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Finding Words in Paint: How Artists See Dyslexia

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Six artists who have dyslexia find their words in art.

NPR

“I understand things visually, by finding them in paint. I don’t know if my dyslexia causes me to be this way, but I have a feeling it does.” — Rachel Deane, painter.

We know lots of facts about dyslexia: It’s the most common reading disorder. It changes the way millions of people read and process information.

But we know much less about how it feels to people who have it. How it shapes your self-image, your confidence and how people see and react to you.

And so I reached out to some really creative people — artists who have dyslexia — to talk about this.

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Education

Dyslexia: The Learning Disability That Must Not Be Named

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Megan Lordos, a middle school teacher, says she was not allowed to use the word “dyslexia.”

She’s not alone. Parents and teachers across the country have raised concerns about some schools hesitating, or completely refusing, to say the word.

As the most common learning disability in the U.S., dyslexia affects somewhere between 5 and 17 percent of the population. That means millions of school children around the country struggle with it.

Under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), schools are required to provide special services to help these students — things like reading tutors and books on tape. But those special services can be expensive, and many schools don’t have the resources to provide these accommodations.

That has led some parents and advocates to worry that some schools are making a careful calculation: If they don’t acknowledge the issue — or don’t use the word “dyslexia” — then they are not obligated to provide services.

Last year, when Lordos was teaching English at a public school in Arlington, Va., she recalls a parent-teacher meeting in the conference room. Things started smoothly.

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Education

Study Finds Students Of All Races Prefer Teachers Of Color

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“Do you speak English?”

When Hua-Yu Sebastian Cherng walked into his summer school classroom for the first time as a brand-new teacher, a student greeted him with this question. Nothing in his training had prepared him to address race and identity. But he was game, answering the student lightly, “Yes, I do, but this is a math class, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

“Oh my gosh, was that racist?” he says the girl asked, and quickly checked her own assumption: “‘That’s exactly like when I go into a store and people follow me around because I’m black.'”

During the time that Cherng, who is of Chinese descent, taught in an 85 percent African-American middle school in San Francisco, he enjoyed a good rapport with his students, and he wondered what role his own identity played in that.

Now Cherng is a sociologist at New York University and he’s just published a paper with colleague Peter Halpin that addresses this question. It seems that students of all races — white, black, Latino, and Asian — have more positive perceptions of their black and Latino teachers than they do of their white teachers.

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Education

Spoon-Fed Learning

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Speaking about the opportunities there are for learning in our world today through technology, I asked educators in the room to do a “Twitter Video Reflection” and share their learning back to the hashtag.  Since many of them were new to Twitter, they didn’t know how to do it, so I decided to not help them.

Not a type…I decided to not help them.

Here’s the thing…they all figured it out. Some took longer than others, and some figured it out after they saw that someone else could.  I actually think it went faster than if I would have shown them step-by-step.

Too often we talk about how we want to develop learners as students, but we still set up too much of our professional development where we will walk people through every element of any type of learning.

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Education

Youngest Kids In Class At Higher Risk Of ADHD Diagnosis

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Lack of focus at school might be ADHD. Or it might be a function of being young for that grade.

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By the time they’re in elementary school, some kids prove to be more troublesome than others. They can’t sit still or they’re not socializing or they can’t focus enough to complete tasks that the other kids are handling well. Sounds like ADHD. But it might be that they’re just a little young for their grade.

Studies done in several countries including Iceland, Canada, Israel, Sweden and Taiwan show children who are at the young end of their grade cohort are more likely to get an ADHD diagnosis than their older classmates.

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Education

How students with ADD, ADHD can benefit from technology

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Students with attention-deficit disorder face unique challenges. Here, education expert Barbara Dianis offers ideas for how tech tools can help better support to these students. My son was in the third grade when he was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder (ADD). His teacher, during a parent conference, told me that though my son was bright and creative, he often drifted in class, struggled to retain information and had difficulty completing assignments on time, on his own. She gently suggested I have him tested for ADD. A trip to his pediatrician a week later confirmed she was right.

Fast forward 14 years. That same child is now in the home stretch of his senior year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He whipped most of the challenges he faced as a student with ADD. He is punctual, self-directed and can focus for sustained periods of time.

And we owe much of his success to technology. Phone apps helped him learn and master time management skills. He attended high school online and was highly successful. The environment suited his learning style and he developed effective study skills.

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