12 reasons you should come to Prof Maryanne Wolf’s seminar

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Professor Maryanne Wolf, an international expert on the reading brain and dyslexia, will give a seminar at Collingwood Town Hall on 9th September 2016.

Maryanne WolfProf Wolf is from the Centre for Reading and Language Research at Tufts University in the US. Her seminar will be called, “Lessons from the Reading Brain for Reading Development, Dyslexia and Instruction in a Digital Age”.

I’m helping organise the session with my LDA hat on, so I’ve read her book “Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain”, and am really looking forward to using my new copy of her test of Rapid Automatised Naming, the RAN/RAS.

Now I want all the professionals and keen-on-science parents who read this blog to come and hear her speak (she’ll also speak in Brisbane on 2 Sept and Sydney on 9th Sept). It’s going to be great.

You should come if you’re interested in how the brain learns to read, by hijacking brain areas which evolved to do other things, and creating new circuits. When we learn to read, we change our brains in profound ways. This happens differently in different languages with different writing systems. Being literate then changes the way we listen and speak and think, and what we can learn and feel.

You should come to this seminar if you want to think clearly about the science of helping novices become expert readers, and how the layers of phonology, orthography, morphology, semantics and syntax work together. Teachers have often been taught things that are just plain wrong (e.g. that children use context cues to decode words), but this seminar will look at what the latest science tells us about what is really going on in learners’ brains, and how they best learn.

You should come if you want to build your understanding of the different ways learning to read can go wrong, and what we can and must do to prevent and resolve problems.

You should come if you’re interested in where literacy might be heading in the digital age.

You should come because those who know Prof Wolf say she is a very engaging speaker, from whom we will learn a lot.

You should come to hear the other speakers, Professor Pamela Snow of La Trobe University, Hannah Stark of the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, who will present their interesting research on teachers’ knowledge and confidence in language and reading instruction. I’ll then wrap up the day briefly, with ideas about how to fill identified gaps in teacher knowledge and confidence.

You should come if you need more special needs PD points for your Victorian Institute of Teaching registration, due on 30 September. The state government has required that ALL teachers boost their skills at teaching students with special needs, so this is not just a seminar for specialists.

You should come if you’re a speech pathologist, psychologist or other allied health worker whose training didn’t prepare you for the number or complexity of children with learning difficulties on your caseload.

You should come to browse the trade display, including Prof Wolf’s own literacy program Rave-O, as well as many other evidence-based resources you can usually only see on the internet.

There will be display tables by Auspeld (who have excellent parent and teacher books called Understanding Learning Difficulties), Cumquatmay, Lindamood-Bell, Firefly Education (Sound Waves), Little Learners Love Literacy (including a lovely new workbook), McGraw-Hill, Silvereye, Spalding, plus I’ll bring along some of my favourite clinic resources for display, including Phonic Books for catch-up learners, Flyleaf books, and some card games (my own and TRUGS) for sale.

You should come to enjoy the delicious catering by the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Catering service, and tea and coffee by the Friends of Baucau, fundraising as usual for Timor Leste.

You should come because the recently-magnificently-renovated Collingwood Town Hall is a simply splendid place to mingle with colleagues, build your networks, lift your eyes from the daily grind and think outside the square.

You should definitely come, and encourage others to join you. Download a flyer here, email it round, leave one on the staffroom table. Hope to see you there.

P.S. Registrations absolutely and finally close on the 6th of September, and the session is filling fast.

P.S.2 You should come to the seminar by public transport, as car parking is scarce in the area. Collingwood railway station is right behind the venue, and Hoddle St buses run right past the front door. It is a short walk from Johnston St buses and Victoria St trams.