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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Why I Became a Dyslexia Therapist

The field of education is a unique and rewarding career path. Many educators choose the career path because they were inspired by someone, have a desire to help others, and have a strong passionate heart.

I knew that I wanted to be a teacher from a young age when I set up a classroom in my basement and asked for an overhead projector for Christmas. I went on to college and graduated with a degree in Elementary and Special Education. However, my teaching path is quite unique.

My younger brother is dyslexic and struggled in grade school because he was not being taught in the way that he learned best. However, the public schools would not admit that he was dyslexic and that they did not have the resources to help him.  My mom had him tested privately and he was diagnosed with Dyslexia. Therefore, in third grade he began going to tutoring 3x a week with a wonderful lady who taught him how to read using the Orton-Gillingham Approach.

My brother's reading improved greatly and through it I discovered my passion! I became a Dyslexia Therapist to help children like my brother receive the proper interventions! 

After graduating from college, I google searched Orton-Gillingham training and a fantastic school in Charleston, South Carolina with a year-long practicum was at the top of the results list! I applied and moved from Maryland to South Carolina that summer to begin training.

I worked as a special education teacher and 1:1 language teacher using the Orton-Gillingham Approach for two years at a private non-profit school for children with oral-language based disabilities. I received my Associate Level Certification and went on to begin classes to achieve my Certified Level Certification through the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. I currently work at a private practice as a Dyslexia Therapist traveling into area private schools and teaching students 1:1 after school.

I highly recommend training in the Orton-Gillingham Approach to any teacher seeking a specialized path in reading! The Orton-Gillingham Approach can benefit any learner!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

A Sneak Peek Into My Traveling Orton-Gillingham/Dyslexia Therapist Bag

Are you a traveling tutor, Dyslexia Therapist, or resource teacher looking for ideas on how to take your supplies around with you? 

I currently work at a private practice as the Director of Dyslexia Therapy. The summer was wonderful for me as students came to my office from 8 am until 5pm Monday through Thursday and I had all of my supplies with me and accessible! Now since the school year has begun, I travel to area private schools to provide Dyslexia Therapy using the Orton-Gillingham Approach to my clients during their school day. I also work after school until 7/8 pm providing Dyslexia Therapy to students whose schools won't allow me to come in during the school day or choose to come after school. 

That being said, I needed to figure out a good system for traveling with my resources and how to keep things multi-sensory! 

Now let's take a peek inside my travel bag!

I found this amazing bag at Marshalls! It has all the pockets that I need. As you can see, I have my Wilson Phonogram Cards, Phonetic Readers, and various resources! Let's take a  deeper look inside:

I found great plastic binder inserts with snap closures that I store various games and activities in to use during my lessons. I found them at the Dollar Tree!

I put file cabinet folders that attach to the sides of the bag to keep my lesson plans nice and crisp through out my travels from school to school.

 Unlocking Literacy is a great resource that provides me with lists of non-phonetic words, morphology, and more! I certainly recommend it! I found mine on Amazon.
This is my OG bible! It is a Consortium of words developed by The Carroll School!
I purchased this resource off of William Van Cleave's Website. It is a little pricey, but well worth it!

Always a must have!
My students love when I pull out the jumbo dice to play a reading board game!
These boxes are perfect for keeping my game trinkets from going all over the place.
Keeping things multi-sensory as a traveling therapist is difficult! Sand would end up all over the place. These mats are great for finger tracing during the phonogram drill.
Felt squares are also great for finger tracing and/or tapping out sounds when spelling or reading.
Of course you can't forget your phonogram deck! I use the deck from Wilson Reading System. Also, my students love playing Go Fish! so I always keep differentiated decks on hand! You can find these Go Fish Games and More to fill your travel bag with at my TpT Store!

That is what was in my travel bag today! Each day it changes as the lessons change. I hope you were able to gather some new ideas! What's in your traveling therapist bag? I'd love to hear from you!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

3 Websites to Find Help for your Child with Dyslexia

Has your child recently been diagnosed with Dyslexia or a similar oral language based disability? Are you thinking, "Where do I go from here?" or "What do I do now?" 

Below I have listed some approaches and websites that have been effective in making students with Dyslexia more successful in school and beyond!

1. The Orton-Gillingham Approach (OG): The Orton-Gillingham Approach is a diagnostic, prescriptive, sequential, and multi-sensory approach to teaching reading, morphology, and more! There are many certified Orton-Gillingham Instructors/Therapists nationwide! To find an Orton-Gillingham Instructor that is qualified and holds a certification awarded by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators visit the academy's website: 

2. If you would like your child to be immersed in instruction specifically designed for children diagnosed with Dyslexia and/or a similar oral language based disability, you can find a nationwide list of independent schools for children with oral language disabilities here: 

3. For tips on what you need to do before applying your child to a school for children with Dyslexia visit:

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Orton-Gillingham Teacher Toolbox

Introducing the Orton-Gillingham Teacher Toolbox! All of your storage and organization needs solved! The OG teacher toolbox can be used in a tutorial room and even in the classroom! 

My ideas for how to use the OG Teacher Toolbox:
- use for differentiated phonics centers! Each child can be asked to work on a specific phonogram (sound/vowel team/spelling rule etc.). Inside the drawers can be an activity tailored towards them!
- use for storage of word cards for each phonogram 
- use for storage for game cards or even magnetic/foam letters 

Let's see what great ideas you come up with! Post an image on Instagram @specialinspirations

Setting up the OG Teacher Toolbox: 

I purchased the 18 drawer toolbox in the hardware section of Lowes! You  can also find one on Amazon! 

Print out the labels from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store and trim to fit depending on the toolbox that you purchased. All of the labels are designed to fit in the toolbox with larger drawers so that more can fit in them :) Arrange your toolbox to fit your needs! The Alphabet letters A-Z are also included and well as some supply labels to match!  

Here is the result of two complete toolboxes:

I hope you have fun making your OG Teacher Toolbox! I can't wait to see how you use it in your tutorial practice and/or classroom!

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What Does S.O.S Mean and Why is it Important?

What does S.O.S mean and why is it important? 

S.O.S stands for simultaneous oral spelling and is a crucial part of the Orton-Gillingham lesson. It is a multi-sensory approach to spelling. 

How to S.O.S: When you come to the spelling portion of your lesson, you will dictate a word to the student and the student will dictate it back to you. Then the student will tap out the sounds either on their fingers (traditional), the desk, by hitting the wrist to the palm, or on the arm. There are many different ways to tap out the sounds. Figure out which way your student likes best! Most older students prefer to tap the sounds out on their leg under a desk. After pronouncing the sounds of the word, then the student will say the letters and write the word on paper. If spelling a multi-syllable word, S.O.S the first syllable first and then the second syllable. If spelling a word with a suffix, separate the base word from the suffix and spell it first. Then add your suffix.

Without S.O.S many of my students would have a more difficult time spelling and would have more mistakes. After teaching them the S.O.S strategy through tutorial that was diagnostic, structured, and systematic their spelling dramatically improved! 

You can do S.O.S at home! If you are a parent, you can reinforce the S.O.S strategy at home!

Don't forget about those non phonetic words that we call red words! These words cannot be sounded out using S.O.S and have to be practiced in a different manner! I will post about red words shortly! 

Grab these S.O.S and C.O.P.S posters in my TpT store!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Spelling Rules Freebie!!

Remembering the multiple spelling rules can be difficult for our students. Since I now work at a private practice with children after school, I have created some ways to help children generalize the concepts that I am teaching them. 

One way is by sending them to school with resources that easily fit in their binders and review the concepts that I have taught them. 

You can download my spelling rules flip book for FREE below! 

The spelling rules included are: 
floss, tch, ck, dge, doubling, silent e, soft c, soft g
three sounds of suffix -ed
there, their, they're
too, two, to

Saturday, July 23, 2016

5 Tips & Tricks to Help Get your Difficult Student Through the OG Lesson!

We have all had that one student that just refuses to do anything. We've heard phrases like, "I don't like games!" and "I don't like sand or shaving cream!" or "I'm not doing that!"etc. I mean games? Who doesn't like games!

If you haven't had one yet, I am sure  you will at some point in time. We often feel as though we have to get through the whole Orton-Gillingham lesson in a timely manner and we do. Sometimes timing can be difficult, especially when you are working with a difficult student. Through my experience in working with children on the Autism Spectrum, I have had training in ABA strategies in which I am able to naturally apply to my practice as an Orton-Gillingham therapist. As a result, I have come up with some ideas and strategies that may help you get through to your difficult student too.

My tips and tricks for engaging the difficult student:

1. Be creative! If the student refuses to read from the book (most likely a phonetic reader). Grab some magnetic letters and form the sentences from the story on a metal shelf, file cabinet, cookie sheet, etc. In the picture below, my student happened to be sitting on the floor (not wanting to sit at the table to read). I brought the book down to him, grabbed my magnetic letters, and formed the sentence on my metal shelving. Success! My goal was for him to read the sentence accurately right? Yes! We got through the reading portion of the lesson.

 2. Let them own their experience! My student mentioned that he/she wanted to draw a picture and then write a sentence about it. He/she drew a picture and I came up with a phonetic sentence that he/she could write independently. See below. Thank goodness there is another word for police! My goal was for him/her to write a sentence independently right? And I fit a red word in there! Check! *disclaimer- some pictures may be difficult than others* Perhaps give them an idea of something to draw that you can create a sentence on their independent level.

3. Don't give up! You may feel like scrapping the whole lesson. But don't be afraid to join your student on the floor and continue the lesson from there! Some is better than none. Also, create a point/star system. Have them work towards earning 5 stars! Conveniently there are typically 5 parts to the lesson plan ( I include What Says, S.O.S, Reds Words, and Sentence Dictation as 1 star (the exit ticket to the lesson) on one sheet- see my recording sheet available for $1 in my TpT Store). If need be, have them work towards a reward and collaborate with parents. My difficult student had to earn 5 stars 4 sessions in a row to earn going to a water park! It worked! With that student material rewards did not work, but having him work towards an activity did. However, it is different for each child. Allow them to choose their reward.

4. Offer options! But never more than 3! When it comes to Words to Read offer more than one game/activity (pertaining to the same concept being taught) and let them choose! This can also go along with letting them own their experience. When they chose the activity, they will more likely feel that it was their idea in the first place. However, if you offer too many options, they may get overwhelmed. 

5. Follow your gut! You know your student best and if you have just started working with a difficult student you will be able to figure out what motivates him/her soon. Each child is different, determine what motivates him/her most and capitalize on that motivation. Ultimately use positive reinforcement! We want our students to enjoy reading and learning! That's the ultimate goal!! 

I hope you find these strategies helpful! Each child is different. These strategies have worked for me, however, they may not work for your student or may require some tweaking. Try them out and see how they work for you!

Friday, July 22, 2016

Engaging Your Readers

One of the biggest questions my students ask when they walk through my door is, "What reading game are we playing today?" This question always brings a smile to my face because I know that my students, who once did not enjoy reading, are now enthusiastic and excited to read! For many of us Dyslexia Therapists and Special Education Teachers, our students' confidence is a huge hurtle when we first begin working with them. It is part of our job to increase their confidence and teach them how fun reading can be by doing so in an engaging, multi-sensory manner. 

No automatic alt text available. Playing a game of Go Fish makes reading soo much fun! Students don't even realize they are reading. Go fish games have also been a fabulous behavior management tool. I often offer it as a reward for finishing a lesson. They think they are just playing a game, but really they are spiraling back and reviewing previously learned concepts. Win, Win!

No automatic alt text available. Board games are also a fun way to encourage your reluctant readers.

No automatic alt text available.   I also keep piles of notecards on hard for a hands-on, multi-sensory way to teach concepts. My students love to "cut" the words apart as they separate base words from suffixes or are dividing words by syllables.

No automatic alt text available.  Image may contain: text   Image may contain: one or more people
 I create fun sand trays that encourage students to practice their sounds by means of the OG card drill, spell words, or practice red (sight) words. Changing up the sand trays (during holidays) provides for an easy way to add something "new" to a lesson!

Many of the games that I use in my practice are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, Special Inspirations. All of which are approved and inspired by my amazing students. They are also suitable for use during Orton-Gillingham Lessons or with programs based on similar principles.