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Last update: 2011-03-18

It’s A Miracle- We’re Back!!!

2011-03-18 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

After a long hiatus, I’m bringing the LD Podcast back!

I’ve gotten a bunch of great and supportive emails from folks, letting me know they miss the show. And now that my book is finished, it’s time to dust off the microphones and hit Reboot!

While I can definitely say some tech problems helped delay our comeback, including an upgrade to Windows 7 and incompatible drivers essentially meaning I had to transfer all my files and gear over to my Mac, we’re back in the saddle again!

During the time off, the boys are further along in school, and I was asked by Jossey Bass to write a book. Together with Jenifer Fox, we’ve written The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists, a book that helps teachers figure out ho to help differentiate instruction and personalize learning for all kids in the classroom. In addition to the book, we’ve put together a website on differentiation over at www.differentiatedinstruction.co, and we’d love to have you check it out!

This show willgive you the update on what’s been happening, and we’ll have my interview with Anne Ford and her great new book, A Special Mother, next week!

Thanks again for all your support and sorry for the extended holiday. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never overlook your community.

Feel free to also connect with me on social networks- @ldpodcast on Twitter, and Whitney Hoffman on Facebook!

Click here to download the show, or find us over at iTunes!…


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Dale Brown, Part III

2009-07-21 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Apparently, there was some problem with the order of the shows and the feed, so I am reposting this episode, Dale Brown, Part III. Sorry for the shows being out of order. I blame the summer.

Click here to listen to Dale Brown, Part III…


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Dr. Richard Selznick- the Shut Down Learner

2009-07-12 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

The next few shows will feature an interview I did with Richard Selznick PhD. Dr. Selznick is a psychologist and head of the Cooper University Learning Center in New Jersey, and has written a great new book entitled "The Shut-Down Learner". The Shut-Down Learner deals with the middle-school/early highschool aged kids who begin to turn off from school. They start to feel beaten down by the system, and are no longer fully engaged by school. As a result, these kids can easily become behavior problems or potential drop-outs, as they cease to find school worth their time and effort.

In the first part of our interview, we discuss how parents first come to see someone like Dr. Selznick. We discuss how much Moms tend to be the person who first thinks help is needed, and the Wheel of Professionals who each see the child through their own lens and perspective, but only the people at the hub of the wheel can see the whole child. We also discuss what a shut-down learner looks like, and that it's often an accumulation of many years of tension, anxiety and failures that tend to catch up with a child as they progress through school. Dr. Selznick sees lots of families in distress because of the constant battles about homework and school issues, with the underlying tension being caused by a child's learning disability and misunderstanding the cause of the problems.

Click here to listen to Dr Richard Selznick- the Shut Down Learner, Part I…


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Dale Brown- growing up LD Part II

2009-07-12 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Dale Brown is the former director of LD Online, and helped found the self-help movement for people with learning disabilities.

In this show, we talk about how important it is for people to be able to tell others about their learning issues, both to seek help, and to help other people understand where they struggle, so people don't make false assumptions about what people may be doing to compensate for their own processing issues. We talk about trying to help people find ways to help themselves, and how to use these successes to help others.

We also talk about contextual learning, and how hard it is to judge how hard other people are working- and how hard these criticisms can be for kids.

Next time, we'll finish up with our interview with Dale, talking about LD Online, changes in the LD community, and how we need to start supporting the resources we can take for granted, because without support, they will start to disappear.

Click here to listen to Part II, Dale Brown…


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Dale Brown- Self Help for Learning Disabilities

2009-06-12 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

When Dale Brown was young, she struggled in school. This was long before the term learning disabilities became common. She did what she could to get along, but she often found the way her mind worked and the way she perceived things got in the way.

In this three part series, Dale will tell us what it was like for her, to grow up with learning disabilities long before they were as widely recognized and understood; Starting the self help movement for people with learning disabilities, and working as the director for LD Online, the largest LD website online.

Click here to listen to Part 1, Dale Brown- Growing up LD…


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Kevin Carroll- Rules of the Red Rubber Ball Part 2- Fail Better

2009-05-23 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In the second part of our conversation with Kevin Carroll, we talk about the concept of "fail better". Part of the important aspect of play is that it lets you experiment and riff in a safe environment, where failing and retrying, tinkering, and treating things as your lab is well tolerated. In contrast, work environments tend to be much more high risk, and making mistakes are something full of shame- it's what makes people try to cover up errors, rather than own them, understand them, and do something different next time.

Great companies that focus on design and innovation like IDEO (known for the ipod, swiffer, and other great products) they start with Understanding the problem or situation at hand, followed by detailed Observation, Brainstorming and prototyping solutions. We have to remember this same process can work for organizing our kitchens; talking to our kids about getting a homework center that works with them rather than against them, or any other problem at hand. Innovation comes from creativity and being willing to take risks and as Kevin states, being willing to Fail Better than ever before.

Click here to listen or download Show 110- Kevin Carroll, Katalyst- Fail Better…


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Show # 109 Kevin Carroll- Katalyst- The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

2009-05-23 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Welcome Back!

We took a bit of a haitus, in part due to construction going on at my house (recording would have sounded like I was living in traffic) and a brief trip overseas I took with my husband.

The good news is that I am back, rested, and have a ton of wonderful interviews to bring you in relatively rapid succession!

First up is our two part interview with Kevin Carroll. Kevin has written a new book, The Red Rubber Ball at Work, where he looks at what Dr. Stuart Brown would call play histories of successful adults. Surprisingly, much of what kids enjoyed and made them happy as kids finds its way into their work. And apparently, LEGO has some sort of magic, but listen to hear more!

In the first half of the interview, Kevin and I talk of his growing up outside of Philadelphia, and how a red rubber playground ball saved his life. Kevin's had a remarkable life so far, and serves as a real inspiration. His book, The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball is one of my favorite gift books- the books I pass on to people I care about, and people who need it's message of finding your own red rubber ball- that special thing, and then how to use it to build success in your life.

While our previous show was all about the importance of play, this show is about connecting the dots- and brings home the idea on many levels that our childhood and how we learn to create, what makes us excited, helps shape who we are and informs what we do as adults.

At the end of today's show, we also have two minutes of out-takes, talking about the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, a place I often take my kids when we're visiting my mom. The Strong Museum/National Museum of Play also publishes an academic journal about the importance of play, that educators really should take a look at, if they have not already.

Click here to listen to Show #109, Kevin Carroll, Rules of the Red Rubber Ball…


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Show #108 Dr. Stuart Brown Part II- Success, Practice, and Grandparents

2009-03-23 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In today's show, I talk a little bit about the importance of working memory, and then we hear the second part of the interview with Dr. Stuart Brown, as we finish our discussion about the importance of play and imagination in developing critical thinking and social skills.

I've also recently reworked my Guide for getting Good Grades into a PDF, available here for download.

The picture to the right is from our recent trip to the newly renovated Smithsonian Museum of American History, where they have a fantastic exhibit on science, invention and play. We have to remember that so much of an adult's later success can depend on what interests they developed in childhood. Our children, even if they struggle in some aspect of school, have many talents and areas where they are special. We need to find these, but moreover, give our children the opportunity to find these things on their own- to try, to experiment, to fail and to try again on their own.

That's what we can all learn from play, aside from the true joy it brings to our lives.

Click here to listen to Show #108- Dr. Stuart Brown- The Importance of Play…


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Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- National Institute for Play

2009-03-06 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Dr. Stuart Brown is a physician and psychiatrist who has been studying the importance of play for many years, and is the founder of The National Institute for Play. He's written a wonderful new book, entitled "Play: How it Shapes The Brain, opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul" which should be on every parent and teacher's book shelf.
Over the course of his clinical career, he interviewed thousands of people to capture their play profiles. His cataloging of their profiles demonstrated the active presence of play in the accomplishments of the very successful and also identified negative consequences that inevitably accumulate in a play-deprived life.

The National Institute for Play includes a catalog of information and research on play in humans and animals; play profiles, and more. You can find out more by going to the website by clicking here. Dr. Brown and his work has been featured in articles in the New York Times (The 3 R's, a Fourth is Crucial too- Recess) and numerous other publications. Dr. Brown founded the Institute back in 1989, and was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and lacked quantitative confirmation of factors readily observed clinically. A science and evidence-based way of understanding and suggesting how to improve play hygeine was and still is lacking. He turned to animal play research to gain insights into human play.

With the support of the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he observed animal play in the wild. He became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, and began to see play as a long evolved behavior important for the well being and survival of animals. He subsequently came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

Many of our kids, even in affluent homes, are often deprived of the free play and free time they need to develop skills in critical thinking they will need later in life. Play is fun, but it's also a very serious subject for good emotional and social development in kids, and I think it's one of the things we can often forget about when we try to help improve our kids who struggle in school. We may think extra work is the answer, but extra play might help even more.

In the first part of our interview, we talk about how play is important for kid's development; in the second part, we discuss how Grandparents and play; how important hands on learning is for kids, and how this seemingly "wasteful" activity may be where most of their most important learning comes from. I know you'll really enjoy Dr. Stuart Brown- his new book helped me think about play and how we incorporate it in our lives in a whole new way.

Click here to listen to Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- The Importance of Play


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Show #106- Dr. Russell Barkley :Understanding ADHD

2009-02-20 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

This show features the second half of my conversation with Dr. Russell Barkley. We talk about many critical things parents and educators need to know about ADHD, but the most critical is this:

Kids with ADHD tend to be 30-40% delayed in developing executive functions, and if we can adjust our expectations of our children, setting expectations based not on their age but their developmental stage. By adjusting our expectations to what the child can actually do takes lots of stress, pain and unhappiness out of the often tense situation caused by ADHD and its performance problems.

Dr. Barkley is one of the most respected, internationally recognized experts in ADHD and is well known as the primary investigator in on of the longest continuous studies about ADHD known as the Milwaukee Study, following kids from childhood through age 28 (and the study continues to follow this cohort today.) Dr. Barkley's full credentials can be found on his informative website -you can find it at www.russellbarkley.org.

I've excerpted part of his credentials here for you:

After serving in the United States Air Force Dr. Barkley obtained his Bachelor's Degree with Honors in Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1973. He then attended Bowling Green State University in Ohio where he received his Masters Degree in 1975 and his Ph.D. in 1977 in Clinical Psychology, receiving the Distinguished Dissertation Award for his research on the effects of medication on children with ADHD. He then attended the Oregon Health Sciences University for internship training in developmental, learning, and behavioral disorders of children. Thereafter, in 1977, he joined the Department of Neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCOW) and Milwaukee Children's Hospital where he worked in the Child Neurology Division and eventually founded the Neuropsychology Service at MCOW. He served as its Chief and as Associate Professor of Neurology until 1985. Dr. Barkley then relocated to the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where he served as the Director of Psychology and as a Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology (1985-2002). While there, he established the research clinics for both child and adult Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders. In 2003, Dr. Barkley relocated to the Charleston, SC area where he became a Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of South Carolina. In 2005, he joined the faculty of the Department of Psychiatry at the SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY.

Dr. Barkley has been awarded a Diplomate (board certification) in three specialties, these being Clinical Psychology (ABPP), Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN, ABPP). He is a clinical scientist, educator, and practitioner who has authored, co-authored, or co-edited 20 books and clinical manuals. He has published more than 200 scientific articles and book chapters related to the nature, assessment, and treatment of ADHD and related disorders (see Publications). In 1993, he founded a bimonthly newsletter for clinical professionals, The ADHD Report (Guilford Publications). He has created seven professional videotapes on ADHD and defiant children, three of which have won national awards, including the 1992 and 1994 Golden Apple Award for educational videos from the National Education Association. Dr. Barkley has served on the editorial boards of 11 scientific journals and as a reviewer for numerous others. He was the President of the Section of Clinical Child Psychology, Division 12, of the American Psychological Association (1988), and was President of the International Society for Research in Child and Adolescent Psychopathology (1991).

Also in today's show:

Please check out the dysTalk website, a UK based website dealing with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. Donna, a listener, particularly recommends the video on the Emotional Side of Dyslexia, and I have to agree that it's wonderful. Please send your recommendations, ideas and the like to us at LDpodcast@gmail.com and I'll feature them on the show!

Click here to listen to show #106- Dr. Russell Barkley, Part II…


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Dr. Russell Barkley- ADHD Insights, Part 1 Show #105

2009-02-07 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Back in November, I had a chance to sit down with the very well known Dr. Russell Barkley, one of the true giants in the field of ADHD research. Dr. Barkley is one of the principal investigators in the longest term study on ADHD to date known as the Milwaukee Study, following kids diagnosed with ADHD from childhood now through early adulthood.

In this first part of our two-part conversation, Dr. Barkley and I talk about:
The History of ADHDWhy it's so hard for people to accept that ADHD is a biologically based behavioral disorder, not just a result of poor parenting or bad social environments.When we understand the origins of ADHD, there's a change from moral indignation at behaviors to compassion when we realize that the child can't help some of their behaviors- it's due to their brain function and neurological reasons, not a wilful choice to annoy you.Kids to change over development- so while we don't care that a three year old has no sense of time, this is something that becomes crucial as kids get older and certainly for adults. What was always a problem remains, even though we might have expected that they would simply "outgrow" the issue over time. This the contours and problems of ADHD change over time and over development, and the diagnostic criteria are still a bit behind in adapting to our understanding of how the face of ADHD changes over the course of development.Skills build on top of one another, so weak skills early on get exacerbated over time.Brighter people with ADHD often figure out different ways to get the job done and it may take them longer; less bright may simply give up or avoid the task all together. It's easier to give into your ADHD than try to constantly compensate for it.Impairments are situation specific, even if symptoms remain the same, like putting a ramp in front of a building; You can arrange the environment to allow people with ADHD to be more successful and remove the disability, by working around their style- shorter bursts of work, over longer period of time, for example.Kids should be allowed to have a quality of life, too, and that play and socialization should be reason enough to let kids play versus have large amounts of homework every night.
And much more. I know you will find this conversation and content compelling. Dr. Barkley has given me much more insight into how ADHD changes over time, and I know I'm changing how I approach issues with my own children.

Click here to listen to Show #105- Dr. Russell Barkley, Part 1


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Show #104- Dr. Susan Johnson, Commonwealth Academy- Remediation and the Future of Education

2009-01-17 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In the third part of my conversation with Dr. Susan Johnson, head of Commonwealth Academy, we talk about the difference between teaching a child with accommodations versus remediating weaker skills and how to accomplish both; we also discuss what she would recommend as suggestions of how to change education.

Ultimately, I think we have
to look at education as an important part of raising an educated public, and as a vital part of our national infrastructure. We have to decide if education is important, and if so, then we have to make the changes necessary to do it well. But the one thing we will never be able to get rid of is the importance of students feeling mentored and cared about on a personal level by their teachers. If we want this to happen, we have to be prepared to help create smaller and more intimate classrooms, where students and teachers get to know each other- because without this, education can be little more than an assembly lime disguised as a school.

I hope you enjoy today's show, and we'll be back to you next week!

Click here to Download Show#104- Susan Johnson- Remediation and the Future of Education…


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Show #103 Dr. Susan Johnson- Commonwealth Academy- Advisory and Organization

2009-01-17 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

One of the most amazing things I learned by visiting Commonwealth Academy is how everything in the school is student-centered. The advisory program is one piece of that puzzle, where kids are mentored and supervised on how to keep themselves organized and prepared for class, and where discipline is handled pro-actively and rarely interferes with the learning of the other students. This is possible because the faculty and staff really know the students, and can anticipate their needs, much like parents do. But like good parents, the goal is to make the kids independent over time and able to stand on their own. Another important part of this equation is developing a sense of trust with the students and with their parents, which can be a challenge after some rough previous school experiences.

Dr. Johnson's years of experience in both public and private schools, and her candor about how important developing a sense of trust and community is to their success is palpable in every aspect of the school. I know you'll love hearing about the innovative and often simple approaches Commonwealth takes that empowers the students to find their voice and gives them the confidence to try new things, to risk and to succeed.

In our next show, #104, we'll conclude our interview with Dr. Susan Johnson as we discuss IEP's, remediation and the future of education.

Click here to download Show # 103, Dr. Susan Johnson- Commonwealth Academy- Advisory & Organization (For Students and Parents!)…


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Dr. Susan Johnson, Commonwealth Academy Show #102

2008-12-30 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Before the holidays, I had the opportunity to spend the day at Commonwealth Academy, a college preparatory school for children with ADHD and learning disabilities, located in Alexandria, VA. Commonwealth Academy serves children from 6th grade through high school,and is a school that feels very much like a community the moment you walk through the doors.

I got to sit down with Dr. Susan Johnson, the Director of the school, and we talked about everything from how they select their students, to how their curriculum and teaching methods differ from traditional schools. Dr. Johnson has been an educator and has worked with children in special education for over 30 years, and she sat on one of the initial panels that put together the IEP process for the State of New Jersey back in the 1970's. Her experience and perspective on children who struggle in traditional school settings is amazing, and it was an absolute privilege to be able to speak with her, the staff and the students at Commonwealth.

I've split our interview into two parts; the first discusses how important it is to take a child-centered approach to education, and how that's the first step to helping struggling learners to begin to think of themselves as academic achievers. We also talk about how the environment of a school matters, and how it is integral to creating a community rather than just an institution of learning.

We've given away our first handful of books, but we have some more available! Additionally, while you may have missed out on the Marcus Buckingham books here, my friend Carrie Runnals from the Words to Mouth podcast, has a few copies she would love to give away to our listeners! Just click the link and go to Carrie's website and you might win! The Words to Mouth podcast is a great place where readers can find out more about the authors and their work through insightful interviews, done by Carrie, another one of the fantastic ladies from the Divacast!

Click here to listen to Show #102, Dr. Susan Johnson, Commonwealth Academy…


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Show # 101- Updates and Our Holiday Book Give-Away!

2008-12-06 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Firstly, we have a new voicemail line- (206) 350-8626
Please call us- and remember we may answer your questions or use your comments on the show!

Holiday Book Giveaway!
Just like last year, we have books to give away this Holiday season! Marcus Buckingham and his publisher sent us 5 copies of his latest book, The Truth About You. I have a few copies of Marcus' "Go Put Your Strengths to Work" to give away as well. We also have books from Rick LaVoie, Dr. Edward Hallowell, Mel Levine and more- including a few cassette audio books for those that prefer audio books!

In order to win, here's what you need to do:

Step 1: Call our Voicemail line at (206) 350-8626 and leave us a comment or question, OR leave a review of the show in iTunes.

Step 2: Send us an email at LDpodcast@gmail.com with your name and mailing address, so we can mail your book to you! I've mailed books all over the world last year, including South Africa, so everyone is eligible!
The first 15 responders will receive a prize!

In today's show, I talk a bit about the recent seminar I atteneded given by Russell Barkley, one of the leading authorities on ADHD. Much of what I heard made me rethink how I think about ADHD and its wide-spread affects on functioning. I got a chance to interview Dr. Barkley in person, and will share that in upcoming shows. I also included a clip from an interview I did a while back with Rick LaVoie, who even mentions Dr. Barkley, and how we sometimes forget how much of our frustrations daily with our kids may be, in part, the learning disability, not just them trying to drive us crazy- something I think we can all use the occasional reminder about- even me.

Thank you so much for listening to the show and making everything we do to keep the show going worth while. Spread the word, and we'll keeping making the lives of kids struggling in school better, one child at a time.

Click here to listen to Show #101- Annual Book Giveaway…


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Show #100 Sharon Martin, SLP on Response to Intervention (RTI) and Individualized Education Programs (IEP).

2008-11-18 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In today's show, Sharon and I discuss how you might go about getting help for your child in school. Part of this is understanding the first steps, called Response to Intervention, or RTI. Teachers are supposed to try different, research-based interventions with the child in the classroom, to see if the child improves, before referring the child for possible testing and evaluation for special education services, that might require developing a special education program, commonly called an Individualized Education Plan or Program (IEP).

As part of this show, I have put together a list of common modifications and accommodations that are typically made for kids in the classroom- think of this as a "menu" of sorts of possible, but not exclusive, changes that can be made to help your child. You can find this list and links to other resources under the link "Accommodations Guide".

We have our big holiday book give away coming- and I hope you will are participate! Here are the rules:

1. The give away closes December 15, 2008.
2. We'll have a link at the top of our website for you to enter the drawing-you'll need to answer two questions and information so we can mail out the book to you. The only condition is that you let us know when it arrives! We'd love it if you'd leave us a review in iTunes as well, but that's optional, of course!

We'll have copies of Marcus Buckingham's latest book, The Truth about You, a few audio books, books by Mel Levine, Rick LaVoie, Edward Hallowell, and more!

Thank you so much, each and everyone of you, for making this one of the most rewarding things I've ever done.

Click here to listen to show #100- Response to Intervention and IEP's…


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Show # 99- Elaine Weitzman, Hanen Centre

2008-10-30 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In this episode, I talk with Elaine Weitzman from the Hanen Centre. The Hanen Centre is an international organization focused on helping parents and educators enhance the language and literacy skills of young children. The programs they have been developed are research-based and the information they offer parents is practical, easy, every day things we can do to truly enhance how our children learn.

The Hanen centre has come out with a yearly calendar that gives parents and teachers a month by month, week by week resource of how to specifically help build critical language skills for young children. This is a straight-forward, easy to use guide to doing simple things that can have a big, long term impact on your child's education and literacy.

To give you some perspective on how important this is, a recent show entitled "Going Big" on This American Life by Ira Glass featured a segment regarding the Harlem Children's Zone, an ambitious program focused on helping parents help their children in the same way the Hanen Centre does- and it's working miracles in terms of improving children's scholastic outcomes.

It's simple things, like reading to your child, asking them questions, talking about emotions, answering those endles "Why?" questions that help spark your child's curiosity about the world and encourage them to develop these critical skills necessary for later literacy and academic success.

Please contact the Hanen Centre through their website at www.hanen.org. The calendar for 2009 is now available, and sample months are available on their website.

Click here to listen to Elaine Weitzman, Hanen Center- Developing Early Language Skills with your kids…


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Show #98- Marcus Buckingham, Part II- The Truth About You

2008-10-21 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In the second half of my conversation with Marcus Buckingham, we discuss why kids with learning difference don't always fit into a standard model, but how it's even more important that we find things that engage them and make them shine. Every child has something terrific and unique to contribute, and too often, the one-size fits all system ignores what individuals can add to the mix.

We discuss how self-esteem is great, but self-efficacy, performance and contribution are the real measures of success. In the end, success should be defined by finding out where you can make the greatest contribution, not always by external metrics of bank accounts. Many kids with learning difficulties have gone on to be wildly successful by almost every metric as adults, ranging from doctors, like Dr. Edward Hallowell, to actors like Henry Winkler and Tom Cruise, to business people, like Charles Schwab. Part of this success is not about an easy path, but finding where on the path they seemed to belong, and that's what I think we wish for all of our children.

Marcus Buckingham is currently on a book tour across the Country- you can check this out at his website, www.marcusbuckingham.com. Marcus is also hosting an online seminar you can take as time suits as part of Oprah Winfrey's Change Your Life program, which you shouldn't miss. And I guarantee that Marcus's new book, The Truth About You is well worth the purchase price.

For visitors to the website, I am running a special contest! Send an email to ldpodcast@gmail.com by November 1, 2008, with your feedback about the interview with Marcus Buckingham, and you can win an audio book version of Marcus's first book, "First, Break all the Rules", and a copy of The Truth About You. We'll randomly select a winner from all entrants!
Click here to listen to Marcus Buckingham- The Truth about You…


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Marcus Buckingham- The Truth About You

2008-10-14 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Show #97- Marcus Buckingham, The Truth About You, Part 1
I've been a fan of Marcus Buckingham's work for years. Through his books, I've helped to identify what I do best, and it's helped me focus on where I can be most helpful and productive. Marcus has a brand new Kit out called the Truth About You- which combines a book, DVD, small pad to track strengths and weaknesses and links to online material, that is truly excellent. I admit having some initial skepticism, as I am not a big "kit" person, but I was really impressed by everything, especially the DVD material. So much that I sat my kids down to watch as well, to reinforce that they need to start looking at what they do best, every day, for themselves.

The first half of my conversation with Marcus addresses what strengths are, and why this is so much more than just what your child is good at, or some mystic way to boost their self-esteem. A strengths-based approach is trying to help your child figure out where they are most effective- where they contribute the most, as well as what gives them the most joy and success. This is about actual performance and outcomes for kids, not just puffery. And importantly, Marcus also talks about his own experiences with his son, and why we have to help kids honor who they are and make the most of it every day.

In the second half, we talk more about how we need to help kids get really specific about their strengths and where they're most effective. In the DIY culture, we're all supposed to be the est at everything, but in reality, it means we may be a jack of all trades but a master at none. We ask kids to be perfect at all aspects of school, yet do very little to let them really investigate and hone their areas of interest and natural talent. This does not mean doing the easy thing- nothing's harder than continuously honing and improving your skills- and this has the side effect of building resiliency along the way- a one-two punch for setting kids on a path of knowing who they are and realizing how very much they have to offer.

Click here to listen to Show #97- Marcus Buckingham- The Truth About You…


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LD Podcast#96: Dr. Andy Van Schaack- Part II

2008-10-02 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In this second part of my interview with Dr. Van Schaack, we talk about how technology can help students, and what it can't do. One of the most important things we need to remember is that the tech might make some things easier, but it doesn't replace real learning.

The crux of this new "computer in a pen" is that while you are taking notes in a regular spiral notebook (on special paper with a watermark...), it is recording the audio in the classroom, at a meeting- wherever, at the same time. The pen stores your handwriting, diagrams, and notes exactly how you write them, and this will get transferred to your PC as a PDF file- just like you took a picture of your notes. It also syncs the audio to exactly when you wrote those words, so whenever you go back to your notes and tap on the word, online or offline, you can hear the audio recorded at that moment. Moreover, your notes also become searchable, so you can find exactly when the professor was talking about the effects of inflation in the economy, or what would be on the midterm.

So you are saying, "Cool, but is it worth the cost?"

Research into how people learn best shows that notetaking is important in the learning process- but when they looked deeper into why, they found that the value is in having this external storage system for information. And if you know that capture of information is worthless without having meaningful access to it, making all of your notes searchable takes on greater meaning, even if there is no accompanying audio!

Now, good note taking is a skill in and of itself. People talk at 40 -50 phonemes a second, much faster than people can read or write. Studies also show the cognitive load of listening to a lecture and taking notes is as strenuous as playing grandmaster-level chess. So assuming even the best notetakers can't keep up with the lecturer, word for word, maybe we need to alter how notes are taken in class, and add the ability to rehear and fill in details later as a better strategy.

For me, I became intrigued with this "gadget" because I could finally get a handle on what my kids were taking for notes during class, and afterwards, be able to compare what the teacher was saying to what my child was writing- and in the process, we're trying to hep him build a more effective note taking and studying strategy, that he will surely need for high school and college. Factor in his poor handwriting, and this tool can really help make up for a cognitive and fine motor task that is very difficult for him.

This is not really an infomercial for this product, but a show where you can hear about how something like this product might really make a difference in the classroom- also as a tool for teachers to provide meaningful audio feedback to students, that students are more likely to use to change their future performance, as well as understand the time and effort the teacher is putting into reviewing their work- critique becomes more meaningful, even if the student and teacher are not in the same place at the same time.

I'm excited about this product and how it's working so far for us, and I hope you'll find the science behind the learning process as exciting as I do.

Oh, and someone posted on the blog that if you use this code, SCRIBE5A20 on the Livescribe site, you can receive a 5% discount on the purchase of the pen, which is great!
Click here to listen to Dr. Andy Van Schaack and the Livescribe Pen- Part II…


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LD Podcast #95- Dr. Andy Van Schaack- Technology and Education

2008-09-29 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

I had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Andy Van Schaack from Vanderbilt University about Education and Instructive Technology. We spoke specifically about what technology can and cannot do to aid education and learning. We spoke about how it's even more important to go beyond just research-based learning and look at evidence-based instruction, working with what we know about psychology and brain function to maximize learning in the classroom and beyond.

Technology tends to work best when it amplifies human capabilities, but real learning involves being able to take new information and apply it in novel situations.The tests we're often given in school tends to value cramming versus encoding information for long term retrieval and use, so teachers and students alike have to be on the look out for testing that requires recall of information, or merely recognizing the appropriate answer.

The core issue here is the following: The best learning occurs when there are more opportunities to respond with feedback. Teachers are invaluable to provide feedback to students, but we have to find a way to do this is a positively reinforcing way that mentors students as they seek mastery of subjects and material.

Dr. Van Schaack is the educational advisor for LiveScribe, which has developed a new computing platform- the Pulse pen- a computer in a pen. The pen uses special paper that comes in an ordinary spiral notebook; it records fairly high fidelity audio that syncs up perfectly with the words written on the page. The audio and "picture" of the written notes are then transferred to your PC as a PDF file, where you can listen to the lecture and see the notes being wirtten at the same time. This means you can jump to the exact place in a lecture where a teacher talks about what's going on the mid-term, for example, without having to listen to the whole lecture again. If students also use the Cornell Notetaking system, they can end up with better and more effective notes than ever before, making learning easier, especially in complex subjects. Not only that, the notes are searchable for key terms, so you can go exactly to the spot you need in a notebook to look up a particular piece of information as needed.

I purchased one of these for my boys, hoping it will help us teach them how to take more effective notes in class, and I have to say that the kids have actually been debating over who gets to take the pen to school with them each day. I'm afraid I'm going to have to buy another one, shortly! I've used it for a community meeting I attended and blogged about for the Philadelphia Inquirer, and was very pleased with the results.

The first part of our interview focuses on using technology in education and what it can and cannot accomplish; the second half, which will be released by the end of this week, will discuss the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen in more detail, including what kind of mental load notetaking has on the brain, how fast we can process information, the research data about why we take notes in the first place, and how we should be using them, and we talk about how capturing information is fundamentally useless without access.

Links to things discussed on this episode:

*Listener feedback
*Check out Ken Robinson's presentation at TED in 2006. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. It started back in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from those three worlds. Since then its scope has become ever broader, and I always learn a ton from the talks there- some of the best material available on the web;
The Obviousness of Social and Educational Research Results- NL Gage
* Frontline Report- Kids Growing Up Online
* BBC News: Basic Sums Stress 1.3Million Adults
Cornell Note Taking technique-

Record Reduce (or question) Recite Reflect Review Recapitulate Sample
Click Here to listen to Dr. Andy Van Schaack- Understanding Instructional Technology, Part I


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LD Podcast "Unplugged"- Mark Blevis interviews Whitney about Homework

2008-09-24 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

Mark Blevis, from the Just One More Book podcast,interviewed me on our drive into Podcamp Philly about homework. This is a really honest and revealing interview about how we handle homework at our house, and what I see as the value and pitfalls of how homework is used in schools. Since I was the driver, the answers are about as honest and non-scripted as is possible- you hear exactly what was said, uncut and unedited, as two parents, two friends, discuss homework and their children.

To give you some background, Mark and his wife Andrea Ross, interview authors and illustrators on their Just One More Book podcast, as well as give their reviews of different children's books. You can even call up and leave a review of your favorite book, and they'll play it on the show. Mark and Andrea are raising two fantastic daughters in Canada, and they always point me in the direction of fanatastic books my kids and I love to share, even though I have boys. The show helps me appreciate the richness of children's literature, and how it can enrich the lives of adults and kids alike.

Let me know if you like the style of this show- please send feedback to ldpodcast@gmail.com. If this is interesting, we'll try to do work more unfiltered interviews with parents into the show.

Thanks again to Mark for the audio, the idea, and the opportunity to go "unplugged".

Click here to download and listen to LD Podcast Unplugged- Mark Blevis and Whitney Hoffman Discuss Homework…


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Show #93- Sharon Martin SLP, Part II

2008-09-15 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

We're back after a brief hiatus for Podcamp Philly, a new media unconference I helped put together at Temple University. I'm really happy to report that we raised over $6,000 for the Sciece Leadrship Academy, a Philadelphia Public special admissions high school, run by Chris Lehmann, who I met at the Educon Conference, held at SLA last year.

Sharon and I continue our talk about when you might need a speech language pathologist; why the diagnosis may sometimes be irrelevant to the treatment; and how there's a general movement to try to get Speech-Language pathologists more involved in literacy. We can't emphasize too much how important good hearing and good speech are to the reading and writing process, and early intervention is critical for children. We also talk about the importance of the bond/relationship between a therapist and a child, and why there's got to be a good balance between work and fun, as well as follow-through on the part of parents and regular ed teachers.

I've been racking up a bunch of interviews, so the shows should not only be more regular, but there's some exciting things coming up-and we also want to hear from you!

Click here to download/listen to Sharon Martin, SLP Part II…


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Sharon Martin, Speech and Language Pathologist

2008-08-30 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In today's show, we feature an interview with Sharon Martin! Sharon is a well-known for being part of the DivaCast, best described as five girlfriends talking about what matters to them, and having fun doing it! Sharon's becoming a part of the LD Podcast, because she's also a Speech Language Pathologist (also known as an SLP) teaching in schools in Georgia.

Sharon has her Masters in Education, Speech Language-Pathology and is licensed in Georgia, and is a member of many professional organizations for SLP's including the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), and National Student Speech Language Hearing Association, (NSSHLA).

Sharon has worked with special need students who ranged from profound/severely impaired to mild articulation disorders. This work has included students with learning disabilities, language impairments, autism, down syndrome, mitochondria, CP, cochlear implants, apraxia, phonological processing disorders and emotional behavioral disorders.

She has also participated in specialized training and tasks forces involved with Response to Intervention (RTI), literacy/language interventions, and special education regulations. Sharon's planning on becoming a regular part of the show, and future shows will focus on topics like Response to Intervention and IEP's.

In this show, I also talk about the results of our "Daily journal" over the summer experiment, getting kids back to school and trying to keep them organized. One question I received by email recently asked:

"What type of planner or organizer would you recommend for kids with LD? The one we get from school has really small writing areas, making it hard to fit in all the information, let alone notes back and forth from home and school."

My recommendations:

What most kids need: Big space to write, securely bound, monthly and weekly views.

What I've tried for myself and the kids:

Personal Digital Assistants, like Palm Pilots; various calendars and systems, wall calendars, wipe-off dry erase calendars, etc. Electronic versions of calendars, ranging from Google Calendar, to the calendar/alarms on my various cell phones, and Skoach, an online calendar/task management system developed in part by well-known and respected ADHD researcher, Dr. Kathleen Nadeau. (Also a prior guest on the LD Podcast).

What Really Works for Me- paper calendar/agenda with both weekly and monthly views. Usually, the medium to large ones give me enough writing space- mini ones are far too small.

Brands I like:

Mead actually has a a website to help you choose a planner (I was surprised to find this out!)

The Quick Notes Calendar from At-A-Glance has weekly and monthly view, along with plenty of spaces for notes and reminders. This runs about $20.00

TimeToo has some interesting looking family trackers, but you kinda have to choose between weekly on monthly, not both. The RSVP space on the bottom is a great idea- these are almost perfect.

The GoMom planner from Daytimer has that weekly/monthly views, and is a good basic planner-a "mommed" up version of the At A Glance.
Mead Upperclass Student Organizer - Available plain ($12.99) or with a bungee cord to keep closed ($13.79) This one can work well with kids or adults- not a bad choice for that master family calendar.

Secret Indulgence and Pricey Version- Levenger has a bunch of interesting products, based on it’s "circa" system- a way you can pretty much customize notebooks. This means you can add what you need- to do lists, expense reports, notes, etc. and rearrange, without losing anything and maintaining the pages securely fastened together. (If you wanted to try it to see if it works, the 2008 agenda is down to only $4.95, and might be a good investment if you think you might like the flexibility it offers.)

Downsides- expensive and addictive. Runs calendar year, not academic year. I do use this notebook system, more than the planner, to organize projects, in part because the paper is thicker than normal and is fantastic to write on, and I can move stuff around easily as needed. It is more of an initial investment, but I do refill them, and I love these notebooks.

Click here to listen to Sharon Martin…


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Show # 91- Write On Handwriting with Amy Ford Hebert- Part II

2008-06-27 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

In today's show, Amy and I discuss what is age appropriate for motor skills, how many kids have problems with right-left orientation, and how small things like a good pencil grip can make all the difference in a kid's writing ability. Strength and coordination and spatial attributes all contribute to good handwriting, making the overall writing process easier.

We are trying out Amy's program at home (This is not a freebie- I paid for it) and John, my younger child, seems to be particularly interested, and it seems to be showing up in his writing. The daily journal page requirement is not overly popular, and I share some of the funnier moments in today's show. But the bottom line if that writing is both a physical and mental task, requiring the coordination of both simultaneously, and it won't improve unless the kids get more practice- so this is the summer of non-stop practice for this skill.

Click here to download Write On Handwriting with Amy Ford Hebert - Part II

Please check out Pocketful of Therapy for resources like Write On Handwriting, Handwriting without tears, raised line paper, pencil grips, slant boards and other writing helpers. I have been ordering from them for years- this is where the occupational therapists I know get many of their supplies, and this is a convenient resource for these materials that can be hard to find in the local stores.

As always, please email us at ldpodcast@gmail.com with any comments and questions. The survey will be closing shortly, so if you haven't filled it out, please do!…


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Show #90- Amy Ford Hebert- Write On Handwriting

2008-06-19 :: ldpodcast@gmail.net (Whitney Hoffman)

The LD Podcast Is officially two years old! We all know how important reading is; equally important is the next step along the literacy pathway- writing. Writing requires that we synthesize our thoughts, and then express them, coherently, in text. For kid…


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LD Podcast

A blog and podcast about learning disabilities and kids struggling in school. Topics include dyslexia, ADHD, autism, asperger's, reading, legal issues, dealing with schools, IEP's, therapies and more.

LD Podcast

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