"The Code and the Challenge of Learning to Read It" 

Seminar Outline

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Participants will benefit by updating and improving their understanding of 'what is at stake' and 'what is involved' in learning to read:

Read comments from past participants

Each component of the seminar includes:

1) Overview by presenter (David Boulton
2) Video clips from interviews with leading experts
3) Summary and extension by presenter 

The seminar begins with asking the audience to temporarily suspend their assumptions about reading and how to teach it and to join with us in the shared intention of learning together:

"The problem is our society's lack of insight into what is involved in acquiring literacy." - Dr. Louisa Moats, Reading Scientist, Sopris West (COTC interview)

"We need to reconceptualize what it means to learn to read and who's responsible for its success if we're going to deal with the problem." - Dr. Grover Whitehurst, Director Institute of Education Sciences, Assistant Secretary of Education, U.S. Department of Education (COTC interview).

"If I had my druthers, instructional methods wouldn't be the big deal. What would be the big deal is if teachers could ask themselves: what does it take to learn to read?" - G. Reid Lyon - Ex-Branch Chief, National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (COTC Interview)

COTC seminars address most or all of the following as adjusted by audience composition and available time:

Part 1:  We Have a Problem: Presentation and discussion of the individual and collective dimensions of reading related difficulties: Lives at Risk - Cognitive and Emotional Consequences - Educational Attainment - Social Pathology - Adult Literacy - Economics of Reading - National Learning Disability - Reframing How We Think

Part 2:  What's So Difficult About Learning to Read?  Presentation and discussion of numerous perspectives on why learning to read is so challenging for so many children and adults: It's a Code - It's Not Natural - Impoverished Learning Trajectories - Instructional Confusion - Self-Blame - The Power of Shame - Shame Avoidance 

Part 3: In The Beginning Was The Word - Presentation and discussion on language from the perspectives of Anthropology, Linguistics, Developmental Neuroscience, Phonological Processing, Family Language Patterns, Vocabulary Development, Oral Language Comprehension, and Phonemic Awareness.

Part 4: A Brief History of the Code - Presentation and discussion of the code of written English, how it developed and how it works: The Invention of the Alphabet - The Alphabet's Effect on Western Civilization - Written English - King Henry's Scribes - The Printing Press - The High Cost of Fonts - The Folly of Code Reform - Phonics - Whole Language - Reading Wars

Part 5: The Brain's Challenge - Presentation and discussion of the challenges unique to processing the code: Automaticity - Timing is Everything - Eye Movements - Code Ambiguity - Brain Process Asynchrony

Part 6: The Matthew Effect and the Downward Spiral of Shame - Presentation and discussion of the critical relationship between Emotion and Cognition in determining each Student's Threshold for Confusion Frustration and its relationship to The Matthew Effect or to entering The Downward Spiral of Shame. 

Part 7: Orientation to Teaching - Offers insights and suggestions that inform teaching practice relative to Reducing Confusion, Reframing Shame and learning to become better First-Person Learner-Teachers in choosing and differentiating the instructional methods and tools that will best serve the needs of struggling readers.

Part 8: Closing Q&A and Dialogue (depending on audience composition and time we may have Q&A and dialogue periodically throughout each part)

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*Note about interviews: Participation in a Children of the Code interview does not constitute or imply an endorsement of the Children of the Code project or documentary by the interviewee. Conversely, publishing an interview does not constitute or imply an endorsement of or agreement with the views of the interviewee, other than as stated in the actual interview, by the Children of the Code project or documentary. 

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