Future Reflections Spring/ Summer1989, Vol. 8 No. 2

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by Myrna R. Olson, Ed.D.

Editor's note: In the Winter, 1989 issue of Future Reflections, we printed the first part of this outline under an article entitled "Teaching Braille Reading." As we said in the introduction to that article, Dr. Myrna Olson is an associate professor of special education at the University of North Dakota. She is also the author (in collaboration with Sally S. Mangold, Ph.D.) of Guidelines and Games for Teaching Efficient Braille Reading (published by the American Foundation for the Blind). Dr. Olson developed the "Teaching Braille Reading" outline as a handout for college students training to become teachers of blind children.


I. Check Attitude and Motivation

A. Identify appropriate counselor.
B. Peer tutor
C. Memorize material...modified language experience approach
D. Reading with slowly read recorded material
E. Abandon reading for a while ... listen, write, discuss
F. Work on numbers or speed-building
G. Relate Braille to its application to a favorite subject or hobby

II. Work on Mechanical Skills

A. Finger curvature -- hand relaxation
       1. Muscle strengthening
       2. Warming exercises
       3. Posture and position experiment
B. Lightness of touch.
       1. Tachistoscope
       2. Reading for no comprehension on old magazines... chalk exercises
C. Hand movements
       1. Mangold program
       2. Language experience stories, memorized material
D. Reduce sub-vocalizations
       1. Easy material -- conversational pieces
       2. Pencil between teeth
       3. Chew gum
       4. Tachistoscope
E. Flexibility
       1. Variety of materials -- levels, formats, content
       2. Tables of content, indices, dictionaries--scanning
       3. Skim reading --questions ahead of reading time, drill for rapid recognition of common words, sign-post and turn-about words, open book exams, listen to taped        versions of stories

III. Symbol Recognition

A. Confusion of reversible or symbol rotation
       1. Overlearn first one symbol, then the other before mixing
       2. Develop a mental "crutch system"

B. Misidentifying single letter contractions
       1. Phonics exercises plus tapes
       2. Mangold program
       3. A.P.H. Braille Letter Recognition Series

C. Omission of words
       1. Is meaning distorted?
       2. Read orally and pause, leaving out words for student to identify.
       3. Read at student's rate and read troublesome words louder

IV. Phonetic Analysis

A. Check hearing acuity, auditory processing, and listening skills
B. Do general sound discrimination exercises
C. Cue into kinesthetic feeling of sound production
D. Do rhyming exercises --short and long vowels, blends, digraphs, beginning and ending consonant sounds --use Grade Two Braille contractions
E. Memorize useful phonic generalizations
F. Use context and structural clues
G. Use adapted print games (Speech to Print Phonics, Phonics We Use Learning Games, Vowel and Consonant Lotto)

V. Structural Analysis

A. Analyze simple compound words through sight word approach
B. Work on prefixes, then suffixes
C. Use discovery approach and construct words to generalized meanings

VI. Context Clues

A. Check experiential background
B. Explain function and model how they are anticipated
C. Allow student to finish sentence he has misread orally
D. Sentence completion exercises, Cloze technique
E. Student selection of material

VII. Comprehension

A. General comprehension
       1. Lots of reading; determine interest... sentence completion?
       2. Materials at all levels; prereading vocabulary check; read difficult materials to child
       3. Devote one-fourth of reading time to silent reading (gradual buildup)
       5. Assess comprehension in nonconventional ways (dramatize, paint or draw, make tape recording, use puppets, create new endings)

B. Literal comprehension --overemphasized?
       1. Try outline exercises on topics of high interest

C. Interpretive comprehension: Start with familiar materials; model interpretations of familiar stories; probe for elaboration; match topic sentences to paragraphs and paraphrase statements to entire paragraph

D. Critical problem-solving
      1. Group brainstorming...what would happen if???
      2. Do figures of speech and analogy exercises
      3. Keep material different from that used in class
      4. Role play stories that have been read
      5. Use records on creative movement to transition to discussion


I. Emotional Readiness

A. Counseling when student appears ready
B. Reading peer
C. Apply Braille to area of high need

II. Perceptual Readiness

A. Need for assessment of tactile skills
       1. Mangold program
       2. Kansas Braille Reading Readiness Book (Stocker, 1979)
       3. ABC's of Braille (Krebs, 1973)
B. Development of mechanical skills
       1. See suggestions previously given
       2. Reading for no comprehension with timing and charting

III. Academic Readiness

A. Has visual difficulty been mistakenly blamed for poor progress?
B. Identify areas of deficiency; it may be that you need to teach more general reading skills than Braille reading per se
C. Check phonetic accuracy of spelling (e.g. Wide Range Achievement Test)
D. Check comprehension or interpretive skills through listening (e.g. Spache Diagnostic Reading Scales, Cloze Procedure)

IV. Materials

A. Don't be insulting where content of reading material is concerned
B. Create your own whenever possible
C. Memorize material (lyrics to popular songs, rhymes)
D. Language experience

IV. Alternative Means of Keeping Up While Braille is Being Learned

A. Tapes
B. Readers, tutors
C. Different kinds of assignments (interviews, field trips)

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