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Blog

Stay informed of the latest company news, product releases, and musings on education policy and technology by subscribing to the MyloWrites blog.

 

Filtering by Category: Learning Differences

Mylo Talks Dyslexia

Mylo Dunlop

In honor of National Dyslexia Awareness Month, we’ve tracked down Mylo to share a few thoughts on the true definition of dyslexia and how he’s become more confident in himself as a learner since discovering his learning difference.


Q: When did you find out that you had dyslexia and how?

M: I found out that I had dyslexia when I was in 7th grade. My mom told me that I had dyslexia, which meant that I learn differently from other people, but that it was not a bad thing. She explained that everyone learns differently, that our brains are all wired differently, and that reading and writing might be more challenging for me. 

Q: Can you explain dyslexia to those who are unfamiliar with it? 

M: Dyslexia makes reading and writing harder. Reading individual words is okay, however understanding the meaning of a full sentence or paragraph can be challenging. Following text in sequence can also be a struggle, as I will randomly skip lines, then have to double back and re-read from where I left off. As I see it, dyslexia does have its advantages, as topics like math, sciences and art come easily to me. This may be because I am more of a visual thinker and can easily see things from different perspectives.

Q: Do you think people understand what dyslexia truly is?

M: People definitely do not know what dyslexia truly is, as it is still viewed as a problem. I feel like most people, and even schools, don’t understand that all kids naturally learn differently. Most schools are also not set up to teach to the individual learner, which makes dyslexia stand out even more. Even kids don’t really understand that dyslexia is not a problem.
Like any person, we have our strengths and weaknesses. Reading and writing are naturally not going to be areas of strength. 

Q: Can you share a bit about what it means for you to have dyslexia? 

M: Personally, I approach things in a very visual and mathematical way. For me, it’s honestly kind of just normal, as I knew from an early age that I had dyslexia and so I kind of just grew into it knowing how I learned best. I just found other ways to approach the same things that other kids were doing. I also have a lot of positive support from my parents. I do, however, have to work longer and harder with reading and writing assignments than most kids.

Q: What is your advice to people who don’t have a learning difference to understand people that do?

M: Just understand that dyslexia and other learning differences occur in a lot of kids, it is not a choice or a measure of intelligence. It is simply the way we are wired. There’s not only one way to do things, one thought process, or one way of coming to a conclusion. A lot of people learn in different ways and this needs to be understood.

Q: What is your advice to someone who has just learned that they have dyslexia? 

M: Don’t get overwhelmed by it. It’s something you’ve been living with for your entire life, and it’s okay. Many brilliant and successful people are dyslexic. It’s important to simply understand that you learn differently and to figure out how you learn best. Dyslexia is your normal, and it’s just a different way of looking at things. 


Everyone learns differently, and that should be celebrated! Learn more about Mylo and our story  under the 'The Story' tab on our website. 

 

 

 

 

 

Writing Workshop Webinar

Stacy Rosenblum

 

Check out our newest webinar—MyloWrites Writing Workshop! We got two of our team members—Whitney Black and Stacy Rosenblum—together to talk about the writing process and the most common pitfalls that students succumb to. This conversation breaks down the stages: getting started, staying organized, and crossing the finish line. We present solutions to help students successfully execute each step of their writing assignments. Whether your student cringes upon the announcement of an assignment, comes to class with an exploding backpack, or rushes to hand in an unfinished product, you will find useful strategies in this informative webinar. At MyloWrites we are all about building independence in students, so let us help you help your students!

The Emotionality of Learning

Alice Mangan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Mangan is a clinical psychologist in NYC who works in both her own private practice and in schools to provide consultation, assessment, evaluation, and psychotherapy services. Alice's research focuses on the relationship between school and family and the influence of learning disabilities on the lives of child, parent, and family. She is also a part of the MyloWrites Advisory Board- read her full bio here.

The below post is Alice's reflection on the first of four installments in the MyloWrites Kids Panel, a new video series that explores children's thoughts and feelings surrounding learning and writing. We often hear from teachers and parents about the struggles that students have with the writing process. Now, we hear the student perspective about writing, expectations, and how they think the experience could be improved. Watch Part One of the Kids Panel here, or at the bottom of this blog!

“Oh no!” groans 16-year old Andrew, after being asked the question, “What thoughts come up when your teacher assigns a piece of writing?”  The feelings that underlie his automatic response are immediately apparent: dread, worry, even fear.  Just imagine if each time a teacher assigned you a piece of writing, that this moment, and all the moments that followed, were accompanied by these troubling, stomach-ache inducing feelings.  For many students for whom most writing assignments are grueling, these feelings are a constant companion in their process of writing.

We can easily forget, as the grown-ups in children’s and adolescents’ lives, that learning, while typically thought of as a set of cognitive processes, is also a fundamentally emotional endeavor.   Whatever affective experience is attached to that which we are attempting to learn has an intimate effect on the quality of our engagement and how we will experience the process and the product.  Whenever we are in a process of learning something new, or struggling through something that is not as yet automatic, we are, as Piaget theorized, in a state of disequilibrium.  This state is inherently uncomfortable, anxiety provoking, and ultimately taxing to self-regulatory processes.  Such feelings can be so intense that we might be moved to abandon or retreat from whatever learning we are attempting in an effort to regain a sense of equilibrium.  In this reestablished state of equilibrium, our anxiety reduces, our frustration dissipates, and once again we can have a “good-enough” sense of our own competence and potential.  Still, that which we have been assigned to learn is left unfinished and un-learned, giving rise to yet another set of uncomfortable feelings against which we must defend.

As teachers and parents, when we observe this retreat from engaging in difficult (or not-so-difficult) learning, we may be moved to feel frustrated by the child’s retreat, perceiving in the student a kind of “laziness” or disinterest, or even impertinence.  And yet, these adult perceptions of the child’s experience miss the mark and may further compound the child’s sense of inadequacy. 

Arguably all children want to learn.  Children want to experience the feeling of competence and success that comes with the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.  Not only is learning a way to make one’s life more interesting and complex, it also is a way to secure one’s self-esteem and sense of agency in one’s life. 

So, what do we do to support Andrew, and others like him, for whom many experiences of learning are filled with dread? What are the elements that support our students’ sustained engagement in the difficult process of learning? How can we help students experience success? Here are just a few ideas:

1. We continuously keep in mind that learning is an emotional and a cognitive endeavor, and we understand that how the learner feels in the context of the learning experience can influence engagement in the process and the ultimate outcome.

We are attuned to what children may be feeling as they engage in learning, and we respond to this affective experience sensitively, adjusting our approach to help reduce anxiety and frustration.  

2. We engage in ongoing assessment that guides the construction of differentiated learning experiences for students. 

When we engage in a process of fine-tuned observation of students’ responses to instruction, we are better able to provide learning experiences that are optimal.  If students are within their instructional zone, they are less likely to feel flooded by frustration, anxiety and dread, and more likely to actually be available to engage in the difficult process of learning. 

3. We supply appropriate scaffolding for students’ learning.        

Based on Vygotsky’s “zone of proximal development,” scaffolding allows the learner to engage in material or processes that are within reach if given the appropriate supports.  Scaffolding learning may include teacher or peer modeling, breaking assignments down into component parts, collaborative learning, reciprocal teaching, and many more creative techniques.  As the learner develops competency and independence, the scaffolds employed become unnecessary, and thus are removed.  

4. We provide opportunities for students to make choices about their learning. 

Students are often more motivated to participate in the hard work of learning if they feel personally invested and engaged in the content and process.  Providing opportunities for students to make choices in their learning often secures this kind of investment. 

5. We make learning relevant and meaningful to students. 

When the knowledge and skills we teach are relevant to the lives and interests of students, learning feels more purposeful.  Purpose sustains engagement, even when the going gets tough. 

6. Above all, we remember that learning is often best done in the context of strong relationships and safe environments.  

We prioritize the building of healthy learning communities.  

We work hard to neutralize the negative charge frequently inherent in an environment that serves learners with a range of strengths, weaknesses and needs.  We help children to understand that difference is not pejorative, but merely descriptive.   

We model self-compassion and frustration tolerance, engage in a stance of curiosity when problems arise, and employ a flexible approach to problem solving.

And finally, we invest in our students, getting to know them, and building authentic connections based on an appreciation and respect for their individuality.