As educators, we’ve gotten much better at recognizing the signs of dyslexia and addressing them earlier than we ever did before. In 2018, our state began evaluating and serving students under special education — something it wasn’t doing previously. We’re also using cognitive battery testing to identify the deficits in students with dyslexia.
Through these earlier evaluations and interventions, we’ve come to realize that what these students really need most is phonics instruction. For help during the COVID-19 shutdowns, our speech-language pathologists turned to the special education learning platform Amplio. Knowing that students with dyslexia may already be behind in some aspects of their learning, we didn’t want them to regress any further. We wanted them to retain the skills they’ve learned while still progressing and advancing.
5 ways tech supports students with dyslexia
Right now, about 150 kids use the platform across the elementary level and about 30 in junior high and middle school. At the elementary level, they work on the platform during homeroom period, and at the secondary level, the students participate in a 45-minute class period. Here are five benefits from using this special education learning technology:
- Immediate feedback. Technology is a huge motivator for students these days, especially because they’re so proficient with it. They’re able to teach themselves on the platform, which serves as one more way to engage and motivate them. They love the immediate, corrective feedback they get from the program, including the percentage of correct words read or spelled. For example, one of my students specifically said they loved to do the reading passages — where we were looking for fluency growth — because it told them immediately what they missed and what they got correct.
- A more engaging lesson. Having everything that goes into dyslexia instruction right at the students’ fingertips makes the whole lesson more appealing and engaging. It’s very different from doing a static lesson on paper. If they can learn using a laptop or a tablet, it’s more interactive, colorful and engaging. This gets the students excited about learning.
- No more stacks of books. Traditional teacher instruction booklets, Blackline Master booklets and concept cards have to be organized numerically and taught sequentially. It’s a lot of work and a lot of paper. If the cards aren’t in numerical order, instructors have to dig for the one that’s missing. With our special education learning platform, all of the materials are online. We just scroll and click through the pages and insert what we need for the day’s lesson.
- Easier planning. My laptop goes everywhere with me. I can work on my plans even if I’m sitting at an appointment because all of the materials are in one place and portable. This is also beneficial for the students. When you can put all the resources in one central location, it takes the pressure off and makes it seem less overwhelming.
- Access to useful reports. We can run progress reports, download the PDFs and then upload them to an individualized education program. Each report includes a time stamp for each reading or spelling practice. If you’re working on fluency, for example, you can pull up the related reports and pages to see exactly what the student worked on, what their percentage was and how many words they read. It really helps us with documentation.
Our students with dyslexia have been doing very well since we started using the special education platform. We see the results in the classroom, in their Measures of Academic Progress scores and in their projected progress for the school year. Since we started using the platform, the majority of the students have grown exponentially. It’s been a very positive experience, and our kids are always very excited to come in and get to work.
Samantha Crow is the dyslexia coordinator for Whitehouse Independent School District in Texas. The district uses Amplio with its students who have dyslexia.
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