Eagle Hill faculty speak at 2017 conference on learning disabilities
At the 2017 LDA conference in February, several Eagle Hill faculty members were selected to speak at the four-day event, which featured experts from the field of learning disabilities. Billed as the largest meeting on learning disabilities in the world, the annual forum, held this year in Baltimore, offered a range of sessions and workshops to inform and inspire educators and practitioners as well as parents of children with LD.
Jenn Harkins and Wendy Salisbury
As a leader in the field of learning disabilities, Eagle Hill School also dominated the conference in other ways. Jenn Harkins was the Program Co-Chair for the second year in a row, and Wendy Salisbury once again served on the Program Committee and as Chair of the Selection Committee for Instructional Programming. Speakers at the event were selected blindly from a large pool of applicants. Presentations and workshops by Eagle Hill faculty were a big draw for attendees of the conference. "We try to focus on strategies that can be carried over into a typical classroom, which really sets us apart," explained Ms. Salisbury. Below are summaries of the presentations and workshops by Eagle Hill faculty.
The Reading-Writing Link: Strategies to Strengthen Comprehension and Composition
Ms. Salisbury's one-hour presentation focused on techniques and strategies to help students increase their understanding of the organization of language. One of her central points was the critical relationship between the ability to categorize and reading comprehension, a discovery that Ms. Salisbury made in her classroom teaching at Eagle Hill. "Many learning-disabled students do not possess the ability to categorize," she explained. Ms. Salisbury shared categorization activities that can be used in the classroom as well as a variety of instructional strategies to help support reading comprehension and composition.
Emma Lipman (in collaboration with Maggie Bergmann)
Content, Categories, and Connections
Students with learning disabilities often struggle with the ability to recall and retain information. Moreover, they often lack sufficient background knowledge in subjects such as social studies and science. In her presentation, Ms. Lipman shared strategies, among them categorization and mnemonics, to help students make connections and build vocabulary to improve understanding and recall.
Actualizing Metacognition to Enhance Executive Functioning
Teaching students to think about their thoughts, also known as metacognition, allows them to take charge of their learning and become more self-reliant. This vital skill is especially difficult to teach and reinforce in children with learning differences. Ms. Sweeney shared materials and techniques for teaching children the language and thought processes of self-regulation as well as ways to model metacognitive language in the classroom.
Coping with Anxiety
Many studies have shown that anxiety is common among children with learning disabilities and attention issues. It should come as no surprise that anxiety negatively impacts learning and student performance. Mr. Baker's presentation, which was done in concert with David Dudics, a former Eagle Hill teacher, offered a host of effective strategies to reduce anxiety in the classroom.
Lauren Polinsky and Casey Wilkinson
What's the Plan? Implementing Strategies to Improve Executive Function
Executive functions, which allow us to manage, organize, and act on information, are central to success in school—and in life. Ms. Polinksy and Ms. Wilkinson's presentation included strategies and activities to improve these skills in students with learning disabilities across different academic and social environments.