Wednesday, May 4, 2011

At Last

As a former Department of Defense Dependent Schools Teacher,
on the Navy base in Rota, Spain,  I’d like to say:
Way to go U.S. NAVY SEALS!  
I am amazed and inspired by your bravery! You’ve made us all so Proud.  So proud, I cried.
Now on with my mission, (certainly, not nearly as courageous):
With the end of the school year approaching quickly, I am posting a new worksheet for your kids.   A kind of, end of year post test.  This page contains all the words in the program and should help provide you with the evidence of your students’ success in the Reading Rocks Program.  For those of you who do our worksheets just for a fun activity that also is educational, today’s word is “will”.  As this worksheet is about to be included in our reprinted workbooks, please let me know if there is room for improvement.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Bear Worksheet

Below is a PDF that you can print for the kids. The word is Bear and is number 46 in the program. Even if your children are not doing the Reading Rocks curriculum, I believe many 5 and 6 year olds will enjoy this Cut and Paste Worksheet. Remember to have the children look at ALL the pictures before gluing down any of the phrases, as some may be better matches than others.
Thanks and Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Box Just Got Much, MUCH Bigger

This incredibly insightful video of the struggle people with Autism have with the rest of us neuro-typical "communicators", is so ingeniously documented by A.M. Baggs.  This firsthand account of how we are mishandling this ever growing population is startling.   Ms. Baggs dedicates this work to many people, but what struck me most was the dedication to: "all other people who strongly view our interactions as purposeless. “ It is stunning revelation for me to realize that the box I thought I was thinking outside of was in fact truly confining. 
 It is imperative that when you watch this clip, that you stick with it to the end. Even I thought after a minute or two, I had seen enough, but wait, you must wait for it.

Kudos Ms. Baggs, Kudos!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Local Schools in Crisis

Teach our children not our teachers! A Shortfall of 97 Million dollars is an enormous figure for the Duval County Schools to absorb.
For our children to absorb.
Our children.
It is my belief that in a crisis where the school board is actually holding discussions on shortening the week to a four day school week or eliminating  extra-curricular activities, that spending 50 million dollars on “Instructional Staff Training” and “Instruction Related to Technology” is irresponsible and misguided. To give you an idea of how colossal  this figure is, the budget item “Food Services” is also Fifty Million Dollars.
If we have Master Teachers on payroll that have been so brilliantly successful in the classroom that they are now training teachers, then let’s put them in our failing schools and save both the students as well as the schools. If we are paying consultants to educate our teachers, then stop. If we have teachers who cannot be successful without further training, then fire them.
And as for “Training Related to Technology”, there isn’t a second grader out there that cannot navigate the internet, or even WORD for that matter.
Our teachers should already be "trained" when they are hired.
Just stop.
Stop educating our teachers, and get back to educating our children.
Doubt my figures? Download this years Budget Summary ( see page 12) here.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Mind-Blowing Autism Symposium

The collective intellect of the distinguished lecturers at yesterday’s Annual Autism Symposium, hosted by Wolfson’s Children’s Hospital was absolutely staggering. Dr. Constantino the developer of the widely used Social Responsiveness Scale, and researcher Laura Schreibman PhD, both gave remarkable presentations on their ground breaking research in the field of Autism. But for today's blog, I will write of the extraordinary, Dr. Gupta and her brilliant work.
 Dr. Gupta’s presentation of the Genetics of Autism Spectrum Disorders was absolutely astonishing! This extremely complex subject was delivered in such a manner that even myself, a layman, walked away from there with the understanding that not only are genes the mechanism in the development of autism disorder in children but quite possibly the key to unraveling all its mysteries.   She spoke of the high number of CNV’s (irregularities) in the genes that help the neural synapses to run smoothly in children with autism. This effects how well the neuronal cells communicate and stick to one another, or in this case don’t communicate or stick to each other.   To quote the good doctor, “there is no one gene for autism, not even a few.  There are likely dozens, perhaps hundreds.” Her work at Yale will most likely change what we know about and how we treat Autism.
Because of the advancements in technology, the expedience in which genes can now be mapped has moved forward at lightning speed.  But vast quantities of genes need to be available to get an accurate picture. What we all can do to help things move even faster is encourage families that have a child with autism to register with the IAN Project, or if they have more than one affected child to register at AGRE.  Both of these programs collect valuable information about families and make it available to researchers. Yesterday, Dr. Constantino stated that in order to significantly move forward in research; the Ian Project and AGRE need to “grow by ten-fold”. Let's give these brilliant minds something to research!
We should consider ourselves the pioneers that need to blaze a trail, mapping the land as we go. My hope is that all pediatricians, clinicians, and teachers strongly encourage their clients to register and become a part of the invaluable research on this frontier.  Let's get on the wagon train! Go and Register! No Excuses. Be a part of history by being a part of the solution.
Collectively, we can conquer this!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Dr. Seuss

Underneath my High School yearbook photo next to the word Ambition: I wrote “to be the next Dr. Seuss”.  Even then I knew that you were magical: 
Happy Birthday Dear Man, Happy Birthday.
The more I study the art of children’s literature the more this man’s ingenuity becomes apparent. A decade before even Edward Dolch had made his famous list of High Frequency words; Dr. Seuss was writing and publishing books incorporating them. “The Cat in the Hat” uses just 236 words.  A man of great persistence.  His first children’s book, "To Think That It Happened on Mulberry Street" was rejected 27 times before being published by Vanguard Press.  
Seuss’ given name was Theodor Seuss Geisel.  Seuss was not only his middle name but his mother’s maiden name.  He used Seuss as a pen name during his college years when he was caught drinking gin with nine of his buddies at Dartmouth during Prohibition.  The college punished him, by refusing Theo Geisel articles for their college newspaper. So to circumvent this ban, Dr. Seuss was born! He also wrote books under: Theo LeSieg, which is his given name Geisel spelled backwards. Truly brilliant!
He married Helen Palmer, the author of my most favorite children’s book ever, “A Fish Out of Water.” Marvelously, enchanting!  A must for every teacher’s book shelf. Unfortunately, Helen committed suicide, after a long battle with cancer, and her grief over her husband’s long time affair with Audrey Stone. Kind of gives you a different picture of the dear man, doesn’t it? But my admiration will not be tainted, my love for his work, runs deep.  His stories filled my childhood with wonderful loving memories of my mother reading them to me.  And now, I read them to any child who will listen.
Happy Birthday Dear Seuss, Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011


As promised, here are two worksheets on the word Dinosaur which your children can cut, paste and color.  As this is new sight word for them, the first worksheet is a simple puzzle that introduces the word “Dinosaur”. Have the children cut along the dotted lines and reassemble the picture appropriately.  They will need to glue their assembled puzzle down to a piece of construction paper.

The second sheet, when cut along the solid lines becomes a small book for the children to assemble and read.  The students may enjoy folding a strip of construction paper over their book for a cover, stapling it all together and then decorating it.  It is word #51 in the Reading Rocks series, so it assumes  the child does have a few sight words already mastered. Have them read their new Dinosaur book to everyone!

For teaching transference of your new word, when you read nightly to your child make a habit of pointing it out in the children’s literature. One of my favorite children’s books on this topic is Dinosaurs, Dinosaurs by Barton. It is an easy read and the illustrations are scrumptious. If you are a classroom teacher, this book comes in a “Big Book” format, which I highly recommend.  Now, on occasion ask your child to find and point to the word “Dinosaur” on a few of the pages. Don’t forget to reinforce correct responses with an ‘Awesome!’ or ‘Excellent, you found Dinosaur.’  It’s important to do this, in order for the child to understand that the word exists outside of an index card.
That’s it, Enjoy!