Just Finished Reading an Amazing Book

from amazon.com

from amazon.com

Like many students, I experienced difficulties when it came to reading and especially spelling.   My parents were great in trying to get me all the help I needed (even requesting that I be tested for learning disabilities).  The assessments did not show I had a problem, but later on was discovered I had a vision issue.  I don’t remember much about how I was learning to read in 1st and 2nd, but I do remember how stressful spelling was for me from 1st grade to 5th grade.  A special, public, thank you to my family for helping me complete the evil Spelling Workbook pages each week and especially to my younger sister who would do the word finds for me.  The spelling patterns never made sense and I don’t think the teachers spent a lot of extra time teaching the patterns, or giving extra practice time in school to overlearn the patterns.  I just remember doing the workbook, usually as homework, writing my words 5xs, and using the spelling word in sentences.  But for many of my friends, spelling was easy for them and they couldn’t understand why I kept missing so many on my tests.

I wish this book was around when I was in school.  Not because Ally and I had the same struggles, we had similar struggles, and because Ally is a character I think the 12 year old Sarah would have liked. The book I’m talking about is Fish in a Tree.  Take a few minutes and go read some of the reviews on Amazon.  I think this should become required reading for anyone in a literacy program, administration program, or special education program.

Ally is a student who thinks she’s dumb because she has a hard time reading and writing and therefore has some struggles in school.  Ally is very artistic and carries a sketchbook around with her.  She calls it the Sketchbook of Impossible Things because to Ally, many of the things she has sketched seem impossible to her because of her hard time with reading.  I’m not going to give much more away because it is such a wonderful story but I will add this.  If you have a hard time reading Patricia Polacco’s Thank You, Mr. Falker, (because you start tearing up) you’re going to LOVE this story.

Please share the title of this book with anyone you know who has struggled with learning, has had thoughts of being dumb or stupid, and with all the teachers you know.  This books needs to be in the hands of many so let’s get the word out and get people reading Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.

As a side note, October is Dyslexia Awareness Month and this would be a great read aloud for this month.

My words for Wednesday

Here it is Wednesday already and day three of the Sarah will write everyday campaign.  If it takes 21 days to create and change a routine/habit, I’m just 18 more days away!  So here are my thoughts today.

First let’s discuss the dissertation.  For those who don’t know (but since I know it’s only my family members who read this you probably already know) right now I am working on the first three chapters.  In my program, first you write the first three chapters and usually also complete your IRB application.  Once the first three chapters are finished you meet with your committee for your comprehensive exam over those chapters.   It is usually at this point that the IRB application is also approved to submit to the IRB committee.  So you might be asking how are those first three chapters coming along?  Well I have chapter three finished, minus some editing/revising, chapter 1 has some components that are finished, and chapter 2 feels like a huge mess!  While chapter 1 and 3 have a pretty standard format to follow, chapter 2 is the review of literature and it is really open.  It is up to the researcher to determine what shoulders her research will stand on and then find, read, and synthesis that information.  This researcher has some ideas on what shoulders I will be standing on BUT I think I’m missing a few. That has been today’s struggle.

Here’s how I’ve been attacking chapter 2–treating it like 4-5 little smaller papers.  I am pretending that each subsection is paper.  Once I have the papers written then I will go back and write the transitions between the sections.  Up to this point I’ve written drafted  sections on: working memory, Gestalt and visual perception, and kindergarten/school readiness.  The last section I think I need is one on reading achievement.  To say this last section is a broad topic would be an understatement.  What does “reading achievement mean” is the question I’m trying to answer.  Today while participating in some task avoidance I had a thought: my dissertation is mostly concerned with emergent and early literacy so I should be sure that I discuss the different components of early literacy and how success in those components leads to success in later reading success.  Why I did not think of that before I don’t know.  But now I am excited to write about topics I know really well–phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, letter naming…Now I get to start thinking about those subtopics and remembering all the super-sized shoulders I can stand on.  So reader, beware–in the coming weeks there might be a good many posts about early literacy.

And because above I have “first let’s talk” that means I should have a second or lastly.  So, lastly, I am a teacher with a 2-hr delay tomorrow.  There are so much questions to ask oneself when you have a delay.  Should I sleep in? Should I be a good mother and make good breakfast for my crew (pancakes)?  Should I take my crew for donuts before taking them to daycare (a little later than normal)?  OR do I…wait and see what tomorrow morning feels like?  I’ll let you know.

This is why education must change

When I saw this hyperlink at the bottom of another webpage I thought it was a joke but had to check it out to make sure.

Here is a young child (about 1 year old) interacting with an iPad and then with a magazine.  Even at a young age, this child already knows how to interact with a tablet.  She can make the dashboard move from one page to another.  When given a magazine she tries to manipulate the objects on the page just like she does with the iPad.

Now, let’s fast-forward 4 years to when she enters kindergarten (keep in mind the rest of the world is now playing with the iPad 5 or something even cooler we haven’t even dreamed about).  She is at the bus stop and while waiting is playing an alphabet game on her iPad.  When she gets to the letter “h” and picture of a horse jumping, she wants to know how a horse can jump so high.  WIth her parent’s help, they do a quick YouTube search for horses jumping.  They watch a video of how a horse’s muscle work to make it jump.  The little girl gets so excited and has to share what she learned with someone else in the family.  She checks Skype and see that grandma is available.  She and grandma video chatting until she hears the bus.  The bus arrives and she has to quickly gives the iPad back to her mother.  She enters school and does not have another opportunity to use this kind of technology (or the self directed learning she was doing at the bus stop) until she returns home.

What can teachers and schools do to prepare for this kind of learn?  Here’s the other bit–we already have learns like the one above.  How can teachers and schools continue to develop this sense of self-learning?