Monthly Book/Movie Recommendation: Thinking in Pictures and Temple Grandin

Currently in the United States, 1 in 88 children will be born on the autism spectrum. It is almost five times more prevalent in boys; 1 in 54 boys will be born on the spectrum.

With that said, I think it is very important for people to understand autism. I highly recommend the book, Thinking in Pictures by Temple Grandin, Ph.D. Dr. Grandin is an animal scientist who has designed over one-third of all the livestock-handling facilities in the United States. She tells her fascinating story of what it is like to be autistic, how she thinks in pictures, and the struggles she has had to overcome.

There is also a movie based on her life that I couldn’t more highly recommend. It is called, Temple Grandin, staring Claire Danes. It is excellent–one of my all time favorite movies.

Prosody and Comprehension

Prosody in oral reading is using good stress, pitch, and tone. When you read to your child/students with expressive prosody, this will help them develop comprehension.

A lot of what we understand is conveyed through the way we hear things said. Reading plays that have parts is a fun way to practice and teach prosody. When my students read the play/fable, “The Lion and the Mouse,” and it is really cute to see the students get into their roles. They will do a big lion voice and a little teeny mouse voice, and they love it when they get to roar!

Model and practice good prosody when reading. Also, remember, the more you read to your child/students, the bigger their vocabulary exposure, and the better their comprehension.

Consonant Digraphs: ch, ck, ph, sh, th, wh

Consonant Digraphs are letter combinations that make one new sound.

I have noticed that my students all learn digraphs pretty easily if they are taught directly. Knowing digraphs also greatly helps with spelling.

The most common digraphs are: ch, ck, sh, th, and wh. Notice, when you say the letter combinations, they make a single new sound. Examples of words with digraphs are: cheetah, duck, dolphin, sheep, then, and whale.

In teaching, point out the digraph and have your child make the new sound the letter combination makes. For example, your child should say “ch” when reading “cheetah,” not a separate /c/ and /h/ sound.

Visit my teacher store to see my cute digraph animal unit.

Reading and Specific Learning Disabilities (SLD)

Learning to read is especially difficult for children with specific learning disabilities. Most people are familiar with the term dyslexia, but the educational term for what most people think of as dyslexia would fall under the category, “specific learning disability” (dyslexia is a medical term; specific learning disability is an educational term).

A specific learning disability is: a disorder of learning and cognition that is intrinsic to the individual; it is specific in that it affects a narrow range of academics. It is presumed to be due to a central nervous system function, and may occur across a person’s life span.

The U.S. Federal Criteria for Specific Learning Disabilities is:

34 CFR 300.8 Child with a disability.
(10) Specific learning disability
(i) General. Specific learning disability means a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoken or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations, including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia, and developmental aphasia.
(ii) Disorders not included. Specific learning disability does not include learning problems that are primarily the result of visual, hearing, or motor disabilities, of mental retardation, of emotional disturbance, or of environmental, cultural, or economic disadvantage.

The majority of children that qualify for special education services qualify under the category “specific learning disability.”  With regards to reading and specific learning disabilities, teaching phonics is still the best research-based approach, but this teaching must explicit and prolonged.

Consonant Vowel Consonant Silent e Words (CVCe)

CVCe words have a consonant-long vowel-consonant-silent e pattern. Examples are: cake, Jane, bike, rose, cube.

CVCe words are the next step in reading after your child/students know their letter sounds, and are sounding out CVC words (e.g. cat, hit, cut, etc.).

This rule needs to be taught directly. Why? Because you are introducing long vowels with a silent vowel at the end of the word. Otherwise, students will sound out each vowel with a short vowel sound, and we want students to recognize this new pattern.

First, your child/students need to know the long vowel sounds. Once they know the long vowels, you can prompt them when reading by telling them the first vowel is a long vowel. You can also tell them that they do not pronounce the final “e.”

I like to teach multiple examples of CVCe words so they understand the pattern. One phrase teachers use is: “The silent e makes the vowel say its name.” If you use this phrase, be sure you thoroughly explain what you mean. If the word is “cake,” I typically say, “Long ‘a’ silent ‘e.'”  My students have learned what this means and can then read the word. Another phrase teachers use is to call the final ‘e’ the “magic e” because it makes the vowel before it long.

In spelling, it is really common for children to leave off the silent ‘e’ when spelling these words. Keep practicing; they will get it!