Year: 2011

Updates and Additions: 11-24-11

When I first began this post, it read: “It’s already mid-October, six months after I first launched this website in the burst of spring.” Now, it’s already the end of November and I am starting to catch my breath just in time for the holidays! As a teacher, the feeling of time slipping away is ever-present as I continually evaluate my students’ progress and compare it to the goals we have established.  As the first trimester of the school year comes to an end, it signals a sense of urgency, despite the fact that spring seems so far away. A few weeks ago I listened closely as Garrison Keillor spoke of  smoke and leather, and “leaves falling like a multicolored prayer” and of the chill in the air that “ignites ambition after these months of slouching around in paradise,” how we are “moved to want to make something of ourselves, do something in our lives” now that autumn, in its seriousness, has settled in. And so I have finally continued the construction of this site, digging away at the months of collecting and contemplating, …

Recent Reporting & Resources on Dyslexia

“Poetry should be a matter of passion, not survival,” writes fellow Rochester, New York native, Philip Schultz. So should schooling. I work with a number of students who bravely face their learning disorders on a daily basis in classrooms and institutions where the ideal of differentiated instruction, the mantra of “all kinds of minds,” and the theory of multiple intelligences have not been fully realized.  Institutional constraints (particularly large class size and reduced  or non-existent funding for appropriate resources), lack of professional development around learning disorders, and systems reluctant to change all contribute to a climate of misunderstanding, resistance, and frustration for students, parents, and teachers.  While media coverage around developmental and learning disorders, including increased visibility of individuals who have managed to succeed both in spite of and as a result of their disorders, may not necessarily result in changes to educational policy or classroom teaching practices, this kind of reporting is important in raising awareness and providing hope to individuals who struggle with cognitive challenges. My Dyslexia: A Poet’s Experience Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Philip Schultz, is …

Materials Management at Home

At-Home Filing To maintain organization in the binder or accordion filer, an at-home filing system is vital.  Students should get in the habit of filing old tests, relevant handouts and notes at the end of a unit in an at-home filer.  This could be a file cabinet or portable file box with hanging files for each subject & manilla folders labeled for each unit. Ultimately, it should be easy to access and kept in the area where a student does his/her work. Developing the habit to clean out the binder after each unit and keeping past unit materials at home will: Help the student stay organized and focused on the most relevant work; Lighten binder load (those binders and books and backpacks are heavy enough!  Students don’t need to drag a whole year’s worth of materials around.) Set the student up for success when he/she has cumulative exams at midterm or end of the year; Reinforce the idea that the student is learning for the long-term, not just for the unit, and that learningis connected.  Many students view learning as …

Binder Systems

There are so many 3-ring binders & filers on the market, it can be challenging to decide what one will be the best fit. If a student decides to use a 3-ring, or is required to do so, then he/she must have a 3-ring hole punch stored inside for ease of filing papers. Many students don’t like 3-ring binders because of that added step of hole punching; thus all the papers collect in the front of the binder. If this remains the case, even with the inclusion of a 3-ring hole punch, and enough practice and assistance to build the habit, then perhaps an accordion style binder is a better solution for organizing work. Traditional 3-Ring Binders Some students like to use the traditional 3-ring binders that do not zip. Some of my students have a 1″ binder for each class, others have 2″-3″ AM and PM binders, and some decide to put all courses in a 3″ binder. The decision to use one of these systems over another is based on how much material a student might receive in …

Grip down, begin to awaken & get organized!

Lifeless in appearance, sluggish dazed spring approaches- They enter the new world naked, cold, uncertain of all save that they enter. All about them the cold, familiar wind- Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf One by one objects are defined- It quickens: clarity, outline of leaf But now the stark dignity of entrance- Still, the profound change has come upon them: rooted, they grip down and begin to awaken –William Carlos Williams, “Spring and All” 1962 Awaken and Organize! Spring, for the most part, has arrived in the Pacific Northwest and with it comes not just the bursts of energetic bulbs, and buds, and limbs (of trees and kids!), but also an organizing principle, an impetus to shake off the winter routines, cold & cumbersome. Each year at this time, we begin to unearth new ideas or put into motion the goals established at the New Year.  Nervous energy abounds as we realize we are reaching toward longer light, as well as attempting to make the most of these final months …