It paid off. In three short weeks Keaghan’s reading jumped to second grade level. Just as importantly, her confidence soared as she learned to apply new strategies to read, says her tutor, Elizabeth Rockey, a master’s student in the College’s rigorous five-year Elementary ProTeach teacher preparation program.
Such results are not unusual for children receiving instruction from students trained in tutoring methods from the University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI, pronounced “you fly”). All ProTeach students receive training in UFLI Tutoring for Beginning Readers, and students in the dual certification track (elementary and special education) also receive training in UFLI Intensive Tutoring for Students with Dyslexia. a teaching preparation program designed around recent research in how children learn to read. UFLI coursework master’s dual teaching certification in elementary and special education.
“Our teachers leave us with the knowledge and skills and the confidence they need to teach anyone to read,” says Holly Lane, associate professor of special education and a nationally recognized expert in evidence-based methods of helping struggling readers.
Unfortunately, too often young students who struggle to read don’t receive such specialized instruction, says Lane, who also directs the College’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies.
That may be because dyslexia is among the most misunderstood of educational topics and myths of dyslexia are widespread: Most people think it’s a visual issue notable for children reversing the order of letters or words. In fact, it has nothing to do with reversals (which is common among beginning readers, Lane says). Instead, it’s related to difficulties processing the speech sounds and mapping sounds to letters. Some think it has to do with intelligence, but the truth is dyslexia has nothing to do with a person’s intellect.
Dyslexia is a life-long language-processing deficit, which essentially means the brains of these kids are miswired for language – and thus reading. Experts say at least 10 percent of students have dyslexia. Some highly accomplished people have spoken out about their struggles to read, including actress Keira Knightley, director Steven Spielberg, financier Charles Schwab and former Gator quarterback Tim Tebow.