In the last blog chat titled: “The Five Steps to Teaching a Dyslexic Student” I mentioned a teaching technique called the “Chalk Talk”. It is actually something I remember some of my teachers in both grade school and high school using. They would start the class spending a few minutes telling the students what to expect for the duration of that class. Mind you, not all my teachers would do this, but the few that did made it easier for me to learn the material being taught in that lesson.
This method is very important and effective when teaching right-brained or dyslexic students because they need to see the “big picture” which is addressed when using a “chalk talk”. Actually once they get what the task at hand is about they can’t help but come up with the big picture. More importantly though is the need for the student to see what the end result is supposed to be before they will want to start figuring out all the steps to get to the end. That is where the Chalk Talk is so effective. It details exactly what the end result is going to be. My instructor in college even took it one step farther.
When he started the class, not only did he tell us what we were going to learn that day he also spent a couple of minutes summarizing what we did the class before and told us how today’s lesson was going to lead to the next one. Now that actually fits in with steps 1, 4 and 5 of the “The Five Steps to Teaching a Dyslexic Student” mentioned last week. He told us why we needed to learn this material, what the outcome of the lesson was going to be, when to hand in assignments for the lesson, etc. This is also very important for the dyslexic student. These students need to understand the limits of an assignment; they need to know when to stop and what details are to be included in their work.
During a recent Pro-D day presentation I assisted with I learned some interesting perspectives from some of the teachers attending our presentation. The teachers mentioned that they didn’t understand why some of their students were asking so many questions during and after lessons they were going over in class.
They were wondering if the students were not paying attention or why they needed so much additional instruction for that days assignment(s). We explained that these students might need to see what the assignment was supposed to look like and was about before they were ready to start learning the steps needed to understand the lesson. The dyslexic student also needed more information about the steps than usually covered in class and had extensive questions about how to complete an assignment about the topic. Without all of these issues being addressed a dyslexic individual will often not understand the material and feel paralyzed because they don’t have all the information they need to complete an assignment.
Even though this is knowledge that is becoming second nature for me I was a little shocked that these teachers were not aware that certain students such as dyslexics needed more extensive and complete information when learning a new concept and completing homework on the subject. I suppose the knowledge of dyslexia’s many issues is still a mystery to many people.
This little technique is such a powerful one that I wish all teachers would use it. I spoke to a special needs teacher from California last week who is of the opinion that all teachers should be trained with many different methods for presenting tasks. This teacher even went as far as to say that if teachers were trained better it is very possible that a lot of problems with “learning disabilities” probably wouldn’t be problems anymore. This is a very bold statement that I tend to agree with. What we have seen with our work with dyslexic students is that a lot of the problems they suffer from are solved when the teacher or parent is given different methods for presenting the same information. That is what we at “Dyslexia Victoria Online” are attempting to do with all the techniques we describe in our books and we will continue to do as we learn more about presenting information to students with dyslexic issues.