The Windward Institute - Courses, Workshops, and Lectures

September 2021 Faculty Highlight: Dee McKechnie

Dee McKechnie, MS Ed, a current faculty member of Multisensory Reading Instruction I and II, expands her role at The Windward Institute to support more teachers in the broader educational community

Ms. McKechnie explains more about her new role and courses as The Windward Institute eagerly welcomes her as a key member of the team.

1. Tell us more about your new role with The Windward Institute.

This year I will be wearing two hats at The Windward School and The Windward Institute. At the WI, I am continuing to teach Multisensory Reading Instruction I in the Fall and Winter. I will also be teaching Multisensory Reading Instruction II, a course that we look forward to offering again. Finally, I am becoming more involved in external professional development, a key pillar that actualizes the mission of The Institute. At The School, I will be joining The Windward Teacher Training Program (WTTP) by supporting new Assistant Teachers at the Westchester campuses.

2. How will you be directly supporting new teachers in the broader education community?

In addition to developing and teaching the courses, I will be collaborating with The WI on professional development for school partnerships. I am excited to expand research-based reading instruction that is explicit, structured, and sequential to other schools and to have the opportunity help many more students. Our students at The Windward School are lucky to have a reading program that actually teaches them to read, and it would be beneficial for every student to have this same chance.

“I am excited to expand research-based reading instruction that is explicit, structured, and sequential to other schools and to have the opportunity to help many more students.”

3. You teach Multisensory Reading Instruction I and II in the Fall and Winter. Tell us more about the courses.

Multisensory Reading Instruction I and II teaches the foundational skills for teachers to implement explicit, structured, and sequential reading instruction through The PAF Reading Program, a researched-based program that incorporates the theories and practices of Orton-Gillingham instruction.  Reading, spelling, and handwriting are integrated into a unified lesson. The topics for both courses include instructional practices all supported by the latest research on developing accurate and fluent reading comprehension.

"Teachers love learning the why” as well as the “how” to implement their learning into effective classroom practice." 

Multisensory Reading I is the introductory course to the PAF Reading Program, which focuses on the foundational teaching practices of the PAF instructional sequence. Some of the topics include definitions of reading, causes of reading difficulties, developmental stages of reading, an overview of an explicit, structured, and multisensory reading program and the importance of controlled text for all developing readers. It’s a combination of theory and practice.

Multisensory Reading II includes a brief review of MRI I and focuses more extensively on long vowels, homonyms, decoding multisyllable words, syllable types, spelling rules and transitioning out of controlled readers into grade level text. It is an opportunity to take a deeper dive into PAF and is beneficial for teachers who have taken MRI I and have been teaching PAF throughout the school year.

"The PAF Reading Program is an applicable and effective reading program that is necessary for students with learning difficulties and benefits all students."

I am especially excited to be teaching these courses, especially as the PAF Reading Program has introduced new decodable chapter books that follow the PAF instructional sequence.  Having used the new materials for the past two years, I have seen how my students love interacting with these engaging materials!

4. Why are the Multisensory Reading Instruction courses beneficial or reading teachers?

I think the classes deliver an effective combination of theory and practice. The courses provide teachers with applicable skills that translate directly into their classrooms and support the development of these skills with decades of well-documented research. Teachers love learning the “why” as well as the “how” to implement their learning into effective classroom practice. As a former classroom teacher who had been teaching using explicit, structured reading instruction for several years, I understand how to support teachers on a practical level. The PAF Reading Program is an effective and engaging reading program that is necessary for students with learning difficulties and benefits all students.