Conference 2017

LDANZ Conference & AGM 2017

Empowering Learning

The national conference of the Learning Disabilities Association of New Zealand was held on the weekend of 8th and 9th July 2017 at the Palmerston North Convention Centre (354 Main Street, Palmerston North).

View Photos here

Conference Theme

This year’s conference theme of Empowering Learning provides a focus on understanding and overcoming obstacles to learning commonly faced by New Zealand school children with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia.

  • Keynote presentations will address the emotional aspects of living with learning difficulties, effective ways to build learning power and resilience, universal design for learning and inclusive practice, and raising the bar for dyslexic students and their families in New Zealand.
  • Workshop options will cover Multi-sensory Structured Language (MSL); assistive technology and practical technology solutions to support learning; diagnostic decision-making; and the practical implications of using the Woodcock-Johnson IV for LD assessment.
  • Plus, the conference programme includes LDANZ’s AGM; a Member Organisations delegates’ meeting; Forum options for LDANZ registered teachers, LDANZ registered assessors, and other delegates/presenters respectively; and a professional supervision, peer review or appraisal option for LDANZ assessors or teachers.
  • Exhibitors will present a range of educational product displays at the Conference Centre.
Conference Programme

Conference Presentations

Jane McWilliams: Emotional Aspects of Living with Learning Difficulties

Jane, MCouns (Hons), is a professional counsellor who specialises in working with individuals who live with learning difficulties and/or giftedness. Her Masters research looked at the effects that dyslexia has on intimate relationships. She has 17 years of experience and works in her private practice in Auckland.

Students learn best when they are calm. Cognitive processing is affected by emotional issues, which are often heightened in people with learning difficulties. Recognising, accepting, and having the tools to help with emotional intensities can help to minimize vulnerability and maximize learning and positive outcomes for these young people.

Lynne Silcock: Supporting Students with Technology

Lynne is a CORE Education accredited facilitator working in schools and a member of the Connected Learning Advisory. In both roles she supports inclusive practice. Lynne has a background in secondary teaching, inclusive education and education technology. Prior to joining CORE Education in 2015, Lynne worked in the Ministry of Education as the national coordinator for the NZ assistive technology team. She was also part of the Ministry team that reviewed Special Assessment Conditions in 2014.

Lynne’s particular expertise is in how specialised and standard technologies can be used to support learners, including those with disabilities or additional learning needs. She has been an advocate of Universal Design for Learning [UDL] for many years as she sees the potential for this framework to help teachers support those who have failed to thrive in traditional education settings.

Catherine Brill: Practical Technology Solutions

Catherine is the Assistive Technology Manager of Desktop Technology Services Ltd [DTSL], based in Palmerston North. She will share her knowledge and expertise of practical technology solutions. Her presentation will include a demo of a few learning support tools (Kidspiration, Inspiration, TextHelp Read&Write, Dragon, C-Pen, Livescribe pen), as well as cover a few phonics and literacy apps for the iPad.

Margaret Crawford: Building Learning Power

I have taught across the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors. Since 2003 I’ve been teaching English and filling different roles in my workplaces, as needed. My 2005 Speld training led to C Grade tester training and recent registration with LDANZ. I’m using a study award this year to complete post-graduate work in psychology.

This presentation will investigate the use of ‘Building Learning Power’ to overcome learning obstacles. It will be a synthesis of research and ideas about building resilience and a ‘growth mindset’, informed by Guy Claxton and Carol Dweck’s work. It will include some specific, practical techniques that can be directly applied to the support of school-aged students with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia (and the rest of us who could use some help, too).

Liz Kane: Multi-sensory Structured Language

MEd from the University of Auckland; Literacy Consultant; Associate member of the Australian Dyslexic Association.
My work, based on Structured Language, is focused on bridging the gap between evidence-based research and the teaching practice of reading and spelling. I aim to develop teachers’ knowledge and practice of the explicit teaching of Phonemic Awareness and the Alphabetic Code. These two vital code-based elements teach children the sound structure of spoken words, the relationship between sounds and letters, and the skills of blending and segmenting phonemes for successful decoding and encoding.

Liz will describe how the elements of handwriting, phonology, orthography and morphology are taught within lessons and how she has worked with teachers to take these elements to classroom practice. She will also share how decodable texts support this teaching, allowing students to read using their knowledge of the code.

Carla McNeil: Raising the Bar for Dyslexic Learners and their Families

Carla is the Founder and Director of Learning Matters Ltd. She is the past Principal of Korakonui School, and prior to this was a Mathematics Advisor with the University of Waikato. Carla is a passionate and experienced educator who has had a rewarding journey through the schooling system as both an educator and a parent. Her interests and passion lies in the advocacy for, and implementation of, quality research based interventions in NZ which lead to the development of self belief, confidence and sustained progress for all learners.

Carla will share her story including the successful implementation of the ‘Brain Gain’ programme. Also, she will give us an insight into the direction of her new educational venture Learning Matters Ltd and the benefits of a multisensory learning approach based on the Orton Gilllingham teaching approach which engages all stakeholders and results in a true wraparound effect.

Conference Organising Committee

The 2017 LDANZ Conference Organising Committee is working hard to provide this valuable professional development opportunity. We hope to see you at this year’s conference.
Bill Glassey: LDANZ President; LDANZ Assessor Trainer
Sheryn Comrie: LDANZ Teacher Trainer; Member Professional Committee; teacher
Gillian Knight: Member Professional Committee; assessor
Bev Wilton: Member Professional Committee; teacher
Clare van Hasselt: Member Professional Committee; assessor

Further Conference information will be placed on the LDANZ website as it become available. Also, A4 sized conference posters and pamphlets will be sent out to Member Organisations early in Term 2. Distributing these to local libraries and schools will help to advertise LDANZ and encourage people to consider attending this year’s conference. We hope individual LDANZ members living in areas without a Member Organisation will also order and distribute printed copies of posters and pamphlets.

Should you need further information, or request printed posters and pamphlets, please send an email enquiry to (enter Conference in the Subject tab).