Thursday, May 29, 2008

Show # 87 Shelley Dannenberg, Dyslexia Testing and Information Services

Shelly Dannenberg is a certified Dyslexia Testing Specialist, an Ohio licensed teacher with 9 years teaching experience in Language Arts and Reading, and the parent of a dyslexic child. Shelley has taught in both regular education and special education classrooms and has tutored many students with learning disabilities. In today's show, we discuss what dyslexia is, how it effects kids in schools, and discuss how early intervention is the key to helping kids with dyslexia succeed in school.

Dyslexia is genetic and is a language processing disorder. In people without dyslexia, three centers of the brain work cooperatively to process language, for reading, writing and spelling. Functional MRI scans show that people with dyslexia do not have these areas working cooperatively, causing them to process language is a different way. Often there is a family history of dyslexia and/or school struggle, but often adults were not properly diagnosed as children. As many as 40% of kids with dyslexia also have concurrent ADHD, so you need to address attentional issues as well.

There are so many excellent resources available to help people better understand dyslexia and other language based learning disorders- We're starting a new page here on the LD Podcast site just for dyslexia, with other LD specific pages coming soon. Finding information, research, and the tools you need to help your child or student is the first step to helping a struggling child feel the thrill of success. Let us know if these resources are helpful and if you have any to add- drop me a line at !

Shelley and I discuss things you might look for as early signs of dyslexia or other language processing disorders:

Preschool age kids:

Chronic ear infections, severe childhood illnesses
Speech delay
Early stuttering
Late in establishing a dominant hand

Elementary School:

Is reading slow and labored?
Is it choppy? Inaccurate?
Do they skip words?
Do they guess at words based on the shape or beginning letters?
Misreading prepositions and common prepositions?

Do they dread going to school?
Do they have terrible spelling, or have no carry over for the spelling words they just learned last week, in the next lesson?

Many have trouble with math- they have problems with memorizing rote information

Kids with language based processing issues may have a bunch of different labels, including things like expressive language disorder. The most important part of any label is not so much "what" it is, but that it is the key to access for services in a school setting, so kids can get the help and accommodations they need to be successful in school.

Children are painfully aware that they are struggling- what we need to do is construct education and strategies that help them learn and succeed, rather than constantly focusing on their deficits.


Shelley's Website- Dyslexia Testing and Information Services
International Dyslexia Association

Click here to listen to Show #87- Shelley Dannenberg- Dyslexia Testing Information Service

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Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Show # 86 Jenifer Fox- Your Child’s Strengths

This week’s show features the second half of my interview with Jenifer Fox. Jenifer’s new book, Your Child’s Strengths is one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it provides a blueprint for changing your child’s experience in school. This seems like a radical notion at first, but very small changes, such as looking at your child’s true strengths and giving them opportunities to do what they do best can change the way a child sees themselves and the world.

The Search for Strengths

One of the first steps in finding a child’s strengths starts by talking to them, listening, and looking for some patterns in their natural interests. Jenifer and I talk about how to find out more about your child, and how unstructured time can sometimes be a great place to begin looking and observing your child’s natural interests and proclivities. While there’s a trend to make sure children have structured play and are adequately supervised at all times, this doesn’t give them a lot of time or choice to really discover what makes them special as individuals.

This also means allowing your child to be disappointed and learning how to deal with that- positive psychology and reinforcement is NOT about making their lives perfect and happy all the time, but helping them develop a sense of solving their problems and be willing to take the risks necessary to learn and grow.

If we make our approach in schools more “project-based” (and please, no, I am not recommending any more posters or dioramas on the Book Report for the month…) meaning that children learn from examples and by doing as much as possible, we may be able to make the education they receive more meaningful. By the way, the case-based or project-based learning approach is one used in graduate schools, from business schools to law schools, currently. We just need to begin to apply this to younger students!

We need to collect specific information about what a child does well-this is essential to finding ways to build on the successes, and clues to other talents that might be hidden otherwise.

We also talk about what to do when teacher- student relationships are rocky, and how to go about trying to reach some sort of working relationship- what Nancy Hennessey from the IDA calls “Dystechia” It’s tough, but sometimes it seems we do have to teach our kids how to work the system or play the game. We also talk about the difference between entertainment and engagement, and how teachers need to be able to parse the difference, as do parents.

Recommended books and links in this episode:

The Unhurried Child

Dr. Bob Brooks- Raising a Self-Disciplined Child; Raising Resilient Children

Affinities Program at Purnell School

The Gates Foundation Report on High School Dropouts

Sara Lawrence Lightfoot- The Essential Conversation: What Parents and Teachers Can Learn from Each Other

BBC Article on Basic Sums Stressing Adults

ooVoo- online interactive chat (free service) for up to six people at a time

The Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia and Chris Lehmann- His blog is Practical Theory

Click here to download Show #86- Jenifer Fox

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Jenifer Fox- Your Child's Strengths

Today's show features a really terrific guest- Jenifer Fox-President of the Purnell School, an all-girl's boarding school, and the author of Your Child's Strengths- Discover Them, Develop Them, Use Them. We speak about a range of subjects, but the most important one of all is how critically important it is to emphasize your child's true talents and strengths.

(Oddly enough, I had an opportunity just 36 hours later to put this advice to work. One of the boy's midterm report came back, and the news was, at best, mixed and not what he had led us to believe it would be. Rather than getting angry, as he expected, I sat down with him and we used it as an opportunity to learn. What had been going well, and what had not? Which study methods had been panning out, and which were not working so well for him? Instead of using this as an opportunity to make the kid feel worse- (he was doing a pretty good job all on his own of being disappointed and needed no help on that score from anyone), we chose instead to decide together, with him, what we could do differently that would help him.)

If you get a chance, I urge you to read Jenifer Fox's book, Your Child's Strengths. Give it to teachers you know. We all need to begin to change the tide in education, and part of this change starts with identifying what's good in each person, and finding ways of making them feel successful.

Kids face a daily birage currently of what they do wrong- the Gates Foundation reports that many high school dropouts are not dropping out because of anti-social behavior, but because they're bored and fail to see the relevance in the education they are receiving. We need to start making a change now, to keep kids in school, to make school a meaningful experience that sets kids up to be life long learners and problem solvers.

Click here to download Show # 85- Jenifer Fox- Your Child's Strengths

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Education 2.0

In recent weeks, I've had the chance to speak to educators about how New Media is changing education, and what it can and cannot do for the classroom. I recorded this presentation at Podcamp DC, and thought it was something you might want to hear as well- Because regardless of whether your child is a superstar in school or is struggling, every child will need to develop skills to compete in a multi-media world. They will need to use computers, and feel comfortable using on line tools as part of their education. As parents and teachers, we need to adapt what we do in the classroom to help children learn these skills.

You can see the slide for the presentation by going to Slideshare here.

We'd love to have you participate in our survey- you can go straight to it by clicking here.

If you are interested in hearing more about one of my favorite muscicians and my good friend, Matthew Ebel, click here to go to his website.

Click here to listen to Show #84, Education 2.0

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