Understanding Dyslexia® authored by University of Arizona’s Dr. Nancy Mather explains how to identify K-12 students with dyslexia and how to help them learn to read
Literacy publisher MindPlay launched a new online professional development course for K-12 teachers and parents offering expert knowledge on identifying students who have dyslexia and instructional strategies that help them learn to read.
What is Understanding Dyslexia?
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 ways for teachers to help these students learn to read.
Understanding Dyslexia is coauthored by Dr. Nancy Mather, Ph.D., and Barbara J. Wendling, M.A. The course is designed for education professionals, such as special and general education teachers, school and clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, and administrators. It may also helps parents understand the reading struggles of students with dyslexia.
The impact of dyslexia on student achievement has resulted in almost 20 states requiring educators to receive professional development about this reading disability.
What is Dyslexia?
Dyslexia inhibits the ability of otherwise highly-intelligent students to learn to read, causing students to need targeted reading instruction and sometimes disability accommodations. Slow reading speed is a common characteristic of students with dyslexia. They cannot decode words with automaticity, making it difficult from them to become fluent readers. Spelling is one of the most difficult skills for dyslexic students to acquire.
How Does Understanding Dyslexia Work?
Understanding Dyslexia is a web-based program that teachers can access with their login and complete at their own pace using a computer, tablet, or iPad with Internet access. The program includes modules on the definition and description of dyslexia, components of assessment, and effective instruction. Instruction is provided through a combination of expert lectures, videos, written information, and activities, organized into eight modules to address what teachers need to know about dyslexia. Teachers can earn three hours of professional development credits for completing the course.
“The key to understanding dyslexia for teachers and parents is realizing that it is a brain-based learning difference that is not within a student’s control,” said Dr. Nancy Mather, Ph.D., professor at the University of Arizona, Department of Disability and Psychoeducational Studies, and co-author of Understanding Dyslexia. “It is important to diagnose students early so that they can be appropriately helped at school and home. Students with dyslexia must be explicitly taught how to read, as MindPlay’s Understanding Dyslexia modules explain.”
“Understanding Dyslexia is an impressive, comprehensive program featuring current information from the world’s leading dyslexia and reading experts,” said Wendy Wall, M.A., Owner/Director of Learning & Behavior Specialists, LLC, who reviewed the course during development. “Every educator, psychologist, parent, or interested professional should complete this program to have a solid understanding of what dyslexia is, the neurological basis of dyslexia, how dyslexia is best assessed, and what interventions are most effective.”
Understanding Dyslexia is organized into eight modules. Teachers can complete the course at their convenience and own pace. The course takes approximately three hours total to complete and is accessible 24 hours a day online. The content includes:
- Chapter 1: Introduction defines dyslexia and explains what it is.
- Chapter 2: Neurology and the Brain explains the physical aspects of how dyslexia affects the brain. Topics cover Brain Basics, Neural Signature of Dyslexia, Implications for Individuals with Dyslexia, Family History, and Comorbidity.
- Chapter 3: Assessment and Diagnosis focus on specific ways to evaluate students for dyslexia. Topics include, Screening, Assessment, Cognitive and Linguistic Areas to Assess, Achievement Areas to Assess, and Areas of Strength.
- Chapter 4: Phonological Awareness discusses sub-skills that must be explicitly taught. Areas of instruction include, Phonemic Awareness and Phonemes; Instruction for Developing Phonological and Phonemic Awareness Abilities; Teaching Blending and Segmentation Skills; Instructional Sequence for Blending and Segmentation; Blending and Segmenting Syllables; Blending and Segmenting Phonemes; and Student Goal for Blending and Segmenting Sounds.
- Chapter 5: Basic Reading Skills introduces Synthetic Phonics and explains the Orton-Gillingham Approach to reading instruction.
- Chapter 6: Spelling covers strategies to help dyslexic students learn to spell successfully. Topics include, Using Spellcheckers, Connection between Spelling and Reading, Instruction, Types of Spelling Errors, Accommodations and Modifications, and General Principles of Spelling Instruction.
- Chapter 7: Fluency provides information about oral and silent reading and the strategies to build fluent reading. Topics include, Characteristics of Individuals with Slow Reading Rates, Instructional Interventions, Where Instruction Should Begin, and Learning to Vary Reading Rates.
- Chapter 8: Conclusion discusses general principles of instruction for students with dyslexia, the importance of teacher guidance, and self-advocacy.
Each chapter module contains pretests and post-tests. After all of the instruction in a section has been completed a post-test is administered. A section is considered mastered when all instructional topics are complete and the post-test has been mastered with 100 percent accuracy. If any item on the post-test is answered incorrectly, the participant will be redirected to a specific instructional section to review, and then is given another opportunity to answer. Improvement reports can be viewed or printed anytime by teachers or administrators. These reports record a participant’s gains from the pretest to the post-test in each of the modules.
Understanding Dyslexia has a convenient Review Mode, in which teachers or parents can review completed sections. Participants can only review instructional content that has already been mastered. The program allows them access to review content for one year after completing the course.
Printable User Guide
An online User Guide is available within the program to provide help as needed. The guide is printable in case teachers want printed copies of anything. Accessing the User Guide requires Adobe Reader or another program that can open a PDF file.
Upon completion of the course, indicating 100 percent mastery of Understanding Dyslexia, teachers receive a certificate of completion for their administrator to sign. The certificate is printable directly by the participant.
Pricing and Availability
Understanding Dyslexia is available online now to schools and school districts. Please contact MindPlay for individual or group pricing.