Dyslexia education in the age of COVID-19

Dyslexia education in the age of COVID-19Unsplash

This is part 2 of a six-part series revolving around how to improve the classroom experience for students with dyslexia. You can read part 1 here.

The school closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic present an opportunity to assess what we view as learning. If we look at our curriculum, we should ask, “What is the most important thing I want my students to learn?” In the end, the most valuable things we can teach are to be curious enough to ask questions that lead to learning and then able to communicate what you’ve learned.

When it comes to communicating, writing is the most cognitively demanding task we ask our students to perform. Spelling alone is an analytical activity calling on visual, processing, memory and more. Combine this with forming the content, organizing it, editing the final product and the underlying stress of COVID-19 and it’s no wonder why students feel overwhelmed.

Teaching and learning for students with dyslexia in a distance learning environment is going to look different depending on many factors: students’ age, the availability of online resources, the severity of dyslexia and attending challenges, and the amount of teacher support. With all of the variations in situations, here are consistent factors that educators should consider in online learning for students with dyslexia.

Collaborating with Parents to Help Students

It’s always good to refamiliarize yourself with the student’s strengths and weaknesses. It’s more important than ever to understand the individualized needs of your students.

First, if the student has an IEP or 504, it’s still in place. In other words, the online work or packet, depending on the situation, needs to reflect the IEP or 504 for the particular student. If you’re unsure about an assignment, check with administration then inform the parents.

If you didn’t know your student’s parents very well before, now is the time to get to know them better. Find out about their strengths and weaknesses in order to provide the right kind of support for them as at-home educators. If writing is not a strength for the parents, be prepared to support them and their students when you assign lengthy writing tasks.

Using Free Online Resources

With all of the educational resources that are available for free at the moment, now is a great time to be using these tools to support learning. Incorporate visual experiences like virtual museum trips with audio books in order to expand on their learning. Build on that with a class discussion, directed by the educator or held in a classroom chat. These experiences provide valuable material for writing activities that become richer from the opportunities students have to see and discuss something before being asked to write about it. 

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

With older students, I would find a way to include some of the news concerning COVID-19 in your curriculum, whether it’s math, science, history, or English. One of the biggest complaints from students regarding school in general is that it seems out of touch or irrelevant.

To make lessons relevant to this extraordinary moment, teachers can take a few daily headlines and compare the tone of the headlines among publications. Some online publications such as Reuters and Associated Press are known for keeping their headlines and reporting objective, while other publications such as The New York Times or CNN may have headlines with more politicized language.

Additionally, some publications like The Christian Science Monitor have news articles that offer two versions of the same story. One version, called a “deep read,” includes an estimated time frame for reading. The other version, called a “quick read,” is condensed down to highlights.

Reviewing the news is an excellent opportunity to use the short length of a headline — perfect for reluctant readers! — to teach students about the power of language and the importance of understanding what we’re reading.

Enlisting the help of your students with dyslexia to give their personal evaluation of the two articles is a great way to get them engaged. Ask for their opinion as to whether or not the “quick read” is indeed a faster way to access the information. See if they have any suggestions for improving the experience.

This type of lesson is relevant to students’ lives right now, and can provide insight into how they access information. They can use the skills they acquire in any learning situation.

Helping students become better readers enables them to pursue what makes them curious. Helping students become better writers enables them to convey what they’ve learned in a way that can enlighten others while solidifying and connecting those ideas for themselves.

The end goal is to help students become independent thinkers. Framing learning experiences with this in mind keeps everything in perspective, whether we’re in a virtual or traditional classroom.

Donell Pons is a reading and dyslexia specialist in Salt Lake City, Utah, with a master’s degree in education and teaching from Westminster College, along with a certification in special education. She started her career in education when her youngest son was diagnosed with dyslexia. She uses Reading Horizons in her one-on-one work with students. Connect with her at dbpons@gmail.com.

Source: https://www.smartbrief.com/original/2020/06/dyslexia-education-age-covid-19

Add Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Off On

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Would totally recommend Develop us, made my son feel at ease. Having the assessment done in the comfort of his own surroundings I think was a big help. My son actually enjoy his day and didn’t seem stressed or worried about the assessments. Craig was so helpful and still is a month on sending me useful links etc. Thank you so much.

Craig has been a great help, he’s been considerate and clear throughout and provided further support. Craig has gone out of his way to provide guidance and assistance, which has been a huge comfort and aid for dealing with workplace and personal issues, for which I am wholly grateful and highly recommend his services.

I recently had an assessment as an adult for dyspraxia or Developmental Co-ordination Disorder after self-referring. Craig was brilliant throughout. Great to deal with, understanding of my needs, and very supportive. He gave me a comprehensive assessment and communicated to me the whole process in an easy to understand manner. The final report was well written and I now have the evidence I need to get support in the workplace. I would highly recommend him and Develop Us

Craig is very patient and maintained really excellent communication throughout the whole process. During his assessment he was professional and patient, and pulled out all the stops to get his report to us ASAP. Highly recommended.

Craig has been a brilliant supporter, very professional, friendly, approachable and excellent communication throughout. Craig has gone out of his way to provide assistance, this has been a great aid for dealing with all my education difficulties and I really appreciate. Couldn’t ask for a better service, I highly recommend.

Craig has been a fantastic support with my son, Craig offers a wealth of knowledge, experience and great advice. Craig is enthusiastic and has a great deal of patience with the people he supports, I would have no hesitation in recommending his services and wish him all the best in the future.

Craig has been a Godsend to myself and my husband and my eldest daughter who was diagnosed. I am glad I asked for Craig’s professional opinion on the matter.  I am glad he did the assessment and we got the outcome of what we have thought it was for a while now. Thank you Craig.

I am a student who has been receiving support and tutoring from Craig since November 2018. Since receiving tutorial support from Craig, I have progressed onto high-level courses and an access course which has helped with my studies, knowledge and work. Craig has shown me support and helped make my course work manageable. I feel that I have been able to turn to Craig with any question or doubt and have received nothing but clarity and guidance. Without Craig’s help and support I do not think I would have the courage and ability to complete the courses and progress to higher levels. I have had support off Craig for a variety of courses and with work advise.

I feel that Craig has given me the confidence to take steps in my life that I would not have made on my own. Craig has not only been friendly and supporting, but has also been very professional, reliable and organised with the help he has given me.


Craig engages with his students in a way that is both professional and clear and thus gains the most of the time spent in his classes.

Phone: 07575 678 567
Email: info@developus.wales
Message us on Whatsapp