INDIANAPOLIS — Going to school during a pandemic is already challenging enough but for some young learners’ school comes with an extra challenge of a learning disability. That's why hundreds of teachers spent summertime in training, to help those students as soon as the school year starts.
Those teachers went through a four-day intense program, to learn the Orton-Gillingham Reading Approach.
It’s designed to help students overcome learning difficulties, like dyslexia. Forty Kindergarten through 12th-grade teachers learned new tactics through writing notes, using flashcards, and working with each other.
Orton-Gillingham's method uses sight, sound, and kinesthetic movement to help students read write and spell. This method breaks language down into a structured learning process.
"I love it. This is the most prepared. I have felt ever going into a school year,” said 4th-grade teacher, Trenee Lambert.
For teachers like Lambert, this is their first time going through the program and she said what she learned here today, will benefit many people beyond her classroom.
Lambert said, "I am the only educator in my family, but so many of my friends and family members like to come to me and ask for advice."
These educators share essential knowledge with the community.
Interventionists like Beth Berry said Orton- Gillingham training is especially important, to help students recover from pandemic-related learning loss.
"This year I'm going to be a reading interventionist,” said Berry. "There's a direct correlation to, you know, struggling and reading and then being able to be successful in life."
Setting students up for success is the goal.
Marian University's, Dr. Lindan Hill said the Orton-Gillingham's Method is nothing new.
"It goes back almost 100 years,” said Hill.
He said, there’s also proof behind its efficacy, "Improvements in reading were remarkable. We had double-digit gains in kindergarten and first grade."
Thanks to money Marian University received from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief Grant, these teachers are attending the training for free.
Hill said it's crucial to train teachers now because it will take years for students to catch up from the pandemic. "We have to be in it for the long term. That's what we do. And you know, teaching and learning is what we do,” said Hill.
So, the teachers who participated in-person attended the training at Warren Township School's 'Walker Career Center'. A total of 1,000 teachers across Indiana, participated in the month of July, with hundreds of others joining virtually across the state.
From behind the scenes, 'Walker Career Center' students stream the lessons and they gain video production skills at the same time.
The Walker Career Center Video Instructor, Dennis Jarrett said, "It is a win, win for everyone."
He said, "The name of our organization is the 'Next Generation Initiative'. So, how great is it for us to be a part of something that's really impacting the next generation of, you know of learners."
This is a program that’s truly reaching educators near and far so they can make a difference for students overcome learning disabilities.
"One of my teammates is online and we are constantly thinking about what is our school year going to look like? What are we going to do the first week, so we are geek-ed to get started, so much Yes,” said Lambert. She said, "I know they're wanting to do an Orton in 2.0. I hope they do a 2.50. I am hoping that everyone gets this training, just so that we can help our country, we can help our schools we can help our communities, it's needed."
To go in-depth even more, over the years more schools are requiring students to get screened for dyslexia. Some schools now start testing students as early as 2nd grade.
Here are some signs your child may be dyslexic, according to the International Dyslexia Association.
- In Preschool: It may look like speech delay, difficulty rhyming; mispronouncing words; trouble following multi-step directions; and a hard time learning letters, colors, and days of the week.
- In Elementary school: It’s trouble learning letters and the sound they make; avoiding reading; confusing similar letters; and trouble hearing individual sounds in words.
- In High school: It looks like poor grades, limited vocabulary, terrible spelling; writing doesn’t reflect oral skills; and a struggle to find the correct words.
Again, these are just some of the signs, click here for more resources.