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The Learning Success Blog

How Learning Music Helps Develop Reading Skills: Dr Nina Kraus

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 15, 2017 at 7:16 AM

Peter Barnes

Playing a musical instrument (not just listening to music) improves reading, according to Dr Nina Kraus, in a presentation at Scientific Learning Corporation’s 2017 Visionary Conference.

Dr Kraus is the Director of the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory at Northwestern University, Illinois, USA.

We are indebted to Dr Kraus for the following notes about the connections between music, rhythm and reading. 

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Topics: Reading, Music, Reading Difficulties

Double " teaching as usual" reading gain - 146 NSW primary students

Posted by Peter Barnes on December 5, 2016 at 1:51 PM

Peter Barnes

Here is how a primary school achieved double the reading gain one would normally expect.

Picture this:  Following a half day professional development session, "Glasses for the Ears" where the teachers discovered how their students could become better learners by using neuroscience, students of all abilities from Grades 2 to 6 were enrolled in the Fast ForWord neuroscience-based program.

The teachers who volunteered to implement the program received more detailed ongoing training and support.

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Topics: Reading, Fast ForWord, For Principals

EAL Teacher Justine Lam Shares Success Stories With Reading Assistant

Posted by Colin Klupiec on July 28, 2016 at 5:46 PM

Colin Klupiec


English as an additional language teacher, Justine Lam, at Presbyterian Ladies College in Melbourne has been using the online reading tutor program, Reading Assistant, for two years. 

She spoke to the Learning Capacity Podcast about how successful it has been, not only for English Language Learners, but also for students struggling with reading. In this podcast episode Justine describes how pleased the teachers, students and their parents have been with Reading Assistant. And also how teachers play a very important role; it's not just the computer alone.

Listen to the podcast.

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Topics: English Language Learners, Reading, Learning Capacity Success Stories, Podcasts, Reading Assistant, English Language Learning Challenges

Dawson Now Loves to Read, Thanks to 6 Weeks of Fast ForWord

Posted by Peter Barnes on June 23, 2016 at 2:13 PM

Peter Barnes

This is a personal story.  It’s about my grandson Dawson.

He’s in grade 4 at school.   Dawson is a bright boy. Intelligence testing has put him in the 90th percentile in overall cognitive ability. But his language skills were tested as relatively weak.

He had no trouble learning to read, and he was able to understand what he read. But he wasn’t a big reader.  He would read reluctantly and did not seem to get a lot of enjoyment from it.

Earlier this year his teacher reported that Dawson was reading at a level between year 3 and year 4.

So I decided, with his parents’ agreement, that Dawson should do the Fast ForWord Language program.  After all, I’ve been involved in providing Fast ForWord to thousands of students via schools, learning centres and in homes. And I’ve seen the remarkable improvements this brain training has made for those students. So why not have my grandson benefit as well?

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Topics: Reading, Fast ForWord, Learning Capacity Success Stories, Reading Difficulties

10 Ways to Develop Your Child's Brain for Reading Success

Posted by Peter Barnes on June 1, 2016 at 5:18 PM

Peter Barnes

Many children struggle with reading, but there are ways parents can help prevent reading difficulties.

Reading researcher, Dr Jennifer Buckingham estimates that as many as 1 million children in Australia are at risk of reading failure.

We know from scientific research that the ability to read is one of the most complex skills we can learn.

According to reading research organisations in Australia and overseas, including The Centre for Independent Studies in Australia, the National Reading Panel (USA), and the USA National Institute for Literacy, there are some critical skills for learning to read.  

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Topics: Attention, Memory, Reading, Learning

Should teachers be readers? A light hearted look with two teachers

Posted by Colin Klupiec on May 26, 2016 at 11:09 AM

Colin Klupiec

Effective teaching of reading is a serious issue that deserves attention. But what happens after you’ve learned to read? How much should you read?

Given that schools are such book intensive places, would you expect teachers to be readers? I explored this topic on the Learning Capacity Podcast with music educators Brad Fuller and Peter Orenstein. They both teach at Northern Beaches Christian School in Sydney.

It was a light hearted chat about the serious business of reading.

Listen to the podcast.


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Topics: Reading, Podcasts

Leadership Expert John Spence: Reading is Path to School & Life Success

Posted by Colin Klupiec on May 17, 2016 at 5:29 PM

Colin Klupiec

John Spence is an international business thought leader and influencer, and also a guest lecturer at universities such as Harvard, Stanford and The University of Pennsylvania.

According to John, reading is the path to success at school and in business. John is an avid reader, and claims that reading has made a lasting impact on his life and career. He reads 100 to 200 books a year.

I caught up with John on the Learning Capacity podcast to find out more about his story, and what insights he has for Australian & New Zealand students, parents and educators.

Listen to the podcast:

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Topics: Reading, School, Podcasts

1 million Students Risk Reading Failure, says Dr Jennifer Buckingham

Posted by Colin Klupiec on May 10, 2016 at 5:02 PM

Colin Klupiec

It’s hard to believe, but 1 million Australian children are at risk of reading failure.

A research report released by the Centre for Independent Studies titled Read About It: Scientific Evidence for Effective Teaching of Reading suggests most children will need significant or intensive reading instruction.

Dr Jennifer Buckingham, editor of the report,  explained the problem in a discussion on the Learning Capacity Podcast, and the five keys to reading that can help address it.

Listen to the podcast.

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Topics: Comprehension, Reading, Podcasts, For Principals

Phonics Instruction Activates Brain Area Best Wired for Reading

Posted by Peter Barnes on April 12, 2016 at 3:23 PM

Peter Barnes

Research from Stanford University, USA, has shown that phonics instruction activates the left hemisphere of the brain. This is where visual and language regions are located.

The researchers showed that an alternative reading instruction method, known as whole-word or whole-language activates the right side of the brain.

Prof Bruce McCandliss, a co-author of the research noted that left hemisphere activation is characteristic of skilled readers, and is lacking in individuals who struggle with reading.

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Topics: Latest Research, Reading, Educational Neuroscience

Principal's New 7 Way Reading Program: Fast ForWord & Reading Assistant

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 30, 2016 at 4:10 PM

Peter Barnes

I just read an inspiring article by Carole Meyer, a school Principal in Washington State, USA about how her school transformed its reading program. 

The problem at Salk Middle School in Spokane, Washington was that 328 of the 736 students were not proficient readers, based on the state’s reading assessment. This was almost half the students.

So in mid 2013 Meyer decided to find a way to get every student reading at or above grade level.

She succeeded.

The students in the new reading program:

  • Achieved more than a year of reading growth in only one semester
  • Lifted their pass rate so they were passing more than 90% of their classes
  • Shifted their mindsets toward becoming better readers
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Topics: Reading, Confidence & Resilience, Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant

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