Student View
Article

Hard at Work
Jaylen listens to an audiobook and reads along at the same time. He can rewind the audiobook if he needs to hear something again.

© 2017 Eli Meir Kaplan

CCSS

R.1, R.3, R.4, R.5, R.7, W.2, SL.1, L.4, L.6

I Struggled to Read

For years, Jaylen, 17, couldn’t make sense of the words on a page. Then he learned special skills to help him overcome his challenges.  

    When I was little, I looked forward to going to school. I loved dinosaurs, building, and my friends. School felt carefree.

    But by fourth grade, I felt nervous in class. Sometimes I’d pretend I had to use the bathroom just so that my teacher couldn’t call on me. 

    Everyone else seemed to know how to read. But I couldn’t get the hang of it. I knew my letters. But my brain couldn’t make sense of them when they were put into words. 

    My parents arranged for a special teacher to read to me and write for me. My school gave me extra time for tests and assignments. That helped.

    But I still had a hard time explaining what I’d read. I felt confused and frustrated.

    When I was little, I looked forward to going to school. I loved building and dinosaurs. I loved my friends. School felt carefree.

    But by fourth grade, I felt nervous in class. Sometimes I’d pretend I had to use the bathroom. But I just didn’t want to get called on. 

    My classmates could read. But I couldn’t. I knew my letters. But I could not make sense of the words.  

    My parents arranged for a special teacher. The teacher read to me and wrote for me. My school gave me extra time to do my work. That helped.

    But I still had a hard time. I could not explain what I had read. I felt confused. I felt frustrated.

    When I was little, I looked forward to going to school. I loved dinosaurs and building, and I loved my friends. School felt carefree.

    But by fourth grade, I began to feel nervous in class. Sometimes I’d pretend I had to use the bathroom just so that my teacher couldn’t call on me.

    Everyone else seemed to know how to read, but I couldn’t get the hang of it. I knew my letters, but my brain couldn’t make sense of them when they were put into words. 

    My parents arranged for a special teacher to read to me and write for me, and my school allowed me extra time to finish tests and assignments. 

    That helped, but I still had difficulty explaining what I’d read. I often felt confused and frustrated.

Missing Out

    When I got to middle school, my struggle with reading and writing was overwhelming. Other kids spent 30 minutes on their homework. But it took me three or four hours. 

    My friends didn’t tease me. But they stopped asking me to hang out or play sports after school. They knew I’d be working. I felt left out—and anxious about keeping up with my schoolwork.

    When I got to middle school, my struggle with reading and writing was overwhelming. Other kids did homework quickly. But it took me hours. My friends didn’t tease me. But they stopped asking me to hang out. They knew I’d be working. I felt left out. And I worried about my schoolwork.

    When I got to middle school, my struggle with reading and writing became overwhelming. Other students spent 30 minutes on their homework, but it took me three or four hours. 

    My friends didn’t tease me, but they stopped asking me to hang out or play sports after school because they knew I’d be working. I felt excluded—and anxious about keeping up with my schoolwork.

Getting Help

    When I was in seventh grade, my mom found a school called Jemicy near my house in Maryland. It’s for kids who struggle with reading and writing. I took a test and found out that I have a learning difference called dyslexia. 

    I didn’t know anyone else who had dyslexia. I felt alienated. I thought something was wrong with me. But then I learned that 1 in 10 people are affected by dyslexia. 

    Some people think dyslexia means you see letters upside down or backward. But that’s not true. For me, dyslexia means that my brain has a hard time processing words. I also have a hard time putting my thoughts down in writing. 

    I now understand that dyslexia has nothing to do with how smart I am or what I can achieve. I just have to work harder, because I learn differently. 

    I have friends with dyslexia who are amazing athletes, artists, and musicians. Others are great at science and math. Even some of my teachers have dyslexia.

    When I was in seventh grade, my mom found a school called Jemicy. It is near my house in Maryland. It’s for kids who struggle with reading and writing. I took a test. I found out that I have a learning difference called dyslexia. 

    None of my friends had dyslexia. I felt alienated. I thought something was wrong with me. But then I learned that 1 in 10 people have dyslexia. 

    Some people don’t understand dyslexia. They think you see letters upside down or backward. But that’s not true. For me, dyslexia means that my brain has a hard time processing words. I also have a hard time writing. 

    Now I know that dyslexia is not about how smart I am. I just have to work harder because I learn differently. 

    My friends who have dyslexia are good at many things. Some play sports. Some play music. Some are artists. Some are great at science and math. Even some of my teachers have dyslexia.

    When I was in seventh grade, my mom found a school called Jemicy near my house in Maryland. It’s for kids who struggle with reading and writing. I took a test and discovered that I have a learning difference called dyslexia. 

    I didn’t know anyone else who had dyslexia, and I felt alienated. I thought something was wrong with me—but then I learned that 1 in 10 people are affected by dyslexia. 

    Some people think dyslexia means you see letters upside down or backward, but that’s not true. For me, dyslexia means that my brain has difficulty processing words. I also have a hard time putting my thoughts down in writing. 

    I now understand that dyslexia has nothing to do with how smart I am or what I can achieve. I just have to work harder because I learn differently. 

    I have friends with dyslexia who are amazing athletes, artists, and musicians, or who are great at science and math. Even some of my teachers have dyslexia.

Tools to Help

    Now I have strategies to help me learn. Instead of writing notes, I record myself talking into my phone. I play it back to study. 

    I also use audiobooks. We’re reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in school. I listen to it, then go back and listen to parts of it again if I need to. And I have computer programs that read to me and type for me as I speak. 

    I’ve also learned it’s important to communicate with my teachers. I ask them to repeat things or look over a paper before I turn it in. Sometimes I need more time for an assignment. My teachers always want to help.

    Now I have strategies to help me learn. I don’t write notes. I record myself talking into my phone. To study, I play it back. 

    I listen to audiobooks. We’re reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in school. I listen to it. Then I go back and listen to parts of it again if I need to. And I have programs that type for me as I speak. 

    I also talk with my teachers. I ask them to repeat things. Or I’ll ask them to look over a paper before I turn it in. They want to help.

    Now I have strategies to help me learn. Instead of writing notes, I record myself talking into my phone and then play it back to study. 

    I also use audiobooks. We’re reading Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in school. I listen to it, and then I go back and listen to parts of it again if I need to. And I have computer programs that read to me and type for me as I speak. 

    I’ve also learned that it’s important for me to communicate with my teachers. I ask them to repeat things or look over a paper before I turn it in, or sometimes I ask for more time on an assignment. They always want to help.

Big Changes

    I’ve had to work hard. But I’m a junior now, with a 4.0 GPA. And since I’m not struggling with my homework anymore, I even have time to be on the basketball team. 

    In April, I gave a speech I wrote at my school’s public speaking event. I used to hide so I wouldn’t get called on in class. But there I was, proudly speaking to 300 parents, teachers, and students! 

    I have always had good friends. But my Jemicy friends understand my challenges. One friend and I recently spent our lunchtime helping each other revise a paper. Feeling understood has given me a lot of confidence. 

    I’ll always have dyslexia. But now I have ways to deal with it. I’ve learned that when you have a challenge, you have to reach out to parents, teachers, or friends for help. 

    And no matter what your struggle may be, always work your hardest. Never, ever give up. You have to keep going.

    I’ve had to work hard. But I’m a junior now. I have a 4.0 GPA. Homework is easier now. I have time to be on the basketball team. 

    In April, I spoke at a school event. I used to hide so I wouldn’t get called on in class. But I spoke in front of 300 parents, teachers, and students. I felt proud.

    I have always had friends. But my Jemicy friends are different. They understand my challenges. One friend and I recently helped each other work on a paper at lunch. Feeling understood has given me confidence. 

    I’ll always have dyslexia. But now I have ways to deal with it. When you have a challenge, reach out to parents. Ask teachers and friends for help. No matter what your struggle is, work your hardest. Never, ever give up. You have to keep going.

    I’ve had to work hard, but I’m a junior now with a 4.0 GPA. And since I’m not struggling with my homework anymore, I even have time to be on the basketball team. 

    In April, I gave a speech I wrote at my school’s public speaking event. I used to hide so I wouldn’t get called on in class, but there I was, proudly speaking to 300 parents, teachers, and students! 

    I’ve always had good friends, but my Jemicy friends understand my challenges. One friend and I recently spent our lunchtime helping each other revise a paper. Feeling understood has really boosted my self-confidence. 

    I’ll always have dyslexia, but now I have ways to deal with it. I’ve learned that when you have a challenge, you have to reach out to parents, teachers, or friends for help. 

    And no matter what your struggle may be, always work your hardest. Never, ever give up—you have to keep going. 

ACTIVITY

Problem and Solution

You’ve just read “I Struggled to Read” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “I Struggled to Read” It’s time to try this activity!

You’ve just read “I Struggled to Read” It’s time to try this activity!

What to do: In this story, you learned that Jaylen had a problem, but he found a solution to it. In the chart below, fill in the blanks. First, identify the story’s problem. Then, write in the details from the story that help you understand both the problem and its solution. 

What to do: In this story, you learned that Jaylen had a problem, but he found a solution to it. In the chart below, fill in the blanks. First, identify the story’s problem. Then, write in the details from the story that help you understand both the problem and its solution. 

What to do: In this story, you learned that Jaylen had a problem, but he found a solution to it. In the chart below, fill in the blanks. First, identify the story’s problem. Then, write in the details from the story that help you understand both the problem and its solution. 

The Problem:

Detail 1: Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.                         

Detail 2:
Hint:  Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.       

Detail 3:
Hint:  How much time did Jaylen spend on his homework?      

Detail 1: Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.                         

Detail 2:
Hint:  Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.       

Detail 3:
Hint:  How much time did Jaylen spend on his homework?      

Detail 1: Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.                         

Detail 2:
Hint:  Jaylen knew his letters but couldn’t make sense of words.       

Detail 3:
Hint:  How much time did Jaylen spend on his homework?      

The Solution:

Jaylen found new strategies to help him study and learn.

Detail 1: Instead of taking notes, Jaylen records himself talking into his phone.                      

Detail 2:
Hint:  How does Jaylen read books?       

Detail 3:
Hint:  What does Jaylen ask his teachers? 

Detail 1: Instead of taking notes, Jaylen records himself talking into his phone.                      

Detail 2:
Hint:  How does Jaylen read books?       

Detail 3:
Hint:  What does Jaylen ask his teachers? 

Detail 1: Instead of taking notes, Jaylen records himself talking into his phone.                      

Detail 2:
Hint:  How does Jaylen read books?       

Detail 3:
Hint:  What does Jaylen ask his teachers? 

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