When Ivan was in the middle of second grade, his mother dragged him into my office at the Riggs Institute’s learning center. Head down, Ivan refused to look at me as his mother spoke of her concerns. “Ivan is two years behind in reading skills,” she said, “and none of his teachers have been able to help him. They think he has a learning disorder; the school wants him tested. But. . . . "
After taking a look at the Riggs Institute’s website, a concerned tweeter recently asked: “RIGGS (sic) seems to support and promote the idea of learning styles?
Yesterday’s Twitter conversation with some colleagues turned into a talk about how we can help our slower learners. Lots of us have them, right? And Riggs teachers have them too. For example, you may notice that during your daily spelling dictation lesson a few of your pupils are consistently struggling to keep up with the rest of the class.
These kids seem slightly lost, to put it mildly. And perhaps you’ve noticed that they rarely speak up during lessons.
What is the single most important thing we can do to help beginning readers?
In her Complete Handbook of Children’s Reading Disorders, pediatrician and child psychiatrist Hilde Mosse writes (emphasis mine):
The child must be help
Millions of children struggle with learning disorders in American classrooms, but do all of them have to? For example, can we prevent reading failure? And can we correct it? By teaching correct knowledge intensively and well, can we teach older children, struggling and diagnosed children, wounded and troubled and poor children how to read as well? What about children who have lost all hope, all confidence?
In 1949 Donald Hebb, a Canadian neuropsychologist, proved that everything you think, feel, and do triggers thousands of neurons. Not only that, but Hebb went on to explain that when you think, say, or do something repeatedly, your brain triggers the same neurons each time, and these neurons form what is called a “neural network.” He summed up this important finding with an easily remembered statement: “neurons that fire together wire together.” Remembering this can help you become a better reading teacher. Here’s how: