By Adriana Randolph. 4th Grade Math. Published at Saturday, November 21st, 2020 - 05:43:57 AM.
We tend not to think about how we can prevent learning problems with our children. An effective prevention is a form of intervention. Prevention makes it appear there were no problems in the first place. "Good" parenting is effective prevention. When parents are involved with the childs learning and developmental and academic progress, they focus on what the child needs to learn and support the schools efforts by working with the child at home. A major contributing factor that parents can do for their children is to help them develop articulate, complex language skills with an extensive vocabulary. Those skills alone will greatly impact the childs ability to achieve at school. These are the hallmarks of homes with educated and highly skilled parents who often choose to live where their children attend highly rated schools. They are also the hallmarks of parents, concerned about their childrens future, who are involved in all aspects of their childrens lives on a daily basis. They take time out of their busy schedules to attend to their children first. Schools in crisis try to support parents but often fall short. One reason is that many adults believe it is the schools job to educate their children. Another is that the adults, struggling to afford the basics of shelter, food and clothing, are simply physically too tired to attend to their childrens needs. Although there are many more reasons, most simply come down to the fact that many parents themselves do not have the skills to develop preventative levels of school-readiness skills in their children.
Sometimes I really hate my ego. Ive studied spiritual teachings enough to know that what drives us to control is the ego: that over-analytic, judging and critical left brain which is always on guard, eager to squash our enthusiasm, and which doesnt give spontaneity and creativity much of a chance to blossom. Sometimes I really hate my left brain, too. Even though we need it for survival, it can sabotage our most earnest efforts to be open, spontaneous, flexible and honest. The ego is very wary of honesty. It sees it as a weakness, and would rather we respond in safer, pre-programmed sorts of ways. Honesty is risky business for the ego, because we might look foolish, stupid or weak, so the ego avoids situations that could create discomfort. The ego is what causes us to reduce, to shrink, ask for less, and to settle. It reasons: at least if I settle Im not out of my comfort zone. If the ego had its way it would tuck us into bed and keep us there forever, everyday nearly the same, nothing allowed in that would rock our boats. Sterile, yet safe. Though youve probably realized by now that playing it too safe is a recipe for failure.
Damien Riley from Dynamite Lesson Plan offers classroom tested tips and advice on how to engage students more successfully. Dorit: Thank you Damien for this interview. First off, I just love the name of your blog. How did you first come to name your blog? Damien: You are welcome Dorit, it is great to share among colleagues and others interested in Education. I named my blog after something my master teacher in teacher college told me back in 1997. As many new teachers do, I was struggling with behavior problems in my class. He told me something I will never forget: "The best way to control kids is through a dynamite lesson plan." I believe it so much, I named my teaching blog after it: "Dynamite Lesson Plan."
Holding On Its 11am and Im in my pajamas in my home office, trusty dog by my side, eating last nights Chinese off a wilted paper plate, baring my soul to thousands of strangers Im never going to meet on my mental health blog, strangers who are never going to think of leaving a comment despite all my soul-bearing posts. Still, writing is what Ive dreamed of doing for a living since the 4th grade. Its all thanks to my 4th grade teacher, Ellen Hillman (I include her whole name in case shes reading, you never know). She saw merit in my 4th grade stories and asked if she could read them to the class during our Friday reading circle. I recall my first thought like it was yesterday: but what if the class doesnt like them? To my amazement my friends enjoyed my unpolished efforts, and applauded my work. The class gasped when Mrs. Hillman revealed I had written the story-gasped! My little soul ablaze with hope. Maybe I was onto something here, something I could actually succeed at! Thanks to one teachers encouragement, Ive been writing, completely unschooled and rouge for a very long time. While working from home in your comfy p.j.s while being your most expressive, creative self may not sound like heaven to others, it is for me. Pure heaven on earth. Had I not continued to fiercely hold onto that dream over the years (the dream of making readers gasp), I might have found myself working in a high-rise, rat-maze cubical office, bitching about the watered-down coffee and impossible copy machine. Instead, Im my own boss, eating Chinese at 11am in my jammies-cozy and comfortable at home, doing what I do best, which is baring my soul. I believe holding onto your dreams is crucial to achieving deep contentment in life. What was it you wanted to be or do in 4th grade? How about when you were a teen or young adult, just getting a start in the world? What did you know you could be and do before the world told you you couldnt? The majority of people who love what they do, who relish every minute of their workday and who are living their passion will tell you they held onto their dreams for a long time before they succeeded the way they first envisioned. Success doesnt just happen, and it certainly doesnt happen overnight. Gone are the days where you could go to a corner soda shop in Hollywood, hang out and be "discovered." Due to the internet, the world is much larger nowadays, and competitions much steeper. However, your competition may be lacking in one crucial ingredient that you have, the one element that can set you apart from the rabid pack, and that is a prevailing persistence, complimented by a sprinkling of patience. Success will require that you master the art of determination.
I was an inner-city classroom teacher in a new, open-space school, part of a 4th grade team consisting of 4 teachers and 100 students. Sixteen of our students could not read even at the 1st grade level. They were all boys, and of course, these students were the behavior problems. Within the first two weeks of school, many of them were spending more time in the office for behavioral referrals than in their classrooms. The instruction was not differentiated according to reading levels, so these students were learning very little in materials geared toward a 4th grade reading level. My background was Alternative Education, and my passion was working with students who were slipping through the cracks. I suggested to the other three teachers on the team, that if they were willing to increase their class sizes, I would take the 16 non-readers. The other teachers jumped at the opportunity, and the administrator approved. By the third week of school, I had been relocated to a small, self-contained room with the 16 non-readers.
An example of remediation in reading is when the child is chronologically in the 4th grade but reads at the 2nd grade level. Remedial instruction presents the student with materials written at the 2nd grade level and has the child read them. The problem is that the child may not have the decoding skills for vocabulary or the language skills to understand the complex sentences of anything written above 2nd grade level. Both of these problems are typical of special education children and have the root of the problem in skills that most children master at 4 and 5 years of age. Unfortunately, the assumptions made by most people in education are that everyone is equally ready for school by the time they enroll in kindergarten.
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