March 5th & 6th 2021 Keynotes

1st Keynote Speaker: Dr. Anthony Henley – Neurology and the LD brain

Topic: Dr. Henley has been working in the field of learning disabilities since 1989 and exclusively provides psychoeducational assessments as a clinical psychologist. In this presentation, Dr. Henley will be speaking on neurological aspects of having a Learning Disability.

Biography: Clinical psychologist licensed in the State of Maryland and the Commonwealth of Virginia with over 19 years of experience as a learning disabilities specialist providing remediation, evaluation, and consultation services. Dr Henley is registered with the National Register of Health Service Providers in Psychology and a member of the American Psychological Association, the International Dyslexia Association, and Children and Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.  In addition, Dr Henley is the current President of D.C. Capital Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

2nd Keynote Speaker: Dr. Ross Greene – Collaborative Problem Solving

Topic: Dr. Ross Greene is the originator of the research-based approach to understanding and helping behaviourally challenging kids — as described in his books The Explosive Child and Lost at School — that has been implemented in countless families, schools, inpatient psychiatry units, therapeutic groups homes, and residential and juvenile detention facilities. The approach sets forth two major tenets. First, challenging behavior in kids is best understood as the result of lagging cognitive skills (in the general domains of flexibility/adaptability, frustration tolerance, and problem solving) rather than as the result of passive, permissive, inconsistent, non-contingent parenting. And second, the best way to reduce challenging episodes is by working together with the child – collaborating – to solve the problems setting them in motion in the first place.

Biography: Ross W. Greene, Ph.D., is the author of the well-known books The Explosive Child And Lost at School, and the originator of a model of care (now known as Collaborative & Proactive Solutions) emphasizing collaboration between kids and adults in resolving the problems contributing to children’s behavioural challenges.. Dr Greene founded the non-profit Lives in the Balance to provide free, web-based resources on his model and to advocate on behalf of behaviourally challenging kids and their parents, teachers, and other caregivers. He lectures widely throughout the world and lives in Portland, Maine, with his wife and two kids.

3rd Keynote Speaker: Marilyn Zecher – Multisensory Math

Topic: Marilyn Zecher will speak on the multisensory approach, which is a unique way of “thinking” about teaching mathematics. This program applies Orton-Gillingham multisensory instructional strategies to mathematics. This approach fits easily with recommendations from current research and suggestions from the National Math Panel regarding instruction for struggling learners. Hands-on work with manipulative objects is recommended for all students at all ages. It enhances both concept integration and memory. This approach is especially important for LD students and those with conceptual gaps. It is however, an approach which is appropriate for all students.  

Biography: Teacher, Nationally Certified Academic Language Therapist specializing in the application of O-G Multisensory Strategies for teaching Math, Study Skills, Reading & Language, Spanish and Content Area Subjects. In 2004, Ms Zecher received her certification as an Academic Therapist specializing in multisensory mathematics and study skills. She helped to develop ASDEC’s Multisensory Mathematics program that applied Orton-Gillingham instructional techniques to the teaching on mathematics. She has trained both public and private school teachers as well as academic therapists in multisensory mathematics instructional techniques, handwriting, multisensory study skills and educational strategies for the gifted and talented dyslexic student. 

4th Keynote Speaker: Dr. Russell Barkley – ADHD, Self-Regulation, and Executive Functioning

Topic: Dr. Barkley has developed one of the leading theories of executive functioning and its role in the the nature of ADHD. This theory is based on understanding the nature of the executive neuropsychological functions as a multi-level meta-construct and its contribution to self-regulation across time to support the individual’s long-term goals and general welfare. This model views EF not just as a suite of purely cognitive capacities but as an extended phenotype from brain functioning into ever widening spheres of daily adaptive, self-reliant, and cooperative social functioning across the major domains of daily life activities in which humans must function effectively to survive and prosper. From this theory, he has developed numerous clinical implications concerning the diagnosis, assessment, and management of ADHD. Specific management principles will be developed from the theory that extends across multiple domains of major life activities.

Biography: Russell A. Barkley, Ph.D., is a retired Professor of Psychiatry and Neurology from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center who subsequently worked as a Professor of Psychiatry and Health Sciences at the Medical University of South Carolina and a Clinical professor of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center.  He continues to lecture widely and develop continuing education courses for professionals on ADHD and related disorders, as well as consult on research projects, edit The ADHD Report, and write books, reviews, and research articles. He is board certified in Clinical Psychology (ABPP), Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, and Clinical Neuropsychology (ABCN, ABPP).  Dr. Barkley is a clinical scientist, educator, and practitioner who has published 27 books, rating scales, and clinical manuals numbering more than 43 editions, and creator of 7 award winning professional videos.  He has also published more than 300 scientific articles and book chapters related to the nature, assessment, and treatment of ADHD and related disorders.



Saturday, March 6th 2021 Breakout Sessions

 Literacy Stream

1.1 Liisa Freure – Structured Literacy

Topic: If you have heard of “Structured Literacy” but are not exactly sure what it is and how it differs from other practices, you are not alone.  This workshop will give an overview of the elements of structured literacy (the what), how they are taught, where and when it should happen, and the reasons why this explicit, systematic approach to teaching language skills is getting so much attention.

Biography: Liisa Freure has over 30 years of experience in the field of education.  She is an Ontario certified teacher with an M.Ed., and training Special Education. Liisa’s experience trying to reach struggling students in her classroom and parenting her own children with learning challenges, led her to become certified as an education advocate and a Fellow with Orton Gillingham Academy.

1.2 Sherrie Rain – Phonological Awareness

Topic: Sherrie Rain will be speaking on one of the strongest predictors of a child’s future reading success, which is their phonological awareness skills. In a stimulating classroom setting, phonological awareness appears to come quite easily for some children while others require more explicit phonological awareness instruction.

Biography: Sherrie Rain has been teaching students with learning disabilities and reading disorders for over 40 years. She has taught in private schools for students with learning disabilities, a First Nation school, a Ministry of Education Demonstration School, as well as public boards. Her passion for cognitive neuroscience in reading informs her practice for remediation.

1.3 Rebecca Loveless – Structured Word Inquiry

 Topic: Structured Word Inquiry (Bowers and Kirby, 2010) is a way of working with language to show that spelling makes sense. In fact, our spelling system is so logical and well-ordered that it can be investigated and understood through scientific inquiry.

Biography: With an undergraduate degree in linguistics and a master’s in education, Rebecca Loveless spent 15 years in early elementary classrooms passionately guiding young readers and writers. In her final year of teaching at The Nueva School in California, “structured word inquiry” arrived and changed everything. She left her classroom position to begin a private tutoring and coaching practice, solely based around SWI. Currently she is the Structured Word Inquiry Coach at Nueva, supporting teachers and students as they continue to deepen their practice with orthography and Real Script. She consults with other schools in the Bay Area and farther afield, guiding teachers and administrators as they adopt SWI into their curriculum. Additionally, she offers several online classes, which have been attended by teachers, specialists, and parents from all over the world. You can read more about her work on her website at www.rebeccaloveless.com.

Math Stream

 2.1 Fleur Lay – Mathematics Curriculum and the LD Learner

Topic: The presentation will include an overview of the Severe LD Learner Profile and considerations for the mathematics program. An exploration of effective mathematic strategies, digital tools and classroom applications will also be an integral part of the webinar.

Biography: Fleur Lay is an an elementary teacher with a focus in Special Education. 

2.2 Daniel Ansari – The Typical and Atypical Development of Numerical Skills 

Topic: The discovery of these key building blocks of the reading brain have been translated into screeners for children at risk as well as evidence-based interventions for struggling readers. In this talk, I will discuss whether similar key foundational skills can be identified for better understanding individual differences in early numeracy development and what they are. In this context, I will how children learn the meaning of numerical symbols and how differences between children in their processing of symbols maps onto their learning of arithmetic. I will discuss the implications of this work for screening and remediation of mathematical learning difficulties. Finally I will discuss what we know about mathematics anxiety and gender differences in math skills. 

Biography: Daniel Ansari is a Professor and Canada Research Chair in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Learning in the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of Education at Western University in Canada, where he heads the Numerical Cognition Laboratory (www.numericalcognition.org). Ansari and his team explore the developmental trajectory underlying both the typical and atypical development of numerical and mathematical skills, using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. Ansari has published over 100 articles in peer-reviewed journals. He is member of the The College of the Royal Society of Canada, a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science as well as the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. 

2.3 Todd Cunningham – Working Memory and Processing Speed

Topic: In the diagnosis of learning disabilities (LDs), working memory and processing speed are common core deficits which lead to academic challenges in the classroom. Teachers are required to make accommodations to support students with LDs in these areas, but appropriate recommendations are not always clear. This presentation will explore the research literature relating to working memory and processing speed. It will also explore the evidence base relating to the interventions and recommendations.

Biography: Dr. Cunningham leads the Bright Lights Psychology Team. He is a school and clinical psychologist registered in Ontario. He also is an assistant professor [teaching stream] at the University of Toronto and is chair of the School and Clinical Child Psychology program. Dr. Cunningham received his PhD in School and Clinical Child Psychology program at University of Toronto and later completed his postdoctoral studies at the Hospital for Sick Children in neuropsychology.


Assistive Technology Stream

3.1 Usha James – Assessment & Evaluation Online

Topic: How can we ensure instruction and assessment are meaningful, engaging, reliable and manageable for students and for us this school year? How do we address the significant equity issues presented by classroom safety measures and online environments? Educators everywhere are asking these questions in this uncertain environment. This workshops will provide practical tips for teachers on how to adapt, develop, and refine instruction and assessment for online, physically distanced and blended learning environments.

Biography: Usha James spent 12 years as a secondary teacher and five years seconded to OISE at the University of Toronto, as an instructor in the Initial Teacher Education Program and Director of the Secondary Program. She has co-authored textbooks, teachers’ resources, course profiles and ministry documents with the aim of providing practical strategies for teachers seeking to refine their practice. Usha has worked with teachers of kindergarten to post-secondary students, supporting their efforts to improve the quality of their students’ thinking. She has seen how an understanding of critical thinking can deepen teacher understanding and practice of assessment, instruction, curriculum design, literacy, numeracy and differentiation. 

3.2 Yvan Roy – Assistive Technology

Topic: Take a tour of some of the tools that are readily available to computer users. Whether you are on a Mac, Windows, Android, iOS or Chromebook, we have got tools for everybody. We’ll look at some text-to-speech (TTS) options for reading, Speech Recognition options for writing, apps for phones and tablets and handheld stand alone devices as well. We’ll also talk about the important role parents and educators play in ensuring the continued use of tech and to avoid the trap that is technology abandonment.

BiographyYvan is an Electronics Engineer with Post Graduate Certificates in the Learning Disability Specialist for both AT and LS and in Applied Learning Disability Studies.In 2002, Yvan started as an ACC Technician at the Children’s Treatment Centre in Sudbury. Yvan was part of an assessment team that would prescribe assistive technology for children, providing training and performing maintenance on the equipment. In 2003, Yvan started at Cambrian College looking to improve access for students. Yvan was part of the team that developed what would become the AERO, a system for acquiring alternate format textbooks in Ontario. Yvan also teaches the assistive technology component of the Applied Learning Disability Studied program.

3.3 Wendy Farkas & Emily Tac- Executive Function & A/T Tools

Topic: The effective use of assistive and educational technology can break down barriers and facilitate a more equitable environment for students with severe Learning Disabilities and AD/HD. Explore how these tools can support students with challenging behaviours, self regulation and executive function deficits to be more successful in the classroom. Wendy Farkas is a Resource Services Consultant at Trillium Demonstration School. Her role is to provide guidance to Educators and School Boards across Ontario who are seeking support for their students with severe Learning Disabilities. 

Wendy’s Biography: Wendy Farkas is a Resource Services Consultant at Trillium Demonstration School. Her role is to provide guidance to Educators and School Boards across Ontario who are seeking support for their students with severe Learning Disabilities. 

Emily’s Biography: Emily Tac is the Assistive Technology Advisor at Trillium Demonstration School. She is an Ontario Certified Teacher and has experience working in both DPCDSB and HCDSB. Her current role is to set up assistive technology for students so that they can customize their devices in personalized ways based on their individual learning needs. Her background is in special education, teaching ELL, and assessment and evaluation studies have prepared her to create unique learning opportunities for students using technology.

Social/Emotional Strength Stream

4.1 Elizabeth Mendelsohn – NVLD

Topic: Meeting the needs of students with Nonverbal Learning Disorders in the classroom relies on linking research to remediation. Over the past 30 years, our leadership and faculty have created a school community that accomplishes this task through research with allied professional and professional development. Every student exhibits a different pattern of strengths and weaknesses, and through participation in this session attendees will learn how professional can work to identify these patterns and create a program that focuses on strengthening social skills , problem-solving, synthesizing and integrating information, difficulties with novel tasks, and math concepts, all while addressing their social-emotional difficulties. 

Biography: A graduate of Teachers College’s Reading Specialist program and Vanderbilt University’s Special Education program, Elizabeth is the Winston Preparatory School’s Chief Operating Officer and Innovation Lab Director. She supports the execution and implementation of the WPS mission and vision, as well as directs the work of the Lab where researchers, leaders, and teachers link new science, research and understanding to practice. Elizabeth has worked with a diverse populations of students with learning differences over the last 20 years as an administrator and teacher. She is a frequent presenter and faculty trainer for professionals working with students with learning disabilities. 

4.2 Kevin Cyr – Bullying, Conflict, and Assertive Communication

Topic: What is bullying, what is conflict, and what is the difference in between. Participants will learn how to understand and vocalize the difference for their students and parents. Second, participants will learn how to identify student’s natural stress responses, how to help them find calm, and coach assertive communication through specific body language and tone of voice cues.

Biography: Kevin Cyr grew up in a small family business, teaching youth how to self advocate. Today, Kevin runs Brave Education, a company that provides in the moment communication skills for students, educators, and community members on how to identify and diffuse conflict.

4.3 Integra – LDs and Mental Health: How Educators Can Promote Wellness

Topic: This workshop will help participants understand the emotional impact of Learning Disabilities and why kids with LDs often experience mental health challenges. Experiential exercises will be used to simulate the lived experience of young people with LDs and give participants insight into their emotions. We will explore what mental health issues might look like in the school environment, how to ensure we interpret these clues appropriately, and how educators can leverage their role to promote wellness.

Biography: Amanda and Torie regularly deliver public education workshops on LDMH to caregivers, teachers, and mental health professionals. More information can be accessed on the CDI website: www.childdevelop.ca/programs/integra-learning- disabilities-and-mental-health/workshops-and-training