Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Dyslexic and the Dictionary

by Guest Blogger Rebecca Messmann of
See also: Information on Dictionaries and Other Reference Materials | Instilling Curiosity to Learn New Words

Sometimes in today’s world of technology and instant gratification we forget the rewards of doing things the hard way. Until this year I think it has been at least ten years since I picked up an actual, real life dictionary. Oh, I looked words up for sure; I just used online resources instead of actually dragging out the dust covered door stop of a dictionary.

Then my oldest son entered 5th grade and started bringing home this wonderful sheet of paper called “Mountain Language.” I have no idea if his teacher designed this herself or if it’s a standard worksheet somewhere in the halls of education, that’s another blog. Today, I want to mention just one piece of that work sheet. (See also the Worksheet Works website for dictionary word placement worksheets).

There is a question on there that says what word fits between the guide words? Two words are given: blue and broke. Then three choices are given: black, break, brush. I have simplified it a bit to show you how to do it.

The child then figures out which one goes in between the guide words and I sing a chorus of halleluiahs. Because now I have a nice easy way to introduce the dictionary to my dyslexic son! Now, I don’t have to send him blindly looking for “how to spell wonderful.” I don’t have to give him nightmares of turning page after page around the “one” words.

This is a simple activity that can introduce the dyslexic child to the dictionary in a very low stress way. The words are there, they just need to match them up with what they find in the dictionary.

I take it one step further and have him define the word he chooses. This just reinforces how I want him to use the dictionary – to find the meaning of words, to find the tenses of words, etc...

Try it and let us know what you think. Do you have any ideas and suggestions on using the dreaded dictionary with dyslexic children?

1 comment:

  1. I agree, if a dyslexic person asks you to spell a word, do not tell them to look up a dictionary. Dictionaries are for exploring the meaning of a word. How can you find a word in the dictionary, if you cannot spell it? Tell the person how to spell it and then encourage them to try to focus while they are writing it down.

    When a dyslexic person goes through the a dictionary, or is just reading, it's sometime helpful for a them to use a flash card or piece of paper. While reading move the card down line by line, and this will help prevent them from skipping lines. This is a technique that I still use to this day.