TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING
Divisionof Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education
SATE DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
oyd T. Christian, Superintendent
T h03 5 ^
-- I-- C
GENERAL ADULT EDUCATION
TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING REMEDIAL CASES
Edwin H. Smith
Director of the Reading Clinic
Fundamental Education Center
Florida State University
Wanda D. Cook
Supervisor of Fundamental Education Center
Weldon G. Bradtmueller
State Consultant in Adult Basic Education
Adult Education Section
The Florida State Department of Education
Division of Vocational, Technical, and Adult Education
Walter R. Williams, Jr., Director
Adult and Veteran Education Section
James H. Fling, Assistant Director
3J57 ~ oo'?757~
TECHNIQUES FOR TEACHING REMEDIAL CASES
IDENTIFYING THE REMEDIAL CASE . . .
METHODS . . . . . . . .
Fernald . . . . . . . .
Modified VAKT . . . . . . .
Cooper . . . . . . . .
Association . . . . . . .
Hegge-Kirk-Kirk . . . . . .
Heller . . . . . . . .
Modified Montessori . . . . .
i/t/a . . . . . . . . .
Bloomfield-Barnhart . . . . .
Gillingham-Stillman . . . . .
Sullivan Associates Programmed Reading
BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . . .
PART I IDENTIFYING THE REMEDIAL CASE
Because of the millions of functionally illiterate adults in the
United States, adult basic education has become an area of increasing
concern to educators. Fundamental education exists for the purpose of
providing a basic education for those who have had little or no formal
educational background. Basic education provides the minimal skills
necessary for normal adjustment and function in society.
The adjustment to be made is becoming more difficult for those
with limited educational training. The technical changes in the past
few years, accompanied by the necessary increase in reading standards,
have made it virtually impossible for the literate or semi-literate to
qualify for most jobs. The consequence of this situation is commonly
known as the poverty chain. With the continuous elimination of lower
level jobs without accompanying literacy training, the illiterate or
semi-illiterate is forced to sink lower on the economic ladder. Pre-
viously adult programs have not been greatly or effectively concerned
with this individual and as a result have done little to weaken the
Since reading is a most important aspect of education in our
culture, it is the skill with which the teacher will be deeply involved.
The adult educator usually finds that many of his students are disabled
readers in some respect, and a few are handicapped to the extent that
they cannot learn to read with only normal classroom instruction.
Such students are seriously handicapped and need individual instruc-
tion. It is the teacher's responsibility to locate these severely disabled
readers, diagnose their difficulties and provide remedial treatment. The
educator must identify and treat reading disability cases. If he does not,
When does this job begin? It begins at the first class meeting.
The teacher observes the act of reading for initial evidence of reading
disability. Through these observations he tries to identify the symptoms
characteristic of reading disability. The next step is to substantiate
and confirm these findings.
Reading disability has been defined differently by various reading
authorities. Therefore, a clear definition of what constitutes a reading
disability case is deemed necessary. There is no one set of terms
employed by all and often the terms used are vague and contradictory.
This bulletin will attempt to define terminology for consistency of ideas
and relative meanings.
As a starting point, a disabled reader is defined as a person who
shows a serious deficit in reading ability. This is a broad definition
and the adult educator will find that most students can be tentatively
placed in this category. Therefore, a more stringent classification is
necessary if the teacher is to effectively identify the disabled reader.
There are two types of disabled readers: (1) corrective cases and
(2) remedial cases. It is the cause of disability, not the amount of
disability, that places a student in either of these classifications.
Corrective Case: In this instance the capacity to learn is intact,
but other factors have inhibited progress in reading. At times, a single
factor may cause the disability, but usually a combination of the follow-
ing is involved:
1. Little or no educational background.
2. Inferior economic or social background.
3. Emotional problems.
4. Physical factors such as poor hearing, speech or vision.
5. Weakness in specific reading skills.
The improvement, correction or removal of the inhibiting factor or
factors is often enough to insure normal progress if the teaching meets
the "needs" of the student.
Consider the following example. Mr. Brown is a twenty-nine year
old student in an adult literacy class. The Informal Inventory and
additional diagnosis disclosed that he is reading at the Introductory
Stage (beginning level through the grade three level of reading),
specifically level two. The teacher discovers that Mr. Brown has com-
pleted the fifth grade and has average intelligence. He finds that
Brown is from the lower economic bracket. An appraisal of his physical
condition discloses that Mr. Brown has a fairly severe vision problem.
In assessing this information, one can see two main factors
affecting his reading ability. First, Mr. Brown could have achieved at
least a fifth grade reading level while in school. However, a primary
difficulty was his need for glasses. He couldn't see well enough to
learn to read. This vision problem was probably so much a part of his
physical makeup he was hardly aware of it! Many people go through life
seeing a "fuzzy" world. They think they see like everyone else!
The removal of the primary problem (the need for glasses) may
make normal progress in reading a possibility for Mr. Brown. As a child,
Mr. Brown's status as a member of the lower socio-economic bracket may
have hindered his taking advantage of the opportunity to learn; but he
has had years of experience to compensate for this. Therefore, Mr. Brown
would be classified as a corrective case. He should be able to function
within the framework of an adult classroom.
Remedial Case: This term is used to identify the students whose
reading disability has a more serious cause or base. They have about
normal or above normal intelligence. However, the cause of the disability
cannot be removed. One must work around it! Special and intensive help
Remedial cases may be further broken down into two groups. The
first group includes those students known to have neurological damage
which affects the communication centers of the brain. They display many
symptoms of severe reading disability (see page 6). While these symptoms
are easily recognizable by the adult teacher, only a neurological exam-
ination should be used to classify a person as neurologically damaged.
Such a person is often said to be an alexic. No teacher should diagnose
an individual as alexicl
The second group includes students displaying symptoms similar to
those with neurological damage. However, with these cases, there is no
firm basis available for saying the cause is neurological. The term SLD
or Specific Learning Disability is used to describe these cases.
Both SLD and alexic cases are remedial cases. They require pro-
cedures quite different from those used with most corrective cases.
Since the cause of the problem cannot be removed, we must work around
it. Special methods must be used. These special methods may violate
some of the best practices for teaching developmental or corrective
reading. But those "best practices" have not worked with the special
cases, so other approaches must be used.
This time consider Mr. Green in a theoretical situation and note
the information from his records. He is twenty-nine years old and has
completed the fifth grade. He is of average intelligence and is reading
at readability level two. His physical examination reveals no problems.
However, included in his folder are these notations from his previous
teachers and instructors: (1) Mr. Green has an extremely short
attention span. (2) He is easily distracted. (3) He tends to confuse
words that are similar. (4) He sometimes reverses words and word order
while reading and writing. (5) His auditory perception is poor.
After a full diagnosis, Mr. Green may be classified as a remedial
case. Since he is a remedial case with a problem in auditory discrimina-
tion, special work in this area may not help the student. The teacher
must work around his problem and seek a teaching method which involves
the best multi-sensory techniques for that student.
Mr. Green will need intensive special training in order to develop
his reading ability. This student should receive individualized instruc-
tion and cannot be expected to function with normal classroom group
How can one identify SLD cases, some of whom are probably alexic?
The following symptoms are common to both types of cases. This is one
check to be used in diagnosing the remedial case.
1. Difficulty with spelling. The oral spelling tends to
be better than the written.
2. Difficulties with orientation. Confusions between left
and right, east and west, etc.
3. Difficulties with time sequence. Trouble getting things
in chronological order.
4. Difficulty with arithmetic problems particularly when they
cannot be written down.
5. Trouble with figure background relationships.
6. Reversal of the sequence of words at times -- (There once
was for "Once there was").
7. Father had difficulty learning to read.
8. Over-dependence on context clues.
9. Capital "I" for small "I," "m" for "n," "doy" for "dog."
10. Confusion of words that look alike.
11. Reversals of form and/or order.
12. Reading and writing reflects speech errors.
13. Repetition of the same response even when not appropriate.
15. Difficulty with rhythm.
16. Short attention span.
17. Short anticipation span.
18. Poor concentration.
19. Auditory perception defective.
20. Language mazes.
21. Faulty association of letters, words and objects.
22. Inability to stand stress.
23. Short memory for printed words.
24. Loses place often.
25. Early fatigue in reading lessons.
26. Omission of letters and words.
27. Difficulty with closure (visual).
28. Syntactical difficulties.
29. Repetition of the same mistakes.
30. Handwriting erratic, indicating confusion.
Remedial cases, run the continuum from severe to mild. The
symptoms that they reveal are also exhibited in a matter of degree.
Different cases exhibit different constellations of symptoms. A
student need not demonstrate all these symptoms to be considered a
On the basis of observation, discussions and informal test-
ing (See Florida State Education Bulletin on Informal Diagnosis),
a case can be classified as remedial. Knowing that regular teaching
procedures will not work with this type of student, one asks what
methods will satisfy the needs of these students? Some possibilities
are suggested in Part II of this bulletin.
PART II METHODS
Since the more common methods of teaching do not meet the needs
of the remedial case, it is necessary to apply a type of methodology
that will facilitate his learning to read.
One method devised by Grace Fernald is known as VAKT. It
involves the use of the visual (V), auditory (A), kinesthetic (K) and
tactile (T) senses simultaneously. Since the student has difficulty
in learning to read through the ordinary senses involved in reading
(the visual and the auditory), it is necessary to stimulate other senses
to aid the reading process.
Most remedial methods used today emphasize the rationale that
several senses should be utilized in helping the truly remedial case.
The methods described in Part II involve some combination of these
It is through the effective use of these specialized methods that
the remedial reader makes the fastest progress in improving his reading
skills. The great majority of remedial cases can learn to read if the
proper methods are employed.
On the following pages you will find several remedial methods.
Try some with your students. Change them if you need tol However, keep
in mind that these methods, as a whole, are sometimes tedious. Progress
is often slow and difficult to detect. Be sure to allow ample time for
the student to make progress before trying another method.
Before beginning the teaching process, try to remove or lessen
distracting forces such as noise, movement, and visual stimuli (wall
charts, pictures). Remedial cases are highly distractable and a bright,
cheery, interesting room is not for them.
The methods presented in this booklet are not discussed in full.
The object is to give the reader an idea of the various approaches
available to him. For detailed information, the teacher should refer
to the books listed in the bibliography.
METHOD: MODIFIED FERNALD (VAKT, Visual, Auditory, Kinesthetic, Tactile)
4" x 11" paper
file for word cards
1. Have the student select a word he wants to
learn. Ask him to use it in a sentence or
give its meaning.
2. Ask the student how many parts (syllables)
he hears. Help him to verify his answer by
using the dictionary with you.
3. Print the word on the 4" x 11" paper using
the following procedure:
a. Say the word.
b. Say each syllable clearly as it is
printed. Pronunciation should begin
with the initial stroke. Do not
distort the word.
c. Dot i's and cross t's going from left
d. Underline each syllable while pronouncing
e. Say the word.
4. The teacher now demonstrates the tracing technique
using the index and second finger. The word is
traced in the same way it was printed.
5. Have the student trace the word.
a. When he hesitates or makes an error, stop him
and have him begin again.
b. Keep a record of the number of tracings.
c. Be sure to praise success -- do not stress errors.
6. When a student feels he knows a word, he may print it
on 4" x 11" paper.
a. Compare it with the original.
b. When he has two successive printings correct, he
dates the word and files it.
c. If he is unsuccessful, he retraces the original
7. Retention checks should be made the next day.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. This is a very time consuming method.
2. Learning occurs in four stages:
a. The student learns through tracing.
b. Tracing is eliminated.
c. Student learns from books.
d. He generalizes.
METHOD: MODIFIED VAKT (Crayon Scraping Method)
4" x 11" paper
1. The student selects the word to be learned.
2. The teacher prints the word in crayon and pro-
nounces it as it is printed.
3. The student traces the word with the tips of his
first and second fingers.
4. He is instructed to take the word home and trace
it with a pencil pronouncing the word as he does
5. The student takes the card home and continues the
process until no red crayon is seen.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. It takes 60-80 repetitions to cover the crayon.
2. Little supervision is needed.
3. The student must be thoroughly motivated to read
before this method can be used effectively.
4. This is particularly effective in teaching words
that the student consistently confuses or forgets
(where, when, etc.)
METHOD: COOPER (Sandtray Method)
large tray with sand
3" x 5" cards
1. The student selects a word from a controlled list.
2. As the student watches, print the word on a 3" x
5" card. Pronounce each syllable as it is printed,
but do not distort the word.
3. Ask the student to look at the word and pronounce it,
enunciating each syllable clearly.
4. Ask him to close his eyes and try to "see" the word as
he says it syllable by syllable.
5. Remove the card and have the student print the word in
the sand using the tips of his first and second fingers.
The student says the word slowly as he prints it.
6. Compare the sand word with that on the card, Repeat
7. Use the word in a sentence on the back of the card and
then file the card,
C, Pertinent Points:
1. It is inexpensive.
2. Do not use a book with student until the vocabulary of
three pre-primers is introduced.
3. Ease off the technique as the student learns more easily.
4, This method may be employed with those students whose
problem is not severe.
5. This method is particularly helpful with words the
student can't remember from day to day. It may be used
to supplement other methods.
METHOD: ASSOCIATION METHOD
picture or object of word to be learned
Northampton Yale Charts
B. Procedure;: (elementary)
1. The student produces the sounds composing a word.
i.e. b a t
2. Next, the word is matched with the picture or object.
3. The student copies the word sounding each letter as
he prints it.
4. The teacher says the words as the student watches
the lip movement.
5. The student says the word and identifies the picture
that goes with it.
6. The student next prints the word from memory.
7. When the word is spoken into his ear, the student
matches the picture.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. The student should build a vocabulary of 50 words
in this way before reading a book.
2. It is important to be precise in the articulation.
3. This is one of those "last resort" methods!
METHOD: HEGGE KIRK KIRK (Grapho-vocal Method)
Text: Remedial Reading Drills
This is basically a letter phonics and family phonics
approach. A small test provides information for the
teacher and lessons for the student. The basic process
involved is outlined below.
1. Before beginning drills, teach the sounds of letters
s, short a, c, t, and p. Have the student give a
word with each of these sounds in it.
2. Have the student say the sound and print the letter
representing the sound from memory.
3. Then print words such as CAT, PAT (with letters
separated) and have the student blend the sound into
4. When he is able to blend three sounds into a word,
begin using the Remedial Reading Drills.
5. Use the grapho-vocal method to build up vocabulary.
6. Build sentences and stories of words learned in the
drills and introduce words such as the and was as
7. When most of the drills are completed, move into
suitable texts. Continue the drills utilizing the
larger visual units such as ang and ound.
8. When the drills are completed, utilize regular methods
C. Pertinent Points:
1. Do not use this method with students who have severe
difficulty in distinguishing between sounds.
2. Be sure the sounds are pronounced properly.
3. Use this approach with severe reading disabilities.
4. All auditory and visual defects should be corrected
before embarking on this method.
A card with the word to be learned on it.
1. Select any word such as "work."
2. The teacher carefully pronounces the word several times.
3. This is followed by spelling out the word slowly and
i.e. W O R K
4. Steps 2 and 3 are repeated as often as necessary to be
sure the student is familiar with the sound and letters
of the word. In this way an auditory experience is
5. The student is now asked to join in saying and spelling
the word. The number of repetitions varies.
6. The student continues on his own in the same rhythm.
7. The student is now shown the word and should be able
to read it.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. This is a cumbersome and time consuming method and
should be used when all other methods fail.
2. Words are more easily forgotten.
3. It is less efficient than other methods, but it works
with some remedial cases.
METHOD: MODIFIED MONTESSORI
pipe cleaner letters
1. Have the student handle the letters made from sandpaper
or pipe cleaners.
2. Have him match letters that are alike.
3. After handling, looking and feeling the letter, the
student learns the name of each and the sounds)
4. Arrange letters so that they make words.
5. Have the student trace over the words and say them as
C. Pertinent Points:
1. This approach may be modified in many ways. Cards with
pictures and letters or pictures and words have proven
helpful. The sandpaper or pipe cleaner letters are glued
to the cards.
2. It is slower than some other methods. It does combine
well with the Hegge-Kirk.
3. One sense is developed at a time as the student
progresses from the concrete experiences (touching
the letters) to the abstract (reading the words).
i/t/a Handbook for Writing and Spelling
1. Each sound is represented by its own symbol. A
total of 44 symbols is used.
2. The student learns to associate the sound and symbol.
He later learns to write and combine them in various
3. Each lesson contains four parts:
a. Readiness activities: new words are introduced.
b. Guided reading.
c. Extension of skills.
d. Supplementary activities.
4. Contents of program:
a. Books 1-3, symbols are taught.
b. Book 4, stresses structural analysis.
c. Books 5-6, at the end of Book 6 transition to
d. Book 7, completes transition.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. This method has not been used extensively with remedial
cases. It does, however, provide a new area for
2. The alphabet is not used to supplant the traditional
3. Writing is encouraged at early stages.
METHOD: BLOOMFIELD-BARNHART (Linguistic Method)
Text: Let's Read by Bloomfield & Barnhart
1. The student first learns all the letters of the alphabet,
both capital and small.
2. Letters are arranged to form words and the student is
asked to spell out the word. There is no attempt at
this time to convey the meaning of the word. Be sure
the student uses a left to right progression in naming
3. Introduce the first reading materials (lesson 1-36).
At this time the student learns to "read" the word as
well as spell it. Introduce only a limited number of
words at each lesson.
4. The first reading materials introduce words whose
vowels and consonants maintain the same sound.
5. Lessons 46-71. Introduction of the speech form written
with the letter s. During this time, regular values
are assigned to 2 and 3 letter combinations.
6. Lessons 72-97. Pairs of:vowels are assigned sounds
of regular value.
7. Lessons 98-151. Irregular words are taught.
8. Lessons 152-199. Irregular spellings of vowel sounds.
9. Lessons 200-245. Irregular spellings of consonant
C. Pertinent Points:
1. A very severe amount of intellectual effort is necessary.
2. Reading lessons should be short.
Text: Remedial Training for Children With
Specific Disability in Reading,
Writing, and Penmanship.
1. This method places emphasis on "linkages" or the
process by which letter combinations are taught.
2. Three linkages are stressed:
translation of the seen symbol into a sound.
translation of the sound into a name.
translation of the sound into a written
3. These linkages stress the uses of visual, auditory,
C. Pertinent Points:
1. A text is needed for full details concerning this
2. A basic requirement is that the student needs to
know the name of each letter.
3. It is an extremely cumbersome method.
METHOD: SULLIVAN ASSOCIATES PROGRAMMED READING
Select the following at the appropriate level:
diagnostic placement test
sound-symbol cards (Prereading, Series I)
filmstrips (Series I)
test booklet (Series I, II)
alphabet cards (Prereading, Series I)
1. Teach the letters of the alphabet.
2. Develop a sound-symbol relationship.
3. Have the student use the Primer programmed text.
4. Administer the Reading Readiness test after the
first three parts of the Primer have been
5. Continue to the end of the Primer.
Series I (Level 1)
1. Administer the diagnostic test.
2. Show filmstrip 1 which will introduce the words and
concepts to be presented in Programmed Text 1.
3. Have the student use Programmed Text 1.
4. Have the student read Storybook 1.
5. Administer Test 1 in the test booklet.
6. Proceed in the same way until all seven books have
7. At the end of Series I, 400 words will have been
introduced as well as several forms of punctuation.
Series II (Level 2)
1. This series follows the same procedure except that
there are no filmstrips.
2. The content in this series has been expanded to
include poems and selections in science and
3. At the end of Series II, 979 words have been added
to the student's vocabulary.
C. Pertinent Points:
1. This method is based on a sound-symbol relationship.
2. No special instructions are needed after initial
3. Manuals are complete, helpful and necessary.
PART III BIBLIOGRAPHY
Bloomfield, L. and Barnhart C. Let's Read, Wayne State University Press,
Buchanan, Cynthia D., Programmed Reading Series, Webster Division,
McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1964.
Cooper, L. J. "A Procedure for Teaching Non-Readers," Education,
(May, 1947), v. 67.
Fernald, G. Remedial Techniques in Basic School Subjects, McGraw-Hill
Book Co., New York, 1943.
Gillingham, A. & Stillman, Remedial Training for Children with Specific
Disability in Reading, Spelling and Penmanship, Educators Public
Hegge, T., Kirk, S., and Kirk, W. Remedial Reading Drills, George Wahr
Publishing Co., Ann Arbor, Michigan, 1963.
Heller, T. M., "Word Blindness," Pediatrics, Vol. 31, #4, April, 1963,
Kolson, C. and Kaluger, G. Clinical Aspects of Remedial Reading,
Charles C. Thomas Co., Springfield, Illinois, 1963.
Mazurkiewicz, A. and Tanyzer, H. The i/t/a Handbook for Writing and
Spelling, 1/t/a Publications, Inc., New York, 1964.
McGinnis, M., Kleffner, F. and Goldstein, R., "Teaching Aphasic
Children," Volta Review, (1957), v. 58.
Stevens, E. Y. A Guide to the Montessori Method, Frederick A. Stokes
Co., New York, 1913.
Stuart, M. F. Neurological Insight into Teaching, Pacific Books, Inc.,
Palo Alto, California, 1963.