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Building a Belief System for the Inclusion of Struggling Readers in School Culture

Categories: Assistive Technology, dyslexia, Education & Teaching, General, Learning Disabilities, The Digital Age

The parable of the mustard seed is a lesson that all great things can happen with the start of a small thing – like believing that all kids can read no matter their disability or learning difference.

This is the premise of The Mustard Seed Project at Loyola University, Chicago, and the topic that Terrie Noland, our V.P. of Educator Initiatives, will speak about on October 9, 2018.

The Mustard Seed Project 2018 celebrates the 40th anniversary of a landmark document* set forth by the U.S. Catholic bishops. This document explores the urgent call for inclusion, and the necessary supports to provide Catholic school professionals a place to network and share best practices. 

This year’s conference theme is “Moving from Inclusion to Belonging: A celebration of the 40th Anniversary of the Pastoral letter on persons with disabilities. Conference participants will:         

-- Formulate a school-based response to the Bishops’ Call for Inclusion, as articulated in the Pastoral Statement

-- Create a plan to move from simply including students with disabilities to supporting meaningful belongingness

-- Articulate next steps for creating school systems that facilitate the inclusion of students with disabilities

In her presentation, Terrie will share gleanings, research, and effective strategies she has learned working with U.S. K-12 educators across the nation. Terrie’s efforts have encouraged many educators and administrators to undertake a mission of building a schoolwide culture of readers, including students in inclusive learning environments, students who are reluctant readers and students with reading disabilities.

Building a foundational belief system of inclusion can be an unstoppable force that makes the impossible possible for struggling readers,” says Terrie. “We must first understand the unique cognitive development of struggling readers and embrace the tools, strategies and resources that enable them to study in the class learning environment.”

Terrie adds, “These strategies involve supporting students socially and emotionally, while providing access to grade-level materials in a digital format they can easily absorb and learn from. It all hinges on building students’ confidence, then the magic happens and reading growth ensues just like a mustard seed that turns into a thriving and unstoppable crop.”

*The Pastoral Statement of the U.S. Catholic Bishops on Persons with Disabilities (November 16, 1978) is one of the most important documents of the American Church regarding persons with disabilities. The document sets forth a vision of Church where all are truly welcomed. Increasingly, Catholic schools are responding to this call to open their doors to students with disabilities, yet they are in need of supports and guidance to effectively build more inclusive environments.

*Mustard is an ancient plant that's full of appeal for contemporary gardeners. The plants are easy to grow and produce seed in as few as 60 days. The greens are edible, the flowers attractive, and if the seeds are allowed to mature, they will self-sow and provide plenty for mustard making.