Reading comprehension shortcuts

After a plane crash, where should the survivors be buried?

a. at sea
b. in their hometowns
c. it’s up to the loved ones, not a matter of general opinion!
d. why would a survivor need to be buried?

Did you realize before getting to choice D that the question was problematic?

If as a reader (or listener) you want a brief discussion of why it’s a good idea to concentrate on the text and avoid distractions, turn to this article.

If as a writer you realize that readers are going to skim anyway, and you want to reduce the chance that they’ll make comprehension errors, read the article for a few insights.

One important thing to realize about sentence processing is that as we’re reading a sentence our brains are already coming up with likely interpretations or meanings based on the sentence context and on our past experiences with language and the world at large. Sentence interpretation is an ongoing process – we don’t wait until we reach the end of a sentence to come up with a meaning for it. As we’re coming up with possible meanings, the sentence keeps unfolding, and some of those potential meanings have to be discarded in favor of new ones… that’s assuming we detect and process the words that contradict our favored meaning. When we’re tired or distracted, we might latch onto a likely meaning based on the general context of the sentence and ignore any word that contradicts it.

With the question on airplane survivors, many of us ignore the word ‘survivor’ in part because the phrase ‘plane crash’ at the beginning has already conjured up scenarios of mass death and no survivors, so we might skim over the word ‘survivor’ without truly processing what it means; the word ‘buried’ at the end seems to strengthen our initial interpretation of 100% fatalities and that the question must be entirely about people who have died.

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Educational resources for kids with dyslexia

Eight sites worth a visit if you’re looking for resources – including worksheets, suggested activities and games, and other educational advice for parents and teachers – helpful to children who have dyslexia. (Updated July 2018.)

1) American Dyslexia Association Free Worksheets
Over 1500 free printable worksheets targeting different skills areas.

2) Reading Resource
Links to worksheets, suggested activities, and information on dyslexia.

3) Strategies for Summer Reading for Children with Dyslexia
Advice on encouraging reading and setting up a summer reading program.

4) Dyslexia Online
List of links introducing and discussing dyslexia, with some teaching tips as well.

5) Dyslexia Tutor
Blog with updates on research and educational developments and insights.

6) Dyslexia Classroom Resources
A compilation of dyslexia classroom resources including sites providing worksheets, ideas for activities and games, and advice for teaching strategies that could be used by both teachers and parents.

7) The Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity
Includes a pages for parents and educators with advice on teaching kids and cultivating their well-being. Also emphasizes the strengths of kids with dyslexia.

8) Dyslexia-related FAQs from Reading Rockets
Contains further links to pages with teaching strategies, resources for finding tutors, and other information.