My Story Presentations
In February, students in Ann Andrew's seventh grade oral expression/literature class courageously presented projects that revealed their strengths, challenges, and what helps them as learners. They also debunked popular myths about dyslexia (people with dyslexia read words backward, students with dyslexia can't read, for example) and shared classroom goals.
The My Story presentations were highly personal and revealing—and the product of a vast amount of research and self-reflection. Students reported feeling nervous about presenting in front of other students, faculty, and administrators. They shared tools they used to manage their nerves. "I fiddled both my hands and feet," said Emma '25. Maggie ‘25 pre-recorded the oral portion of her presentation.
Nearly the entire group agreed that listing their strengths was the hardest part of the assignment. Ms. Andrew said it’s not surprising that students struggled with this part of the project.
“Research shows most people are either unaware of or unable to describe their strengths or strengths of the people around them. Throughout this project, we circled back to strengths,” she said. “We spent a lot of time talking about "soft" skills—the intangible ones that so many of our dyslexic students share.”
The students also listed strategies that help them in the classroom, such as starting homework in class with teacher guidance, teacher-provided cues for word retrieval, and teacher modelling, and found quotes that they relate to or provide them inspiration.
Metacognition at Work
Ms. Andrew said the goal of the My Story project was to highlight the importance of self-advocacy—one of the cornerstones of Landmark's approach—and to create a class of self-advocates. Students engaged in deep soul-searching to identify their strengths and develop strategies to compensate for their weaknesses. The class worked as a team to build empathy and understanding among peers.
Students read excerpts from books, such as Dyslexia: Profiles of Success, published by the Yale Center for Dyslexia & Creativity; David and Goliath, by Malcolm Gladwell; Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, by Carol Dweck; and Grit, by Angela Duckworth; and watched video clips that explore ways people with a variety of challenges, such as dyslexia, capitalize on their strengths to compensate for their deficits.
“We discussed the fact that perseverance, metacognition, and vulnerability are necessary to overcome our fears of failure,” said Ms. Andrew.
“In all of the stories we studied of successful adults with dyslexia, every single one credited their success in part to the support of a caring adult. When my students were asked who in their lives was critical to their core ‘team,’ most mentioned parents, tutors, teachers, counselors, coaches, and their Landmark friends. In addition, each student said that trust was key to allowing someone into their inner circle,” she said.
“I am proud of my students for their willingness to share their stories. It's so important to empower them with self-advocacy. The more they know about themselves, the better they understand their needs, and the easier it is to explain their needs to others!”