How Research Leads to Solutions for Struggling Learners

Have you or a loved one received a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” or “dyslexia”? Have you or a loved one struggled with learning to read – no matter what methods and curricula have been used? Research leads us to more answers to our questions and more solutions for those who struggle.

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How would you feel knowing your student would have more tools to succeed in life? What would it be like for him to learn fascinating information on his own? What would it be like to be carried off to a faraway time and place by reading a great story?

While many have considered dyslexia to be a combination of two deficits, the more current view, based on new research, providers believe that multiple deficits contribute to a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” will prove more helpful in helping those who struggle with reading.  Belief that “weaknesses in either the visual (rapid automatized naming -RAN) or the auditory (phonological awareness-PA) can cause dyslexia has led teachers to address these two areas.  Those with both deficits experienced severe difficulties in reading. (Wolf in Journal of Educational Psychology, 1999)

Now, more and more look to these areas and some additional areas: genetics, environmental, and perceptive/cognitive differences.  With the use of fMRIs we can see what is going on inside the human brain.  In a recent webinar, neuroscientist, Dr. Martha Burns, reported new research that confirms how these factors interact to present different kinds and degrees of learning challenges.

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Not surprisingly the research shows that reading and language share specific parts of the brain that includes both the visual and auditory areas. While searching for the cause and effect relationship within genetic factors, researchers learned that the brain of an infant show signs of genetic causes of learning challenges discovered later. In 2017, Gaab published findings that 50% of children with a sibling or parent with dyslexia were likely to also receive a diagnosis. This number rose to 68% in identical twins.

Finding the underlying cause leads us to specific strategies for the individual since all of these factors combine in different ways.  At Unlocking Learning Potential / Family Academy Online we address reading challenges using the neurodevelopmental approach ( www.unlockinglearningpotential.net) as well as with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. Dr. Martha Burns, of Scientific Learning, says that Scientific Learning programs paired with an effective curriculum provide the best outcome for our children.

My name is Z.C. I began working with the learning specialist at Unlocking Learning Potential in 2009. By 2011 I could see how I had grown tremendously with my education and learning.  With the neurodevelopmental evaluation, I found out that I was far below my grade level academically. At first, I thought the activities were silly, futile and would not work, but as I kept doing them I started noticing the big differences in every area of my learning. I could read faster, comprehend more, my vocabulary increased, and my memory improved.” Z.C. graduated from high school in 2011.

Watch this video to learn more about these scientifically based solutions to learning challenges:

https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo

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3 Ways to Help Students Achieve Success in Reading and Language

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Do you wonder why your student struggles with reading? I have spent much of my forty years of teach searching for ways to help student learn. Teaching reading has consumed most of those efforts. As you probably realize, many of our students today are missing developmental pieces and cognitive skills.

I have found that children are so very different and learning challenges do not always respond to the same interventions. However, educators across the country help students achieve success in reading and language using two Scientific Learning programs: Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

These programs provide us with 3 ways to help our students:

  1. Build students’ cognitive skills. Cognitive (learning) skills addressed by Fast ForWord products:  memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing  Reading Skills addressed: phonological & phonemic (sound) awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding (sound out words), working memory (remembering long enough to do something with), syntax and grammar (structure of our language)

2. Prepare students’ brains to hear English. Once we fill in the missing pieces of development in the brain, a child can read and use the English language.

3.      Have students practice reading aloud, with support. Finally, we can provide opportunity for the children to read aloud – to other people and with Reading Assistant to the computer which provides timely correction.

You can read a blogger / inservice provider’s experience:  3 Ways to Help Struggling Readers and English Language Learners http://inservice.ascd.org/3-ways-to-help-struggling-readers-and-english-language-learners/

Over 250 studies show that Fast ForWord and Reading Assistance provides all of this for children across the country. www.scientificlearning.com/results

To learn how more about Fast ForWord  / Reading Assistant and how we use it with our students watch this video:  https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo   Be sure and watch to the end for the special offers.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 20 – What have our graduates done beyond high school?

Many of our graduates have gone to college or have gone into a trade. We will feature Jered today. While in high school we attended his Eagle Scout celebration. During high school he wrote a novel (Learn to Write the Novel Way) for class: Guns at Aparri. At one point, he stated that he had received an “atta boy” for his writing skills in a report for work.

After high school, he earned a degree in criminal justice and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.  Since then he has worked for the Department of Homeland Security.  Thank you, Jered for your service to our country.

Personal Reflections 2017 – # 19 – How did the online part of Family Academy Online and Unlocking Learning Potential begin?

Online Student

Prior to 2004, the Jiles family lived in Olympia, Washington. They drove to Lakewood, Washington to attend Academy Northwest classes at our learning center. Then the dad’s work took them to Georgia. There they met the Robinson family.  I worked with the Jiles family and Tim Robinson. Later the Jiles moved to Spokane and the Robinson family moved to Texas. I continued to work with them via long distance and these students graduated.  Also around that time, Ariel from New Jersey worked with me and graduated early from ANW.  She has gone on for graduate work. I never met Tim and Ariel in person. Our use of the internet and the phone was problematic, but we were able to get the job done. Further, my learning center students in Lakewood posted assignments and responded in a closed Yahoo group.

Much has happened since that time. For one thing, we access virtually (no pun intended) all of our students online. Thankfully, our access to the internet is exceptional by comparison.  Video conferencing provides a great video and audio experience with minimal problems most of the time.  We can access many of these services for free or at least a minimal charge.  Some do cost more. For that reason, our students can access one or more of the following as appropriate: http://www.SpellingCity.com, Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant, www.hearbuilder.com, Structure of Intellect assessments, and G-Suite for Education.  I would rate simultaneous correction of writing assignments on Google Drive as my newest favorite tool.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 18 – How did we get to know homeschooling parents?

 

WHO Convention 2000 and 2013

Through the years we had booths at the different homeschool conventions, most often the Washington Homeschool Organization’s convention which basically happened in our back yard. We went to others in the Puget Sound Area, as well as one time in Portland and one time in Spokane.  As our work developed to what it is now, we have operated as: Master Enterprises Learning Center and Amazing Grace Christian Literature, Center for Neuro Development and finally Unlocking Learning Potential.  During this time we have been affiliated with Family Academy along with its affiliate school, Academy Northwest.  We also have helped in the development of Family Academy Online. Further, we are affiliated with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists. While living in Western Washington, we sold Christian books, homeschooling curriculum and neurodevelopmental supplies as well as providing services to homeschooling families. Now, in Oklahoma, we work with students online and only sell a few physical products. We are building our digital product line – e-books:

https://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net/maggie-s-e-books

Personal Reflection 2017 – 16 -Another Graduation – Achievements Recognized

During Academy Northwest graduations, graduates give speeches and perform musically. This year, one of our students played the harp. Overall, ANW graduates do well academically and go on to college having earned scholarships. In our learning center we offered a customized program depending on the needs of the students. Many have gone on to earn undergraduate and some graduate degrees.  Some go into to trade school or join the work force.  Education is not one size fits all. We enjoy hearing the Grad bios as they stand on the top, center step learning about the graduates from other learning centers. Hearing of their hopes and dreams encourages to keep working with these students. I love to to see their families grow on Facebook even though we live far from most of them.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 15 – What about learning World Languages?

Today, homeschoolers have many opportunities to learn a world language.  First, a number of excellent curricula exist and online help abounds. While that may not have been true when homeschooling began, it certainly is true now.  Many combine a great curriculum with conversational in person or online. Second, many homeschool co-ops and private extension schools such as www.academynorthwest.org provide site-based world language classes. After living in Spain for 17 years, teaching Spanish at Heritage Christian School for two years and then offering site-based classes to homeschoolers it only made sense to expand that to our online services. Http://maggiedail.wixsite.com/spanishanw Photos represent early Spanish classes. Website shows how we offer Spanish classes today. Thirdly, a homeschool high school can study their world language at a community college.

Personal Reflections – 2017 – 14 – How did “Home School / Small School” K-6 work?

For a time we had a small school in our home using the Charlotte Mason approach with elements of classical education. Part of that time, we had an unlikely “class” of almost full time instruction. Our next door neighbor’s nephew lived with them while his father drove a truck for a living. Andrew was in Kindergarten. We had another student in the 6th grade – Drew. Other students formed part of our Charlotte Mason home school learning center. Many in that group grew up with us and later graduated from Academy Northwest. Once that happened, possibly because of a downturn in the economy, our groups were in middle and high school. Those were enjoyable days.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 13 – How did we learn about the Oregon Trail and Lewis and Clark?

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Over the years we did a number of field trips that helped us understand the Oregon Trail, Lewis and Clark’s Journey of Discovery and other Pacific Northwest History highlights.  On one occasion we went to Oregon to see The Oregon Trail museum and Fort Clatsop. Further, on another occasion we stayed overnight at the Pioneer Farm closer to home. Each of these occasions provided time to bond with our families and, of course, to learn about our past. We can learn much by understanding how our home developed.

Personal Reflections 2017 – 12 – What about annual testing?

annual-testing-catMany state home school laws require some sort of assessment either annually or during specific grades. Even if it is not required, it can provide you with additional helpful information. Most Teacher Consultants of Family Academy / Academy Northwest’s provide standardized assessments and / or non-test assessments because Washington State’s home school law requires home school students to have either a standardized test or a non-test assessment each year.

Standardized testing usually requires the student to fill in circles on an answer sheet. Scoring is according to norms (sample group of students) and produce grade equivalents, percentiles and stanines relative to that sample group of students. This requires that the test be given under specific guidelines prescribed by the test makers. Examples of these standardized tests include: California Achievement Test (CAT), Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT – not to be confused with the college entrance SAT of College Board) and Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  These tests take 2-3 days of testing.

In the Washington homeschool, a non-test assessment must be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education. However, the law does not define that assessment. Therefore, when looking for a test provider, be sure and ask what the process entails and what kind of information the parent will receive. These assessments usually are only one session.

Our learning center administered group testing of California Achievement Tests for many years. We also provided one-on-one settings for SAT and ITBS. Further, we offered non-test assessments in person for years and continue to provide non-test assessments via Skype.