You are on page 1of 15

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom: Research and Reflection of Practice

Kathleen Croteau EdPse 520 Denise Heppner March 7, 2011

1|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

The national definition for a learning disability refers to a number of learning disabilities where the students demonstrate at least average abilities essential for thinking and/or reasoning (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 10, 2004) These are students capable of learning and thinking at an average level or above, they just require some adaptations to be able to express these ideas. Reading disabilities are often referred to as dyslexia and include individuals demonstrate difficulties in reading skills that are unexpected in relation to age, cognitive ability, quantity and quality of instruction and intervention. The reading difficulties are not the result of generalized developmental delay or sensory impairment (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 12, 2004). Students with learning disabilities may experience difficulties in a variety of areas including reading, written expression, mathematics, and/or nonverbal challenges on an individual or multiple basis, the lines of the actual diagnosis often run into more than one learning disability (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 12, 2004). This paper will examine the effects of reading and auditory processing difficulties for students in the secondary classroom as separate and combined challenges for students in English Language Arts while reflecting on my personal teaching experiences. Reading and auditory processing are vital to student success in the education system. These are skills worked on with students from the time they are in kindergarten and will be valuable assets all the way through post secondary educational endeavours. The ability to read greatly increases a persons quality of life and engagement in the world of knowledge around them. If you cannot read you cannot distinguish what foods are best for you, read for allergies, identify road signs to get where needed, or enjoy the literary world. Reading is one of the fundamental strands of English Language Arts and has been interwoven into the new Saskatchewan Curriculum through the outcome, Comprehend and Respond:
2|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

Students will develop their abilities to view, listen to, read, comprehend, and respond to a variety of contemporary and traditional grade-level-appropriate texts in a variety of forms (oral, print, and other media) from First Nations, Mtis, and other cultures for a variety of purposes including for learning, interest, and enjoyment (Saskatchewan Education Reference committee, 2009). and the English Language Arts strands of reading and listening. There are also many implications that follow the six critical elements in Reading: comprehension, fluency, vocabulary, phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. While these are skills that make life easier in our society of literacy and auditory sensory overload there are students who have learning disabilities that prevent this from being easy. In Fat city, the narrator put people who come in contact with LD people through simulations that would afford them daily experiences within the educational setting through the lenses of a LD child (Lavioe, 1989). Authors Background Growing up with writing difficulties and reading difficulties I understand how difficult it is to fit in, keep up, and what the labels of stupid or slow feel like. Fortunately for me, my parents implemented coping strategies for me and put in the extra hours at home until I learned to write my letters in a manner that was acceptable to my teachers and peers. The hours I spent screaming at the kitchen table, the torture I inflicted back upon my parents by screaming how much I hated my mother for being so mean to me, are some of the greatest and most valuable lessons of my life. Without that experience I would not be the person I am today with two degrees in English, an accomplished and accredited secondary teacher, amateur writer, nor would I have the connection I have with my LD students in the secondary setting. However, I endeavour to make coping, learning, and adapting learning disabilities to lifestyle a much more pleasant experience for my students as I am seeking training to do so. Students will respond much better to positive experiences than ones they perceive as negative.
3|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

By far the most frequently diagnosed learning disabilities are those that have to do with language ~ especially with reading (Camahalan, 2006). This makes my job as a resource teacher and an English Language arts teacher more complimentary when it comes to assisting students with reading and auditory processing challenges. Peter A. Cowden, quotes Blishcaka, Shah, Lombardino and Chiarella by stating, Children need to be able to read and write to not only communicate but to be accepted socially and to succeed in life as a reference to their study on phonemic awareness skills to decode spelling (2010). Currently I am teaching fully modified English Language Arts at the grade 12 level. Throughout my career I have taught English from grade 6 to the grade 12 level as well as a variety other subjects, but have the most experienced teaching English Language Arts. I have come across students with many exceptionalities but most commonly have had to adapt novel studies, and other independent projects for students with (reading disabilities) RD in order to stay accountable to the provincial curricula. I also find at the secondary level English Language Arts and resource teachers are left with the products of student frustration when they fail for the first time as they are used to non-retention policies in elementary and middle grades. Many students make it to the secondary world unable to read or with LD that have encouraged dependency on EAs or a pull out resource room model, working through this frustration and finding success and skill building is one of the main goals and challenges in secondary education. Inclusion for these students can be incorporated in such ways as selecting different reading materials, offering audio books, using on line resources such as sparks notes for plot summaries. With my most recent ELA 21 classes I read To Kill a Mockingbird in its entirety aloud while the students identified the information, vocabulary, and worked on the projects relating to the themes in the novel. I have the students follow along in the novel;

4|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

photocopied sections of the novel; downloaded the electronic and audio version; offered students highlighters, rulers; and other methods of tracking the words as I read them to encourage identification, pronunciation, and auditory cues for language development. I also found that there are some excellent free online sources of audio for this and other novels that were easily accessed through Google or the Saskatoon public library website. Reading Comprehension Reading comprehension involves many areas where learners can struggle including syntax, word meaning, morphemes, and phonological processing. Reading dyslexia can be considered a developmental reading disorder and may affect a persons comprehension of oral and/or written language (Camahalan, 2006). Teachers need to consider the adaptations needed for students who are diagnosed with these disorders. Most Educational Consultants and Psychologists whom perform the Educational Psychologist assessment send a report to the school. Privately completed assessments send the report to doctors or parents which may then be brought to the special education teachers and councillors whom work together to make a plan for the students to be successful. In my experience as a resource teacher and a regular classroom teacher, the adaptations suggested by the educational psychologist can be quite effective in supporting these students. This information is most effective when distributed to all of the students teachers in a record of adaptations document, I personally email all of the classroom teachers of my designated and tested students. These adaptations are suggestions that should not be hidden from classroom teachers. Most classroom teachers do not read cumulative folders of each student they teach, that is far too time consuming if you consider 25 to 35 students per hour to plan, prep and mark for, reading their cumulative folders is just not a reasonable expectation. As a resource teacher I work

5|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

for the school and the students to ensure all the legal obligations are met to adapt to the students I am aware of. We are legally obligated as educator to provide education to students until they are 22 years of age in a manner that does not violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, or the Education Act, 1985. Federal and provincial human rights legislation sets the context for policy development. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (1982), section 15(1) stipulates that every Canadian is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age, or physical disability. The right to an education in any school, institution or place of learning without discrimination is also articulated in subsection 13(1) of The Saskatchewan Human Rights Code, (1979). The Education Act, 1995 and The Education Regulations, 1986 establish that school divisions are the principal providers of education and ensure that students are provided with programs that are consistent with their needs and abilities (Saskatchewan Learning, 2002). In my current ELA 31 class we are attempting to complete Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm, and Hamlet, as well as an independent novel study before semester end. In order to find the appropriate themes, references, symbolism, and to hit objectives in other strands of ELA we have chosen to watch the move for Lord of the Flies, to read Animal Farm aloud while the students work on the activities, and to utilize the graphic novel version and the No Fear Shakespeare plain English paralleled beside the Shakespearian English version of Hamlet. When it comes to reading short stories and poetry I offer my grade 12 students a variety of lengths, fonts, colours, and high interest content stories. I encourage the students to participate in activities where we use different coloured pens and pencil crayons to underline the information we are looking for so it is easier to reference when answering questions or for discussion. We did one activity that was presented to me by a colleague, where a one page story is read 4 times from 4 different perspectives. Each time the story is read you look for information
6|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

about the House as if you are a different persona, a friend, home buyer, home security officer, or robber. Each persona is not disclosed until that time reading the story and each persona underlines the information relevant to their perspective. The first time, I read the story and we discuss what perspective we are looking from, what they would look for, and why the information was underlined. The second time it is a shorter discussion of the persona and more of a focus on the information after the story has been read aloud. The third time the personal is assigned and they compare in partners what they have underlined and why. The fourth time the students read the story and underline, then go into a writing activity explaining if they would rob the house, why/not and use the details from the story to plan, execute, and get away from the house. Or they can write from the point of the home security officer to stop a robber and point out all of the security risks. Reading Fluency With the independent novel study I use the term novel loosely. The students select a book at the beginning of the term. They will read the book and design a project around the 6 strands of English Language Arts to tell me about their choice. The reason novel is in quotations marks is I accept whatever level the student is comfortable reading at independently. I see many Archie comics, Manga, low level/high interest, sports editions, or romance novels. Whatever the students are going to persevere through, as long they can complete the assignment and justify their choice as to why this is an appropriate book for a high school student to read I am a happy teacher. Small successes in finishing writing students are interested in reading will encourage literacy to be connected to student interests, therefore leading to more lifelong learning and higher literacy goals.

7|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

I am fortunate to have another resource teacher to co teach with, and a fantastic EA so that we may divide the students up for smaller group focuses. I have taught without support in my room and still had to make the concessions to enable student learning. It can be embarrassing to be the only student who is reading a different novel, or to be stuck with the group of readers whom everyone knows are the struggling group. This by no means is wrong if used with caution and care but it does not per mote inclusion within the classroom, nor does it encourage students to build self efficacy and independence, which is my goal as a secondary educator in special education. Students need to learn to function within the educational setting but with skills that will assist them in the real world like searching for information, reading for pleasure, reading aloud, and persisting even if the literature is boring. Vocabulary Development To make these connections with reading disabled students is as important as building the strategies to cope and assist students. I have used software that comes free with Microsoft word for students to have the computer read to them. I can scan documents to allow the font size to change colour, shape, or size so that it is easier for the student to decipher. I even have the ability, knowledge, and technology to sit down with a student or group of students and build their vocabulary through inquiry based learning. If students have to look up every single word they will become frustrated and disengaged. However, if they find a certain number of words in everyday readings or bring a new word every day they become engaged in the process of language recognition and creating meaning within their lives, a big engagement in learning factor. This also encourages grammar as they can begin to find the usages of the word and parts of speech/how the word meaning changes with prefix and suffixes. We hit many syntactical and

8|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

morphemetical cues in this type of activity to build on student understanding and confidence in their reading. Most students will read aloud to an adult, one on one, in a non-threatening environment even into grade 12. I am very lucky to be able to send a check list with an EA to read with students one on one, or have another resource teacher work with my class while I read with my students one on one to assess where they are at and what exactly they need to improve their reading abilities. This affords me the opportunity to really develop strategies to cope, compensate, or develop the abilities of the student. Phonics Phonics includes the sounding of letters and common word, depending on which linguist you consult, you will discover there are between 42 and 45 sounds that make a meaning difference in our language; they are called phonemes and are the building blocks of words (blackboard). If you Google phonics, Wikipedia defines it as:

Phonics refers to a method for teaching speakers of English to read and write that language. Phonics involves teaching how to connect the sounds of spoken English with letters or groups of letters (e.g., that the sound /k/ can be represented by c, k, ck, ch, or q spellings) and teaching them to blend the sounds of letters together to produce approximate pronunciations of unknown words (Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., pp 1, 2011). These sounds and methods are usually seen as elementary concepts to learn. There are a few students who are learning challenged in this method and have difficulty speaking and reading due to these sounds being broken or not blended properly. This is more of a problem for oration than for individual reading. When students read aloud they may be self conscious of how they sound, or mistakes they may make and other students reaction to their reading. This is a struggle for many of us who can read and just dont like to read aloud. In Fat City Lavioe, has the audience imagine and
9|Page

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

experience having trouble pronouncing, differentiating and understanding the basic phonemic foundations of the English language (1989). It can be embarrassing but may also be coped with at the secondary level through reading in a safe environment; this is where one on one pull methods are not exclusionary but may be an effective method used to facilitate student learning. Students reading in small groups of other students who struggle may feel more accepted. Students are less likely to feel judged by their resource teacher or an educational assistant whom works with their grade. Students can also use computer software to assist in their listening to basic phonetically sound. The Earobics program is one such form of software that: aims to improve sound awareness, discrimination of sound in noise and quite, sequencing sound, associating sound with letters, understanding of complex directions with and without background noise, and memory for sounds and words, and include items to strengthen reading, spelling and comprehension (HooI Yin Loo, Bamiou, Campbell, & Luxon, 2010).

This same review found that the Earobics intervention seems to have a positive impact on the phonological awareness skills of children with limited evidence (showing no effect) on the efficacy of the program on improving reading and spelling skills( Hooi Yin Loo, Bamiou, Campbell, & Luxon, 2010). This is due to their not being any measure of spelling skills used by the three studies mentioned by Hooi, et al. More in-depth research would be needed to see if this program is useful in assisting language development as well as phonetic awareness. Students may find that the speak function found in Microsoft programs allows for repetition of these basic sounds but there is no feedback to the student if they are repeating the sounds correctly unless another human is in the room whom is trained to listen for those cues. Auditory/phonological Processing The most challenging group of students to adapt for are the RD students whom also have auditory processing problems that range from hearing sensitivities, to brain processing
10 | P a g e

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

complications. Auditory/phonological processing is when the ability to comprehend oral information and it is critical for the development of literacy skills (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 20, 2004). The ability to hear and mimic the language skills of adults, to process and understand the complex language patterns and word selections are directly related to auditory processing skills. If students do not hear this in their early years of developing language they usually pick it up through reading the written word. This will model the language foundations of grammar, word order, selection, and sentence patterns quite possibly more effectively that listening to others speak. Research shows that by mainstreaming the severely learning disabled students into a regular classroom improves their performance in all forms of literacy because (1) they are with less severe disabilities and disabled peers, (2)higher performance expectations of teachers, (3) use of daily routines as instructional opportunities, and (4) encouragement of the use of skills in meaningful, constructive ways (Cowden, 163, 2010).

I have generally observed less grammatical errors in published writing than in common conversation. Also, the work of same aged peers with various levels of ability benefits student learning and promotes acceptance of ability and differentiated learning. Within my ELA 31 class I focus with the students on their past successes. I am fortunate enough to be working actively on the cases of my diagnosed students or working closely with their case manager. Also, working with senior students, they know what does not work for them and have a general idea of what they have been successful at within the realm of English Language Art. Strategies that deliberately reflect on past success encourage transfer and increase the efficiency of learning (Camahalan, 2006). This has not always been the case for me as I am new to the world of special education. Within my secondary English classes I have found the most effective way to reach all students is to provide them with the text, read it aloud while they follow along, and encourage independent reading and oration in a variety of activities,
11 | P a g e

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

scenarios, and with various audiences. It is still effective to have student read to someone at home, have a work sheet filled out and the student assess their experience/progress. We compare these results with reading to a chosen peer, teacher, EA, and an assigned peer. This encourages the students to read aloud and listen to each other and hits the curricular objectives to read, speak, and listen with a purpose (Saskatchewan Education Reference Committee, 1999) For students with auditory processing problems this can be a daunting task. One student in particular this semester started out by refusing to be a part and offering me an alternate assignment that did not meet the same curricular outcomes. She and I sat down and found a way to make this a meaningful assignment to her. Since her language recognition and her speech patterns are not always accurate we took an elementary phonics identification sheet and attached it to her home assessment, EA assessment, and teacher assessment so she may identify which sounds she wants to work on with her SLP guidance (add to appendix). She chose to work in a group of three with two other students whom she socializes with and feels safe reading aloud and being assessed by. Her reading passage was read once as a sight read with the EA she has worked with for four years prior to her taking it home or reading with any other audience. She has found this to be a rewarding experience as she will always have to speak aloud in life and she works hard at focusing on what others say to her so that she does not miss important instructions or information. She has worked for many years with a SLP and the hearing resource teachers hired by the school division. Auditory processing and dyslexic tendencies combined. Mel Levine states, Active working memory craves peace of mind. Anxiety infects is like a computer virus (103, 2002). He makes this statement referring to short term memory recall in his book A Mind at a Time, but this holds true to so much learning when working with young
12 | P a g e

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

minds. It may even be true when working with developed and no learning challenged minds as well. Students with auditory processing and reading disabilities combined face anxiety every day they are at school. Within the secondary English Language Arts classroom they need to listen for instructions, read independently, or the scariest, be read to and expected to retain information to be retrieved in public later. Half the battle I face with these students in my classroom is taking the time to interview one on one to find out the issues and their fears. One student whom I taught a few years ago at the grade 7 level, in a rural school that still focused mainly on a pull out model appreciated that I would write all my instruction on the board in short form after I said them aloud. When I read to the class they all had access to the text as an option so he was not the only student reading along. I had an EA that year who took turns pulling all the students out at one point or another in a variety of groups, he did not feel he was being isolated because of his reading and auditory processing problems. He worked harder in that grade 7 year than he had in all 6 years previous. His grade 8 ELA teacher emailed me quickly at the beginning of the next school year as I had moved out of the division, and asked for a list of adaptations to help this young man succeed. He was adamant that he did not need as much pull out time as they wanted him to have. It is a small concession on at teachers behalf to ensure that students are receiving instructions in three ways each time: oral, written, and reading. I believe it was Dr. Fred Reekie who taught me that when I took my first Educational Psychology class in university. It was so simple and easy to do each time I taught. This way students all have equal access to the information unless they cannot process the information and read the information. The speed, tone, level, and frequency of auditory means can all have an effect on a students ability to process. Making adaptations to the amount of oral instruction we give can help all levels of

13 | P a g e

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

students learn more effectively. Sitting for an hour listening to someone lecture is not an effective method of teaching average minds. This is even more difficult for the not auditory learner. Taking notes is not the most effective method all the time either for average minds, and may be seen as torture for students with dyslexic minds. Once the stress is taken out the students will learn. Differentiated instruction benefits all learners regardless of ability or challenges. Conclusion Mel Levine states, By high school, kids should be actively applying their sharpened higher language functions, making use of verbal abilities as a precision tool for making sense of abstract and technical concepts, for polishing off a second language, and for lucid and eloquent writing (147, 2002). This is true of all levels of minds, it just takes longer or some extra help for the eloquent descriptions to take rise or head the forefront of all topics. Students are individual learners whom will specialize in their knowledge base and how they publish that information. Students with dyslexia and/or auditory processing problems can and will be successful life long learners once they have been taught the coping strategies that are relevant to their situation and needs. Students at the secondary level need to begin transitioning their skills and abilities to take them into the next phases of their life careers, post secondary or vocational training and experience. Even students who want to travel will need to be able to effectively communicate and listen to others. The Egnlish Language Arts Classroom at the grade 12 level is an excellent medium for this.

14 | P a g e

Reading and Auditory Processing in the Secondary English Language Arts Classroom

K. Croteau

Bibliography Cowden, P. A. (2010). Reading strategies for students with severe disabilities. ProQuest Educaiton Jounrals, 47(2) 162-166. Camahalan, F.M.G. (2006). Effects of a metacognitive reading program on the reading achievement and metacognitive strategies of students with cases of dyslexia. ProQuest Educational Journals, 43(2), 79-80. HooI Yin Loo, J., Bamiou, D. E., Campbell, N, & Luxon, L. M. (2010). Computer-based auditory training (cbat):benefits for children with language-and reading-related learning difficulties. Developmental Medicne and Child Nurolgoy , 52(8), 714. Lavioe, R, (Writer). (1989). F.A.T. city: how difficult can this be [DVD]. Levine, M. (2002). A mind at a time. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster Paperbacks. Saskatchewan Education Reference Committee. Department of Education, Saskatchewan Learning. (1999). Curriculum guide at the secondary level: english language arts Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Learning. Retrieved from http://www.sasked.gov.sk.ca/docs/ela102030/index.html Saskatchewan Education Reference Committee. Department of Education, Saskatchewan Learning (2009). Curriculum guide at the elementary level: English language arts. Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Learning. Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.ca/education/litplace_earlyyears/corr-sk_g3.pdf Saskatchewan Learning. Department of Education, Saskatchewan Learning. (2002). Childrens services policy framework (ISBN 1-894743-39-3). Saskatchewan: Saskatchewan Learning. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. (2011). Phonics. Wikipedia. Retrieved March 5, 2011, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonics Williams, J.A., & Lynch, S.A. (2010). Dyslexia: what teachers need to know. Kappa Delta Pi Record , 46(2).

15 | P a g e