Read and Spell Blog

Teach yourself to type
Read and Spell blog
Teach yourself to type

Teach yourself to type

Most adult learning programs and libraries offer basic skills computer courses, but is it possible to learn how to touch type on your own? Of course. If you have access to a computer, there are plenty of self-study programs that can help you get started. 

One of the first things you need to learn is the home-row position on the keyboard – also known as the home keys.

7 Ways to help a frustrated student
Read and Spell blog
7 Ways to help a frustrated student

7 Ways to help a frustrated student

Students who are confused may quickly become frustrated in the classroom if they are pressured to perform. It may be the case that attention or processing difficulties have prevented a learner from understanding a lesson, or that the instructions for a particular assignment are not clear to them.

In some cases motor skills difficulties, such as problems with handwriting, prevent a child from demonstrating their knowledge.

This program is working great. We are using it for our 6 year old and he is enjoying it. He wants to "do my typing" each day. Our 4 year old daughter watches with keen interest. The way it is designed really does include reading and spelling and not just typing.

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Visual processing disorder and dyslexia
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Visual processing disorder and dyslexia

Visual processing disorder and dyslexia

Visual processing disorders can interrupt an individual’s ability to understand and navigate written symbols, which may cause problems with math/maths and learning to read at school. They’re not due to vision problems or any issues with the eyes, but rather with how the brain interprets visual information.

On the other hand, dyslexia is a separate condition that often makes it challenging to break spoken language down into its component parts. This, in turn, complicates reading and spelling. While the two conditions can look similar, they have different causes and thus children and adults who have one and not the other will require a different set of strategies and accommodations.

You may also encounter the term visual dyslexia, which refers to individuals who have a type of dyslexia that is not related to phonological processing – learn more about the different kinds of dyslexia. In visual dyslexia, a child experiences a type of visual processing disorder. He or she may be prone to reversing or transposing letters, have difficulty locating words on the page, and have a tendency to skip over them. In comparison to phonological dyslexia, rhyming ability and language recall are less likely to be affected.

Teaching EAL pupils
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6 Tips for teaching EAL pupils

6 Tips for teaching EAL pupils

EAL pupils can come from any first language background – and may even speak more than one first language – which is what gives them their English as an Additional Language status. What they have in common is that they are all receiving their education in a predominantly English-speaking country. Some children are absolute beginners and others are highly advanced in English and may even sound like native speakers.

Depending on their age and background, EAL learners might be literate in their mother tongue – which can give them an edge in developing English literacy skills - or they may not yet have learned to read and write.

Many educators enjoy teaching EAL learners as they often bring new perspectives and approaches to problem solving into the classroom. They can also be challenging, for example if you’re teaching a large class and they require a lot of individual attention, or if they are having trouble adjusting to the new school system.

Experienced educators know though that even with no knowledge of a student’s mother tongue and little experience teaching non-native learners, it’s still possible to give children and young adults access to the resources, strategies, and tools they need to be successful at school.

TTRS typing
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TTRS typing - how is it different from other typing programs?

TTRS typing - how is it different from other typing programs?

TTRS stands for Touch-type Read and Spell and is different from traditional typing programs in a few ways. For one, the words in TTRS lessons are whole words instead of nonsense key combinations. In this way, you can learn to spell as you learn to type.

More importantly, the words on screen are accompanied by audio which teaches you to connect letters to sounds. This is important for learning to read, as well as to spell. TTRS also follows a carefully structured curriculum of English phonics, so typing drills build automaticity in reading, as you progress through the course.

Typing is a great way to practice spelling words
Read and Spell blog
Typing spelling words

Typing spelling words

There are many ways to practice a list of spelling words, from making flash cards, to using oral recitation, or just plain writing the words out by hand. Yet one of the most effective and easiest approaches is using a computer or tablet and wireless keyboard.

Not only is typing convenient, but it is also a multi-sensory activity that involves kinetic elements which can aid learning and retention of letter patterns. Typing is a highly accessible solution for learners who struggle with fine-motor skills and find it painful to write by hand, such as in dyspraxia.

It is also the preferred approach when dysgraphia is present or in certain cases of autism spectrum disorder, particularly for nonverbal individuals.

Moreover, touch-typing a word allows muscle memory to encode the spelling as a series of key strokes. This is a great aid for students who struggle with language-based learning difficulties. Learn more in this post on touch-typing for learners with dyslexia. Also note, learners with no disabilities, difficulties, or learning differences will still benefit from this approach as multi-sensory learning is effective for everyone.

Did you know learning to touch-type can make you a better speller? Be the best you can be with TTRS!

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Which modifications can most help students with Down syndrome
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Modifications for students with Down syndrome

Modifications for students with Down syndrome

Some learners with Down syndrome attend special schools where they are taught a specific curriculum and have lesson content and delivery adapted for their needs. Others may learn at home or as part of a co-op.

However, it’s increasingly common for children to enrol in their local education system where they can study alongside non-Down syndrome peers. There are a number of benefits to this, including the ability to enhance a student’s sense of independence, foster stronger ties within the community, and assist a learner in developing social skills. It may also prepare young-adults and teens for volunteer/work opportunities later on, and can generally be more convenient and financially practical for families.

But when a learner with Down syndrome joins a regular class, this also means that certain teaching approaches and exercises may need to be modified in order to ensure the student gets the maximum benefit from his or her studies.

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Touch-typing can support spelling skills and help students build confidence in and outside of the classroom

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Autism and typing as a form of augmentative communication
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Autism and typing

Autism and typing

Many children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) struggle to express themselves in speaking and writing. Communication challenges can range from mild to severe: one child with autism may speak fluently with an impressive vocabulary and another might be completely nonverbal. Some learners say the same word over and over, and others repeat a series of sounds, or the speech of others, a condition known as echolalia.

But experiencing difficulties with speaking does not necessarily mean an autistic child cannot understand, process and use language to represent his or her thoughts, it may just be he or she doesn’t have the ability to express what’s inside. That’s why it can be useful to explore alternative forms of communication, such as typing. Typing can help verbal and nonverbal autistic learners as well as those who struggle to write by hand.

Making spelling fun can be a more effective approach
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7 Ways of making spelling fun

7 Ways of making spelling fun

Spelling is one of those subjects that most children and adults associate with rote learning. In a classroom context, it typically involves reciting words in front of the class, writing on the board, spelling bees and weekly quizzes. But hands-on games are a great way to move beyond repetitive drills and memorization, so kids can have fun and learn to spell at the same time.

If students are focused on achieving a goal, such as helping their team win, they may be more motivated to engage with the material and are more likely to learn a word’s spelling incidentally.

That’s because the more you hear, see, and use a word, the more active it becomes in memory. Spelling outside of the classroom doesn’t have to be boring either. Homework is often workbook-based, yet creative and multi-sensory activities make for fun projects that can entertain kids and help them spell. And it's a lot of fun to get outside and learn on the go too!

There are words on menus, street signs, film posters, and even t-shirts. Language is all around us and once kids start to pay attention to what’s in their environment, they are more likely to pick up on correct spelling patterns from repeat exposure.

How to practice typing
Read and Spell blog
How to practice typing

How to practice typing

Typing is one of those skills that takes practice to learn. There’s never been an individual, the world’s fastest typists included, who sat down at a keyboard and immediately began typing.

The reason for this is the muscles in your hands and fingers need time to adjust to new movement patterns. That’s why it’s important to introduce a handful of keys at a time, and move on only once you’ve mastered them.

Depending on the program you use, you might start with the home row keys or focus on vowels and then consonants following a curriculum of English phonics. Some courses may have drills made up of nonsense letter combinations, and others, like Touch-type Read and Spell, might take a whole word approach, making the course easier to follow for people with learning differences.

The benefit of typing real words from the beginning is that once the movement patterns have been acquired, they are stored in muscle memory and become procedural knowledge. Procedural knowledge is something you know how to do automatically and don’t have to think about, like driving or riding a bike. Turning spelling into procedural knowledge can help individuals who have dyslexia because the letters and letter sequences are saved in memory as a pattern of key-strokes that the fingers type out automatically.

helping students in special education
Read and Spell blog
3 Ways to help students in special education

3 Ways to help students in special education

There a number of reasons why a child may need to attend a special education program at school. Special education can help learners who struggle with developmental delays, such as dyspraxia or apraxia of speech, and/or children who experience challenges with literacy and numeracy because of a specific learning difference.

It may also be that a physical impairment is affecting a student’s ability to learn in the same way as his or her peers and specific accommodations and materials are necessary. The basic requirement for a program to be considered special education is that it must address the individual learner’s needs in a way that wouldn’t be possible in a mainstream classroom. But just because a child receives extra support, it doesn't mean they are less intelligent or talented than their peers.