Friday, June 29, 2018

Diana King

An Edutopia tweet brought back memories.

I spent two summers followed by an entire school year learning Diana King's methods for teaching students with dyslexia. While I was already "certified" in the Orton approach after a year at Catholic University, administrators in my district hoped that embracing Diana and her very slightly different methods would squish requests to have students attend her Kildonan school.

I found Diana's British accent endearing and her knowledge of linguistics amazing; however, I also remember her consistent before a break and before the end of the day quizzes!  Yes, she gave multiple quizzes to teachers every day and if you did not "pass," she would review and reteach until you knew it! 

In the course of my career, I've studied and been certified in not only Orton and King's methods, but also in Preventing Academic Failure and Wilson. While the sequence of instruction and format of a lesson vary slightly, the essence of each method is systematic, direct instruction in the phonetically consistent parts of written English.

There are new "voices" and programs for students who find learning to read challenging; but, Diana King's story is a reminder that teachers with lots of tools and tons of determination can make a difference in the lives of students with a "dyslexic" reading profile!

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

On the first day

I woke "on time" even without the alarm, as if I was poised to "get things done, on the first day! I  slipped into my bathing suit and a sweatshirt to ward off the early morning chill and slipped into the pool to warm up! Put daily exercise, no excuses on my daily schedule.

I headed to the pile of laundry where I sorted, purged, and began washing.  Put do the wash regularly on my weekly list!

I moved into the pantry and the fridge, next, where I removed questionable foods, merged duplicate containers, and organized the cleaned out spaces so that I could find things!  Put clean fridge on my bi-weekly list! 

I headed into the garage even though there was much more to do inside. The weather was near perfect and I knew that the 100 plus days on the horizon would not be good ones for hauling boxes.  The piles of now-falling-apart-boxes, valued treasures-memorabilia-collections, and really-more-like-junk were intermingled and to be honest, daunting (which is why this project has not been completed since I moved nearly 2 years ago)!  Don't put off for tomorrow what you can get done today, I smiled!

I remembered it would have been my parents 68th anniversary as I loaded boxes my mom packed for my not-yet-married nieces and nephews into my front seat. It's time to put them into the intended hands rather than in my garage, I thought hoping my mom would have agreed!

I was exhausted, but accomplished even if there were still many piles, closets and boxes ahead, as I climbed into bed to finish Brain on Fire. Put read for fun on my list this summer, I thought as I relished a first day well spent,

Thursday, June 21, 2018


In these parts
Families acknowledge graduations
With lawn signs saying
I'm wrapping up 
A wonderful chapter
Filled with children, books,
Reading, writing,
I'll be working on
The next chapter.

I Will Miss

"My mom said you were retiring," he said casually as I picked him up for our reading club.  "She said you were re-tired! I promise I will be good and listen and get a star every day and not make you so tired," he said sincerely.  
"Where are you going?" his friend and current reading partner asked. "Are you tired?"

Usually, I assure 2nd graders, like this duo, that I will check on their reading in the fall.
Usually, kindergarten and 1st grade students ask no questions about the future.
Usually, I assure 3rd graders moving up that I will be checking on them and stopping by their new building as they move up to 4th grade.
Usually, I remind students they need to read during the summer to make me happy in the fall.
This year is not usual.

Image result for changes image
"I'm not tired of kids like you, that is for sure! I am changing to be a teacher of teachers," I offered thinking they might buy into my idea if I sold it right!
"But you are a good teacher of kids," one of my group offered tearing at my heart and causing tearing my eyes. 

In my head, I heard the words of Kahil Gibran, "Your children are not your children.  They are sons and daughters of the universe yearning to be free."  
In my heart, I am sure the new "reading club" teacher will have new and exciting tricks up her/his

Yet, I must admit I will miss this kids like this duo:a reluctant reader and a student whose reversals are legendary.
I answered their questions honestly assuring them I would always be part of their memories of schools and that they were ready for a change.
I told them they needed to stay in touch and write to me.
I hope they will.

I will not miss the 4:45 wake ups.
I will not miss board/administrative and teacher agendas focused on "things" other than children's needs.
I will miss the students who found reading and writing challenging.
I will miss the miracle of struggling readers who begins to soar as the "code" begins to make sense.  It never gets old.  

"This sure is bittersweet," I thought as I pulled out the books and we began reading on this next to last day as Mrs. Ferreri, Reading Teacher.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Off Stage and All Year Round

It's been a week of winding down as I wrap up my days teaching students to read and write. To be honest, I have been a bit sad as the "lasts" pile up.  To be honest, I have wished I had a few more weeks/months/years; however, I know better than to utter such a thought in a school filled with squirmy students and sweaty teachers!

Image result for cliffordBut, last night, at an event with timing that can only be described serendipitous, I sat with teachers and editors at the publishing giant, Scholastic, to review a new series of books. I was a bit weary from the 95+ day when I arrived, but I left with much more than a bag of wonderful books to share with my students!  I left ASSURED publishers are working to provide books that will engage today's readers!  I left assured that publishers care about teachers' and librarians' perspectives.

I can't yet share the new materials I previewed, but as I sat in Clifford's home base and listened to the presentation, I was reminded of the many, many people who work "off stage" to support teachers and students!

So this SOL is a shout out to those who support students and teachers "off stage, year round." 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Lost But Found

My mom INSISTED I leave phone numbers and details about where I would be when I went away (in the days before cell phones).  This was essential because, "you never knew when "something" could happen and one would need to rush home! " she said.  In our cell phone controlled world, I sometimes think we have taken my mom's obsession to a higher level.  If I don't answer a text/email/call /voicemail right away, people can bet/angry. If I can't reach someone for a few days, others can become disgruntled or annoyed!

Recently, one of my cousins was lost.  To be honest, we talked last summer for the first time since I was a child! A large far-flung family and different lifestyles separated us, but this time it was my job to find her!  I thought of my mom's admonitions again and again as I tried lead after lead, and phone number after phone number. Finally, I connected with a first cousin, once removed, who followed a lead and did a "drive by.  Life quickly returned to somewhat "normal."

Yet, it left me with lingering questions about those who do not have a visible social-network footprint and those who are not found. It left me thinking about those lost in disasters, floods, landslides and thorough despair and depression. Sadly, not all that are lost are found. 

Tuesday, June 5, 2018

#sol18: Sandboxes

I thought of my own children whose over-sized sandbox spurred hours of creative play as I watched him load sand into the tiny cement mixer. A sense of peace seemed to come to my little guy as he took off his shoes and entered a place where all the concerns of a 2 year old's world seemed to evaporate!

"Everyone needs a sandbox," I smiled as my mind wandered to adults sandboxes! "That's what happens to me at the beach when I kick off my sandals and wander onto the sand," I thought.  "It's also what happens at the pottery studio (for some people), in the wood working shop, in the garden, and while playing the guitar or piano."

Perhaps, sandboxes are spaces where we are busy doing things that our minds do not perceive as work?  I think the definition of sandboxes needs to change!

  1. 1.
    a shallow box or hollow in the ground partly filled with sand for children to play in.
  2. 2.
    a virtual space in which new or untested software can be run securely.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Persistently swimming

I swam 5 of the past 8 days!  Some days, the sun was already warming the early morning air and thus the water felt cool/cold. Other days, like this morning, the water was a warm respite from the cool misty air.

Each day, I have multiple excuses as to why I should not swim.  Each day, I persisted, hoping I would make steps towards my goal. Slowly, but steadily, I can see the changes starting.  New goals, so to speak, replacing old goals.

As I did my rotating breast stroke and crawl laps, my mind wandered, remembering students who needed to persist when learning to read was hard.  A,B,C,D,E,.......multiple students for every letter of the alphabet swam along with me...lap my lap...reminding me how persistence is important as we work towards goals.

I guess you become reflective as you approach the end of a good chapter of your life. For now, my short term goals are to swim, persistently!