Make reading a priority this summer…..

With just a little over a month left of school, it’s time remember the impact that daily reading can make for students.  Shaywitz’s (2003) graph below says so much

For those who find reading a challenge, summer is the time when just a little bit of intentional, focused oral practice every day can help a student get them back on track and regain their confidence.

For those that find reading and writing especially difficult, it’s a great time for multi-sensory scientifically based instruction, sometimes referred to as Orton-Gillingham or Structured Language approach, with a tutor trained in these methods to solidify skills. It’s time to work on skills that are lagging behind their peers, without the fatigue created by spending the day in the classroom.  Students have a marvelous opportunity to make strong gains.

Whether you’ve planned some “academics” for your children or not, below are some ideas for summer activities. In addition, you could consider rewarding your child with an end of the week treat if they read at least a certain amount of time minutes for at least five days in the previous week (an old fashioned chore  chart works well for this).  20 minutes a day 5 days a week is less than 2% of summer vacation.  How much time do they spend practicing sports, playing computer games, or other things.  Make reading a priority this summer.

Below are some ideas to encourage and enjoy reading.  Need some ideas for “treats/rewards”? Try a DQ, a new book, a special dessert, and — a favorite at our house – having a picnic dinner.

  1.  Find a movie based on a book.  Watch the movie, then read/listen to the book.  Talk about the differences and similarities.
  2.  Go to the library and borrow some books and games.
  3.  Pre-read some of the books that will be part of next year’s reading.  (Get that list from the teacher before school ends.)
  4.  Do a read-out-loud book.
  5.  Make dinner together—read the recipe, measure the ingredients, learn about the chemistry of cooking.
  6.  Play board games and card games.
  7.  Encourage your child to read to a pet or younger sibling/neighbor.
  8.  On a rainy day, have your children curl up with comic books or magazines.
  9.  Have your child plan a dream day somewhere. Be creative: they could write about it, make a collage, research with a travel book, or just talk about their ideal day.  Make sure you share your ideas, too.
  10.  Have a TV/technology free day.
  11.  Once a week, “drop everything and read” for 15 minutes … everyone in the house has to participate.
  12. CREATE A READING HABIT!!!

 

Reference

Shaywitz, S. (2003).  Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level.  New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Dyslexia – Knowledge, Awareness, and Empowerment

This fall, my friend Sara and I taught a community education class on Dyslexia and received many positive comments from those that attended, so we decided to do it again.

 

Here are the details:

Dyslexia – Knowledge, Awareness, and Empowerment

Dyslexia is a learning challenge facing many children.  Come learn about dyslexia and other learning difficulties.  The main objective of the class is to discover tools and attitudes that will empower students with learning struggles.  This is a great survey course for parents and instructors.

Classes are Monday evenings at Ordean East Community School on Feb 22th, 29th and March 7th from 6:30 to 8:30pm.

 

Click here to sign up.

 

 

I will also be hosting a community education session:

 

Struggling Learners – What a Parent Should Consider

 

Is this year hard for your child? How can you help your child be more successful at
school? Homework takes hours and we’re still in elementary school, should it be this
hard? We’ll talk about reasons why kids struggle, how to help and how work with his/her
teacher.

 

This class is Tuesday, Feb 9th at Lincoln Park Middle School from 6:30-8:30pm.

 

Register here.

An update from Understood.org about an important court case for those with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.

Settlement in Dyslexia Discrimination Case Shows the System at Work

ByAndrew M.I. Lee
<https://www.understood.org/en/community-events/blogs/author/andrew-m-i-lee?BlogId=7>
Jun 26, 2015

By law, employers can’t discriminate against workers with disabilities. That includes learning disabilities. This May, two companies in Connecticut got the message—in the form of a lawsuit.

Kevin Lebowitz has worked as a carpenter for 15 years. He has a clean safety record. And he has many safety certifications.

Lebowitz also has dyslexia, which makes it very difficult for him to read printed text.

In 2012, Lebowitz reported for a new construction job, he says. McPhee Electric, Ltd. was the general contractor for the job. Bond Bros., Inc. was the subcontractor. When Lebowitz arrived, he was given a packet of safety information.

A safety officer from McPhee asked Lebowitz to review and sign the packet. Lebowitz told the officer he had dyslexia. He said he would need help reviewing the packet. And he offered to take it home to review.

That’s when a Bond Bros. superintendent told Lebowitz that he couldn’t be hired. Why? He was told he’d be a safety hazard since he couldn’t read the safety packet. (Neither company offered him any reading accommodations.)

Soon after, Lebowitz filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the federal agency that enforces laws against workplace discrimination. That includes the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The EEOC looked into Lebowitz’s claim. And it decided he had been discriminated against. So the agency filed a lawsuit against the companies in federal court.

“By all accounts, Mr. Leibowitz is a skilled carpenter,” says Catherine Wan, the EEOC attorney on the case. “Dyslexia had no impact on his ability to work safely. So this was really a misconception about people with disabilities.”

Lebowitz is not alone in his experience. “Complaints of workplace discrimination based on learning disabilities like dyslexia are not uncommon,” adds Justine S. Lisser, an EEOC spokesperson.

According to EEOC records, there were 408 of these complaints in 2014. Lisser points to cases against companies that demoted or fired employees because of their dyslexia.

In Lebowitz’s case, the result was a settlement. This May, the two companies agreed to pay him $120,000 in damages. They also promised to make changes at the companies.

One major change: Providing training about discrimination and reasonable accommodations for new and current employees. The companies also agreed to post related information at worksites. And they’ll change their employee handbooks.

The two companies declined to comment to Understood about the settlement.

“We are pleased that McPhee and Bond worked with us to resolve this lawsuit,” says Wan. “Trainings, notices and other measures—we think these will be effective in raising awareness. Disability discrimination violates the law.”

Any opinions, views, information and other content contained in blogs on Understood.org are the sole responsibility of the writer of the blog, and do not necessarily reflect the views, values, opinions or beliefs of, and are not endorsed by, Understood

From Learning Ally…

Although this article is about children with Dyslexia, it has good information for parents of children with many different types of  learning challenges.

August 28, 2014

10 Things a Parent to a Child with Dyslexia Wishes You Understood

 Since discovering that my children have dyslexia, I have been absorbing all of the information about dyslexia that I can possibly find. In the process, I’ve learned so much.

I’d like to help others understand the 1 in 5 kids who have dyslexia as well.

So, without further ado, here are the top 10 things a parent to a child with dyslexia wishes you understood:

10. Grammar police, please stop.pic

Example:  “Your dog is LAYING next to you?? What’s he laying? An egg?”

Why this is an issue: Dyslexia is a learning difference in processing language. It is much harder for someone with dyslexia to read, write and spell. Your gift may be in grammar, but someone with dyslexia may be gifted in science or music or inventing new products. Think before you judge, and think before you type that judgment into someone’s comment section. Would you like us to follow you around pointing out your un-athletic abilities or your deficiency in art? Didn’t think so.

9.  Not all reading programs are equal.

Example: “I used XYZ early reading program/book/movie/device with my child, and he was reading full sentences by age 3. You should try that!”

Why this is an issue: Children with dyslexia learn in different ways. While these programs are just fine for non-dyslexics, a child with dyslexia needs a program built around multi-sensory explicit instruction in phonemic awareness. Orton-Gillingham, Wilson, and Barton are  some of the methods with proven track records to help children with dyslexia. If you are not in the dyslexia community, it may not be helpful to give advice. We know it’s well meaning, but our children learn differently, and different reading programs match up with different kids.

 

books8. Reading more isn’t the cure.

Example: “You should read to your kid at least 20 minutes a day. You know, I read to my kid since he was in the womb, and he caught right on!”

Why this is an issue: Okay, we are not discouraging reading to your child. We think it’s a great thing to do! Please, keep it up! Here’s the thing, though ….we DO actually read to our children as well! Every single day! We have read to them since birth. We have loads of books in our home. We have library cards, and we go weekly.

Reading to our children builds vocabulary, helps them learn about different cultures, and fosters imagination. It will not, however, magically teach them how to decode words. Please don’t assume that dyslexia is caused by a lack of early reading.

 

7. My child is NOT unmotivated/lazy/ignoring you/etc.homework

Example: “I kept him in from recess because he was lazy and not finishing his work.” or “He is not following directions, I told him to close his book, put up his backpack, and sit on the carpet. He just stayed by the backpack area.”

Why this is an issue: Dyslexia does not solely affect reading. While no two dyslexics are alike, many children with dyslexia struggle with processing speed. This includes processing both written and spoken language. Due to the slower processing speed, it will take them longer to do a worksheet. They may even yawn because so much effort is being put into decoding the words on the page. They are not being lazy. They are using so much brain-power that they are exhausted! Please, don’t hold them in from recess. They are spending their entire day working hard in a written world, and their brains need that break.

Also, multi-step directions may be a problem for many children with dyslexia. They are working hard to process the very first direction, and thus they may literally not hear the last step. They are not ignoring you. Repeat your directions, and most will say “oh!” and get busy doing whatever you said.

 

bright boy6. There are GIFTS that come with dyslexia.

Example: “Oh, that must be so hard to be dyslexic. What will he do in life?” This is usually followed by a very sad face.

Why this is an issue: Many people consider their dyslexia to be a gift! Yes, it makes processing language more difficult. However, other areas soar! A large number of people with dyslexia are inventors, scientists, athletes or actors. People with dyslexia tend to be very successful after graduation. As Dr. Sally Shaywitz from Yale often says, “dyslexia is an island of weakness surrounded by a sea of strengths!”

5. Accommodations are not cheating!

Example: “I can’t allow Johnny extra time on that test. It wouldn’t be fair to the rest of the class.”

Why this is an issue: Accommodations level the playing field for Johnny. They don’t give him an unfair advantage. Think of it like this, would providing a ramp up a set of stairs for a child in a wheelchair be “unfair?” What about a child who needs glasses? Is allowing him to use his glasses in class “unfair?” Just because you can’t see the difference in the brain does not mean it is not there.

4. Ear reading is real reading.pic

Example: “Oh, he’s listening to a book? That’s sweet. What has he actually read though?”

Why this is an issue: Ear reading is our word for audio books. This is important because reading, however you do it, helps to raise vocabulary, introduces you to different cultures, and gives you background knowledge you would not otherwise acquire.

For children with dyslexia, their IQ level is usually much higher than their actual reading level. As technology has advanced, we now have a way for our kids to read, independently, on their actual IQ level. My own son has seen such benefit from audio books via our Learning Ally membership! He listens daily. This allows him to not only build his vocabulary, but to also discuss books with his peers like Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Harry Potter, or Freckle Juice. It allows him a way to fit in, and to not feel so different.

Why would anyone want to discourage that?

We do still practice eye reading nightly as well. We work on it. It is equally important.

3. Help in school is not automatic.

Example: “Why are you upset? He gets all that help in school now.”

Why this is an issue: When you are the parent to a child with dyslexia, it’s an uphill battle. First, you need to secure a diagnosis. Most schools will evaluate a child for special education services, but not necessarily for dyslexia. A specific diagnosis is important because it helps parents and educators know which type of reading program to provide.  If your child does qualify for special education services in school (not all dyslexics meet the qualifications), there is no guarantee that the program provided will be one that is research based specifically for dyslexia. That’s because most schools do not test for dyslexia. And we go round and round.

So, what do parents do? If we can afford it, we hire private dyslexia tutors, who are specialized beyond most reading tutors. See point number 9.

pic2. Our kids can learn to read. They also do not see backwards.

Example: “Your child is dyslexic? That means he can’t read, right? It must be hard since he sees everything backwards.”

Why this is a problem: Our kids can, in fact, learn to read, and some will even read well!  They just need to have access to a research based reading program made specifically for dyslexia. Also, kids with dyslexia do not “see” backwards. They see just like everyone else. Sometimes you will see them reverse letters, but that is because many have struggles with left vs right and orthographic processing.  It has nothing to do with how they see.

1. My child is one of the smartest kids in the class. 

pic

Example: “Slow readers are clearly …well …slow.”

Why is this an issue: The reading circuit in the brain is totally separate from intelligence. If our school system was set up in a way where everyone learned via musicals, then the people who don’t sing well would be considered “slow.” Reading is just one area where some people excel, and some do not. It is not a sign of intelligence. Actually, the majority of people with dyslexia have average to above average IQ levels. All upper level thinking skills are there. Our kids can do grade level work (and sometimes above grade level work), but many will need to acquire the information in some format aside from written text. This is where audiobooks really benefit our children! They are just as smart as all of the other kids in class, and sometimes they are even the smartest child in class. Reading text is not the best way to measure intelligence.

Upcoming Community Events

Parents Advocating for Student Success in EDucation (PASSED)
Monthly Lunch Gathering

Bixby’s Bagels (Mount Royal Shopping Center)
Wednesday, May 21st
11:45 ish to 1:00 ish

The movie “Journey into Dyslexia” will have two showings:

Monday, May 19th @ 6:30pm @ Cloquet Gospel Tabernacle
and
Thursday, May 22nd @ 6:30 @ Myers-Wilkins School (old Grant)

Questions call 340-7393 or email dwyers@boreal.org

New Tutor Consortium

Tutoring Duluth is joining a new group of area tutors.  This new cohort is a group of like-minded tutors meeting the needs of students on an individual bases. Most important, for us as tutors, this will help us help our students, but we will also be able to support each other and grow as tutors.  In addition to the reading and writing support I offer, one of the cohort tutor’s does high school and college level support for students in math and science and another is a professional writer.  These tutors will be able to support students in preparation for the ACT/SAT as well as day-to-day academia.  We are scattered around the Duluth-Superior area and the Arrowhead region making it easier for families to find conveniently located services.  Look for the new website….

TwinPortsTutoring.org …..coming soon.

I’m so excited to be part of this group.

From ncld.org — just in time for a new school year

Back-to-School for Parents of Students With LD

Back to School Guide - Students LDThe start of the school year is a busy time for students, parents and teachers alike. This guide will help you better advocate for the needs of your child with LD so she isn’t lost in the shuffle. Learn how – and why – to become an effective advocate and ally for your child with LD. From understanding your child’s disability and special education law, to managing your emotions, to communicating effectively, this guide covers it!

What you’ll find inside

  • Tips for building and maintaining strong, positive relationships with your child’s teacher and others at school involved in her education.
  • Five essential skills that will help you advocate effectively for your child at school.
  • An overview of your child’s legal rights to assessment and assistance with a (possible) learning disability – and your right to participate in the process.
  • Suggestions for making the most of your parent-teacher conference before, during, and after the meeting.
  • A handy worksheet to help you prepare for successful meetings with key players at your child’s school.
  • Recommended resources to expand your knowledge on this topic.
icon_guidesDownload your Back-to-School for Parents of Students with LD (13 pages), print, and go! (Note: You’ll need the Adobe Reader/Acrobat Reader to download the file.)


This toolkit was made possible by a grant from Oak Foundation.

Background Noise when learning

It’s time when students are returning to the classroom and the child that struggles with reading and learning have a difficult time learning with background noise.

More data supporting the range of perceptual difficulties in dyslexia.

In the figure below, researchers found that dyslexic subjects showed delayed responses to sounds (HP stands for Huggins Pitch, TN stands for pure tone)when played with background noise.This background noise can be a big obstacle to efficient classroom learning for dyslexic students. Larger classes sizes, murmurings and rustlings from fellow classmates, and a fuzziness about phonology or weak auditory working memory, can spell failure (or ADD misdiagnosis) for even very smart or determined dyslexic students. This study only looked at tone and Huggins (kind of spectral noise) sounds…a test of similar-sounding phonemes might be even more dramatic.

Many parents and teachers out there might say, “Aha!”. Students with background noise problems often show wide variability in their classroom success, that may be due to teaching style, class size, degree of noise, or seat placement. Be vigilant to the possibility, and help your student advocate for classroom speakers if needed.

Now is this education or neurobiology? Both of course! We do a disservice to children if we can’t find efficient ways to share information between researchers, educators, and parents.

Useful Apps for Students with Dysgraphia

Dysgraphia is a learning disability that affects writing abilities. It can manifest itself as difficulties with spelling, poor handwriting and trouble putting thoughts on paper.

With Dragon Dictation 2.0, you can dictate text or email your friends, send notes and reminders to yourself … all using your voice.

Click here for more information

iTalk Recorder Premium is a smart, simple audio-recording device with options to select recording quality and to name the recording.

Click here for more information

iBook Creator:

Develop your own books with this amazing app!  Add videos, images and text.  The speech tool provided by the iPad also works with this app adding to its versatility.

iEarned that:
This is a productivity app used to motivate students by keeping track of their merits.

Idea Sketch:
Good for brainstorming new ideas, illustrating concepts making lists and outlines, planning presentation, creating organizational charts.  Lets you easily draw a diagram, mind map, concept map or flow chart and convert it to a text outline.

Tools 4 Students:
25 top quality graphic organizers.  Choose the best template and fill in your information right on your mobile device.

From http://wandaleannne.blogspot.com