Remediate the Text!
An argument for using scrolls to teach LD students
R. David MiddlebrookThe Textmapping Project | web page
R. David MiddlebrookThe Textmapping Project
web page: http://www.textmapping.org/founder.html
Many learning disabled readers are poor comprehenders. In part, this is because they are not strategic readers: They have not (often despite considerable effort) learned how to structure their reading, they have not learned how to self-monitor, and they have not learned how to engage in pre-reading or post-reading. When they read, they commonly lack both a purpose and a plan.
In current practice, remediation for these problems focuses mostly on the reader. This is a good start, but it doesn't go far enough: reading is a dialog between reader and text. If we focus only on the reader, we are missing at least 50% of the problem - and arguably 90% of the solution. For while we have limited influence over the reader ( i.e., we can help LD readers compensate for their disabilities, but we can not change their disabilities), we have total control over the text. The obvious conclusion is that, in addition to remediating the reader, we should be remediating text.
How should text be remediated? For LD readers, any kind of paged media - such as books, magazines, and web pages - is a problem. This is because paged media requires strength in a narrow, specialized set of abilities - most notably, auditory processing and memory. It is not surprising that these are among the most common areas of disability for LD readers. LD readers, meanwhile, are most often strong in the areas of visual, spatial, tactile, kinaesthetic, and global abilities. None of these abilities are more than minimally useful for reading paged media. Paged media rewards seqential, verbal, reflective learning. LD readers are more likely to be global, visual, spatial, active learners. In short, paged media is not a good fit for LD readers. Text remediation efforts should include a major focus on alternatives to paged media.
One solution available to classroom teachers is to use scrolls (If you have a photocopier and a roll of tape, you can make your own scrolls. For more on this, see the links at the end of this article.) Scrolls are an ancient technology, but they offer some clear advantages over books, including this one: Scrolls are more accessible than books to a greater range of senses and learning abilities - including visual, spatial, tactile, and kinaesthetic learning abilities. Scrolls reward global, visual, spatial, active learners.
- When you open a book, you can only see two facing pages at a time; when you roll out a scroll, you can see the entire text - the entire length of the scroll - all at once. Unlike a book, a scroll is visually comprehensible as a complete, unbroken, graphic entity.
- With a book, the reader must assemble in memory the whole from its parts. This is a bottom-up approach that requires the reader to process and remember large quantities of auditory information. With a scroll, by comparison, since the text is displayed as a whole, there is no need to assemble the whole in memory.
- Typographic information - such as the spatial arrangement of the text, its section-structure, the placement of illustrations, etc. - is difficult to discern in a book, but is easy to see and understand at a glance on a scroll.
- Books are read while sitting down, making reading a quiet, sedentary, memory-intensive process. Scrolls, in contrast, are read while standing and moving. It is nearly impossible to read a scroll while sitting still. This introduces a strong spatial, kinaesthetic component to the interaction as the reader moves back and forth along the length of the scroll, backing off for the larger view, moving close for the details.
- In a book, marking is restricted to two facing pages at any one time - because that is the most that can be seen at any one time. Margin notes and highlighting on any given page are only visible when the book is open to that page. On a scroll, by comparison, marking can take place across the entire text, with all margin notes, highlighting, and mapping visible all the time. (for more about mapping, see the links at the end of this article).
Scrolls are easy to make; the expense in photocopies is minimal. They can be used in the classroom to clarify and reinforce instruction in both reading comprehension skills and course content. They can be used to support a wide variety of instructional techniques (for example, Think Aloud, Metacognitive/Questioning, Reciprocal Teaching, and the like) and key instructional components (for example, explicit description, modeling, collaboration, guided practice, and independent use). Most important, they offer a very good fit for global learners.
Scrolls are an easy way to remediate text, and should be included in the reading-instruction toolkit of all remedial reading programs.
For more information about using scrolls for LD readers, visit the following pages on the web:
First-time tips: www.textmapping.org/firstTimeTips.html
Introduction to scrolls: www.textmapping.org/scrolls.html
Using scrolls: www.textmapping.org/using.html
Making your own scrolls: www.textmapping.org/making.html
Introduction to mapping: www.textmapping.org/mapping.html
Instructional benefits of Textmapping: www.textmapping.org/benefits.html
Working with LD Students (from the Standard Instruction Set: Textbook Skills): www.textmapping.org/1000.html#disabled
This article has appeared in the following publications:
- Disabled Readers Group Newsletter, Vol.6, No.1, Fall 2003, published by the Disabled Reader Special Interest Group of the International Reading Association
- Wyoming Journal of Literacy, Vol.2, No.1, Spring 2004, published by the Wyoming State Reading Council, a state council of the International Reading Association
- Reading Matters, May 2004, newsletter of the Virginia Beach Reading Council
The author encourages publication of this article. Please see the small print below.