ThesisPDF Available

A Right Brain Approach to Reading Intervention

Authors:

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to use a right hemisphere reading intervention method with three struggling primary readers. Neuroimaging research was used to help understand what is happening in the brains of non-readers. The research suggests that this method will work for students, as there is an asynchrony in the processing time between the visual and auditory components in the left hemisphere for dyslexic individuals (Breznitz, 2008). This method bypasses that system and utilizes the right brain to learn to read. This method was first developed by Broun and Oelwein (2007) for students with specific disabilities and the author wondered if this right hemisphere based method would also be good for non-readers. All three struggling readers made progress with this method, some of them reading for the first time ever. I developed an instructor’s manual, which is included in this thesis.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
A Right Brain Approach to Reading Intervention
Jennifer Hedican
Vancouver Island University
Masters of Educational Leadership
April 22, 2013
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
Abstract
The purpose of this study was to use a right hemisphere reading intervention method with three
struggling primary readers. Neuroimaging research was used to help understand what is
happening in the brains of non-readers. The research suggests that this method will work for
students, as there is an asynchrony in the processing time between the visual and auditory
components in the left hemisphere for dyslexic individuals (Breznitz, 2008). This method
bypasses that system and utilizes the right brain to learn to read.
This method was first developed by Broun and Oelwein (2007) for students with specific
disabilities and the author wondered if this right hemisphere based method would also be good
for non-readers. All three struggling readers made progress with this method, some of them
reading for the first time ever. I developed an i
thesis.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
Acknowledgements
Thank you to my husband and our three children for all of their belief, encouragement, pride and

Thank you to the students and families who have allowed me to work with them on this
technique. They are all amazing and I am honored for the learning they have provided me.
Thank you to my fine editing team who used their superior knowledge of the English language
and research papers to provide expert editing.
Thank you to my larger family, who supported and believed in me.
Thank you to my cohort, the Masters of the Universe, who have made the journey so incredible.
Thank you to the researchers who have provided interesting data and philosophies for me to
explore and expand on.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
Table of Contents

Abstract..........................................
Acknowledgements.......................................................................................................................iii

Chapter One: Purpose of Study6
Chapter Two: Definition of Terms9
Bottom Up Readin9
Chronic Non-9
Hemisphere Domi
11
Neuroimaging Infor
Right Hemisphere
.12
Chapter Three: Reading Research
Importance of Re..14
Early Interventio
Lack of Progre
Reading Difficulty/Dyslexia 
Universal Probl
Chapter Four: Neuroimaging Research
Functional Neuroimaging to Understand Reading Pr
Asynchrony Phenom
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
Chapter Five: Reading Intervention Technique26
Chapter Six: Action, Results and Reflections28
Action.................................................................................................................................28
Working with B..................................................................................................................28
Working with A.................................................................................................................30
Working with E..................................................................................................................33
Reflections.........................................................................................................................35
Chapter Seven: Conclusion
..41
Appendix
..51
Top Down and Bottom Up Reading Illustration................................................................83
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 6
Chapter One: Purpose of This Study
I have worked as a teacher over the course of 25 years, with some time taken off to have 3
children, and have seen many beginning readers blossom and grow into their reading abilities. I have
awanting to and their disappointment in
that. My undergraduate degree from SFU was in Early Childhood Education, Learning Disabilities and
Psychology. Most of my teaching experience has been as a teacher for the early primary grades,
Kindergarten to Grade 2, and as a Learning Support Teacher for elementary students. I utilized
systematic reading programs such as Riggs (McCulloch, 2003) or Jolly Phonics (Lloyd, 1992) in my
classroom. I worked side by side with Kindergarten teachers to help improve the phonemic awareness
of their students, implemented early intervention to help them at the start of their education and used
 practicee expected progress despite all of
our efforts. What was happening for these students? They were able to converse about topics that
interested them, could manage themselves socially and were creative. However, they were unable to
obtain easily the skill of reading.
Many of the students could tell you the sound of the letter and even produce them in succession,
but were unable to read the words. You could hear them stutter and sputter as they tried to read the
words fluently. They could read all the correct letter sounds and then produce a completely different
word when they read it smoothly seconds later.
My course of action for these students was typical of the learning support model used in our
district and province we broke down the components of reading into small chunks with more attention
to the sounds, often isolating them in non-contextual ways to reinforce the letter sound. We worked on
rhyming, breaking words into syllables, matching pictures with letter sounds, reading Dolch word lists
and reading simple levelled text. Essentially we taught them in a louder, slower, more exaggerated way,
as one might try when they are hoping to communicate with someone speaking a different language.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 7
While minimal progress was made sometimes, it was not able to lead to independent fluent reading, nor
was it effective or efficient progress. I was unable to find something that worked better for this
population of learners.
I was fortunate to attend a workshop given by Patricia Oelwein in January 2011where she
presented a reading method she first designed for use with students with 
extended to students with Autism. This approach was unique in that it taught the word in its entirety,
without breaking it down into sound components, in a systematic manner. She had us participate as
learners using non English words, and I could see immediately the difference in this approach. I was
intrigued. 
spectrum, specifically some students whom I had been supporting since Kindergarten yet were still not
reading at an instructional grade level.
(2007) method in the Learning Assistance Room to
seven Grade One & Two students for approximately 4 weeks in the Spring of 2011. It was the
successful response to this method by some of the students that interested me. One student declared
read words
that were of interest to him and then transfer that skill to reading books that interested him, rather than
the simple meaningless text with which he had been working. Other students were able to read
sentences fluently for the first time ever. They were all growing their personal bank of words they could
read as they increased their reading competency and fluency.
At the end of that school year I left my position as a Learning Support Teacher and returned to
the classroom, teaching Grade Two-Three students. One of my students was not yet reading at grade
level; he was at the end of Kindergarten/beginning Grade One reading level. I asked his mom if I could
work with him after school with this different reading method. She said yes, so our sessions began in
October 2011.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 8
 for the 2011-2012
year, where we were to identify a problem that might be our focus for our thesis. I had it this different
reading method that I has used briefly as a Learning Support Teacher and was again using after school
with one of my students. I formulated these questions to guide my research;
Is there a reading intervention that is better suited for chronic non-readers?
Could a program designed for students with special needs be used successfully with struggling
readers?
What does research tell us about the effectiveness of intervention for chronic non-readers?
What does neuroimaging research tell us about how non-readers process written language?
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 9
Chapter Two: Definition of Terms
This chapter will explain briefly some of the terms used in my paper.
Bottom up reading methods. A bottom up reading method starts with the smallest sounds and
then builds upwards with different reading skills. Teaching reading starts with the smallest measures of
language such as letter sounds, rhymes, phonics, phonemic awareness, segmentation, blending and
sounding out and sequentially builds up reading skill from there (Helland Tjus, Hovden, Ofte, &
Heimann, 2011). This approach is used most widely to teach reading, which starts with the smallest
components then moves on to larger pieces such as digraphs, syllables, onsets, rimes, words and word
families, then on to more complex words, then onto fluency and comprehension. Some reading
programs that are left hemisphere focused include Jolly Phonics, (Lloyd, 1992) Read Well ®, (Cambium
Learning Group), Riggs, (McCulloch, 2003) Reading Recovery, (Clay, 1993), Orton Gillingham Method
(Gillingham & Stillman, 1960) and Lindamood-Bell LiPs® computer program (Burke, Howard &
Evangelou, 2005) The bottom up reading method relates to left hemisphere processing, which is
explained in this chapter.
Bottom Up Reading Method Illustration
Chronic Non-Reader/Dyslexia. These terms are used to describe readers who have average
 despite intensive intervention and classroom instruction (Krafnick,
Flowers, Napoliello and Eden, 2011). Reading difficulties are a universal condition, regardless of language
Meaning-
comprehension,
fluency
Sentences -words
make sentences. Read
controlled text
Words - blend sounds sequentially,
Dolch sight words
Sounds-rhymes, phonemic awareness,
segmentation, phonics, blend, digraphs
Teaching sequence
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 10
(Lyon, Shaywitz, & Shaywitz, 2003). Functional neuroimaging has shown that, when reading, a deficit occurs
in the left hemisphere and there is an over activation in the right hemisphere of non-readers/dyslexics
compared to non-impaired readers (Breznitz, 2002, 2008; Cao, Bitan, & Booth, 2008; Spironelli, Pennolazzi,
Vio & Angrilli, 2010). Lyon et al. (2003) have updated their 1994 definition of dyslexia to include the
neurological component.
Dyslexia is a specific learning disability that is neurobiological in origin. It is
characterized by difficulties with accurate and /or fluent word recognition and by poor
spelling and decoding abilities. These difficulties typically result from a deficit in the
phonological component of language that is often unexpected in relation to other
cognitive abilities (Lyon et al.,2003, p.2).
The term dyslexia is used to explain people of average intelligence who have trouble with reading and
often remain significantly behind their peers (MacDonald, 2009). Many researchers have shown that dyslexic
individuals have IQs that fall well within or above the average range (Frijters, Lovett, Steinbach, Wolf, Rose,
Seveik, & Morris, 2011; Krafnick et al., 2011; Lyon et al., 2003).While the term dyslexia has slipped out of
popular use in North American schools, it is still a recognized label for people who have extreme difficulty
with written language and is often used in international research papers. The terms chronic non-reader and
dyslexia are used interchangeably in this paper.
Hemisphere dominance Originally the specialized functions of the brain hemispheres were
recently functional
neuroimaging has also determined many other areas of specific strengths using neuro-typical individuals
(Donaldson, 2004; MacNeilage, 2009; Tian, Wang, Yan & He, 2011; Toga & Thompson, 2003). The
hemispheres share functions, but some are more localized than others (Herve, Zago, Petit, Mazoyer &
Tzourio-Mazoyer, 2013). This specialization has also been found in animals and is thought to have an
evolutionary advantage (MacNeilage, 2009). Hugdahl & Westerhausen (2010) conclude that
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 11
regardless of the record or analysis measures of hemispheric asymmetry, the two cerebral hemispheres
show different patterns of activation when provoked by specific stimuli or tasks.
Different hemispheres showed different specializations... the right hemisphere
(RH) is organized more efficiently, with greater regional interconnectivity than
the left hemisphere (LH). In turn, the LH counts more crucial hub regions. (these)
differences reflect RH specialization for broader processes, such as visual spatial
integration tasks, and the leading role of the LH for highly demanding specific
processes, such as language and motor actions (Herve et al., 2013, p. 71) .
Left hemisphere processing. Language production, grammar, and syntax primarily occur in
the left hemisphere, along with complex motor programming and speech (Toga & Thompson, 2003).
Selective attention occurs predominately in the left hemisphere (MacNeilage, 2009). Temporal,
sequential and analytical functions are left-hemispheric strengths (Silverman, 2002). Auditory-sequential
learners are good listeners, learn sequentially, are rapid processors, and think in words (Silverman,
2000). They tend to be orderly, well-organized, and follow the sequence of events necessary for high
academic performance (Silverman, 2000).
Neuroimaging information. The neuroimaging information comes from fMRI (functional Magnetic
Resonance Imaging), MSI (magnetic source imaging), EEG (electroencophalograghy), and OT (Optical
Topography also known as Functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy or fNIRS) technology used to measure
levels of brain activity (Goswami, 2010; Ortiz, 2011). fMRI uses changes in blood flow in the brain, as
measured by the protons of water molecules in brain cells, to show localisation of function (Goswami, 2008).
EEG is useful for measuring the extremely low voltage changes caused by the electro-chemical activity of the
brain cells that give precise information about neural timing (Goswami, 2008). EEG can track the timing of
nse to sensory stimulation, which is measured in
milliseconds (Breznitz, 2002). The OT system is non-invasive technology, involving a helmet type brain-
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 12
scanning system, which measures changes in the relative concentration of hemoglobin in the cerebral cortex of
the brain (Ortiz, 2011). Near-infrared light is sent to the brain and absorbed by hemoglobin, with changes
indicating activation in specific brain regions (Ortiz, 2011). Donaldson (2004) points out that functional
neuroimaging information has given 
(p.442)
Right hemisphere The right hemisphere processes the emotional, rhythmic, intonation and
melodic aspects of language, as well as humour and metaphors. (Toga & Thompson, 2003). The right
hemisphere processes language at a deeper, more semantic meaning than the left hemisphere. The
processing of visual and auditory stimuli, spatial manipulation, facial perception, and artistic ability are
represented bilaterally, but may show right hemisphere superiority (Beaumont, 2008). The right
hemisphere reads faces and emotional expression with more accuracy than the left hemisphere
(MacNeilage, 2009). The right hemisphere takes in the whole picture, attending and analyzing the
spatial relations, as it attends to the global aspects of the environment (MacNeilage, 2009). Right-
hemispheric strengths are thought to be spatial, holistic, artistic and abstract (Silverman, 2002). Learning
comes through imagery of the whole concept, and visualization is used to organize, construct, assimilate
and process ideas the thinking is done in pictures (Silverman, 2002). The right hemisphere learns
holistically and needs more time to process information (Silverman, 2000). Spatial tasks, such as
geometry, map reading, geography, mazes, chess, construction activities, knowledge of mechanics, and
three-dimensional puzzles are right hemisphere strengths (Silverman, 2000).
Top down reading methods. This method focuses on comprehension, making connections,
vocabulary and big picture thinking (Helland et al., 2011). Reading models that have a top down
approach to reading instruction include Key Vocabulary (Ashton-Warner, 1986), Whole Language
(Goodman,1982), Sight Word Reading (used in the basal reader series like Dick and Jane), Broun and
Oelwein Literacy Approach (2007), Language Experience (Brugelmann, 1986) and computer programs
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 13
such as CAT(Carry A Tune)(Biggs et al., 2008). The top down reading method relates to right
hemisphere processing, described in this chapter.
Top Down Reading Method Illustration
Teaching sequence
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 14
Chapter Three: Research about reading
Importance of reading
Every educator would tell you that learning to read is one of the foremost purposes of the early
schooling years. Freire (1983) eloquently describes the importance of reading as a way of using
language to know about our world, to create a relationship between reader and the text. The United
Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization states that reading proficiency is one of the
critical foundations of education (Siah & Kwok, 2010). Most elementary schools put reading as their
number one goal in their growth plan. Targeted money for resources and in-service is dedicated to
improving the reading ability of students by increasing teacher competency in this area. There is an
abundance of literature about how to teach reading, and many different publishers and programs aimed
at having every child reading.
Understandably, there is considerable effort put into ensuring that all students can read and write,
comprehend and respond to literature. There is immense pressure to have students read fluently and with
comprehension as they leave the primary years (Helmelt, 2011). It is recognized that reading failure
negatively affects National
Institute for Literacy, 2003; Siah & Kwok, 2010)
The ability to read has been identified as a crucial component for both the education system and
society (Spector, 2011). Cartledge, Yurik, Singh, Keyes & Kourea (2011) stateeading plays a
pivotal role in and out of school and has a cumulative long-term impact on an individu
snowball effect of reading deficits leads to a series of negative social and academic outcomes including
special p. 131). Trehearne (2000) followed 54 children from first through fourth grade
and found that there was a 88% probability that a child who is a poor reader at the end of Grade One will
remain a poor reader in Grade Four. Pressley (2006) reported that between 24% and 39% of students
have scored in the "below basic" category for over the past 30 years.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 15
It is generally agreed upon that there are three components to being a reader - phonemic
awareness, comprehension and fluency (Browder, Wakeman, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, & Algozzine,
2006). Reading methods usually use a top down approach, a bottom up approach or a combination of
both to teach these components (Verhoeven, Reitsman, & Siegel, 2010).
Top down processing starts at the top, breaking sentences or utterances down into
images, then words, morphemes, and phonemes, with an emphasis on meaning
and strategy instruction. Bottom up processing starts with the smallest pieces of
words sounds- and then builds phonemes into letters, blends, words and words
into the highest syntax level (Helland et al., 2006, p 106).
Early Intervention
In response to the vitally important skill of reading, research points to the value of an early
intervention model to help ensure all students will be successful. Cartledge et al. (2011) provide ample
there is the urgency to provide explicit, systematic core
reading instruction and early supplemental It is believed that if
children receive instruction early, then reading difficulties or learning disabilities can be avoided
(Cartledge et al., 2011; Dion, Brodeur, Gosselin, Campeau & Fuchs, 2010). There are multiple levels of
support, often referred to as a tiered system, with the most intensive intervention given to those that are
judged to be most behind (Glover, 2010). Numerous studies speak of the benefits of intervention efforts
for many students (Cartledge et al., 2011; Dion et al., 2010; Fuchs & Fuchs, 2006; Glover, 2010;
Gustafson, Falth, Tjus, and Heimann, 2011; Harvey, 2011; Hemelt, 2011; Kim, Capotosto, Harty, &
Fitzgerald, 2011; McKenna & Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, 2010; Morgan,
Fuchs, Compton, Cordray, & Fuchs, 2008; Morrow, 2011; Pullen, Tuckwiller, Ashworth, Lovelace, &
Cash, 2011; Ransford-Kaldon, Flynt, Ross, & Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, 2011;
Ross & Begeny, 2011; Stahl & McKenna, 2006).
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 16
Most early reading intervention focuses on phonemic awareness, knowing how to blend sounds
into words and reading symbols as sounds (Gustafson et al., 2011). Elbro (1996) explains that since
most reading deficits are known to be in phonological awareness, that is where intervention studies have
focused. Extensive research into reading difficulties has produced many reports that speak of the
effectiveness of a left hemisphere reading intervention method (Cartledge et al., 2011; Dion et al., 2010;
Glover, 2010). A left hemisphere reading intervention method, also considered a bottom up method,
teaches from sound bites to single letters to words and then to sentences. This approach is used most
widely to teach reading, which incorporates rhymes, phonemic awareness, segmentation, phonics and
blending, then moves on to larger pieces such as digraphs, syllables, onsets, rimes, words and word
families, then on to more complex words, comprehension and fluency. Some reading programs that are
left hemisphere focused include Jolly Phonics, (Lloyd, 1992) Read Well ®, (Cambium Learning Group,
2004), Riggs, (McCulloch, 2003) Reading Recovery, (Clay, 1993), Orton Gillingham Method
(Gillingham & Stillman, 1960) and Lindamood-Bell LiPs® computer program (Burke, Howard &
Evangelou, 2005). Pullen et al. (2011) wro
principle, phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency are critical components for a solid literacy
f Most beginning reading methods are built on the assumption that the smaller
components of reading, phonemic awareness, are the critical building blocks for reading and that one
must have those subskills first before they gain any of the other two components , comprehension and
fluency (Molfese, Key, Kelly, Cunninghan, Terrell, Ferguson, Molfese, & Bonebright, 2006). Most
early reading intervention focuses on phonemic awareness, knowing how to blend sounds into words
and reading symbols as sounds (Gustafson et al., 2011).
Most interventions are targeted at remediating the type of processing that happens in the left
hemisphere, which involves sound letter symbol integration for phonological output, rule based
orthographic processing and single word reading (Krafnick et al., 2011). Recent research has shown that
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 17
in the left hemisphere
(Breznitz, 2002, 2008; Cao et al., 2008; Spironelli et al., 2010). Would methods that target right brain
hemisphere learning styles be more successful at remediating a subset of non-readers?
Lack of progress
Evidence that early intervention is beneficial for many students is not disputed, yet there
continues to be a population of learners, who, despite the same opportunities of intervention, classroom
instruction and extra support, do not become fluent readers (Cartledge et al. 2011; Katzir, 2008; Kim et
al., 2011; Waznuk & Vaugh, 2007). Helland et al. (2011) gave evidence that while training phoneme
awareness and letter sound knowledge facilitates emergent literacy, there continues to be a population
. While lots of research validates the
success of early identification and intervention, 
adequate progress and continue to fall behind their peers (Cartledge et al., 2011; Dion et al., 2010; Fuchs
& Fuchs, 2006). Katzir (2008) reported that between 10-20% of children have serious difficulties
learning to read. Gustafson et al. 
 (p 124).
Despite the research that supports phonemic knowledge as the necessary beginning teaching
point, it is evident that not all students learn with the bottom up reading methods that are so commonly
used (Cartledge et al., 2011; Gustafson et al., 2011). Closer examination of the data from bottom up
intervention models for struggling readers makes it clear that non-readers never attain the reading level
of  
intensive intervention (Cartlege et al., 2011, p. 154). While early instruction in phonological/phonemic
processing is valuable, many children still are not able to become successful readers (Gustafson et al.,
2011). It is recognized that not all students will read in the meeting or exceeding level, often with 25%
of children in the not yet or minimally meeting level (Lewis, 2007). Shaul and Breznitz (2007) state that
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 18
10-15 % of students will not be successful readers. Helland et al. (2011) have concluded, after a review
of recent research, that children with literacy impairment rarely catch up with their peers.
Morris, Bloodgood and Perney (2003) showed that 85% of the time letter sound knowledge was
a successful predictor of whether a child would be reading at grade level by the end of Grade One. Ross
and Begney (2011) and Cartledge et al. (2011) reported that by the fourth grade, approximately one third
of US students have not acquired even basic literacy skills. These findings are supported by Sanger,
Ritzman, Schaefer and Belau (2010) and Harvey (2011) both reporting that 74% of struggling readers in
Grade Three will still be struggling in high school. Kim et al. (2011) reported that 70% of eighth
graders have scores consistently below reading proficiency levels. In 2003, nearly 9 million adult
Canadians were at a low level of literacy proficiency (Grenier, Jones, Strucker, Murray, Gervais &
Brink, 2008).
Cartledge et al. (2011) reported that only 35% of students identified with learning difficulties
were performing at or above basic levels. Gustafson et al. (2011) found that while some children are
easily remediated, other children are difficult to remediate, as they seem resistant to the phonological
intervention that was successful with their peers. What is interfering with their ability to learn despite
countless hours of early, intensive, explicit and systematic approaches to learning to read?
This trend of perennial chronic reading difficulties has persisted, despite advances in
early identification, different levels of support and an increase in knowledge about how the brain learns
to read. Waznuk and Vaugh (2007) state that we are still not knowledgeable about those students who
have a very low response to effective interventions. Cartledge et al. (2011) stated that chronic non-

extensive intervention than they are currently receiving. Biggs et al. (2008) were clear that for chronic
non-readers, different approaches must be tried to help them become literate, as the current ones are not
working for them.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 19
Simos, Fletcher, Berggman, Breier, Foorman, Castillo, Davis, Fitzgerald and Papanicolaou
(2002) stated that the progression for a reading disabled individual to be a fluent reader is very slow,
even with intensive remediation. Frijters et al. (2011) found in their intervention research that although
good readers
consistently made three tGustafson et al. (2011) showed that the typical
readers in their study consistently did better than the reading difficulties group, often outperforming
them by 50% on some measures.
Teaching should be designed to provide explicit instruction, with repeated practice and
structured attention good methodology, whether it is a top down or bottom up approach (Frijters et al.,
2011; Helland et al., 2011). Although there are comparatively few studies of early intervention based on
top down methods, recent research has been supportive of this method. Berends and Reitsma (2006) did
a study showing that reading based on word meaning was more successful than a method that focused
on the sounds within the words, with the strongest effects seen in Grade Two students.
Reading Difficulty defined

learning disabled, dyslexic, persistently poor reader, struggling or non-reader.
Lyon et al. (2003) have updated their 1994 definition of dyslexia to include the neurological
component. The term dyslexia is used to explain people of average intelligence who have trouble with reading
and often remain significantly behind their peers (MacDonald, 2009). Many researchers have shown that
dyslexic individuals have IQs that fall well within or above the average range (Frijters et al., 2011; Krafnick et
al., 2011; Lyon et al., 2003).While the term dyslexia has slipped out of popular use in North American
schools, it is still a recognized label for people who have extreme difficulty with written language and often is
used in international research papers. 
recognition that there is a need for a different method needed for them to become readers (McKenna, 2010).
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 20
Universal problem
The difficulty of learning to read is a universal condition which spans various cultures and
languages. Katzir (2008) and Katzir et al (2004) cited a multitude of studies that demonstrated how problems
with learning to read are universal and not limited to specific languages. They (Katzir, 2008; Katzir et al,
2004) state that deficits in reading rate and naming speed are consistently found across languages that
represent different orthographiesNo orthography appears immune to reading disorders. It is well
documented that developmental reading disabilities are a zir et al,
2004).
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 21
Chapter Four: Neuroimaging Research
Functional Neuroimaging to Understand Reading Process
Recent advances in neuroimaging, specifically functional neuroimaging, have allowed a clearer
le as they interact with text (Breznitz, 2002,
2005, 2008; Froyen, Willems, & Blomert, 2011; Goswami, 2008; Ortiz, 2011). Breznitz (2005, 2008),
Goswami (2008) and Krafnick et al. (2011) have used neuroimaging to show that struggling readers and
dyslexic individuals process printed information differently than skilled readers. While this has been suspected
on the basis of observable behaviours for over one hundred thirty years (MacDonald, 2009), with brain
imaging we are now able to see those differences in detail. Advances in medical imaging technology now
provide us with concrete information of what is occurring inside the brain during reading using fMRI , EEG or
OT data (Goswami, 2010; Ortiz, 2011). This new knowledge of how the brain learns to read, along with what
is happening in the brain of those who struggle, can help lead us to develop new techniques to make non-
readers successful at a task that has previously eluded them.
As you look at the words on this page, this stimulus is first processed by the
primary visual cortex. Then, pre-lexical processing occurs at the left occipito-
temporal junction. The dual route theory posits that processing then follows one
of two complementary pathways. The assembled pathway involves an
intermediate step of grapho-phonological conversion converting letters/words
into sounds which occurs in certain left temporal and frontal areas, including
addressed pathway consists of a direct transfer of information
from pre-lexical processing to meaning (semantic access) (OECD, 2007, p. 89).
Goswami (2008) reports that there are differences in the brain activity between readers and non-
readers. Helland et al. (2011) cite numerous studies in which fMRI have revealed reduced or no
activation in left temporo-parietal cortices in children and adults with a reading disability. In dyslexic
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 22
individuals, the under-activation of the left angular gyrus has been associated with difficulties mapping
visual input onto suitable phonological representations (Shaywitz & Shaywitz, 2005). Rather than the
, the dyslexic brain processes written information in the right hemisphere
(Breznitz 2002, 2008; Cao et al., 2008; Spironelli et al., 2010). Dyslexics do not use their left
hemisphere in an effective manner to process written language.
Neuroimaging has shown that typical readers predominately use four areas in the left hemisphere,
while individuals with dyslexia typically show underactivation in those areas (Helland et al., 2011; Ledoux &
Gordon, 2011; Lyon et al., 2003; Katzir, 2008; Krafnik et al., 2011). Neuroimaging has demonstrated that
while reading poor and dyslexic readers have increased activation in their right hemisphere (Breznitz, 2002;
Ca et al., 2008; Froyen, et al., 2011; Goswami, 2008; Katzir, 2008; Krafnick et al., 2011; Ledoux & Gordon,
2011;).
Goswami (2010) writes that recent neuroimaging information suggests that the core neural

which would appear reliant on visual processing, it is oral language skills that underpin the acquisition
e were not designed to be readers
(Goswami,2008).
The human brain has existed for approximately 60,000 years while the alphabetic
code has been in use for only 5000 years. It can therefore be argued that the
ability to read is not part of our evolutionary heritage, as no brain system was
specifically developed for the purposes of reading. The reading process is a highly
composite cognitive task, which relies on brain systems that were originally
devoted to other functions. (Breznitz, 2008, p.1).
Advances in technology have given proof that it is not a lack of intelligence, motivation (at least in the
beginning), opportunities or other disabilities that cause the reading difficulties (Frijters et al., 2011; Krafnick
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 23
et al., 2011; Lyon et al., 2003). The ability to hear phonological differences is intact with dyslexic adults
(Froyen et al., 2011), yet they have difficulty with the written phonemes. Despite years of remediation, reading
difficulties still exist for adults, regardless of reading level, education or profession (Meyler & Breznitz,
2005). Froyen et al. (2011)  from fMRI studies reveal that second grade dyslexics showed
the exact same anomalous letterspeech sound association deficit in the same brain areas as adult dyslexic
( p 646).
So what is happening in the brain of dyslexic individuals that makes them unable to benefit from years
of intensive intervention? Dyslexics have a deficit in phonological and orthographic processing which
transfers into word recognition problems, slow reading rate and ultimately comprehension difficulties
(Breznitz & Berman, 2003). Goswami (2008) reports that there are differences in the brain activity between
readers and non-readers.
The children with developmental dyslexia showed under-activation in the core left
temporoparietal networks, with older dyslexics showing over-activation in right
inferior frontal gyri. The children with developmental dyslexia also showed
increased activation in right temporoparietal networks. (Goswami, 2008, p 141) Goswami
(2008) 
p. 137).
Asynchrony Phenomenom
Breznitz (2005) has used neuroimaging technology to show with precision that a time delay
interference exists between seeing the word and processing the sound, which is causing the difficulty in
 about 121 ms longer
than for 
asynchrony between processing the auditory-phonological stimuli and processing the visual-
mmunicate with each other
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 24
Research indicates that non-linguistic auditory information arrives in the auditory cortex after
30 ms, whereas visual information arrives in the visual cortex after 70 ms (Breznitz, 2008). In other
words, based on the natural 
and arrive in the brain faster than visual stimuli. While in the natural world light travels faster than
sound, in the brain, the visual information has farther to travel than the auditory information and is
therefore processed after the sound stimuli. The information concerning the phonemes that make up a
word arrives sequentially while the word processing in the visual channel is a holistic and simultaneous
process (Breznitz, 2008).
The Asynchrony Phenomenon suggests that in an attempt to process information adequately, the

pathways. Moreover, more than one system is activated in each pathway and as such, synchronization is
required and can only be achieved if the time gap between systems is minimal (Breznitz, 2008). Among
dyslexics, at the perceptual level, information arrived about 11-12 ms later from the posterior to anterior
brain areas. Among regular readers, this delay was limited to 3-4ms. The reaction times of the dyslexic
readers during word decoding were about 121 ms longer than for the regular readers (Breznitz, 2008).
The asynchrony phenomenon stems from a lack of speed coordination in the
-modal integration processing in the dyslexic
readers appeared to require a wider time gap between the information arriving
from the visual and the auditory modalities (Breznitz, 2005, p 211 & p 212).
This misfiring in the phonological and visual components of reading continued for non-readers
who did not make clinically significant gains even with intensive phonological intervention and
continued to use their right hemisphere regions for decoding and phonological tasks (Frijiters et al.,
2011).
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 25
Froyen et al. (2011) speak of the need for further research to explore how this audiovisual
integration impacts non-readers. Researchers such as Breznitz (2008) and Goswami (2008) have looked
at how we can use this knowledge from neurological imaging to help design new methods for
remediation.
Intervention in Kindergarten, Grade One and Grade Two that matches reading hemisphere
dominance could mean a whole different schooling experience for many students. A top down, right
hemisphere intervention approach to teaching reading to chronic non-readers is essential if we want to
ensure that young student are literate and functional. Therefore, the current study aims to explore the
impact of a right brained reading intervention for chronic non-readers.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 26
Chapter Five: Reading Intervention Technique
I contend that there is a subset of the non-reading population that can be better served by a right
brain intervention approach to reading. A structured right brain intervention approach that would by-
pass the errant left hemisphere processing and systematically teach new words to be mastered in a
whole, visual and connected manner would be best for some of our non-readers.
The Broun and Oelwein Literacy method (2007) is a right hemisphere approach that starts with
images and connections and teaches the word as a whole, rather than a sequence of letters and sounds.
This reading methodology is similar to the theory behind Drawing On The Right Side Of The Brain”,
which essentially circumvents the left side of the brain so that the right brain can draw what it sees,
without interference from the left hemisphere verbal and analytic analysis of what it sees (Edwards,
1999). Golon (2005) wrote that for right hemisphere dominant students, the phonetic approach that is
most commonly used is counter-intuitive to how they think and learn. Golan (2005) states that right
hemisphere learners think in images, in big picture fashion and need to read that way too.
 design was an intervention study with single subjects, using the Broun and Oelwein
(2007) literacy method. Participants were two primary students and one intermediate student in an
elementary school in the Comox Valley, who had demonstrated minimal progress in reading despite
numerous intervention opportunities.
 Appendix A. The method will be described briefly
here but for a more complete description and templates, refer to the Teacher
This method involved students generating 4-8 words per session that were meaningful to them.
Flashcards and a 4x4 grid were made up out of those words. Three stages to learn those words were
match, select and read, with each stage done three times in each lesson.
The three stages of reading acquisition are:
1. Matching visually discriminate same and different
Read each word to the student on the flash card, one at a time.
Give the card to the student and ask them to match it to the word on the grid.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 27
Do this for all four words
Do this three times in total
2. Selecting selects flash card when the word is spoken. Indicates recognition of the
word
Place the four flash card words on table in random order
Ask the student to hand you a specific word
If the student has difficulty, point to the word on the grid and ask them to find it again
Once student has successfully read the word, they match the word up with the one on the
grid
Do this for all four words
Do this three times in total
3. Reading student reads the word
Show student the flash card and ask them to read the word
They match the word up with the grid words
The words were then used to build sentences to be read with fluency, as fluency is required for
comprehension (Biggs et al., 2008). Helper words, often sight words, were written on flashcards to
complete the sentences and to teach those words in context. I generated a variety of sentences to read,
using known words, for the student to read. The student also had the opportunity to build a sentence
using their words.
These sentences were then typed into a word document and printed out for the student to read at
other sessions. These sentences were also used for copying out and drawing a picture that matched it.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 28
Chapter Six: Action, Results and Reflections
Action
Using this method, I worked with three students (designated as B, A and E), one from Nov.
2011-Feb. 2012, one from Oct. 2012-April 2013 and one from Jan. 2013-April 2013. These students all
attended a rural school in the Comox Valley School District. We worked in a one on one setting, after
school, two or three days a week, as time and situations permitted.
With all of these students, I talked to their parents first to offer the opportunity to try this new
reading program. I explained to the parents and students about the theory behind how this reading
intervention works, using a simple diagram of the two different methods used to teach reading (appendix
B.) I also explained  amazing ability to learn in a variety of ways.
As different things occurred in our sessions, we would talk about how using the right brain visual
processing method to learn to read was working for them.
treme difficulty in learning to read and with
schoo parents not completing schooling past Grade Eight. All of the
parents were talented in other areas, ones that are associated with right hemisphere strengths. They were
good at designing, sewing, mechanics, cooking, and a variety of art media.
Working with B
B. worked for 12 sessions from Nov 2011-Feb. 2012, coming Monday, Wednesday and Friday
after school for 30-40 minute sessions, as time and situations permitted.
B. was in Grade Two. He was reading at PM Benchmarks 6, which is an instructional beginning
Grade One level. B. was not able to read fluently, had a difficult time sounding out words and
made mistakes on each page as he read. The text he could read was heavily supported by
pictures, repeating patterns and predictable text. 
interact with books in any manner during silent reading time. When B. was offered the
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 29
opportunity to use the computer to listen and view stories, he was only mildly interested at the

B. was able to learn almost 8-10 words every session, as he was quick to learn the words. He
would do two 2x2 grids of words, producing 8 visual words. He would often have them learned
before we got to the final stage of reading. He was able to read the sentences with fluency most
times.
B. was able to read the helper words when they were in context in the sentence better than
when they were isolated.
B. often had something in his hands as he was learning the new words; Lego, building blocks,
cars, etc. He seemed able to keep his hands busy and still focus on the words.
B. learned 94 words in 12 sessions (Throw, Chevy, stick, dog, with, play, outside, like, I, as, is, to, for,
me, Bike, ride, fast, friends, skinny, tires, pinky, lift, Brother, play, pick, lets, game, old, him, PS2, Fun,
birthday, Lego, gift, remote, control, car, wall, Laser, section, cup, yellow, People, shoot, win, other,
player, two, on-line, try, X-box 360, Camera, watch, apps, iPhone, pictures, take, Cars 2, YouTube, Pen,
hot, dark, light, glow, sleep, draw, Cole, tent, house, over, Cheering, awesome, watch, score, Canucks,
Vancouver, lose, hockey, T.V. player, Nature, sky, cool, orange, looks, fire, morning, trees, Nice, special,
toys, are)
B. was very proud of the words that he was learning and the amount of fluency he could have
while reading the sentences.
B. could read sentences that were entered into a template on the computer and then printed out
My friend Cole had a sleep over at my house.
Cole and I sleep in my tent.
My tent is a glow in the dark tent.
I draw on the wall of the tent with the pen. The pen has a glow in the dark light.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 30
It is hot in the tent.
B. was often happy to stay after class and work on his reading. He took the bus home, so we had
it arranged for his mom to come pick him up at 3:00 after our sessions. He was always happy to
show her what he had done that session.
gram helped B. in a huge way to be able to read words and sentences.
They were happy with his progress, as was I.
Working with A.
A. had 27 sessions from Oct. 17 2012- Apr. 17 2013, coming Monday, Wednesday or Friday
after school for 35-50 minute sessions, with breaks in between after 20 minutes or so. A. liked to
set a timer for our work sessions and she would also set them for her break times. The use of the

A. was in Grade Two. She was not yet able to write her name independently, 
recognize the numbers past 4 (yet she could count orally up to 20 and could match items with
one to one correspondence up to 10), sh and she was not
er name yet.
The LA teacher reported that A. was the lowest of all of her remedial students.
A. had received LA in her Grade One year. Her grade one class and LA teacher used Jolly
Phonics to teach the letter sounds, reading and writing.
A. was very articulate, interested in animals, empathetic to others, imaginative and kind. Her
ability to understand what to do to look like a student was on par with the other students. A.
tried hard in activities that she was able to do independently.
A. was able to explain her thinking with details. Her comprehension of material covered was
good. She was able to make inferences, predictions, make connections, retell and synthesize a
story or lesson. A. had good oral abilities and she was able to tell stories with interesting and
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 31
important information included. I or another adult would scribe A.s responses for language,
science and socials assignments. Her thinking was always at the meeting level.
A. would learn 4 visual words per topic. At the start of our tutoring sessions in October, she
often required more sessions in the matching and selecting stages to feel confident about moving
on. We did as many sessions in each stage as needed.
w words during a session, as we would reread the words she
had learned previously to help her become more fluent in them. This was done by following the
same 3 stages and building sentences as the sessions before.
At the beginning of our session, in October, A. needed to be instructed about where to put her
eyes when she was reading, how to point to each word in the sentence being read and how to use
visual imagery to help her learn the words.
A. would sometimes need to be cued about the category or topic that the word was from for her
to read it.
A. was starting to sound out some of the words, as this is the technique her LA teacher uses. I

the letter sounds from reading a word fluently. A. was often slow and choppy on her sounding

sound.
A. demonstrated an improvement in knowing her letter sounds, yet when she tried to transfer the
sounds sequentially to read a word, sometimes she was able to do it correctly and other times she
often 
structure to the misread word, but would instead produce a word that was close in context or
meaning (e.g. sand “sss…aaa…nnn…ddd” – “beach”).
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 32
A. learned 82 words in 27 sessions (Spiders, decorate, ghosts, house, my with is, and, I, Dog, play,
energetic, frisbee, have, a, Hamster, fuzzy, cute, run, Cats, pets, birds, cage, we, Lizard, colors, change,
puff up, Horsey, party, birthday, shooting, Trampoline, bumdrop, bounce, high, Althea, on, the, my, to,
Hawaii, box, castle, umbrella, sand, in, has, are, Bunka, boat, work, lives, Gramma, fish, sleep, goes, with,
Mrs. Hedican, gray, hair, hug, Bella, puppy, lovey, fluffy,love, squirted, water, Can, yes, no, Joseph, boy,
girl, chase, bull, ride, buggy)
A. is not fluent with all of these words yet; she still needs practice with them regularly to be able
to read them fluently.
A. had improved in her ability to learn the words quicker as the year progressed. In April, she

stages. She was quicker at learning the words during the matching and selecting stages.
A. said that she was was getting much quicker at reading words and her brain was more relaxed
now.
A. was beginning to read these words in other contexts. She was beginning to read A,B,C
levelled books during silent reading time and identify when she saw a word she knew.
A. loved literature, stories and illustrations, often absorbed in looking at books during our silent
reading time. A. also wanted to have stories read to her. As our sessions continued, I started
requiring that 
of them to me. I remember the first time she read a book that had a word in it that she knew
 . I know that because it is one of

During one of our silent reading times, A. was reading a book and came upon a word that she
t it was one of her
words about dogs; she was then able to fluently read play.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 33

other times they would sit on the couch in the classroom to wait.
A. enjoyed the sessions, looking forward to the end of the day when we worked together.
A. was making progress in being a reader and tried hard at her sessions, although she required
breaks, redirection and encouragement when she was getting tired.
Working with E.
E. had 15 sessions from Jan 17-April 16 2013, coming Tuesday and Thursday after school for
about 20-30 minute sessions, as he had to attend another activity that afternoon.
E. was in Grade Four. He was a non-reader who was very aware of his difficulty in his reading
and writing ability and was uncomfortable with his lack of progress. He had a psycho-
educational assessment in his grade two year.
E. was disengaged from reading.

felt that he would not be open to this, but he would be willing to help me out. E. was a willing
participant in each session.
E. was interested in nature, dinosaurs, earth elements and Minecraft. He was very well versed in
the things in which he was interested.
E. often used words that were complex and not phonetically easy to read.
E. was interested in the small plastic animals in the play area of our room, and would often bring
them over during our sessions.
E. needed to move during our sessions and  He would often
practice his martial arts moves or kneel, spin or twist about as we were talking and as I was
preparing the flashcard words, grid or sentences. When it was time for E. to attend to the words,
he would stand or sit at the table for the needed time, without my asking him.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 34
E. learned 78 words in 15 sessions (Ancient, reptile, dinosaur, ferocious, a, is, Play, super, Mario-bros,
video, games, Minecraft, build, I, on, Big, mean, eat, bull, fish, shark, like, Powerful, nature, study,
combined, power, air, water, fire, elements, earth, create, the, is, when, Outside, fun, brother, climb,
Trees, ride, bike, tag, trick, yard, my, our, Donut, chocolate, cream, Boston, top, Rocks, crystals, cave,
ruby, interesting, in, find, Rain, snow, laval, lightening, mixture, background, tornado, has, Medical,
scan, x-ray, blood, hospital, heart, b.p.m., rate )
E. would sometimes require time to think of a word when we came back to them during another

hints about it, as he usually was able to read it correctly. He always felt so good about being able
to read the words fluently.
E. enjoyed making and reading sentences. He was good at reading them fluently. He was able
to read the helper words in context easier than when they were presented in isolation.


E. was proud of his progress and shared his work with his gramma or father when they picked
him up.
E. was beginning to transfer some of his reading ability to his school day. One day the class was
out of the room and he wondered where they had gone. Then he looked at the board, and said
 He was excited to know that he could read
something, as he considered himself a non-reader.
E. shared that it was much easier to read the sentences that we worked on, as the words came
easier to him.
E. was beginning to try reading simple A, B & C levelled books with his gramma, by his own
initiation.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 35
 
 be able to read.
E. said he thinks completely in pictures.
E. was a great guy who wanted to share his knowledge about his various interests and I was
always amazed at how much he knew about certain things, especially the natural elements of
earth.
Reflections
This method certainly worked for these three students, yet in varying degrees. It was due to a
number of different factors. The students differed in their beginning reading level, with B. having the
strongest reading skill base. B. was able to learn more words each session than A. or E. The students
differed in their ability to focus on the lesson, with A. requiring instruction about where to put her eyes
when she was reading. A. required more sessions at each stage to learn the words and she still was not
fluent in all of them at the end. E. and B. both liked to have something in their hands to build, examine
or play with as they were learning. E. was the most active during our sessions; he is very good at flip
kicks!
thod to instantly make them into readers I recognized that it would take
them time to learn a bank of words, develop stronger reading habits and have confidence in their

classes and knew that I still required direct instruction to be able to do many of the activities. I also held
the belief that if I continued attending those drawing classes I would become more and more
independent, confident and skilled in my drawing ability. I think that is the same for B., A., and E.; they
were successful with this method, yet still required time, practice, confidence and guidance to become
more independent, confident and skilled in their reading ability.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 36
During our sessions, I often talked to the three students about how the two hemispheres of their
brain work together, how if they use the four senses (see it, say it, read it, write it) while they are
learning it will be retained easier. We would often discuss their word choices, allowing them to
communicate all that they knew about it. We also talked about how to use visual imaging to help them
read the words.
All three students were proud of their progress and they were able to transfer some of the words
and /or learning to other reading activities. It was exciting to see them begin to see the possibility that
they will be readers one day!
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 37
Chapter Seven: Conclusion
I started my research with these four questions in mind:
Is there a reading intervention that is better suited for chronic non-readers?
Could a program designed for students with special needs be used successfully with struggling
readers?
What does research tell us about the effectiveness of intervention for chronic non-readers?
What does neuroimaging research tell us about how non-readers process written language?
My research led me to some very interesting papers and new information. I was happy to find
research about chronic non-readers that supported my observations as a learning support and classroom
teacher. The functional neuroimaging information was fascinating, as it provided an explanation of
what was occurring inside the brain for both chronic non-readers and readers. The most exciting piece
was that the neuroimaging research can help guide future practice in how we help struggling readers.
1. Is there a reading intervention that is better suited for chronic non-readers? Yes, there are
some reading interventions that might be better suited for students who have failed to make progress,
despite intervention and solid classroom instruction. This reading intervention uses a top down, right
hemisphere approach in a systematic manner and it might be better suited for some chronic non-readers.
Researchers Berends and Reitsma (2006), Biggs et al., (2008), Broun and Oelwein (2007) and Helland
et al., (2011) spoke of the success with a top down method. The CAT (Carry A Tune) reading
intervention showed good results for middle school students (Biggs et al., 2008). The CAT program
uses systematic and repeated practice in learning to read using karaoke songs (Biggs et al., 2008).
Breznitz (1987, 1997, 2003) and Breznitz and Berman (2003) demonstrated how struggling readers
fluency is increased if they read at a quicker rate, essentially by-passing the sounding out function of the
left hemisphere so that the right hemisphere can process it wholly.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 38
2. Could a program designed for students with special needs be used successfully with struggling
readers?  (2007) Literacy skill development for students with special learning
needs: A strength-based approach provided a good design structure that was helpful for struggling
readers. In a personal conversation with Ms. Oelwein, while asking for her permission to use her
technique, she stated that she too has seen those students who can sound out but not fluently sequence
the sounds to read the words. She was interested in how non special needs student would respond to
their technique. I think that Broun and Oel
has a good systematic approach to teaching the words that provides the structure that some other right
hemisphere reading methods had lacked, such as Whole Language. I am very grateful that I had the

This program could be used easily in Learning Assistance rooms for struggling readers. As a
Learning Support Teacher I have worked successfully with three students per group using this method.
The two students who were not working directly with the teacher would read over their words and
sentences, work at writing the words on dry wipe boards, or copy a sentence and illustrate it. They
would work with each other or individually.
program to whole class learning. It is too
individualized with intensive one on one needed to be effective in a typical classroom. Once a child is
reading, this type of intervention would not be necessary.
3. What does research tell us about the effectiveness of intervention for chronic non-readers?
Sadly, research tells us that the methods that are effective for good readers are not very effective for
non-readers. Non-readers continue to struggle, make minimal progress and remain significantly behind
their peers while receiving intervention that is successful for their peers (Frijters et al., 2011; Gustafson
et al., 2011; Simos et al, 2002). Chronic non-readers often h
manage to become fluent and confident readers.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 39
It is disheartening to see us continue to use the same approach for all students when it is evident
that not all are successful with the same methods. Just be
mean that all do. It is our responsibility as educators to find a method that works best for each
individual.
The building blocks , as often thought. Students that
entered school knowing how to read probably never learned all of the letter sound knowledge that we
instruct the non-readers with (e.g. English words don’t end in ‘i’; a vowel says it name at the end of a
syllable). We have to embrace differences in learning and find ways to deliver learning opportunities
that match each student. Sign language and Braille are examples of different ways to learn how to read
and communicate. Are letter sounds the building blocks for these methods and instructions?
Left handed individuals were once forced to use their right hand to write. When will we not
force right hemisphere learners to use their left hemisphere to learn to read?
4.What does neuroimaging research tell us about how non-readers process written language?
This was a fascinating component of my research, as it was a novel way to approach understanding how
to deliver reading intervention. I had always been fascinated with the brain and learning, crediting a
Cognitive Psychology class during my undergraduate studies at SFU for sparking this interest. The use
of functional neuroimaging has allowed a clearer understanding of the pathways used for reading by
non-readers and readers. 
information that is applicable to exploring reading intervention. Her Asynchrony Phenomenon is a clear
example of how the non-readers brain processes written information. Her description of the misfiring
between the processing of visual and auditory input matches what I have seen many struggling students
do as they tried to sound out and then blend words. Now there was a neurological explanation that
allowed us to stop expecting them to just try harder, longer or for us to present it slower, louder and
longer.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 40
I 
non-
(Meyler and Breznitz, 2005; Froyen et al., 2011). That research helped solidify my belief that we should
be using a right hemisphere approach for those students who process information that way naturally.
I would like to see this intervention used for students as early as late Kindergarten, if they
t started to make adequate progress despite solid classroom instruction and learning assistance
intervention.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 41
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A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 50
Appendix
A: Teacher’s Manual ……………………………………………………………………......
B: Bottom Up and Top Down Reading Illustrations ……………………………………..
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 51
A Right Brain
Approach to
Reading
Intervention
Instructor manual
Jennifer Hedican
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 52
VIU Masters in Educational Leadership 2013
How to organize the intervention strategy:
1. Prior to starting any working sessions, begin with explaining the two different reading
methods of top down and bottom up using template 1. A right brain approach is top down,
which is the method that you will be using with the student(s).
Top Down Reading Method Illustration
2. Use the Belarusian words, template 2 & 3, to demonstrate this process.
сабака
прытрымлівацца
жартаўнік
працаваць
3. Talk with the student to find out some of the things that they enjoy. Start out broad when

different topics as you progress. Record the ideas on the Ideas Recording Sheet, using either
template 4 or 5.
4. At each session, you will choose a topic from the Ideas Recording Sheet template 4 or 5 to learn
words from. Sometimes you will stay on a topic from last session. Other times you will add

5. Generate words related to that topic and record those on the Ideas Recording Sheet
template 4 or 5 under that heading. Use only highly visual words, not helper word
Teaching sequence
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 53

6. Choose four words to learn to read that session these will be written in the 2x2 grid,
template 10 and on the flashcards, template 11.
Before you write the word on the grid, write it on a flashcard and ask the student if
they can read it. If not, then record it in the 2x2 grid.
If they can already read it, Bonus! Keep that word to use for sentence building and
reading in this and other sessions. I put a small check mark in the top corner to indicate this was
an instant read for the student.
Once you have four words in the 2x2 grid, then the 3 stages of reading acquisition can begin.
Organizational tip: write the date on the back of the flashcards.
7. Record these words on the Session Words recording sheet Alphabetical Order, template 7,
after the session. This facilitates building sentences in future sessions, as it is easy to see
which words the student already has.
8. The three stages of reading acquisition are:
1. Matching visually discriminate same and different
Read each word to the student on the flash card, one at a time.
Give the card to the student and ask them to match it to the word on the grid.
Do this for all four words
Do this three times in total
1. Matching
o 1
o 2
o 3
2. Selecting selects flash card when spoken. Indicates recognition of the word
Place the four flash card words on table in random order
Ask the student to hand you a specific word
If the student has difficulty, point to the word on the grid and ask them to find it again
Once student has successfully read the word, they match the word up with the one of the grid
Do this for all four words
Do this three times in total
2. Selecting
o 1
o 2
o 3
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 54
3. Reading student reads the word
Show student the flash card and ask them to read the word
Present the words in random order
The student reads the word and then matches the word up with the grid words
3. Reading
o 1
o 2
o 3
Organizational tip: Use the three stages cards, template 14, to help the student keep track of what stage
they are on and how many more times they need to do that stage.
Copy on manila tag or laminate on different colored paper for durability.
Place cards on a flip ring.
Use a dry wipe crayon or a counter to mark off when they have completed one component.
9. Use the flashcard words to build sentenc
written on the flashcards, to help complete the sentences as needed. Helper words are
typically Dolch sight words with, the, in,
at, to’. Record these helper words on template 8, Helper Words Record Sheet Alphabetical.
10. Ask the student to read the sentences, ensuring that they point at every word when they read
it. When they get stuck on a word, give it to them right away and then have them go back to
the beginning of the sentence and read it again. Record these sentences on the Session
Recording Sheet, template 6, on which you have already written their new words, reread
words and general progress notes.
Organizational tip: If you need to change the ten
the front of the flashcard, in the bottom corner and get the student to read the correct tense.
11. Students can also build their own sentences and read those back to the teacher.
 
as well.
12. After the session, transfer these sentences to the computer, using template 12, to generate
sentences for the student to read out next time to reinforce their words. Print out these

13. Have the student read their flashcard words from the sessions before. 
read a word fluently the first time, tell them the word, have them repeat it and then put the
word back in the pile so they will come to it again.
14. If the student is having difficulty reading the words successfully, go back to having them
select them first. Put out a selection of words that the student knows on the table, face up.
Say a word and have the student select it then read it to you. Do this until all the cards are
off the table. Once they have done this, then move back to the reading of these words.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 55
Organization tip: Use plastic page protectors to store each 
and find the words that you want. The grid and the words are kept together, which is important
when you are reviewing the words, as sometimes the grid helps the student remember the word.
The next sections are examples of how to use the
templates, followed by the templates.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 56
Example Ideas Recording Sheet (table format) template 4
TOPIC
words about that topic
Kali
Kali, runs, wags, digs, bury, bone,
beach, dog, happy, love
Trees
trees, leaves, colorful, shapes, fall, tall,
hammock, needles, cones, woods,
animals
Sproat Lake
Sproat lake, sunny, hot, swim, water,
ski, boat, happy, summer, friends,
wharf
Dad
Dad, ingenious, messy, working,
projects, basement, tools, creative,
frugal, sleepy, love
Bikes
bikes, ride, brake, helmet, road, tires,
fast, careful, fun, hills, exhilarating,
Classroom
classroom, desks, chairs, kids, parents,
learning, reading, math, games,
helping, active
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 57
runs beach
wags dog
digs happy
bury love
bone
Kali
leaves colorful
shapes fall
tall hammock
needles cones
woods animals
Trees
sunny hot
swim water
ski boat
happy summer
friends wharf
Sproat
Lake
ingenious messy
working projects
basement tools
creative frugal
sleepy love
Dad
ride brake
helmet road
tires fast
careful fun
exhilirating
Bikes
desks chairs
kids parents
learning reading
math games
helping active
Classroom
Example of Ideas Recording Sheet (visual format) template 5
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 58
Example of Session recording sheet template 6
Session
#
Date
Words read, Activities, Comments, Reflections,
# of new
words
1
Oct
7
Topic - Dog. 4 new words: Kali, beach, run, dog. Helper words: my, I, is, a, on
Sentences built: My dog is Kali. Kali is a dog. My dog Kali runs on a beach.
9
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 59
Example of 2x2 grid template 10 with words chosen
Kali
beach
run
dog
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 60
Example of flashcard words template 11
Kali
run
beach
dog
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 61
Example of Helper words template 11
Student generates these words as they make sentences out of 4
flashcard words (and other words from other sessions, as
applies)
* Cards would be same size as flashcards, but have been
condensed here to save space.
I
my
a
on
is
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 62
Example of Sentence building
Use flashcard words to build sentences. Create ‘helper words’
as needed to make a sentence.
My
dog
is
Kali.
My
dog
runs
on
a
beach.
Kali
is
a
dog.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 63
Example of sentence recording template 12
After the session has ended, create sentences on the computer
to print out for the student to read. The student will reread
these sentences, as well as choose one to rewrite and draw
about.
* The sentences can be ones that weren’t made during the
session, but they must use only words that the student has
already worked with.
Kali runs.
My dog is Kali.
Kali and I run.
Kali runs on a beach.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 64
example of Sentence Write and Draw template 13
Student chooses one sentence that was typed up and then
copies it on the template. They then draw a picture that
matches the sentence.
Kali runs at the beach.
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 65
Templates:
1. Visual explanation of top down and bottom up reading
methods
2. Your Turn to Try
3. Your Turn to Try flashcards
4. Ideas Recording Sheet (table format)
5. Ideas Recording Sheet (visual format)
6. Session recording sheet
7. Session words recording sheet - alphabetical
8. Helper words used recording sheet - alphabetical
9. Number of new words read tally sheet
10. 2x2 word grid template
11. Flashcards
12. Sentence template
13. Sentence write and draw template
14. Three components of each session
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 66
Visual explanation of top down and bottom up reading
methods
Bottom Up Reading Method Illustration
Top Down Reading Method Illustration
Template 1
Meaning-
comprehension,
fluency
Sentences -words
make sentences. Read
controlled text
Words - blend sounds sequentially,
Dolch sight words
Sounds-rhymes, phonemic awareness,
segmentation, phonics, blend, digraphs
Teaching sequence
Teaching sequence
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 67
Your turn to try:
Choose one person to be the instructor and one to be the student.
Cut the flashcard words up, leaving off the English words, or tucking
them under so the instructor can remember what they mean.
Say the words in English; don’t try to do Belarusian pronunciation! :0)
Go through the learning sequence as outlined previously:
1. Matching: instructor shows and reads the word, student reads and matches up
the word. Do 3 times.
2. Selecting: instructor displays four words, says one and student selects it and
places it on grid. Do 3 times.
3. Reading: instructor shows student the word, one at a time. Student reads it
and places it on grid. Do 3 time.
These words are in Belarusian
сабака
прытрымлівацца
жартаўнік
працаваць
Template 2
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 68
Cut the flashcard words out.
Ensure that the student doesn’t see the
English word.
Say the words in English; don’t try to do Belarusian pronunciation! :0)

сабака
dog
прытрымлівацца
stick
жартаўнік
wag
працаваць
run
Template 3
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 69
Ideas Recording Sheet Table format
TOPIC
words about that topic
Student Year
Template 4
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 70
Ideas Recording Sheet Visual format
Student Year
Template 5
Words about the topic
Topic
sketch
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 71
Session recording sheet
Session
#
Date
Words read, Activities, Comments, Reflections,
# of new
words
Template 6
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 72
Session Words Record Sheet Alphabetical
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X & Z
Y
Template 7
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 73
Helper Words Record Sheet Alphabetical
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X & Z
Y
Template 8
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 74
Number of new words read tally sheet
Cumulative count of all words read fluently
84
80
76
72
68
64
60
56
52
48
44
40
36
32
28
24
20
16
12
8
4
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
Session #
Template 9
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 75
2x2 word grid
Date Session #
Template 10
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 76
Template 11
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 77
Sentence templates
Template 12
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 78
Sentence Write and Draw
Template 13
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION 79
1. Matching
o 1
o 2
o 3
2. Selecting
o 1
o 2
o 3
3. Reading
o 1
o 2
o 3
Template 14
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
1
References and resources:
Breznitz, Z., Rubinsten, O., Molfese, V.J., and Molfese, D.L. (Eds.) (2012) Reading, Writing,
Mathematics and the Developing Brain: Listening to Many Voices. ISBN: 978-94-007-
4085-3 (Print) 978-94-007-4086-0 (Online) Series: Literacy Studies, Vol. 6
Broun, L., & Oelwein, P. (2007). Literacy skill development for students with special learning
needs: A strength-based approach. New York: Dude Publishing.
Reid, G., Fawcett A., Manis. F., and Siegel, L., Editors (2008) The SAGE Handbook of
Dyslexia; Breznitz, Z., The Origin of Dyslexia: The Asynchrony Phenomenon. Chapter
One, p. 11-29
A RIGHT BRAIN READING INTERVENTION
2
Appendix B
Top Down and Bottom Up Reading Illustration
Bottom Up Reading Method Illustration
Top Down Reading Method Illustration
Meaning-
comprehension,
fluency
Sentences -words
make sentences. Read
controlled text
Words - blend sounds
sequentially, Dolch sight words
Sounds-rhymes, phonemic awareness,
segmentation, phonics, blend, digraphs
Teaching sequence
Teaching sequence
... Simultaneously, students need to develop the right side of the brain, (affective domain) such as love, affection, rhythm, dancing, singing songs, etc. using fiction material in reading for pleasure (Hedican, 2013). As a net result of developing these two types of reading activities, a student can become a balanced person, which is the final aim of the general education system. ...
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... Simultaneously students need to develop the right side of the brain, (affective domain) such as love, affection, rhythm, dancing, singing songs etc., using fiction material as reading for pleasure. (Hedican, 2013). As a net result of developing these two types of reading activities, the student will become a balanced person, which is the final aim of the general education system. ...
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in the same manner as their classmates. The only means of differentiation was pace of learning. In one-room schoolhouses, children were often allowed to progress to the next level when they had completed the current one. The concept of continuous progress was particularly beneficial for gifted students; it is recently being rediscovered. An educational innovation toward the end of the century was the recognition that students learn differently from each other. With this revelation came the introduction of personality types, learning styles, and multiple intelligences as means of adapting to the individual differences of the student body. As we enter a new millennium, differentiation has become enormously important in the delivery of services to all students. Most K-12 educators have attended workshops in which they learned about their own preferred personality type or learning style, and the various types, styles and intelligences of their students. The educational work force as a whole is consciously attempting to adapt teaching methods to the individual differences of students. However, the diligent teacher may become overwhelmed by the complexity of the models that have been offered for individualizing instruction. One of the first of these instructional models evolved from the development of an instrument to assess dimensions of personality. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) (Myers, 1962), developed by Katharine Cook Briggs and her daughter, Isabel Briggs Myers, was based on Jung's theory of personality types (Jung, 1938). The MBTI has been used extensively in studies of the gifted: students enrolled in gifted classes (Delbridge-Parker, 1988; Gallagher, 1990; Hoehn & Bireley, 1988); National Merit Finalists (Myers &