Professional Development

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Dyslexia Simulations

Dyslexia for a Day. This two hour program walks participants through a number of simulations in reading and writing. It is designed to help individuals gain a better understanding of and empathy for those who struggle with dyslexia. (Author Kelli Sandman Hurley personally trained me in these simulations)

What is Dyslexia

Defining dyslexia and identifying signs and symptoms can help educators and caregivers know which individuals may need a little more support. This presentation helps to debunk some common myths around dyslexia and replace those myths with the facts.

What To Do If You Suspect Dyslexia

Designed to benefit both the caregiver and the educator this presentation discusses what to do when you suspect dyslexia, how to seek a formal diagnosis, an overview of Structured Literacy (the research based method for teaching reading not only for students with dyslexia but is effective for all students), as well as a look into alternatives such as tutoring and homeschooling. The program wraps up with a handful of resources for next steps.

The Role of Phonology for Children with Dyslexia

This full day PD offers a deep dive into the world of phonology. It begins with a quick look at the definition of dyslexia, what dyslexia is not, and the signs and symptoms of dyslexia. It continues with a short dyslexia simulation and a review of the Iowa state dyslexia laws. The remainder of the program focuses on the letters and sounds that make up the English language. Teachers will review approximately 40 blendable sounds found in the English language. They will label consonants based on location of articulation and organize the vowel sounds in the vowel valley. After lunch they will dive into Phonological and Phonemic Awareness activities, work with Elkonin Boxes, and identify syllable types. The presentation closes with learning to administer the PAST test which is a Phonological Awareness Screener created by David Kilpatrick and featured in the book Equipped for Reading Success.

When Decoding Doesn’t Work

Known by many names: sight words, high frequency words, dolch words, heart words, etc. one thing is certain, they can be tricky for some students to master. This session is an interactive dive through sight word instruction. Participants will get hands-on experience practicing a variety of techniques for teaching  sight words. Walk away with a plan you can implement on Monday! 

Homeschooling with Dyslexia

A quick review of Iowa’s homeschooling laws, suggestions for curriculum choices, and accommodations for students with dyslexia is the focus of this presentation. A heavy dose of grace and encouragement is added to the end.

Build Your Own P.D.

Do you have a topic related to dyslexia that you would like to explore? Mindy is happy to build a custom professional development for your team based on your needs.

Lynell O’Connor


Williamsburg Jr. Sr. High

“Mindy VanZuiden’s professional development workshops not only equip educators with essential knowledge but also instill a deep sense of compassion for inclusivity. Using simulations, her unique approach to learning offers teachers a firsthand experience of what it’s like to be a student with dyslexia. Through her dedication to promoting empathy and understanding among educators, she empowers those who seek a culture of learning for all children. Her leadership is marked by a rare blend of expertise, passion, and an unwavering commitment to enhancing the educational experience for students with dyslexia.”

Brent Zirkel


Mary Welsh Elementary

“Our Dyslexia Simulation during preservice was eye-opening for staff and one of the best experiential learning opportunities I have had in my 20-year career in education.  Mindy took us through several simulations that helped us better understand different aspects of dyslexia and then debriefed with us on the impact that might have in our classrooms.  Mindy is easy to work with and energetic, she keeps a good pace that engages those she is supporting.  She provided us with resources that have been useful as we support students in our building.  I highly recommend Mindy to any school or organization that desires to support ALL students!”

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