Education Class: Multi-Sensory Magic

MS.pngUsing multi-sensory instructional techniques is not new. We have done it for years. Think about the song “I’m a Little Teapot.” I can always remember that song because I can still do the motions with it. That is multi-sensory instruction!

My son is dyslexic. For the past 2 years, he has received multi-sensory language instruction therapy. When he was in the 7th grade, he only read at a 2.4 grade-level equivalency. He is now a 9th grader. In December of 2017, his grade-level reading equivalency was 8.3!!! This multi-sensory, systematic approach is the ONLY thing that has worked for him. I am incorporating more and more of this instructional approach into my own work with struggling readers.

“Multisensory teaching isn’t just limited to reading and listening. Instead, it tries to use all of the senses. Every lesson won’t use all of a child’s senses (taste, smell, touch, sight, hearing and movement). But in most multisensory lessons, students engage with the material in more than one way.” -understood.org

Read More Here: Multisensory Instruction: What You Need to Know

How about multi-sensory in physical education to teach other content areas? Take a look at my colleague’s approach to teaching Skeletal Anatomy to PreK students!

Multi-Sensory Instruction in PreK with Coach Chris Tolbert

Happy Teaching! Go make some Multi-Sensory Magic!

 

 

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Engage! Writing Workshops with Rick Shelton

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Hoggle’s Christmas by Rick Shelton

Peanut butter and jelly . . .

Grits and eggs . . .

RC and a moon pie . . .

Certain things in this life are meant to be enjoyed together. Two of those are reading and writing.

My past few blog posts have focused on student engagement. Writing is an excellent engagement strategy. Students WILL write when the writing is authentic and purposeful. Writing will strengthen their reading skills. The more reading your students do, the better writers they will become. Reading and writing were meant to be taught together. When America forgot that important fact, I simply do not know. I do know that it is high time we have our students writing again!

Allow them to write about what is important to them. Teach them to write about what interests them. Model for them how to SHOW and not just TELL with their words. When we teach them to write by giving them opportunities to write in meaningful ways, they will know how to write when it is time to begin essays, analyzing complex informational text, and citing text evidence. We expect them to pick up a pencil in the third grade and eloquently compare or contrast two complex text passages when they have never even written two complete sentences. We must model writing for them and model it early on!

I have always believed this. This week, our staff was treated to a series of writing workshops led by author, Rick Shelton. It was amazing! His workshop has awakened our little school to the many authentic and purposeful writing opportunities we can provide for our students.

If you are interested in having Rick Shelton at your school, here is his link:

Rick Shelton’s Writing Workshops

 

 

 

Engage! Hook ’em!

hookEvery fisherman needs the right hook to get that big catch. Every good writer knows that they need a hook to grab the readers attention and keep them reading.

Every instructional lesson needs a hook! Effective teachers “hook” their students at the beginning of each lesson. The “hook” engages students and motivates them to remain actively engaged in learning.

Why would you even begin without a hook when it has been proven to be essential?

Student engagement has been found to be the key to preventing dropout (Alexander, Entwisle, & Horsey, 1997). They don’t dropout because they:

  • earn higher grades,
  • perform better on tests,
  • report a greater sense of belonging,
  • can set and meet personal goals,
  • persist on tasks,
  • expect success, and
  • value educational outcomes (Christenson et al., 2008; National Research Council, 2004).

Meaningfully engaging students solves a large number of the “issues” currently debated in education. We must make the material matter. We must enable students to make connections between the literature and life. We must make math mean money! LOL! It’s true!

The most important type of engagement is cognitive engagement. This type of engagement is students’ belief that schoolwork is relevant to real life and their future. Congnitive engagement is about setting SMART goals, using effective strategies, and being truly motivated to learn. Students who are cognitively engaged feel that they can succeed. Most importantly, students who are cognitevly engaged WANT to succeed!

The next few blog posts will focus on strategies for student engagement.

Click here for image: engage

References
Alexander, K. L., Entwisle, D. R., & Horsey, C. S. (1997). From first grade forward: Early foundations of high school dropout. Sociology of Education, 70(2), 87-107.
Christenson, S. L., Reschly, A. L., Appleton, J. J., Berman-Young, S., Spanjers, D. M., & Varro, P. (2008). Best practices in fostering student engagement. In A. Thomas and J. Grimes (Eds.), Best  practices in school psychology V (pp. 1099–1119). Washington, DC: National Association of School Psychologists.
National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine. (2004). Engaging schools: Fostering high school students’ motivation to learn. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

 

Engage! Engage! Engage!

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Active engagement is essential to student success.

I believe there are three key words that are essential to educating our students: engage, equip, and empower. These three words are just the components; they must be joined together with real “work”. Reading about engagement strategies does no good unless we put the research to work! Through this blog we will analyze these 3Es and give tips on how to make them work in our classrooms.

Engage! Engage! Engage!

Just this week, I met with the 3rd grade staff at my school. We discussed the changes we have implemented this year. A veteran teacher spoke of the difference in student engagement this year as compared to years in the past. She believes that the strategies we have put in place to intentionally engage our students is the #1 key to the success her students are having. I agree that this one component is essential for today’s students.

So, what are we doing to engage our students?

We will get to that in our follow-up posts. First, I want to share a link with you about this topic from one of my favorite resources, Edutopia.

Golden Rules for Student Engagement

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New Year’s Words & A New Voice

eee“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” -T.S. Eliot

It is 2017. It is time for new words and a new voice.

Have you noticed how educators latch on to “buzz words” as if those words will be a magic solution for the numerous issues we face in our quest to create a better educational system for America’s future?

I have. I have also noticed that we often use the “buzz words” but fail to put in the “basic work”. There I said it. Go ahead stone me. It is  true.

We often want to quote the latest buzz words we heard at a conference, but we don’t actually want to commit to making those words work. Why? I don’t have the answer for that. Maybe we don’t believe the buzz. Maybe we don’t want to put in the work. Maybe we are tired, stressed, and tired of our profession being disrespected.

This year, I commit to the work not just the words.

I believe there are three key words that are essential to educating our students: engage, equip, and empower. These three words are just the components; they must be joined together with work.

Join me in the next few months as I look at each of these “words” and  the real “work” that will facilitate student growth and academic achievement.

In 2017, will you be a new voice?

 

 

Back to Blog

girlreading“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

I can’t begin to count the number of times that I have read The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. I believe that I was in the fifth grade the very first time that I escaped from reality into the world of that secret English garden. When I allow my mind to wander there, I can still inhale the scent of flora and early morning fog. My ears still perk up at the sound of a small bird chirping a happy tune. My heart always hopes that it is Robin, the symbolic gatekeeper. Like Mary, I am enchanted by Robin’s merry tune and the prospect of revealing the garden’s hidden secret.

“Mistress Mary forgot that she had ever been contrary in her life when he allowed her to draw closer and closer to him, and bend down and talk and try to make something like robin sounds.” –The Secret Garden

My love of escaping into a novel was nurtured by the many wonderful educators who blessed me with the gift of knowledge. Their influence no doubt played an important role in my decision to become an educator. I feel alive in a classroom. When I teach, I know that I am doing exactly what God designed me to do.

Knowing all of that, it might seem odd that I made the decision to come out of the classroom and step into the role of reading specialist. I have not made a blog post this school year because I have been adjusting to me new role. I am pleased to announce that I love it.

I will begin to blog about my experience in this new role, share resources that I find or designed, and share victories that I encounter on this journey. I thank God and Tallapoosa County Schools for giving me this opportunity.

 

Critical Thinking?

quote-the-function-of-education-is-to-teach-one-to-think-intensively-and-to-think-critically-martin-luther-king-jr-102515This has always been one of my favorite quotes. We all know what character is, but what is critical thinking? If you are an educator or a parent you have most likely heard this buzz term floated around the school. We seldom stop and discuss what this really means.

I heard an interesting statement recently. The gentleman said, “The one thing I did learn in school is how to think.” That statement made me think. Are we teaching kids to “think”? Can they take what they know and pair that with new information to solve a problem or determine an answer? Can they make connections between people, events, or ideas?

You might be surprised at how many of today’s students lack critical thinking skills. This is a major goal of Alabama’s new CCR Standards.

What critical thinking is:
The purpose of critical thinking is ‘to achieve understanding, evaluate view points, and solve problems’. Since ‘all three areas involve the asking of questions, we can say that critical thinking is the questioning or inquiry we engage in when we seek to understand, evaluate, or resolve’ (Maiorana, 1992).

In other words: Use what you know to figure out what you don’t know. . .think. Well, it is not quite that simple. That does give you a “general” 5th grade idea of critical thinking.

More information:

HOMEWORK

Tuesday – Learning Log Page

Wednesday – Read for AR Points

Thursday – Writing Plan and Sloppy Copy

Friday – Read for AR Points

Source:   

Maiorana, V. (1992). Critical thinking across the curriculum: building the analytical classroom. Blommington, Ind: ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading and Communication Skills: EDINFO Press.

Thank you, Mommy!

My youngest son has struggled with reading difficulties since he began his educational journey. He loves to learn, but is well below his grade level in reading. He has been blessed with a loving reading coach who loves and encourages him. He suffers through having a mommy who is an educator (not always fun). He keeps on smiling through it all.

At the end of his third grade year we decided it was time for a big step. He had displayed signs of dyslexia so we set him up for testing. My son is dyslexic.

This did not discourage him. This diagnosis is the answer we have been seeking. We can now devise a personal education plan for my sweet boy.

I am sharing this because I know there are many students just like my Nathan. They are bright, creative souls who struggle to read, spell, and write the simplest of words. It is frustrating. Dyslexic individuals “see” the world differently. They have a weakness that can become a great strength. When he was in first grade he drew a picture of him teaching with the caption “I want to be a teacher and teach people to read.”

That reminds me of Patricia Polacco. If you have not read her books then you are missing out on quite a treasure. My favorite is Thank you, Mr. Falker.

It is the story of one very special teacher who helped a little girl overcome Dyslexia and succeed beyond her wildest dreams. I once thought, “That’s the kind of teacher I want to be.” It still is, but now it is personal. Now I can say, “That’s the kind of mommy I want to be!” I hope one day my Nathan looks back on this journey and says, “Thank you, mommy!”

For more about Patricia Polacco:

http://www.patriciapolacco.com/

 

The Rappin Math Man. . .I LOVE It!!!

I have been given the honor of filling in for the 7th grade math teacher at CMS while she is on maternity leave. It has been a great experience. I have always considered math to be one of my weaker subjects. To my surprise, I have enjoyed teaching math and have sought out ideas to keep math meaningful and even a bit fun. I found a video on Teaching Channel about an excellent math teacher, Mr. Kajitan. He uses rap music to reinforce mathematical concepts. Mr. Kajitan makes an extra effort to connect mathematical concepts to real life situations for his middle school students. This is an inspiring video!

Click the link: (I hope it works!)

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It has been a long week. . .

It has been a long week for me. This is the first week without teaching. After being with my students during the internship, I know that I am right where I am supposed to be. Teaching is my passion. I am passionate about knowledge and providing my students with opportunities for excellence in their educational journeys. More importantly. . .I am passionate about my students.

I want to once again extend my sincere gratitude to the administration, staff, parents, and students of Dadeville Elementary School for welcoming me into their school. I was a wonderful experience!

I will continue to blog. I will be sharing links to interesting educational articles and learning games. I will not blog every day, but look for me to post a couple of times each week. I will be working as a substitute teacher until the end of the school year. I am excited about what the future holds!

-Misty Wilson

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.
William Butler Yeats