Kathleen Seeman, MRD: reading specialist at the University of Delaware’s College School in Newark, Delaware. She has spent her career working with non-readers in classroom settings and private practice. Kathleen was early to apply Positive Psychology in classrooms, spawning a local movement.
“Can we fix the functional illiteracy problem by first fixing the anxiety problem plaguing non-readers?
Changing our students‚ literacy story became our story‚ We were stunned by the results
“Goal- To empower and educate all educators about the benefits of dealing with anxiety, fears, and negative behaviors toward reading as a means to increase reading achievement of students of all ages.
This session is designed for all educators of any age group to leave the session with a practical, economical plan to decrease anxiety and increase reading achievement in their own learning environment, thus showing that ‚Reading Changes Lives‚ and is possible for all learners.”
“As more elementary through adults suffer with an ever widening reading gap the likelihood of those students becoming functionally illiterate increases. The question arose within our PK-12+ school; Could we prevent functional illiteracy by dealing with the self-defeating feelings of isolation, anxiety, and depression that the reading gap creates first, before actually dealing with the reading gaps? This became a recurring thought process within my literacy classes of K-12th grade. Each day, the feelings and emotions of being a non-reader, unteachable, or stupid become more and more a part of our students‚Äô and their parents‚Äô self made, personal stories. With each passing year, as my students‚Äô experienced less success and their reading gap widened, it became more apparent that their reading gap issues needed to be approached differently, and drastically differently at that. It became clearer that squelching the anxiety might be the place to start, as each student‚Äôs file was littered with diagnosis after diagnosis of anxiety, agitation, depression, and more. I began to wonder, were these diagnoses due to their reading issues?
It was worth a try and the results were staggering. Students consistently improved by more than one grade level in a short amount of time by creating daily routines to address those feelings and fears and implementing research based protocols from the fields of positive psychology and systematic, direct, multisensory reading and writing instruction.
This presentation has been created with the goal of recreating this success within any classroom.
Over a two year period a routine was put in place for calming the inner student first.
We applied the research from Shawn Achor, Harvard University, Angela Duckworth, University of Penn, Dr David Lewis-Hodgson, Mindlab International, and Martin Seligman‚Äôs University of Penn, The Three Pillars: Positive Psychology, plus direct, systematic, Orton Gillingham based program (Wilson Reading), plus integration of assistive technology vis Learning Ally and Google-Read and Write.
Presentation of four case studies:
Student 1- Current 7th grade student who read at first grade level and increased to 4-5th grade in less than two years. Diagnosis- Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, anxiety, severe depression, ADHD
Student 2- Current 6th grade student who was a pre reader and increased to 3rd grade reading level in two years. Diagnosis- Autism Spectrum, Dyslexia
Student 3- Current 3rd grade student who was a pre-reader and increased to grade ‚Öî decoding and grade 1 for comprehension in one year. Diagnosis-Developmental Delay, Speech Delay
Student 4- Current 3rd grader who was a non-reader and increased to grade 3 for decoding and comprehension in 13 months. Diagnosis- Depression, ADHD
Presentation of how to create an atmosphere where anxiety decreased and reading success increased. Step by step process of how to incorporate our success in your classroom utilizing the best in research based practices from reading and positive psychology.
Conclusion: Was success sustained?