WHAT A DIFFERENCE!
Understanding, teaching, and empowering students with language-based learning differences such as dyslexia
Kendra McCuine, M.Ed, teacher and interim director of the Hope Graham Program (HGP) at Bancroft School, writes about the beautiful and amazing dyslexic brain. Read on and discover further proof of what Hope Graham students already know: Dyslexia is a difference, not a disability!
Defined by Strengths
This past Thursday, Peggy Stern, Academy Award winner director and creator of Dyslexiaville, spent the afternoon with all of our Hope Graham Program students. Not only is Peggy a very successful filmmaker who credits her talent to her dyslexia, she is an immediately relatable and very candid speaker. So it was no surprise that she was able to spark deep thoughts and conversations among our students, focusing on their individual strengths.
Peggy met with our HGP Middle School and Lower School students separately, but both groups were equally interested in this concept of strengths. One Lower School student seemed to have a spark of epiphany as he answered one of her questions, wrestling to find the words to express the fact that while students with language-based differences (LBLD) have a hard time learning to read, they are able to some things much more easily than their non-LBLD peers. Both groups then went on to think about and express their own strengths, some of which included: drawing, computers, animals, curiosity, hockey, thinking creatively, writing short stories, science, combining two things into one thing, learning facts, understanding the feelings of others, math, and soccer.
The Learning Lab Method that Bancroft School teachers often employ offers all Bancroft students to learn through, practice, and showcase their strengths. A student might create a stop-motion Lego animation detailing their research on Myanmar’s educational system, compose and perform a song in the style popular during the Industrial Revolution, or research our school’s namesake and display their findings at Bancroft Tower for hundreds to see (all of these are actual projects). These projects, which offer student voice and choice and an authentic audience for student work, enable Hope Graham Program students to not only address their weaknesses, but to employ their strengths without limits.
We encourage every parent of a student with a language-based learning difference to keep up an ongoing conversation going around your child’s strengths. If your child has a hard time identifying what they are good at, taking a look at their interests is a great starting point (even as children, we tend to gravitate towards activities that suit our strengths).
This assessment from Headstrong Nation is also a fun way to map your child’s strengths.
And remember to share what comes out of these conversations with your child’s teacher so that they can keep up the encouragement at school!
Hope Graham Program teachers with Peggy Stern (center) before her Bancroft Speaker Series presentation to an audience of parents, educators, and students about encouraging students’ strengths.
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