Learning Difficulties Australia


Professional Learning Events 2018

Sarah Asome - Spelling: Beyond the Alphabetic Principle - Perth: Saturday 20th October 2018 

This hands-on session presented a systematic explicit evidence-based approach to teaching spelling, focussing on teaching spelling as a ‘process’, based on the structure of the English Language including: phonology. syllabication (structural analysis) and morphology. Explanatory session notes and materials were provided. Participants will learnt: 

  • basic procedures for spelling regular 1-syllable words based on  sound-symbol relationships (phonology),
  • basic procedures for spelling irregular words,
  • spelling rules for 1-syllable words,
  • basic procedures for spelling multisyllabic words based on syllables (structural analysis),
  • spelling rules for adding suffixes (morphological principles).  

Sarah Asome is a dyslexia specialist and the Learning Support Leader at Bentleigh West Primary School in Victoria. She has been instrumental in leading change at BWPS, which has led to a signifi cant increase in their students’ literacy levels, with the 2018 NAPLAN results now placing BWPS as a high performing school. Sarah also continues to support many colleagues state and nationwide in implementing evidence-based literacy instruction in their schools. In 2015, Sarah Asome was awarded ‘Outstanding Primary Teacher in the VEEA awards. Sarah is featured in “Outside the Square “, a DVD resource for teachers, and in 2017 appeared on Insight – ‘A teacher Who Changed My Life’. Sarah regularly presents at state and national conferences in relation to literacy and dyslexia.  

In September 2018 Dr Kate Nation presented three events in Adelaide Melbourne and Sydney on the topic of "Reading & Comprehension Difficulties: research-practice links and applications for the classroom." 

Reading is constructing meaning from print, transforming symbols to the message intended by the writer, which requires the orchestration of many cognitive and linguistic operations – from recognising the identity of a letter to inferring the mental state of a character described in the story. This session will: 

  • consider the complexity of reading comprehension,
  • highlight the reasons why children might struggle to understand what they’ve read,
  • discuss evidence-based interventions for children with poor reading comprehension and consider implications for the classroom. 

Developing Sentence Complexity in Written Expression – Strategies for Students from 8 to 18 presented by Jenny Baker Saturday 16th June 2018

Jenny is a Speech Pathologist with extensive experience in the assessment and intervention of written language, from early narrative constructions to analytical text-based essays. This workshop taught participants about the functional role of grammar within narrative and persuasive texts, including strategies for explaining punctuation: 

  • Within Narrative writing - the focus was increasing subordination within sentences using adverbials, descriptive language, connecting devices and verb types.
  • Within Expository writing - the focus was a variety of linguistic devices used to deliver imagery, power, emphasis, emotion and persuasion.

A case study of a year 4 student was used to illustrate how these strategies were successfully employed. Jenny presents this workshop to speech pathologists, teachers, tutors and parents at DSF (Perth), and also presented at The Language, Literacy & Learning Conference in 2017, with practical and positive outcomes! 

Dyscalculia: Helping Students develop Mathematical Understandings – Presented by Dr Judi Humberstone, Saturday 19th May 2019. 

Dr Judi Humberstone, Senior Lecturer and Psychologist, Number Cognition Lab at University of Melbourne, is a trained mathematics teacher who has taught in Australia and the UK for over 30 years. Motivated by the number of students reporting a dislike for maths and the significant impact a lack of maths ability has on the self-esteem of affected individuals, Judi retrained as a clinical psychologist. Judi’s current research aims to answer the question: How do children acquire mathematical understanding? In association with colleagues, Judi’s research addresses: 

  • The relationships between the development of mathematical concepts and general cognitive abilities across the primary-school years
  • Individual differences in the development of primary-school aged children's arithmetic competence
  • Individual differences in students’ acquisition of algebraic ability
  • The use of interactive assessment to evaluate children's mathematical learning potential in rational number and algebra. 

Leaving nothing to chance - How Explicit Instruction can prevent early literacy difficulties -Professional Learning for Prep-Year 2 Teachers, literacy co-ordinators and administrators: Tuesday 20th March, 2018

Dr Lorraine Hammond & Brooke Wardana presented an all-day seminar in Sydney on Tuesday 20th March on Explicit Instruction. Explicit Instruction gives struggling students an academic advantage when learning to read. This approach leaves nothing to chance and does not make assumptions about skills and knowledge that children will acquire on their own. In Australia, the National Inquiry into Teaching Literacy (2005) recommended the importance of systematic, direct and explicit phonics instruction so that children master the essential alphabetic code-breaking skills required for foundational reading proficiency. 

Identifying and addressing the needs of students with ASD and ADHD presented by Dr Anna Bortoli, Sunday 18th March 2018 

Dr Anna Bortoli, Special Education and Autism Consultant, is the founder of Learning Visually and is a part-time Senior Lecturer, RMIT University. She provides professional learning on evidence-based strategies and approaches for students and young children with developmental delays, ADHD and Autism.  Anna’s research and published work relates to the areas of Structured Teaching, Executive Skills for Learning, Functional Assessment, Curriculum and ILPs. Anna is a TEACCH® Certified Practitioner having trained through Division TEACCH® at the University of North Carolina. She is committed to the professional growth of practitioners in the fields of special and inclusive education. 

Dr Anna Bortoli presented to members and other interested parties regarding  understanding the commonalities and differences between ASD and ADHD, and evidence-based learning strategies to support the learning of students with ASD and ADHD



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