Remote Learning – Student Perspective: Dyslexia and Shakespeare

Remote learning presents new challenges and opportunities to everyone involved: teachers, students, and parents. Students with learning differences, including ADHD and dyslexia, are especially susceptible to struggling with the new online format.

In this installment of Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning, our eighth-grade correspondent explains what it is like to do an assignment that seems to hit all of your weaknesses.

Usually on Wednesday morning I have arts. In one class we’re writing a play, but this Wednesday the arts got cancelled. Instead we had English, where we’re reading Shakespeare. As any dyslexic student knows, it is AWFUL!

Usually in class we’ll discuss the book, which raises problems for me normally because I can’t understand what they’re saying. Now, in order to contribute, our teacher insisted that we find a quote and then write about it on a group document. We would then discuss it on the video call.

I am not great at typing, spelling, or reading Shakespeare, so I did not appreciate this added level of difficulty. When we went to discuss, I tried to “raise my hand” to ask questions, but I wasn’t called on because the teacher wanted all the thought written in the document. People who had written something could speak about what they had written. 

Her frustration is tangible. Instead of having art class, where the student is engaged in a creative project, she was surprised with English, a class that holds terrors for many students with dyslexia. They were reading Shakespeare, a challenge for most students, especially those with dyslexia. Finally, students could only participate if they were able to select a quote and write a sentence analyzing it, also challenging on multiple levels.

That is not to say that Shakespeare should not be taught to students with learning differences. It should. When reading Shakespeare, or other difficult material, it is crucial to  make sure that all students can access the material and know how to ask for help.

Luckily, the next classes offered some hope.

In health class, the teacher just told us to go on a walk, so I did. I know some of the teenagers in my class haven’t left their houses in five days, since school closed. We had another hands-on activity, and we had new choices because their plan is to renew the choices each week. I still had trouble picking a project, just like last week. This time, I’ve started to listen to an audiobook since it’s nice to listen to an audiobook while I work on a project.

Getting up and getting outside is a chance to reset the mind and leave behind negative emotions. In this example, the student was able to select a project that fit her interests as well as her academic strengths: listening to an audiobook. (Here’s how you can find audiobooks, a great resource to add to you remote learning toolbox.)

By varying activities throughout the day, we can offer students the opportunities to overcome and leave behind negative experiences that might otherwise stop them cold.

  • Michael Greschler, M.Ed., SMARTS Director


This post is part of our Real-Life Experiences with Remote Learning series.