Building the dyslexic classroom (17/52)

Last week’s “Nuts, bolts and hurdles of Dyslexia” blog, saw me going back to [online] school by enrolling on a MOOC entitled “Dyslexia and Foreign Language Teaching”. I’ve just completed Week 2, which focused more on the adult students’ experiences of  learning before considering what useful accommodations educators could make. Or, in other words, starting to build a learning environment which supports dyslexics – the Dyslexic Classroom.

Four themes emerged from the experiences of dyslexic language students – i) learning language is harder, ii) it takes longer to memorise, iii) there are differences in the specific challenges faced (finding meaning, learning new vocabulary and writing and spelling) and, on a positive note, iv) somethings are easier (seeing patterns, understanding abstract concepts and appreciating similarities between languages). Perhaps not surprisingly, there was an underlying sentiment of unhappiness and lack of enjoyment. Learning didn’t seem like much fun.

Dr Anne Margaret Smith identified four main accommodations, which could usefully assist dyslexics – i) classroom environment, ii) communication and interactions, iii) content and iv) supporting independent study. In addition, she usefully explained the concept of differentiation [07:00].

Differentiation can be thought about in four dimensions along two axes

  • Task (same or different; core and additional) to Materials (shorter and complex)
  • Support (teacher time or peer work; dictionary or electronic) to Expectations (individual and appropriate)

So, the dyslexic classroom is as much about the learning approach as it is the physical environment, communications between educators and students and the course content.

Having struggled to learn English at school, the issue for me is having the confidence to engage with educators and peers in a classroom setting. It is just so difficult for non-dyslexics to appreciate the challenges. Maybe that is why, as an adult, I have looked much more towards independent study with the support of technology. Perhaps, with the explosion of devices and software we are entering a new dawn for dyslexics.

Nigel Lockett – The Dyslexic Professor
University dyslexia support