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Tips for Teachers on Accommodating Students With Dyslexia in the Classroom

Teachers - DyslexiaTeaching students with the learning disability dyslexia is challenging, especially in a classroom of heterogeneous learners. Here are strategies both general education and special education teachers can use.

8 Ways to Enhance Interactive Instruction

Gaining students’ attention and engaging them for a period of time requires savvy teaching and managing skills. These eight accommodations will help those with dyslexia as well as other students in the classroom.

  1. Repeat directions. Students who have difficulty following directions are often helped when you ask them to repeat the directions in their own words.

  2. Maintain daily routines. Many students with learning disabilities (including dyslexia) need the structure of daily routines to know and do what is expected.

  3. Hand out graphic organizers. Give students an outline, chart, or blank “web” to fill in during presentations. This helps students listen for key information and see the relationships among concepts and related information.

  4. Use step-by-step instruction. Present new or difficult information in small sequential steps. This helps learners who need explicit or part-to-whole instruction.

  5. Simultaneously combine verbal and visual information. Provide verbal information along with visual displays (e.g., on an overhead or handout).

  6. Write key points or words on the chalkboard. Before you start a class discussion on a particular topic (or even before class begins), write new vocabulary words and key points on the chalkboard or overhead.

  7. Design balanced presentations and activities. For example, include visual information and participatory activities during oral presentations. Also, use a variety of large group, small group, and individual activities.

  8. Emphasize daily review. A regular review of previous lessons can help students reinforce the connection between new and information and prior knowledge.

10 Ways to Vary Student Performance Modes

Students with dyslexia differ significantly in their ability to give oral presentations, participate in discussions, write letters and numbers, write paragraphs, draw objects, spell on paper or out loud, and work in noisy or cluttered settings. There’s variation in the pace in which they read, write, or speak. And, there’s variation in their ability to process information presented in visual or auditory formats. These 10 accommodations may enhance their performance:

  1. Change response mode. For students who have difficulty with handwriting, the response mode can be changed to underlining, selecting from multiple choices, sorting, or marking. You can also provide extra space for writing answers on worksheets or you can allow them to respond on individual chalkboards.

  2. Recommend graphic organizers. This will help students organize materials in a visual format.

  3. Encourage the use of assignment books and/or calendars. Students can use them to record assignment due dates, school-related activities, test dates, and to schedule timelines for schoolwork. Students can set aside a special section for recording homework assignments.

  4. Reduce copying. Include key information or activities on handouts or worksheets.

  5. Have students turn lined paper vertically for math. This helps students keep numbers in appropriate columns while computing math problems.

  6. Use visual cues. Put asterisks or bullets next to questions or activities that count heavily on an assignment or during tests. This helps students spend time appropriately.

  7. Design hierarchical worksheets. Arrange problems from easiest to hardest. Early success keeps students motivated to work.

  8. Allow instructional aids. Provide students with letter and number strips to help them write correctly. Number lines, counters, and calculators help students compute once they understand the mathematical operations.

  9. Use peer-mediated learning. Pair peers of different ability levels to review their notes, study for a test, read aloud to each other, write stories, or conduct laboratory experiments.

  10. Allow flexible work times. Give students who work slowly additional time to complete written assignments.

Adapted from the International Dyslexia Association fact sheet "Accommodating Students with Dyslexia In All Classroom Settings," which was prepared by Cecil Mercer, Ed.D., a distinguished professor at the University of Florida.