While this documentary is not a "how to" guide or curriculum, here’s how it can help teachers or reading instructors, working with struggling readers:
- Target 1 - Understanding the emotional climate. You are working with children who have failed more than they have succeeded. Most likely, your students are coming into the learning space (classroom or online) expecting to fail, as they have in the past. Your first job is to really create a safe emotional learning space. Understanding this is key to gaining trust and engagement from your learners. This is where you show them
- Target 3 - Learning design. The battle of whole word vs phonics continues to engender a great deal of debate. Neuroscience research indicates the brain looks for patterns and when it comes to reading, the key is to ensure readers have a good grasp of their letters, how that relates to words, sentences, etc. Vicky Krug, featured in the film, says, “Reading is not just a one-time process. I spend a lot of time talking about the actual reading process in the brain , the structure of writing and the structure of how words and phrases in paragraphs fit together to help students create patterns in their minds of language. How to follow a main idea with details; the role of a topic sentence. And I have them use vocabulary cartoons to really create visuals of what they’re reading.”
It’s going to be hard for your struggling reader to conceive of anything beyond their present struggle with reading. This is where understanding the concept of neuroplasticity comes into play and letting your struggling reader know that it is possible to rewire your brain. Your brain can change. and the fact that we can change our brain, based on practice and more importantly, multi sensorial approaches to teaching, makes a huge difference.