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Cerebrodiversity is 2014 Summer Institute Theme

Keynote speaker Thomas G. West

Cerebrodiversity: Working from Strengths is the title of the 2014 Landmark College Summer Institute for educators, professionals, and parents, to be held on June 24 to 27 in beautiful Putney, Vermont. Hosted by the Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT), the research and professional development arm of the College, the Summer Institute provides critical perspectives and hands-on workshops on pedagogy, learning strategies, and technologies to improve education for students who learn differently. The Summer Institute explores, engages, and enlightens both new and veteran audiences in current and emerging understandings of how students learn and educators teach.

Participants will hear expert speakers, engage in intensive hands-on workshops, and have opportunities to network with colleagues in the field. New in 2014, a Pre-Institute Workshop is scheduled the day before the traditional program.

“Cerebrovidersity," a term coined by Dr. Gordon Sherman, a neuroscientist and a global leader in dyslexia research, recognizes the complex, rich neurological underpinnings of human behavior. As neuroscience forges ahead, it is clear that from an early age, brain differences lead to diverse cognitive, emotional, behavioral profiles that emerge across the lifespan. Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) Dr. Thomas Insel states that identifying brain changes is the most promising avenue for groundbreaking interventions in the treatment of DSM-5 conditions.

While it is crucial to understand what gets in the way of human flourishing, the notion of brain diversity is also a starting point to explore human strength. With the title "Cerebrodiversity," the 2014 Summer Institute will highlight brain-based strengths of LD minds and offer practical approaches for working effectively with all kinds of learners.

Pre-Institute Workshop: "Online Learning for All: Designing and Delivering Online Content for Students who Learn Differently"

Tuesday, June 24

Featuring a Pre-Institute Keynote: "Universal Design for Learning in Online Environments" by Dr. Sam Johnston

Dr. Johnston will discuss “the challenges in designing and delivering distance learning that is engaging and effective for all learners, including those with LD (such as dyslexia), ADHD, and ASD.” Johnston has an Ed.D. from Harvard Graduate School of Education and serves as a research scientist at CAST in Boston, Massachusetts. She specializes in developing blended learning programs for community and professional groups. CAST is a nonprofit research organization that develops universal design for learning (UDL) approaches.

2014 Summer Institute Speakers

"Cerebrodiversity: Working from Strengths"

Keynote Address by Thomas G. West

Tuesday June 24 at 7:30 p.m. in the Brooks M. O’Brien Auditorium

Free and open to the public

Thomas G. West will speak about the unmatched creative, problem-solving gifts that can accompany dyslexia. Dyslexia is a brain-based condition that impacts the development of fluent reading. The neurological features that underpin dyslexia may also enable talents that are prized in the workplace, such as visualizing and innovating. West is the author of In the Mind’s Eye and Thinking Like Einstein. Both books herald the increased need for visual thinking skills in the age of computer graphics, and they describe the visual thinking strengths of creative geniuses including Einstein, Tesla, Churchill, and daVinci—all of whom had minds that learn differently. The public is invited to attend this free event. Registration is not required for those who will attend only the keynote.

"From Genes to Reading: What’s New on the Horizon and Will it Help Dyslexics"

Special Guest Speaker Dr. Albert Galaburda

Friday, June 27

Dr. Albert Galaburda will present current findings on dyslexia from research in genetics, neurology, and behavior. His talk will touch on the possibility for “novel tools for better prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.” Galaburda, MD, is the chief of behavioral neurology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. He is a frequent guest lecturer at Boston area universities and the author of over 100 scientific publications, many of which focus on the genetics and neurology of dyslexia.  

Summer Institute Strands

The Summer Institute offers three thematic strands so that participants may delve into an area of interest. Designed to further explore topics raised by speakers, the 2014 strands are cerebrodiversity, executive function coaching, and using technology to support learners.  

Strand I. Cerebrodiversity and Learning

This 3-morning strand is designed to provide participants with an understanding of the neuroscience involved in the learning process. Insights into how to brain works and how students process information can offer educators a new lens and a scientific basis for best practices in teaching.

Strand II. Executive Function Coaching

Executive function (EF) refers to the cognitive processes that allow us to organize, prioritize tasks, make decisions, and take action. Participants in this interactive 3-morning strand will deepen their understanding of EF and its impact on student success and will practice using a model of executive function coaching that provides a practical approach for students who struggle with EF.

Strand III. Ubiquitous Technology: Using Tablet-Based Apps to Support Students Who Learn Differently

Apps are ubiquitous, prolific, can be installed in seconds and accessed anyplace anytime. Several technologies that were once thought of as assistive technologies (such as speech-to-text and text-to-speech) have now moved into the mainstream. However, access to technology alone is not enough to ensure learning; students need to employ apps strategically to take advantage of what these technologies have to offer. This 3-morning strand will present principles and practices for tablet-based classrooms in a universal design framework, and offer guidance on selecting and managing apps that support active learning.

For more than 20 years, the Landmark College Summer Institute has been an annual opportunity for participants to reboot their learning and to refresh their enthusiasm to support students who learn differently. Among those who attend are secondary school teachers, special educators, postsecondary disability service providers, school principals, college administrators, tutors, advisors, college and university professors, and parents.

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