Approximately one in five people have dyslexia, a learning difference that is widely understood to affect how students learn to read. Less recognized is how dyslexia also affects math learning.
Great Minds® Founder and CEO Lynne Munson talks about how to support students with dyslexia and other reading-learning differences during math class in a new blog post in The 74.
In the piece, “Don’t Let Reading Be a Stumbling Block in Math,” Munson explains how her own child struggled with the impacts of dyslexia in math. “Students with dyslexia have trouble reading words, letters, and other symbols. So, in math, lengthy written instructions and word problems can be particularly difficult,” Munson writes.
In addition to coming to understand this issue through her family, Munson worked with the Great Minds math team to make Eureka Math2™ highly accessible and readable after getting to know a student in Michigan who reached out about the issue. Mya Gooden, then a Grade 6 student outside Detroit, reached out to Munson in a letter to explain that it was difficult for her to access some of our early math resources and learn key concepts because the materials used complex language and vocabulary that were hard for her to understand.
“I didn’t know it at the time, but Mya penned the letter as a writing assignment. I hope Mya got an A, because she was so persuasive we made the changes in subsequent versions of the curriculum,” Munson writes in the post.
Making math curricula accessible is also vital for young learners and emerging readers. We’re keeping that in mind as we create resources for schools. And, as Munson explains, there are things educators can do in the classroom to support students learning to read and those with learning differences. They include the following:
- Using white space liberally on student-facing materials to avoid crowding words and symbols
- Choosing easily readable fonts and font sizes
- Keeping sentences in word problems short
- Using visual models and math drawings
- Explicitly teaching the math vocabulary kids need to know
We all have a role to play in helping kids succeed, especially after the past two and a half years of disrupted learning due to the pandemic. Making math accessible and readable for all learners is one key step we can take.
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Chad brings more than 23 years of experience in communications to Great Minds. He has served in three state education agencies, which included time assisting New Mexico’s secretary of education with the adoption of new education reform initiatives; serving as the communications director at the Washington, D.C., Office of the State Superintendent of Education; and working as an assistant to the Florida Commissioner of Education. Chad also worked at the U.S. Department of Education from 2004 to 2009 and served as the deputy assistant secretary for media affairs and strategic communication during his final two years there. Chad is a native of Bloomington, Ill., and graduated from Florida State University.