Registrations close shortly for this month’s LDA seminars by David Kilpatrick. I’m not sure exactly when they close for Perth and Cairns, but Melbourne’s close on 8th August. Adelaide & Sydney are already sold out. The seminar on the 19th at Melbourne Town Hall will include 17 supplier displays (details below) to browse from 8.15-9.00am and during the breaks.
Dr Kilpatrick is the author of the excellent Essentials of Assessing, Preventing and Overcoming Reading Difficulties and Equipped for Reading Success, and you might have also seen him talk online (e.g. here, here, here, here and here).
I recently assessed a teenager with the kind of reading and spelling difficulties I hope these seminars will soon help stamp out. He’s a classic Compensator. Intelligent, hard-working, with good oral language skills, but very poor phonemic awareness and proficiency (<1st percentile on the CTOPP-2 Elision subtest) and thus weak word-level reading and spelling.
He finds it hard to sound out unfamiliar words, tending to look at the start and end of words and guess the middles. If you give him a wordlist including similar-looking words like “complete” and “compete”, he probably won’t notice they’re different.
His teachers aren’t aware of the extent of his reading difficulties because they don’t test word-level reading or phonemic awareness, and when this student reads connected text he gets most of the words right, by compensating for his poor decoding with his good oral language. They notice his poor spelling, and try to help him with it, but it’s not really their area of expertise.
This student had a year of well-targeted, evidence-based reading intervention (MultiLit) in primary school, and thanks to this and sheer hard work, he can now instantly recognise most common words (i.e. has a sizeable sight vocabulary). However, he isn’t reading very efficiently, as his phonological system is too weak to support to his semantic/lexical system. This shows up on the TOWRE-2 real words subtest in a score that’s well below average (10th %ile).
He has even more difficulty reading unfamiliar words. The TOWRE-2 pseudowords subtest made this painfully obvious, giving a score below the 1st percentile. His spelling is also well below average, and he avoids using his good oral vocabulary in written work, because he can’t spell many of the words.
This student can read and write well enough to get by, and his teachers aren’t too concerned, but he’s not thriving, and finds reading kind of a drag. He does not read for pleasure. Getting the words off the page takes up far too much of his cognitive horsepower, leaving not enough left over to understand and enjoy the content.
When I see kids like this, I want to cry and smash things. What a terrible waste of talent. As Dr Kilpatrick says, these are some of our best and brightest kids, but far too many of them cannot thrive at school because of phonemic awareness and phonics gaps in their literacy-teaching. Their reading and spelling problems are highly preventable.
If you teach literacy and can’t yet confidently prevent or remediate such problems, now is a good time to register for Dr Kilpatrick’s seminar in Perth on 12 August (sorry if this post gets to you too late), Melbourne on 19 August or Cairns on 22 August. Congratulations if you’re registered in Adelaide or Sydney.
Clockwise from top left are six of the suppliers who’ll have displays at the Melbourne seminar: Lioncrest, Macmillan, Oxford, MultiLit, Little Learners Love Literacy, Decodable Readers Australia.
Supplier displays in Melbourne
Since Melbourne has no one-stop-shop for great assessment and intervention resources targeting phonemic awareness and phonics, I’m trying to create a popup version with the supplier/organisational displays at the Melbourne David Kilpatrick seminar.
In alphabetical order, and with special thanks to those making the trip from interstate, displays will be from:
- Code Read Dyslexia Network
- Decodable Readers Australia (from Qld)
- Learning Difficulties Australia (obviously)
- Learning Pathways
- Lioncrest Education
- Little Learners Love Literacy
- MacMillan/Snappy Sounds
- Multilit (from NSW)
- Pro-Ed (from Qld)
- Psychological Assessments Australia
- Rip Rap Books (from Tasmania)
- Silvereye (from NSW)
- Sounds-Write (trainer James Lyra from the ACT)
- Spalding Education Australia
- SPELD Victoria
- Spelfabet (yup, that’s us)
If you’re interested in specific resources available from one or more of these suppliers and are coming to this seminar, please let them know ahead of time, so they can be sure to bring what you want to see. Most can’t bring their entire catalogue. If you’re hoping to take the item(s) home at the end of the day, saving yourself shipping costs and them packing up, please bring a credit card or exact cash, in case they don’t have the right change.
I’m planning to bring a copy of the Australian Kid Lips/Tools4Reading resources, since they’re not able to make the trip from Adelaide, in case you’d like to see them.
Ros Neilson isn’t planning a stall but will be at the seminar if you have a burning question about the FELA you’d like to discuss. Please send the question to her ahead of time so she isn’t taken unawares and you can work out a way to find each other.
If you would like to bring your copy of Reading for Life, or one of Lyn Stone’s other books for her to sign, she’s also coming and if she doesn’t have one, I’ll lend her a pen. Again, please give her fair warning you’ll be looking for her.
I’ve watched Dr Kilpatrick’s videos and read his books, would I learn anything new?
We all have limited time and funds for professional learning, so I’ve been wondering whether I’ll learn anything new at this seminar. I’ve read Dr Kilpatrick’s books and watched him in several videos. I know professional development is best done as an ongoing process, not a single event.
I’ve concluded that for myself, this seminar IS part of an ongoing learning process. It started when I first stumbled over one of his videos and had an Aha Moment, and has been going on since then. This is a complex area, and each time I go over it I learn a little more, and understand a little better. Talking to knowledgeable colleagues about it also builds my understanding.
I’m really looking forward to being able to see his slides properly and take a copy home (including the ones he skips in the videos), talk to many of the 400+ like-minded colleagues who’ll also be grappling with the implications of the research he has combed through and summarises so well, and help get more resources aligned with this research into the hands of people who’ll use them well. So if you’re in Victoria, I hope to see you there.