IDA Partners with 3D Literacy
Kathy Penn is an active IDA member, a classroom teacher for 27 years and individual tutor for five years. Kathy and her son, Mike Penn, have combined Kathy's knowledge and enthusiasm for teaching struggling readers and Mike’s technical and business savvy and created 3D Literacy. The company is really moving forward after having produced an Apple iPad app called SoundLiteracy that is an instructional tool and resource for teaching phonemic awareness, phonological processing, the alphabetic principle, and morphemic awareness. It is the first in a unique line of apps that will encourage teachers and students to work together in an intensive work study program. With an abundance of "sound knowledge," SoundLiteracy provides a platform for teaching students to hear, see, and analyze words in ways they have never thought of before.
Mike Penn, President and CEO of 3D Literacy, states, “We are like the old BASF company tagline: “We don’t make the products you buy. We make the products you buy better.” SoundLiteracy does just that by taking the reading and spelling curricula many people have spent hundreds if not thousands of dollars on to a whole new level. It replaces traditional letter tiles by bringing them into the 21st century. No more losing tiles. No more hands being raised saying they are missing their “-ai” tile. No more running out of the letter “g” to spell the word “giggle.” SoundLiteracy provides tremendous ease of use with the spunk of technology. 3D Literacy believes that technology does not replace the teacher; instead it enhances the abilities of a teacher. Knowing that there are plenty of programs and curricula that do an excellent job of teaching concepts, the mother-son team’s goal was not to reinvent the wheel but rather to make the wheel better.
The particular methodology, approach, specific language for spelling rules, and the sequence of presenting the knowledge is left up to the teacher and determined by the needs of the student. At the same time, it relieves some of the burden teachers face spending hours of time on cutting, sorting, and organizing manipulatives. Those who use multi-sensory techniques know this struggle all too well. The added benefit of touch screen technology opens a door to unimaginable capabilities for the letter tiles. For instance, there are many more easily accessible tiles than most sets include. The tiles have the ability to change color for different purposes (i.e. “purple” to signify Latin roots; all “white” after a word is built; drawing functions using any color code; using a finger or a stylus, the student can write words instead of using tiles). With its interactive capabilities, this app captures the attention of students.
Kathy Penn’s story is impressive. In her 3D Literacy blog Kathy writes, “I am a dyslexic. I come from a family of highly creative and successful entrepreneurial dyslexics. I struggled in school. My teachers weren’t taught how to teach children like me. So, I had to learn how to teach myself. I grew up and became a teacher intent on teaching others. Through the eyes of my students who struggled, I saw myself. I would lose sleep and feel like a failure if I couldn’t do something to help them learn. I know how it feels to fail, and I know how it feels to learn. I love to learn! Everyone loves to learn! Not everyone knows how to teach! I can teach myself almost anything, but I found that I didn’t have all of the answers or ways to help some of my struggling students. So, I was always looking for ways to improve, ways to make it clear, ways to teach them, because they wanted to learn!
In 2002 I took a continuing education course where for the first time, I learned about phonological processing; I knew instantly it was the missing connection for struggling readers! I began infusing phonemic awareness into my teaching, helping my students focus on the sounds in words, instead of focusing on the words as pictures! For the first time, I began to look at words from more than one angle. That course began a journey for me; a journey that now allows me to see words in 3D.
A couple of years later, I was introduced for the first time to the definition of ‘dyslexia’ and an Orton-Gillingham influenced system at a conference. I had a dyslexic student in my first grade class that year, and I felt that the added multi-sensory techniques of an O-G approach would be the answer for her. I began working with her using the O-G approach which was a great fit for her needs. She is now in fifth grade. Her determination has kept her always working on grade level. She loves to learn, and she loves to read! This week she won a blue ribbon at a speech meet! She is amazing!
Becoming certified in the O-G system that I first encountered didn’t satisfy me. I didn’t want to stop learning. I was still full of questions and excitement. I began a 5 year intensive personal journey of reading, researching, purchasing materials, traveling to workshops around the country, and learning everything I could about dyslexia, multi-sensory teaching, and the English language. I am still learning! I will never believe that there is a one size fits all solution to anything! I opened a tutoring business out of my home that meant the end of my classroom teaching. I also began a passionate pursuit of ways that I could help teachers and parents of dyslexics. Yes, I am a dyslexic, but I am also a teacher, a tutor, and a lifelong learner.”
3D Literacy is proud to announce their partnership with IDA in assisting teachers, tutors, parents, and students with their fight against Dyslexia. 3D Literacy has decided to graciously donate a portion of each sale of SoundLiteracy back to the IDA. “We are truly grateful for the work that IDA does. Any way that we can help this wonderful organization and those who work with struggling readers, we are going to do.”
Mike and Kathy Penn
"I can remember hating words; now I am fascinated by them! I was a poor reader, but I always loved books! I was a terrible speller; now I teach spelling! I wouldn't write down my thoughts; now I'm writing this blog! I saw words in one dimension, but now I see them in 3D!" -Kathy Penn