Many of you are in the Young Adult Literature class with me as well so this may be a little repetitive for you, but for those who aren't this is something really interesting that we did in class on Monday. We have been discussing different types of learning disabilities and in particular, disabilities associated with reading. On Monday, our professor passed out papers to us individually, face down, and asked us to not turn them over until indicated. Then she explained that when she says to, we will turn the paper over and have a short time period to read the paragraphs. Afterwards, we are going to have a quiz on what we read.
After flipping my page over I started to get a little nervous. My font was all smushed together and swirling all over the page. As a few seconds went by though, I calmed down figuring everyone else would be struggling with this text as well. After a short minute flew by she told us to stop and asked how the reading went for us. Most people just nodded their head or said "Fine." Next the professor began asking questions about what the text was about and hands were going up all around me. People were note only answering her questions but giving insight and their opinions about it. At that point, I felt really dumb needless to say! I couldn't understand why everyone else was getting this so quickly and I struggled to comprehend the first three sentences before the time was up. It was very frustrating and confusing for me to sit there as everyone was answering questions.
After she asked a couple of questions, she filled us in on the trick. She gave about half of us the paper with the messed up font and gave the other half what the paper would look like to readers without a learning disability. Once I realized that I must admit I was pretty relieved. I was happy to know that my struggles were not because I didn't grasp something I should have understood and that other people were in the same boat as I was. The moral of this lesson is to be wary of students who do struggle with learning disabilities. This activity gave me a personal insight into the frustrations a student could face when asked to do a simple task such as read a paper. If you notice a student who may be slacking or falling behind in class, don't automatically assume they are being lazy. Learning disabilities are very real and very prevalent and could explain their lack of achievement. Many of the students may not even be aware if they do have a disability.
With all of this being said, as a teacher, just be cautious of the issues at hand and keep an eye out. The sooner you can intervene and get this student help, the sooner they can succeed and be successful in the academic field (: