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Jenn in CA

Comprehension? How to work on it?

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I know "reading comprehension" is a broad topic. My 11yo dyslexic daughter has improved a ton in fluency, and spelling is getting better slowly, but as she gets older some things aren't improving as quickly.

* Still has very weak phonemic awareness; breaking down/reading large words is still difficult (we work on it)

* She has a tough time with recalling/remembering proper nouns, names of people/places.

* She often misses the big picture, details of a reading. 

She enjoys reading fiction/chapter books. She doesn't ask for help, she tells me she understands them, however she does prefer to re-read (as in dozens of times) her favorites rather than read news books. All 28 Elsie Dinsmore; the Avatar graphic novels; Beverly Cleary series; and currently the 100 Cupboards series.

School reading is difficult. Mainly history. We're in the Civil War right now which has tons of proper nouns. It's all a big jumble I'm afraid in her mind. (Not a big deal because she's only 5th grade, but still.)

We school with a pretty strict Charlotte Mason approach. Readings (she reads them silently) and narration. Her narrations are often quite jumbled, not in story order, and details are mixed up. You can imagine she doesn't enjoy narrating, and she has decided she doesn't like history. I'm willing to try another approach if I knew it would help her grow, not just be an easier method. 

I guess any ideas on how to work on comprehension (without resorting to comprehension workbooks) would be helpful. And, I wonder if it's helpful to just "let her read" what she likes without worrying about her understanding of it? She never asks for help. 

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It sounds like you need to do narrative language work. Story Grammar Marker. 

Have you had SLP testing? It sounds like you need to or need it more in-depth. Some psychs just screen with a CELF and that doesn't catch everything. The TILLS would catch more, because it has a narrative language component. You'd be looking for the TNL, vocabulary, word retrieval, etc. and that's all testing an SLP can do. Dyslexia is considered a language disability, and some kids really need to go farther than the decoding.

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13 minutes ago, PeterPan said:

It sounds like you need to do narrative language work. Story Grammar Marker. 

Have you had SLP testing? It sounds like you need to or need it more in-depth. Some psychs just screen with a CELF and that doesn't catch everything. The TILLS would catch more, because it has a narrative language component. You'd be looking for the TNL, vocabulary, word retrieval, etc. and that's all testing an SLP can do. Dyslexia is considered a language disability, and some kids really need to go farther than the decoding.

I agree--the Story Grammar Marker stuff from Mindwing Concepts has been a huge help for my son that has issues with the kinds of things you are describing for narration. We are using Thememaker, Critical Thinking Triangle in Action, and Making Connections. He's doing all this with an SLP, but some parents are very comfortable with the tool. 

Comprehension workbooks, on the other hand, were rarely helpful. I do recommend Inference Jones, both levels, from The Critical Thinking Company. Those are excellent. But they won't fix the narrative language problem that you are describing. They are for inferencing and nothing else. My son's inferencing skills are improving greatly with the Story Grammar stuff. 

 

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I use a lot of comprehension workbooks (SLP materials and publishers), but they're more targeted. That narrative language issue is pretty big picture and needs a framework. I would get your detailed language testing to know what things you're trying to target. If you have the right words, you can find stuff. The issue is not even realizing what stuff is called. *Most* of what you're describing will fit into narrative language, but I think you're going to have some more that needs targeted work. But you need the SLP testing to know that. We can guess, but it would be guessing. 

Fwiw my dd has word retrieval issues, and they're a total pain in the butt. So getting documentation on this stuff is good too, because you're verging on issues where you're going to want some documentation that shows the language disability and gets her out of foreign language, etc. Maybe she'll do great, but it's not sounding like it. So paper trail there will be helpful.

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1 hour ago, Jenn in CA said:

We school with a pretty strict Charlotte Mason approach.

It doesn't sound like using so much language is working out well with her language-based disability. She might do better with something with streamlined language that is more multi-sensory, perhaps with creative projects or opportunity for visualization.

 http://ganderpublishing.com/product/imagine-history-bundle-2.asp

https://www.carsondellosa.com/404139--slavery-civil-war-and-reconstruction-resource-book-grade-6-12-paperback-404139

These are two, both of which I own. I've been using the Gander Publishing set with my ds and just got this Carson Dellosa set because they were having a sale and I'm a sucker. Everything is still 30% off, so it's a good time to buy. That's through today. There's an earlier format that has the same text, less questions, and it was broken into like 16 slim volumes with more pages per volume. Had a bunch of creative pages if that appeals to her.

But yeah, basically drop the amount of language so she can focus, make the patterns and content visual, give her more ways to interact with the material. Heathermomster shared a kind of interactive notebooking years ago. Anything you like, but that's the idea, more visual, more multi-sensory, and filtering through less material. With my ds, I tend to go more *conceptual* because that engages him. Like I'm looking for some kind of debate or argument or issue or controversy. With my dd, it was more the narratives about the people. See what angle engages her and hone in on that.

Edited by PeterPan
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Has she tried COFAs=Childhood of Famous Americans series? Sounds like she's the right level. Also there's a really charming character series, white, I have it downstairs... I read it when I was a kid and there was this great bio of Nellie Blye.                                             The Value of Fairness: The Story of Nellie Bly (A Valuetale)                                       The Value Tales series. But COFAs are really good too. The older ones come with timelines and questions in the back.

Probably go with shorter things, given the narrative language deficits. She would respond well to SKILL or Story Grammar Marker. I'd probably go SGM just because they make it easy to transition the narrative skills to expository. They have a signup right now for a webinar Moreau is going to do for free next week. I think I found it through FB because I'm not seeing it on their site. Anyways, SKILL is open and go, idiotproof, but SGM can transition you over to expository. I merge them because I'm nuts and inefficient, lol. SGM just came out with a set of pre-done stories, so you might pick up those when you order. That way it will be more open and go.

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Thank you everyone. Super helpful. Thanks for reminding me about the Gander Pub materials. They look just right as far as curriculum goes.

She had school testing (pretty comprehensive I suppose, took about 2 hrs)  2 yrs ago. The bottom line was that she didn't have any learning disorders so didn't qualify for services. 😞 She had a SLP "interview" after the testing; the SLP was so enthusiastically positive that this dd didn't have any issues that wouldn't work themselves out.

Lowest areas were (percentiles):

Picture vocab 9th

processing speed 15th

phoneme isolation 5th

visual working mem'y, 23rd/27th

comprehension 22nd

spelling 2nd, sentence writing 7th

.... However I suppose these low scores were balanced out w/stronger areas so overall she did not qualify.

Would private testing be more comprehensive than school testing? I suppose it would. 

That's a good point about CM methods.

Another issue is that I have 2 girls in the same grade. The struggling one is 11 and the other one is 10. The 10yo is right on target if not a little advanced verbally. They've always done the same schoolwork. Not sure how I would have them do different things, although if they did totally different materialss that would be better than "big sister has to do less work". 

Thanks again for pointing me in the direction of "narrative language" and giving me your ideas.

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Private psych evals for that would have been 6+ hours. That's some terribly low vocab. I strongly suggest you go get private SLP evals and get it sorted out. 

My ds has an IEP and we've been through this since he was K5, sigh. The ps evals are only to determine if the discrepancy is so significant that they are compelled to do intervention. If the dc is "accessing his education" or they can find some excuse, they're going to deny, deny, deny. 

So yes, that processing speed is quite low, which is going to give her all kinds of symptoms. That vocab is so low I'd be really concerned why and want that tested. You want to know whether she has a hearing problem or a language disability or what. And whatever might have been within range then clearly isn't now.

It sounds like it has been convenient to have the dc combined, so maybe keep them combined where it's working and separate them where one needs more customization or intervention.

I'm not quite sure why you keep saying it will be less work. My ds with 3 SLDs does WAY more than my dd ever did. If she's doing less work, that's on you to get her things that are accessible. If she's getting intervention for her language disabilities, she's going to be doing MORE work than any of them. And if she has an SLD, when she's working she's working HARDER than a typical dc only to get less results.  So it's some bizarre logic that says giving her appropriate work and intervention will be less. It will be MORE and she'll be worker HARDER and with more mental fatigue than the others. So time wise she may need to do less, yes, because that low processing speed is such a disability that she's going to fatigue very quickly. 

We set the tone for how disabilities are viewed in our house. People do the work appropriate to them. If they're comparing, they have their eyes on the wrong thing. Granted I don't have kids really close together, but my friends have talked about how hard they've worked to nip comparing in the bud, because it's such a trap. 

Did she also get ADHD diagnosed? You could go ahead and update with private psych evals while you're at it and consider meds if she has ADHD. It's about 60% comorbid with dyslexia. The meds would help with the processing speed. You can also do metronome work to help. We've had two boardies post saying their kids started with processing speed in the teens like yours and they did Interactive Metronome (paid) and got the scores to jump to the mid-30s. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a HUGE difference for the dc and a noticeable function difference.

Edited by PeterPan
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As soon as I read this posting, it made me think of this thread.  Maybe, contact @ElizabethB directly about her nonsense words and free phonics curriculum.  It sounds like your DD still needs more reading instruction.

When my dyslexic was 5th grade and in US history, he took picture notes in the margins of his work (little stick figures) as he read and narrated the story back to me.  He wrote 3 complete sentences to describe the beginning, middle, and end of an event to help him identify the central narrative.  We also preread any comprehension questions so that he knew what to look for.  He studied vocab online for free at freerice.com.  He listened to audiobooks, watched documentaries, visited museums, and worked on history pockets.  I scribed his written work.  My DS was still working with a Wilson tutor and required multisensory work about the subject to really enjoy it.  He loved coffee table type picture books to pursue certain elements of history.  He detested historical fiction until he was older and read things like Guns, Germs, and Steel or Ghost Map.

My current 5th grader writes complete sentences about people, vocab, and summarizes events. She also uses speech to text, types, and the Inspiration app for outlining.  

 

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The MARooney foundation has free OG. Good testing would show what's holding her back at this point. There's a $5 test I did with ds, can't remember the name. It's for 5th and up specifically to screen what is holding back reading (vocab, decoding, syntax, etc). Data would save you time here.

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19 hours ago, Jenn in CA said:

She had school testing (pretty comprehensive I suppose, took about 2 hrs)  2 yrs ago. The bottom line was that she didn't have any learning disorders so didn't qualify for services. 😞 She had a SLP "interview" after the testing; the SLP was so enthusiastically positive that this dd didn't have any issues that wouldn't work themselves out.

Well, what is considered acceptable in a child of 9 or so, and what is considered acceptable at 11 is very different--by 11, they will expect the kids to maybe have caught up or evened out, and the norms for tests get more robust. For instance, my younger son has some really serious movement and coordination issues, but he's always passed the tests by the skin of his teeth while clearly being a hot mess. We got private therapy, but he still has issues, and so it goes on. Well, finally, this year, he qualified for PT to be put in his IEP--he is not gaining ground on motor skills as fast as peers, so now, the norms finally captured a big enough gap between his functioning and what is typical. 

All that to say, if you can't afford private testing (which would be helpful, I think), you might be able to get somewhere with the school now. Or, get the private testing and take it to the school.

It's also VERY important to get the RIGHT testing. The Test of Narrative Language is becoming more standard, but no one ran that on my kids when going through the school. The private SLP didn't run it. I had to ask for it (the private educational psychologist ran it). Even with hints that my older son had issues with narrative language, his scores were SHOCKING. He looks fantastic on other language tests.

The school, by law, has to do a multi-factored evaluation, and you can do some research (or ask if anyone has links) to show the school that testing for narrative language IS an essential part of a multi-factored evaluation when language issues are in question at all.

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On 5/13/2019 at 1:29 PM, PeterPan said:

Has she tried COFAs=Childhood of Famous Americans series? Sounds like she's the right level. Also there's a really charming character series, white, I have it downstairs... I read it when I was a kid and there was this great bio of Nellie Blye.                                             The Value of Fairness: The Story of Nellie Bly (A Valuetale)                                       The Value Tales series. But COFAs are really good too. The older ones come with timelines and questions in the back.

Probably go with shorter things, given the narrative language deficits. She would respond well to SKILL or Story Grammar Marker. I'd probably go SGM just because they make it easy to transition the narrative skills to expository. They have a signup right now for a webinar Moreau is going to do for free next week. I think I found it through FB because I'm not seeing it on their site. Anyways, SKILL is open and go, idiotproof, but SGM can transition you over to expository. I merge them because I'm nuts and inefficient, lol. SGM just came out with a set of pre-done stories, so you might pick up those when you order. That way it will be more open and go.

 

She does enjoy the COFAs and has read all the ones we own. 

Where do I find SKILL?

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20 hours ago, PeterPan said:

 

I'm not quite sure why you keep saying it will be less work. My ds with 3 SLDs does WAY more than my dd ever did. If she's doing less work, that's on you to get her things that are accessible. If she's getting intervention for her language disabilities, she's going to be doing MORE work than any of them. And if she has an SLD, when she's working she's working HARDER than a typical dc only to get less results.  So it's some bizarre logic that says giving her appropriate work and intervention will be less. It will be MORE and she'll be worker HARDER and with more mental fatigue than the others. So time wise she may need to do less, yes, because that low processing speed is such a disability that she's going to fatigue very quickly. 

We set the tone for how disabilities are viewed in our house. People do the work appropriate to them. If they're comparing, they have their eyes on the wrong thing. Granted I don't have kids really close together, but my friends have talked about how hard they've worked to nip comparing in the bud, because it's such a trap. 

Did she also get ADHD diagnosed? You could go ahead and update with private psych evals while you're at it and consider meds if she has ADHD. It's about 60% comorbid with dyslexia. The meds would help with the processing speed. You can also do metronome work to help. We've had two boardies post saying their kids started with processing speed in the teens like yours and they did Interactive Metronome (paid) and got the scores to jump to the mid-30s. Doesn't sound like much, but it's a HUGE difference for the dc and a noticeable function difference.

 

You're right, it will be more work. I was thinking the younger one would feel like "Why does she get to skip stuff I have to do" but you're right, she will have to do other stuff instead and maybe even more. Sigh. She went to Scottish Rite up til about 2 yrs ago. Since then, she's been reading fluently and enjoying it, and I've sort of gotten out of "disability" mode with this child. But middle school is coming up, and I'm reevaluating and wondering if it's time to get more serious or pointed with helping her.

I do feel like I've been just trying random stuff for a long time, and I feel like I need a more specific plan of attack. Like SLP testing. How is that different from ed-psych testing? 

when she was much younger I suspected APD; audiologist report didn't show it. Then Scottish Rite did their own testing, sort of SLP-ish I guess because the lady she met with was a reading specialist and an SLP. Then the school district did more general testing. Woodcock-Johnson, and others. But again, their own version, leaving out some parts of the testing. I'm actually with a different charter than the one that did testing 2 yrs ago, and I could see if theirs is more thorough....

 

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29 minutes ago, Jenn in CA said:

Where do I find SKILL?

Google. You won't find samples. It's out of Utah State and the Gillams and their research. It's considered evidenced, and the nice thing is it comes with tight narratives, open and go. I like both and my ds' progress is SO much more slow-going than your dc's will be that I'm not expressing an opinion between them for you. Either could work. And if you do SKILL you'll just make the effort to realize how to extend it to expository. 

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32 minutes ago, Jenn in CA said:

She does enjoy the COFAs and has read all the ones we own. 

This is really fabulous. If her pleasure reading is around that 3rd/4th grade reading level like that, that's a really good sign. I just punched in one, just to see, and it's popping up a 510 lexile at fab.lexile.com But that's still really good because that's her pleasure reading.

I need to get you that $5 reading test. I should have a link on the downstairs computer and I just have to go do it. We had a long drive today for testing and my gump is gone, lol.

Yay, I found it!!! That had seriously been bugging me that I could not remember the name!!! It's the RISE, and it's administered online, taking maybe 45 minutes. https://serpmedia.org/rise/  The cost went up, so it's $7 now. That's really not a dealbreaker though, lol. What the test does for you is give you cutoffs for *intervention* vs. ready to succeed with only regular classroom instruction. And it screens across all your major areas involved in reading, including vocabulary, decoding, syntax (language, grammar), etc. So it's a TON of info for just $7. Well maybe you won't think it's a ton.

I used the RISE on my ds last summer because I needed to sort through why he wasn't reading. We know every area is affected (syntax, decoding, etc. etc.), but I needed data to sort out what was holding him back vs. what was there but not significant enough an issue to be the explanation. This test has enough research and data behind it that it can actually discriminate that. It's what it's specifically used for in schools, saying ok the kids are having issues with reading because of this or that or no they would be fine with regular instruction. So $7 can save you going down rabbit trails that aren't the issue. It's not saying the kid doesn't need more work at all, but where should the emphasis be, what is most pivotal, what is really holding her back, that's what this test tries to tease apart.

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On 5/13/2019 at 8:09 PM, Jenn in CA said:

Thank you everyone. Super helpful. Thanks for reminding me about the Gander Pub materials. They look just right as far as curriculum goes.

She had school testing (pretty comprehensive I suppose, took about 2 hrs)  2 yrs ago. The bottom line was that she didn't have any learning disorders so didn't qualify for services. 😞 She had a SLP "interview" after the testing; the SLP was so enthusiastically positive that this dd didn't have any issues that wouldn't work themselves out.

Lowest areas were (percentiles):

Picture vocab 9th

processing speed 15th

phoneme isolation 5th

visual working mem'y, 23rd/27th

comprehension 22nd

spelling 2nd, sentence writing 7th

.... However I suppose these low scores were balanced out w/stronger areas so overall she did not qualify.

Would private testing be more comprehensive than school testing? I suppose it would. 

That's a good point about CM methods.

Another issue is that I have 2 girls in the same grade. The struggling one is 11 and the other one is 10. The 10yo is right on target if not a little advanced verbally. They've always done the same schoolwork. Not sure how I would have them do different things, although if they did totally different materialss that would be better than "big sister has to do less work". 

Thanks again for pointing me in the direction of "narrative language" and giving me your ideas.

What program was used to work on phoneme issues? That's significantly low, and needs to be specifically addressed if it hasn't been. Something like Baron, Abecedarian, etc. 

You say she's reading fluently, but having trouble sounding things out...so not fluent?

As for reading comprehension - comprehension = decoding + vocabulary. (with some exceptions). So if she has a lower vocabulary that she should AND is struggling harder than she should to decode the words (so using up brain power that could be used for actual understanding) and possibly reading too slowly to remember the full sentence by the time she gets to the end of it, she will have comprehension problems. 

It honestly sounds like she is not as fluent as she is presenting. That's where you work. Also, why are you doing a strict literature/Charlotte Mason approach with a child with dyslexia and language issues? Would you do a mainly visual program with a blind child? No. I know it sucks to have to alter expectations...man do I know!!!!! But that's how you have to think about it. If she was blind, you'd not give most of the information via slides or diagrams, and if she is dyslexic than books are not going to be the best way to give her information. Can you start thinking outside the box and use lots of say, documentaries? Field trips? Using art history to teach history? Using more audio books. Having her make posters or power point slides rather than write narrations, etc. 

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I was also thinking that the comprehension issues could actually indicate a need to work more thoroughly on decoding.

There could be a comprehension issue, as well. The missing the main idea problem is comprehension. You can work on this directly by having her practice highlighting the main idea in short paragraphs or texts. If the comprehension is related to the decoding, she should make progress with this type of deliberate teaching on finding the main idea. If comprehension is linked to other issues instead, progress will probably be slow and frustrating.

For history, you can provide her with a list of names, a picture, and a short description of who they are, to prompt her memory. And a visual time line. History is hard to understand when you can't connect details to understand the main idea, because history is all about that, essentially. History has been the hardest class this year for DS15 who has reading comprehension (not dyslexia) trouble. Simplify the information presented to her so that it is distilled to the basics she needs to know. Who, what, when, why. Very basic. Once she has the kind of outline of what is happening, you can fill in with more interesting details.

I don't know what the Charlotte Mason approach to history is like, but I would not have her try to learn history mainly by reading, unless you are reading aloud and discussing. If she has to read and then narrate, I would read, then discuss, then narrate. Make sure she understands it before she narrates it back to you.

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