Week 2: July 7-13

Instructions : Participants are expected to respond to one of the questions posted in a manner that reflects an appropriate level of analysis and engagement in the discussion; applying the knowledge and insights from the readings to practical applications; drawing conclusions based on the content, raising new questions, presenting a counter argument, etc. Each response should include the question number, be stated in complete sentences, and apply the knowledge from the readings and sessions to practical applications.

In addition, each participant is expected to comment on at least two participants’ responses. The responses should be reflective and thoughtful, not simple short answers like “I agree” or “Me too.” A thoughtful response integrates readings, may provide examples, add new information, or present a counter argument.

Promoting Emergent Literacy Skills (JVIB, 2018, p. 542-550)

  1. How might the cultural background or socioeconomic status of families impact their ability to implement the suggested strategies for promoting emergent literacy in toddlers with visual impairments?

Are You Communicating High Expectations? (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2022)

  1. Reflecting on your own experiences as a student, how did teacher expectations influence your academic performance and motivation? How might you apply these insights to your own teaching practice?


  1. Prior to viewing the module video, what were your assumptions about Dyslexia? How did the simulation activity change or contribute to your understanding of Dyslexia?

What Does Research Tell Us About Teaching Reading to English Language Learners? (Reading Rockets, ND)

  1. Reflect on the seven specific suggestions provided for teachers of reading classes with ELLs. How practical and feasible are these suggestions in real classroom contexts?

Are You Communicating High Expectations? (Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2022)

  1. Reflecting on your own experiences as a student, how did teacher expectations influence your academic performance and motivation? How might you apply these insights to your own teaching practice?

My experiences as a student are likley to be different than others in this course. I know there’s a couple of others with a visual impairment here–I am one of those. I was born with Albinism and was identified under IDEA in 2nd or 3rd grade under “visual impairment.” While I do not have many memories K-1, I was in a 2nd/3rd split class starting in 2nd grade. My second grade year didn’t start that way, but this setting happened probably a couple months into the school year. At this point, all the teachers in the school (it was a very small school), knew I was different. They knew I had trouble seeing. However, high expectations were still held. The teacher that I had for the 2nd/3rd split class (I had her two years in a row), had ALL the high expectations for me.

At this point, I was also identified as Gifted.

I remember at this time, I had very solid literacy skills. For instruction, I was consistently put into higher reading groups. I believe at this point, I became an avid reader. While I do not read much now a days (I should change that), but at that point in time, I couldn’t get enough. I attribute this to that teacher in 2nd and 3rd grade, who always had the high expectations. Additionally, this teacher came to a series of low vision appointments–she wanted to know more about assisting a student with a visual. impairment in the classroom.

I feel these experiences drive me to continuously hold high expectations for all of my students. I feel that because I have high expectations for my students, I hold high expectations for staff as well. Given these high expectations for staff, I try to do as much collaboration as I can based on the individual student needs. I feel that if staff have the tools and knowledge they can then have the same high expectations that I do for their students that happen to have a visual impairment.

  1. Prior to viewing the module video, what were your assumptions about Dyslexia? How did the simulation activity change or contribute to your understanding of Dyslexia?

Prior to viewing the video on dyslexia, I believed that dyslexia was visually based; therefore, students with visual impairments were not affected since they read with their fingers, bypassing the visual component. I now realize that dyslexia is brain based and that students who read braille exhibit some of the same deficits as noted by Marnee Loftin in “Understanding Dyslexia in Children with Visual Impairments” (Understanding Dyslexia in Children with Visual Impairments – Paths to Literacy) in reading as do their sighted peers. After completing the simulation activity, I come to realize how challenging it is for a student sighted or not to read and that students who are visually impaired should be tested for dyslexia if suspected of having reading difficulties. In the same article, Loftin shares that there are resources for teachers of the blind and visually impaired in working with students who also have dyslexia. Knowing that dyslexia is brain based, does learning the braille contractions help or hinder their reading process?

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  1. Prior to viewing the module video, what were your assumptions about Dyslexia? How did the simulation activity change or contribute to your understanding of Dyslexia?

Before viewing the module on Dyslexia I understood Dyslexia to be a brain based disability. I did not know that is was genetic and can effect student of normal intelligence . Dyslexia has been previously described as a visual processing disorder due to vision. Many people still do not understand the difference between the two. Children with Dyslexia have difficulties analyzing and processing individual letters and sounds and have difficulties blending phonemes which can affect reading fluency and comprehension. After watching the module and completing the simulation I did not know or understand the extent of the struggle for these students. It takes so much time and patience to read a simple sentence which can slow down their learning. It helped me to understand their daily challenges and why they choose to give up or avoid reading at all. I understand in greater extent of the need to address their lack of self esteem and self confidence. This is an aspect that is often overlooked and not addressed.

I know that children are screened in schools for the possibility of having Dyslexia. If it is determined that they are at risk for Dyslexia then further screening is completed to see if intervention is needed. In many schools that I work in there are different levels of intervention provided depending on the needs of the individual child. If the child has Dyslexia they can receive special education services under the category of a specific learning disability. Unfortunately as stated in the module, many students are overlooked and undiagnosed until their level of Dyslexia has reached the specific learning disability level. It was also my understanding that it is rare for a student with visual disabilities to have dyslexia. The possible reasoning for this is stated in the module: “ the lack of skills and resources in evaluating dyslexia in students with VI.” I feel that this module contains a lot of insightful information that can help in the understanding, teaching, and learning about students with dyslexia.

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That is a very good question and one that I have as well. I found that the module verified the difficultly of diagnosing dyslexia in sighted students. This is a disability that is often missed or not caught until it reaches a level of needing special education services. There are many screening tools for sighted students but very little exist for students with visual impairments. Once a VI student is diagnosed with dyslexia how can we teach braille to assist them in learning? This module poses the same question. There is not a lot of information available to VI teachers on this topic.


I enjoyed reading your post, and hearing that you had the experience of high expectations from staff and those around you. I always have believed that the student must “show me that they cannot do something, or not do it well” verses a bias of “they won’t be a able to be successful”. Striving high is motivating, and reaps way more benefits than the alternative.
Part of this, as you stated with collaboration, sets the stage. For example, by attending appointments with the Low Vision Provider, and working with staff to provide the information required to understand the visual impairment, it becomes empowering for the staff. People cannot have high expectations if there knowledge base or experience with VI is not filled with rich, detailed information about the impairment. In my experience, even with significant nystagmus or poor acuity, most of the students I have worked with the diagnosis of albinism have done extremely well. Setting the stage from the start, with high expectations is key. FInally, when I have had students with reading difficulty, and they have full access, it has been usually related to the actual issue around reading (the skill), and not the visual impairment. Rather, the student most probably would not have had high literacy skills, regardless of vision. I am so happy that you had a positive experience.

Question 2:

When I was a student, teacher expectations directly impacted my motivation as a student. When I had teachers who did not have high expectations for me I slacked off and did not put in extra effort. When I had teachers who demonstrated high expectations to me and believed in my abilities I tried a lot harder in class.

This is something I see that directly impacts our students who are in the general education setting. When my students work with me they are aware of the expectations set. They know they are expected to use their white cane, they know that they are expected to try their hardest, and they know they are expected to be curious. When I silently observe students working with teachers or aides who do not have these expectations I see my students fall into the “learned helplessness” category. They do not even try to attempt tasks without immediately asking an adult to help them complete them. They do not use their mobility aides/white cane as we know they can. They will hold an aide’s hand and rely on them for direction. It is a direct reflection of the expectations of the adults around them.

I found the reading, “Are You Communicating High Expectations?” by Douglas Fisher & Nancy Frey. I found it interesting how they highlighted educators’ low versus high-expectation habits and behaviors. I particularly see myself implementing the High Expectations Self-Assessment Checklist as I work with my students in the upcoming school year. As an educator, I am not perfect and I am always learning myself. Some specific areas highlighted by this article and checklist that I would like to focus on improving and applying this next school year are: allowing students to choose their own activity from a range of options, allowing students to contribute to success criteria, and teaching students about SMART goals. I think I can be more intentional with my practices which would better reflect my expectations for my students.

Does anyone have practices they implement that were not explicitly mentioned in the article that reflect high expectations held for students? One thing I do is reflect with my students frequently regarding their abilities and progress. Sometimes this looks like a positive affirmation, “I am a reader”. Sometimes this looks like comparing what they have learned near the end of a quarter that is something they may have not been able to do at the beginning of the quarter. It acts as an informal self-assessment and moment for my students to be proud.

Another concept I enjoy is “rose, bud, and thorn” where students share their rose (the best part of their week that has happened), bud (something that has not happened yet but they are excited about), and thorn (something that has happened this week that made them feel sad/upset/confused). When we do this together, I try to turn my share into affirming accomplishments or sharing improvements we can make for the next week. For example, my rose may be, “I love how you read your entire passage without getting frustrated yesterday.” My bud may be, “I am excited for you to tell me what happens in the next chapter of your book.” My thorn may be, “It made me sad when I was asking you to read a passage on Monday and you pretended to fall asleep.” This acts as expectation setting and progress monitoring for my students as well as a routine they can expect once a week! It also allows you to trouble shoot your thorns and set better expectations for the following week. Sometimes there are no thorns which is exciting! Sometimes a student falls asleep in the middle of a Braille passage and it sparks a conversation about healthy sleep habits (yes this actually happened!) :slight_smile: .

Hello Rebecca,
Thank you for sharing your personal experience! I love that you view your experience with your high expectations as influential to your teaching style!

I find that the biggest obstacle I often find is the expectations set by educators who do not have a Vision Impairment background. A lot of the time, I find that our students are given lower expectations than their peers even if they are capable of achieving the same if not higher than some of their peers. One good example I have of this is a student who is gifted in math. After a conversation with her classroom teacher regarding her abilities and that her Vision Impairment did not impact her ability to achieve, the classroom teacher had her tutoring her peers using a Math Window!

When we demonstrate confidence in our students’ abilities others catch on too! :slight_smile: I am planning on sharing the high-expectation self-assessment tool linked in the article with school teams so we can all be on the same page in setting expectations for our students!

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Hello Sharon,
I also was under the impression Dyslexia was a result of vision-related issues. I also thought that it is not something our students could be impacted by if they were Braille readers.

You pose a very important question. I believe that could add complications for our students if they are found to have Dyslexia. I believe the added symbols that are common reversals as well as digraphs could become more confusing for our students. I could be wrong though. This seems to be an area that is becoming more explored by professionals in our field. I would be interested to know if later down the line one grade is favored over the other for students with a Visual Impairment and Dyslexia.

I think the biggest point of contention I have is that there seems to be no standardized evaluation for Dyslexia in students with Visual Impairments. I have asked students to be evaluated in the past because of continuous reversals after years of learning Braille. The biggest obstacle I have found is that screeners made for print readers do not necessarily translate for Braille readers. For example, b and d may be confused a lot in print, but in Braille, a student may confused about d and f more. I believe that research should begin aiming to find a standardized test for Dyslexia in Braille readers.

Hi Rebecca,
I Commend your teacher for 2nd grade teacher for encouraging and pushing you to excel. They saw the light that was in you. I aspire to have a student with fond memories of me and my advocacy one day. I enjoyed your post. You are a testament as to why we serve as teachers in any capacity, TVI’s or regular ed.

  1. How might the cultural background or socioeconomic status of families impact their ability to implement the suggested strategies for promoting emergent literacy in toddlers with visual impairments?

I feel that the socioeconomic status and cultural background of families can definitely impact their ability to implement suggested strategies for promoting emergent literacy in toddlers with visual impairments for many reasons. The first reason is regarding a family’s priorities. If a family is of a lower socioeconomic status, the child’s emergent literacy may not be a priority. The family may be more engaged in finding housing, food, or other basic necessities. Another factor could be related to the skills of the parents. If the parents did not have a good foundation in reading or language development, they may not have the skills or ability to implement some of the strategies necessary to encourage emergent literacy in their own child. An additional concern would be access. A family of lower socioeconomic status may not have access to age appropriate books/materials and may not know how to use resources that may be available such as the public library system. Also, they may not have the transportation necessary to go to the library, store, or parent groups.

Cultural background also plays a role in how a family might be able to implement the strategies. Some cultures may not place an emphasis on interacting and encouraging these skills with young children. The culture they are from may not value education so it is not a priority for them. Also, their perceptions of the type of learning a child might need could look very different from what is developmentally appropriate. They might feel it is more important to use flash cards or drill a child on specific skills rather than engage in activities to build vocabulary and enjoyment of reading. Additionally, these families may have challenges with access as well, such as finding reading materials in the family’s home language so that they can engage in reading to the child. They may feel isolated and not know how to access resources that could help.

Another factor that can affect many families (no matter the culture or socioeconomic status) in implementing emergent literacy strategies is the use of screen time, by both the parent and child. Many families I have seen in my role as an educational diagnostician are unaware of the impact of screen time on development, and most specifically, language development. Parents are often so engaged in using their cell phone, that they frequently miss opportunities to build and enrich the child’s language development. Also, the child enjoys playing games on the phone or tablet, and it keeps the child busy so that the parent can get things done, so no one is talking or engaging in back and forth communication. I recently went out to dinner and at the table next to us was a group of three families, six adults and five children. The adults were engaged in conversation throughout the meal, however every single child at the table had headphones on and was using a tablet. Not one word was spoken amongst the children, or between the parents and children. It really broke my heart at the missed opportunity to have these children engage in conversations and social interactions with their peers. Hopefully, more information will come out related to screen time and how it impacts children in learning to communicate and socialize.

Thank you so much for sharing the strategies you are using with your students. I will be returning to a teaching role this school year after working as a diagnostician for the last 10 or more years. I truly hope to communicate high expectations with the children that I will be working with and I feel that the number one thing I need to do is build those trusting relationships with them. I am also planning to use the self assessment tool this year to make sure that I am implementing the suggested strategies with my students. I enjoyed reading about the reflection you do with your students, as well as the “rose, bud, and thorn” technique. Sounds like you really take the time to listen to your students, keep them involved and make them partners in the learning process.

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Thank you for sharing your thoughts about Dyslexia. I am certified in learning disabilities and learned quite a bit about Dyslexia while taking my SLD classes. We learned about lots of issues that can impact a child being able to learn even thought they have normal intelligence and Dyslexia was one of them. However, a lot of people just assume that Dyslexia and learning disabilities are one and the same. I am so glad that more information is coming out now about Dyslexia, and that children are being screened in an effort to identify and serve them. In my district, we have a school that is focused on serving only children with Dyslexia and other reading difficulties. I also know that all of the speech therapists in the district have received training on helping to identify children who may be Dyslexic. I thought that the exercise in the module was a fantastic experience and really helped me understand the struggles these children go through. I am going to share this exercise with some of my team members this year.

  1. Reflect on the 7 specific suggestions provided for teachers of reading classes with ELLs. How practical and feasible are these suggestion in real classroom contexts?
  • Provide additional work on English phonemes that are not present in the students’ native language.
    This would be a little difficult if you didn’t know exactly what phonemes aren’t present in the native language.
  • If students are literate in their native language, focus on differences between that language and English, with less attention given to elements that will transfer.
    I get this. The article talks about how they would need more help with abstract ideas, idioms, and similar language elements.
  • Provide extra practice in reading words, sentences, and stories.
    And yet the article said that just saying them over and over would not be helpful if there was no comprehension. The reading should be experience stories or content that they had good comprehension in.
  • Use cognate words in the native language as synonyms when teaching vocabulary.
    This would be especially helpful. Things like Google Translate could help with this.
  • Identify and clarify difficult words and passages.
    The best you can. Hopefully this would be doable, but I can see that some phrases would end up still being confusing.
  • Consolidate knowledge of the text through the use of summaries.
    The summaries would need to be easy to understand.
  • Find appropriate ways to use the native language.
    This would be hard if it were anything other than a Latin language.

Overall I think these recommendations are helpful, but in practice may be more difficult than they look.

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Hi, thanks for sharing your experience.
I had a difficult Kindergarten year due to my vision and hearing difficulties and being in an open classroom setting (multiple classes in one big room). I switched schools for first grade and my teacher was very encouraging. She believed in me and my ability to learn. While I had some weird mathematical processing, she helped me figure out what was going on. She helped me learn to read so that I was in the high group. I developed so much more confidence that year. It was a much better start than my Kindergarten year.

I am a retired teacher, so I don’t currently have my “own teaching practice”. However, I think that I have always had high expectations for my students. I was recognized locally as a braille reading expert. I had one student qualify for the Braille Challenge nationals. So I think that all my students were encouraged.

Hello, I agree with your ideas about difficulties with poor socioeconomic status and cultural backgrounds that are different. And yet, as a First Steps (Missouri’s Early Intervention program), we are working with young children from all socioeconomic backgrounds and cultures. We are instructed to see the positive outcomes in each family. They teach us that every family can teach their child and work with them to help them grow. We are taught to respect and engage the family’s cultures. So with this outlook, we as teachers have to have the right attitude and be thoughtful about how we approach and work with famillies.

  1. *Prior to viewing the module video, what were your assumptions about Dyslexia? How did the simulation activity change or contribute to your understanding of Dyslexia?
    I must say that prior to viewing the video, I knew that the condition of dyslexia was attributed to how the brain works and not a condition of the eyes-- even though the brain causes the eye to see the words differently I believe. The activity or exercise was very enlightening. I was told I was dyslexic, but I could not figure out the mystery of the chart or the logic behind how this could be done. I know some things cannot be explained about the brains’ mysteries.
    With this way of interpreting the written language they are doomed in learning. Early identification and intervention is necessary for learning to take place just as our module indicated. I have encountered several students who I have suspected of this learning difference. I am now armed with the information I need and will be more confident and stronger in my advocacy for them.

In reviewing your response, as well as some of the other replies to your response, it seems that like me, others feel that this module may have been informative but it also created more questions. Questions that I have after this module include what screeners and testing is appropriate and what interventions are appropriate? Maybe this is something that will be addressed later, but if not, I would like to know more.

Shannon Pruitt - Week 2 Responses

  1. How might the cultural background or socioeconomic status of families impact their ability to implement the suggested strategies for promoting emergent literacy in toddlers with visual impairments?

The suggested strategies for promoting emergent literacy in toddlers with visual impairments recommend that the family of the student create a literacy-rich environment. This environment should incorporate language development strategies through child-directed speech used during natural routines and the interactive reading of books (and experiences), where the adult helps the child experience and expand on what is said or read. However, a family’s cultural background can impact their ability to implement the use of child-directed speech and interactive reading of books or experiences, as different cultures place varying values on reading, speaking, storytelling, and educational practices in general. Though these strategies are promising for students with visual impairments, cultural norms and the family’s lack of experience with people with visual impairments may make these strategies seem meaningless or unnatural. Additionally, if the family’s first language is not English and the student is in an English-speaking country, it will be more difficult for the family to implement these strategies in English. Even if the parents try implementing the strategies in their native language, there are sometimes barriers because family members may not be literate in their native language. Furthermore, socioeconomic barriers can reduce the family’s ability to obtain the needed materials and books for the student to gain the experiences and interactions with books and language that might be more accessible when money is not a concern.

  1. Reflecting on your own experiences as a student, how did teacher expectations influence your academic performance and motivation? How might you apply these insights to your own teaching practice?

Teacher expectations completely changed how I viewed my own abilities and impacted my decision to become a teacher myself. All through elementary and middle school, I was an average student in most aspects of academia. I was part of a class that included many students with high aptitudes and intelligence. So, while school was not necessarily hard for me, I didn’t view my own abilities as particularly strong. However, once I got to high school, I had a math teacher who pointed out to me that I actually had a relative strength in math. This was the first time I had considered myself exceptional in any subject. Because the teacher showed particular interest in my abilities and held me accountable when they thought I wasn’t doing my best, I continued to excel in math—eventually even deciding to become a math teacher (before a TVI, of course). :blush:

  1. Prior to viewing the module video, what were your assumptions about Dyslexia? How did the simulation activity change or contribute to your understanding of Dyslexia?

I’m not sure I had any assumptions about dyslexia that were changed. In my experience in the state of North Carolina, dyslexia is considered to be a diagnosis, and thus, students are usually diagnosed first with dyslexia and then they may or may not be found eligible for special education under the category of a specific learning disability. All of the training I have received has focused on determining if a student has a specific learning disability and not dyslexia since dyslexia cannot be diagnosed by a teacher.

I think that I most benefited from the explanation of the different behaviors you may see in students at different ages. Particularly, it was interesting to know that early readers may have difficulty with rhyming.

  1. Reflect on the seven specific suggestions provided for teachers of reading classes with ELLs. How practical and feasible are these suggestions in real classroom contexts?

I do think that these recommendations are both practical and feasible in real classroom contexts. However, I say that with one caveat: there must be commitment, buy-in, accountability from staff, and a willingness of staff to purposely work together. If these things are not in place, I do not believe it is feasible for one teacher to take this on by themselves. I say this because, in my own experience, I have unknowingly implemented these suggestions with my ELL students who are learning braille. However, I am typically working with these students one-on-one—not in addition to an entire class of other students with their own needs. That being said, I think a classroom teacher has to ensure they are planning for ELL students’ needs within the context of each lesson plan. This requires that the ELL teacher and the classroom teacher work together to understand easy ways of implementing these strategies. I also think some of the load on the classroom teacher can be alleviated by collaborating on lessons with the student’s ELL teacher so that there is a plan for what will be done in the classroom and what will be reinforced and practiced in the ESL class. Unfortunately, in my experience, I have not seen this type of collaboration and planning regularly. :frowning:

I as well service ECI students of all socioeconomic backgrounds. What places them on equal ground is that they have young ones with one or more disabilities. The article on Promoting Emergent Literacy by Chen & Kwan was very informative and gave me ideas on how to provide and create literacy opportunities to elicit attention and language as I expose them to reading at all levels of a students’ disability. I will pass this on to the parent as well as I keep in mind the importance of educating the parent. I enjoyed this immensely.