Who Helps Kids With Dyslexia Gain Reading Fluency?

When Martha Youman was starting out as a second-grade teacher, every Friday she would stay late after school to make what she called “seat work” for her 30 students— packets to help differentiate instruction for the three levels of learners in her classroom.
“My high-level [students] would get lots of reading passages with reading comprehension questions,” she said. “My medium level would get the same thing, but shorter. And my students at the low level would get things like coloring pages, connect the dots — just things to keep them busy so they wouldn’t act out.”
She said that some students at the lowest learning level couldn’t even write the alphabet yet, so she’d even put kindergarten-style trace-the-letter pages into their seat work.
While the “seat work” kept behavior in check, it was failing as a teaching strategy. Youman, who had been a New York City Teaching Fellow, said she knew that some of these kids were struggling to read, but also knew from class interactions that they were smart. “I kept them busy. Truly, there were interventions they needed, I just didn’t know how to help them,” she said. “I had a master’s in teaching, and didn’t know how to deal with these students.”
Youman now understands that some of her struggling second-graders were most likely dyslexic, with neurobiologically different brains that often fail to read words and sentences without direct, specific intervention.
“I received zero dyslexia training in grad school,” she said. “I received …