By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 09/05/2018
Are autism and memory problems common
A guest post by Ethan Miller, online ESL tutor and parent to a 7-year-old child with autism.
 
In our busy lives, seldom do we sit down and really appreciate the power of the human brain. For most of us, learning and recall work on autopilot. But, no two brains function the same way, and there are people who suffer from conditions like autism that affect their learning and recall capabilities.
 
By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 08/29/2018
Strategies 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.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 08/23/2018
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.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 08/16/2018
Does dyslexia affect speech?

Dyslexia is a language-based specific learning difficulty that can impact on reading and spelling skills in children and adults. While the effects of dyslexia are more visible where the processing of written language is concerned, it’s not uncommon for kids with dyslexia to be late-talkers. This is because a child with dyslexia may have poor phonological awareness – or an inability to break words down into their component sounds.

If the dyslexia is co-occurring with a motor skills difficulty like dyspraxia, then production of speech sounds may be further delayed. Individuals with dyslexia can also have trouble with sound sequencing, substitutions, and rhyming. Word recall may be problematic. This ‘tip-of-the-tongue’ phenomenon can lead to misspeaking and halted speech. It can also generally cause embarrassment and anxiety, which disrupt speech fluency and overtime may result in low confidence, and low self-esteem.

What’s important to remember is that speaking difficulties caused by dyslexia are not an indication of low-intelligence. There are also plenty of strategies and accommodations children and adults can use to overcome fluency issues at home, at school and in the workplace.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 07/26/2018
Famous people with dyslexia

Salma Hayek, Keira Knightley and Tom Cruise are some of Hollywood’s brightest stars – and they have dyslexia. Albert Einstein, Stephen Hawking, Leonardo da Vinci, and Pablo Picasso possessed some of the greatest minds and talents in history and they were dyslexic.

Successful entrepreneurs like Richard Branson and Steve Jobs made use of their dyslexic brains to build billion-dollar companies, and George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and JFK left an indelible mark on history as presidents of the United States of America, regardless of their spelling ability.

No matter where you go in the world, you will find dyslexic individuals who have achieved success, despite experiencing early difficulties with reading and writing.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 07/17/2018
best apps for dyslexia

Dyslexia is a specific learning difference that can affect spelling and reading skills in children and adults. Students with dyslexia are not less intelligent than their peers, they just process language in a different way. Unfortunately, most school instruction is heavily dependent on reading and writing, thus from an early age, learners with dyslexia are at risk for falling behind or experiencing a mismatch between intellectual potential and performance in the classroom. This is especially true at the end of primary/elementary school when students are graduating from learning to read to reading to learn.

It’s also one reason why dyslexic individuals will typically benefit from having access to strategy training and classroom accommodations that facilitate language use. These accommodations might come in the form of additional time on assessment measures or alternative approaches to assignments.

Quite often they include using a laptop for note-taking, essay-writing, and homework. They may also extend to the use of smartphone and tablet apps that exercise the cognitive abilities which underpin literacy skills success.

But it’s still up to teachers, tutors and parents to select the right programs and apps to ensure a dyslexic learner achieves the maximum benefit from his or her technology use. That’s why we’ve put together this list with information on the skills that learners with dyslexia should be targeting and some of the most popular apps available today.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 07/09/2018
Typing is a great way to practice 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.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 07/03/2018
Understanding ADHD and self-esteem in the classroom

Attention deficit hyperactive disorder (ADHD) is an umbrella term for attention difficulties with and without hyperactivity. A child who struggles with ADHD can have a hard time paying attention at home and in school. He or she may become easily distracted, struggle to follow instructions, and/or find it challenging to stay on task.

Reading comprehension can be a problem and writing difficulties such as poor spelling, messy handwriting and run-on sentences may be observed. Additionally, when hyperactivity is present, a child might be fidgety or impulsive which can lead to social and behavioral problems.

Because attention difficulties can affect academic performance, when they go undiagnosed children with ADHD may believe they are less capable or not as intelligent as their peers. Having a negative self-image can lead to low self-esteem and a lack of confidence, which in turn may result in acting out and disciplinary action at school.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 06/26/2018
Understanding dysgraphia in adults

Dysgraphia is a learning difficulty, also sometimes referred to as a learning disability or a learning difference, that primarily affects writing skills. Adults with dysgraphia have a hard time writing by hand and may struggle with letter formation, letter, word and line spacing, staying inside the margins, neatness, capitalization/punctuation rules, spelling, word choice, and even grammar.

As opposed to agraphia, in which writing loss is acquired, individuals with dysgraphia are typically born with the condition. As children they may have found school particularly challenging, given the importance of literacy skills and the emphasis on having neat handwriting at the elementary/primary level.

Thankfully technology exists that can help both children and adults with dysgraphia overcome the challenges they experience and take positive steps toward achieving their full potential in the classroom or workplace.

By Meredith Cicerchia 0 comments 06/23/2018
5 Types of learning difficulties and how to help

A learning difficulty is a condition that can cause an individual to experience problems in a traditional classroom learning context. It may interfere with literacy skills development and math/maths and can also affect memory, ability to focus and organizational skills. A child or adult with a learning difficulty may require additional time to complete assignments at school and can often benefit from strategy instruction and classroom accommodations, such as material delivered in special fonts or the ability to use a computer to take notes.

No two individuals with a learning difficulty are exactly alike and many conditions, such as dyslexia, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactive disorder, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, exist on a wide-spectrum. There is also dyspraxia, a motor-skills difficulty that can affect a learner’s ability to write by hand, and may impact on planning skills. It’s not uncommon for learning difficulties and motor-skills difficulties to co-present. For example, dyslexia and dyspraxia, or ADD/ADHD and dyspraxia can occur together.