to mimic human information processing depends on the algorithms used - and there are a lot of possible algorithms.

    Sensory processing research has found that cells in the eyes and ears process tiny bits of visual and auditory information - patterns of light and dark, lines at a particular orientation, slight changes in air pressure - and the brain ‘chunks up' those bits to make a complete picture of what we have seen or heard. This chunking up is broadly hierarchical, in that there are areas of the brain dedicated to processing simple information, and areas dedicated to processing more complex information, but it's not a case of the information following a set path in a straight line. It's more like the way water flows down a mountainside. Lots of separate raindrops fall and once enough have accumulated they roll down and join up with other raindrops to form a trickle and the trickles then join up to form a stream. Although visual and auditory information have separate input paths - like rain falling from two separate clouds - if those separate sets of information relate to the same object, in the brain both sets of information activate each other.

    As far as the brain is concerned, a written word is a visual stimulus in the same way as the image of a table or a tree or a face is a visual stimulus. If there is auditory or semantic information associated with that visual stimulus, it will be activated when we see the stimulus; strongly or weakly depending on the neural connections activated. So if we see the face of someone we know well, we also ‘hear' their voice, or remember things they have done. If I see the word ‘cheese', a huge network of associations is activated. The shapes of the letters, the whole letters, the shapes of ‘ch' ‘ee' and ‘se', the shape of the whole word, the sound of ‘ch' ‘ee' and ‘se', the sound of the whole word, the taste and smell of cheese, different types of cheese, the cheese counter in my local supermarket, French market stalls, goats and so on. This network is constantly changing depending on how it is being used. If I stopped eating cheese, some pathways would weaken. If I became a cheesemaker, others would be strengthened and extended. Although I use my ‘lexical' route for reading the word ‘cheese' because I have read the word so many times, it doesn't mean my ‘non-lexical' route isn't activated and therefore withers and dies. I still see the letters every time I read the word. I don't necessarily access the word by following the grapheme-phoneme-blending pathway.

    Sounding out and blending the graphemes in a word is a very efficient way of working out how to say words we haven't read before. But once we are familiar with what the word looks like and sounds like, we build up a network of associations with it that is activated every time we see it, including a whole range of cues in addition to its component graphemes. As far as I can see, the ‘lexical' route is not simply an automation of the non-lexical route, it's automated, fast access to the sound and/or meaning of the word via whatever information is most readily available. From the literature on reading errors, priming and masking, that information includes phonological information activated by graphemes, visual information about word length and shape, contextual cues, word frequency and so on.

    However, just because expert readers involuntarily use a whole range of cues to speed up their reading, it doesn't mean that the most efficient way for children to learn to read is to mimic the techniques used by expert readers. Clearly, learning phoneme-grapheme correspondence and learning how these correspondences form words provides a reliable basis for decoding unfamiliar words, and young children are faced with the problem of decoding lots of unfamiliar words.
    I'd be interested to know her source for that information. Skilled Chinese readers can read many more characters than that (can't find my source for that). Also, the evidence points to the fact that reading isn't a binary process - either whole words or decoding and blending - expert readers use a lot of different cues for word identification.
    The role of phonology is explained by a distributed network (connectionist) model of reading. Phonological information is activated when we read if we have made phonological connections between the written word and the spoken word. If we don't, (if we are congenitally and profoundly deaf, for example) phonological information won't be activated, but that doesn't stop us learning to read.

  3. Yvonne, for someone who seems to think she knows it all, you have been wrong on so many counts. And, as for shooting the messenger and ignoring good advice, your message is telling others they are wrong and your 'good advice' has been remarkably short on specifics. We have been told that we can't have more information because there is a court case pending, we have been given links to websites, but not to the relevant portion, and we have been given names to google. How disappointing!
  4. Creasey,
    The difference between you and I is that I haven't offered my services as a reading teacher to non-readers, leading them to believe I can help them when I can't.
    As for not providing you with specifics of how to teach reading effectively - what a cheek! Go and do the appropriate training before you offer your services to anyone else and don't expect me to provide you with the training in easy-to-grasp short grabs on this discussion forum for free.
  5. Ahem! I've just noticed that posts from this thread are being cut-and-pasted on another forum. Not exactly good internet etiquette. [​IMG]
  6. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

    Having read a variety of Creasy's posts on these forums I am confident that she did not waste this person's time.
    I also work with adult students and one the thing main things you have to do is to develop a working relationship with them and to develop trust and empathy. To get to know them as people and to use different strategies to help them succeed, taking into account their past experiences and knowledge.
    I would imagine that faced with the onslaught of some of the technical data that has been taken pace over the last few pages, they wouldn't even attempt to turn up the following week.
    The fact that this student attended sessions for 2 years is in itself a testament to Creasy's skills as a teacher. An adult student wouldn't even bother turning up if the session was of no use to them.

  7. moonpenny

    moonpenny Occasional commenter

  8. Without wishing to be offensive to Creasy, wasn't the problem that s/he had not succeeded?
    Why on earth would a technical discussion on a forum, which the learner wouldn't even be aware of, discourage them from turning up the next week?
  9. Where, and in what context?
  10. I'll send you a pm.
  11. <font size="3">I didn&rsquo;t &lsquo;flame&rsquo; Creasey because s/he isn&rsquo;t a nice person and didn&rsquo;t try his/her hardest to help the non-reader. The point I was trying to make is that there is a level of knowledge and skill necessary to teach beginning reading that is not provided to teachers during their initial training or afterwards and this leaves most teachers woeful inadequate when it comes to teaching all but the easiest to teach.</font><font size="3">We have a multi-billion pound education industrial complex yet teachers end up trawling web discussion forums asking for advice from any twit who can be bothered to post.</font><font size="3">Until teachers themselves recognise how poorly their University teacher training qualification has prepared them for the rigours of teaching beginning reading to all students, including those who are hardest to teach, and are prepared to complain loudly and start demanding better preparation, we will continue to see an ever increasing cohort of illiterate and semi-literate students who have been labeled dyslexic or SEN when they are in fact instructional casualties coming through our school system.</font>Louisa Moats says it better than I can; the following is quoted from her interview on <font color="#0e774a">www.childrenofthecode.org</font> website.<font size="3">&ldquo;... I came out of Peabody College with a Master&rsquo;s degree in learning disabilities and went to work as a teacher and found myself completely befuddled, although I didn&rsquo;t know enough to know what was missing or what was wrong with what I&rsquo;d been taught or what I was doing...</font><font size="3">I kind of bumbled into a doctoral program in reading at Harvard where Jean Chall was the departmental professor...</font><font size="3">In the process of doing that, I realized how much I&rsquo;d been missing in knowing basic disciplines, knowing about linguistics and reading psychology and cognitive psychology. I finally got a very good grounding in those things... </font>really got me to understand that what we were facing was a crisis of understanding and implementing what we knew from research...&rdquo; www.aft.org/pdfs/teachers/rocketscience0304.pdf, published by the American Federation of Teachers, and suggest they pay particular attention to the Appendix which lays out an adequate core curriculum for teacher preparation to teach reading. Then they should write to the Chancellor of whichever University they attended, with a copy to the Education Minister, and demand to know why they were not provided with adequate knowledge to teach reading.
    B-t-w, getting back to the original post that started this discussion from 'billandsplodge' regarding the severely dyslexic Year 5 student, I wonder if this student's parents are aware that the child's teacher is forced to turn to this forum for advice, presumably because they don't know what else to do or where else to turn?
  12. Oops! Something went horribly wrong with the formatting. The Moats quote finshes with, "... implementing what we knew from research...&rdquo; and my comment picks up with, "I highly recommend..."

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