Talking Ed: SMU Experts Connecting Science and Practice
Bite for Bite

The Science of Reading Conference

Some of the nation’s top reading experts were at SMU’s Legacy campus in Plano on March 27-28 to help more than 400 classroom teachers and administrators from across the nation learn about the latest research from the field of literacy studies (see agenda at

“Plain Talk About Reading,” sponsored by SMU’s Institute for Reading Research and the Center for Development and Learning of Covington, La., explored a range of topics, all having to do with reading, from early intervention for struggling readers to overcoming adolescent and adult illiteracy to preparing teachers in science-based methods. Some of the more interesting topics included:

  • Neurobiological Factors in Reading Disabilities - Scientists are probing the brain for clues about children at-risk for reading failure.
  • Transferring Theory to Practice: One District's Journey with Implementing Scientifically Based Reading Research - How the Baltimore County Schools System designed a reading program using Reading First grants from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Intensive Intervention Once Reading Failure Has Occurred -- What's Possible? - What do we know about overcoming reading difficulties in older children?
  • Can Reading Failure Really be Prevented? - Methods exist to dramatically improve outcomes even for children at high risk of reading failure.

Some of the more notable speakers at the conference included:

  • Joe Torgesen, psychologist and director of the Florida Center for Reading Research. For more than 25 years Torgesen has conducted research with children who have learning problems and is the author of more than 150 books, articles and chapters on learning disabilities.
  • Marilyn Jager Adams, psychologist and author of the landmark book Beginning to Read: Thinking and Learning about Print.
  • G. Reid Lyon, senior vice president of Research and Evaluation Best Associates; former chief, Child Health and Human Development, National Institutes of Health.
  • G. Emerson Dickman, attorney and president of the International Dyslexia Association. Dickman led a national movement to development a research definition of dyslexia and has represented hundreds of children with learning disabilities in lawsuits against school districts.
  • David Clemons, 52-year-old carpet layer, who learned to read for the first time five years ago. He will talk about his experience of learning to read in a discussion with his tutor.

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