One down, 21 million to go!

Next week I find out who my next student will be, which is pretty exciting for me.

I tutor adults in reading for the local Adult Literacy program
. The local program in Fresno is funded by a measure to the Fresno Library, which supplies training, books and other materials. They also match up prospective learners to volunteer tutors.

I wasn't even supposed to have my last student. He wasn't just unable to read, he also has a form of dyslexia, and the local program is unable to support this. But when I met him, call him "P" he was so eager to learn that I couldn't just let him go...

I learned a lot about dyslexia with P, I studied learning methods in the library and online, and asked questions from other dyslexics who had become successful readers. P's problem is that he would switch the ends of a sentence in a paragraph, and he would flip the words from the sentence above or below into the sentence he was reading. He never reversed letters - he never wrote a backwards R. He would split a word in half and swap ends.

We got through it. A piece of cardboard with a hole cut into the size of a few words on a line became his reading guide. And then we started learning. He learned the difference between a vowel and consonant, and about the pesky "Y". We started learning about word parts, and built up his phonemic awareness. (He has no problem getting the sounds in the right order, it's only those darned squiggles on the page that don't march in step!)

It's been almost a year and a half since I met P, and he said he has achieved his goal - he can now read to his two sons. He can read the bible. (I steered him away from the King James version - we can't be confusing him with archaic language just yet!) And after some help from his wife he's started using email.

I have never been so proud to receive an email.

Best of all, he's not just my student, he's a friend now. I've helped his kids with math, taught his wife about what is available on the Internet. By helping him, my own life is richer.

I wasn't supposed to tutor him this long, it isn't part of the program. Screw it. And now he's on his way and I let the Literacy Program know I was available again. I see them next week.

I can't wait.


Anonymous said...

great! another welfare family. There goes your tax money.

I'm surprised that you let him have a bible. Your not much of an atheist are you?

Calladus said...

"let him have..."? What? Do you think that I'd censor his reading material? Perhaps you think I'll also try to ban Harry Potter and Huckleberry Finn from the local library too?

As for P being part of a welfare family - the odds are pretty good that he makes more than what you make. He makes close to $80k more than I make a year.

Anonymous said...

doing what? selling drugs? he can't make that kind of money if he can't read.

And who said anything about Harry Potter? what does that have to do with anything?

Jennifer Feddersen said...

Have you ever checked out a book called Phonics Pathways? I use it to teach my own kids to read and it's the best book I've found yet. I've often thought it would be a great resource for adult literacy classes, as well.

It's been used all over the place - if you google it you'll find a website with lots of information. I think kids with dyslexia and even autism have done well with it.

You should check it out. By the way - kudos. Teaching an adult to read is an incredible gift to them.

Calladus said...


You seem to have problems with reading comprehension - perhaps you should see about getting a tutor?

And of all the places in my blog where you could be insulting to me or to what I love, you choose this place?

I think you're just trolling.

Calladus said...


Thank you for the info. I'll put the book on my Amazon Wish List, and get it when I can.

The local library supplies all the materials for the tutor program. They don't mind if the student brings something that they want to learn to read, but they strongly suggest that I follow the course materials. And since those materials seem to be well-written, I use them.

Part of the reason why they are good is because the reading level is set up for adults. The sentences are like something that an adult might see in a letter from a friend or in the news.

Calladus said...

Whups, that didn't take long.

Toby, I've refused to allow your latest post through due to it breaking my comment policy.

Calladus said...

John Hayes,

Sorry, I'm not allowing your post through for violating rule 6 of my comment policy.

Jennifer Feddersen said...

If it isn't broke, don't fix it - makes sense to use materials that are working for you.

I live in a small northern BC town where illiteracy is definitely a problem. And it's interesting that the issue isn't only poor schooling or problems like dyslexia - it's trying to get people to care about it.

There's a large First Nations population that has an oral, family-oriented culture that is kind of flailing in our written, business/institution-oriented culture, and I'm not sure what the "solution" is.

Calladus said...


I'm refusing your post due to it violating rule 3 of my comment moderation policy. If you would like to speak with me further about this, you are welcome to send me an email. I tired to send you one, but your blogger ID does not resolve to a profile or email address.

All further comments that I identify as coming from you will be deleted without comment from me.

Liz Ditz said...

Hi Calladus! It is Liz from I Speak of Dreams.

Congratulations to you and to P. I do want to address a mis-perception or myth, though:

P's problem is that he would switch the ends of a sentence in a paragraph, and he would flip the words from the sentence above or below into the sentence he was reading. He never reversed letters - he never wrote a backwards R. He would split a word in half and swap ends.

The letter reversal thing is a myth. However, P's tendency to "blenderize" words (or chunks of sentences) is a hallmark of dyslexia.

The Darling Dyslexic Daughter, who was well-remediated, still "blenderizes" -- this morning she produced "Crash tompacter" for trash compactor".

Susan Barton has several excellent videos on symptoms of dyslexia and how to correct it at her site.

It is a pity that tobyd59 is so ignorant. The two most successful non-reading dyslexics I know--well, one is well in excess of a millionaire from his chain of auto repair shops, and the other is a very successful remodelling contractor.

Both have found ways around the reading. The car guy transacts most business by phone, and has a very capable office staff, and the contractor has all his billing and estimating done by his wife.

Looking forward to getting to know you better -- you're in my RSS feed now & I'll get around to a link/review in the next couple of days.

Calladus said...

Hi Liz, can you give me a better hyperlink for Susan Barton's site? The one provided doesn't resolve correctly.

And yea, Toby has me scratching my head. I got another two posts from him, no email, none of it pleasant nor intelligent. You would think a skeptical Atheist would get more nasty emails about my lack of religious beliefs - but this guy is as bad as any other crazies I get.

Liz Ditz said...

Susan Barton has two sites:

Bright Solutions for Dyslexia

The front page has links to her videos.

Susan Barton Reading and Spelling System

Hope that helps.