What is Systematic Teaching?
Think about the word system. What is system? One of Webster’s definitions basically says that a system is an organization that has a framework that serves a common purpose.
So, take that basic definition and apply it to systematic teaching, which is a logical and orderly way of teaching. Systematic teaching helps our learners filter, prioritize, and organize information.
Let’s unpack each of the executive function skills mentioned in this definition:
- Filtering is how our brain gets rid of redundant or unnecessary information.
- Prioritizing is our brain’s way of figuring out the information that is the most important.
- Organizing is how we store the information for so it can easily be retrieved at a later time.
Why Do We Use Systematic Teaching?
People with dyslexia have a difficult time processing language, but there is another part to dyslexia that is often overlooked. People with dyslexia can also struggle with working memory, attention, and organization.
These executive skill difficulties make it hard for our learners with dyslexia to filter and prioritize information for themselves.
Systematic teaching filters, organizes, and prioritizes the information FOR our learners.
Practical Teaching Advice
1- Teach the most common skills first, then move to less common skills.
When teaching the letters of the alphabet, for example, q and z are not your first priority. They simply aren’t as common as other letters like m, t, or a. Teach the more common letters first. For more tips for teaching letters and letter sounds.
2- Teach easier concepts, then move to harder concepts.
For example, before we teach our learners how to count the phonemes in words (which are the small sounds in words), we teach them how to count the bigger sounds or beats in words, called syllables. In terms of difficulty, it’s much harder to count all the individual letter sounds in a word like “pencil” than it is to count the two syllables.
3- Build skills one step at a time to prevent gaps in learning.
After we teach the common and simple skills, we begin to build on that foundation as we teach the less common and more complex skills to our learners. We want our teaching to be sequential, meaning that we don’t jump way ahead. We take it step-by-step.
Often times, learners struggle doing complex tasks because they haven’t mastered all the subskills to do the complex task. Building skills one step at a time helps to build the subskills and confidence to accomplish big goals.
4- Break down complex skills into bite-size pieces.
Some skills are complex. Think about summarizing a text, for example. We can give learners a template that shows a step-by-step process for summarizing text. We model it for them, showing them how it can work with different kinds of texts, and we ask them to try it with our support. In doing this, we are breaking down that larger, daunting task into manageable pieces that make it doable.
5- Keep it predictable (most of the time).
When teaching our learners with dyslexia, we want our routines to be predictable so that our learners know what to expect. Our kids with dyslexia often have difficulty enough conquering the content. We don’t want to add another layer of difficulty in trying to figure out how to do the activity itself.
This does not mean we can’t add some spice or flavor to our teaching. We can most certainly integrate games and activities that make learning fun as well. But predictability helps our learners focus on what they’re learning, and changing the flavor of the day in our teaching often distracts them from the what.
Speaking of adding flavor, use any of our free printables to add a little spice to your teaching! These are sorted by skill, not by grade level.
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