by Valerie M. Raymond, Ph.D
(Originally published in Dyslexia Discourse, Spring 2006)
New York City learning specialist Emily Levy has developed this set of fifteen workbooks, best for late elementary and middle school students in need of highly structured training in reading comprehension, organizing ideas, and writing. They are structured on sound principles to support student mastery: integration of the same techniques throughout the various workbooks, and the opportunity students to work through many examples of each skill.
The teaching of highlighting in color is the premise on which the series is based.
Highlighting for topic, main idea, and details is explicitly taught, first using pictures and then paragraphs of text. Students use the same three colors for the same elements throughout the workbooks on summarizing text and note taking. Later, students can choose their own highlighting colors as they structure their own paragraphs and essays.
Each of the excellent note taking books develops skill in a different technique: webbing, column note taking, and outlining. The three books on writing–two on paragraphs and one on the 5-paragraph essayâ€”integrate the skills of webbing and color highlighting. In all the books on writing skills, checklists appear after each student writing page, based on COPS (Capitalizing, Organization, Punctuation, Spelling) and paragraph structure (Topic Sentence, Detail, Detail, Detail, Concluding Sentence).
While the series is subtitled A Multisensory Approach, in fact most of the work exercises a student’s visual and motor skills. Nonetheless, the emphasis on teaching students to use color coding is a wise way to enrich visual processing of language structure. Two books explicitly teach auditory analysis of text, integrated with visual and motor representation: â€œVisualizing Textâ€, which employs fiction passages read aloud to the student who then draws a series of pictures; and â€œSummarizingâ€, which presents nonfiction passages that can either be read to the student or read independently by the student for summarizing in writing. In appearance, these books are unadorned and non-distracting.
Learning disabled students are likely to come away from this series feeling more confident in their capacity to analyze and structure text.