Dysorthographia: Spelling Disorder
Dysorthographia is related to dyslexia. According to the International Dyslexia Association, dyslexia is "a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is characterized by difficulties with accurate and/or fluent word recognition and by poor spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other cognitive abilities and the provision of effective classroom instruction. Secondary consequences may include problems in reading comprehension and reduced reading experience that can impede growth of vocabulary and background knowledge.”
Teaching Strategies that Work
The International Dyslexia association states that poor spellers have trouble remembering the letters in words "because they have trouble noticing, remembering, and recalling the features of language that those letters represent. Most commonly, poor spellers have weaknesses in underlying language skills including the ability to analyze and remember the individual sounds (phonemes) in the words..." This means that spelling problems are happening for dyslexic students because of the same auditory processing disorder (which causes an phonemic awareness deficit) that causes them to have trouble learning to read. For this reason, if we are to improve spelling, we must resolve phonemic awareness problems first.
Often, dyslexic students who float along in the mainstream at school without being given a proven remediation program will learn to read to some degree, but their writing will not progress. The reason for this is that when a person reads, they have the rest of the sentence to help them figure out what an unknown word means. For example, a student who does not know the sound that goes with the letter "l" might be able to read the word "help" in a story. They would have no way to spell the word though because when we spell, there is no story context to aid us. Instead, it is a simple matter of attaching symbols to symbols (which is only simple once a student knows all the sounds and symbols).
The Orton-Gillingham teaching method is a multisensory approach to teaching reading and writing. When a student completes a reading remediation program that is based on the Orton-Gillingham teaching method, they learn to spell as well as to read. Each lesson follows the following format:
Review Drills - 15 minutes
sight word study method
phonemic awareness drill
blending or syllable card drill
New Content/Reading -15 minutes
reading single words from list
reading connect text
Writing - 15 minutes
writing single words
writing connect text
Review key concepts - 5 minutes
How can classroom teachers or parents help kids to learn how to spell?
Tip #1 Teach English Using Syllable Types
English spelling makes a great deal of sense when taught using syllable types. All of the rules of spelling fall into one of the seven syllable types.
Tip #2 Teach Sight Words
Sight words are the most common words used in English and/or ones that don't play fair by the phonics rules.
Tip #3 Use Multisensory Teaching Tools
The idea is that you want to use a strong kinesthetic brain pathway to ensure that the information that you are sending is able to be received by the student.
Tip #4 Teach Phonemic Awareness
Tip #5 Use Structured Word Inquiry
This is a great way to get students spelling larger words. I created the Rockpile Spelling Game using the concepts of structured word inquiry.
Audet, Shawna, director. How to Use Puppets to Teach Phonemic Awareness. YouTube, Flying Cat Academy, 6 Feb. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t0D3fZlUdTU. Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.
Audet, Shawna, director. O-G Lesson Structure. YouTube, YouTube, 24 Feb. 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8KgplNH94M&t=163s. Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.
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Audet, Shawna. “Rockpile Spelling.” YouTube, YouTube, 29 Jan. 2019, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LoyTjtXGVrE.
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RRFTS, director. 44 Phonemes. YouTube, Rollins Center for Language, 7 Nov. 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBuA589kfMg. Accessed 1 Jan. 2022.
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