IDA’s Free Webinar Series

IDA offers webinar series to empower educational professionals and families with knowledge and resources to address the instructional needs of students who have dyslexia and other learning differences. To receive webinar updates in your inbox join our mailing list.

Building the Math ‘Muscle’: Activities to Support Mathematical Reasoning

This webinar offers simple activities to support mathematical reasoning at several levels of instruction. Math is a part of our daily lives and students can begin to see that through common practices we all take for granted: cooking, telling time, construction, purchasing food. Learn how to involve your students in activities which will help build the “math muscle.”  This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 7/27/2020.

View the webinar handout here.


A nationally certified Academic Language Therapist and former classroom/demonstration teacher, Marilyn Zecher, M.A., CALT is a specialist in applying multisensory Orton-Gillingham based strategies to a variety of content areas. She is most known for her work in developing an Orton-Gillingham approach to teaching multisensory mathematics which emphasizes the importance of instructional language paired with explicit instruction in mathematical concepts. Her work encompasses foundation skills to algebra and geometry and can be applied to any curriculum. The approach aligns with the Common Core and other State Standards, the neuroscience of mathematics learning and the recommendations of the What Works Clearinghouse and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. Her graduate level courses are offered on site and via distance learning both nationally and internationally. She is a frequent presenter at national and regional conferences (IDA, LDA, NCTM) and she trains nationally for The Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center in Rockville MD. It also hosts her Multisensory Math 1 and Multisensory Math 2 courses for educators, tutors and parents. Her other specialties include study skills, handwriting remediation, incorporating structured literacy in the secondary ELA classroom and written language for students with dyslexia and related learning challenges. Samples of her workshops are available on her private video learning channel:



Integrating Reading Supports with Educational Technology

The utilization of technology (interactive screens, iPads, apps, and websites) can make reading instruction (decoding/encoding, fluency, and comprehension) a multi-sensory process that is engaging and explicit while maintaining the individualization and diagnostic-prescriptive aspects of the lesson. It can support the organizational challenges for necessary lesson materials that can occur when working with multiple students at once, while also allowing for ease of differentiation within a small group format. Additionally, educational technology can provide ways for the teacher to collect work samples and data from multiple students simultaneously and allow for individualized feedback. The session will focus on the use of various tools that can support differentiated and individualized engagement during various components of reading instruction. This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 7/13/2020.

View the webinar slides here.


Sharon Plante, an educator with over 23 years teaching experience in special education, currently serves as teacher and Chief Technology Integrator at The Southport School. As a Classroom Educator certified Orton-Gillingham tutor, she uses her training and understanding of technology to empower students with learning disabilities in the classroom and through virtual learning. Sharon has taken the work done at The Southport School and conducts presentations and workshops across the country and online providing other educators this training, incorporating best practices in professional development. She has provided workshops for Kent Independent School District (Michigan), Pennsylvania Department of Education, and the Assistive Technology International Association. Additionally, she has led virtual training for Learning Ally, Spotlight on Dyslexia, PaTTAN and the Center for Technology and Disabilities, while also presenting at the International Dyslexia Association and The Dyslexia Foundation. Sharon is the co-author of Utilizing Technology to Engage Students with Learning Disabilities. She is a member of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools Commission on School Growth and Collaboration. Additionally, Sharon was awarded the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Award from George Mason University College of Education and Human Development.

Resilience in Challenging Times Part 1

We are living in an unprecedented, unpredictable, challenging time. As of the second week of June we have had more than 7 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus and more than 400,000 deaths worldwide. We have all experienced major disruptions in our lives, including school and business closures, childcare issues, layoffs, and furloughs. Remote learning, meetings, and graduations have become the norm. There has been a noticeable increase in anxiety, depression, anger, and mental health struggles. Added to these consequences of COVID-19 was the killing of George Floyd, quickly followed by protests and a dialogue about racism that must continue to be in the forefront of our lives.

Parents, teachers, and other caregivers want to help their children learn from these events and become more resilient. The urgency is even more pronounced when raising and teaching children with learning differences. Many adults are asking, “How can we help our children become more resilient if we are feeling defeated, pessimistic, and stressed out?” To take care of our children we must first take care of ourselves. In this webinar Dr. Brooks will describe and illustrate realistic strategies we can initiate to develop a resilient outlook and lifestyle in ourselves and become better equipped to do the same for our children. This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 6/29/2020.

View the webinar slides here.


Dr. Robert Brooks in a clinical psychologist on the faculty (part-time) of Harvard Medical School and former Director of the Department of Psychology at McLean Hospital, a private psychiatric hospital. His first position at McLean was as principal of the school in the locked door unit of the child and adolescent program. He has lectured nationally and Internationally and written extensively about such themes as psychotherapy, motivation, resilience, parenting and family relationships, and a positive school and work environment. He is the author or co-author of 18 books, including Raising Resilient Children; The Power of Resilience: Achieving Balance, Confidence, and Personal Strength in Your Life; and Handbook of Resilience in Children. Dr. Brooks has received many awards for his work including Hall of Fame Awards from both the Connecticut Association for Children with Learning Disabilities and CHADD. Most recently he was given The Mental Health Humanitarian Award from William James College for his contributions as a clinician, educator, and author. For additional information visit Dr. Brooks’ website

Bring Online Structured Literacy to Life with Research-Based, Engaging Activities

Join husband and wife team Marianne and Keith Nice as they dive into the “how-tos” of online literacy instruction. Marianne and Keith will take you through the parts of a structured literacy lesson and provide sample activities you can use with your students. They will demonstrate adapting the materials you already have for use via webcam, describe how to use your tablet apps with platforms such as Zoom, and recommend online resources, apps, programs, and websites that offer free or cost-effective solutions. This webinar is designed to increase interaction and engagement while also maintaining the research-based methodology you are accustomed to delivering to your students. Save your seat for this exciting webinar!   This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 6/15/2020.

View the webinar slides here.
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Marianne Nice is a speech-language pathologist and reading specialist with over 20 years of experience in K-12 education. Marianne specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dyslexia and related literacy disorders. She regularly provides professional development and consultation to school systems both locally and nationally. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Marianne is providing over 20 hours per week of online structured literacy instruction to students diagnosed with dyslexia. She consults with school districts, as well, about delivering powerful, synchronous, online instruction. Marianne is formerly a member of adjunct faculty at the University of New Hampshire’s Speech-Language Pathology program where she teaches a course in language and literacy disorders. She is an eight-time speaker at the ASHA (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association) National Convention and recently spoke at the 2019 International Dyslexia Association’s annual conference. Marianne lives southern New Hampshire with her husband, Keith, and her two children, ages 16 and 13.


Keith Nice has over 20 years of experience in literacy. He obtained his master’s degree in special education at the University of New Hampshire. He specializes in language-based literacy disorders and works primarily with elementary school-aged students. Throughout his career, Keith has gained a wealth of training and experience, implementing research-based reading programs, interventions, and assessments. He is also a national trainer for the Lively Letters Reading Program. Keith is currently working in a local school system as the Reading Specialist/Interventionist for the primary grades, as well as working with his wife as a reading consultant for Reality Ed.


Basic Rights – How to Advocate for Your Child During COVID-19

Since COVID-19 has forced K-12 schools to close and shift to remote learning, your students’ education may look very different than it did a few months ago. What does this mean for students with dyslexia who are on IEPs or 504 Plans? Are you a parent who feels frustrated or confused but aren’t sure what you should do?

This webinar is designed to help parents and family members understand their legal rights, understand what schools are required to do to support students, and offer family members suggestions for helping and advocating for their students.  This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 5/26/2020.

View the webinar slides here.
Janet Thibeau is the founder of BTA Education, an advocacy, school/college consulting, and coaching firm based in Massachusetts. Janet has been helping parents and students navigate the special education process for over 15 years. She is a frequent speaker about dyslexia, special education, and parent/student rights. She previously served on the board of the Massachusetts Sibling Support Network and the Special Needs Advocacy Network (SPaN). She currently serves as the IDA Branch Council Chair. Janet is also mom to five students with special needs, including four with dyslexia.


Innovative Ways to Teach Online, Part II

Join The Siena School’s Jilly Darefsky (Head of School) and Simon Kanter (Director of Technology) for a tools and technology focused seminar on delivering instruction to students with language-based learning differences, such as dyslexia. Practical strategies for employing multisensory education in an online format are discussed. Walk away with techniques that are immediately applicable to instruction. This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 5/11/2020.
View the webinar slides here.


Recognized as an Outstanding Teacher of Dyslexic Students, Jilly Darefsky, Head of School at The Siena School, a 4-12th grade school serving students with language-based learning differences in Silver Spring, MD, has dedicated her career to the field of special education. Ms. Darefsky holds a Master’s in Specific Learning Difficulties and is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Education with a specialization in Mind, Brain, and Teaching at Johns Hopkins University. 
Simon Kanter is the Director of Technology at The Siena School, with over eight years of experience leading technology initiatives in schools. His expertise includes training teachers in the integration of technology for students with dyslexia. He has presented locally and nationally at the NAIS Tech Conference, a colloquium showcasing Authentic Assessment, and as a panelist and presenter for a variety of EdTech topics at the NBOA conference.

Things to Know About Assistive Technology During Distance Learning

Going to school online can be difficult for students with dyslexia. At the same time, it can be an opportunity for them to gain academic independence by using assistive technology. In this webinar, Jamie Martin will first share his AT First Aid Kit, which can be used to get kids started with practical technology tools for reading and writing. It includes the built-in accessibility features of most devices, Bookshare, OCR apps, and a list of AT tools that are available for free while schools are engaged in distance learning. Jamie will then answer questions that viewers have about how assistive technology can support students with dyslexia while they learn from home. This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 4/27/2020.
To view Jamie’s AT First Aid Kit, click here.


View the webinar slides here.


Jamie Martin is an assistive technology specialist at New England Assistive Technology (NEAT) in Hartford, CT. He specializes in assistive technology for dyslexia and other learning disabilities. He works with school districts throughout Connecticut, providing evaluations, consultations, trainings, and professional development. In addition, he is a consultant for, a leading website for people who learn and think differently.

Innovative Ways to Teach Online

In this webinar, Margie Gillies shares some ideas for supporting teachers virtually. While most of our coaching experiences have occurred face-to-face, we know from research that teachers can benefit from online learning as well. Participants will hear about some of the ways that we are currently supporting teachers so they can continue to build their knowledge and practice in order to teach their students how to read. This free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 4/13/2020.
View the webinar slides here.
Margie B. Gillis, EdD, CALT, is a Certified Academic Language Therapist who became interested in reading while studying with Isabelle Liberman at the University of Connecticut. In 2009, Margie founded Literacy How to provide professional development on how best to implement research-based reading practices in the classroom. In 2010, Margie founded the Anne E. Fowler Foundation to continue the work of her mentor. Margie also is the co-founder and former president of Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities, the former president of the CT Branch of IDA, and a board member of the New Alliance Foundation. She is also a professional adviser for Read Works and Understood. The column Chronicles From the Classroom presents her experiences in the field of reading and offers concrete suggestions about what we can do to right the educational ship.

IDA’s Knowledge and Practice Standards: How They Can Improve Reading Instruction for All Students

The IDA Knowledge and Practice Standards for Teachers of Reading define what all teachers of reading (classroom educators and dyslexia specialists) need to know and be able to do to teach all students to read proficiently. In recognition of Dyslexia Awareness Month, IDA has invited Dr. Louisa Moats to review the science behind these standards, consider some examples of what these standards mean for teacher training, and review the certification alternatives presently offered by IDA. Professionals looking to increase their knowledge and skills and parents eager to better understand the components of effective reading instruction will all want to watch this free 60-minute webinar originally presented on 10/12/16.

Louisa MoatsLouisa Moats, Ed.D., is President of Moats Associates Consulting, Inc. and has served as a National Board member and Vice President of IDA. She earned her M.A. in Learning Disabilities/Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt and her doctorate in Reading and Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Moats has been a teacher, psychologist, researcher, graduate school faculty member, and author of many influential scientific journal articles, books, and policy papers on the topics of reading, spelling, language, and teacher preparation. In addition to the LETRS professional development series, her books include Speech to Print: Language Essentials for Teachers; Spelling: Development, Disability, and Instruction; Straight Talk About Reading (with Susan Hall); and Basic Facts About Dyslexia & Other Reading Problems (with Karen Dakin).

Overcoming Dyslexia: What Does It Take?

IDA is offering a free, hour-long webinar with internationally respected reading teacher and educator, Patricia Mathes, Ph.D., during which she will

  • Explain the basic components of effective instruction
  • Explain how the nature of this instruction changes with each tier of instruction
  • Provide the critical information schools need to ensure that scientifically sound instruction is provided to students who struggle to read at every tier of instruction

This webinar is the second in IDA’s webinar series.


Curing Dyslexia: What Is Possible?

IDA is offering a free, hour-long webinar with internationally respected reading teacher and educator, Patricia Mathes, Ph.D., during which she will

  • Explain the causes of poor reading;
  • Review evidence of how reading changes brain structure and function; and
  • Share instructional components that address differences in the dyslexic brain and strengthen key areas of the brain for all readers.

This webinar is the first in IDA’s webinar series.

A webinar presentation made by Patricia Mathes, Ph.D., Texas Instruments Chair of Evidence-Based Education and Professor of Teaching And Learning, Southern Methodist University, Editor-in-Chief of IDA’s Annals of Dyslexia and Founder of Hoot Education on June 15, 2016.

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Dr. Patricia Mathes is the Texas Instruments Endowed Chair in Evidence-Based Dr Mathes HeadshotEducation and Director of the Institute for Evidence-Based Education at Southern Methodist University. She received her Ph.D. in 1992 from Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in Education and Human Development and has served on the faculties of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Houston Medical School, the College of Education at Florida State University, and Peabody College for Teachers at Vanderbilt University. 





The 2016 free webinar series was proudly sponsored by Hoot Education.  IDA appreciates their support of our mission… until everyone can read.