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Certain learning disabilities such as Dyslexia can make tasks like reading difficult. In some cases, words can be difficult to decode and may appear foreign. You can simulate this experience for your class by writing words backwards and asking your class to read them.

Materials Needed

  • Chalk or a marker (depending on which type of class board you have)


Take a few sentences and write each word backwards on your whiteboard or chalkboard. For example:

  • eht egnaro tac sekil hcanips (the orange cat likes spinach)
  • wolley si ym etirovaf roloc (yellow is my favorite color)
You can use a tool like spellbackwards.com to easily create backwards words. Call on students to read the sentences back to you. As your student reads, urge them to hurry up and tell them that this should be easy. When all of the sentences have been read, start a discussion with your class. Ask them how it felt to struggle with something that was supposed to be easy. Was being told to hurry up harder? What made deciphering the sentences difficult? What would have made understanding the sentences easier? This exercise will hopefully allow students to understand what it’s like to struggle with a learning disability.

Spotlight: Orlando Bloom

One such famous individual with a learning disability is actor Orlando Bloom. Orlando is best known for his role as Will Turner in the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. Bloom was diagnosed with dyslexia at age 7 and struggled with reading. His struggles in school left him looking for a creative outlet and he found that outlet through acting. Orlando eventually mastered reading out loud and credits dyslexia for his acting career. When asked about about the subject, Orlando said, “The gift of dyslexia was that I learned everything forward and backward, inside out, so I was fully prepared.” His struggle became his strength.

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