Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Our Craft and Netflix

I have been watching Chef's Table on Netflix. It is about culinary stars that are redefining food. Some of the most renowned chefs in the world share their deeply personal stories and unique styles. They are all extremely passionate about their craft. It is exciting to watch as they work with their team and create wonderful dishes.
I have compared their passion to my own. I am passionate about literacy and want my teachers and coaches to create wonderful learning experiences for children. Here are a few reflections that have been simmering as I watch this series.
These chefs have developed a belief system about food and how it should be prepared. They are passionate about their beliefs. It has become a way of life. They continue to grow and may make changes but they do not go with every new trend or whim. This belief system gives them confidence and they excel in their craft.
They surround themselves with excellent staff. They work together in an open environment where ideas can be shared and nurtured. Nothing is hidden in the kitchen. They work together to create something special. In the end, they are all responsible for the evening's outcome.
They train inexperienced chefs. Newbies have to start somewhere! One chef only works with newbies and as soon as they are experienced, he sends them off into the world. He likes the energy of working with young people who do not have as many restraints. They are eager and open to learning.
The world respects and admires them. They have been elevated within their craft and rewarded for their hard work. People come from all over the world to see them and experience their talent. Some allow you to sit in the kitchen and watch the process of preparing the meals. These are coveted spots!
They want to leave a mark. It may be sustainable farming or authentic cultural experiences but whatever the passion, they want to share their best work. They are world changers.
Take some time to think about these ideas and compare them to your own experience. What do you believe? Do you work openly with others who are as passionate as you? Do you share your talents with others? Do you help new teachers grow? Are you adventurous and willing to learn? Are you leaving a mark? Are you proud of your craft and promote it?
Food for thought!!

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Dyslexia is Real!

I don't normally post on subjects that involve my children or things of a personal nature. This time is different. I think it is important to share our journey and to support others that might be going through the same thing. I learned a lot as a parent and as an educator. Today is my son's birthday. With his permission, I share our story!
When my son was in kindergarten, I realized that he was not learning at the same rate as his peers. With a late birthday, I decided that he would repeat kindergarten. After a few months, his teacher met me after school and told me that he was still struggling. He needed more help than she could provide. He was easily distracted, upset that he couldn't do what the other students were doing, tired easily due to the challenges of school, and could not master basic kindergarten skills. School was so difficult for him that evenings were challenging at home. He decided in kindergarten that he did not like school and did not want to go.
I had him tested by a private psychologist. She found that he had a very high IQ and low achievement. She assumed that I was doing everything for him. I look back at that report and realize that she did not fully understand the issues that my child was experiencing. She did not have a background in reading or education. Her attitude added to the "mother guilt" I was already experiencing. The results of her report indicated that my child needed intensive remediation in basic skills. I took this report to the local school district and the only option they offered was a self-contained classroom for children with severe learning disabilities. I visited this classroom and quickly decided that this was not the right option for my child. I researched for many months and found the term "dyslexia". It seemed to describe my child and what we were experiencing. I went to seminars and read books on dyslexia. When I discussed my findings with the school staff, they were not familiar with dyslexia and had nothing to offer my child. Fortunately, there was a tutor nearby that offered the kind of support that my son needed. He went to this tutor every day during the school months for three years. His reading improved and while he never liked school, he was able to graduate. I used a 504 to support him with needed accommodations. Our experience in college was actually very positive. It took him an extra year, but he graduated and has a great job!
All of this happened 25 years ago! Back then, we did not understand dyslexia or how to help these children learn to read. I was trained to use a multisensory approach to reading and worked with a student while my son was being tutored. Over the years, I have helped many children learn to read using this approach. As a parent and an educator, I know that dyslexia is real. I know that some students need a multisensory approach to reading that involves sequential phonics. I know that one-sized reading instruction does not fit all.
Some things have changed in the last 25 years. We know much more about dyslexia. There are many resources online for parents and teachers.  However, there is still much debate on how to teach reading to students with dyslexia. There is much debate on how many children are affected and how dyslexia is determined. We need more professional learning for educators to help them understand what dyslexia is and how to help these struggling readers. We also need to understand foundational reading and how that impacts learning at a very early age.
I have a wide background in education. I taught second and third grade in general education. I have been a K-12 resource teacher and special education coordinator. I understand balanced literacy and the benefits that it provides to our students. I support reading and writing workshops. I also support multisensory instruction for those students that need it. There are no" reading wars" in my world. We provide each student with what they need. Period.
I do want to point out that my son did not become a "reader" until he found a series that interested him. He needed the decoding help that the multisensory instruction provided. But, he had to find a series that created in him a desire to read. He was in the ninth grade. He explains that here! 
I have developed a course to support educators in understanding dyslexia. Teachers are taking this course and are passionate about helping students. States are discussing dyslexia like never before. We want to identify these students early and provide the needed interventions. I hope the next 25 years are brighter for children like my son. With early intervention targeted to their needs, they can progress and develop a love for reading. I encourage you to learn more about dyslexia and how we can help to make all children readers.

Monday, February 12, 2018

Valentine's Freebie 2018

We love to sing this one at my house! Here is a Valentine Freebie of the song!
Grab the poem Here!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Developing Motor Skills

Motor skills involve the function of muscle movements in the body. There are gross motor skills that use the large muscle groups and fine motor skills that use the smaller muscles in the hands, fingers, and forearms.
There are stages of motor development that are important for educators to know. Scholastic has a great article that will help you understand   The Ages & Stages: How Children Develop Motor Skills
By Susan A. Miller Ed.D., Ellen Booth Church, and Carla Poole.
Stage by Stage 0 - 2
Locomotion begins when a baby can turn onto her tummy and pull herself forward with her arms.
By eight months, babies may be grasping objects and pushing forward on their hands and knees.
One-year-olds, learning to stand unsupported, are gaining muscle control in their backs and legs.
Stage by Stage 3 - 4
Preschoolers love high-energy, outdoor activities.
Threes and 4s enjoy working with a variety of media as they exercise their fine motor skills.
Developing eye-hand coordination helps preschoolers fine-tune their creations.
Stage by Stage 5 - 6
Dramatic growth in the development of physical skills often takes place during the kindergarten year.
Five- and 6-year-olds' emerging physical abilities also increase their capacity to learn new cognitive skills. Games become more appealing to kindergartners as their physical skills become more finely tuned.
Puzzles are important for developing the skills.
Did you know that there are links between fine motor skills and achievement? You will find a summary of the research in this article: Fine motor skills and executive function both contribute to kindergarten achievement.
NAEYC provides us with a picture of what children learn in kindergarten. Motor skills are a part of physical development and very important to learning. We need to take time for developing these skills!