For over fifteen years, while I was a special education math & science teacher, I would take 15 to 20 minutes out of a very long 75 minute math or science class and have my learning disabled students do Academy of READING®. It was an incredibly effective teaching strategy. Students would improve anywhere from two to five grades in a semester.

 But on a Friday afternoon, March 2009, this all came to an abrupt end. I was called over the PA to the vice-prinicpal’s office and ordered to stop teaching kids to read in my math class. The ruling was that I could only teach math curriculum in math class. Stealing math time to learn to read was no longer allowed.  All of these IEP’s students were functionally illiterate.

This particular class was a very challenging multiple exceptionalities learning disabilities class. Not one of these twelve students was able to read their grade 9 (reading level grade 5) math workplace work book. Most of these students were smart, right brain dominant and on the severe end of the dyslexia spectrum. Not one could do basic arithmetic. For example, not one  knew their timetables.

I pleaded my case to the principal. I pointed out the marvellous research by Dr Maryanne Wolf , director of the Center for Reading Research at Tufts University, that showed that struggling readers almost always struggle with arithmetic too, and that helping these students become readers would improve their arithmetic skills. I shared a paper I had brought back from International Reading Association’s annual meeting entitled, “The Problem with Math Word Problems are the …. Words”.  It was like talking to brick wall. It wasn’t that I wasn’t successful teaching reading. In fact, the trustees had recently chosen me for the outstanding teacher award base on my success teaching dyslexics to read. But their edict was that reading could only be taught in English class. I implored, “Show me a high school teacher who teaches reading? Reading stops being taught after grade 3!” I continued, “All these kids have an IEP – it is written in their IEP that they are to be taught to read. Teaching them to read is legal!”  I got no where. The decision was final. I could no longer teach these ld kids to read. The inflexibility of the system would no longer allow it.

Parents, I share this with you to let you know the incredible ignorance in the teaching profession about reading. Reading instruction is no where to be found in teacher colleges. One needs to take a special Ministry course on reading instruction. Very few teachers do because, unless you are a primary teacher, reading instruction is not part of your curriculum.

If your child is a struggling reader, s/he almost certainly will get no help with their reading after grade 3. What they will get is lots of technology like Kursweil, Wordque, Dragon etc. But they won’t be taught to read.

So I retired in June 2009, after a great thirty-four year career. In 2010 I spent a wonderful twenty weeks as a reading consultant for a school district in BC. I got invaluable primary/junior experience there.

In June 2011, I launched www.onlinereadingtutor.com. All of my current students have an IEP for their reading disablility. All , without exception, are improving their reading fluency. In fact, OnlineReadingTutor™ is even more effective than my classroom.

Parent Testimonial:

” Our son had a severe reading disability. We spent a lot of money on Kumon, Sylvan, and private tutors without success. He was a teenager reading at grade 1 level. But he became a fluent reader because of the tutoring he received from Bob Almack. Our son is now apprenticing as an auto mechanic” ~ Rick Delaney, Port Perry, ON