* R.I.P. Silver

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The kiddos made a prophetic movie of Silver using the ActionMovie FX app.

Silver‘s engine blew up two days ago.  That Subaru meant a lot to me, mostly because of how I got it.  I was at a back-to-school event and of course, still there long after it was over.  My dearest teaching widower called to ask when I was coming home.  He also asked if I had expected a package from UPS.  I said a DVD was on the way and he said the package didn’t look like that.  I drove home immediately and there was a huge brown package in the driveway.

I was puzzled but saw the UPS markings, etc. and my dearest widower said since it was addressed to me, I should open it up.  As I pulled on the “box,” I realized it was heavy brown paper, not cardboard.  I started unrolling it and saw the bottom edges of tires! I was totally flummoxed (obviously my blood sugar was low!) and the next-door neighbors, who were hanging out of their upstairs window, yelled at me, “Open it up!  Keep going!”

I kept unraveling the wrapping paper and realized it truly was a vehicle!  “Did you wrap a car from the state pool?” I asked my widower, who was looking less thrilled by the moment.  (Since he traveled for the state, he often used a state car when driving a long distance. )

“No!  This is not a state car!” he exclaimed.

“Did you steal a car?”  (I am still not sure why that was in question….)

The neighbors laughed and my dearest widower, ever patient, said calmly, “No, I didn’t steal it.”  I actually repeated that question numerous times as I ripped off the final shreds of wrapping paper.

The silver Forester sparkled, brand new with with shiny black hooves tires.  I thought of the old TV show, The Lone Ranger, and immediately named it Silver.  Sadly, I was still asking my husband if he stole the car as we went in the house.  Poor guy.  Seriously, we never bought something that big without doing it together.  And no, my dearest teaching widower has never stolen ANYTHING, except my heart.

* YDCD: Cool site on dyslexia

It’s no surprise that Drs. Sally and Bennett Shaywitz have founded one of the best sites around for info on dyslexia.  The Yale Center for Dyslexia and Creativity (YCDC) provides terrific resources for educators, families, and kids.  As the author of “Overcoming Dyslexia” and a leading figure in ongoing research on dyslexia, Sally Shaywitz focuses on both the strengths and challenges experienced by folks with dyslexia.

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This wonderful site features:

  • Research on dyslexia, including the rationale for calling dyslexia an “unexpected difficulty” in reading by individuals who have the intelligence and motivation to read.
  • A powerful section of resources for kids, parents, educators, and policy makers.  You’ll find terrific student tips and poignant stories featuring young people from a wide range of backgrounds- and all of it is printable!
  • Success stories of folks who have used used their unique learning style for good (and no, they are not all actors!).
  • Advocacy tools for parents and educators, including helpful strategies for raising awareness of dyslexia, social media suggestions, and more.
  • A news and press section with summaries of current news articles on dyslexia and newsletters from YDCD.

I highly recommend this site as a starting point for learning more about dyslexia.  YDCD is also a place where educators and families can find support in their dyslexia journey, which can be tough but oh, so rewarding!

 

 

* Siri and me

Siri and I have a complicated relationship.  Sometimes she helps me call my dearest teaching widower and other times she has no idea who that is.  It drives me nuts when she calmly tells me, “You’ll need to unlock your iPhone first.”  What??  My dearest widower has not changed his name or number!

Recently I was stuck in a snarled traffic mess for what seemed like forever, so I forgave her (that’s good) and chatted with her (that’s bad in a car, I know).  But I was not moving!  Not an inch!  For a long time!  OK, I was impatient (also bad).

I started with some important questions but the conversation went downhill from there.

 

* More on language struggles

Yesterday I shared my concerns about Stacey, a rising 3rd grader who appears to have a language disability.  It can be difficult to intervene if parents are unable or unwilling to accept that their children have major challenges; it’s even harder if all of the kids are struggling in some way.  Where does that leave us?  If I were a regular classroom teacher at Stacey’s school, I might initially attribute her unusual verbal responses as shyness or as a misunderstanding.  In a large group setting, it can be harder to evaluate students if they aren’t eager to respond.  Hopefully, Stacey’s teacher would spot Stacey’s unusual errors and word finding problems.

As a special educator, I might not notice Stacey’s language struggles, either.  If a parent or teacher does not refer a student, I would have limited contact with that child.  On the other hand, I have had opportunities to refer kids for speech and language issues when they have been invited to social skills groups called “lunch bunches.”  A lunch bunch is when my special needs kiddos could invite one or more friends to a small group lunch. In that setting, I typically found that all of them could use a hand in conversational skills!  But seriously, I think the easiest way to get to know kids is in a small group setting.

The best hope for Stacey to receive some language intervention comes from small group interactions with adult supervision.  In that setting, it would be much more obvious that Stacey is not functioning at typical levels for her age.  Whether an official evaluation process ever gains traction is uncertain in light of the family dynamics.

Stacey on electronics

* Noise in your head #1

Reid Wilson’s approach to cognitive behavior therapy changed my life.  No longer trapped by a driving phobia, I drive anywhere and everywhere, sometimes still telling my amygdala to give it a rest.  Reid now has a new online course which I can guarantee will change your thinking about anxiety!  The course is called “Stop Worrying: Powerful New Tools for Anxiety Relief.”

Why am I so convinced that this course will be life changing?  Two reasons: Because it is founded on the latest brain research and Reid Wilson is an expert in this field.  The video below explains what happens in your brain when you come across something scary, like a snake.  Watch it and be amazed at how fabulous your brain is- and how that amazing brain can make a mess of fear.

More info on this course to follow!

* Identifying language struggles

Stacey dancing 2When Stacey was in kindergarten, I had serious concerns about her language development.  As a rising 3rd grader, now heading back across the states after a summer visit, Stacey continues to display many indicators of a language disability.  She still struggles with basic prepositions, directions, and word recall.  Sadly, she is so desperate for attention that when her grammatical errors entail hoots of laughter from her sibs, Stacey will repeat whatever she can to earn even more laughter.  One of the worst indicators of her struggles to communicate are her increasingly serious behavior issues, with physical aggression and a “shorthand” verbal teasing.

Yesterday she attempted to ask me to subscribe to a YouTube channel featuring, “It’s Raining Tacos,” but I had no idea that’s what she wanted:

Stacey:  Aunt Katharine.

Me:  Yes?

Stacey (holding a tablet in front of me):  Can you do that?

Me:  What do you want?

Stacey:  Can you…?

Me:  Is it working right?

Stacey:  See?  I want this.

Me:  “It’s Raining Tacos?”  You want to play it?

Stacey (irritably pulling away the tablet):  No!  Never mind.  Forget it!

Me:  Show me what you want.

Stacey (pointing in the direction of the screen):  See?  That.

I was desperate, checking for the battery level, sound level (all earlier issues that took just as long to sort), and trying to keep her with me long enough to figure this out.  Eventually I asked, “Do you want to subscribe to this channel?”  She answered, “Yes, but forget it.”

More tomorrow on what could be done to support Stacey’s language growth.

* Another farewell

Yesterday was our last full day with the kiddos for the summer.  Again.  It was a fun day, with lots of laser tag, enjoying the Beatles’ Help movie, endless SpongeBob episodes, and many ventures with Roblox and Minecraft.  Poor Christopher had the toughest time with goodbyes, but we were all very sad.  Their friends who joined us and became part of the gang also mourned the end of movie nights.  We hope they will all be able to return next year!

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The folks at Walmart always breathe a sigh of relief when we leave!

* Changing the brain for good

Research continues to support the use of specialized instruction for rewiring the young dyslexic brain, changes which persist into adulthood.  A new study reported by the Dana Foundation found significant improvement in reading AND changes in the brains of 24 dyslexic children over an eight-week summer reading program.  The changes occurred not only in the brain’s language areas, but also areas which allow monitoring of sensation and movement.  The study used a Lindamood-Bell program, similar to one with which I also have positive experience.  The cool part is that changes occurred so quickly.

I have seen such rapid changes in reading performance with youngsters I’ve taught.  I’ve seen as much as three years reading growth in less than 10 months for some kiddos.  And in other cases, that growth occurred in three months!  I would identify developmental readiness, small group size, and administrative and regular classroom support for pull-out sessions as key factors to speedy improvement.

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* Things that leak

Ok, I am starting a list of things that leak.  Feel free to add your own.  I am not including body parts other than the brain.

  1. Complex instructions to kiddos spoken in the midst of asides and other students’ comments.
  2. Classroom lectures that last 30 minutes.
  3. Classroom lectures that last 20 minutes.
  4. Social skills instructions that are not practiced in real world situations.
  5. Tips for dealing with bullies that don’t include adult supervision and support.
  6. Phonics instruction presented by teachers who have no scope and sequence.
  7. Phonics instruction presented by teachers who never learned phonics skills.
  8. Ditto #6 and #7 for phonological instruction.
  9. My brain after less than 8 hours of sleep.
  10. My words after a strong cup of tea.
  11. Dishwashers.
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Even this dehumidifier leaks- but into the sink, not the subfloor, like our dishwasher.

* Sunday funnies — bluebird of bitterness

From The Babylon Bee. Average American Now Complains More in a Week Than People Living Through the Black Plague Did Their Entire Lives Demonstrating just how bad modern life has gotten, surveys now show that the average American today complains more in a week than people living during the black plague complained throughout their entire […]

via Sunday funnies — bluebird of bitterness

You know how funny she is.  You think you have read it all.  But then, Bluebird of Bitterness comes up with more reasons to laugh, all the while exposing my griping personality!  

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