Improving Visual Discrimination of Words

 



Recall that the first element of word reading is “seeing the word correctly” (i.e., seeing the letters in the correct sequence). Even starting with short words (cat) a reader’s brain has the ability to rearrange the letters in a different order (t–a–c, a–c–t). In this particular case, it so happens that all three of these combinations yield what sound like words [(tack) or act].

One central question relevant to reading then becomes “How do we help the reader learn to discern the correct order of letters?”

  1. I start with my logic (based on neuropsychological processing):

     

    1. It is important for the reader to “get his brain’s attention.”
    2. It is important to note that whatever has been tried in the past has not yielded significantly positive results.
    3. Having a neuropsychological model of sensory- cognitive development is a bias, i.e., as are other approaches to reading.
    4. If the brain is not presently making visual discriminations of letter sequences, we need to find a means of emphasizing those discriminations and “teach” the brain to sequence correctly.
    5. This implies that combining the visual area of the brain with input from other areas of the brain in an intense and demanding mannerlies at the core of any successful intervention.
    6. I also adhere to a scientific logic inherent in all learning. A reader must learn to make one discrimination correctly and consistently before he can learn to make two, and he must learn to consistently and correctly learn to make two discriminations before he can make three.
    7. While seeming trivial, this premise to me is often ignored in application. It is, however, the foundation for the permanence of learning.

     

  2. If we accept this logic, our intervention system must address all the above-cited points.
    1.  

    2. “Get the brain’s attention”

       

      • Use something other than visual stimuli–based on the reading of the child. (See below)
      • The most powerful form of attracting the brain’s attention is tactile–proprioceptive.
      • Increasing the demand on the brain by also making it pronounce the word adds two more dimensions to attacking the stimulus, i.e., verbal (having to say the word) and auditory (hearing the word said).

       

    3. “Teach” the brain to sequence correctly
      1. If the brain is not presently making visual discriminations of letter sequences, find a means of emphasizing those discriminations in an intense and demanding manner.

     

  3. A system that meets these parameters.
    Remember: The purpose of this exercise is to increase the reader’s accuracy in correctly seeing and reading words rapidly

     

    1. Use a three-ring binder
    2. Start with words that are visually similar (form–from)
    3. Print one word to a page (e.g. form) in 72-point type
    4. Print the similar word on the following page
    5. See the example below, pages 27–28
    6. Have the reader read the word (form):
      1. If he reads the word correctly, proceed to the next word.
      2. If he does not read the word correctly, have the reader s-l-o-w-l-y trace the word with his finger while spelling each letter (e.g., f–o–r–m).
      3. Then have him underline the word while saying “spells form.

       

    7. Have the reader read the visually similar word. (from)
      1. If he word reads the word correctly, proceed to the next word/word pair.
      2. If he does not read the word correctly, the reader is to s-l-o-w-l-y trace the word with his finger while spelling each letter. (e.g., f–r–o–m)
      3. Then underline the word while saying: “spells from.”

       

    8. Present the reader with one of the two words: form-from.
      1. If he reads the word correctly, proceed to the next word.
      2. If he does not read the word correctly, have the reader s-l-o-w-l-y trace the word with his finger while spelling each letter. (E.g., f–o–r–m)
      3. Then have him underline the word while saying: “spells form.”

       

    9. Present the reader with the second of the two words:
      1. If he reads the word correctly, proceed to the next word.
      2. If he does not read the word correctly, have the reader s-l-o-w-l-y trace the word with his finger while spelling each letter. (E.g., f–o–r–m)
      3. Then have him underline the word while saying “spells form.”

       

    10. The standard for proceeding is that the reader successfully discriminate the two words three times in a row.
      1. If he does not achieve this goal, conduct a more complete neuropsychological evaluation.


      f o r m 


      f r o m


    11. When the reader has read both words (form–from) correctly three times in a row, proceed to the next word pair (a–c–t, c–a–t) and repeat the process.
      1. If he reads the first word correctly (act), proceed to the next word (cat).
      2. If he does not read the first word correctly repeat the process detailed in paragraph 7.

         

    12. Have him read the second word of the word pair (cat).
      1. If he reads the word correctly (cat), precede to evaluation, i.e., assess him on correctly reading the two words three consecutive times.
      2. If he does not read the first word correctly repeat the process detailed in paragraph 7.

       

    13. When the reader has read both words (form–from) correctly three times in a row, assess his intermediate and long-term memory, as well as his freedom from retroactive or proactive interference:
      1. Mix up the four words
      2. Present him with one of the words
      3. If he reads it correctly, move on
      4. If not, have him stop and repeat the procedures delineated in paragraph 7
      5. Have him read a second word
      6. If he reads it correctly, move on
      7. If not, have him stop and repeat the procedures delineated in paragraph 7
      8. Have him read a third word
      9. If he reads it correctly, move on
      10. If not, have him stop and repeat the procedures delineated in paragraph 7
      11. Have him read the fourth word
      12. Continue until the reader has read all four words correctly three times in a row
      13. If he does not achieve this goal, conduct a more complete neuropsychological evaluation

       

    14. Start with a third word pair (dare–dear)

       

    15. Repeat steps 1–10

       

    16. Now mix up the six words learned

       

    17. Repeat steps 13 (b) through 13 (l)

       

    18. Assess the reader on six words

       

    19. Then add a fourth pair

       

    20. Repeat steps 1–10

       

    21. Now mix up the eight words learned

       

    22. Assess the reader on eight words

       

    23. Add a fifth pair. Repeat the procedure

       

    24. Then add a sixth pair
      1. Assess how many trials (presentations of the words) are required before the reader correctly reads all 12 words. If mastery has occurred, he will achieve that result in 24 trials (recall that he should read each word correctly three times in a row). The overall learning rate is achieved by dividing 24 by the number of trials required to achieve all words correct. (If 30 trials, Learning Rate = 24/30 or 80%)
      2. Do not proceed beyond six pairs during a single session.

       

  4. Underlying this approach are other premises about the human brain and learning

     

    1. Teaching the brain to make discriminations about sequencing is stimulus-independent, i.e., it does not matter which particular words are used.
      1. It may matter the length of the word depending on the particular idiosyncrasies of the perceptual problem.
      2. There may be other characteristics associated with the sequencing difficulty–even to the point where it is only the third and fourth letters that are reversed or only certain letters are misperceived.

       

    2. The human brain is a learning machine that never shuts off.

       

    3. The human brain is also essentially lazy. Therefore, if it knows that it will have to work more (e.g., the tracing) when it fails to make discriminations, it will learn to make the discriminations.

       

    4. Furthermore, as it becomes aware of the fact that it will have to be subjected to boring repetition when it fails to make discriminations, it will learn to make the discriminations.

       

    5. If neither of these holds true and the individual is unable to get beyond learning to discriminate three word pairs, conduct a neuropsychological evaluation to ascertain whether there are more severe visual or tactile difficulties.

     

  5. Typically I recommend that a reader invest 5–7 minutes each day (7 days a week) in this exercise. It is more important to insure that the pairs learned remain permanently learned than to “get in” a certain number of word pairs.

     

  6. Start Session # 2 by assessing the reader’s ability to discriminate the learned word pairs.
    1. Score: 0–100%
    2. Record in a notebook
    3. Teach 3-6 new word pairs in the same manner
    4. When the reader successfully discriminates a word on 3 consecutive trials, consider that pair learned and set it aside to be assessed once per week or once per 2 weeks
    5. Continue this for 20 weeks
    6. Determine the number of word pairs consistently and correctly discriminated
    7. Calculate the percentage. If 120 word pairs were taught and the reader successfully learned to discriminate 110 of them, that yields a learning rate of 91.67%

     

  7. I provide a Suggested Starting Word List. Merely trying to identify visually similar words can be used as a learning experience

     

    from –form abroad–aboard three–there
    island–inland alone–along build–built
    action–acting leaf–leave careful–cartful
    business–bussing choose–choice true–turret
    woman–women catch–caught crutch–catch
    rough–tough cough–bough running–ruining
    close–clothes post–pots again–gain
    about–abut abort–abhor black–block
    fatter–father best–beast are–area
    because–accuse clock–crock–crack should–shoulder

     

    Refining Rapid Discrimination of Words

    “Seeing the word correctly” (i.e., seeing the letters in the correct sequence) and rapidly discerning it from other similar words is crucial. The question, then, is “How do we help the reader learn to discern–and discern rapidly–words that are highly similar?”

     

  8. I start with my logic (based on neuropsychological processing):

     

    1. It is important for the reader to “get his brain’s attention.”
    2. It is important to note that whatever has been tried in the past has not yielded significantly positive results.
    3. Having a neuropsychological model of sensory- cognitive development is a bias, i.e., as are other approaches to reading.
    4. If the brain is not presently making visual discriminations of letter sequences, we need to find a means of emphasizing those discriminations and “teach” the brain to sequence correctly.
    5. This implies that combining the visual area of the brain with input from other areas of the brain in an intense and demanding manner lies at the core of any successful intervention.
    6. I also adhere to a scientific logic inherent in all learning. A reader must learn to make one discrimination correctly, and consistently before he can learn to make two, and he must learn to consistently and correctly learn to make two discriminations before he can make three.
    7. While seeming trivial, this premise to me is often ignored in application. It is, however, the foundation for the permanence of learning.

Speed reading exercises

This exercise is merely a refinement and elaboration of “Seeing the word correctly” as described above and rapidly discerning words that look very similar to one another. This is crucial. The question, then, is “How do we help the reader learn to discern–and discern rapidly–words that are highly similar?”

In the paragraphs below, I will delineate each suggested exercise (though they appear the same, there are subtle differences in them) and discuss the logic of each.

Exercise A–Short words

This is the logical extension of Activity I above. This time, however, we set a demand that the brain more rapidly make the discernment among words that are similar.

What we do is put each word (and its matching word, e.g., form–from) into a changing sequence with other similar words (farm–fram). N.B. It is not essential that they be real words.

form–from–farm–fram
fram–form–farm–from
farm–form–from–fram

If the reader mispronounces a single word, he must reread the line. If he continues to mispronounce, he must trace the word as in Activity I.

The words do not have to be exactly the same with regard to number of letters. A common dyslexic mistake is to ignore the beginning or ending of letters. One of the readings I commonly use has the word youth in it. Whenever that word is read as young, I suspect that the reader is “guessing” based on frequency of word count and “tries to fake it” with regard to meaning. That error alone identifies 35% of students with a dyslexic problem.

Therefore, we need to help students focus on the endings of words. I commonly suggest an exercise like this:

dim dam damp dumb pump slim gem gimp skim slim skimp

However, even with short words, readers can encounter particular problems. Often when I listen to a reader, I detect a difficulty in the reader knowing when to pronounce a hard c or g and when to pronounce a soft c or g. Therefore, I use exercises like the one to follow to help them rapidly determine which sound to apply.

The process does not change. If the reader mispronounces a single word, he must reread the line. If he continues to mispronounce, he must trace the word as in Activity I.

cote cite cute cede cell call cold cinema camera cilantro conical comical cinder condor ginger gangrene gentle gather gopher

Exercise B–Longer words (Average)

This is the logical extension of Exercise A above. This time, however, we set a demand that the brain more rapidly make the discernment among words that are similar.

 

bitter batter better butter
batter butter bitter better
baster bastard belter bester

 

With those last three lines, you can interchange any of those words and force the reader’s brain to pay attention. Thus you can have

batter bastard baster buster battle butte belted

Make no mistake. The reader must attend to the ending of the word in order to not make what I refer to as the youth–young error.

Exercise C–Long words

A dilemma occurs with very long words (more than seven letters). The reader can focus on either the beginning and the middle or the middle and the end. By listening to him/her read, we can soon determine which path he/she has chosen. Most typically, the reader will choose the beginning of the word so that most emphasis still is on “having to finish the word.” However, as I stated above, let the data tell you what is happening.

elementary eliminate emanated eminent enameled erogenous egregious eggshell clandestine candlestone

The list of words that are similar is endless. The key is to find words that are similar and insure that the reader’s brain pays sufficient attention both to the visual sequence of the letters and the appropriate sound to produce.

The process is the same–regardless of how many words you have on the page.

This element of discernment is crucial to the reader developing the confidence that he/she is seeing the word correctly because all too often they have gone years without knowing so.

 

- Lawrence Dugan

Copyright © 2001-2011 Globusz® Publishing. All rights reserved.

Views: 27

Comment

You need to be a member of THE VISUAL TEACHING NETWORK to add comments!

Join THE VISUAL TEACHING NETWORK

© 2020   Created by Timothy Gangwer.   Powered by

Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service