The Literacy Institute Newsletter:
Thinking Differently
March 2017
Penny
Penny Moldofsky, Director of 
The Literacy Institute
Dear Woodlynde Families, Friends, and Colleagues,
Learning difference or learning disability? David Flink, Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Eye to Eye, a national mentoring organization, opened my eyes to when and why to use each term. He should know - he's walked in the shoes of our students who have learning differences or ADHD. 

Before David could appreciate how he learned best and what accommodations he needed to achieve his goals, he had to understand and
own his learning disability and attention issues. This allowed him to correct the erroneous conclusion that he was "stupid, lazy, and inadequate." Through his own experiences and the experiences of young people across the country who are involved in Eye to Eye, David concludes that he would have become a more efficient and successful student sooner if his learning disability and ADHD had been identified earlier. He would have been able to appreciate that the issue was not about him "trying harder," but rather it was about knowing how his brain works, how and when to ask for help, and persistence in seeking the right accommodations.

Here are a few of David Flink's wealth of ideas that have impacted my approach to students, their families, and their teachers:
1. Own your differences.
You can't take appropriate risks if you don't accept the strengths and weaknesses of your brain. You may need to use the term "learning disability" to determine the details of your weaker areas and to access important accommodations, but you can rely on your learning difference to be a key element of who you are as a member of our diverse community.

2. Accommodations are not cheating. 
We are living in the age of cognitive diversity, and this means we have to be ready, willing, and able to provide a wide range of accommodations and to err on the side of accommodations for all as a way to level the playing field. Consider " asset-based accommodations," that highlight what your student does best. "Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give students unfair advantage, or, in the case of assessments, change what a test measures. They do make it possible for students with LD/ADHD to show what they know without being impeded by their disability ( Thinking Differently, p. 145)."

3. Find your people.
Learning differences can be isolating because they aren't visible; having a group of like-minded thinkers provides support, suggestions so you can make informed decisions, and the relief of knowing you are not alone.

4. Ask for help.
While you can learn from mistakes, learning how to ask for help is better. Don't wait until you fail to ask for help.

5. Learn something new.
Have your child show what process she uses to learn something new. Notice the choices she makes and what catches her attention. This will help you and your child develop insight into her metacognition. You may learn history best by making flash cards, but your child may learn best by debating the ideas aloud.
 
6. Monitor progress.
Cultivate the ability to monitor progress and employ strategies to self-correct.

7. Don't lower expectations.
Learning differences don't limit your ability to think. Support students by listening and providing the tools that allow them to work smarter.
One of my favorite stories that David tells is how his parents supported his enthusiasm and talent as a magician. He developed persistence in doing something he loved and fueled his social skills by practicing his magic tricks until he could present shows on the weekends. His parents walked that fine line between providing support and letting him struggle through challenges so that he could learn about his strengths and use that growing self-awareness in areas that were more difficult. His parents didn't worry that becoming a magician was not a viable career path. Instead, they realized that he was building his self-confidence and self-awareness, which allowed him to persevere and share his gifts with all of us.
For more ideas from David Flink, read Thinking Differently, published by Harper Collins. For more information on Eye to Eye, David's national mentoring program, visit their website.
Penny
Penny Moldofsky, M.S.
Director of The Literacy Institute at Woodlynde School
moldofsky@woodlynde.org
610.293.6628
Upcoming Speaker Series Event
All Literacy Institute Speaker Series events are FREE and open to the public.

Raising Kids to Thrive

Presented by 
Dr. Kenneth Ginsburg
Thursday,
April 6 
7:00 p.m.
About The Literacy Institute
The Literacy Institute is one of only six Wilson® Accredited Partner Schools in the country. As such, it provides research-based instruction for Woodlynde students in the Wilson® Reading System as well as high quality professional development for the Woodlynde community and the greater Philadelphia area. Throughout the year, The Literacy Institute offers a free series of nationally-recognized speakers in the field of learning differences for area parents and professionals.
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