The role of the classroom teacher looms large in the lives of the students who fill the desks of his or her classroom for the 180 school days that make up a school year. Dyslexic students are strongly affected by how much their teacher knows about dyslexia and best practices for teaching which benefit the whole class but are vital to the dyslexic learner.
Dyslexia Friendly Classroom Summit is an in-person, four day professional development opportunity for teachers to learn about aspects of dyslexia that apply to them as classroom teachers. Since one in five people show some degree of dyslexia, it is reasonable to conclude that a class of twenty students includes three or four students who have mild to moderate dyslexia.
Dyslexia Friendly Classroom Summits are designed to give classroom teachers a working knowledge of what dyslexia looks like from both a strengths and weaknesses outlook. Teachers are equipped with many strategies and teaching techniques and learn the reason each strategy and technique works. Developing the why behind suggested techniques motivates teachers to not only create materials as part of the Summit but to use those materials as they teach their classes.
In a big difference from usual educators’ professional development courses, a two hour session each afternoon is devoted to making a set of the teacher created materials presented in the early afternoon lecture. Teachers move to a different room where they can to spread out and have enough space to work on making the manipulatives that go with the curriculum they will be teaching in the fall. (Teachers are encouraged to bring their curriculum or have electronic access to it.) In this less formal learning environment there are lots of opportunities for the teachers to ask Cindy questions or have informal conversations as she circulates through the room. Teachers are able to chat with one another as they work on their sets of hands-on materials, and often brainstorm modifications that might make for an even more effective presentation for their grade level learners.
Another powerful aspect of the Summit training is the Fish in A Tree book study. Teachers read assigned chapters of this 4-6 grade level novel each evening, and discuss it as the final corporate activity of the training day. Through the novel, teachers experience what it feels like to be a child with dyslexia as she moves from not understanding why she can’t learn to blossoming under the tutelage of a teacher who perceives that she is struggling with dyslexia and employs the right techniques to help.
The combination of lectures, the long afternoon creative workshop, and the book study make Dyslexia Friendly Classroom Summit unique compared to most professional development courses.
The days are structured like this:
8:00 - 8:30 - welcome and inspirational thoughts
8:30 - 9:45 Cindy teaches an aspect of Dyslexia Friendly Classroom
Day One - Characteristics of the Dyslexia Friendly Teacher
Day Two - Characteristics of the Student with Dyslexia
Day Three - The Study Cycle: Brain Science Behind Learning
Day Four: Policies and Organization of a Dyslexia Friendly Classroom
10:00 - 12:00 - An expert in dyslexia education speaks, either live or via live Zoom
Day One - OGA Fellow Suzanna Greer presents Orton Principles for teaching
Day Two - Cindy presents methods for teaching expressive writing
Day Three - Dr. Amber Coggin presents methods for teaching math
Day Four - Cindy presents how to screen for dyslexia
12:00 - 1:00 - lunch hour
1:00 - 2:00 - Cindy teaches how to create materials for specific subjects
Day One - Methods for teaching vocabulary of classroom subjects
Day Two - Methods for teaching people, events, dates, map locations
Day Three - Methods for practicing spelling lists, memorizing Bible verses/poetry
Day Four: Methods to amend spelling lists, alternate methods for measuring reading comprehension
2:15 - 4:15 - Teacher Created Materials Workshop
4:15 - 4:45 - Fish in a Tree book discussion
If this sounds like the professional development you have been looking for, go to https:// faith.edu/events/dyslexia-friendly-classroom-summit/ and register for one of the few remaining seats. Registration closes at the end of this month, sooner if all the 25 available seats are claimed.