This year, I will be embarking on my sixth year of teaching elementary school. Last year, I had one student previously diagnosed with dyslexia, and one student during the school year whom I identified as having a learning difficulty. I was able to get her pointed in the right direction in order to get the testing and support that she will need for her fourth-grade year. Because of these two students, I was anxious to focus my learning in this class on understanding my students with learning disabilities, and centered my peer review assignment on building my knowledge on students with dyslexia.
As a third-grade teacher, it is imperative that I am able to recognize learning disabilities in my students, especially those pertaining to struggles with reading, writing, and math. Through my research on several peer reviewed articles, I learned some important facts about dyslexia and how to help my students with this disability. Initially, I believed that dyslexia is only defined as when a child is writing letters backwards. However, through my research, I discovered that is not true. The most intriguing element of dyslexia is that children who suffer from this disability do not have the ability to understand the alphabetic principle, which, in short, is the ability to understand that spoken words are made up of letters with individual sounds. Without the ability to decipher those sounds, children will have difficulty reading words quickly, writing words correctly, and may even struggle with math concepts. If this learning disability can be identified in children early, there is a better chance for getting them the proper support with their learning that can include building phonemic awareness—to identify individual sounds in each word, and fluency building skills—to help them learn to see letter combinations and patterns in words (orthographic patterns). Had I known all of this information at the beginning of last school year, I would have been able to use my student’s spelling scores combined with her reading and writing ability to help diagnose her dyslexia sooner. I feel confident that my research on dyslexia will make me a stronger teacher in the future, as I am positive that I will be better able to recognize the signs in a student who needs my help.