Outside the Square

A three-part documentary about dyslexia called Outside The Square will be of interest to everyone who knows a struggling reader/speller, or who wants to make sure a beginner doesn’t become a struggler.

It was made by Gold Coast mother and teacher Tanya Forbes, using funds raised on crowdfunding website Kickstarter, and (2019 update) is now freely available on YouTube, as free teacher PD.

The documentary’s cast includes kids who’ve struggled with literacy and their parents as well as teachers and enough serious experts and well-known advocates to make your head spin. It aims to change the way literacy is taught and make sure children with dyslexia have their needs met and are given the best chance to succeed at school.

There is still some confusion and controversy about to whom exactly the word “dyslexia” applies, and how many children would not struggle with literacy if it was taught more explicitly and systematically.

In this documentary, the term “dyslexia” is applied to a large group – 10% or more of the population – so it’s talking about the many children who can’t learn to read or spell well unless they get explicit and systematic synthetic phonics instruction, as well as those who have other cognitive difficulties or differences holding back their reading and spelling.

Here’s the introductory trailer for the film, presented by kids:

There are also three separate trailers for each of the three separate sections of the documentary:

  • Understanding and identifying dyslexia

  • Targeted teaching for students with dyslexia

  • The explicit teaching of language and literacy

I hope this film helps encourage more schools and teachers to try explicit, systematic synthetic phonics, not just with strugglers but with all beginners, so that fewer children end up struggling with literacy-learning in the first place, and to enhance everyone’s ability to spell well.

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