Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

November 11, 2020
Auditory Processing: What’s Sound Got to Do, Got to Do with Reading?

Although reading is thought of as a visual mode of communication, it relies heavily on auditory processing skills. Here's what sound has to do with reading and how you can make struggling learners into strong readers.

October 28, 2020
2020 Dyslexia Research Update

October is Dyslexia Awareness Month. Here is a quick overview of three articles published in 2020 that expand our understanding of dyslexia, the most common and often-misunderstood learning disability.

October 24, 2019
What I Wish I Knew about Dyslexia as a Teacher

When I taught writing, I had hard-working students who articulated great ideas in class discussions and didn’t seem to have any learning issues. And then they’d submit papers that were riddled with simple spelling errors or were even downright incomprehensible. Sometimes the essays demonstrated surprisingly low levels of reading comprehension. “What’s going on?” I’d wonder, give feedback, and move on. While puzzled, I figured there wasn’t much more for me to do than help them improve one paper at a time. What I wish I knew then was that these students might have had dyslexia. And if you’re a teacher, you’ve had students with dyslexia too. No, really, you probably have—even if you didn’t know it. One out of five people have dyslexia, and many go undiagnosed until adulthood, if ever. Out of students with learning disabilities, 80-90% of them have dyslexia, making it the most common learning disability that often accompanies other conditions like ADHD and apraxia. Some of your students or children might already be diagnosed and have IEPs to accommodate their learning differences. But many others with dyslexia might be hiding in plain sight. I spoke to Marlene M. Lewis, M.A., a registered speech-language pathologist, who works with children with dyslexia, among other learning disorders. She shared what she wishes everyone—educators, parents, and students—knew about dyslexia. These are the 4 things she said. 1. “Do not wait till grades 2 or 3 or later to see how a student progresses. Dyslexia should be treated as soon as a teacher or parent sees a student not picking up phonological awareness skills, which is typically noticed already in early grade 1.” Waiting to offer targeted support to learners until they begin failing at reading in 2nd or 3rd grade is called the “wait-to-fail” approach, and research has found that this common […]

August 15, 2019
"My Life Is Forever Changed"

A Note from a Fast ForWord Graduate We love when this happens. The other week, we received a lovely email from a Fast ForWord alum. A young woman named Rachel W. told us, "I know my life has been forever changed by this wonderful company." Read her full letter below! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Rachel. We are honored to be part of it. Best of luck completing your Master’s degree in social work, and we hope you stay in touch!   July 3, 2019 Hello Richard Cheng, My name is Rachel W. and I am writing to you today to thank Scientific Learning for existing. You have no idea how many lives have been changed by Scientific Learning. I know my life has been forever changed by this wonderful company. I say this with confidence because I know I would not be where I am today without it or without the support from my speech and language pathologist. A little bit about me and my background: At the age of 8 I was diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). I was not socially or cognitively functioning at the appropriate age level. I could not understand what people around me were saying. I had a very difficult time following directions as well as staying engaged in school and in social settings. I was struggling to keep up with my peers academically, cognitively, and socially. After I was officially diagnosed, my parents took me to see a speech and language pathologist where my life was transformed. She bought/downloaded Fast ForWard and challenged me to never give up on the program (even when it got challenging and frustrating for me). The games and levels I completed developed new pathways in my brain which allowed me to eventually function at […]

January 25, 2018
4 Education Trends for 2018

2017 was an eventful year in many areas, and the world of education policy was no exception. With a new administration in the White House, there were many questions about whether previous federal initiatives would be continued, expanded, or abandoned, and how this might impact the classroom. While the full impact of many proposed changes remains to be seen, here is a look at where things stand and what can be expected in the next year. 1. Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) This was originally supposed to be the first school year that 2015’s Every Student Succeeds Act would take effect, replacing the No Child Left Behind Act’s federal accountability mandates with state-developed proposals that would be approved by the Department of Education. However, several factors have delayed the law’s full implementation. Immediately upon inauguration in January, President Trump announced a regulatory freeze that included major parts of ESSA. Then, in March, the Senate voted to repeal regulations passed by the Obama administration that had set ground rules for state accountability standards. This left individual states largely on their own in interpreting the law and crafting their proposals – a process that has been hampered by staffing and budget cuts in state education departments. As of now, at least 14 states’ proposals have been approved, but Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos’s recent decision to undertake another review of ESSA’s Title I accountability rules, as well as Florida’s battle over the law’s requirements for accommodating English Language Learners, mean that implementation may drag well into 2018. Some of the main uncertainties going forward revolve around state achievement targets for special education. As mandated by ESSA, states must now separately track the performance of students with disabilities and develop plans for improving it. But based on what has been seen so far, […]

October 11, 2017
Too Many Kids with Dyslexia Are Left Behind: Here's Why

Finding our way through life’s tangles and snares can be tricky.  It’s easier said than done.  But with determination, skills, support and a sense of direction, it’s possible. In the hit Broadway play Hamilton, playwright Lin-Manuel Miranda tells his story about rising above adversity in a song titled, “I Wrote My Way Out.” “I wrote my way out When the world turned its back on me I was up against the wall I had no foundation No friends or family to catch my fall Running on empty With nothing left in me but doubt I picked up the pen And wrote my way out.” How can a person write their way out, if they aren’t able to read, write and spell fluently?  Identifying a problem is a necessary first step to finding a resolution. Knowing where to begin solving a problem can be more elusive. Writing our way out of adverse circumstances is one thing, but writing our way out of learning to read – that requires specialized instruction and support. Without proficient literacy, how do we expect kids to someday align with opportunities, and write their own future?  To answer these driving questions, let’s look at dyslexia in the context of our educational system. October is dyslexia awareness month. Language-based learning disabilities affect age-appropriate reading, spelling, and sometimes writing, too. Effective, research-based practices have been identified and promoted for years. Everything necessary to provide learners with dyslexia with an appropriate education is available now, and has been for decades. Even so, too many kids are being left behind. Dyslexia screening is a hot topic among advocates, especially in California where the CDE recently published new California Dyslexia Guidelines. The desire for screening tools isn’t new. Schools have had access to screening tools for years. Two examples: the Shaywitz DyslexiaScreen […]

April 18, 2017
Just the Beginning: How Fast ForWord Helped Monicia's Son with Autism
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