I'm almost through the book, "The Dyslexic Advantage" by Eide and Eide, MDs, (2011). In quite the same way when I read John Dewey's book on Education and Democracy, I read several paragraphs in the Dyslexic Advantage and then have to stop, recollect and ponder what might have been in my life.
It has become increasing clear that we have to teach our wanna-be teachers in new methods of dealing with children and students that have different learning styles. Phonics is not the only answer to teaching of reading although I have taught phonics, I did teach other methods of reading. And I believe we are on the brink of a new education in our society. The iPad (regardless of the make) will revolutionize our teaching whether we want it to change or not. It just will and we teachers will have to catch up.
For example, I've been reading some children's stories on my iPad. Now remember some Dyslexics can see better off a screen then on regular paper. Let us imagine a second grade student reading in a grade level reading book. The assignment by the teacher is for the class (or reading group) to read the stories and answer the questions written on the blackboard. Sound familiar? So our young student does just that--she/he likes to read. However she comes to a word which she/he tries to sound out phonetically which she/he does but still doesn't understand the meaning of the word. Seeing in context also doesn't help this student. What to do? In an ordinary traditional class, the proper behavior is for the student to raise their hand in the air, indicating a need for teacher's help. However, teacher has a few other hands to assist before getting to our young student.
Now consider this same student reading the same story on an ipad. Same sentence and same stumbling block--same word. Only this time the student places her index finger on the word and holds it there for a short moment. Quickly a dictionary explanation of the word is popped up over the reading page. It will even say the word out loud if requested. Still don't understand? Here is another pop-up frame showing, doing or examples of the word in action. It is better then a hassled teacher. Hey, this even works for us adults. There are a lot of words I just don't understand--some of which have been invented by the younger crowd. I want to stay connected.
Decording words and then understanding their meaning is the basis for reading. If you can't read well you are in trouble in this society. I can attest to this fact personally.
When I entered the doctoral program at the University of Washington my mode of operation was to write all my papers on a small electric typewriter. [side bar: did you know when they first invented the typing machine, the people, mostly women, who learn to type were called Typewriters. Over the years the name has moved from person to machine] I would rough out my paper on paper and then sit at the typewriter and begin to compose my paper for whatever class i was taking. After the first draft, I would go back and redefine it and smooth it out the best I could. Then I would hand it to my wife who would mark it up--primarily with two types of markings, one for understanding (this sentence doesn't make sense) or spelling errors. The latter were numerous. She would put in the correct spelling for me. I then re-typed the paper and returned it to her for final checking. Once approved, I would then use 26 pound water marked paper for my final work. Yes, yes, it had white ink on it as my typing was not always that good. Lynn would do a final reading and then I'd used the three holed punch and put it a hard folder.
I had done some simple research during my masters program. I handed a stack of student papers and asked a number of professors to grade them without reading the material in them. They (the professors) were to look at the papers but not read them for content. Papers in folders consistently got higher marks, probably because they were easier to write on the paper--hard material behind them.
So that was my modus operandi. You with me so far? Writing papers was time consuming operation. Fast forward with me to the early eighties and I'm now a professor at Western Washington University in media communications (in education). I was the preverbal audio-visual guy. But I was still fascinated by computers and had already bought a 16K Processor Technology computer. Very, very simple, it didn't even have a form of saving your work. I basically learned to program on it--and not very well at that. We gave it to the university and they in turn gave me a letter saying we donated this machine and it was worth so much money in kind. But that gave me some saving on my income tax and Lynn and I went to Seattle to buy our second computer.
I remember driving down I-5 quite excited. We were going to buy a Osborn 1 computer that had good write-ups and was a next generation microcomputer. The shop and it indeed was a small shop was just outside the university district had a stack of these computers in the store window. They came in a case that looked much like a sewing machine but when the top was folded back it looked more like a World War II radio, black with a little green screen perhaps five inches. It had two slots on either side and a keyboard.