Author: Roots To Learning

Setting Goals: Turning Intention into Action

The clean slate of  January 1st  heralds a time when many of us embrace the concept of change and set resolutions for the New Year.  With the all of the emotions and frenzy of the holiday season behind us, January is like a wide open field full of possibility.  A tangible energy abounds as people move and buzz about with newly found purpose. But often by mid-February, the best laid plans often have gone astray.  This leap year we have the gift of an extra day—today!  Thus, it seems the perfect time to take a moment and reflect on our intentions:   Are we making progress?  If not, how can we capture and sustain the energy to best help us fulfill the goals or resolutions we set?  How might we best use this extra 24-hour period to get us back on track? Rarely is something worth doing done easily; however, the approach we take to meeting our goals can make all the difference in our success, and might even make it easier along the way.  I find …

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 …

The Homework Folder

Daily & Semi-Daily Homework Teaching a student to use a homework folder with pockets labeled “Homework to Do” and “Homework to Turn In” is a vital step in materials management and homework completion. For students using a three ring binder, a clear homework folder should be purchased and placed in the front of the binder. I like the clear plastic folders because students can easily see the work inside.  Work that needs to capture their attention can placed facing up in the left pocket for immediate visibility. If the student is using more than one binder for class, he or she should have a homework folder for each binder. For students using an accordion filer, the first two file pockets in the front of the filer should be designated for homework to do and homework to turn in. Longer-Term Projects I like the clear zip or snap pocket filers designed for 3-ring binders for storing rubrics, blank calendars or long-term project planners, handouts, and work pertaining to long term projects.  Keeping this work separated from the daily homework and other handouts will …

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 …