NoticeAbility’s courses build on the work of neuroscientists Dr. Brock Eide and Dr. Fernette Eide and their insights about dyslexic strengths as they laid out in their book, The Dyslexic Advantage. The cognitive attributes that people with dyslexia are more likely to develop and show advantages in (the Material, Interconnected, Narrative, and Dynamic reasoning areas, or ‘MIND’ strengths - video here) also predispose dyslexics entering the workforce to end up in certain professions (Entrepreneurship & Innovation, Architecture & Engineering, and the Arts: music, drawing, painting, movement, sculpture, graphic design, among others). These inferred cognitive strengths, paired with the observed professional pathways, and grounded in an understanding of the barriers to text-heavy content learning for students with dyslexia, combined together explain NoticeAbility’s course design principles:
the explicitly taught ‘competencies’ focus behind our social and emotional learning objectives,
the choice of content areas that are more likely to bring out and exercise the cognitive advantages of dyslexic students and highlight potential career pathways to pursue (but which aren’t often taught in middle school), and
the combination of online videos (low-text content) and project-based learning formats, providing the scaffold for hands-on student learning.
It turns out that these design principles are also best practices for all learners, but we have observed the value of creating community and a sense of belonging among students around a shared understanding of this invisible forces that predispose 8-15% of the population with the brain wiring associated with dyslexia to poor outcomes in school and at work. You can see our theory of change, explaining how we believe the our course’s inputs are connected to our intended outputs, outlined in NoticeAbility’s Program Overview here.
What’s especially challenging, and a big opportunity, is that the poor emotional and social outcomes we see stem in part from the invisibility of dyslexia as a learning difference, and the attribution errors we all make as humans. Because we are biased when judging the behavior of others and assign what we see to their core attributes (compared to how we would judge ourselves when faced with the same situation), too often struggling readers are mis-labeled as unmotivated, indolent, resistant, deficient, or dumb. Over time, these signals can become internalized, so even high-performing students with dyslexia believe they are broken in some way. We recognize that a key part of buffering students with dyslexia from the risks of emerging from school without an intact sense of self-identity and confidence involves rearranging the mental furniture of the adults - both teachers and parents in their life - and set the stage for students to demonstrate their strengths in ways that others can appreciate and acknowledge. You can see how we see ourselves fitting into this landscape and contributing in NoticeAbility’s Organizational Overview downloadable here (large file).
We’re especially grateful for the dozens of teachers and hundreds of students and parents who have embarked on this journey with us to unlock the dyslexic potential, and hope you can help introduce us to many more opportunities to make a difference together.