Monday, 17 November 2014 15:42

Buffalo's Black History Lesson Plans


 Buffalo's Black History Lesson Plans

Subject Areas:

Social Studies, English Language Arts, Visual Arts

5, 6, 7, 8

Most people know of famous African Americans such as Harriet Tubman, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Rosa Parks. But sometimes it is fun to learn the history that happens right in your own backyard. Students will discover and learn about some notable (and not so notable) local black Americans from, or associated with, Buffalo and its surrounding areas. This is a unit consisting of 3 different lesson plans: an oral report, a written report and an art project. The length of each lesson is listed below.


Oral Report:
Give at least a week for research. Reports themselves will take 1-2 days for presentations depending on length of speaking time assigned.

Written Report:
Give at least a week for research.

Art Project:
1-2 weeks production time.

Student Materials:
Students will need Internet access, information on this web page and art supplies.

Teacher Materials:
Teachers will need the information on this web page.


Students will choose a person from the following list:

  • Joseph Hodge
  • Louis W. Roberts
  • Mary Elizabeth Vroman
  • Clara L. Payne
  • Lucille Clifton
  • Ruben Santiago-Hudson
  • Grover Washington, Jr.
  • Jesse L. Martin
  • Brian McKnight
  • Bob Lanier

Some of the people are more obscure than others. However, using the list of web resources and other resources found in the classroom or library, students should be able to complete all assignments.


Students present an oral report (props and costumes encouraged!) that is a fictional discussion between the person they chose from the above list and a more well-known person from this list:

  • Colin Powell
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Malcolm X
  • Oprah Winfrey
  • Condoleezza Rice
  • Aretha Franklin
  • Ray Charles

What would they talk about?

Students should include at least 3 different topics of discussion.


Students will write a two-page biography of the person they chose. At least 2 websites should be used as resources.

Basic details to include:

  • Date and place of birth and death
  • Family information
  • Lifetime accomplishments
  • Effects/impact on society, historical significance
  • Was there something in their childhood that shaped who they became?
  • Did they have unique personality traits?
  • Any turning points in their life?
  • What was his/her impact on history?


Students will create a work of art that relates to their chosen person.

Some ideas:
-Extra points given if students' artwork resembles American art of the time period when the person lived

-Students' artwork could tell the person's story visually



Buffalo's Black History Web Resources


Buffalo's Black History Web Resources


Buffalo's Black History Web Resources



Sample Oral Report Rubric


Sample Written Report Rubric


Sample Art Project Rubric


Wednesday, 12 November 2014 18:12

Demystifying Dyslexia for Adult Learners


 Demystifying Dyslexia for Adult Learners

Dyslexia follows people into adulthood. About one out of ten of us struggle with dyslexia. Now science is showing more facts about the dyslexic mind and its ability to change.

“I knew I was smart, but there again I felt stupid because there was so much of my life I had to hide.”
Sandi Dillon, Hair Stylist and Political Activist

Dyslexics who grew up in the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s had almost no help. Little was known about dyslexia. At age forty-seven, Sandi Dillon decided to join a dyslexia study. She, along with other adult dyslexics, was a subject in a study on reading. Sandi underwent an eight week reading intervention. Scientists at Georgetown University then studied the effects of the reading intervention by doing brain scans of the subjects. Sandi said this of her intense lessons, “It was a lot of drilling and a lot of studying that first eight weeks and I guess training another part of my brain…to make it all fit.”

“If you take an adult who’s had a lifelong reading problem, like Sandi, the ways that the brain may change as a result of an intensive intervention may be somewhat different than a younger child where the brain may be somewhat more malleable.”
Dr. Guinevere Eden, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Director of Georgetown University’s Center for the Study of Learning

The study showed, through brain scans, that the adult dyslexic’s mind can be trained or re-wired. Hard work can bring about change. Adults like Sandi Dillon are proof that a reading intervention can alter one’s life.

“If I had this knowledge when I was a teenager or in my twenties, there’s no telling where I would be today.”
Sandi Dillon

Screening for Adults with Learning Disabilities
Adults with LD
Adults With Dyslexia in the Workplace
Tips For Succeeding in College



Wednesday, 12 November 2014 16:07

Demystifying Dyslexia for Students


 Demystifying Dyslexia for Students

Students who experience difficulty with reading are not alone. Dyslexia is the most common learning disability. Simply defined, it means "difficulty with language."

You, your parents and your teachers must work together to bridge this learning gap. Never lose sight of your special strengths and what you can accomplish.

Check out PBS KIDS Reading Games

Some experts believe that the neurological wiring that causes dyslexia may also create neurological advantages. Dyslexics have a talent for grasping "the big picture" and "thinking outside the box."

Some other talented dyslexics:


  • Albert Einstein
  • Thomas Edison
  • Alexander Graham Bell
  • Charles Darwin
  • Henry Ford


  • Cher
  • Whoopi Goldberg
  • Patrick Dempsey
  • Rosie O'Donnell
  • Danny Glover
  • Henry Winkler
  • Jay Leno


  • Leonardo da Vinci
  • Pablo Picasso
  • Michelangelo
  • Vincent Van Gogh
  • Walt Disney
  • Tommy Hilfiger


  • Bruce Jenner-U.S. Olympic decathlon gold medalist 1976
  • Greg Louganis
  • Magic Johnson
  • Nolan Ryan


  • General George Patton
  • Winston Churchill
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Nelson Rockefeller


  • John Grisham
  • John Irving
  • Agatha Christie
  • Wendy Wasserstein

Tips from Dyslexic Students for Dyslexic Students

Study Skills for Students with Dyslexia



Wednesday, 12 November 2014 15:59

Demystifying Dyslexia for Teachers


 Demystifying Dyslexia for Teachers

Demystifying Dyslexia highlights the efforts of several role model teachers who are dedicated to using proven methods of teaching reading to dyslexic students.

Kathy Rose is a teacher at The Gow School who has devoted her career to using the power of Reconstructive Language, or RL, to break the code of reading for dyslexic students. Created by The Gow School founder Peter Gow, Jr. in 1926, with guidance from famed neurologist Dr. Samuel T. Orton, Reconstructive Language is a remedial language skills program taught with a multi-sensory, structured approach.

"Teaching teachers to teach reading, spelling, writing and language is quite an involved and long-term process. This isn't something people can acquire overnight."
Louisa Moats, Director of Professional Development and Research Initiatives with Sopris West Educational Services

What is multi-sensory teaching?
Multi-sensory teaching is simultaneously visual, auditory and kinesthetic-tactile to enhance memory and learning. Links are consistently made between the visual (what we see), auditory (what we hear), and kinesthetic-tactile (what we feel) pathways in learning to read and spell.

To find out more about multi-sensory teaching click here.
Information provided by the International Dyslexia Association

The Reconstructive Language curriculum breaks down the sound, spelling rules and grammar of the English language. The program centers on structured instruction, memorization, recitation, and practice in reading and writing. All students work to master the 116-card phonetic deck as well as roots and affixes. These skills are perfected as students learn word identification and spelling, while fluency and comprehension strategies are taught and practiced through regular oral reading and related activities. Kathy Rose and her colleagues, like Mari Jo Clayback, at The Gow School work rigorously and consistently with their secondary students in an effort to bridge the gap between seeing and saying letters and being able to decode reading words.

Helena Ortiz-Smith is an inspiring special education teacher at Edgewood Elementary in Baltimore who opened her mind and classroom to a nationally recognized reading intervention program, called Project Read. Project Read is transforming the lives of her students.

"Whenever anyone comes into my classroom, they're always amazed at how bright these children are."
Helena Ortiz-Smith

Maryann Povell is a reading specialist with great expertise and compassion for her students. She conducts outreach for the Jemicy School, bringing Project Read to schools in need. Maryann is doing everything in her power to improve the reading practices of as many teachers as possible.

"What is working in regular education for the majority of kids simply isn't going to work with these kids...but that's not the end of the road...there are other ways to get the information across."
Maryann Povell, Reading Specialist, Jemicy School Outreach Department and Project Read

Dyslexia Basics

Accommodating Students with Dyslexia in All Classroom Settings

Reading Rockets - For Teachers

National Center for Learning Disabilities - Especially for Teachers



Wednesday, 12 November 2014 15:48

Demystifying Dyslexia for Parents


 Demystifying Dyslexia for Parents

Dyslexia has no cure or quick fixes, but it can be overcome.

Private schools like Gow exist to provide dyslexics with the highly specialized instruction that they need. In public schools, parents of dyslexic children must work closely with teachers and principals to meet the educational needs of their children. The journey for families whose children struggle with dyslexia is a difficult one. It is essential that parents become advocates for their children. Even before school starts, parents and families must take action and address recognition of a learning difficulty.

There are characteristics that may suggest, to a parent, that their child is struggling with dyslexia. The characteristics differ based on age or grade level of the child.

If you think your child has dyslexia…

Look for clues

  • Talk with your child’s teacher
  • Look at your child’s school work
  • Listen to your child read

Warning Signs of Dyslexia

Find out for sure

  • Request that your child be tested for language learning problems or dyslexia
  • Keep careful records
  • The evaluation report should give recommendations

Sample Letter Requesting Evaluation

Seek instruction that fits

  • Multi-sensory
  • Structured
  • Phonics
  • Systematic
  • Direct instruction

Assistive Technology


Learn all you can

  • Join support groups like IDA or LDA
  • Talk with others in your community
  • Learn your rights
  • Parent advocates can help

Checklists and Worksheets

Effective Support Systems

Get on your child’s side

  • Be positive
  • Build self-esteem
  • Find and celebrate talents
  • Teach self-advocacy
  • Hold high expectations
  • Don’t give up
  • Stay involved

Your Child's Rights


LD Online - Parents

Learning Disabilities Association - For Parents




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