News, Events & Articles


Discovering How Reading Intervention Changes the Brains of Children With Dyslexia

September 29, 2017

A recent study conducted at MIT shows the benefits of Seeing Stars Instruction.

University of Washington researchers are studying the effects of the Seeing Stars® program.

Researchers from the University of Washington are in the midst of a study using the Seeing Stars® intervention to better understand the underlying mechanisms of dyslexia. Typical interventions for dyslexics involve strategies to help struggling readers compensate. And while there are many programs and strategies that improve specific reading skills, such as phonemic awareness and word attack, too many dyslexics continue to rely on compensatory strategies without becoming fluent, independent readers.

The Seeing Stars program was implemented to develop symbol imagery, the ability to visualize sounds and letters in words as a basis for orthographic awareness, word recognition, and fluency. Symbol imagery correlates very highly to overall reading ability, with strong readers able to easily pick up alphabetic principles, learn sight words, and read with fluency. An important question for researchers then is whether individuals with dyslexia can develop the very same brain processing skills that skilled readers already possess.

The research is yielding promising results. “One thing I can say definitively is that the intensive reading intervention program changes the underlying structure of the brain. That’s something that we’re clearly seeing,â€Â noted one of the study’s authors, Jason D. Yeatman, Ph.D.

READ UW PRESS RELEASE - For more information on this exciting study.


MIT Study Shows Benefit of Seeing Stars® instruction

September 13, 2017

A recent study conducted at MIT shows the benefits of Seeing Stars Instruction.

A recent study conducted at MIT shows the benefits of Seeing Stars instruction.

A recent study by the McGovern Institute for Brain Research and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) utilized the Seeing Stars® program to test the efficacy of reading intervention with young children who have reading disabilities and difficulties.

Brain regions grew significantly thicker in children whose reading scores improved after Seeing Stars instruction. In addition, children from lower-socioeconomic status (SES) families were more likely to benefit from instruction than children from higher-SES families, and children with more severe reading disabilities exhibited the most improvement in reading scores.

"If you just left these children alone on the developmental path they’re on, they would have terrible troubles reading in school. We’re taking them on a detour that seems to go with real gains in reading ability."

- John Gabrieli, a professor of brain and cognitive sciences at MIT and the study’s lead author.

Click here to read more about this study.


Closing the Achievement Gap in Canon City Schools

August 24, 2017

One year into implementing an Early Literacy Grant, Canon City School District in Colorado is seeing significant growth for some of its lowest performing students. More importantly, by targeting students in Kindergarten through 3rd grade, they are closing the achievement gap early on.

The district is implementing the Seeing Stars® and Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) programs to address reading fluency and comprehension. Overall, nearly 120 students received targeted and intensive intervention in the programs. Symbol imagery, which correlates highly to overall reading ability, improved from the 13th to the 45th percentile, while reading comprehension improved from the 14th to the 34th percentile.

As a district, student achievement improved from Low Status to Normal Performance. "This is what a first year should look like," commented Superintendent George Welsh, referencing the literacy grant and the strategic plan to comprehensively address literacy.

For more about this exciting project, click here to read a recent article on their student success.

Congratulations, Canon City Schools!


Upcoming Conference Presentations

August 24, 2017

Lindamood-Bell leaders are wrapping up a busy summer and gearing up to take part in several conferences, domestically and abroad, this fall. See below for a list of highlighted upcoming conferences.

European Dyslexia Association Autumn Seminars
October 6-8, 2017
Munich, Germany
Click here for more information.

Talk About Curing Autism (TACA) National Conference 2017
October 20-22, 2017
Orange County, California
Click here for more information.

International Dyslexia Association's Annual Conference on Reading, Literacy and Learning
November 8-11, 2017
Atlanta, Georgia
Click here for more information.

2017 Autism and Special Needs Seminar
November 11, 2017
Palos Hills, Illinois
Click here for more information.


Teachers in Jamaica Are Taking Instruction to the Next Level

August 16, 2017

A teacher helps students connect imagery and language with the Visualizing and Verbalizing® Program.

A teacher helps students connect imagery and language with the Visualizing and Verbalizing Program.

After attending introductory workshops this past spring, teachers in Jamaica are now engaged in language and literacy instruction. Educators trained in the Seeing Stars (for Reading and Spelling) and Visualizing and Verbalizing programs (for Language Comprehension and Thinking) are putting their new skills to use at an onsite summer reading clinic for students with special needs.

Lindamood-Bell Instructional Coach, Mary MacDonald, demonstrates a step of the Seeing Stars reading program.

Lindamood-Bell Instructional Coach, Mary MacDonald, demonstrates a step of the Seeing Stars reading program.

The summer reading clinic provides teachers an opportunity to get onsite professional development as they learn the Lindamood-Bell approach to intervention. Instructional coaches from Lindamood-Bell are preparing teachers to be as effective as possible by demonstrating steps of the programs and coaching teachers throughout the day. Teachers are honing their ability to differentiate instruction. They are also learning how to perform steps of the programs with fidelity and how to write effective lesson plans. Students are learning to read and comprehend to their potential!

After attending introductory workshops, teachers engage in advanced topics like how to differentiate instruction.

After attending introductory workshops, teachers engage in advanced topics like how to differentiate instruction.

Teacher has students write letters on the table with their fingers, a beginning step of the Seeing Stars Reading program.

Teacher has students write letters on the table with their fingers, a beginning step of the Seeing Stars reading program.

A parent, Mandy Summerbell Melville, initiated the effort based on her experience with the positive results of Lindamood-Bell programs with her own children. The Sandals Foundation facilitated this community effort, which received funding from the CHASE (Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education) Fund. The focus of the Sandals Foundation is ensuring that as many children, youth, and adults as possible have the educational opportunities they need to reach their full potential. Sandals® programs include community scholarships, supported schools, book drives, and literacy programs, as well as support for new libraries and computer facilities. Each year, the Sandals Foundation serves thousands of students in educational facilities throughout the Caribbean community. Gander Publishing and Lindamood-Bell are thrilled to bring the Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing programs to Jamaica in an effort to help children reach their full potential.

Kids in classroom.

"I have been told multiple times that students who frequently missed school are now turning up early every day, full of excitement, and eagerly awaiting instruction."

 - Mary MacDonald, Professional Development Consultant

Read More about this exciting partnership.


Upcoming International Conference Presentations

May 26, 2017

Lindamood-Bell Director of International Development Angelica Benson and Center Directors will be circling the globe this summer to present at several international conferences. They will be sharing the latest research and findings on successful interventions using the imagery-language connection for improved reading, comprehension, and math. From Singapore and Australia, to Spain and Malaysia, here's a look at some of the upcoming conferences.

Dyslexia Association of Singapore: UnITE SpLD 2017: Research Worth Sharing Singapore
June 19-21, 2017
Republic of Singapore
Click here for more information.

International Association of Special Education
June 25-29, 2017
Perth, Australia
Click here for more information.

20th European Conference on Literacy
July 3-5, 2017
Madrid, Spain
Click here for more information.

International Conference on Special Education hosted by SEAMEO SEN (Regional Centre for Special Education)
July 31-August 2, 2017
Sarawak, Malaysia
Click here for more information.


3 Tips for Developing Sight Word Vocabulary


Nanci Bell working with a student on sight words.

The complex skill of reading requires the integration of auditory, visual, and language skills. Word recognition (orthographic processing and instant recognition of sight words) is a necessary component in the cascade of sub-skills needed for global reading.

Venn Diagrma from SS manual


Students need extensive practice to acquire a substantial sight word vocabulary (words that are recognized by sight, not decoded). Choose a high-frequency word list to get started. If you are using the Seeing Stars® program, use the Star Words List. Or you can select something like the Dolch Word List.

Here are three helpful tips for an effective sight word practice lesson:

  1.  non-phonetic Star Word

    Capture, Categorize, and Memorize—Scan the list with your student and capture words that aren't instantly read. Write each word on an index card and categorize cards into Slow, Medium, and Fast groups. Repetitively practice words each day, graduating words from Slow to Medium to Fast groups, until each word is memorized for instant recognition.

  2. Use Symbol Imagery Exercises—Reinforce word recognition by using strategies such as air-writing the word or identifying specific letters, all from visual memory. This is especially helpful for words that don't play fair, meaning they are not phonetically consistent (e.g. 'friend'). Example:
    Teacher: "Write the letters in the air and say the letters as you write them. Now tell me the third letter you see."
    Student: "I see an 'I'.
    Teacher: "Great job! And what letter do you see right after the 'I'?"
    Student: "It's an 'E'!"

  3. Repetition and Practice—Repetition is critical for sight words to truly become automatic. The Up and Down the Word-Ladder activity is a fun way to engage students for additional practice. Line up seven to ten sight words vertically to create your word-ladder. Starting at the bottom, have the student touch and say each word as they climb up. Next, have them climb back down. Then try it again, but this time put each word to sleep by turning the card over as they climb up or down. Reshuffle the cards and create a new word-ladder. Reminder: Check out page 180 in your Seeing Stars manual for more games and activities, or make up your own! The key is repetition and practice.

Learn More About Sight Words and Seeing Stars

Helping Students Around the Globe

May 10, 2017

Jamaica Sandals Foundation

This month, teachers in Jamaica were introduced to Lindamood-Bell's™ Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) and Seeing Stars programs. This professional development opportunity was facilitated by the Sandals Foundation ('the Sandals Foundation') and funded by the CHASE (Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education) Fund in an effort to increase literacy and math competency for Jamaican students with special learning needs.

The focus of the Sandals Foundation is ensuring that as many children, youth, and adults as possible have the educational opportunities they need to reach their full potential. Programs include community scholarships, supported schools, book drives, and literacy programs, as well as support of new libraries and computer facilities. Each year, the Sandals Foundation supports thousands of students in educational facilities throughout the Caribbean community.

The introduction of the V/V and Seeing Stars programs was the brainchild of Mandy Melville, the parent of a child with dyslexia. "I used to have to take him away during the holidays to do this type of lesson at (Lindamood-Bell) Centers in Miami, so every year we'd go away. One of the things that hit me was when he said to me, 'Mummy, why am I the only child that has to go away for extra lessons?'" At that point, Melville was determined to bring the programs to Jamaica where more children could benefit.

Through the Jamaican Ministry of Education, 50 teachers were selected out of hundreds of applicants to attend the four-day workshop. Educator Shakera Roberts, one of the workshop participants, commented that "being trained in (these programs) will greatly assist me and my fellow Jamaican teachers to be more equipped with effective methodologies to facilitate students with special needs to learn to their full potential."

Read More about this exciting project.


Strategies to Improve Comprehension


The Imagine That! Stories are a great supplement to the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program. They are also used with Seeing Stars® and LiPS® students to develop fluency and comprehension. These high-interest and engaging stories include graded reading levels to develop the imagery-language connection for listening and reading comprehension. Here are some helpful hints to improve comprehension with the Imagine That! Stories:


  • Practice both reading and listening comprehension, even for older students and students with decoding difficulties. Alternate between reading an Imagine That! story and having the student read the story. Students love the high interest, fun, and engaging content found in Fascinating People and Wonders of the Natural World.

  • Overlap grade levels depending on the task. This allows you to differentiate your lesson based on student need. Example: Try a Whole Paragraph task at a 4th-grade level and then try a Multisentence by Multisentence task with a 5th-grade story.

  • Scaffold the lesson by introducing unknown vocabulary first. Show a picture of a new vocabulary term or do a quick Word Imaging activity to check that the student is visualizing the word.

  • Develop Higher Order Thinking skills by prompting the student. Refer to student's key images from the text. Example: From everything you pictured, what do you predict will happen next?

  • Extend the lesson to address English Language Arts standards, such as asking students to cite evidence from text. You can prompt students to recall their images that support the evidence from the story.

  • Extend the lesson to a writing activity, where students use their imagery to create cue cards for each "chunk" of the story. The cue cards are then sequenced in an outline format and used to create a coherent written summary. A card will include the main idea (image) of each chunk along with the most important supporting details.

Learn More About Imagine That! Products

How to Deliver an Effective LiPS Lesson: 3 Tips for Dynamic Instruction


The Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS) Program has been used effectively for over 30 years in developing phonemic awareness as a foundation for word reading, spelling, and speech. A key difference in the LiPS Program is its focus on oral-kinesthetic feedback in phonemic awareness for students who have difficulty perceiving the individual sounds blended within words. For example the oral-kinesthetic features of the sound for the letter 'P' can be labeled Lip Popper ("Make the sound for the letter 'P' and tell me what you feel your mouth doing").  Check out these tips and reminders to help you deliver dynamic instruction:

  • Tip 1: Drive the Sensory Bus
    Use language to bring articulatory feedback to a conscious level. For example, the language, "When you say 'flame' what do you feel after the lip cooler?" develops oral-kinesthetic feedback, whereas the language, "What sound comes after the 'F'?" does not. Review the Responding to the Response technique on page 5 in your LiPS manual.  

  • Tip 2: Develop the Ability to Hold and Compare
    Students must be able to monitor their own learning process to determine if they are accurate in reading and spelling. Monitoring requires the ability to compare the response to the stimulus: the ability to hold and compare. When tracking sounds with mouth pictures or colored squares, remember to use a three-step process to help develop the ability to hold and compare: (1) student repeats both the old word (stimulus) and the new word (response), (2) student touches and says sounds for old word and new word, and (3) student makes the change and labels what she is doing. Reminder: See page 86 in your LiPS manual for a visual cue card.  

  • Tip 3: Integrate LiPS with the Seeing Stars program
    Since reading fluency requires an integration of component parts, it is important to develop symbol imagery as a foundation for phonemic awareness, orthographic awareness, word recognition, spelling, and fluency. Don't wait to complete all steps of the LiPS Program before starting Seeing Stars. You can overlap steps from the Seeing Stars program, such as letter imagery, airwriting, and high frequency Star Words practice. During your Consonant/Vowel review or while Tracking with Colored Squares, you can question for symbol imagery as well as for the articulatory label. For example: 'T'—/t/—Tongue Tapper (Letter Image—Sound—Label).

Learn More About LiPS


Early Literacy Program Sees Success with Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) Programs


Early Literacy Program sees success with Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V) programs.

Through an Early Literacy Grant, Cañon City Schools in Colorado trained teachers in Seeing Stars and V/V to improve reading and comprehension skills. Results after only one semester show that students are progressing faster than expected. Lucky Us! to have Cañon City Schools as a partner in our mission to make a difference for ALL students.

Click here to read the full article about the program.


7 Best Practices to Improve Reading and Comprehension for Your English Learners


7 Best Practices to Improve Reading and Comprehension for Your English Learners.
Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V)

Our sensory-cognitive programs are often a critical missing piece in English Language Development. By adding the overlooked component of explicit sensory-cognitive instruction, we have seen evidence of an acceleration of language and literacy skills for many English Learners. Here's how our programs work:

  • Oral Language Development
    Learning a language is a process, and the more ELs use English, the more proficient they will become. V/V engages students in frequent, oral practice. Steps include structured routines where students must verbalize key details of the story, recall key concepts, summarize in order, and paraphrase the story back.

  • Scaffolding
    The Socratic questioning method used systematically throughout the V/V® process allows you to differentiate and scaffold language depending on the proficiency level of students (e.g., Beginning, Emerging, Advanced). Beginning ELs need lots of choice-contrast questioning, teacher modeling, and a heavy emphasis on vocabulary acquisition. There is a decrease in prompting and modeling for Emerging ELs and a transition to more open-ended questions. You can expect more verbalization and vocabulary development.

  • Explicit Vocabulary Development
    In V/V, students visualize and verbalize for additional oral language development, and add new vocabulary terms. For example: (T) "What do you picture for the word 'perimeter'?" (S) "I see a shape like a rectangle, and I picture the four separate sides, and then I just add the four sides up to get the answer". Extra tip: For Spanish-speaking students, teach them that this word is a cognate ("el perímetro" in Spanish).

Seeing Stars
  • Foundations of Reading
    Seeing Stars systematically develops symbol imagery as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, and overall word reading ability. This is critical for ELs because English is orthographically complex with substantial variability, while other languages like Spanish are more predictable.

  • Frequent Interaction with phoneme/grapheme relationship
    Symbol imagery exercises utilized throughout the steps of Seeing Stars provide for frequent interaction and practice with the alphabetic principles of English, and the phoneme-grapheme relationship.

  • Acceleration
    For ELs, symbol imagery and automatic sight word recognition are critical for accelerating decoding skills and attaining fluency.

Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS® Program)
  • Explicit, multisensory instruction
    When integrated with the Seeing Stars® program, LiPS explicitly develops the foundations of reading, using a systematic, multisensory approach to anchor and stabilize sounds and letters, particularly those not transferable from a native language to a second language. LiPS provides a concrete, multisensory tool to strengthen phonemic awareness and aid in pronunciation.

See how this Colorado school closed the achievement gap for English Learners.


NPR Dyslexia Series Highlights Lindamood-Bell, Seeing Stars® Intensive Intervention


NPR Dyslexia Story

Late last year, National Public Radio (NPR) premiered a five-part radio and blog post series titled "Unlocking Dyslexia" which highlighted new research and provided insights on dyslexia, the most common learning disability in the United States.

In Part 1 of the series "Millions Have Dyslexia, Few Understand It," reporter Gabrielle Emanuel shares her own experience of living with dyslexia and provides an in-depth look at what those with dyslexia face daily. Emanuel visits Lindamood-Bell's Washington, DC Learning Center where she interviews Center Director Nancy Gregerson and sits in on a tutoring session with a dyslexic student (Emanuel herself was a Lindamood-Bell student when she was younger).

Part 2, "How Science is Rewiring The Dyslexic Brain," focuses on the work scientists are doing to explore how our brains learn to read. The story highlights exciting research on how we can change the brains of dyslexics with intensive intervention. Students in this study received remedial instruction in the Seeing Stars® program.

Part 3, "How Parents Can Help Kids With Dyslexia Succeed in School," focuses on how dyslexia affects entire families and life at home. The story features interviews with families who have had success at Lindamood-Bell and points to three things that can help alleviate the impact of dyslexia, including early intervention.

Part 4, "Dyslexia: The Learning Disability That Must Not Be Named," speaks to concerns that parents and advocates have that some schools aren’t acknowledging a diagnosis of dyslexia as a way to avoid giving students the help they need.

Many believe dyslexia is about jumbled letters, but experts say that's not quite right. Part 5, "'B' And 'D' Learning Process Debunks Dyslexia Jumbled-Letters Myth," explains what's happening in the brain that causes those backward letters.

Learn more about "Unlocking Dyslexia."



Are You Developing the Skills and Habits Students Need
for Comprehension, Critical Thinking, and Success with Rigorous Standards?


Lindamood-Bell Common Core Webinar

The Common Core State Standards, as well as independent state standards, significantly raise the bar for all students regarding the demands of literacy and critical thinking. Teachers are expected to cover more complex material, more in depth, and with a focus on deep understanding and critical thinking. Students must be able to cite evidence from text to form opinions and arguments, both in speaking and writing. With an emphasis on informational text and academic vocabulary, most standards demand an interdisciplinary approach to literacy instruction.

Teachers at Entebbe Junior school The Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) program develops the skills and habits students need to meet expectations in the strands of Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening, and Language. V/V offers a comprehensive approach in developing the capacities of the literate individual. It stimulates concept imagery as a basis for language comprehension, word knowledge, critical thinking, and expressive language (both oral and written). The program is used as a developmental or remedial strategy to teach students, pre-K through adult, how to comprehend.

Attend a Free Webinar from Lindamood-Bell on how to develop the comprehension required to meet rigorous academic standards. Click here to register.

To learn more on how the Lindamood-Bell programs support the Common Core, download our free guide.



How to Deliver an Effective Seeing Stars® Lesson:
3 Tips for Dynamic Instruction


SS Tips

Use language to directly and explicitly stimulate the sensory input of symbol imagery. For example, the language "What letters do you picture for the word 'thought'?" stimulates imagery, whereas the language, "How do you spell 'thought'?" does not.

SS Tips

In Seeing Stars, only a few decoding rules are included (e.g., "When two vowels go walking...") because we don’t learn to read and spell with fluency by memorizing lots of rules. So don’t belabor learning, remembering, and reciting a bunch of rules. Remember your goal is to emphasize orthographic processing. Strengthen symbol imagery with the air-writing strategy and symbol imagery exercises so students can quickly self-monitor and self-correct for independence.

SS Tips

Many struggling students, including those with dyslexia, can sound out words and learn syllabication. However word reading is slow and laborious, and they are not independent readers. During the "Decode, Decode, Decode" task, emphasize rapid, accurate word attack and decoding lots of words (the Seeing Stars Decoding Workbooks have 20 words per lesson!). Minimize pauses for word analysis or symbol imagery exercises during this task. When your instruction focus shifts to more contextual reading practice, let a few of the small decoding errors go if they don't impact comprehension of the passage. Your goal now is for the student to experience confidence and fluency while reading in context. Reminder: Read Chapter 17 in your Seeing Stars teacher’s manual –Integration for Contextual Reading Fluency and Comprehension.

Learn More About Seeing Stars


How to Deliver an Effective Visualizing and Verbalizing Lesson: 3 Tips for Dynamic Instruction


VV Tips

The quality of your questioning is the difference between concept imagery developing quickly and accurately, and concept imagery remaining weak and unstable. Remember the Goldilocks principle: not too much, not too little, but just right. Your questions should be focused on the gestalt of the story. Be careful not to over-question for extraneous details that may cause the student to lose the gestalt. Don't assume imagery for the most important concepts—ask just enough detailed questions for the student to prove to you that she really is visualizing the main concepts. Reminder: Read Chapter 19 in your V/V teacher's manual—Relevant Questioning is the Difference.


Good pacing of V/V requires overlapping of steps. Don't keep your student too long in grade-level material that is too easy, and don't keep your student too long on one step or level of V/V. Rather than complete mastery of a step, look for enough competence to overlap to the next step. Good pacing also means getting the grade level of material just right to differentiate instruction–not too easy and not too difficult. Reminder: Chapter 20 in the V/V manual describes good pacing strategies in more detail.


Students struggling to process language have experienced failure and frustration in school—and often blame themselves. The steps and materials in V/V will naturally encourage student engagement. Here's how:

  • Socratic questioning—respond to a student's response, using positive feedback, which encourages risk taking and reduces fear of making an error. With choice/contrast questions, you can meet ALL students where they are, differentiating your questioning based on their diverse skill sets.

  • Your words made me picture...

    "Active Student Response" strategies can include Action Response (thumbs up/down if your picture matches), Oral Response (pass out Structure Words randomly and each student verbalizes his/her word), and Written Response (use V/V Workbooks for students to write key images).

  • "Think-Pair-Share" can be used after teacher prompts: "What do those words make you picture?"

Learn More About Visualizing and Verbalizing



Sensory-Cognitive Instruction and Response to Intervention — A Paradigm Shift

By Tom Mendoza


Congratulations! You have just completed a Seeing Stars®, Visualizing and Verbalizing®, or On Cloud Nine® Math Workshop, or have recently begun using any one of our research-validated programs. Now you're ready to start helping students who have struggled for too long.

Many schools use Lindamood-Bell's programs in their Response to Intervention (RtI) process due to their effectiveness with at-risk learners and students with disabilities. Let's take a look at the secrets to our RtI success!

Our Sensory-Cognitive Instruction Enhances a Multi-Tiered System of Supports.

Our instructional model is based on specific development or remediation of the imagery-language connection. This is a paradigm shift from most instructional approaches and interventions, which is precisely why these programs are so effective. They target the underlying skills that are deficient in struggling students. Rather than teaching to a specific learning style, or focusing on compensatory skills or strategies, sensory-cognitive instruction strengthens the foundation needed for fluency in reading and math. By using this method, schools have a profound impact on instruction via their multi-tiered system of supports.

Regardless of what tier of instruction you are focused on, the goal with sensory-cognitive instruction is to develop the learning process in order for students to self-monitor and self-correct. This leads to independence—a goal all educators share!

Tier 1 (Core Instruction)
Sensory-cognitive instruction enhances the core by explicitly teaching the cognitive skills all students require to access the curriculum and meet the standards. This is especially important in higher-risk settings, such as Title 1 schools. By focusing on the process of reading, in addition to what needs to be taught through the standards, classroom teachers are able to prevent reading difficulties for many students while also tapping the full potential of their highest achievers. Generally, the steps of the Seeing Stars, Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V®), and On Cloud Nine (OCN™) programs are delivered for about 15 minutes per day (per program) in K-2 classrooms, while the strategies are applied throughout the core curriculum. For ELA instruction, as students begin to shift from learning to read to reading to learn, and then move into complex text, Visualizing and Verbalizing strategies are applied to all content-area instruction in 3rd through 12th grades.

Tier 2 (Targeted Intervention)
As is often the case with many RtI models, Tier 2 instruction includes the same intervention for each student, despite a wide variation in their skill sets. Further, Tier 2 may focus on re-teaching the same concepts from the core, but with a supplemental curriculum or resources. Students who do not respond to the core concepts and are falling behind require targeted assistance within the specific skill areas that are preventing them from keeping up. Sensory-cognitive instruction in Seeing Stars, V/V, and OCN, performed 45 to 60 minutes per day, allows teachers to differentiate the instruction based on what students actually need.

Tier 3 (Intensive Intervention)
Tell me if you've heard this before: "Definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Students with significant learning difficulties or disabilities, including dyslexia and autism spectrum disorder, may need two or more hours of daily, highly intensive intervention (yes, two or more hours!). Fortunately, research points to evidence that stimulating the cognitive processes required for language and literacy, with intensity, is functionally and physically changing the brain. The take-home message here: sensory-cognitive instruction, with intensity, can make a difference. Dabbling in various strategies, a little bit at a time, is just doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different result.


Sensory-cognitive instruction in Tier 3 can be implemented in small groups (typically three to five students) or one–to–one in some cases. In this tier of intensive intervention, some students with more significant disabilities may also require instruction in the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® (LiPS®) program or the Talkies® program. Again, the point here is that you are specifically and systematically stimulating the part (or parts) of the student's sensory system that is weak, which is preventing them from self-monitoring and self-correcting.

Assessment Drives Instruction.

Ask any teacher or administrator "doing" RtI about the assessments they use and they will most likely give you a tour of their data wall or show you an online demo of their progress monitoring tools. This is all great, but how can sensory-cognitive instruction provide you with even more powerful assessment data that actually drives the teaching and learning process?

Generally, RtI focuses more on progress monitoring tools and summative assessments. Educators, however, must also be skilled at formative assessment, a process that emphasizes assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning. Through formative assessment, teachers gather data during lessons and activities, while learning is taking place, and use these data to make instructional decisions in the moment. It doesn't require purchasing additional screeners or progress monitoring tools.

Understanding how the sensory-cognitive skills of phonemic awareness, symbol imagery, and concept imagery develop an individual's decoding and comprehension skills is critical in the formative assessment practice. By working through the steps of our programs and using Socratic questioning techniques, teachers are able to gain a better understanding of how individual students are processing language.

For "decoding" students—those whose primary intervention focus is in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency—teachers are able to assess, in the moment, which component of reading is displaying weakness. They monitor the progression and integration of skills needed for global reading, starting at the foundation of reading, which includes phonemic awareness, morpheme/grapheme association, word attack, word recognition, and contextual fluency.

Formative Assessment Tips for Seeing Stars and LiPS:

  • Note student's response time.
  • Note challenging consonant and vowel sounds.
  • Identify phonetic vs. orthographic spelling.
  • Identify the position of decoding errors.
  • Note the complexity of syllables.

For "comprehension" students—those whose primary intervention focus is in the area of language comprehension and vocabulary—teachers are able to question for understanding by asking how students imaged, or pictured, the story (or the lecture, or the directions, etc.). Instead of asking students to memorize and recite definitions, which may not lead to conceptual understanding, teachers should ask, "What do you picture for evaporation?" Asking detailed imagery questions provides immediate feedback as to whether the students "got it" or not. Teachers can adjust the lesson, in the moment, to further develop the imagery-language connection for understanding, recall, and critical thinking.

Formative Assessment Tips for Visualizing and Verbalizing:

  • Note student's response time.
  • Note responses for concrete vs. abstract content.
  • Record number of structure words verbalized without prompts.
  • Record number and type of prompts you provide. Remember, ask yourself "who's doing most of the talking?"
  • Record accuracy of picture summary—sequence and main images?

For students in math intervention, conceptual understanding and math "fluency" are often weak skills. Indeed, students who participate in the On Cloud Nine program often start with Visualizing and Verbalizing to build the foundation of concept imagery, which is necessary to develop their math skills. Through formative assessment, teachers ask students for key images from a word problem, or if the student can estimate the answer (indicating that the student can visualize a number line).

Formative Assessment Tips for On Cloud Nine Math:

  • Note student's response time.
  • Note automaticity/speed in math family facts and self-corrections.
  • Is student estimating after checking the sign and computing and comparing the answer?
  • Can student "jump" up and down on the imaged number line or do they need the concrete number line?
  • Does the student apply imagery to story problems?

Case Study—RtI in Action

Anderson Elementary School in Bristol, TN was one example of doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. This school is located in a high-risk neighborhood within the Bristol city limits. Challenges include high rates of unemployment, poverty status, and crime, and an aging population. Previous school interventions included various strategies but lacked focus, cohesiveness, and a sound instructional methodology.


By way of a Focus Schools grant, which is provided to schools with the largest achievement gaps between student subgroups, Anderson implemented a multi-tiered system of supports to address reading, comprehension, and math. In their RtI process, Anderson met their challenge head on.

All teachers and support staff received professional development from Lindamood-Bell in Seeing Stars, Visualizing and Verbalizing, and On Cloud Nine Math. Through the leadership of their principal, Andrew Brown, and their reading specialist, Jenny Stophel, the school focused on enhancing their core ELA instruction in Tier 1 while meeting the reading and math needs of their at-risk population and students with disabilities.

By focusing on developing the imagery-language connection for reading and math, students began to respond to instruction in ways they previously hadn't. Many students, for the first time, felt they now had the tools needed for success. They focused on learning how to learn, not just what to learn, and the school is seeing results. According to Principal Brown, "The Lindamood-Bell programs made a real difference in our instruction, especially in our RtI groups. Our achievement gap closure target for last year was 35%, and our actual gap ended up being only 17%!" While not finished yet, their choice to implement a new pedagogy and a new way of doing business has shown they can make significant progress with their struggling students. Way to go, Anderson!

For many school systems across the country, our sensory-cognitive programs and formative assessment process are a perfect match for their RtI approach. Utilizing the programs through a multi-tiered system of support has empowered teachers and administrators to meet the needs of ALL students, while helping struggling readers and students with disabilities learn to their potential.

Tom Mendoza is the Associate Director of Lindamood-Bell For Schools.



Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) Votes to Re-Endorse Seeing Stars® and Visualizing and Verbalizing® Programs


The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) has officially re-endorsed Gander Publishing's Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking® and Seeing Stars® programs. CASE is an international professional education organization affiliated with the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC), whose members are dedicated to the enhancement of the worth, dignity, and uniqueness of each individual in society.

The endorsements came after thorough review by members of the CASE Publications and Product Review Committee—a group of leaders in special education who review and endorse a variety of research-based products designed to improve student outcomes. Both Visualizing and Verbalizing and Seeing Stars met all of the components for the CASE re-endorsement process and, therefore, carry an official CASE Endorsement for three years.

"The Publications and Products Review committee of CASE was impressed with how the programs showed evidence that they were beneficial for struggling students and those with Specific Learning Disabilities," said Dr. Pamela Howard, co-chair of the CASE re-endorsement committee.

The Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V®) program develops concept imagery—the ability to create an imagined gestalt from language—as a basis for comprehension and higher order thinking. Howard said, "The committee appreciated the number of repeat customers, which implied a large amount of customer satisfaction with the product and company." She also stated that the committee was impressed with the research on V/V that indicates the program, "when implemented with fidelity, stimulates concept imagery and applies that imagery to understanding written and oral language."

After evaluating Seeing Stars, Howard commented on how pleased the committee was with recent revisions to the product. "The revised version included expanded lessons and resources for teachers that included more sample lessons, illustrations, and recommendations for small-group instruction." The Seeing Stars program develops symbol imagery as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, word attack, word recognition, spelling, and contextual reading fluency.

Two recent groundbreaking studies showed favorable results for students who received V/V and Seeing Stars instruction. In a study at the University of Alabama, children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) received ten weeks of V/V intensive reading intervention. Brain imaging techniques showed the intervention was enough to strengthen the activity of loosely-connected areas of their brains that work together to comprehend reading.

In a separate study at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), students with reading disabilities or difficulties (ages 6-9) were randomly assigned to receive intensive Seeing Stars instruction as an intervention during the nonacademic summer. Analysis of pre- and posttesting revealed positive results in reading skills for students who received the intervention.



Malayaka House and LiPS® Program Helping Children Read in Uganda


"I am always grateful for the difference our work has brought to many but never more so than when I see the long arm of our reach. Children you and I will never meet now have a better chance in the world."

-Nanci Bell Co-founder of Lindamood-Bell and Founder of Gander Publishing

Thirty years ago, Nanci Bell and Pat Lindamood acted on their vision to help each individual learn to his or her potential. Flash forward to today, and those efforts are reaching children on a global level. This month, children in Uganda were introduced to the Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing® Program (LiPS®) for Reading, Spelling, and Speech, courtesy of special education teacher Susan Koepplinger.

Educator Susan Koepplinger demonstrating LiPS for teachers working with Malayaka House students
Educator Susan Koepplinger demonstrating LiPS for teachers working with Malayaka House students.

Koepplinger, an educator at Waitsfield Elementary School in Vermont, reached out to Gander Publishing after seeing our New Year's pledge to get more kids reading in 2016. She had recently been trained in the LiPS Program, was using it with several students, and was loving it. Koepplinger thought LiPS—which develops phonemic awareness, word reading, and spelling—would be the perfect intervention for Ugandan students living at the Malayaka House (MH). Many of the children at MH have significant delays in their reading ability, largely due to a lack of consistent, systematic instruction, as well as the complicating factor that they are learning to read in their second language.

In January, Gander received an email from Koepplinger. "I am writing to see if you might be interested in having an effect on the education of students in Africa," she wrote. "Malayaka House is an orphan home that is committed to providing homes for 40 children, as well as supporting them in their needs to become educated. I wondered if you might be interested in donating a LiPS kit that I could bring with me and train their two tutors in using the program with these students!" Gander was honored to be asked, and happily provided the materials she requested.

As she busily prepared for her trip, Koepplinger learned that things change quickly in Uganda. Two weeks before her departure date, she learned that MH was unable to locate consistent tutors for the children. This has been a problem, historically, so it was decided to offer a training to the local schools instead. They were quickly scheduled at both Entebbe Junior, where the children of MH attend, and Komo, a nearby school for children with autism. This helped MH hold true to its mission of "providing the most vulnerable orphaned and abandoned Ugandan children with a safe and loving home, education, and vocational training so they may grow into self-reliant citizens whose lives are full of opportunity and promise." In light of this new development, Gander provided additional materials so Koepplinger could now train teachers at two different schools.

Teachers at Entebbe Junior school

Teachers at Entebbe Junior school were excited to incorporate LiPS for students in all grades, for instruction and intervention.

Koepplinger was able to spend a fair bit of time at Entebbe Junior, where she trained their kindergarten and first grade teachers as well as teachers in the upper grades. They are now using the LiPS Program with their kindergarten classes utilizing a whole-group approach, and are using the program in older grades as an intervention. The teachers can email Koepplinger with questions, and her co-worker Sara will return in June to see how things are going at the school. The training at the Komo School was for students with autism, and early reports indicate that they have started the program with this most vulnerable population.

In the future, Koepplinger hopes to become trained in Lindamood-Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing® (V/V®) and Seeing Stars® programs to further broaden the scope of intervention she can offer struggling readers in the United States and Africa.

As she reflected on her time in Uganda, Koepplinger said, "My trip was really wonderful! Malayaka House is such an amazing place." She was struck by an interaction she had one afternoon as she was preparing for her afternoon training:

"One of the 'older girls,' now 23 years old, came in and was curious as to what I was doing. She loved looking at the mouth pictures (in the LiPS kit), and I played around with her making some of the sounds and finding the pictures. She really enjoyed it! She does not read or write, as she came to MH when she was 15, with one baby in tow and another on the way. She's since had her third. She shared with me how she couldn't read but was sending her older children to school. As we were leaving, she shared with my co-worker, Sara, that she is very interested in learning to read and write. Sara will be setting this up for her when she returns this summer."

Gander hopes to continue playing its part in helping educators like Susan and Sara, who are seeking to make a difference in the lives of children all over the world.



New Technology Gives One Tennessee District Support it Needs to Help Struggling Readers


Young Readers Learn with Help of Robots

By Jacqui Atkielski

With the help of four robots, instructors at Tullahoma City Schools and Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes have teamed up to provide another innovative way to educate students.

Funded by a discretionary grant totaling $99,750, students who struggle with reading and language arts will receive supplemental education through March of 2016.

The goal of the partnership with TCS's four elementary schools and Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes is to give long-distance reading support with the help of four instructional robots, named Lucky, according to officials.

Bel-Aire Elementary School students interact with Lindamood-Bell consultant Amy Johnston
Bel-Aire Elementary School fifth-grader Austin Carr, left, and fourth-grader Jacob Jett interact with Lindamood-Bell consultant Amy Johnston before beginning a Seeing Stars reading lesson. Johnston, a member of the virtual consulting team for Tullahoma City Schools, has a virtual presence via a Double robot that assists teachers with the curriculum. (Staff Photo by Chris Barstad)

The robots are mobile devices with iPads attached, enabling a Lindamood-Bell instructor to observe instruction remotely over a streaming video session, interacting with staff and students in real time.

Kim Adkins, district assessment coordinator, said that Lindamood-Bell's published results includes 110 hours of instruction, and said that TCS will be receiving up to 120 hours of robot support with the partnership.

"We and another district are the only two to try this program within the state of Tennessee," said Adkins. "I talked to the principal at that school district in Anderson County and he went school-wide with the program. He said that of all the students they didn't have one kid who did not show progress.

"The biggest component of Lindamood-Bell's approach is the ability to hold images in your mind for reading. It's called symbol imagery, with letters forming words. The more symbols you can hold together, the better reader you are."

Adkins said she understands the dilemma and the importance of TCAP test scores, but stressed the importance of being able to read. She said that throughout her career, she taught people from preschool to adulthood who struggled with reading.

"There's nothing sadder than to have an adult look at you and say they've tried all their life and they just can't read," she said. "I'm not one to give up on anything so I'll try something, anything, to help people learn how to read.

"For whatever reason, kids aren't developing reading skills like vocabulary like they used to," said Adkins. "Kids don't play concentration or memory games as often anymore."

She cited theories that children watch too much television, and are not participating in rich conversations with their parents.

"With television, they don't have to imagine anything."

Adkins advises that parents take the time to communicate with their children and read to them to improve their abilities. "Vocabulary is a deficit in a lot of our struggling readers. Sitting in front of a television, you don't have to give back to a conversation. Conversation increases vocabulary."

Adkins said that there has been a drop in reading proficiency across the nation and that Lindamood-Bell has come up with an innovative methodology of teaching to combat that slip in proficiency.

"It's totally different from any way we've tried before. It's a different approach to help students that struggle with reading."

Adkins said that the robot comes alive at designated hours and has the ability to drive itself to its designated area.

"It's like FaceTime. The Lindamood-Bell consultant will go through the lesson with the students and the teacher," she said. Over the course of the school year, the teacher becomes more masterful at using the program.

"Only one robot is live at any time during the school week. It wakes itself up and disconnects from its docking port and drives itself to its assigned classroom," said Adkins. "We have about 25 hours of robot support for the schools." She said that there are two consultants who will work regularly during the time that the robot is live.

Adkins said that utilizing this partnership is cost effective and reliable. "Otherwise, you have to find a teacher in the area that is considered a master at reading that will invest in the program. People move and resign jobs, or start families. There are several representatives across the country that can be contacted within the program and they can be scheduled to be your consultant."

TCS's consultants are currently located in Phoenix.

Adkins wrote the grant to fund the partnership with Lindamood-Bell in January 2014.

"We found out that we had gotten the grant during TCAP week in May. I didn't realize how big it was when I wrote it. I didn't realize how many things are in motion at any given time," said Adkins. "The grant funded all of the professional development for teachers and all of the robot support."

Dan Lawson, director of schools, said that implementation of the Lindamood-Bell by Tullahoma City Schools is truly an exciting step that has great potential to change the lives of students.

"While the implementation has required hard work to prepare and substantial personal investments of time by Tammy Hatfield and Kim Adkins, as well as principals and teachers involved in the training, our team has acquired increased skill in the science of teaching of reading that we believe will be invaluable.

"Essential program components include extensive professional development before program delivery began with our students, on-site and distance based (robot provided) student instruction and ongoing distance based professional development," said Lawson.

Twenty-six teachers from Bel-Aire, East Lincoln, Jack T. Farrar, and Robert E. Lee elementary schools attended Lindamood-Bell's Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing workshops this summer.

"This program is not automated education, and it's not a robot teaching kids," said Adkins. "The robot is used as a supplement to what the teacher is doing in the classroom. It's really more there to support the teacher and initially it's helping the teacher with the parts of the program that are not as natural to the teacher. As the year progresses the teacher will become more proficient and the robot support will be less necessary."

Adkins said that the goal at the end of the school year is that TCS will be able to sustain the curriculum offered by Lindamood-Bell on its own.

"Teachers will have a whole year of professional development and support that they can continue pass along the training this program provide. Our grant contract states that robots are to be returned after the program end date." TCS does not have to provide maintenance to the robots as the year progress.

At the end of the contract deadline, Lindamood-Bell will present results to the Tullahoma City Board of Education.

"I wish it was the end of the year already so I can see the results of this program. I've seen where we've started, and the learning profiles, now I'm ready to see the end result," said Adkins. "I'm sure it's going to work and it's going to be great."

Jacqui Atkielski can be contacted via email at

Reprinted here with the permission of Tullahoma News.

The original article can be found at:



UAB Study on Children with Autism: Improved Reading and Brain Activity Utilizing Visualizing and Verbalizing® Instruction


Autistic children improved reading and brain activity after 10-week reading intervention

By Jeff Hansen

Ten weeks of intensive reading intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder was enough to strengthen the activity of loosely connected areas of their brains that work together to comprehend reading, University of Alabama at Birmingham researchers have found. At the same time, the reading comprehension of those 13 children, whose average age was 10.9 years, also improved.

"This study is the first to do reading intervention with ASD children using brain imaging techniques, and the findings reflect the plasticity of the brain," said Rajesh Kana, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology in the UAB College of Arts and Sciences and the senior author on this paper. "Some parents think, if their child is 8 or 10 years old when diagnosed, the game is lost. What I stress constantly is the importance of intervention, and the magic of intervention, on the brain in general and brain connectivity in particular."

Rajesh Kana
Rajesh Kana

Families taking part in the study received the intensive intervention—which was four hours a day, five days a week, for a total of 200 hours of face-to-face instruction—free of charge, says Kana.

It is well known that children with ASD have decreased connectivity between certain areas of the brain's reading network, as compared with typically developing children. The children with ASD who received the 10-week reading intervention in Kana's study improved their reading comprehension by modulating their brain function. They showed increased activation of the brain regions involved in language and visual/spatial processing in the left hemisphere of the brain—where language abilities reside—and also compensatory recruitment of some regions in the right hemisphere and regions of the brain beneath the outermost cortex.

Moreover, the amount of increased brain activation and functional connectivity of two core language areas—the left middle temporal gyrus and the left inferior frontal gyrus (which includes Broca's area that enables a person to speak words)—correlated with the amount of improvement in reading comprehension for the intervention group of children with ASD.

"The ASD brain processing after intervention looks richer, with visual, semantic and motor coding that is reflected by more active visual activity and involvement of the motor areas," Kana said.

Rajesh Kana Study Brain Image

Change in functional connectivity for the experimental group of autism spectrum disorder participants as a result of the reading intervention: The functional connectivity of the Broca's area with the rest of the brain and the change in connectivity from pre-to-post intervention during resting state show statistically significant changes in connectivity in the left hemisphere. The scale (right) represents significance in terms of T threshold.

Altogether, these results support the use of specialized intervention for children with ASD to boost their higher-order learning skills, and they add to the growing evidence of the plasticity (ability to alter function) of the young brains in children with ASD. The translational neuroimaging in this study increases the understanding of established neural networks in children with ASD, and this knowledge will help develop future targeted behavioral interventions.

Control groups of matched typically developing children and children with ASD— both of whom did not receive reading intervention during the study period—showed no significant changes in connectivity in their brains or in reading comprehension at 10 weeks.

The Lindamood-Bell® reading intervention used in the study teaches children to form concept images when they read and hear language. Such nonverbal sensory input can help develop the imagery-language connection in the brain, and it improves oral and reading comprehension, establishes vocabulary, and develops higher-order thinking skills. The intervention—called Visualizing and Verbalizing for Language Comprehension and Thinking—was administered at one of the 61 Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers nearest the families of the children with ASD. During the 10-week intervention, children with ASD got one-on-one instruction in a distraction-free setting, four hours a day, five days a week.

"People with autism are relatively better at visual/spatial processing," Kana said. "The intervention facilitates the use of such strengths to ultimately improve language comprehension."

The tool for collecting brain connectivity data is functional magnetic resonance imaging. The fMRI machine detected areas of the brain that were active by increased blood flow as the children performed a sentence comprehension task—answering whether a sentence was true or false. Since the intervention focused on using image concepts, the study used both high-imagery sentences, such as "An H on top of an H on top of another H looks like a ladder," and low-imagery sentences, such as "Addition, subtraction and multiplication are all math skills." Different parts of the brain in the intervention group showed increased activity or connectivity in response to the two types of questions.

Donna Murdaugh
Donna Murdaugh

Modern brain science recognizes that distinct areas of the brain have different, specialized functions—in computer terms, the brain functions through distributed processing. Two of the most famous of these distinct areas are Broca's area, in the left frontal lobe, and Wernicke's area, located where the left temporal lobe of the brain meets the parietal and occipital lobes. People with a stroke in Broca's area can understand words, but they cannot speak; people with a stroke in Wernicke's area can form words, but they cannot understand language.

In addition to the task-based fMRI, the UAB researchers used a different approach on the same groups of children—resting-state fMRI. This protocol looks at specific areas of the brain to see if those areas show activity during short time segments while the child simply rests inside the fMRI machine. That correlation in time is a measure of connectivity. The 16 children with ASD who received the 10-week reading intervention and completed the resting-state fMRI study had greater functional connectivity of Broca's and Wernicke's areas, as compared with their brains before the intervention. They also had greater connectivity between either the Broca's area or the Wernicke's area to the other parts of the brain that are recruited to compensate for the ASD underconnectivity. Furthermore, the strength of those connections correlated with the amount of reading comprehension improvement in the children who received reading intervention.

"By examining the reading network either during rest or during an active task, we get the opportunity to examine the same network under different levels of cognitive/linguistic demand," said Kana. "This provides not only the basic spontaneous fluctuations of the reading network, but also how the network behaves under task demand."

All of the children in the studies had reading tests, verbal IQ tests and fMRI at week 0 and week 10. The experimental children with ASD were given the reading intervention between those two test dates. The 13 children with ASD who were controls received their free reading intervention after the tests and neuroimaging were completed at 10 weeks.

Families were recruited across Alabama through support groups and clinics, and elsewhere in the United States through Lindamood-Bell Learning Centers. Out-of-state families came to Birmingham from the cities of Philadelphia, Houston, Chicago and Boston, and from elsewhere in Georgia, Minnesota, California, Hawaii, New Jersey and Florida for the tests and imaging. Each family had to stay at UAB for two days during the pre- and post-intervention studies.

The subjects in the study with ASD were high-functioning children who could read aloud well but had poor comprehension. To help the young children adjust before the neuroimaging, the researchers showed them the fMRI machine, let them lie in it and played the sounds the machine would make. On scanning day, the machine was decorated with colorful stickers to look like a toy, and the child was tucked in with a Mickey Mouse blanket.

The task-based study, "The Impact of Reading Intervention on Brain Responses Underlying Language in Children with Autism," is published online in advance of print in the journal Autism Research. Co-authors are Donna Murdaugh, Ph.D., who did her graduate work at UAB and is now at Emory University School of Medicine, and Hrishikesh Deshpande, Department of Radiology, UAB School of Medicine.

The resting-state study is titled, "Changes in Intrinsic Connectivity of the Brain's Reading Network Following Intervention in Children with Autism." is published online in advance of print in the journal Human Brain Mapping. Co-authors are Murdaugh and Jose Maximo, UAB Department of Psychology.



Seven Essential Strategies to Strengthen Language and Literacy Skills for English Learners


by Margaret Towner

What do you picture for "See ya"?

A teacher stood at her 4th-grade classroom door to say goodbye to her students.
"See ya!" she said.
Maribel looked at her in bewilderment and said, "Silla?"
The teacher nodded and again said, "See ya. See ya tomorrow." 
Maribel nodded her head and left the classroom. The next day she brought several pictures of chairs cut out of magazines, and handed them to her teacher.
"What are these for?" her teacher asked.
" Silla, you tell me silla."

For anyone using the Visualizing and Verbalizing® program to develop the imagery-language connection, the above exchange might have you saying "What do those words make you picture?!"

During my time at Long Beach Unified School District (LBUSD) in Southern California, we helped our high percentage of English Learners (ELs) meet the dual goals of English acquisition and standards-based proficiency. We worked with students like Maribel to provide them with a critical component of language and literacy acquisition: sensory-cognitive instruction.

In partnership with Lindamood-Bell, we utilized the sensory-cognitive strategies in the Seeing Stars® and LiPS® programs to address phonemic awareness, phonics, word recognition, and reading fluency. We developed the imagery-language connection with the Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V®) program to address vocabulary development, listening and speaking skills, language comprehension, writing, and higher order thinking.

These essential strategies perfectly complement, and enhance, existing best practices used with English learners. Here's how:

Visualizing and Verbalizing (V/V)

1. Oral Language Development - Learning a second language is a complex process, and the more ELs have opportunities to actively use English in educational settings, the more proficient they will become. V/V engages students in frequent and sequential oral practice. Steps include structured routines where students must visualize and verbalize key details of the text, recall information, sequence events, and paraphrase the story back. During these routines, students are practicing structured language well over 50% of the lesson.

2. Scaffolding - The Socratic questioning method used systematically throughout the V/V process allows you to differentiate and scaffold language depending on the English language proficiency level of students (e.g., Emerging, Expanding, Bridging). This is supported by Vygotsky's Zone of Proximal Development. The levels of linguistic support are adjusted accordingly, from substantial support, to moderate, to light support. For example, Emerging ELs need lots of choice-contrast questioning, teacher modeling, and a heavy emphasis on vocabulary acquisition (the "bricks," to borrow from Susana Dutro's analogy). With Expanding ELs, there is a decrease in your prompting and modeling while transitioning more to open-ended questions. You can expect more verbalization and vocabulary development (now "bricks and mortar").

3. Explicit Vocabulary Development - Vocabulary instruction goes beyond teaching the definition and beyond providing supplemental materials. Exploring language in context—using V/V strategies and dialogue—helps students to practice and anchor new vocabulary and language structures. For example: (T) "For this math problem, what do you picture for the word 'perimeter?'" (S) "I see a shape like a rectangle, and I picture the four separate sides, and then I just add the four sides up to get the answer."

Extra tip: For Spanish speaking students, teach them that this word is a cognate ("el perímetro" in Spanish).

Seeing Stars

4. Foundations of Reading - Seeing Stars systematically develops symbol imagery as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, and overall word reading ability. This is critical for ELs because English is orthographically complex with substantial variability, while other languages like Spanish are more predictable. The English letter "a" for example has a different phoneme/grapheme relation in the following words: "cat," "same," "about," "cart," and "father." English also presents challenges with non-phonetic words like "laugh" or "action." Thus focusing on strategies that emphasize orthographic processing and visual memory, which underlie automatic word recognition and reading fluency, is key to stabilizing the foundations of reading.

5. Frequent Interaction with Phoneme/Grapheme Relationship - Symbol imagery exercises utilized throughout the steps of Seeing Stars provide for frequent interaction and practice with the alphabetic principles of English, and also the phoneme-grapheme relationship. For example, during the Letter Imagery step: (T) shows a consonant/vowel card and takes it away. (S) Air writes the letter(s), says the letter name, and then produces the corresponding sound. This is useful for Spanish speakers, especially for learning vowels, because vowel names and sounds are the same in their primary language.

6. Acceleration - For ELs, symbol imagery and automatic sight word recognition are critical for accelerating decoding skills and attaining fluency. Acceleration is essential for ELs to close the gap between their English acquisition, their reading level, and their grade-level standards. While some word reading rules and expectancies can be helpful (e.g. "When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking"), they can also add another level of language complexity and actually slow down the decoding process. Seeing Stars transitions ELs from decoding to high frequency Star Words for instant word recognition and fluency.

Lindamood Phoneme Sequencing (LiPS)

7. Explicit, Multisensory Instruction - When integrated with the Seeing Stars program, LiPS explicitly develops the foundations of reading, using a systematic, multisensory approach to anchor and stabilize sounds and letters, particularly those not transferable from native language to second language. Early "pruning" of the ability to perceive phonemes not present in your primary language makes it difficult to perceive those phonemes in a second language. LiPS provides a concrete, multisensory tool to strengthen phonemic awareness and aid in pronunciation. For example, students can map the /th/ sound, as in the word "Thursday," to a label that matches the articulatory features of that sound—in this case, a Tongue Cooler. This gives ELs concrete language and sensory feedback to assist in discriminating sounds and letters within words.

By adding the missing component of explicit, sensory-cognitive instruction, we have been able to accelerate language and literacy skills for many of our English learners in LBUSD. It is so encouraging to see progress with ELs elsewhere, such as the improvements in Colorado where high EL, low-performing schools have successfully used the programs to accelerate student academic growth. Now more than ever, with the growing number of ELs in our country and the demands of the Common Core, we need to continue improving our instructional practices to meet the language and literacy skills they need and deserve to become successful in school.

Margaret Towner is a former teacher, professional development trainer, and literacy coach for Long Beach Unified School District, specializing in language and literacy development for English Learners throughout her career.



What does it mean to 'Dream Big for Learning?'


We asked Nanci Bell: "What does it mean to 'Dream Big for Learning?'"

In 1986, Pat Lindamood and I established the first Lindamood-Bell Learning Center. Our vision was to help each child reach his or her potential, no matter the age, no matter the previous diagnosis, nor the extent of the struggle with learning to read and comprehend. We dreamed big.

Pat and I also dreamed of conducting behavioral and neurological research. To that end, over the years we have partnered with prestigious institutions, to allow for, and welcome, independent analysis of Lindamood-Bell instruction. We have been honored to have our instruction reviewed and analyzed by researchers at institutions including MIT, Wake Forest University and Georgetown University.

We believe passionately that the imagery-language connection is necessary for language and literacy skills and as such our instruction brings that connection to consciousness for reading and comprehension.

After 30 years, we have fulfilled our vision and changed the lives of thousands of children and adults. And, we have made a difference in the field of education by illuminating the sensory-cognitive processes that underlie oral and written language and literacy skills.

I encourage you to watch a recording of our webinar from March 20. I've titled my presentation, "Dream Big for Learning: Connecting Imagery to Language." It's important for parents especially to learn first-hand about what comprises quality instruction. More than just a "strategy," our research-validated programs are dependent on our quality implementation.

I look forward to sharing this information with you. Let's Dream Big together!

~ Nanci



The Imagery-Language Connection: Imagery and Verbal Processing for Literacy, Cognition, and Memory


by Nanci Bell

“If I can't picture it, I can't understand it.” — Albert Einstein

Einstein's famous axiom underlies comprehension and critical thinking. In classrooms today, great teachers explicitly develop a student's ability to visualize the content they are covering. Consider this short passage:

“An ice age is a period when for a long time the temperature of Earth's climate is very low. This leads to an expansion of the continental ice sheets, polar ice sheets and mountain glaciers” (Simple English Wikipedia, 2015).

To understand and recall this information, readers must have concrete mental representations (pictures in their mind's eye) of the Earth, glaciers, continents, expansion, and temperature. As additional background knowledge, perhaps readers have the imagery of humans as hunter-gatherers for historical context.

Effective teachers check for understanding by prompting students to describe their own mental pictures to see who “got it.” Good teachers also clarify meaning or introduce new concepts by verbalizing their own imagery (modeling the thinking process, if you will). For example, a teacher might say something like, “I picture huge chunks of ice, as big as a whole state or country, slowly sliding down from the top of the earth toward the middle of the earth.” When necessary, teachers should provide visuals, including pictures, illustrations, and charts, which will aid in developing concrete imagery and background information for students.

Now imagine students who have a difficult time visualizing written and oral language, either due to a disability or because they have not developed the habits and skills required. These are students in special education and students struggling to read and learn. But these are also students in regular classrooms who have trouble reading fluently, getting the main idea, writing cohesively, following directions, or paying attention. These students grasp parts and details of content, but cannot connect them to a greater whole.

Is there a role for the imagery-language connection in literacy instruction?

The role of mental imagery has long been cited as a critical factor in cognition and memory. Can imagery prove to be a missing piece in how we address the language and literacy skills for all students?

As is well known, reading is an integration and interplay of several component subskills such as phonemic awareness, phonics, word attack, word recognition, fluency, contextual cues, and comprehension. However, even a balanced and differentiated approach that addresses these component parts may be insufficient, especially for struggling readers. That's because underlying these components are sensory-cognitive factors that activate (or disable) a reader's ability to perform such skills.

According to Allan Paivio, a cognitive psychologist from the University of Western Ontario, and Mark Sadoski, Director of Educational Research at Texas A&M, "Any theory of reading that does not eventually align with a broader theory of general cognition will not endure. Reading and writing are cognitive acts" (Sadoski and Paivio 2001, 1). Their claim suggests that reading pedagogy must go beyond the eclectic methods and non-theoretical strategies that make up the typical reading program du jour.

The imagery-language connection for literacy aligns with Paivio's theoretical model known as Dual Coding Theory (DCT). He states that “Cognition involves the activity of two distinct cognitive subsystems... a verbal system specialized for dealing directly with language and a nonverbal (imagery) system specialized for dealing with nonlinguistic objects and events” (Paivio 2006, 3). From an instructional standpoint, imagery—a sensory-cognitive function—can be identified, stimulated, and applied to facilitate language and literacy development.

In our instructional practice at Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, we focus on two types of mental imagery related to language and literacy skills—symbol imagery and concept imagery. Symbol imagery is the ability to visualize sounds and letters in words, which serves as a basis for orthographic awareness, phonemic awareness, word attack, word recognition, spelling, and contextual reading fluency. Concept imagery is the ability to create an imaged gestalt (or whole, detailed picture) from language, which serves as a basis for comprehension and higher order thinking. By explicitly and systematically targeting these sensory factors, we have experienced great success in developing and remediating literacy skills, even for students with significant learning disabilities.

Further, behavioral and neurological research validates that the development of the imagery-language connection results in significant changes in the brain and significant gains in language and literacy skills. Researchers from Georgetown and Wake Forest Universities found that training-induced changes in gray matter volume (GMV) in children with dyslexia can be observed, and that reading improvements induced by intervention are accompanied by GMV changes that persist over time.

As has been shown extensively with behavioral and now neurological research, the imagery-language connection is a primary factor in literacy. Bringing imagery to consciousness with explicit instructional methodology will profoundly improve literacy skills.

Implications for instruction

Weakness in imaging and verbal processing are the primary causes of weakness in language and literacy skills. If we provide instruction that explicitly and systematically addresses these sensory-cognitive functions, people of all ages can become independent in language and literacy skills.

This is especially critical now, as most states implement the Common Core and students are expected to meet rigorous standards. The Common Core demands independence in literacy and critical thinking. Emphasis is now placed on a grade-by-grade staircase of text complexity. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for increasing academic achievement, especially for struggling and at-risk students. That's because the foundation of grasping complex text—multiple levels of meaning, unconventional language structures, figurative language, complex themes—is the imagery-language connection.

How well we succeed in raising achievement to prepare all students for college and career readiness depends on how well we improve instruction in reading, writing, language comprehension, and critical thinking—skills at the core of all academic learning. And how well we improve reading and comprehension—something the nation has not done despite dramatic reform efforts over the past 50 years—depends on whether we approach reading instruction in a new way, recognizing the imagery-language connection and its primacy in independent language and literacy skills.

Nanci Bell is the co-founder and director of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes.


Simple English Wikipedia. 2015. “Ice Age.” Last modified January 7.

Sadoski, M., and Allan Paivio. 2001. Imagery and text: A dual coding theory of reading and writing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Paivio, Allan. “Dual Coding Theory and Education.” Paper presented at conference on “Pathways to Literacy Achievement for High Poverty Children,” The University of Michigan School of Education, September 29-October 1, 2006.

Click here for helpful tips to incorporate the imagery-language connection into your instruction to help struggling students.


Center Schools Achieve Full Accreditation Status


Each year the Colorado Department of Education determines accreditation ratings for all 178 school districts in the state of Colorado based on state achievement test results, graduation rates, and ACT scores. Accreditation categories a district can earn range from Turnaround to Priority Improvement to Improvement to Accredited, to the state's highest rating Accredited With Distinction. When this new accreditation process began during the 2009-10 school year the Center School District achieved a score of only 46.2% on the rating's 100-point scale. This meant they were placed on Accredited with Priority Improvement status, the second lowest rating a district can receive in Colorado.

This rating of Accredited with Priority Improvement also put the district on CDE's 5-year countdown clock, at the end of which the state department of education could significantly intervene and even possibly require a complete reorganization of the district.

Since this first district accreditation rating, and as a result of continual increased academic growth and achievement, the district has methodically raised its rating, first to 56.1% in 2011 (Accredited with Priority Improvement again), then 58.8% in 2012 (Accredited with Improvement, and off the state intervention countdown clock), to 61.9% in 2013 (still Accredited with Improvement) to 65.2% in November, 2014, the district's first year with a fully Accredited rating!






With a student poverty rate hovering around 90%, a migrant student population around 30%, and half of students served needing some form of English Language Learner instruction, Center Consolidated Schools has still become one of the very few districts in Colorado to increase its rating from Priority Improvement all the way up to Accredited! This has been accomplished as a result of the continual hard work and professional growth of teachers and administrators, and the effect this has had on improved instruction of students, as well as the application of the district's four core beliefs which include a dedication to increasing academic achievement for ALL students, offering the support so that all students can achieve at high levels and be successful in life, offer quality planning, instruction, and assessments that can lead to high achievement for all students, and making sure that everyone is committed to excellence in all they do every day. Wise words!



Growth Progress


Upcoming Conferences Featuring Lindamood-Bell Presentations

Lindamood-Bell is making an international impact by presenting at several conferences outside of the United States in 2014-15. Here are some of the conferences, including those in North America, coming up:

International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Annual Reading, Literacy, and Learning Conference, held in San Diego, California, November 13th, 2014. The presentation, by Angelica Benson, Director of Public Relations, is titled, "Neurological and Behavioral Research Validates Imagery-Language Connection to Dyslexia, Weak Reading Comprehension, and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)."


26th Annual International Conference on ADHD, hosted by Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD), held in Chicago, Illinois, on November 14th, 2014. The presentation, by Kelli Shannahan, Deerfield Learning Center Director, is titled, "Low Grades and Difficulty with Homework? Signs That Your Child with ADHD May Have a Learning Difficulty."


25th Annual CASE Conference, hosted by the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE), held in San Antonio, Texas, November 15th, 2014. The presentation, by Paul Worthington, Director of Research and Development, is titled, "Thirteen-District Partnership Model for Special Education Reform."


World Education Research Association (WERA) 2014 FOCAL Meeting, held at the University of Edinburgh, in Edinburgh, Scotland, on November 21st, 2014. The presentation, by Darcie Molina, Regional Director of International Development, is titled, "The Imagery-Language Connection: Improving Word Reading and Comprehension in Students with Learning Difficulties in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia."


The Asia Pacific Educational Research Association (APERA) International Conference, held at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, in Hong Kong on November 19th-21st, 2014. The presentation, by Jen Broere, Regional Director of International Development, is titled, "The Imagery-Language Connection: Improving Word Reading and Comprehension in Students with Learning Differences."


Programs Receive Special Education Endorsement

The Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) has officially endorsed the Seeing Stars® and Visualizing and Verbalizing® programs for reading and language comprehension. CASE is an international professional educational organization affiliated with the Council for Exceptional Children, whose members are dedicated to identifying, shaping, and disseminating effective policies and practices in the field of special education.

The Executive Director of CASE, Luann Purcell, Ed.D., praised the programs, saying, "Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing exemplify the type of programs that ensure all students, particularly those with special needs, receive high-quality intervention and build 21st Century literacy skills. CASE is proud to endorse these programs."

Both the Seeing Stars and Visualizing and Verbalizing programs develop the underlying skills needed for fluent reading and comprehension. Seeing Stars develops symbol imagery, the ability to visualize sounds and letters in words. Visualizing and Verbalizing develops concept imagery, the ability to visualize both oral and written language. In addition to working with students with disabilities in more than 50 Learning Centers worldwide, Lindamood-Bell partners with public and private schools to increase reading achievement and turn around low-performing schools.


Programs Approved for Colorado READ Act

The Colorado Reading To Ensure Academic Development Act (READ Act) focuses on K-3 literacy, assessment, and individual plans for students reading below grade level. The Visualizing and Verbalizing®, Seeing Stars®, LiPS®, and Talkies® programs were recently included on the Colorado Department of Education's Advisory List as instructional programs that meet the reading needs of students under the READ Act. The new legislation requires teachers to assess the literacy development of students in kindergarten through third grade in the areas of phonemic awareness, phonics, and vocabulary development, including oral skills, reading fluency, and reading comprehension. Lindamood-Bell and Gander Publishing are proud to be a part of this important effort in helping Colorado students READ to their potential.


Programs Help Transform Low-performing School


After a three-year school improvement initiative, Haskin Elementary in Center, Colorado beat the odds and turned around its low achieving status. Lindamood-Bell partnered with Haskin to implement a new way to develop reading and math skills. With over 90% of its students in poverty and over 50% English learners, Haskin outperformed all other School Improvement Grant (SIG) schools in the state. Over the 3-year grant period (2010-2013), the average increase in the percent of students performing at Proficient or Advanced on the state's standards-based assessment was 29 points, compared to only a combined 7.5-point increase for all other SIG schools in Colorado. George Welsh, Superintendent of Center School District, observed the impact of the Lindamood-Bell® programs on his struggling students and stated, "For anyone who has ever felt their below-benchmark readers have been permanently wedged in place, the Lindamood-Bell intervention process serves as a crowbar to unstick them, allowing them to eventually take flight and catch up to the other kids at their grade level." Watch the following video of Haskin's Turnaround success.


Dunseith Welcomes Robot Coach


(Transcript of a news report that aired October 7, 2014)
Dunseith Elementary School students and staff are trying something no other school in North Dakota has done before.

Their Pre-K through 6th grade classrooms now have a fully functioning robot coach as part of the Lindamood-Bell® literary solutions program.

In years past, the Lindamood-Bell program would send an employee to schools all around the nation to help teachers tailor reading programs for their students. By replacing that person with an I-pad robot, it's saved Dunseith Elementary $75,000.

Rebecca Ward, Dunseith Elementary Principal, noted, "With the use of the mentoring robot for the teachers, it has cut the cost of the implementation from about $100,000+ to $25,000."

The school has been using Lindamood-Bell system since 2007 and saw success, but in just three weeks of this new technology, it's adding another dimension.

Ward further stated, "It's a robot. It's something that they aren't used to, but by being able to interact with that robot, it seems to help them focus a little more on the material they are suppose to be doing."

School staff had two days of training prior to student interaction because really this robot is meant for the teachers. As the robot observes the teacher doing the strategy, so can the robot do the strategy and the teacher observe, which is the mentoring portion of it.

"The robot is also very independent. When I am in the office, I hear the robot wake-up and off she goes. If the teacher is actually absent, that robot could go in and do the lesson for that absent teacher."

The school's robot coach also mentors schools in Honduras. Dunseith's principal says like many rural schools around America, this gives them the ability to get the same teacher support as a large city.


Lindamood-Bell Awarded Accreditation

Nanci Bell, Co-Founder and CEO of Lindamood-Bell Learning Processes, announced June 30, 2014, that Lindamood-Bell and all of its 56 Learning Centers have been granted AdvancED Accreditation. The AdvancED national commission conferred the accreditation, which recognizes Lindamood-Bell as a quality education system.

The accreditation process involves three ongoing components: 1) meeting high quality standards; 2) implementing a continuous process of improvement; and 3) engaging in quality assurance through internal and external review. Lindamood-Bell's accreditation is for a five-year term with regular monitoring of progress and reporting occurring during the term. The company must ensure that its corporate-owned centers continuously meet the rigorous accreditation standards.

"We are very proud of our AdvancED accreditation status recognizing our commitment to quality and excellence in education. Every one of our Learning Centers across the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia share my passion for learning and making a difference in the lives of children and adults," says Ms. Bell.

Dr. Mark Elgart, President/CEO of AdvancED, states, "Corporation Accreditation is a rigorous process that focuses the entire corporation on the primary goal of creating lifelong learners. Lindamood-Bell is to be commended for engaging in this process and demonstrating a commitment to continuous improvement."

About AdvancED
Dedicated to advancing excellence in education through accreditation, research and professional services, AdvancED is the world's largest education community, serving and engaging 30,000 public and private schools and school systems in more than 70 countries and serving over 16 million students. AdvancED is the parent organization of the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement (NCA CASI), Northwest Accreditation Commission (NWAC) and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Council on Accreditation and School Improvement (SACS CASI).
For more information, visit


Colorado Reading To Ensure Academic Development Act (Colorado READ Act) Endorsement

Lindamood-Bell is approved by the Colorado Department of Education as a Professional Development provider for Colorado's new READ Act. Additionally, the Visualizing and Verbalizing®, Seeing Stars®, LiPS®, and Talkies® programs were all approved as instructional programs. Lindamood-Bell is the only workshop provider endorsed and licensed by the authors of the Lindamood-Bell® programs.


Nanci Bell Awarded the Distinguished Leader in Special Education Award

We are excited that Lindamood-Bell's CEO Nanci Bell received the distinguished Leader in Special Education Award at the Third New York Citywide Special Education conference on Saturday, January 26, 2013, at the Hunter College in New York City.

This award, given to persons who have made a significant impact on the field of special education, was conferred by Education Update, in collaboration with several other New York, area organizations including the Child Mind Institute, the Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity, and Columbia University.


The Escuela Internacional Sampedrana (EIS) in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, is implementing Lindamood-Bell® Programs with Much Success

The international school's superintendent, curriculum specialist, and teachers talk about why they chose the Lindamood-Bell programs and the tremendous impact that the programs are having helping their students read and learn English.


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