What Verticy Learned at the IDA Conference

We had an amazing time at the 63rd Annual International Dyslexia Association Conference and 1st Annual Parent Conference. After exhibiting and presenting, we had a chance to catch up with old friends and make new friends from around the world.

Didn’t make it this year? We got you covered. Take a look at our pictures and read the most valuable lessons that the Verticy team learned at the IDA Conference.


The Verticy team in action at the IDA Conference

Verticy booth setup

Before: Anne S. getting down and dirty laying the floor down for the Verticy booth in the exhibit hall.


Verticy booth IDA

After: Angela and Michelle preparing to show participants the ins and outs of the Verticy program.


Anne and Cailyn showcasing Verticy in the Exhibit Hall.


Multimedia Presentation

Beth Badorf, a Verticy mom, proudly displays her Verticy Word Cards to Diana King, the author of the Writing Skills books used in the Yellow and Green Levels of the Verticy Grammar and Composition course.


In addition to speaking to families and teachers in the Exhibit Hall, the Verticy team attended presentations from experts in the field on Working Memory, Fluency, Math, and others.

Here’s a sneak peek into our thoughts about the conference:

The IDA conference was an incredible experience. It was remarkable to collaborate with professionals, parents, and individuals of all ages who live with dyslexia. There were several messages that seemed to resonate throughout this year’s conference – the need to improve reading instruction in all teacher education programs and the importance of getting the message out to all people who are affected by someone with dyslexia.

It is an exciting time to be part of Verticy because we are able to help individuals in public, private, and homeschool environments, and these partnerships will be driving Verticy into the 21st century of learning.

 - Michelle “Mic” Dunn, Verticy Learning Specialist


I was thrilled to attend the IDA conference in Baltimore this year. Meeting with the families and teachers who are excited about Verticy was such a wonderful experience. I also had the opportunity to learn more about the effect that dyslexia has on a student’s math skills.

One of the main areas that dyslexic students struggle with is memorizing math facts. Math instruction tends to be verbal, and this makes it very difficult for students who have poor short term memory. Words as well as symbols used in math can be problematic for dyslexic students. There are ways to remediate, including teaching math vocabulary very explicitly, using concrete objects to teach concepts, and teaching steps directly. It is important for parents to be aware of these potential issues in math and provide support as needed.

- Anne Susie, Verticy Curriculum Specialist

Drawing winners

We’d like to announce the winners of the Verticy drawing that was held during the conferences.

  • Professional Conference Winner: Karen L. from Oklahoma
  • Parent Conference Winner: Marianne R. from New York

Congratulations to our winners!  You will be contacted individually and will receive your prizes in the mail.

We hope to see you all at next year’s conferences. OR you can come visit us at the 50th Annual International Learning Disabilities Association Conference in San Antonio, Texas, from February 13–16, 2013.

And one more thing…

We have decided to extend our Verticy 10% off sale until Thursday, November 15. The conference reminded us all of just how important this type of solution is for struggling students, so take advantage of this opportunity to help your child love learning again.

A Verticy 10% Sale? Pam Investigates.

I keep hearing all these whispers around the office today. Psst psst VerticyPsst psst sale

So I decided to investigate.

The Mystery of the Verticy 10% Sale

An investigative report

I started to collect clues at 10:27 a.m. A trail of Verticy stars led me to the office of my boss, Maggie M. I asked her why Verticy would have a sale right now.

“We want to make this program more available to parents. We know that this economy is tough. But we also know that education is the number 1 priority for parents,” Maggie explained.

I see. People want to save money right now, but they also want to do what’s best for their kids. But why would parents want to enroll in Verticy in the first place?

I went to Martha C., an experienced Education Counselor, for some answers.

“It offers a specially designed, multisensory set of instructions for students struggling in language arts,” she told me in between phone calls to parents. “It is especially tailored to meet the needs of students who need to build independent reading skills.”

She went on to share with me one of the most frequent questions asked of her: “The school system is not meeting my child’s needs. Do you have something that will help my child?”

The answer is almost always, “Yes, we do.” Because we have two main ways to use Verticy:

  • As a complete curriculum used to homeschool your child
  • As an intervention, or supplement to another program (such as after school)

A breakthrough

Suddenly, I heard a dinging sound. I had a new email! The subject line: Verticy Sale Details. This might provide the answers I was looking for.

Take 10% off your Entire Verticy Order*

What: 10% off ANY Verticy purchase, including full curriculum and supplements

When: October 25 through Wednesday, October 31, 2012

How: Call 888-544-7116 and mention the coupon code VERTS10 when calling to place an order

When you call that number, you can ask any questions you can think of about the Verticy program and its benefits for your family. Our educational specialists can help you determine if Verticy is right for your child.

For more information about the Verticy program, visit the Verticy Learning website.

*Restrictions apply. Call Verticy Learning at 888-544-7116 for details.

Verticy at the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Conference

Verticy is coming to Baltimore! Well, technically, we were already in Baltimore, but now lots of other exciting people and groups are coming to join us at the annual International Dyslexia Association (IDA) Conference.


Though this is the 63rd year for the IDA Conference, it is the first time ever that they have included a special Parent’s Conference.

Conference information:

Where: Baltimore Convention Center
1 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

Verticy is in Booth 507 in the Exhibit Hall.

When: Friday, October 26, 2012 from 12:00 p.m – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Why should you attend the conference? Funny you should ask.

Top 5 Reasons to Attend the IDA Conference

5. A Keynote Address by a Local Celebrity

Deborah Weiner, an award-winning news anchor in Baltimore, is Saturday’s keynote speaker at the parent IDA conference. Her 14-year-old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in first grade. She will be speaking at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 27.

4. The Themed President’s Celebration

The President’s Celebration is a chance to meet IDA members, educational professionals, and other parents in a fun, relaxed setting. As a tribute to the Baltimore location of this year’s conference, the celebration is Hairspray-themed — a musical that takes place in Baltimore. Arrive in your best beehive hairdo, or just come as you are and socialize. The event is on Friday, October 26 at 7:00 p.m.

3. The Informative Presentations

With topics such as dyslexia evaluations, getting into college, and choosing appropriate programs for your family, there is no shortage of valuable information for your family. And speaking of valuable information, there will be a…

2. Verticy Presentation!

Verticy will, of course, be at the IDA Conference, which is reason enough to attend. Verticy will have a booth in the Exhibit Hall — Booth 507 — where you can come and meet the team. We will also be presenting one of the parent sessions during the conference:

From Struggling Reader to Motivated Reader: Multisensory Phonics Strategies that Work at Home
Friday, October 26, 2012
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

“I hate to read!” “Do I have to go to school?” Does this sound familiar? Now YOU can help your frustrated child become a better reader. Learn how the most effective multisensory phonics strategies have been structured and organized by expert educators so that they can be carried out at home to help transform your child from a struggling reluctant reader to a motivated thriving reader.

1. Visa Gift Card Giveaway

We know you don’t need ANOTHER reason to come visit us at the conference, but we thought we would sweeten the deal with a Visa gift card giveaway. 

There will be two winners — one educator and one parent. Just fill out the entry card at our booth in the Exhibit Hall and place it in the jar. (Winners will be contacted after the conference.)

Hope to see you at the conference!


What’s New with Verticy for 2012 – 2013?

The Verticy Team is always working to create the best learning experience possible. We have some enhancements and activities for Verticy Learning 2012-2013 that we’d like to share with you.

Verticy Fluency Practice moose iconFluency Practice

We’ve added Fluency Practice to each level of our Phonics and Spelling program.


Reading fluency is critical to improving independent reading and reading comprehension. Verticy uses guided, repeated oral reading activities to help students improve their reading fluency and comprehension. We’ve even included a tracking sheet so students can see their progress as they move through the program. 

 My Verticy Portal Upgrade

We know that not every lesson occurs at home. You might want to access your materials while on the go.

If you have a portable computer, Verticy has now made access even easier. Why lug around your lesson manuals, activity pages, and concept pages when you can view every book from your laptop?

As you can see below, we added new materials to the Lesson Manual section of your student’s My Verticy Portal.

You now have access to the Activity, Workbook, and Concept Pages associated with many of your lessons. We hope that this gives you more flexibility and options for using Verticy each day.

My Verticy Portal screenshot

Click on the image to enlarge.

In addition to the updates to our program, we wanted to let you know where we are going to be this year. 

Lunch with Verticy

If you are going to be in the Maryland area this week, come join us for a Not Back to School event in Hunt Valley.

Where: Oregon Ridge Park
13555 Beaver Dam Road
Cockeysville, MD 21030

When: Thursday, September 20, 2012 from 12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Why: Meet other Calvert and Verticy Families, and meet many of the Calvert staffers who work to make your Verticy experience wonderful.

The event is located at the Westinghouse Pavilion in the park. BYOL (Bring your Own Lunch) and get ready to have some fun!

RSVP the number of people coming to inquiry@calvertservices.org. Can’t wait to meet you!

IDA Conference

Join us for the annual International Dyslexia Association Conference this year. It will be held right here in Maryland, and for the first time ever will also include a Parent’s Conference.

Conference information:

Where: Baltimore Convention Center
1 West Pratt Street
Baltimore, MD 21201

When: Friday, October 26, 2012 from 12:00 p.m – 9:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 27, 2012 from 8:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Verticy will have a booth in the exhibit hall where you can come and meet the team. We will also be presenting one of the parent sessions during the conference:

Verticy Session

From Struggling Reader to Motivated Reader: Multisensory Phonics Strategies that Work at Home
Friday, October 26, 2012
12:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

We hope to see or hear from you soon. Have an amazing year!

Bribing Children to Get Good Grades?

holding toy carI recently came across this article and guiltily agreed with the premise: Freakonomics Goes to School and Teaches Us the Right Way to Bribe Kids.

I used to shamelessly bribe my son with Hot Wheels. And it worked. He would get a new toy car for every A he scored on a test. Then one night, after dinner, I said, “Well, let’s go to the store so you can pick out a new Hot Wheels.”

He responded with,”Nah, I don’t really want any more cars, I just like getting As.”

However, as he got older, the bribes (instigated by me) became more significant. By his senior year in high school, he had worked his way up to a long board in exchange for a 4.0 average. Money well spent, in my opinion, since that GPA is the reason he was accepted into several colleges of his choice.

Now he is a junior in college and I’m already looking forward to his graduation day. Should I book the hotel now? What should I wear? How many tickets will we be able to get for family members? Yet the bigger question is looming, “What kind of reward would be appropriate for this glorious milestone?”

I may have created a monster, though, because my son has been dropping hints about a Ford F250.

So, what do you think? Do you use “material motivation” to inspire your child?


Homeschooling Fathers: How Dads Can Help Struggling Readers

Let’s face it. Some dads are responsible for teaching the kids, but most homeschooling parents are moms. But that doesn’t mean Dad isn’t — or can’t be — involved. 

On the week leading up to Father’s Day, when we celebrate and honor all the things dads do for kids, we recognize that dads play a vital role in the education of their children. And fathers can be especially helpful for struggling readers.

Top 5 Ways for Homeschooling Fathers to Help Struggling Readers

5. Fathers Can Read to the Kids

The benefits of reading to young children are numerous and well-documented. (Read about some of the reasons why.) There are even more advantages of dads reading to a struggling reader:

Alan reading to Ty, by robbiew on Flickr

  • It shows that Dad thinks reading is just as important as Mom. Learning doesn’t stop when Dad gets home.

  • It sets up a routine at night. Kids look forward to reading because they get to spend special time with Dad.

  • Following along with a fluent reader builds comprehension and vocabulary.

4. Fathers Can Share Their Knowledge

Even if Mom is primarily responsible for the day to day teaching, Dad can impart his knowledge about any topic. Learning is not restricted to a curriculum. As one father in a homeschooling family says:

“[A]nything I know is fair game for my kids to learn.  I never assume that my kids would be bored by any topic.  This doesn’t mean they aren’t.  They are more often than not.  But I can’t guess what will capture their imaginations and what won’t.  So I try everything.  Hey kids, you know how companies decide on how to price their products?  Hey son, see that rock?”  – Leland McArthy, For Dads, By Dads: You Can Learn Anything, At Any Time, In Any Order

For a struggling reader, this is especially helpful because it shows that knowledge can be shared in ways other than reading and writing. And a particular topic or just his enthusiasm may spark your child’s interest in something and motivate her to learn more.

3. Moms and Dads Can Play to Their Strengths

Maybe one of you has more patience. Maybe one of you is better at explaining math. What’s important is finding what is most helpful for your child.

Sometimes you have to be creative to break through to a struggling learner. And two heads may be better than one. The mother and father can brainstorm together and designate tasks that work best for their family. As one blogger puts it, you can form a mom & dad homeschool team.

2. Fathers Can Give Support and Encouragement

Nothing is as critical to a struggling reader as encouragement. Moms, tell your husband about your child’s accomplishments so he can commend her on a job well done. Even small victories are worth sharing.

Although Dad is at work for most of the day, knowing that he cares and supports a child’s efforts creates a positive atmosphere for learning.

1. Fathers Can Set a Good Example

Fathers can be mindful of the kind of example they set for their children. Kids know that Dad goes to work every day, but what do they see when he comes home? Does he read? Does he ask how Mom is doing? Does he talk about the things he did and learned that day? Does he ask what the child did and learned that day?

father daughter bonding

By providing additional support and education, and acting as a role model, even working dads can contribute to the homeschool family.

Further Reading

Homeschooling Dads – FamilyEducation.com

What Dads Can Do in Homeschooling

Hints, Tips, and Ideas for Homeschool Dads

One Father’s Homeschooling Experience

Slideshow: Seven Ways Dads Affect Homeschooling

The Role of the Homeschooling Father

Life Lessons Learned from Homeschooling

Recently, when my four adult children were all gathered together, I asked them to tell me the most important thing they learned while they were homeschooling:

  • Son: “I learned that I am responsible for my own success or failure.”
  • Daughter #1: “I learned how to organize and prioritize my tasks.”
  • Daughter #2: “I learned that education doesn’t happen just when you’re ‘doing school;’ it’s a part of your life.”
  • Daughter #3: “I learned that Mom keeps the answers keys in the bottom left drawer of her desk.”

After we all had a good chuckle over that last one, my daughter the clown came up with another answer similar to her brother’s.

My reason for this exercise? I wanted to prove something that I had always suspected: the most important things that children learn while homeschooling are not facts, like the capital of Peru or how to find the area of a triangle. Instead, what they come away with are what I call homeschooling life lessons — skills and attitudes that affect how they live their lives and how they view their worlds.

Life lessons, though, are not taught in one day, several days, or even in the course of a school year.

Teaching: A Lifelong Process

etched stone

The Hebrew word for “teach” is very similar to the Hebrew word that means “etching on a stone.” Today you may make a mark on a stone and see a small scratch. Tomorrow you mark over the same spot. Day after day you continue this process, and eventually you have a deep engraving that is virtually impossible to erase.

This is the way life lessons are taught — by repetition, over and over and over again, until one day, when your children are grown, you start to see the effect of the “etching” in their lives.

Value the Team

So what does this look like in real life, on a day to day basis? You have to start with your fundamental identity as a family. If you are simply a group of individuals, each looking only for self-fulfillment, you are likely to fail at homeschooling. The successful homeschooling family views itself as a team, where individuals work together to achieve common goals. When one member struggles, all struggle; when one member of the team succeeds, all succeed. Your job as captain is to remind the team of this fundamental truth when the going gets tough.

But Also Value the Individual

Now take stock of each of your “players” — your kids. What are the strengths and weaknesses of each? If you’re like me, the weaknesses are not hard to spot: Sally is terrible at math; Johnny has trouble with reading.

What about their strengths, though? These may not be as obvious. But if you look hard enough, you will find some gems. Maybe Sally has a terrific sense of humor. Or Johnny is good with small children. The important thing is to find those strengths, no matter how small, and point them out when you or other family members are tempted to become discouraged or critical.

Let me give you an example of how this played out in a real-life family scenario in my home years ago.

Son: Mom, is she STILL working on her reading? She’s SO slow!

Me: You’re right — your sister is not as good at reading as you are. She does have very creative ideas, though. Maybe if you are patient with her now, she will give you some ideas for that science project you’ve been stuck on.

Homeschooling Teaches Life Lessons

siblings laughingBased on the way I see them interact with one another now, I think my children learned well the life lesson to value and appreciate one another as individuals. And homeschooling played a large part in that. Children in traditional brick-and-mortar schools spend most of their time with a majority of the people who are roughly the same age. How often does that happen in real life?

The reality is that you are preparing your children for a world in which they will be surrounded by people of different ages and abilities with whom they must learn to get along. The homeschooling environment is a laboratory where you can teach your children the important life lessons.

Scritch, scritch…

Do you hear the sound of etching? It’s me, once again pointing out that everyone has weaknesses, but everyone also has strengths. As team members, we help each other with our weaknesses and affirm each other in our strengths.

As a homeschooling parent, you will probably have to communicate this to your family members (and to yourself!) on a daily basis, but, one day you will see the fruits of your labors: children who have learned how to appreciate and respect others in their homes, their workplaces, and their communities. What a valuable life lesson and a wonderful benefit of homeschooling!

The Homeschooling Doldrums: Yellow School Bus Days

child on a school busI used to call them Yellow School Bus Days.

In my mind’s eye, I would stand at the front door of my home, watching for the first yellow school bus to come by. I would flag it down, pack my kids on it, watch it go down the street, and then go back inside for a cup of hot coffee and a long soak in the tub.

This happened a lot in February and March, when I was sick of school, the kids were sick of school, even the dog was sick of school, but the end was not yet in sight. The homeschooling doldrums. The winter blahs. Of course, I couldn’t (and would never!) act out my fantasy, so I had to find ways to make homeschooling bearable for a few more months.

I don’t know whether these ideas were born of temporary insanity or sheer desperation, but I offer the following for your consideration if you are facing your own Yellow School Bus Days.

Take indoor field trips

Check out concerts, museums, and special programs at your public library. Our local opera company used to offer bargain-rate tickets for students to attend dress rehearsals.

Have a “Backward Day”

Eat dinner in the morning and follow your daily schedule in reverse order. Those who are particularly daring might try wearing their clothes backward or talking backward.

Try indoor camping

Put sheets over furniture to make tents and conduct school under the dining room table. Serve “camp food” for your meals. (My kids liked cooking their own hot dogs in the wood stove.)

girl with a silly hatDeclare a “Hat Day”

Find all the hats that are available (the sillier, the better). Everyone wears a hat, and at designated times during the day, hats are switched. Your kids might even want to try making their own hats; you could also have a hat “fashion show” at the end of the day, when all the schoolwork is finished.

Have a “Silly Word Day”

As a family, invent a silly word, like “galoompas.” Then, throughout the day, let the kids find creative places to insert the silly word. (For example, your student might rename his reading book as Mr. Popper’s Galoompas, or a math problem might add galoompas, instead of money.) If you have more than one child, or if the original word loses its silliness, switch to a new silly word.

Homeschool in your pajamas

Why not?

Needless to say, this list is not exhaustive and can be expanded by adding your own creative ideas. Don’t let the the homeschooling doldrums, the Yellow School Bus Days, conquer you. Face them with a grin, and, before you know it, you will find yourself at the end of a successful (and memorable) homeschooling year.

 family looking at camera