Archive for the 'Fridays are For Teachers' Category

What’s in a label?

I don’t like pat answers to anything.  I don’t favour easy conversations – at least not just because they’re easy.

And I think that the way we describe a significant percentage of the students in our schools is pat.  I think that when we describe students as having learning disabilities, we’re taking the easy way out. If there is something in their design that impedes them from fitting into the educational system, then surely the system cannot be held accountable if they can’t learn, or if they drop out of school at twice the rate non-disabled students do.[i]

It isn’t that I don’t think there are neurological and genetic differences among people.  Sure there are.  But when 10% of the population[ii] struggles with learning the way learning is presented, I think public education needs to move beyond the square-peg-in-the-round-hole attitude and adopt a system that is less focused on fitting children into slots.

Rather than singling out the children who don’t fit in, I think it’s time we re-evaluated our concept of education, its purpose, its limitations – and the variety of alternatives to the traditional model.

I’m not suggesting we stop providing support for those who do not fit in.

What I’m suggesting is a conversation (maybe a debate)—an ongoing, honest, sometimes heart-wrenching exchange that begins with social values and ends… I don’t know where.

This week, I’m posing one specific—but challenging question to the parents, grandparents and teachers reading this.

In the currency of a child’s life, what is the value of the coin we refer to as “learning disability”?

Diane L. Duff is a certified high school English and French teacher and a former private school principal. She provides literacy and academic assessment / consulting to students throughout Ontario. As well, she conducts teacher professional development (and/or parent training) workshops throughout Canada in the areas of reading development, dyslexia, and structured language teaching. Diane is currently completing a Master’s degree in literacy and Montessori teacher training. For more information, visit www.dianeduff.ca


[i] Putting a Canadian Face on Learning Disabilities (PACFOLD)   http://www.pacfold.ca/news/03_23_07_en.shtml

[ii] Ibid

Real Life Education

Wow.

This beautiful video stands alone – in all its messages.

As teachers and/or parents – how many lessons do you see happening here?

Would you ever wish for this kind of life for your children?

D

Diane L. Duff is a certified high school English and French teacher and a former private school principal. She provides literacy and academic assessment / consulting to students throughout Ontario. As well, she conducts teacher professional development (and/or parent training) workshops throughout Canada in the areas of reading development, dyslexia, and structured language teaching. Diane is currently completing a Master’s degree in literacy and Montessori teacher training. For more information, visit www.dianeduff.ca

Are we over-diagnosing ADHD?

The other day, I had the pleasure of picking up my youngest granddaughter from school and taking her out for lunch while “mommy” went to an appointment.  When I handed the reins back to her mom a couple of hours later, the little one bounded into the back yard with her bottle of bubbles and happily began chasing after the dog.

As I drove off with that delicious visual in my head, I turned on the car radio, just in time to hear the news:  The American Academy of Pediatrics has changed its guidelines for diagnosing attention deficit disorder.

It is now possible to diagnose and treat ADD/ADHD in children as young as 4-years-old.

Did I mention my granddaughters are 4 years old?

According to the lead researcher of the study supporting the new guidelines, “Treating children at a young age is important, because when we can identify them earlier and provide appropriate treatment, we can increase their chances of succeeding in school.”

I work with students with learning disabilities, so I know that early identification and treatment are important. And I know there are children whose behaviour and sleep patterns – even earlier than four years old – can make parenting a nightmare.  And, I believe that sometimes that might be have a neurobiological cause – and come under the label ADHD.

But – and I cringe when I write this because I know it makes me sound as old as I am – things were different when I was young.  There weren’t as many kids who couldn’t pay attention at school, or who couldn’t follow the rules – either at school or at home. I’m not the only one who remembers it this way.  When I talk to other old broads and aging gents, they say the same thing.

I just don’t have a memory of teachers having to focus their attention on specific individual children they way we do now.  Heck, I think I was the kid in my grade 5 class sent to the principal’s office  – and that was for being a recidivist gum chewer.

The point I’m circling around to is the shocking increase in the number of kids being identified with ADHD.  Even before these new guideline changes.

Between 2003 and 2007, the number of 4 to 17 year olds diagnosed with ADHD at one time in their lives increased by 21.8%.  The result of that surge is that now, nearly 1 in 10 kids has been diagnosed with attention deficit. And some 66% of them are being treated with medication.

Does this disturb you as much as it does me – to think we’re diagnosing more and more children as having a deficit or disorder and that we’re drugging over  66% of them every morning before we ship them off to school?

66%…drugged! And that’s only for ADHD.

If it’s hard to look back to my own childhood to get a sense of how many children were struggling with behavioural and attention problems, then it’s impossible to go back to the time before society was organized the way it is now.

But, I like to imagine way, way, way, back – like to the time when the Paleo diet wasn’t considered a fad.  I wonder about the behaviour and sleep patterns and attention span of children then – when they rose and rested on the schedule of the sun, ate natural food, and spent their days playing and running and chasing…and, well, just being.

I know humans are wired differently now – that eons of experience as a species have altered what we do and how we do it.  But, when I think about 66% of kids being drugged just so they can take part in the daily activity we say is so important….well, can you really blame me for being nostalgic?

Back to the present.  The scary-little-kids-being-diagnosed-with-ADHD-at-4-years-old present.

Do you think the increasing number of children being diagnosed with ADHD is merely the result of our being more knowledgeable and having better diagnostic tools?

Or, do you think there are other factors at play?

Talk to me.

D.

Diane L. Duff is a certified high school English and French teacher and a former private school principal. She provides literacy and academic assessment / consulting to students throughout Ontario. As well, she conducts teacher professional development (and/or parent training) workshops throughout Canada in the areas of reading development, dyslexia, and structured language teaching. Diane is currently completing a Master’s degree in literacy and Montessori teacher training. For more information, visit www.dianeduff.ca

Why are we not asking more questions?

The other day I asked a group of parents what concerns them most about what goes on in their child’s classroom.

One mom said that what concerns her most is that she has no idea what is going on. When I asked what she wanted to know about, she said, “Everything!!”

Good for her. It is time we parents started to wonder – out loud – what is going on.

Long past time.

The biggest “What the heck was going on?” in my professional experience was the case of a girl who failed grade 7 in an Ottawa public school – for being truant and for not doing the assigned work.

Yes, the girl failed; she was not allowed to go on to grade 8.

But, in the bigger picture, the girl didn’t fail. The girl was failed.

Failed by the system that didn’t notice she couldn’t read. For 8 years, from SK to the end of grade 7 – no one noticed or did anything about the fact that she couldn’t read. Couldn’t read so much a picture book.

Failed by her parents who also didn’t notice her illiteracy and who dismissed her cries for help –the truancy and the refusal to do the school work – as nothing more than a poor pre-teen attitude.

Sadly, this is not an isolated case.

That pre-teen who couldn’t read Alborough’s Duck in the Truck at the end of grade 7 could well have been that cutie in SK who couldn’t rhyme or count words in a sentence, but who, the teachers said, “just wasn’t as mature as the other kids.” She could have been that angel in grade 2 who couldn’t count syllables or remember the alphabet, but who, the teachers said, “will catch up soon.” She could have been the shame-faced child in grade 3 whose report card always said how disruptive she was, but never mentioned that she didn’t read as well as a child in early grade 1.

There’s no excuse.

We begin teaching pre-reading skills in SK – and sometimes in JK. When kids enter grade 1, the academic focus is not much wider than emergent literacy and numeracy skills.

By the time a child is at the end of grade 1 – and usually a lot earlier – we know – if we’ve been properly trained to teach and assess reading – if her literacy skills are developing appropriately.

So, why is it that so many struggling readers are not being identified earlier?

Yes, we can blame the institution. If these children were patients under the care of a doctor, and the results were similar – we’d be reading about lawsuits for malpractice.

But, we also need to point the finger at ourselves. These are our children. We care the most. We are ultimately responsible.

What do we know about the curriculum in an elementary classroom? Have we bothered to find out how much time our children spend learning to read? Do we know and understand the approach the teacher is taking? Is that approach working for our child? Do we know about alternative approaches?

We have no problem checking site after site on the internet to find out what the milestones are for language or fine motor development when our children are infants. Do we demonstrate the same level of active curiosity and concern once we hand them over to the government’s schools? Or do we just wait for our children to be “educated” and handed back to us?

If our children needed medical care, would we offer them up as blindly to a surgeon as we do to their teachers and schools? Wouldn’t we do a lot of research and ask a lot of questions? Wouldn’t we demand to know what is going to happen in the operating room?

Why is it, then, that we don’t demand to know – in detail – what’s going on in our children’s classrooms?

Why do we settle for the impersonal canned comments on report cards?

Why do we settle for rushed teacher meetings in which the sole focus is the child – the one with the least power to control the outcome?

Why do we sit, like chastened children ourselves, trying to explain Suzie’s inability to get with the programme instead of sitting up straight, looking the system straight in the eye, and demanding an explanation of why the programme is failing to meet Suzie’s needs?

Why?

Diane L. Duff is a certified high school English and French teacher and a former private school principal. She provides literacy and academic assessment / consulting to students throughout Ontario. As well, she conducts teacher professional development (and/or parent training) workshops throughout Canada in the areas of reading development, dyslexia, and structured language teaching. Diane is currently completing a Master’s degree in literacy and Montessori teacher training. For more information, visit www.dianeduff.ca

Science for Kids: Plan now for 2011 Fall Fun

Teachers, I know you don’t want to think about next year while you’re scrambling to finish up this year, but we all know that some opportunities are missed if they’re not seized upon early.

This came across my desk a few days ago and I thought I’d share it with you. 

 The 2011 National Science and Technology Week in Ottawa is scheduled for October 14 to 23.  The organizers have planned some interesting and free tours during which students can meet scientists in their natural indoor habitats (laboratories):

  • Movie Critiques (Grades 4 and up; 1 hour)
  • The Fate of Fuels under Aquatic and Terrestrial Conditions (grade not specified)
  • Fossils (Grades 4–8; 1 hour)
  • Geoscape Ottawa — Gatineau (Grades 4 and up; 1 hour)
  • Introduction to Rocks and Minerals (Grades 4–8; 1 hour)     
    • Minerals in My Life- From the Ground to You- the Mining Cycle

(Grades 4 to 8; 2 hours)

  • Remote Sensing (Grades 4 and up; 1 hour)
  • Landslides- Slip Sliding Away (Grades 7 and up; 1 hour)
  • Traditional Aboriginal Knowledge — Helping to Protect Our Environment (Grades 4 and up; 1 hour)

 

  • What’s Shaking? (Grades 4 and up; 1 hour)

 

  • Global Positioning System (Grades 6 and up; 1 hour)

 

And if you’re an Ottawa-area parent or caregiver looking for something engaging and educational (with free admission and free parking), mark your October calendar with the

Science FunFest    

I know, I know, it’s still May.  But if October comes around as quickly as summer has, you’ll want to start planning soon.  So, tuck it away in your tickle file (we used to call it a “bring forward” file) and have a look in the summer, while you’re sitting in the backyard, sipping a cool one, and wondering why it can’t be July all year long.

Until next time,

Diane

Diane Duff, B. Ed., is a literacy consultant who works with families, schools, and literacy coaches/tutors.  Diane conducts assessments for reading/writing skills and dyslexia; provides workshops for parent groups; leads reading and language curriculum review for private schools, Montessori schools and homeschooling parents; and conducts teacher training in language and literacy development.     For more information, visit www.aldridgeduff.ca 

When ‘They’ Don’t Teach us Enough

 Last weekend, I had the pleasure of travelling to Toronto (yes, I saw my grandkids) to attend the Ontario Branch of the International Dyslexia Association’s (ONBIDA) annual convention.

It was fabulous! 

Not only did I enjoy a laugh- and info-filled keynote address by Dr. Gordon Sherman,  “Welcome to the Future: Where Dyslexic Brains Thrive,” but I also got to spend the day enjoying Dee Ledet-Rosenberg’s take on how to provide effective in-class reading instruction.  

Many teachers in the room had not heard of some of the reading programmes Dee described, nor about some of the research about reading development and reading disability.  

Am I surprised by that?  Not at all. Canadian teacher education institutes do not subscribe to a common curriculum about practices that encourage emergent reading, and many pre-service schools spend a lot more time talking about balanced literacy and reading circles than they do about literacy development, phonological awareness, phonics instruction, and the importance of vocabulary and comprehending skills.

That’s not just sad ~  it’s a travesty. 

The research is pretty clear about what kids who are at risk for reading disability need.  And while some students can learn to read without a structured, sequential research-based approach, not all can.  If we’re only implementing one curriculum in an early elementary classroom, shouldn’t it be one that can enrich the language learning of those for whom reading is not an issue, while it catches those kids who are at-risk and keeps them from becoming statistics? 

As teachers, we all know that we get what “they” offer for pre-service training.  But we also know, we get to choose what we learn after we graduate.

For those among us who did not benefit from a research-based reading strategies curriculum, and who have not yet had the time (goodness knows there is a lot to read and learn) to ferret out all the information ourselves, good solid PD is available.

This summer ONBIDA is offering a three-day summer workshop entitled “Un-lock-ing Language: Teaching Structured Language.”  I hope they’ll forgive me for cutting and pasting from the list of skills teachers can learn from this professional development opportunity:

  • Understand how the languages of Anglo-Saxon, Latin and Greek influence English spelling patterns.
  • Accurately match speech sounds with their written forms in English words.
  • Recognize and explain common rules and patterns in English.
  • Differentiate between ‘high frequency’ and ‘irregular’ words.
  • Identify, explain, and categorize six basic syllable types in English spelling.
  • Identify and categorize common morphemes in English.

 

Why not check it out?  ONBIDA PD BROCHURE  Psst. Early registration ends June 4th

If you see me there, come on over and introduce yourself, will you?

Until next time,

Diane

BTW:  Professional development can be costly.  ONBIDA knows that.  So they’re providing three scholarships to this PD opportunity (through the Oliver Martin Trust Fund).  But, visit www.idaontario.com quickly if you’re interested in learning for free.  Applications for scholarships close on May 14th at noon.

Diane Duff, B. Ed., is a literacy consultant who works with families, schools, and literacy coaches/tutors.  Diane conducts assessments for reading/writing skills and dyslexia; provides workshops for parent groups; leads reading and language curriculum review for private schools, Montessori schools and homeschooling parents; and conducts teacher training in language and literacy development.     For more information, visit www.aldridgeduff.ca 

Responses to Readers’ Comments on the French Immersion Blog

Thrilled to see all the responses here, and I’m going to speak to them all. But, I want to preface my responses by saying I am a proponent of second (and multi) language learning. 

As a five year old, I moved to Belgium with my family (my father was with the NATO forces).  Luckily for me, my parents decided not to live in the available military quarters, but rather to allow my siblings and me to reap the linguistic and cultural benefits of our time away from Canada. 

As a result, I went to school in my community, and the language of my life (with my education being but a small part of it all) was French.   In fact, I had been so immersed by attending the community school for Kindergarten, Grade 1 and Grade 2 that I began to code switch at home (lapse out of English and into French). 

My parents were concerned that I learn to read and write English so I would not fall behind at school when we returned to Canada (this was before the era of bilingualism and biculturalism).  So, the summer before grade 3, while the kids whooped it up outside my window, I sat at the kitchen table while my mother dictated from Dick and Jane books, and I became literate in English as well. 

As someone who now makes her living working in English and French with children with reading disabilities, I think I can safely say that I am a successful product of a real immersion experience.  

But mine is not the only valid experience; Devan, Sarah, Natalie, Elaine and Anna all made  important contributions to the discussion and I’d like to address those now:

Hi, Devan.  Thanks for responding, especially for responding with a positive view of French Immersion and the resources that are available within that programme.  So often when we human beings get talking, we focus on the negative.   I’m glad to hear your son’s learning needs are being so well supported by the school.  I wish both of your children an-ever positive experience in French Immersion ~ and in school generally.

 

Sarah, you make a good point about the cognitive and social/emotional benefits of learning a second language.   I’m glad to hear you will keep an open eye specific to the challenges of the immersion experience.   Your own bilingualism is going to go a long way to helping your daughter feel confident learning and living in French.

 

Hello, Natalie.  Thanks for responding.  Many students experience difficulties with content area work (especially reading and writing) in French Immersion because of the language demands.  The learner must have a well-developed vocabulary and be able to express her knowledge through the second language.  This may be why your daughter struggled a little.  I’m glad you recognized that, while FI works for some young learners, it is not the best option for all.  I’m really happy to hear your daughter is now more able to demonstrate her potential at school.  I hope the transition was fluid and that she is feeling good about the change.

 

Elaine, I’m also glad you found this forum!  All of the reasons you want to keep your daughter in French Immersion are reasons other parents express.  You raise an excellent point about French in the home!  Not only does the absence of French in the home keep parents from helping with homework, as you say, but it means the child is not enjoying bountiful opportunities to think, feel, listen and express him/herself in French.  Rather, the child is experiencing “classroom immersion” for a limited number of hours a week.   As well, the language experience (both receptive and expressive) is largely controlled by the education agenda, and not by the child’s intrinsic motivation to communicate.   

 

Hi, Anna.  If you’ve read all the way through, you won’t be surprised when I say that I agree wholeheartedly with you:  French Immersion is not the be all and end all.  Other things are very important, such as well-developed first language literacy, and firmly rooted self-concept as a learner. By the way, Anna, I’ve heard good things about the AIM programme. I’m glad it’s working so well for your son.  Can you explain why you think it works so well?  What does your son like best about it? 

In summary, let me say this:  Many children (but most especially those whose parents speak French in the home, or those whose parents can afford summer immersion camps) will probably do well in the French Immersion stream.  And by “do well,” I don’t mean earn high marks.  I mean, they will have a positive experience and feel good about themselves. 

But for those who struggle and whose struggles are emotionally deflating, I do not believe French Immersion is not appropriate. School can be hard enough for some learners, without adding to their burden by asking them to mediate everything through the under-developed filter of a new language.

As much as we parents believe that a quality education paves the road to a rich adult life, I wonder if we sometimes forget that some children feel every pebble underfoot.

Looking forward to hearing from you all again.

Diane

French Immersion: What’s your take?

 A call from a distraught mother in Mississauga has me fussing again about French Immersion.  No worries.  I’m not going to go into a full-fledged diatribe here (I’ll save that for the blog on my website).  Instead, I’d like to tap into your feelings.

Let me get the conversation going, okay?

A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen announced, “More and more, parents of children in English-stream schools are saying they feel like second-class citizens.”

Like all good articles, this one has some interesting facts and statistics.  The gist of those is that, while we no longer have a bias towards English language instruction in Ottawa (Yay!), we don’t seem to have equal access to quality elementary education in the English and French streams (Boo!).

The problem isn’t just that we have reverse discrimination in place now (quantity), but that  many parents feel pressure to put their children in French Immersion because they perceive that the education in the FI stream is better (quality). 

And it sounds like parents have reason to be concerned.  According to Rob Campbell, local school board trustee, the Ottawa-Carleton English-language system has twice the number of special needs students and “a high proportion of English as a Second Language (ESL) students.”

Although Ottawa leads in the demand for French Immersion, other Ontario boards are also seeing increases in FI enrolment. 

The question I want to ask is, “Why?”

The distraught mom I mentioned in the first paragraph says her son’s teacher recommended he move out of FI and into the English system because of his learning challenges.  But, the mom doesn’t want to move him.  Not because she doubts the expertise or integrity of his teachers.  No, she doesn’t want to move him because the principal says her son may finish out the year in the school’s English stream, but that he will have to be enrolled in his home-area school for the fall.  The problem?  This single mom lives in a housing project in Mississauga, and the home area school is renowned for problems, from behaviour, to motivation, to achievement.  Okay, you say.  Why not keep him in FI then?  Catch 22:  He can’t access resource support if he stays in the Immersion stream.

I could go on, but I’d like to hear from you.

Is your child in French Immersion?  Why?  Why not?  Based on experience, what do you see as the advantages or disadvantages of the two systems?  If your child is in FI and has special needs, does she/he receive resource support?  You get the idea…..spill it!

Until next time,

Diane

Diane Duff, B. Ed., is a literacy consultant who works with families, schools, and literacy coaches/tutors.  Diane conducts assessments for reading/writing skills and dyslexia; provides workshops for parent groups; leads reading and language curriculum review for private schools, Montessori schools and homeschooling parents; and conducts teacher training in language and literacy development.     For more information, visit www.aldridgeduff.ca 

Don’t Kid Yourself: High-Cost Education Isn’t Necessarily High Quality

Last night, I dreamed of visiting a private school and trying to convince the principal that he should institute twice yearly reading and writing assessments for his SK to grade 3 students.   If you’re familiar with my education background and passions, it’s no surprise that I would dream about mandatory literacy assessments.

Maybe the reason I had the dream is that recently I’ve been inundated with calls and emails from parents concerned about their children’s ability to read, write or do math, the level of support they are receiving in the public system, and their desire to find the solution for their children.

Many parents ask me if they should remove their children from the public system and, if so, what private school I recommend.  Here, I am talking about parents of children who are struggling, not parents of kids who will ease through the system and then receive scholarships to Queens or McGill.

 My answer is always the same:  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that moving your child out of the public system of education is going to be the magic that changes his/her academic life.   It may be the right thing to do; it may not.

Private schools are not necessarily better, not even the ones that advertise themselves as specifically focussed on special needs or offering a multiple-intelligence approach.   Don’t just “buy” the literature without asking a lot of very specific questions.

If the school advertises for students with special needs, what special programming is it offering?  How are instruction and assessment modified to suit each child’s needs?  What is the real student-teacher ratio?  How much do the teachers rely on workbooks? Are there speech language pathologists on staff or on contract?  Physical therapists?  Psychologists?  What is the specific training of the teachers that qualifies them to work in this unique setting?  What ongoing professional development is the school providing to its teachers to ensure they keep current with educational theory, technological change, and resource reviews? 

Any school can advertise a multiple-intelligence approach to education.  What does that mean?  Are the unit plans for every subject infused with a variety of teaching strategies (bodily-kinaesthetic, linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist)?  Are the assignments and assessment tools also designed in such a way as to allow students to demonstrate their learning through different intelligences, or is a test simply a test?  

Even though you’re frustrated trying to negotiate the necessaries of getting your child’s unique learning needs addressed in public school, think hard before you buy into the notion that private is necessarily better.  What special training do the teachers of the essential skills of math and language have?  What do they know about learning disabilities? ADHD?  What experience do they have differentiating instruction?  What resources (human and other) are available to support them?

Don’t know how to find out the answers to these questions?  Call the principal.  Ask for a tour and a meeting.  Go in with prepared questions and take detailed notes.   Go to the parking lot at drop off / pick up time and talk to parents. Lots of them.   

In the end, if you can’t come up with a lot of specific reasons why Private School X is better than your neighbourhood public school, don’t move your child.  Private isn’t better just because it’s private.  Private school is a business first and a child’s educational forum second.

Of course, public school is a business too.  But at least when the teachers in the public system recommend you find a tutor to help your child, it isn’t after your $13,000 tuition cheque clears the bank. 

Of course, if you do find an affordable private school that “hits all the right notes,” do whatever you think is best for your child. 

That’s what we always do in the end anyway, isn’t it?

Until next time,

Diane

Diane Duff, B. Ed., is a literacy consultant who works with families, schools, and literacy coaches/tutors.  Diane conducts assessments for reading/writing skills and dyslexia; provides workshops for parent groups; leads reading and language curriculum review for private schools, Montessori schools and homeschooling parents; and conducts teacher training in language and literacy development.     For more information, visit www.aldridgeduff.ca 

*image credit: stock.xchng

Preventing Problems (or turning them around) at the Elementary Level

Why do so many parents look for tutoring support for their elementary-school aged children?

Admittedly, some parents have very high expectations for their children, and are not happy with anything less than a level 4 (“A”) on a report card.

Other parents, new to Canada, are concerned about their children’s ability to progress through the system without some extra support in their new language, English.

But most (at least in my long experience) start looking for support because there is a disconnect between the child’s intellectual ability and his/her performance at school.

Most often that disconnect will show up in language, specifically written language – in the child’s ability to learn to read and write.   In fact, reading disability accounts for 70 to 80% of all learning disabilities.  In Canada that means well over 2 million people.

But not all children who struggle with reading and writing have a congenital neurological condition ~ what is commonly known as a learning disability.  Some simply require more direct instruction or a more personally-tailored approach than those who learn to read easily. 

Whatever the cause of a child’s struggle to become literate, research has shown that early detection of the signs of future reading difficulties, coupled with early intervention, can help many avoid the struggle and go on to become successful readers.

Early identification is not difficult, but it requires a commitment of time and resources from schools and individual teachers to assess children’s skills in the following areas:

  • ·         Listening comprehension
  • ·         Vocabulary knowledge
  • ·         Phonological awareness
  • ·         Print awareness, concept of word awareness, and the alphabetic principle
  • ·         Phonemic awareness
  • ·         Blending strategies
  • ·         Sight word knowledge
  • ·         Comprehending Strategies
  • ·         Fluency

I have, for many years, strongly advocated that students’ literacy skills be assessed from the time they enter SK until they reach the end of grade 3.  Here, I am not talking about the EQAO, but rather of individualized assessment for the purpose of detecting early problems and developing individualized or small group remedial programming. 

Although what will be tested will be different in SK than in grade 3, the principle is the same.  Catch the difficulty early, before it becomes a real problem.  It’s important.  Children who don’t read well by the end of grade 3 are in real danger of not ever reading well if they don’t get the support they need ~ and that deficiency will be carried over into everything they do at school.

Does the school you teach in ~ or the school your child attends ~ offer yearly assessment of children’s literacy skills?  If not, it’s time for some serious discussion.

Local area support is available for schools, teachers, and parents. You just have to pick up the phone.

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