Why they struggle
After over 15 years in a regular classroom, Linda began working primarily with students who struggled with reading and writing. As the years passed, gnawing questions began to haunt her. Why were seemingly capable students with strengths in music, art, and athletics having such a difficult time with reading, writing, and spelling? Why were their oral stories so engaging and their written ones so lacking? It was obvious that these students were bright and talented, many of them with phenomenal people skills. Yet there was a barrier that was holding them back from accomplishing the most basic everyday classroom activities.
In the Spring of 2005 Linda attended the annual Illinois State Reading Conference. In spite of having a Masters Degree in Reading for many years, the information shared that day not only changed the direction of Linda’s career, it changed the direction of instruction for her students forever.
An amazing 20% of the population struggle to read, write, and spell according to studies conducted by the National Institute of Health. This condition is often due to dyslexia. “Dys” means trouble and “lexia” means words. So dyslexia simply means, trouble with words. This can include trouble understanding spoken or printed language (reading), difficulty spelling and trouble expressing thoughts verbally or in writing. It is a language processing difficulty.
In her book Overcoming Dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz shares that this is due to the fact that struggling readers are “wired” differently in their brain. Through the use of fMRI technology scientists are now able to observe the brain as normal readers and struggling readers read. They have discovered that there are three primary areas on the left side of the brain that are responsible for language. These areas “light up” as a proficient reader is reading. When a struggling reader is reading, large amounts of the right side of the brain are used instead. This of course is very inefficient and explains why reading and writing are so difficult for the ones who struggle.
Research has also shown that with the right type of intervention and remediation the brain actually begins to rewire itself so that the primary language areas are utilized. For the student this means that instruction is provided in a way that uses all of the sensory pathways (visual, auditory, tactile and kinesethic) at the same time. This instruction is highly structured with much repetition and abundant opportunities to apply what is being taught – which is the foundation of the Set-Free Reading program.
Please take the time to watch this video that gives a great overall explanation for why these students struggle: