Hard Words: Why Aren’t Our Kids Being Taught to Read?

 

Hard Words: Why Aren’t Our Kids Being Taught to Read? is an amazing podcast (and text) by Emily Hanford at APMreports (https://www.apmreports.org/story/2018/09/10/hard-words-why-american-kids-arent-being-taught-to-read).  Decades of scientific research shows us how children learn to read.   Often teachers are uninformed about the science and, in some cases, they chose to ignore it. This documentary will share the science behind teaching reading.  Next, we need to tackle the same issue in writing.  For other educational podcast, check out https://www.apmreports.org/educate-podcast

Summer reading doesn’t have to be drudgery.

From Emily Gibbons at The Literacy Nest.

Seven Summer Reading Tips for Struggling Readers

When I think of summer vacation, I have visions of popsicles, playing in the sprinkler, lemonade stands, long summer evenings and lazy days reading in a hammock. As an educator, I know that for struggling readers, reading is often the last thing on their mind when they think of relaxation. But,  I also worry about summer learning loss or “the summer slide”. On average, students lose one month of school learning during the summer vacation. For students with dyslexia, the loss is likely even greater and will be more time consuming for them to regain than their peers. However, children with dyslexia have worked very hard all school year long and should definitely make time for fun and play. Striking a balance is key.

Here are a few tips for keeping reading a part of a balanced summer:

1: Don’t stop tutoring

It is tempting to “take the summer off” from tutoring, but in many cases, summer is a good opportunity to increase the amount of one-on-one tutoring your child is getting in order help them take a leap forward. Work with your tutor to schedule a time that allows your child to do activities important to them. Perhaps first thing in the morning is easiest, so they don’t feel interrupted. Or maybe early evening after day camp is a better time. If they need a break, consider taking a week at the end of the school year and a week before the new school year starts to recharge, but continue tutoring during the rest of the summer.

2. Make friends with your Librarian

Your local library is one of the best summer resources around. Most have a summer reading incentive program and special summer programming with crafts and special guests.   Work with your children’s librarian on helping your child reach their reading goal. Reading to them, listening to audiobooks (ear reading) and reading on their own should all be able to count toward the goal. Set aside a day each week to visit and check out books.

3.  Make a routine

Make daily reading a part of your family’s routine. Reading to your child, having them read to you or having “Family Reading Time” (everyone puts down their phones and picks up a book at a certain time each day) all help to ensure that reading doesn’t fall by the wayside on busy summer days.

4. Anything counts

Don’t hesitate if your child wants to read easy books, comic books, or listen to audiobooks. All of these are going to help their development as a reader in different ways, and they all have value. Podcasts are another great way to expand vocabulary and broaden your child’s knowledge about different topics.

5. Go Thematic

One way to make reading a bit more exciting for summer is to tie in books to summer vacation plans. Are you going on a boating adventure? Read books about boating and pirates. Are you going hiking or camping? Wilderness and adventure stories might be just your cup of tea. Keeping busy in the garden? Dive into some nonfiction books about insects and plants. Traveling to Prince Edward Island? Anne of Green Gables would make a perfect accompaniment to your travels. If you are extra creative, you can even tie in games and activities for lots of thematic summer fun.

6: Write with a purpose

It isn’t just reading that benefits from practice over the summer. Writing and spelling need an opportunity to stay fresh as well. Making a grocery list, sending postcards or letters to friends and family, and keeping a journal of summer adventures are all good ways of writing with a genuine reason.

7: Use technology.

Apps like Nessy for phonics games, or Epic for audiobooks are fun literacy reinforcements that kids of many ages can enjoy. Epic offers a special deal for signing up in the summer, so be sure to check that out!

I hope you will make a place for books and reading this summer and keep your child’s learning fresh, so they can hit the ground running when a new school year begins. Along the way, I hope you have a lot of fun sharing books and making memories. Don’t forget to have a popsicle and play in the sprinkler! After all, that’s what summer’s all about for kids (of all ages)!

2018 Teacher Training

2018  Teacher Training

Orton-Gillingham courses with Student Practicum

 

Congdon Park Elementary School

Duluth, MN

July 30 – August 10

Introductory Course

Registration

$1,000.00 before May 1, 2018

$1,100.00 May 1 and after

Scholarship available (limited, need-based)

Deadline April 27, 2017

Children can participate in the Reading Camp for 9 days.  

For more information: visit www.ogmn.org.

Introductory : for students in entering grades 1st – 3rd grade

Cost: $150.00 for 9 sessions (Scholarships available)

2 sessions to choose from:   9:30 – 10:25 or 10:30 – 11:25

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For more information and to register,

go to:    www.ogmn.org  or  call 218-340-7393

 

 

Orton-Gillingham of Minnesota is accredited by the

International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC) and Approved by the International Dyslexia Association

Tantrum or Meltdown?

While I was at the mall this weekend, I saw a beautiful toddler having an all-out — tantrum or was it a meltdown.  To my eyes, it was a meltdown, and the dad was doing a great job being calm and lovingly while he carrying him out of the mall. So, what is the difference between a tantrum and a meltdown? And then, is there a difference in how to handle them?

Here is a nice chart from understood.org….

Happy Holidays

Article by Jacki Reinert, Psy.D.

“As a child, the idea of Christmas meant cookies, presents, time with family, and of course, giving up TGIF’s Full House in favor of holiday movies. Everything from Scrooged to A Miracle on 34th Street to Home Alone, and every clay animated favorite served as the framework for my formulation of what the holidays truly meant; “It’s Christmas Eve. It’s the one night of the year when we all act a little nicer, we smile a little easier, we cheer a little more. For a couple of hours out of the whole year we are the people that we always hoped we would be.” Frank Cross’s commentary on Christmas set expectations high, and year after year, we hoped to top the magic and splendor of the previous year’s festivities.
As a parent, the holiday season conjures up warm memories of childhood, ignites aspirations to establish new traditions, and creates opportunities to share experiences with our loved ones, particularly our children. The magic of the holidays can also cultivate high expectations; to act nicer, smile easier, and to cheer more. These expectations more often than not exceed our capacity to truly encapsulate the hopes and aspirations we drum up in our heads. High expectations can pave the way for increased levels of perceived stress.
The American Psychological Association recently released its annual review, Stress in America (November, 2017), which indicates the United States has reached its highest stress level yet. Acute arousal stress in isolation can activate and enhance mobilization, sharpening our concentration and preparing our bodies to engage in challenging tasks, such as wrapping those last two presents and baking another round of cookies. This basic human reaction known as the “flight-or-fight” response has served us well, priming our bodies to flee or combat unsafe situations; however, our bodies can also overreact to simple, non-threatening situations, such as holiday pressure, financial difficulties, and increasing family demands.
Chronic stress has far more lasting and serious complications, particularly when it exceeds our ability to cope and leads to emotional and physical dysregulation. Stress is negatively related to our coping potential and our perception of control, which decreases use of problem-solving coping strategies and increases negative coping strategies, such as alcohol consumption and avoidance tactics (Rui Gomes, Faria, & Gonçalves, 2013). Individuals who experience elevations in stress and engage in maladaptive coping strategies such as drinking more alcohol, complaining, sleeping less, and consuming unhealthy foods which increase chances of becoming physically and mentally run down.
For parents, the added stress of the holidays and high expectations can have a significant impact on not only themselves, but those around them. Research suggests that adults are more likely to find family responsibilities stressful than they have in the past (APA, November, 2017). High expectations can make capturing the perfect holiday, particularly when parenting a child with special needs, a stressful time, leading to feelings of resentment (“I’m doing all of this and no one is helping me”), frustration (“I have no time to fit this all in”), and disappointment (“It seems like they didn’t have a good time”).
This year, I encourage you to lower your holiday expectations, increase self-care and self-compassion. While practicing self-care may be the furthest thing from your mind, the following may offer some reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season.
1. Expect that things will go wrong, and that’s okay. Someone will get sick, you might burn a dish, and yes, that’s okay. Avoid catastrophic thinking, a common cognitive distortion where we imagine and worry about the worst possible situation, either consciously or subconsciously. For example, your ability to prepare the perfect holiday dinner for twelve people is an act, not a representation of how good of a person you are. You are not the sum of how well-executed things are, how perfectly the house looks, how your children act.
2. Practice self-regulation and utilize coping skills. The easiest way to understand the subtle difference between these two concepts is to imagine yourself in a car, driving down I-90 into Boston and someone cuts you off. To access a coping skill to manage your anger, you would first need to pull off the highway, put the car in park, and throw on your hazard lights. Conversely, if you were utilizing a self-regulation skill, you could continue driving and manage your thoughts and feelings in the moment. Self-regulation is the ability to modulate our emotions and impulses, to keep ourselves in check, whereas coping is a process or actions that help you manage difficult emotions. Examples of self-regulation skills include diaphragmatic breathing (learn more here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hFcQpNr_KA4&t=140s) and box breathing (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dP4Jxxhhzl0). Coping skills can include meditation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Bs0qUB3BHQ), and progressive muscle relaxation (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1nZEdqcGVzo).
3. Practice micro-moments of positivity. Research suggests that rather than pursue the perfect gift to demonstrate your love for a family member, seeking out opportunities to be present and make a meaningful connection have a more lasting effect (Heshmati, Oravecz, Pressman, Bathcelder, Muth, & Vandekerckhove, 2017). Crawling into bed and reading a holiday book with your children, or complete a small craft together can have a more lasting impact that securing a sloth Fingerling for them. You can read more about micro-moments here: https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/09/568834440/what-s-better-than-expensive-presents-the-gift-of-presence
4. Opt outside! Research suggests that spending time in nature can have significant effect on mood (https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2017/12/09/568834440/what-s-better-than-expensive-presents-the-gift-of-presence) and can increase sun exposure and the benefits of Vitamin D. Locate a winter wonderland hike here: http://www.bostonmagazine.com/health/2016/01/11/winter-hiking-massachusetts/
5. Finally, don’t forget about self-care. Self-care is a deliberate act to support and nurture your physical and mental health. Taking care of yourself not only helps you but those around you. There are several TED talks highlighting the benefit of self-care: https://www.ted.com/playlists/299/the_importance_of_self_care 
Enjoy your holidays everyone.

Hooks in a Mental Closet by Dr. Richard Selznick

As part of an assessment I recently asked 17- year-old near senior, Bethany, “Who wrote Hamlet?”  Looking bewildered, she said, “I have no idea.”

Then, when asked to define the word “tranquil,” she could not further no guess.  Bethany had no association to the word.

By the end of the assessment, it turned out that Bethany scored in the 16th%ile for word knowledge and the 9th % ile for fund of information and general knowledge.

In contrast, Bethany functioned somewhat above average on tasks that were nonverbal, like putting blocks together to make spatial patterns and while analyzing a series of visual patterns.

“I think I have ADD,” Bethany said to me.

“What tells you that,” I asked her.

“When I read my mind wanders.  I have no idea what I am reading.  In class I can’t follow what the teacher is saying and have no clue what they are discussing. It has to be ADD – I think I should be on meds. Most of my friends are on meds.”

I get that kind of thing a lot – kids thinking they should “be on meds.”

Even though Bethany may benefit from stimulant medication, what I do know is that one of the primary reasons Bethany does not pay attention in class or while reading is that she lacks what I call “hooks in the mental closet.”

We used to think of reading as a fundamentally one-direction process.  In this model words would go from the page to the brain.  Researchers in the 1980s and 1990s enlightened us that reading (and listening to class lectures) was more of a two-way, interactive process.

The fact is the more “hooks we have in our mental closet” (the researchers used different terminology, mind you), the better we comprehend what we are reading or understand what we are listening to.

These “hooks” also help us to pay attention.  While medication may help Bethany focus, she still needs to be building in background knowledge and word awareness to try and overcome her sense of feeling lost.

In short, Bethany needs to build in more hooks.

There are plenty of books on the market that may be helpful such as, “Words You Should Know In High School: 1000 Essential Words To Build Vocabulary, Improve Standardized Test Scores, And Write Successful Papers.”

I can tell you with pretty good assurance that Bethany knew about 15 % of the essential 1000 words.

Even if Bethany practiced two words per day for a year, she would be in much better shape with the 720 new words (365 words X 2) for the year that she could learn.

There would be 720 new hooks in her mental closet!!!

Takeaway Point

Hooks in the mental closet matter and may explain some of the reason your child is not paying attention or adequately comprehending. Try and build them in any way you can.

 

Make reading a priority this summer…..

With just a little over a month left of school, it’s time remember the impact that daily reading can make for students.  Shaywitz’s (2003) graph below says so much

For those who find reading a challenge, summer is the time when just a little bit of intentional, focused oral practice every day can help a student get them back on track and regain their confidence.

For those that find reading and writing especially difficult, it’s a great time for multi-sensory scientifically based instruction, sometimes referred to as Orton-Gillingham or Structured Language approach, with a tutor trained in these methods to solidify skills. It’s time to work on skills that are lagging behind their peers, without the fatigue created by spending the day in the classroom.  Students have a marvelous opportunity to make strong gains.

Whether you’ve planned some “academics” for your children or not, below are some ideas for summer activities. In addition, you could consider rewarding your child with an end of the week treat if they read at least a certain amount of time minutes for at least five days in the previous week (an old fashioned chore  chart works well for this).  20 minutes a day 5 days a week is less than 2% of summer vacation.  How much time do they spend practicing sports, playing computer games, or other things.  Make reading a priority this summer.

Below are some ideas to encourage and enjoy reading.  Need some ideas for “treats/rewards”? Try a DQ, a new book, a special dessert, and — a favorite at our house – having a picnic dinner.

  1.  Find a movie based on a book.  Watch the movie, then read/listen to the book.  Talk about the differences and similarities.
  2.  Go to the library and borrow some books and games.
  3.  Pre-read some of the books that will be part of next year’s reading.  (Get that list from the teacher before school ends.)
  4.  Do a read-out-loud book.
  5.  Make dinner together—read the recipe, measure the ingredients, learn about the chemistry of cooking.
  6.  Play board games and card games.
  7.  Encourage your child to read to a pet or younger sibling/neighbor.
  8.  On a rainy day, have your children curl up with comic books or magazines.
  9.  Have your child plan a dream day somewhere. Be creative: they could write about it, make a collage, research with a travel book, or just talk about their ideal day.  Make sure you share your ideas, too.
  10.  Have a TV/technology free day.
  11.  Once a week, “drop everything and read” for 15 minutes … everyone in the house has to participate.
  12. CREATE A READING HABIT!!!

 

Reference

Shaywitz, S. (2003).  Overcoming Dyslexia: A new and complete science-based program for reading problems at any level.  New York, NY: Vintage Books.

Scientifically Based Reading Instruction

This is a nice comparison from Dr. Louisa Moats in her article The Whole-Language High Jinks: How to tell when ‘scientifically-based reading instruction’ isn’t. We need Scientifically Based Reading Research driving our reading instruction.  (Moats. L., 2007, pg 18)