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Saturday, February 20, 2010


Memories......I couldn't remember my password today. Too many passwords are in my brain, I guess. I know I haven't written for a few days, but when you are tired, have IEPs due, and you just can't think, blogs are the last thing one wants to do.

I went to a Reading First workshop today. Some good information so far.  However, I realize how very unique my boys with ID and Autism are. Sure, their wires are crossed, but their skills are great in some ways. Take the second grader who loves lists of nouns......I challenge any other second grader to list as many addresses by heart as he can and spelled correctly! He is quite amazing. And sly, too. His assistant was absent one day and those cuss words came trickling back. Boy, is he the smart one! I can get away with anything today with these women. I am trying to turn him onto verbs and adjectives now. Then teach him how to write a sentence on his own. This takes time.

What about that nonverbal boy, 4th grade, who others classify as "plateaued", not interested in pictures? Just yesterday, he was looking at the Foxhound page in Carole Marsh's "Virginia" Coloring book and acting out all the pictures. Maybe he just doesn't like her pics.....

My teaching comes from my memories........the fourth grade teacher, Judy Jurkovic. We wrote a play. We did a puppet show. We created a relief map of California. We had 3 recesses. There were no computers, few movies, no free breakfast or free lunch to get in the way. We went to school and we worked and played.

And who could forget all those snakes who came to visit in third grade? Our children need rich experiences. How can they just muddle through words without pictures in their mind to associate with their reading?

How can teachers who attend a workshop just throw all their recyclables in the trash? Aren't we supposed to be modeling correct behaviors?

It just never gets better. The problem is, I would go to the workshop if they didn't pay me.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Childhood Obesity, good nutrition

Ok. We hear it everday. Children are fatter. We have to figure out why. Or maybe the question is this: we need to listen to what's happening. Our children don't play ( I had 3....that's 1, 2, 3 recesses in elementary school). Our children drink Hawaiian Punch and Coke, filled with high fructose cornsyrup......oh, hfc is safe in small amounts. Yeah, right.....the problem is, it is in everything! That isn't small amounts. We have to get the junk food out of school.....oh, you mean close the school lunch programs, right? Because school lunches for the most part are no longer freshly cooked, they are processed in a factory and just warmed up at school. It is a fact that processed food is full of bad oils, soy products, high fructose, and sugar.

Children don't get home cooking anymore because most people hate to cook. Cutting Home Economics, both parents working, and convenience fast food has almost deleted cooking out of our lives. Give a kid a choice between a Big Mac and a bowl of Vegetable Soup, they will likely pick the first one.

Colas and sweet juice are the drinks of the day. Milk is shelf ready which actually means that it lacks any nutrition and has to have vitamins added. We give children fat-free milk though brains need good whole fats in order to develop properly.

Butter and whole milk have long been forgotten.

And yet, Michelle Obama and others wonder what we can do.......

Maybe a bit of returning to old fashioned ways would be the answer.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Playing in the Snow

We were back to school today. Only half of the boys showed up. Four kids is a nice size.We are making winter scene pictures. They look quite nice so far. Then after lunch, we went outside to play in the snow....the only class to do so. We built a snowman and filled sand buckets with snow. Then we came in and, using the snow, and a hot pot, we investigated water as solid, liquid, and gas. They really responded to this science lesson. Now, to figure how to extend this lesson.

I love just thinking about school. But I am tired tonight and will think more tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Happy Groundhog's Day

    Well, my little Groundhog who usually goes to school today didn't get to see his shadow. It was the second day of snow absence we had this week. Tomorrow we are still out. I am getting work done what with progress reports, movies, and psychologicals, it is never a dull moment.
    This morning as aI drove down a street that was cleared of snow, I passed by the men in the yellow hats with their big snow clearing machines. I couldn't help think that they must really enjoy their jobs because  its immediate result and the power that running such a machine gives a person. Then I wondered, how many of these guys may have played with little replicas of the big machines as children,  pushing them around their  sand boxes? So many  adults find that when we can reach into our past experiences our jobs become so much easier. This is the very reason behind play as a child: to gain experience, learn new things, and discover who we want to be by testing out all the possibilities. A vet may have loved animals and played with stuffed ones as a child. A doctor's favorite toy may have been a toy medical kit. A chef may have loved the cooking center. Construction guys may have delighted in the block areas.
    But what will today's children draw upon? Their ability to play a video game? Sure, if they all become computer software technicians. If we take away the toys, we take away their dreams.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Dr. Stack

    For anybody who is interested in Dr. Stack and how he helps those with facial tics, I recommend giving him a call, even if you are in California or another state. He has many patients who actually come to him from places as far away as Norway! He also might be able to recommend other orthodontists in your area who think in a similar way.

  Go to Check out the videos and call his staff. They are angels!

What are the Children missing

Ok. Snow day today. I could have slept in, except I woke up thinking......I could be asleep right now if it were not for the thinking in my brain. And what, you may ask, was I thinking about? You got it.....what are today's children missing in life? I mean, we have catalogs full of sensory, learning, and behavior solutions.

For example, Integrations "Cuddle Loop": a stretchable snugly that provides a swaddle effect for a restless child. We went through a time of school when teachers became afraid of touching children. Yet, at my grad school, we had a rule: 12 hugs a day were the minimum and we were adults. So don't our children need 12 hugs too? Maybe they are not getting that touch anymore. Maybe with the onslaught of both parents working, early infant daycare, isolated cribs, etc., our children have developed these  sensory deficits. When I review the catalog, I see a lot of "things" and "solutions" that remind me of good old-fashioned toys. Could it be that with computers, video games, TV, and commercial childcare, our children now lack real opportunities for play?

I wonder if in a city such as Reggio Emilia, Italy, which boasts of the best early childhood centers in the world, their children have as much sensory dysfunction as it seems American children have developed. I highly doubt it, for they have learned throughout the years that play is a child's work. I think that it makes the American Dollar look bad for trying to sell these things when for the most part, children if left to themselves, don't need. They just need time and encouragement.

I still give hugs to my students. My 7 year old who developmentally like a 2 year old in a lot of ways, often needs that full frontal hug. We should not be afraid to give children what they need.

My next thought all night was this: we have wonderful service people in our school systems such as Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, and Music Therapists. Yet problems arise daily in the general ed classes with children becoming stressed out, fatigued, and anxious. Why are we not seeking their help when it comes to general ed classrooms? Most of these classes have an overwhelming literacy environment, they sit in chairs too long, and have  little playtime. We buy them  a rocker, child size furniture for the Library area, SMART boards, but nothing to help these tykes with the wiggle factor. For the price of one Reading Rocker at $96.00, we could purchase 3 chair disks for 3 children.

Just a guess, but it almost seems that younger teachers are no longer encouraged to be creative in their approach to the class environment but to just buy as much as they can at the education store and plaster it everywhere. Speaking for myself, when I see a wall with words everywhere, I am overstimulated. Now, try to look at it through the eyes of a young child.