As a teacher, I am seeking resources for working with a student. She currently hates doing homework, has a hard time with spelling basic sight words, and is on a 2nd grade reading level.
What suggestions do you have for working with this student? Also do you know of a talk to text app she can use to help her with writing? She is very articulate and can synthesize information.

Dr. Pierson's Response: 
First of all, she needs direct instruction in spelling. An assessment, even a straight-forward spelling test like the Test of Written Spelling-5, can be used to evaluate where she is breaking down with spelling -- at the phonological (i.e., sound) level or the orthographic level (i.e., understanding letter-sound combinations and spelling patterns and rules). I have information here about how to assess and treat spelling here . Once her error patterns are known, then work should begin where she is breaking down. Word study should also include understanding of morphology. It is very important at her age to target base words and roots, as well as prefixes and suffixes. You can read more about this here.

Similarly, she needs a good assessment of her reading skills -- phonological processing, decoding, fluency, and comprehension in order to know where to begin and how to help her. I've got information about what an evaluation should entail here. Intervention really cannot begin until we have a good understanding of a student's underlying strengths and weaknesses.

I am sure the reason she hates doing homework is that the reading, spelling, and writing is beyond her skill set. The best option here until she improves her skills is to modify the homework. Rather than 20 problems, she needs to do 5 or 10 -- to show that she understands the concept. Rather than having to write it down, she should be allowed to dictate her answers. Can you get a high school student to work with her on homework? Does she have an IEP? She certainly has some flags that indicate dyslexia to me. Can she go to the resource room to get help with her homework before she goes home?

There are a number to speech-to-text programs available (and she would also benefit from a text-to-speech program to have text read aloud to her while she follows along). Dragon Dictate is a reputable one. I've got some listed here.

If she doesn't have an IEP, 1) she should be evaluated for special education services and 2) possibly, you could get some advice from the learning disability specialist in your building. If he/she could use some help in advising you, send them the link to the professional portal on DyslexiaHelp ( here) for information.

Also, this student needs to understand her strengths and weaknesses. Maybe reading some of our Success Stories with her can help her begin to contextualize her challenges and have hope for the future. Those can be read here . I’d also recommend sharing some of Dr. Michael Ryan’s blogs with her, depending on her age.

Last, thank you for advocating for this child. So many times these kids get written off by their general education teacher and 'lazy and dumb' -- and they are ANYTHING BUT...Clearly, you realize that! I really appreciate you reaching out on her behalf.

It's challenging for me to answer these questions fully via this format, so if you have others, please don't hesitate to ask!