TUPELO – A group of Tupelo teachers is spending time this week building tents out of index cards, writing on wire screens with crayons and tracing letters in a patch of sand.
It’s all part of a special training the teachers are receiving for working with students in the Tupelo Public School District who are either dyslexic or showing signs of dyslexia.
Thirty-one teachers from the district are participating in the 30-hour workshop led by Michele Wenger, an instructor at the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education, which is based in Birmingham, Mich.
At least one teacher from every school in the district is attending the workshop, which began Monday and ends Friday at the Early Childhood Educational Center.
The teachers are learning Orton-Gillingham methodology, which is designed to help students learn letters and sounds through the senses – touch, sound, sight and even motion.
“The best part is being able to bring back something that is new and innovative to the kids I see,” said Rand Hinds, an interventionist at Lawndale Elementary School and a workshop participant.
“They’re really going to respond to this and enjoy the process of how the letters and the sounds make up different words.”
The goal is to have at least one staff member on each campus who can coach other teachers in the methodology, identify dyslexia and provide support to students and parents, said Jodie Parham, the TPSD response to intervention coordinator.
This training was a perfect fit of the district because it is designed for both pulling out struggling students and working with them on an intensive level and also for giving teachers techniques that can be used for all students, Parham said.
“There are a lot of different things used to get bodies involved,” said Christy Jordan, a workshop participant and reading specialist at Thomas Street Elementary School.
Jordan said the program goes beyond merely using pencil and paper to write down and memorize spelling words.
In one exercise, students trace the letters used to spell words on another student’s back. In another, they tap their fingers as they spell.
The program has exercises geared for older students as well as for younger students, said Donna Ivy, a reading teacher at Tupelo High School and a workshop participant.
The workshop is funded by a combination of Title 1 funds, district funds and federal funds for special education.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal