I work with teachers of all kinds--many from Latin American countries. I tinker around with activities that will help teachers understand this question: What is it like to have a "learning disability?" One of my constraints is to use recycled or simple materials accessible even in rural areas. One of the games I came up with is the following:
The Dyslexia Game
from Dr. Cynthia Herbert, The Foundry, firstname.lastname@example.org
• Have on hand a stopwatch or watch with a second hand.
• Gather 20 bottle caps, buttons, poker chips or other small objects, in two different colors.
• Number the objects in each color from one to ten. Variation: If you have a lot of different small objects or they are not in two colors, stick one of two colors of Avery dots on them before numbering them.
• Put the objects in two vertical lines with the numbers in order. Allow 3 or 4 inches between the two lines.
Rules for Round One:
• Two people play.
• One person will point to the “1” in the first line/color and then to the “1” in the second line/color; the “2” in the first line and then the “2” in the second line—through all the numbers to “10.” They must actually touch each object and say the number as they do so.
• The second person will time and record how many seconds it takes the first person to complete the task.
• Switch roles and repeat.
Rules for Round Two:
• This time the objects in the second line/color should be randomly shaken and dropped. Note: If some objects land upsidedown or backward, just leave them that way.
• Try to play the game the same as in Round One.
• What happened?
• Which round was easier? Why?
• How did you feel doing the second round?
• Imagine that one line/color is your visual system and the other is your auditory system.
• In order to read, you have to match the visual picture of a word (think of the green line) to its auditory counterpart (think of the white line). This is the essence of phonics. In the game, this is like trying to read a 10 letter word, one letter at a time.
Visual: s c r a m b l i n g
Auditory: /s/ /c/ /r/ /a/ /m/ /b/ /l/ /ĭ/ /ŋ/
• Now imagine that one of your systems is “scrambled.” (Think of Round Two.) No matter how you try, you cannot make the match as quickly as a good reader. There is nothing wrong with your intelligence. You aren’t lazy. As a matter of fact you have to work much, much harder.
• Imagine that after this matching process is completed, you have to put the 10 pieces (letters) together to make a whole (word). How hard is it to keep the sound of piece (letter) “1” in mind as you travel down the line (word)? In Round One, this is do-able. In Round Two, it takes super human effort.
People who have trouble reading are not stupid. People who have trouble reading are not lazy. Their task is simply Herculean!