Friday, October 6, 2017

How Do You Feel About Class Dojo?

An article in the Wall Street Journal, dated October 4, 2017, titled "See if Your Child Is Listening in Class", by Anne Marie Chaker, made me wonder.  Do parents like feedback about how their child is doing every day in class?

I hear of teachers texting parents every day to let them know about their child's behavior.  This takes a lot of time if you have more than one student you have to keep up with.

The article states, "To some parents, notification throughout the day are intrusive.  So I wonder, what parents don't want the information?  Do you like to keep what happens at school separate from your home life?

"A big goal of ClasDojo, say teachers who use the app, is to keep parents better connected to what's going on in class."  Teachers can use Dojo points for independent rewards per students and/or as a whole class incentive.  The students are alerted by a 'sound' in our classrooms.  I don't like it when teachers take away points.  My thought is that the student earned that point.  It doesn't make sense to 'unearn' it.  I would rather everyone else get another point but that is the way I try to motivate.

As a special educator, we call that negative reinforcer.  At some point, a student won't do anything because when they do they lose it all later so it just does not matter.

Do let me know, as a parent, what do you think of this tool and do your teachers use it.  Thanks!

https://www.classdojo.com/

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Motivation to Get Moving Younger

This is from an article published in the New York Times on Sept 5 by Gretchen Reynolds.   There is data that shows being active while a child  - "Changes the inner workings of brain cells much later in life and sharpens some types of thinking."

So one of the best things you can do as a parent is to be active with your child!  This will give them better brains as they age. Did you know that "exercise ..prompts the release of a variety of neurochemicals associated with brain health."

Now, this particular study was done with 'rats' but the results are amazing.

The article states there is something about young brains and exercise that cannot be replicated with workout later in life...  Wow, so when we made our 4-year-old do a 3-mile bike ride it helped his brain in the future?

So just from this evidence - get your kids outside and play hard!  My other son was on a swim team at 4 years old.  I used to call it the control drown.  The coach would call out while he was racing backstroke, "Don't use your arms!"  He swam faster that way.  My sons were on soccer teams, they were sledding and skiing as soon as they could walk.

I knew exercise was good for your body and health but now it may be good for your brain.  I think I will go take a bike ride.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Tackle Football Before Age 12 Raises Health Risk, Study Says

This article was published in the New York Times, September 2017 and was written by Ken Belson.  A new study showed that these students and more behavior and cognitive problems later in life.

So what is a parent to do?  Obviously, don't let your child play tackle football until after 12 years old.  Concentrate on the things a good football player needs.  Join a running club and work on sprints and endurance.  Perhaps your child might enjoy playing soccer for a few years before tackle football.  Many leagues play touch football so joining one of them can be an option.

Parents think of the health of your child and don't let them play tackle football before age 12!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

A Natural Fix for A.D.H.D.

An article written by Richard A. Freidman published in the New York Times on Sunday, November 2, 2014.  His opening statement, " The problem is not just your brain.  The problem is boredom,"  made me want to read more.  As a special education teacher I work with students who have been labeled with 'the most prevalent psychiatric illness'.

The author has a good point, "people with A.D.H.D. may not have a disease, so much as a set of behavioral traits that don't match the expectations of our contemporary culture."  The real problem may be the world they live in is not very interesting; a lack of focus and lack of attention and impulsive behavior are a way that they deal with 'our' world today.

It is interesting when a person with A.D.H.D. can maintain intense focus on something they find interesting.  You may wonder how adults grow out of this problem.  They may not but they choose to work in fields where things are constantly changing.  They might be salesmen, travel a lot, teach...

But back to students with A.D.H.D. - how can we help them learn better?  
1. small classes that use hands on learning
2. self-paced computer learning (Learning Upgrade?)
3. tasks that depend on specific skills

Teachers have to remember not to crush the 'energy, curiousity, novelty-seeking' behavior but try to have these students become an asset to the class.

Why Johnny (Still) Can't Read

This is a summary from an article published 1/11/17 in The Wall Street Journal by Michael Roth.  Many students have had trouble learning how to read.  Horace Mann started the swing by saying whole language was the way to learn to read in the 1800's. In the middle of the 1900's we were swinging the other way where phonics was the most important way to teach reading.

This book, Language at the Speed of Sight, by Mark Seidenberg claims people learn best to read well by connecting reading with speech and practicing.  We are teaching the brain the abstract symbols that produce writing and reading.  First students must learn the alphabet and this requires feedback and practice.

This book states, "the dyslexic brain has trouble recognizing commonalities among words because of a phonological impairment - a deficit in the ability to link sound to word to meaning."  He also states that overall America is "not doing a good enough job of teaching young people deep reading skills."

I like to use both whole language and phonics as an approach.  English has so many secret codes.  silent k's, tch endings, s or es or ies as endings,  (to, two, too), (there, their, they're) and many more. Using a program that can read books to students is good as long as  the student actually looks at the words while they are highlighted and being read to them.  The brain is picking up the image and the sound of words and storing it whether they want to learn or not.  As an Ed Specialist having a one hour pull out per week is not enough time to really make a difference.  A have a twice a week phonics program for older elementary and would like even more time.  When students has ADHD it is hard to concentrate in a room with 25 other students.  Sometimes students don't know as many vocabulary words as others so pictures are some important.  With the visuals, students can obtain deeper meaning.

This article ends with, "Every teacher of young children as well as those who train them should read this book."  So I guess I will buy this and read on.

https://www.amazon.com/Language-Speed-Sight-Can-t-About/dp/0465019323/ref=mt_hardcover?_encoding=UTF8&me=


Thursday, December 22, 2016

Is Your Home A Culture for Reading?

I found an article, Building a Culture of Reading for Kids and Parents, Too by Dash Lundy in the Mediaplanet December 2016 issue, and thought I would share some key points.

1.  Reading is not something that happens at school mysteriously by teachers.
2.  "The things that parents do and talk about every day are what children assume to be normal".
3.  So talk about what you read today.
4.  Buy books about things your child is interested in and read and talk about them together.
5.  Share newspaper or magazine articles to read together.
6.  Allow your child to earn electronic time via minutes of reading.
7.  Make sure your child is watching you read.

Before you know it your child has a passion to read.  Also you might need to buy some bookshelves.  I always look for second hand ones to paint together and have another bonding experience.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Attention Please - school help

This is from an article from Family Circle, "Attention Please" by Christine Vercelletto, January 2017

Parents who have a child with a ADHD diagnoses are in for a wild ride.  This child will test your patience, fortitude, and love.  Just remember to have lots of love for them but the following hints from this article might help.

1. Refuse to accept low grade due to the difficulty of managing ADHD.  Yes life and studying will be harder but again that is just life.
2. Exercise before school.  I joined a year round swim team that had practice before school.  Other options include run club before school.  Or just simply riding a bike or jogging together before school.
3. Look for new ways or areas to study or to do homework.  Try the library or a coffee shop.  Read outside together.  Quiz spelling word by passing a ball back and forth.  Be inventive!
4. Encourage topics for research or writing be based on your child's interests.  The teacher will have a better paper and it will be easier for your child to focus on an area of interest.
5.  Get approval for your child to stand in the back of the classroom while the teaching is going on. Sitting and squirming on the floor is distracting for everyone. Also pass out post its so your child can write out questions, so they won't have the need to blurt out.
6. Encourage fidgeting put a strip of Velcro under your child's desk.  "Check out other ideas at autism shop.com under 'Sensory Items'."

Other ideas include
1.  Wake up your child to their favorite music.
2. Speak softy while making eye contact and slowly pull them in for a hug.
3. Do homework in 10 -15 minute blocks throughout the afternoon and evening.
4. Hire a tutor for 90 minutes twice a week for long term projects and studying.
5. Create a picture schedule together on what he is supposed to be doing and when.  Then all you need is to point, limits vocal nagging.

Continue to read the article for more information on social  and home life.