The three different styles of teaching

Some people are visual learners and need to work with images, videos, tables, graphs etc. Learning in this way, the initial input of information comes to the brain through the eyes first. It is taken to the visual cortex and then relayed to other areas before being processed. With auditory styles of learning, however information is heard first before being processed. Auditory learners have a slight advantage when it comes to sitting in the classroom and learning. Conventional teaching methods still rarely a great deal on talk from the teachers. Unfortunately dyslexics tend to be visual learners and are there immediately immediately at a disadvantage. They often have a very slow processing speed when hearing words, frequently their vocabulary knowledge is poor and simply they can have comprehension issues. If required to write down what they have heard, their writing speed is slow, they certainly have spelling problems and many have illegible handwriting. Consequently it is not difficult to see how given these problems, a dyslexic pupil in the classroom can easily get left behind, fail to appreciate and understand what is being taught and quickly lose confidence. As well as preferring a visual approach to learning many dyslexics also need kinaesthetic and tactile strategies. Kinaesthetic ways of learning involve the whole body with much movement and a "hands-on" approach. In a classroom containing many other pupils, this mode of learning is not encouraged as often as it should be.

The dyslexic brain

The dyslexic brain, when seen through an MRI scan behaves in a different way to a non-dyslexic brain. Since dyslexia is believed to be a specific learning difficulty which is largely centred in the linguistic area of ​​the left hemisphere, in order to compensate for this deficiency other parts are used in preference. More parts of the brain therefore are activated especially when trying reading, spelling and writing than would normally be expected. The electrical behavior seen under a scan reveals a rather disorganized pattern of activity. Left to its own devices a dyslexic brain sees to naturally seek out a multisensory approach to learning. It makes sense therefore to teach in a multisensory way in order to achieve the best results.

Multi-Sensory teaching methods

A very effective way of multi-sensory teaching is to use a combination of Initial Word Mnemonic chants along a set of graduated phonic flashcards with their accompaniment structured worksheets.

The mnemonic chants which are used to teach the reading and the spelling of both High Frequency words and Homophones are highly effective and memorable. They are completely multi-sensory. They have the auditory element when each chant is learned by "out loud" repetitive chanting and the visual and kinaesthetic elements are present when each chant is illustrated. Since each chant is like a little story this stimulates the imagination, engages the child with this method and encourages conversation. Dyslexic brains respond well to stories because they have meaning and they can be further pictured in the imagination like a mini film show. This adds to the visual element of the learning process and makes them very memorable. As they are easily stored in the memory, hundreds can be learned and every chant memorized becomes another word that can be spelled. It can transform the spelling of simple commonly occurring words and make it possible for the pupil to write sentences that are not full of mistakes.

The phonic flashcards are equally multisensory because they are seeing them, saying them out loud and illustrating them. Kinaesthetically they are handling the cards, sorting them into groups and timing them using a stopwatch. When this is followed up with the structured worksheets which have to be visually analyzed, read back and spelled, then this really does provide a multisensory method that helps to consolidate the learning process. Pupils thrive on this step by step easy to follow approach and very quickly gain confidence when they observe their improved reading and spelling levels.

These multi-sensory methods have taken functionally illiterate pupils and turned them into avid readers in a reliably short period of time.

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