“WHAT IS DYSLEXIA?” Dyslexia Victoria Online is introducing videos on Dyslexia Awareness, Teaching, Accommodations & Resources

We are introducing a series of videos about Dyslexia awareness, teaching and learning strategies, accommodations, computer programs and resources for children and adults. If you are interested please email us at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca”.

We are also planning to have some webinars and involve people in the discussion portions of the webcast.
We welcome you to join us!

Cheers! Happy New Year!
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online


The best thing to do is watch the video first then read the blog, go ahead I’ll wait.

Wasn’t that neat?! The actual event is a fund raising event for a large child support association called “Nanaimo Child Development Centre” or “NCDC” in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada. The purpose is to gather funding for the NCDC and their great programs. Businesses and associations register a team who enter the various segments of the race. The grand prize is a trophy and the knowledge that you have helped kids. Here’s another cool part though, the “boats” have to be assembled at the park, the build must be done in 4 hours AND all the parts must be recycled goods and the “boat” must have nothing but human power. No engines, no electricity. So you will notice lots of shovels and brooms made into paddles. Notice the boat in the video that has the paddlewheel? That’s me with the red hat and my son and my business partner, Karey Hope. The same Karey Hope who is the Dyslexic founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online. In fact the entire project was done by members who are either Dyslexic or really, really right-brained like my son and me.

I have mentioned the Vancouver Island Dyslexia Association (VIDA) in previous blogs but here is a brief recap. This association is located in Nanaimo and I am a board member. Most of the board members and the founder are Dyslexic. The association has an informational website and holds general meetings once a month, as well, they are building on their parents support group. About 6 ago months we became aware of the Silly Boat race and decided it would be a good opportunity for VIDA to get some exposure to both the media and the general public. Our information booth in the local park and the boat itself certainly did attract lots of attention.

Leonardo Davinci is DyslexicOkay now you have a quick explanation of what the video is about. Our entire boat project was devised, planned, built, disassembled and rebuilt at the beach by Dyslexics. And I will tell you why I think this is so important. Normally when an association or business or corporation, or whatever, decides to embark on a big project there will be lots of discussion and planning and more discussion and more decisions and generally lots of inertia to overcome. One to the strengths we mention when we talk about Dyslexic individuals is their ability to see the “Big Picture” or how to problem solve or how they think outside the box. In the instance of this project the solution, which was actually the entire design and build of the boat, was already figured out by the 2 designers of the boat before we could even start to make the committee that was supposed to be in charge of the project. The two “J’s” who are both proudly Dyslexic, an aeronautical engineer and scientist had the boat built in their minds and brought a scale model of the boat to a meeting months before we had even registered for the “race”. The inspiration for the boat came from another famous Dyslexic, Leonardo da Vinci, that’s why the boat was named the “Leonadro da VIDA”.

This was the first time we had ever entered this event and even against other entries who had been there on previous races we almost won, not only our individual race but the whole event. If you watch the video closely you will see we were actually pushing another boat in to the shore when it turned in front of us and we locked “hulls”. In fact they weren’t even paddling for the last part of the race.

We were invited to come again next year and the plans are in the works for that. We already have plans for a “Leonardo da VIDA, Mark 2”. The new boat will be more streamlined, have a bigger paddlewheel, a four person drive system and faster. We need to find some recycled paint so we can make it more colorful. Yes it was lots of fun for everybody involved and for the public who attended and we certainly hope we helped NDCD with our efforts.

Later in the year we will produce a longer video that will have a full story about the build and the brilliant Dyslexic people involved.

Happy Trails!
Howie deGraaf
Editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online
or email me at: degraaf@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Brad Elder – an Eloquent Dyslexic Spokesperson

Recently I was looking up some specific info for a client from our book “Assessments and Evalutions” for Dyslexics.  My mother and partner, Jan Turner put this book together outlining and detailing our methods for assessing for Dyslexia.  When I was going through the book I noticed an introduction that I had never paid attention to before.  It was an excerpt  from a Dyslexic gentleman named “Brad Elder” from one of his webpages about being Dyslexic.  I was fascinated, called Jan and asked her about him.  Jan said he and she had communicated for  awhile a few years ago about Dyslexia.  They had ideas in common and differences of opinion which she found really interesting.  She said he was a really fascinating  man to talk to in regards to Dyslexia, what it is to experience it and how to work with it.

I decided to track down his webpages and I found his home page and then other ones connected to it. I also Googled his name and found more.  I also found many commonalities in our beliefs and approaches to Dyslexia and his list of sources are helpful and his view of  the experience of  Dyslexia is very moving and enlightening for those trying to understand how it feels,  how to deal with it and to realize as Dyslexics we are not alone.

So I have quoted part of his home page and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.  I strongly suggest you go to his other webpages and review Brad Elder’s information and sources.  Also, I am trying to find a good email address or phone number for Brad.  If anyone knows how to contact him, please let me know.  You can email me at: khope@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Brad Elder  and Dyslexia

Brad Elder and Dyslexia

So here is my tail.

Sorry but its a little cluttered.

by Brad Elder

I have left this un spell checked so that you can see my world a little better.

Like I said this is really hard to put into words.  Hard on the emotional level.  But I think it will help me to do it.  And I hope it will help you.

Ok,  where to start.  well I was diagnosed in the 6th graid.  That really helped!!!  It was the single biggest event in my life.  Suddenly there was a name for my problem.  I wasn’t lazy, or didn’t cair, or was………  what ever they called me that week.  It was like the unevers was lifted off my sholders.  I think I know what it must be like to slowly sufficate.  I don’t know really how to describe it to you but i’ll try:

Imagen that nobody could see their hands.  Everybody in the world.  Nobody can see anything from the elbo down.   Also assume that everybodys  hands work just like thay do right now today.    Now what if your hands didn’t work like “the normal hand”?   What If you didn’t have any fingers?  Everyone else can type, turn keys, scrach an ich, dress them sleves, tie there shoes, and feed them sleves.  Every one but you.  No one can see why you can’t “Do what everyone else can”.  You don’t know  why you can’t do what “normal” kids can.  You just know you can’t.   you walk and talk just like every one else.  there is no way to see an obvous reason why you can’t do it.  Adults don’t know.  How could they.  All they can see is a kid that isn’t doing what they were told to do.   And they lable you lazy, slacker, rebbel, and what ever they can come up with…….They my even point you out to your class mates and tell them not to be like you.

Rember You Have NO Idea Why You Can Not Do What The Normal Kids Do.


All you know is that no matter what,  nomatter how hard you try,  you just can’t do it.   You will,  as your only choise, beleave the adults.  You must be lazy.  You must really be a slacker.  How could anyone be as worthless as you? the other kids susceed.  They must be trying.  You, there for, are not trying.

I want you to stop here and think about this senario.  Where does a Child go from here?  where does a Child go when they KNOW, becaues everyone tells them, they beleave with all there heart,  they are worthless?  Who does a Child turn to when everyone (even your parents) give up on you?

I really  want you to think hard about that.


This was me at ten years of age.  I wanted to die.  Not because I was depresed (though I’m shure I was) but because I was imbarsed to be alive.  I was imbarsed for my parents,  for my sisters, for my teachers.    I loved them all and respected there openions.  After all they could do what I could not.  How could anyone deserve the burden of putting up with me?

Don’t you quit!!!

How are you going to get help?  no one, not even you know the truth.  you have no fingers!!!  thats it.  Nothing sinester about your behavior.  you just don’t have any fingers!!
Your only chance will be if someone actualy sees you.  and says to them self “what a nice kid.  shurly if they could have tied their shoe thay would have.  I wonder why they don’t?”  If your luckey they will have heard of a handy cap called “nofinger” that has symptems like yours.  And they will sugest that you get testing.

To parents reading think about this.  How can a Child get help if the parents don’t want to help?  “My Kid Is Normal!”  “Not My Son!!”  “My Daughter Is Just Quiet”.  the world cann’t help unless you allow it.  I don’t know what self centered fears parents have about children,  But try and rember “a rose by anyother name would smell as sweet”.  your child is alive and suffering and is a rose by any name.  Any help you can give them will help them bloom.  Many of my friends in the LD classes I have through out my life never were alowed to sucesed because their parents refeusd th help.

Don’t you quit!! (eather of you)

Now suppose all the politics required in getting parents, teachers and famly menbers involved come togeather and you are going to get tested.
You probably won’t know or cair about whats going on.  You have spent 10 years being told and fearmly beleaving that you are just dumb and lazy.  And lord knows you have seen your shair of tests.  The test is a new fangled machane that takes a picture of your hand and can see what we can’t.  after the test you are shown the results and have them explained to you.

you are not lazy.  you just don’t have any fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse no one could tie there shoes if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could dress them selves if they didn’t have fingers!!!
Of corse no one could type if they didn’t have fingers!!!!!!!
Of corse!!!!!!!!

I hope that helps you under stand.   I finaly knew why I couldn’t tie my shoes.  There was a reason.  and it wasn’t because I was lazy!

I really got mad after that.  I was mad at all my teachers.  mad at everyone who was trusted with my life and failed!  I soon (longer for others) forgave them all as They  did’t know anymore than I that there was aproblem (execpet that they did’t lisson to me.  But who lissons to a 10 yr old who doesn’t do what he is told).  I thought that that was it!  I’d  just show the teachers “look here are my test results, look no fingers!  I can’t type.  but I can tell you the answer.”
well that didn’t happen. All, most all, of them didn’t buy it.  and a few were determind to show the class and the world that I was a faker.   My math teachers were indeferent.  They didn’t cair about it at all. and they didn’t change anything.  but at least they didn’t fight me.  a few of my english teachers realy let me have it.   I couldent rember the alphibet, (and still can’t!!) but had to sit in on recesse and after school to look up the spelling of words.

Now if you have no fingers how can you type?   how comical would it be if you were held in the class room during recess and after school because you didn’t finish or didn’t do your typing corectly?  I wasn’t laughfing then and can only find sad hummer in it now, but that was my life in the sixth grade.  Dyslexiecs generaly can’t spell or do math because we revers letters and numbers.  I still (as you can see) can’t spell. K through 12th grade and I was punished for not being able to spell through it all.  Just as if I had no fingers and was being punished for not being able to type.  The logic behind it is insane!!!  I was going to flunk remadal english in the 6th grade.  remeadial english is nothing but spelling. its the spelling class from hell.  my teacher would make me stay in from recess and after school EVERYDAY!!!!! correcting the spelling on my test.  How do you spell a unknown word?  you look it up?

For more of this entry from Brad Elder please follow this link:

Welcome to Brad (Darb) Elder’s Dyslexia page

Also Google his name Brad Elder for other pages related to him.

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Dyslexia Friendly Schools in the UK Benefit all Children

New Zealand 4D Dyslexia ProgramIn England they have Dyslexia Friendly schools that use teaching systems suitable for  Dyslexics and they have found that not only are the Dyslexic students doing better, the “normal”  students are achieving higher grades.  A reality check that might cause educating bodies to take a hard look at our teaching methods in general especially with literacy scores in many western countries dropping every year.

Educational programs across the world should take the possibility of dyslexic students into serious consideration. A recent US News & World Report article indicates that as many as one in five college students may suffer from some form of dyslexia. Top-notch traditional schools and the best online college programs should ensure that their curriculum is conducive to students suffering from dyslexia. Neil MacKay, an international  dyslexia consultant who has worked with the British Dyslexia Association,  Education Authorities and departments in the UK, Hong Kong and Malta has much to say about the benefits of  Dyslexia Aware and Friendly Schools.

From data collected by Neil MacKay, dyslexia-aware schools in the UK are recording improvements in arrange of measurable indicators, including attendance, attainment (measured through data), achievement(measured through assessment for learning), student and parental confidence, not just for dyslexic students,but also for a wide range of vulnerable learners.

This data, collected from schools engaged in the UK Quality Marking initiative – which recognizes schools for the quality of their inclusive practice – shows improved attendance and punctuality once teaching  styles, methods and materials are modified with a dyslexia-aware focus. This focus enables teachers to pull together a range of approaches into a coherent response, and head teachers comment that once they get it right for dyslexic students, this seems to enhance the learning of a majority of pupils in the school, with or without specific learning needs. For those with dyslexia, significant gains towards closing the learning gap have been made, with improvements recorded specifically in writing, reading, maths and science following targeted support.

Quoted from: “4D is For Dyslexia (a Guide for New Zealand Schools

I strongly suggest you check out their websites and informational pdf files on their progress with getting Dyslexia Awareness Programs into the schools and recognized by the New Zealand government.  Very exciting stuff and a positive hopeful note for the future of all Dyslexics.

power to the dyslexic people“Power to the Dyslexic People”

(Okay, maybe I’m getting a little too enthusiastic.  We do need to start working together to overcome a world that doesn’t understand our special way of thinking and unlimited talents)

Cheers till next time.
Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Karen Hope- Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria

What Is Dyslexia?

The left hemisphere thinks and expresses ideas in terms of letters, words, and numbers. It coordinates information in a computer-like fashion, giving it structure and sequence. It is linear in operation. Most importantly, it understands abstract words and ideas. It is the location in our brains where verbal language is processed and where about half of the world’s population decodes, processes and produces written language.

The right hemisphere thinks in whole concrete images and pictures.  It does not like to break down words into their phonemes (sounds of individual letters or groups of letters). These only confuse the right-brained person who thinks in whole concrete pictures. Phonetic sounds have no meaning on their own, and cannot be easily processed and stored as images in long term memory. Storing information depends on having all the parts present in a whole context such as the complete image of a printed word or a complete lesson or assignment. Through memorizing whole words the right brain understands what the words are symbols for.

Unfortunately, most of our teaching and learning depends on reading, listening and writing in abstract words and numbers that cannot be turned into whole concrete pictures. The dyslexic student learns very differently from the left brain, and so must be taught differently.

The Dyslexia Victoria Online approach to being right-brained or dyslexic offers alternative teaching methods, insights and explanations for the many learning problems classified as dyslexia. Our most important realization has led us to stop treating it as a learning disability. Our classroom and tutoring experiences, assessment and evaluation program, and our work with parents who are homeschooling their children have shown us that the right-brained student is generally very intelligent, but often held back by a number of learning differences that are overlooked by educational systems.

However, to be able to use these learning traits in the modern world predominantly right-brained persons still need to be able to spell, read, write, and work with mathematical numbers and concepts.

For more information about Dyslexia and our teaching solutions check out our website at: www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

Hope to hear from you. You can email me at: jturner@dyslexiavictoria.ca

Karey Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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Dyslexia is a Learning Difference, not a Learning Disability

In our Dyslexia Awareness workshops we talk extensively about how we look at Dyslexia as a learning difference or style, not a learning disability.  However for the last twenty-five years “Dyslexia” has been used incorrectly as a common term for a wide range of learning disabilities.  I heard one teacher refer to it as an “umbrella” for any type of reading, spelling or writing problem.  If a person can’t learn to spell or read they must be dyslexic.

Another common perception of Dyslexia that irks us is the medical opinion that Dyslexics are broken.  Their brains are wired wrong.  Without this particular wiring we would not have Einstein, Churchill, Leonardo Da Vinci, Bill Gates, Richard Branson, many of the actors in Hollywood, Edison, Jackie Stewart and Jay Leno to name a few. Their “faulty” wiring was part of why they became who they are.

Albert Einstein

Churchill - dyslexic

Leonardo DaVinci - dyslexic

Bill Gates - dyslexic

Richard Branson - famous Dyslexic

Edison - famous Dyslexic

Jackie Stewart - famous Dyslexic

Jay Leno - famous Dyslexic

So when we talk about a different learning style what do we mean?  Let me explain by asking a question.  Do you have a particular innate talent such as being an artist (painter, sculptor, writer, poet, etc.), musician, exceptional athlete, gifted mathematician or scientist, intuitive mechanic that can always figure out what’s wrong, star race car driver, a comedian or maybe a natural orator?

But if you do not consider yourself an artist for example and can’t draw anything more detailed than a stick figure because your brain does not provide you with the ability to draw does that make you broken?  If the highest level of math you ever managed was fractions and percentages, forget algebra, geometry or trigonometry, are you wired wrong?

If you are not proficient with these types of abilities no one realizes or cares.  No one points at you and says you have no ear for music and your singing is like listening to a cat screeching (unless you feel the need to demonstrate to everyone that you can’t sing). But if you are Dyslexic everyone notices that spelling is really difficult for you and that you can barely read or write.  You ask a lot of questions all the time before you get on with a task.  You can’t tell time or read a clock so you have difficulty with arriving somewhere on time.  You misunderstand questions unless they are really specific because you think about everything from many different directions and levels.  You have difficulty communicating because you think in images, not words and sometimes can’t find your words when you are talking so you stumble or say the wrong thing.  People might think you are stupid, lazy or annoying. These issues are hard to hide.  However nobody notices that you are not a gifted race car driver unless you are in a race.

Spelling, reading, writing and number systems were created about 3000 to 5000 years ago (depending on the authority quoted) and learning and working with them are not natural abilities we are born with like talking.  Children are trained to spell and read from a young age by using parts of the brain that have made new connections with each other to accomplish these cognitive tasks.  In Dyslexics these connections are not made the same way as they are in left-brained people who read and spell easily and well.  A Dyslexic brain processes information differently with other areas of the brain and does not respond well to left-brain teaching methods. This can result in problems with spelling, reading, identifying and understanding numbers and other tasks that are related to them.  So if reading,  spelling and numbers are not naturally hardwired into our brains why do we say a Dyslexic brain is broken if it has difficulty performing these skills?

With more and more new information coming from medical and scientific research maybe Dyslexia will finally come to be considered what we believe it is – a learning difference.  Then teaching skills for spelling, reading, writing and arithmetic can be taught in a way a Dyslexic does understand rather than forcing us to use methods appropriate for a left-brained person.

Karey Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Karey Hope - Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

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Dyslexics don’t See Words in their Minds, they See Pictures

When you ask a dyslexic/right-brain child or adult what they “see” in their minds when you tell them to imagine a concrete word such as “car” they will usually tell you they see a picture of a specific car or multiple cars – they don’t see the word “car”.  Normally when you ask a left-brain person what they “see” when you ask them to think about the word “car” they will see the written image of the word in their mind, a car or a car and the word. But generally they can visualize the word when they need to.

How right-brain and left-brain people think about a word

This is a huge difference between a right-brain and left-brain thinker.  Dyslexics have a difficult time trying to learn to read because they see pictures of what the word is, not the symbols of written language that represent the word.

Now let’s take abstract words.  To a dyslexic words like “up”, “down”, “when”, “now”, “is” are difficult to learn how to spell and remember if they can’t easily visualize the idea of “down”.  They need context so they can come up with a visual image to understand and remember these type of words.  You can have a dyslexic practice these words with all the different methods to learn to spell and read that are appropriate for dyslexics along with visualization exercises to pair the meaning of the word with a concrete image in their minds.

One way to have dyslexics practice visualizing abstract words is having the student write sentences using these abstract words in a sentence that represents  a clear picture in their minds of what this abstract word means.

For example, go to Google Images, google a word like “down” and you will get many webpages of concepts of what “down” can mean.  Have your dyslexic student pick images of “down” that make sense to them, copy the pictures to your computer into a document in a program like  Microsoft Word and then on the same page create and write sentences about the picture using the word “down”.  The sentences can be serious or silly, whatever pleases your student.   Always remember to keep the picture and sentences on one page so that they connect the picture with the word as this will help them remember the written image of the word “down”.  This method can be used effectively paired with individual concrete words (animal, place or thing).

Teaching methods for the dyslexic should always incorporate the idea that they see “whole concrete images” best. Dyslexics will often learn how to spell and read words more successfully if they can use their ability to see pictures of the meaning of a word paired with seeing the word as a picture and not several parts and individual letters. For example: instead of emphasis on the letters in the word “d-o-g” they are taught “dog” as a total picture.

More on this another day.

Karen Hope
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online

Large Print Books for Dyslexic Students and Adults

Large Print Books for Dyslexics

Today I would like to talk about large print books for dyslexics. When we work with dyslexic adults or children we notice that reading small print is often difficult and tedious like slogging through mud.   They cannot track print on a page or see the individual words and letters.  They see all the text on a page as one entire image and cannot separate one word from the other.

Some dyslexics can read small text, but the process  of reading can be exhausting requiring all their mental energy and concentration to decode the words so comprehension becomes very difficult.  Often the dyslexic will read passages over and over trying to understand what they have read because their brain was concentrating on seeing and recognizing the words and cannot retain the information in their short term memory or move it onto long term memory.

So what can be done to help with this problem? One way is using large print books. They make it easier to see the words separately from each other and from other lines of text. The brain doesn’t have to concentrate so hard on decoding because the pictures of each word can be easily differentiated from other words. Comprehension and memory is improved and reading doesn’t feel like such a hard job.

Many children’s books are set in large print and should definitely be used with dyslexic students if at all possible. There are many websites that sell large print books for older children and adults. You can also find them in bookstores or libraries.

I have provided a couple of websites that I found that also sell large print books. www.largeprintbooks.com and www.amazon.ca/large-print-Books or www.amazon.com/Large-Print-Books

For more information and teaching solutions for dyslexia check out books on our homepage at www.dyslexiavictoria.ca

Thanks for listening.
Karen Hope
Co-founder Dyslexia Victoria Online

Karen Hope, Dyslexia Victoria Online

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“Chalk Talk” for Dyslexic Students

Chalktalk for DyslexicsIn 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.

Chalk Talk for DyslexicsWhen 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.

Happy Trails!

Howie deGraaf
Editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online
Jan Turner
Co-founder of Dyslexia Victoria Online
Wrote the “The Five Steps to Learning “
developed from Karen Hope’s and her

The Five Steps to Learning for Dyslexic Students

Dyslexic Children in Classroom
This week we are going to talk about what a dyslexic student needs to learn new skill sets in the classroom and in their personal lives.

In the second chapter of our book “Dyslexia or Being Right Brained” we have listed a five step procedure called THE FIVE STEPS TO LEARNING.  (To check out the book click: Dyslexia or Being Right-brained)


1. WHY? Why must I learn this? (Purpose)The student must first know WHY it should accept an assignment or do a lesson.

2. WHAT? What do you expect to find in my answer(s)? The student must be trained to take notes, choose appropriate materials, focus, organize and develop answers that present ideas in a logical sequence on the question or topic to be discussed.

3. HOW? How do I present my answers? Orally or written, single words, sentences, paragraphs or essays? How do I write each of these forms? The skills required are the basic rules of grammar, sentence structure, paragraph and essay formats. The student must be shown the full process of these language formats for organizing the ideas and answers either for visual, written or oral presentation.

4. WHEN? When do I start, finish and hand in the assignment? The student must be instructed when to start on the assignment, in class or at home and when it must be finished for correcting or handing in for marking. Without these instructions they don’t understand the time limits involved and may panic without them and may even be unable to do the assignment at all.

5. OUTCOME? What have I learned, how will I use this information in future? The student must perceive the whole picture, its outcome and future applications in lessons or assignments if the student is to do the work successfully.

These are questions that a parent or teacher should ask themselves when presenting a topic of study or project to be done like a science or social studies project, or anything for that matter. The teacher needs to make sure that the instructions are stated in a way that answers these 5 questions.

They refer to how information is best presented to a dyslexic or right-brained student. We can never assume that what appears basic, obvious and easy to understand to us is going to be so to every student in the classroom. In most instances, if the dyslexic student does not get answers to all their questions for an assignment they can be paralyzed into inaction.

Actually this format works well for all students, I’ll go into this in a little bit.  To begin with, these questions were created by Karen Hope, the co-founder of the TURNER-HOPE METHOD.  In earlier blogs, see Rants and Raves from Dyslexia Victoria Online “The Story of a Dyslexic Mother and Daughter” we have mentioned Karen’s struggles with getting her three dyslexic children taught in the regular school system in California. Her struggles started with Genevieve when she was 7 years old and was diagnosed with dyslexia. For the next 15 years Karen helped her children understand their learning styles and devised the teaching techniques demonstrated in our books.

Karen quickly realized that the right-brained learning style of her children put certain restrictions on how they learned. As is now obvious to any person aware of right-brained or dyslexic issues, the “Big Picture” is of huge importance. We have seen and read that every person who is a right-brained learner needs to see the limits of a task; they need to know what the end result is supposed to look like. They also need to know all the little steps that make up the big picture, which is the purpose of the 5 points listed above.

The over-all purpose of the 5 Steps list is to give you, the teacher or parent, an understanding of what the questions mean that these students are asking after you assign the task. Many teachers we have spoken to are left confused and overwhelmed at the number and manner of questions that some students ask after the teacher has assigned a topic. If you ask yourself if your instructions to the student answer the points of the 5 Steps, chances are that you have presented the assignment in a way that makes sense to the right brained students and the rest of the class as well. Here is an example of a method that worked for me in later life.

While taking some Civil Engineering courses about 10 years ago one of my classes was taught by a former highway maintenance foreman. Even though he was not in any way qualified to be a teacher or professor his class in highway design was one of the least difficult ones because of his “Chalk talk”.

He started the class with a 5 minute explanation of what we had learned the class before, what we were going to do that day, what we were going to learn and how we were going to do the tasks. He had all this information printed on the blackboard too. Unintentionally he had created a lesson format that worked for a right-brained student (me) and the whole class. The rest of the class really appreciated the way he did his classes and he told me that he had started all of his work crews with the same method.

So the lesson for today is all about perceptions, again. It really is hard to blame the teachers of the school systems here in Canada and America, most of the skills they need to recognize various learning issues are not taught very well during their training. And as long as these learning disabilities are dealt with as they have been in the past and up to now it is going to tough for us to deal with the solutions. If you look at the 5 Steps and realize that they are asking us to appreciate what the dyslexic student needs to know then we can be one step closer towards helping these individuals. It is of utmost importance that we not act with impatience or dismiss any of the questions of these students. It really isn’t a lot to ask and as long as the school districts can’t allocate the funds necessary then it’s up to us. Now that is a whole shift of perceptions of what can be done.

Happy Trails!

Howie deGraaf
Editor for Dyslexia Victoria Online