Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Reading Hard: Why Some Students Find Reading Challenging and How to Overcome The Problem

by Mark Abella

When students tell me they find reading hard, it reminds me of Ravi's story. Ravi immigrated to the US and failed every one of his spelling exams. After his teacher introduced him to me he began to get A's on each one.

What was interesting is the rest of his grades starting to improve also. So what was going on there?

Well this has to do with breaking down what was actually happening. We were focused on words, getting an understanding of words. So this may be a weird question, but what are words? What are they? Well, words - let me back up here.

Let's go into a story. If you watched that movie with Tom Hanks and that ball, he's trapped on that deserted island, Castaway.

You don't even have to watch it, it's Tom Hanks, he's stuck on an island, it's just him, and he's got this ball.

He's just hanging out with this volleyball there and he gets really lonely and so he starts talking with this volley ball. And it seems like the ball is talking back to him after he's there for like 4 years or so.

Let's imagine he, the ball itself, Wilson, needs to learn words now. So how do we teach Wilson words?

What we'd do is we'd pick up some sand, right? And then we'd pour the sand around Wilson, say "Alright Wilson, sand. Sand." And then hopefully Wilson will be like "OK, that's sand." And you're like "Good. Good, OK, you got it. Sand."

So we're making these funny sounds with our mouths, and then hopefully he repeats those sounds back.

And we go to the water. We pick up the water and splash it around and we say "OK Wilson, water. Water." And then Wilson's like, "OK, that's called water." "Alright, good Wilson. You got it, you got it."

And then we just keep doing that. We take these sounds and we attach them to different things and we get tree next and we just go throughout the island, and eventually we can trade ideas back and forth with Wilson, we can go back and forth and we communicate ideas.

So what are words? They're the ways that we can share ideas back and forth, originally through sounds and then eventually we wrote them down, because we're cool like that.

So what was Wilson getting? What was Ravi getting? What do we get when we're small babies growing up, when we start learning these words? Well, we get the basic building blocks of ideas, right?

These are like, if a big huge idea like say in a classroom you get all these ideas thrown at you, if that's like a house, the words and the symbols, say if it's math you're using different symbols, these are like the building blocks. They're the concrete, they're the bricks. They're what makes up the big structure - all of education.

And so without the words, without understanding the words, you're not going to get the big ideas. You need to get the ideas that the words are trying to share before you can get the bigger ideas. And that's what we focus on all day long.

Throughout this article I'm communicating to you in words, right? Hopefully you're getting these ideas I'm trying to share with you to help improve your study skills through the words I'm using.

If you hate reading many of the learning bricks are missing - the concrete hasn't been mixed correctly. So student's with this challenge think they have an understanding of most of the words. When I ask them to define key words they usually only have an unclear idea - nothing concrete - nothing solid.

They definitely do not have enough understanding of these specific words to build new learning or new understanding on.

So what happens if you keep trying to build something and it keeps falling apart? What happens if you try to create something new and it keeps collapsing? You give up - you hate it.

If you find reading hard, come check out the study skills webinar. Get more information on how to read and memorize better. Get 5 solid Game Changers to help you get better grades more quickly and easily, right now -

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