Saturday, April 28, 2018 from 8:00 AM to 4:30 PM EDT
Add to Calendar 


Thomas Dale High School Main Campus 
3626 W. Hundred Road
Chester, VA 23831

Driving Directions 


Virginia Branch President 

VBIDA Spring Conference 

Dyslexia: Blueprints for Building Literacy

Keynote by Jennifer Hasser

The Memory Connection: Multisensory Strategies for Boosting Students’ Working Memory Throughout Phonics Instruction.

Reading and comprehending text employs working memory, the brain’s system for storing and managing information. In this workshop, we discuss the research linking dyslexia and working memory deficits and present proven strategies to improve working memory simultaneously with all levels of phonics instruction. Participants learn engaging multisensory activities to use with students of any age to boost working
memory and pave the way to fluent reading. We demonstrate methods of scaffolding instruction so that teachers and students feel successful. Techniques support OG/MSL teaching.



Schedule for the Day: 

8:00-8:30        Registration and Coffee

8:30-9:00        Welcome

9:00-10:30      Keynote Address by Jennifer Hasser

10:30-10:45    Break / Visit Exhibitors and Vendors

10:45-Noon     Breakout Sessions # 1

Noon-1:00       Lunch / Visit Exhibitors and Vendors

1:00-2:15        Breakout Sessions # 2

2:15-2:30        Break

2:30-3:45        Breakout Sessions # 3


 Breakout Session Descriptions are below. 

You will be asked to choose one for each session during registration. 

Jennifer Hasser, M.Ed., Founder and Executive Director of Kendore Learning and Syllables Learning Center

  • Multisensory Magic: How to Engage the Senses So That Learning Sticks

Current memory research tells us that dyslexic students need extensive repetition to cement concepts into memory. We also know that when students’ senses are engaged, repetition time can be substantially reduced. In this lively workshop, participants learn a wealth of games and activities that they can play one-on-one or in a classroom setting to teach and reinforce instruction. We discuss the research-based reasons why these games work. Participants should be prepared to move, have fun, and look at learning in a refreshing way. Techniques support Orton-Gillingham/MSL teaching.


Burnham Boehling, M.Ed., C/AOGPE, IDA/CDT, Bee Smart Concepts, Richmond, VA

  • Lips, Tips, and Tricks for Spelling – two sessions – one extended presentation

So often, spelling is not recognized as an impairment to expressive language, and consequently bright students "dumb down" written language. This session will cover multi-sensory strategies for spelling phonetically predictable and unpredictable words as well as words with affixes.  The integration of grammar as a spelling strategy will also be addressed.  


Robin Hegner, J.D., C/AOGPE, CDT/IDA, Pathways to Reading Success, Richmond VA

  • It All Starts with a Good Foundation – Phonological Awareness

The strength of a building lies in its foundation. The same goes for reading and spelling. To learn how to read and spell, children must be able to not only understand the sound structure in spoken words, but they must also be able to pay attention to the sequence of sounds in words and to manipulate them. These skills often do not get the attention that they deserve. In this workshop, the building blocks of phonological awareness will be explained and participants will leave with activities that they can do with their students and/or children.


Charice Myers, C/AOGPE, M.Ed., Director of Curriculum, Riverside School, Richmond, VA

  • Multisensory Handwriting Instruction

Why teach handwriting in a technologically advanced world?  The session will explore the research and rationale for teaching handwriting.  You will learn VAKT procedures for teaching cursive that will work with even the most dysgraphic students, and you will get hands-on experience with proven multisensory materials and strategies. Topics such as handwriting prerequisites, proper grip, and activities for increasing hand and finger strengths will also be discussed. 


Deb Butterworth, M.Ed., English Department Chair, The New Community School, Richmond, VA

  • Get'em Started Write!

Raise the level of excitement in your writing workshops!  Help student writers generate story ideas that they want to write. Give them specific drafting strategies to turn their ideas into great narratives.  Explore mentor texts to spark revising with enthusiasm.  In this interactive workshop, you will learn prewriting, drafting, and revising activities that you can begin using tomorrow


Kim Bausum Brown, M.Ed., Dyslexia and Specialized Reading Specialist, VDOE 

  • VDOE Initiatives Supporting Students with Dyslexia in Virginia

This session will provide an overview on the initiatives facilitated by the Office of Special Education Instructional Services at the Virginia Department of Education to support students with dyslexia in Virginia.  The Multisensory Structured Literacy Initiative Pilot Program and professional learning communities for dyslexia advisors are two of the initiatives that will be discussed.  Resources currently available on the VDOE dyslexia webpage will be shared.


Debra Mitchell, M.Ed., A/AOGPE, Associate Head of School and Director of Admissions, Riverside School, Richmond, VA

  • What Is the Orton-Gillingham Approach, Really?  An AOGPE perspective

Have you heard about the Orton-Gillingham approach and wondered what it’s all about?  What does it involve?  Why does it require so much training?  Why does it work for individuals with dyslexia?  This session will explore the answers to all of these questions from the perspective of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.  We will explore the hallmarks of the O-G approach, peek at a variety of O-G lesson plans, and we will practice one of the components of the approach together.


Dr. Karen Rooney, Ph.D., Director of Educational Enterprises, Richmond, VA

  • Assessment: What should it look like, and how can I make the process work for me?

Dr Rooney will demystify the evaluation process, and help parents know how to actively participate from beginning to end.  She will explain the goals of different types of evaluations that are available, describe what an evaluation for dyslexia should include and outline steps parents can take before, during and after an evaluation to obtain a better outcome. Participants will receive a handout, and be able to access guidance documents as well as menus of recommendations discussed in the session from Dr. Rooney’s website.


Margaret Meyers, M.A., Director of Middle School, Chesapeake Bay Academy, Virginia Beach, VA

  • Mindfulness: Compassionate Presence in the Classroom

What is this thing called mindfulness?  Is there any science to back it up?  What does research say about ADHD, Dyslexia, executive functioning issues, and mindfulness?  How might mindfulness be implemented in the classroom? These questions and more will be answered.  This session will also include practice with mindfulness activities such as: Landing in the Room (bringing our minds and bodies into the same place at the same time), Setting the Container (co-creating a safe space for shared learning), and Let’s Practice (simple but not easy; the four postures).


Jennifer Hasser, M.Ed., Founder and Executive Director of Kendore Learning and Syllables Learning Center

  • Building a Rock Solid Foundation: Creating Fluent Readers by Incorporating Tracking, Prosody, Vocabulary, and Grammar Throughout Phonics Instruction. 

Fluent readers possess skills that extend beyond phonics: they track from line to line, incorporate prosody (proper stress and intonation) in their speech, understand vocabulary, and apply rules of grammar and punctuation. For dyslexic students, these building blocks of fluent reading often do not come naturally. This workshop demonstrates proven strategies for teaching these skills simultaneously with all levels of phonics instruction. Participants learn engaging, multisensory activities to use with students of any age to pave the way to reading fluency. Techniques support OG/MSL teaching.


Michael Hunter, M.Ed., Founding Partner, Readsters, Alexandria, VA, co-author of Phonics Blitz, Phonics Boost, and Diagnostic Decoding Surveys. 

  • A New Model for Teaching High Frequency Words

High frequency words are traditionally taught separately from phonics.  They are introduced to students in the order of their frequency, or sometimes grouped by subject (colors, numbers, etc.)  While this approach may work for many students, struggling readers often have difficulty reading and spelling high frequency words such as saw, was, where, were, etc.  In this session learn to organize and teach the words in any high frequency list (Dolch, Fry, etc.) using a phonics-based instructional sequence, including techniques for teaching students to read and spell the 50 or so high frequency words that don’t fit into phonics instruction because of their irregular spellings.  Teachers who have used this approach to teaching high frequency words say that all students, not just struggling readers, read and spell high frequency words with much higher accuracy than using the traditional approach.


Cynthia Davis, M.Ed., FIT/AOGPE, Riverside School, Richmond, VA

  • Syntax - A Bridge to Reading Comprehension

Do your students decode well but still struggle to comprehend?  Perhaps the culprit is a weakness in language.  One solution?  Shore up their skills in syntax!  Syntax is an often overlooked component of language that deserves attention.  It is the vehicle that can bridge the gap that exists for many students between word reading and reading comprehension.  We will examine why syntax is important to comprehension and explore instructional strategies that can teach students syntax in a way that will directly affect their comprehension of text. 


Rebecca Warner, Cheryl Lafferty, Jenna Hynes, Erin Reardon, Rebecca Hodell

  • Decoding Dyslexia Virginia Panel

Join DDVA to discuss dyslexia legislation which supports families seeking appropriate instruction for their students.  What can parents do to keep this conversation moving forward and make true changes in the teaching methods and culture of our Virginia schools?   Those attending the session will have the opportunity to ask panel members related questions.  


Robin Hegner, J.D., C/AOGPE, CDT/IDA, Pathways to Reading Success, Richmond VA

  • Double Trouble – Dyslexia and ADHD Comorbidity

Statistics vary, but it is not unusual for children with dyslexia to also have the neurobiological disorder of ADHD as well. In this session, we will discuss the unique difficulties children with both conditions face when learning to read, spell and write. Suggestions for accommodations and how teachers and parents can help children with both disorders will be provided.


Staff of The New Community School, Richmond, VA

  • The Dyslexia Simulation

This hands-on workshop is designed to increase awareness of the difficulties and the frustrations many students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities encounter daily in their efforts to succeed in the classroom. Participants will move through four learning stations designed to simulate various language related tasks and how those tasks can be stressful, tiring, and emotional for students with special learning needs.


Dr. Kenneth Wescott, O.D., Developmental Vision Care PC, Chesapeake, VA

  • Visual Processing

Neurologically, reading is one of the most complicated things we do as human beings.  The reading process requires the integration of brain areas that plan and coordinate motor function with areas that process the information visually, auditorially, and linguistically.  Additionally, the reading process can be significantly impacted by developmental abilities.  Join developmental optometrist,  Dr. Ken Westcott for an exciting update on how you can incorporate these latest findings into your assessments and remediation strategies of problem readers.

Ian Moore, M.Ed., Program Specialist, AIM-VA

  • Building Assistive Technology for Reading Into a Student's Curriculum

By modeling AT throughout the school year and properly scaffolding AT supports, educators can create successful, independent readers in the classroom, at home, and on statewide assessment.  Research tells us that the benefits of using AT for reading, such as audio support, on reading comprehension, persist even when the AT cannot be used; Virginia’s Reading SOL.  This session will show educators how to build AT for reading into the classroom to empower your students towards reading success.