The ‘Summer of Repairing Dyslexia’ is a ‘Reality TV’ style reading intervention. We are recruiting a grade-8 student with severe reading deficits, and will spend the next four months tutoring him intensively every day for 2-3 hours. We will turn him into the BEST reader in his class, and follow his day-to-day progress here.
Reading is just a skill, everyone can become a strong reader if taught properly. There is no magic to helping a failed reader, just lots of sustained hard work with simple techniques like systematic phonics, and lots of practice. We’re going to demonstrate.
Over the next few months, this blog will show you how we did it – step-by-step – through daily updates on our progress, techniques, and tools. We have a private Facebook group for discussions. EVERYTHING IS FREE.
We try to train 2-3 hours every morning, five days a week. The location is mid-town Toronto. It won’t be a relaxing summer. But we’re hoping you will follow along and try it with your child. We’re going to change our student’s life, we hope you do too.
Dyslexia in its most common form is a failure to develop ‘phonological awareness’, a skill that is only developed during learning to read an alphabetic language. Without it emerging readers must compensate by guessing at words. But guessing isn’t real reading, it is effortful, slow, and error-prone. Each of those factors reduces comprehension and makes reading an unpleasant struggle.
In grade 4 students must switch from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”, and the ones that don’t or can’t are quickly left behind. A chasm opens between strong readers who hone their reading skills with practice, and weak readers who avoid reading.
As they fall behind, non-readers often develop self-esteem issues, emotional problems, and self-defeating behaviors. They may act up and be assigned to a ‘Behavior’ class, or simply fall so far behind that they are assigned to an LD class. They often get bullied. And even in the best case, they barely learn anything in school.
Many parents think school will help their child, but that rarely happens. IEP’s and accommodations placate the parents, but leave the students adrift and uneducated.
About the Intervention
This is a one-on-one “intensive” intervention, building on the protocols of the Torgesen Study. We will systematically train blending and segmenting, phonics, finger-point reading, fluency, comprehension, spelling, writing skills, metacognition, and learning skills.
We will work 2-3 hours per day, five mornings a week. At this intensity, a student will usually gain about a year in reading level each month. But it will still take 4-5 months for a grade-8 student to recover to grade level. If we start in mid-June, then we may have to train until October and our student will miss school in the mornings.
The first job is almost always to repair the ‘phonological awareness’ skill deficit, a relatively quick and easy process using systematic phonics. Then we will address the longer, harder job of racing through an intensive reading program to gain grade-level skills and reset self-defeating behaviors.
To see what the first few days of the intervention might look like, check out the Christmas Intervention that we blogged about earlier this year.
We run volunteer reading clinics for low-income non-readers in Toronto. Typically our students are in grade 7 or 8, and come to us reading at grade 2 or less. When they graduate our clinics, they are often the best readers in their classroom.
Everything in this project is free. Really free, we don’t even allow advertising on this site. Our goals for this project are:
- Spread the word: Reading failure is merely educational failure and completely repairable. The assessment your child were given is wrong, he does NOT have an LD.
- Build a step-by-step exemplar with all the necessary tools, suitable for parents, teachers, tutors, and volunteers. All free, of course.
- Help the specific student we recruit become a strong reader. This is simply the the starfish on the beach.
This website is a work-in-progress. This is where I will blog about the intervention, and argue that dyslexia is merely an educational failure and easily remedied. We have a private discussion group on Facebook to support parents who are following this intervention, and which may also generate lively debate, I encourage you to join.