Friday, March 13, 2009

Shout Out for Spelling

In my daily business of trying to meet the needs of various students with a variety of learning issues, I am continually learning something new, whether it is about a specific disability or product. Today I am in a sharing mood, so I want to share with all of you a great learning tool I discovered.

About a year and a half ago I was working with a young student who's mother was fairly certain her daughter was dyslexic...and I have to say, that after a bit of research on my part, I concurred. So I set out to find a way to work with her. Now, contrary to popular belief, dyslexia is not just the reversal or transposing of letters. Actually, it's much more than that. And there is evidence that approximately 80% of children diagnosed with reading disabilities are likely to be dyslexic. Unfortunately, the schools are not equipped to deal with diagnosing, let alone working with, dyslexia.

I started scouring the internet looking for a way to work with this child. The program I found is the Orton-Gillingham method of teaching what is basically phonics to dyslexic students. The simplistic explanation is that in the dyslexic child, the brain doesn't recognize the sound/letter relationship. So this program approaches the teaching of phonemes (sounds) and phonics (using the sounds to connect to letters) by utilizing visual, auditory, and tactile learning styles simultaneously. It is very impressive, very successful, and very spendy. There just was no way I could afford it. 

Back to the internet looking for something comparable and affordable.  And, Voila, I found it. It's called All About Spelling, and my students and I love it. It is a leveled spelling program that teaches ALL the spelling and phonics rules, ones you probably didn't even know existed. The program is scripted, easy to implement, and affordable. I can't recommend it enough. The author of the program has even started an online community for users of her program. It seems that there are a lot of homeschool moms and a few tutors like myself that use this program. But if you have a child who seems to be really struggling with spelling and getting the print up off the page, so to speak, it would definitely be worth your while to take a look at this program. And to get an even better insight into the how-tos and benefits of the program visit this on-line community.

Thanks for letting my share! And seriously check it out.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

In My Past Life....

I have a very strong suspicion that in one of my past lives I must have been a governess.  That's a live-in tutor, right?  And if they still have those jobs I would be soooo tempted to do find one. Unfortunately, now they are called nannies, and I am so past the diapers and toddler stuff (except where it concerns my grandson, of course).  I love teaching!  And by tutoring I also am able to forge some wonderful relationships with whole families. My parents are so committed to helping their children to succeed. The majority of the students I work with have some sort of learning issue, so we celebrate every little success. Tonight, we celebrate for sure.

I have a fifth grade student that I dearly love. I have been working with him for a couple of years. He really struggles with processing information and then expressing it. He can read fairly well, although he often doesn't understand what he has read.  I've been working closely with his classroom teacher to ensure that we are on the same page.  So, she lets me know that he has a book report due in a couple of weeks, and I ask if she would mind if we read a book together and discuss it, then I would help him with the report. Absolutely, she says. So, being the conscientious tutor that I am, I make a trip to Borders and find a book I think he will like.  I choose the book The Chocolate Touch. Heck, what kid wouldn't like a book about candy?!  We started the book tonight, and he informed me that he has never read a chapter book before. He said he always sticks to books with lots of pictures so he doesn't have to read them. But, Hallelujah ! he likes the book. He said, and I love this, it was like watching television in his head! He said maybe he would like reading after all. I assured him that I would find more books that he would like, and he was totally good with that. We read two chapters together, and his assignment is to read 4 more chapters by Monday. And I am doing the same. 

This is what teaching is all about, waiting for the moment the light bulb goes on, even if it is 45 watts and not 100. I cannot envision myself doing anything else with my life. And I don't want to.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Goodbye Revolving Door

Unless the economy goes belly-up so that we all have to move in together like they did during the Great Depression, hubby and I have locked the revolving door. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not a heartless witch. It's just our house is basically what you would consider a cottage...1155 sq. feet to be exact. There's just enough room for an old couple (us). It has 3 bedrooms, but 2 of those bedrooms are about the size of a large walk-in closet. One of those is my office...I'm self-employed...and the other...well, it has been the camping out area for just about all of my immediate family. Two daughters, one son, and my mother have all graced that room for extended periods over the last four and a half years. It seems like once I had plans for the room someone else needed it.  The last guest moved out in November. So, I held my breath and removed the futon that has been used as a bed for the last couple of visitors, and turned the room back into....drumroll....a sewing/craft room. Yay!

I quilt...and for the last year I haven't been able to do it. I tried do it out in the garage one year during the winter, with a space heater. I had to wear gloves with the fingers cut out. Very clumsy. So that option tanked. Summer wasn't too bad in the garage, but people really aren't impressed with sweat spots on their gifts. So I put the sewing away. 

And now it's back. I am so happy. This is such a great stress reliever for me. And I have a myriad of projects that I need to finish. My goal is to get three projects done by the end of the year.  About 11 or so years ago I started a queen size quilt for my second son. Silly me, I decided to hand quilt it. I have one and third borders left to finish it. After about 8 or 9 years of him asking when he was going to get it, he has given up. HA! I'll surprise him. Three years ago I started a wedding quilt for my oldest daughter. She's now been married 2 1/2 years and has a baby and no quilt.  Project number 2 this year. And when my oldest son was diagnosed with a serious illness and came home for me to care for him this past year, I started a quilt for him. Project number 3.  At least I won't have time to get bored!

So the door is closed except for dinners and such. And I get to go back to creating things that won't put inches on my already robust body. When I get my camera fixed I will post some pics of my creations. And I do continue to cook. Just have many other things to do now.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss

Happy Birthday, Dr. Seuss! Theodore Seuss Geisel was born on this day in 1902. What a marvelous effect he has had on generations of children. I still have quite a few books of his, and off course, read them to my kids. Millions of children in schools around the nation will be celebrating his life. It really was quite a lovely life, too. To find out more about this imaginative and influential author and illustrator go here. It'a a wonderful interactive site devoted to Dr. Seuss. Kids and adults both will enjoy it.

What are your favorite Dr. Seuss' books? I loved The Sneetches and The Butter Battle Book. So many of his books taught such important lessons in such an entertaining way. Even in my tutoring I try to throw in a Dr. Seuss on occasion.

So, in honor of a wonderful children's (and can we also say adult's) author, go find a child, and enjoy a Dr. Seuss book together!