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Each week, LD OnLine gathers interesting news headlines about learning disabilities and ADHD issues. Please note that LD OnLine does not necessarily endorse these views or any others on these outside websites.

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Using Digital Text to Support Diverse Learners

WestEd

"The flexibility of digital text makes it a great option for customizing text to the needs of different learners. Digital text can be searched, rearranged, and read aloud by a computer. And because it is so flexible, it is often a perfect option for students with disabilities. The National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) are working to create a standardized format that will allow alternate versions of text designed to meet the needs of students with visual, physical, hearing, learning and cognitive disabilities. While it is being developed, there are still many books and historical documents which have been converted to digital format, for access via a computer."

More Than 50 Years of Testing Kids' Creativity

NPR

"Why bother measuring creativity? James Catterall, a psychologist and director of the Centers for Research on Creativity in Los Angeles, says the simple answer is that if society, business and education demands it, then we need to know when it's happening; otherwise, we're just guessing when it's there."

The 55 Best Free Education Apps For iPad

TeachThought

TeachThought writes:

"Finding apps isn’t difficult. Finding education apps is only a bit more challenging. Finding free education apps is also possible. Finding free education apps worth downloading is a different story entirely."

"The following is our list for the 55 best apps for learning we can find. Some are formal learning–math drilling and phonics, for example–while others are RSS readers, social media platforms, and the like. These are purposely not all purely academic, “training” apps that focus on individual skills, but rather the an array of apps students could use daily to improve their ability to think, connect, and use information."

Diagnosing the Wrong Deficit

The New York Times

"Many theories are thrown around to explain the rise in the diagnosis and treatment of A.D.H.D. in children and adults. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11 percent of school-age children have now received a diagnosis of the condition. I don’t doubt that many people do, in fact, have A.D.H.D.; I regularly diagnose and treat it in adults. But what if a substantial proportion of cases are really sleep disorders in disguise?"

"For some people — especially children — sleep deprivation does not necessarily cause lethargy; instead they become hyperactive and unfocused. Researchers and reporters are increasingly seeing connections between dysfunctional sleep and what looks like A.D.H.D., but those links are taking a long time to be understood by parents and doctors."

Poetry and Technology

Edutopia

Educator Mary Beth Hertz writes, "there are a number of technology tools that allow for creating and sharing student work. I have made sure to choose some that are free and do not require a tablet or mobile device to download an app, though many of these tools do have apps."

Genetic and Environmental Influences on Language

Springer Link

In a recent study published in the Annals of Dyslexia, findings revealed that:

"Genetic influences on writing were significantly correlated with genetic influences on all of the language and reading skills, but significant independent genetic influences were also found for copy and samples, whose genetic correlations were significantly less than 1.0 with the reading and language skills. The genetic correlations varied significantly in strength depending on the overlap between the writing, language, and reading task demands. We discuss implications of our results for education, limitations of the study, and new directions for research on writing and its relations to language and reading.

Common Core Test Accomodations

Education Week

"The Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for Colleges and Careers, which had released pieces of its proposed accommodations policy for students with disabilities, has now put out a full draft of its accommodations manual for public comment. (The organization also has an explanatory Powerpoint presentation and a list of frequently asked questions linked to the release.)"

Learning to Write with LD

Springer Link

"By the upper elementary grades, writing becomes an essential tool both for learning and for showing what you know. Students who struggle significantly with writing are at a terrible disadvantage.

Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress indicate that only 25% of students can be classified as competent writers; students with learning disabilities (LD) have even greater problems with writing than their normally achieving peers and frequently demonstrate a deteriorating attitude toward writing after the primary grades. In this article, we focus on composing and the writing process, and examine the knowledge base about writing development and instruction among students with LD."

How to Use Mobile Devices for Learning

Edutopia

"Getting kids engaged with learning, focused on working smarter, and ready for the future. This guide can help you better understand how mobile gadgets -- cell phones, tablets, and smartphones -- can engage students and change their learning environment."

Poetry Tips for Students with LD

Teachers & Writers Collaborative

Nicole Callihan describes a poetry lesson she came up with for students with LD:

"Teaching very young students often sends me grappling for something new. It was, I believe, on a very long train ride to teach learning-disabled kids in the Bronx or Jamaica, Queens, or students participating in an after-school program in Jackson Heights, Queens, called “Project Read” that I concocted a new game I call “OK, Tell me Something I Don’t Know.” Much to my delight all populations responded well. The following lesson incorporates this game. It works best with students through the 6th grade, although modifications can be made for older students."

Poet and Pulitzer Prize Winner with Dyslexia

The New York Times

"Philip Schultz is a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and the author of the forthcoming memoir My Dyslexia."

In a New York Times opinion article, Schultz wrote: "We know now that dyslexia is about so much more than just mixing up letters — that many dyslexics have difficulty with rhythm and meter and word retrieval, that they struggle to recognize voices and sounds. It’s my profound hope that our schools can use findings like these to better teach children who struggle to read, to help them overcome their limitations, and to help them understand that it’s not their fault."

How the iPad Transforms Learning

Edutopia

"The micro-computer revolution of the 80's radically improved how teachers and schools carry on the business of learning. We now have iPads in classrooms that will not only improve it, but it has the potential to change the business of learning in schools. The question is, "Are teachers ready to adjust their teaching for this new learning revolution?'"

Branson Urges Curriculum Changes

BBC

Sir Richard Branson, one of the UK's richest men, went into business in his teens. "It's important people do learn the difference between gross and net, and how Tesco, Virgin or Apple works," he told BBC News School Report. "Some of the things people study at school are not particularly relevant for when they actually leave school."

Branson's success with the Virgin Group has made him one of the wealthiest men in the world, and he suggested the ability to learn the key skills of business was something that students could pick up by being given the opportunity to try their hand. On how dyslexia shaped his career, Branson said, "I just don't think people who are dyslexic need worry because they are often really good at other things," he added. "They'll realise they've got a problem in some areas but they'll be really good at other things."

Anxiety Attack: Conquering a Fear of Math

WNYC

Math anxiety refers to feelings of tension and fear that interfere with solving mathematical problems in everyday life and school settings. Math anxiety involves physiological arousal (e.g., sweaty palms, racing heart), negative thoughts (e.g., “I am just not a math person.”), escape and/or avoidance behaviors (e.g., developing pains to get out of math class), and, when the individual cannot escape the situation, poor performance.

The negative impacts of math anxiety are enormous. Math-anxious students do not see the value of math for everyday life, they participate — and learn — less in math classes, receive lower grades in math, and take fewer math classes in high school and college.

Research in Reading Development, Disorders, and Instruction

NCLD

Learning to read is critical to a child's (and an adult's) well-being. The child and adult who cannot read at a comfortable level experience significant difficulties mastering many types of academic content, are at substantial risk for failure in school, and are frequently unable to reach their potential in the vocational and occupational arena. Unfortunately, the rate of reading failure and illiteracy are unacceptably high in the United States. Over 40 percent of fourth grade students performed below basic levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in both 1994 and 1998.

Team Teaching Helps Students with LD

WNYC

A school program in New York is committed to helping all students, including those with learning disabilities, achieve their full potential.

To "make this as effective as possible, [they] used a team-teaching approach for the students with disabilities. The team teaching, the longer school day, adult to student ratio in year one, and a six-week summer program focused on geometry have contributed to 68 percent of students with disabilities having scored a 65 or higher on a math regents and 12 percent of students scoring an 80 or higher on a math regents."

Learning Disabilities Movement Turns 50!

Washington Post

Fifty years ago, on April 6, 1963, a group of concerned parents convened a conference in Chicago to discuss a shared frustration: they all had children who were struggling in school, the cause of which was generally believed to be laziness, lack of intelligence, or just bad parenting. This group of parents knew better. They understood that their children were bright and just as eager to learn as any other child, but that they needed help and alternative teaching approaches to succeed in school.

How to Improve Writing with Technology

LearningWorks for Kids

While texting is obviously not the same as writing a book report, it still involves formulating sentences and communicating in written form. For children who cringe when given a writing assignment, providing opportunities such as texting, scribing, or using speech recognition software helps them recognize that they have something to say… and to write it! For parents who think that texting is not a form of writing, we suggest that you read the studies on texting and writing by Jeff Grabill at the MSU and Beverly Pliester at Coventry University and begin thinking about how you can help your texter develop writing skills.

What Is It like to Have an Auditory Processing Disorder?

NCAPD

It is often difficult to understand what it may be like for people with auditory processing disorders (APD) to deal with information they receive through their auditory systems. One way to have a better understanding is to simulate what it is like to have a problem processing verbal information. This resource simulates some of the behaviors often seen in children and adults who have various types of APD so you can get a better sense of the disorder's impact.

ACT Testing Resources for Teens with LD

The ACT

Know a college-bound high school student with LD? Here's what you need to know about testing.

ACT is committed to serving students with disabilities by providing reasonable accommodations appropriate to the student's diagnosis. ACT has established policies regarding documentation of an applicant's disability and the process for requesting accommodations. For details, see ACT Policy for Documentation to Support Requests for Test Accommodations on the ACT.

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