New PD focuses on dyslexia
Literacy publisher MindPlay has introduced a new professional development program about dyslexia for K-12 teachers and parents.
Understanding Dyslexia is an online program that helps teachers identify students who have dyslexia, a learning disability that affects as much as 10 percent of the population. The program also explains how to help these students learn to read.
Dyslexia is a significant obstacle to student achievement in school. Therefore, nearly 20 states now require that teachers receive specific professional development on the topic.
MindPlay’s Understanding Dyslexia was co-authored by Dr. Nancy Mather, Ph.D., and Barbara J. Wendling, M.A. The program includes modules on definition and description of dyslexia, components of assessment, and effective instruction.
Participants may earn three hours of continuing education credit for successfully completing the course.
“Most students who have dyslexia are highly intelligent, but hit a roadblock that is caused by a physical difference in how their brains are wired that prevents them from learning to read and spell the way others do. As awareness of dyslexia grows in the education field, MindPlay Exhibits at RTM there has been a trend for states to require deeper education on the subject for their staff in order to better help students who have dyslexia succeed in reading,” said Judith Bliss, MindPlay President.
“MindPlay’s new Understanding Dyslexia course provides educators and parents with helpful guidance and ideas from experts in the field toward the goal of enabling dyslexic students to get the specialized instruction they need sooner.”
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District rolls out ‘neuroplasticity’ language development programs
Alachua County Public Schools, a district serving 27,000 students in North Central Florida, has partnered with Scientific Learning Corp. to help students improve their language, literacy and reading skills by addressing the underlying foundational difficulties that keep students from making progress in school.
Initially, the district will deploy Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant online programs in 10 schools.
“Students’ development and mastery of language is critical to their success in school. One of the major factors contributing to underachievement is not having a mastery of language, which not only affects students’ reading and writing performance but their performance in other areas as well,” said Superintendent of Schools Owen A. Roberts, Ph.D.
“What makes the Fast ForWord program different from other language and literacy interventions is that it focuses on cognitive capacity development, rather than content, to address one of the root causes of learning difficulties. These unique learning innovations help students develop their memory, attention, processing and sequencing skills so they can be better users of the language of instruction, allowing them to accelerate their learning.”
Alachua County Public Schools plans to roll out the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs over the next five years to all of its schools. Each school will determine which students will participate in the programs, based on their needs.
Fast ForWord uses the principles of neuroplasticity — the ability of the brain to rewire and improve — to target the root cause of slow academic progress in struggling students and English language learners.
Students who use the program make fast progress, increasing their reading skill level up to two years in as little as three months. They continue to make fast progress long after finishing the program.
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How Twitter influences the Common Core debate
Researchers tracked thousands of tweets on Common Core. What they found was a fascinating look inside the minds of supporters and detractors.
University researchers Jonathan Supovitz (University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education), Alan J. Daly (University of California, San Diego), and Miguel del Fresno (Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia in Madrid, Spain) tracked Twitter from September 2013 to March 2014, following the #commoncore hashtag to determine how public debate on social media can influence education policy.
Nearly 190,000 #commoncore tweets from almost 53,000 Twitter users were sent during the six month analysis.
Tweet topics included testing (7.1 percent of tracked #commoncore tweets), parents (4.6 percent), curriculum (3 percent), math (3.8 percent), and ELA (2.9 percent).
Some of the major findings include:
The Common Core has paved the way for social media debate about broader educational issues, such as the direction of U.S. education, including opposition to a fedearl role in education, worries about access to student data, and discussion about testing measures.
Common Core supporters and opponents tracked in the study use different language to make their points and appeal to their audience. Researchers identified two strains of language in the #commoncore tweets: policyspeak, which evokes logical and rational arguments that tend to appeal to a policy audience, and politicalspeak, which employs more emotional and visceral semantics intended to rouse peoples’ passions. Researchers found that proponents of the Common Core used significantly more policyspeak while
opponents of the Standards more frequently adopted politicalspeak in their tweets.
Politics makes strange bedfellows.