Languages Department
Learning Differences Conference 2013


The descriptions of the Institutes taking place on May 8th and 9th, 2014.
(alphabetical by session name)
  • Empowering Creative and Confident Thinkers and Learners in Mathematics and Science: Lessons from Museum of Science Teacher Enrichment Programs


Join educators from the Museum of Science in Boston to learn about strategies that creatively engage grade K-8 learners in science and math practices. As an informal science institution, the Museum of Science is able to inspire teachers to deepen their content knowledge and refine their classroom practice. Museum exhibits and programs offer a wealth of accessibility features to meet the needs of all learners. The presenters are adept at differentiating instruction while using informal learning strategies, such as learner choice, social discourse, and intrinsic motivation. This approach provides unique and meaningful learning opportunities for teachers and their students.

The purpose of the museum’s teacher programming is to bridge formal and informal learning contexts in order to support the shared goal of making science, technology, engineering and mathematics learning more accessible and compelling to teachers and, through them, school age children. These programs foster a culture and environment that nurtures teachers as learners and professionals. Drawing on lessons from their teacher enrichment programs, Museum of Science educators will lead you through several learning experiences, support you as you engage in a self-directed investigation, and introduce you to a critical thinking strategy and a highly researched framework designed to help learners construct scientific explanations. They will help you determine how to translate your learning into your teaching practice.

Learning Objectives

Participants will gain knowledge about strategies that creatively engage grade K – 8 learners in science and math practices. They will learn how to structure learner-driven scientific investigations and engineering design challenges. Participants will be introduced to a critical thinking strategy as well as a highly researched framework designed to help learners constructing scientific explanations. Through facilitated discourse, participants will determine how to translate what they learn into their own teaching practice in ways that can empower all learners.


  • Transformative Approaches to Teaching Second Language Learners with Learning Differences: Reading for All and Across the Curriculum
by Gouleta, Eirini, Ph.D.


Today’s classrooms are more diverse than ever. Students come from diverse cultural, socioeconomic, and linguistic backgrounds with diverse abilities and intellectual capacities, diverse social, emotional, and developmental needs. Improving students’ reading and writing skills are critical for academic achievement in the content areas. K-12 teachers of all disciplines must be able to plan and implement effective instruction in order to help students meet the learning standards and succeed in school. They are expected to: diversify instruction, use best practices, pedagogies, instructional methodologies, and assessments which meet the academic needs of all students.

This two-day institute focuses on content area literacy for Culturally Linguistically Diverse and Exceptional (CLDE) students. The role of literacy is critical in determining academic achievement, college admissions, and eventually employment opportunities in the global context of the 21st century. This institute will guide participants in developing instructional competencies for CLDE students in reading and writing in the content areas. It will address content literacy skills and strategies for K-12 English Language Learners (ELLs) with and without exceptionalities and special issues in development and literacy assessment for CLDE learners.

At the end of the institute, participants will be able to: identify language and literacy skills critical for the success of CLDE students; plan and implement literacy activities across the curriculum for CLDE learners; analyze research concerning implications for teachers of CLDE students from diverse linguistic backgrounds; use scaffolding approaches to teach reading and writing strategies in math, science, social studies and language arts; and identify major pedagogical approaches to teaching reading and writing in the content areas while examining their applicability in their own unique international contexts and educational settings for primary and secondary students.


  • Transformative Approaches to Working with Learners with ADD / ADHD
by Zeigler Dendy, Chris, M.Sc., Tuckman, Ari, Psy.D., MBA


Approximately one in twenty children has ADHD which means that most classrooms have at least one student with ADHD. Students with ADHD often fail to live up to their academic potential and can be disruptive for their classmates. Fortunately, the teaching techniques that work best for students with ADHD are the techniques that work best for most students. Good teaching for students with ADHD is just good teaching so the entire class benefits. The main difference is that students with ADHD will struggle more than other students when less effective teaching strategies are employed.

We will begin by providing a detailed discussion of the many ways that ADHD affects learning, both in and out of the classroom, by explaining how the executive functions work—and why they are so crucial to academic success. We will discuss not only these information-processing weaknesses associated with ADHD, but also how this neurology drives psychology. The common and predictable difficulties that these students regularly encounter predispose them to developing certain negative mindsets about themselves, their teachers, school, and learning in general. This makes it even harder for them to fully apply themselves to academic demands. Although well-grounded in research and theory, the information presented in this first section will be very practical and useful and set the stage for the classroom interventions in the next section.

Roughly 90 percent of students will struggle academically at some point during their school career as a result of their ADHD and executive function deficits. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control estimates as many as 50 percent of these students also have serious learning disabilities. The most common academic challenges facing students with ADHD will be identified, as well as the deficits underlying these challenges; for example, written expression, complex multi-step math problems, memorization, reading comprehension, and completion of long-term projects. Specific intervention and teaching strategies to address these challenges will be discussed.

The academic challenges created by executive function deficits, such as difficulty writing essays, are more easily recognized by educators. However, the critically important academically related executive skill deficits such as getting started and finishing work, remembering and following directions, using self-talk to guide behavior, organizing information and material, being on time, and planning ahead are often mistaken for lack of effort or laziness. Intervention strategies for these specific challenges also will be presented.

Standard behavioral strategies don’t always work effectively for students with ADHD because these students don’t learn as easily from behavioral consequences as others. This may explain why they may repeat misbehavior. Behavioral interventions will work but require specific strategies to enhance the likelihood of their effectiveness. Common behavioral problems and effective intervention strategies will be reviewed plus tips given for enhancing their effectiveness. The impact of physical activity on improved academic performance will also be discussed. Dendy, a veteran school psychologist and classroom teacher, will also discuss the “trouble-shooting” strategies she uses when consulting with classroom teachers regarding students struggling with ADHD and executive function deficits.

Learning Objectives

  1. Participants will gain a better understanding of the many ways that ADHD affects learning, both in the classroom and outside it
  2. Participants will learn a model for understanding ADHD-based information processing weaknesses based on the executive functions
  3. Participants will understand how the various treatment options for ADHD will affect performance in the classroom and on homework so that they can collaborate with parents most effectively
  4. Participants will understand the negative mindsets that students with ADHD often develop about themselves and learning
  5. Describe two critical ways that ADHD and executive function deficits impact a student’s academic performance or behavior
  6. Identify two academically related skills that are linked to executive function deficits and suggest an intervention
  7. Identify two favorite teaching strategies that are effective for students with ADHD and executive function deficits
  8. Identify two strategies for facilitating timely completion of long-term projects
  9. Describe how negative emotions impact learning


  • Unleashing Creativity and Deep Thinking through Cross-disciplinary Learning and Teaching


Liberal Arts institutions prize holistic, integrative, interdisciplinary, and inquiry-based learning to foster deep critical thinking. Through a coherent curriculum, the goal is that students become collaborative, critical, collaborative, motivated, and creative problem posers and problem solvers. Yet traditional disciplinary silos make it very difficult to put this lofty goal into actual practice. Workshop participants will develop ideas for various ways to make the overall educational experience more intellectually integrated.

As a starting point, participants examine Southwestern University’s innovative “Paideia” Program as a model for achieving a genuine realization of multi-faced learning within an intellectual structure tangentially coordinated, involving experiential as well as classical settings. “Paideia,” in which students are architects of their own learning, requires that they connect, in close collaboration with faculty, their varied educational experiences - including laboratory and studio work - through theme-based topics (one of which is the Mediterranean World), service-learning opportunities, study abroad, and integrative seminars. Each participant contributes a unique combination of disciplinary and creative experiences to the whole.

Active student engagement in a variety of experiences achieves better coherence in liberal arts curricula and better outcomes as well as graduation rates. Workshop participants model such engagement, plan, and draft proposals using the Paideia program as a springboard.

Learning Objectives

While the Liberal Arts mission is to enable learners to develop deep critical thinking skills through holistic, interdisciplinary inquiry, putting this into actual practice remains a challenge. The workshop participants investigate how best to incorporate such broad inquiry into the curriculum, critiquing Southwestern University’s new “Paideia” program as a starting point. The objective is an understanding of how to break down the silos of various disciplines in order to provide a more intellectually coherent academic experience.