Part I: Looking at the Whole Child reflections

I expected to gain new insight on Literacy and Dyslexia.  I expected to tie this all to what I am most passionate about – The Whole Child!  I expected to learn new things, but I did not expect the information to be so closely tied to the other topics I am so passionate about: the brain, positive mindsets, ADHD, and Executive Functioning! Boy, was I in for a treat!
I know that when we learn things we need to “unpack them” and put them in their spots to be able to mentally hold on to the information. So, this post is just Part I of my reflecting about the Whole Child part.  Part II about specific reading skills is coming!! I am going to use the idea that was recently shared on Twitter by Jon Gordon.
L – What LEFT an impression on you?
E – What ENERGIZED you?
A – What do you want to ASK more about?
D – What will you do DIFFERENTLY as a result of what you heard?
L – I was surprised at how the keynote speakers shared how important having a positive, growth mindset is not only for the reluctant readers, but for the teachers who teach these readers.  Personally, I have been preaching this for years and understand the benefit, but I haven’t heard it much in the world of literacy and dyslexia instruction, so it was incredibly refreshing and exciting to know that we are all getting there. 
E – Anytime you go to a learning conference or event in the summer where it is the choice of the educator to be there, you will find educators who are passionate about what they do.  Passionate People – that is what energizes me!  
Learning about how ADHD and Executive Function Deficits link with Dyslexia is incredibly insightful!  I could sit for two days and listen to people speak about these topics and the Whole Child and be completely inspired!  Oh wait…that is what I did!  🙂 
It ENERGIZED me to learn new insight about how these connect and what we can do as educators to help our students.  ALL STUDENTS…whether they are students with dyslexia, reluctant readers, strong readers, or students with active bodies and minds that need a little more guidance. 
A – You know, I am always asking questions.  About everything.  Let me share a quick story of Serendipity from yesterday.  I like to hand write my notes on paper because I believe in the connection between memory and writing by hand.   As I write notes, I star questions I have to come back to later or ask. Then, I go back and reread my notes between sessions to make connections and reflect.  
As I reflecting during a break I saw a question I wrote during the ADHD and Executive Function Deficit session: “HOW? Where do we find ideas of how to directly teach these things?”  This had been sitting on my mind for awhile at that point. 

Humor me for a minute, I promise you will learn something: Here is an example of a minute in my ADHD brain. I decided to google some info on this, but as I went to open a tab to search I clicked on the Tweetdeck that I had open from the day and started reading my feed.  I saw a post from someone I follow responding to someone else. 
Her response made me curious (about what, I don’t know!) and I clicked to see what she was responding to (because that was so on task), which led me to a tweet of a lady talking about a blog. Maybe it was the phrase she tweeted that drew me in? Do you see why I end up learning about the most amazing things, yet I cannot explain how I got there?!  
I ended up clicking on the blog by @StuartShanker and reading this incredible post! Here is the crazy thing…..WAIT FOR IT.…… It was about Self -Regulation!  He gave a few resources to read, which sent me to Amazon, which offered other books that are helpful! The crazy thing is that I already owned 3 of these at home!  
I would just like to document that for once, my internet searching/ open tab ADHD came in quite handy!  The exact question I was searching for fell into my lap because I was led astray!  LOL!
This was MY QUESTION! Where to get info on HOW to directly teach these executive functioning skills that our children need in order to get to the point of Self-Regulation and do this themselves. 
The BEST resource on this is this book!  I LOVE it and refer back to it often!
Here are a few more I have that they suggested that are great reads as well!
                  
D – What will I do Differently? As a Literacy Specialist who serves children with Dyslexia and children who require a little more direct instruction in reading skills, I do not have as much freedom in my time spent with students to focus as much as I would like on teaching these skills.  I will do what I do best, and share all of the information I learn with my friends and do what I can.  Little by little.
However, as I reflect I also know that I will be even more mindful of my actions on how I respond when a child comes to me already shut down or with a negative mindset.   Learning how this originates, why it happens, where in the brain it starts, and how even when we think the child “knows” and “should be able to control this”….there is so much research that shows they truly don’t.   EVERY little interaction we have with a child can be the ONE thing that outlines their path of success.  
If you have never considered the role Executive Function Deficits plays in a child’s learning, I strongly urge –  no, I BEG you to research this a little more! 🙂


 

I Won’t Give Up

It is no secret that I am a HUGE advocate for children who need more than the traditional teaching. In the past 5 years, my passion has grown bigger for advocating for the Whole Child, children with ADD/ADHD, children with characteristics of Dyslexia, Whole Brain Teaching, integrating curriculum and teaching those important soft skills for life.  This quote most definitely sums up my mission!

As each year goes by I see more and more need for the Whole Child, Brain-Based background in teaching.  When we stop and think, it really is just great teaching.  Knowing your students.  Knowing their needs.  Knowing how to meet each one where they are and help them be successful by using strategies that work for them.  Knowing that every child learns differently and taking action to differentiate for their needs.  Seems simple, right?

We just cannot forget that these needs include MOVEMENT. (I wrote all about this in another post here.)  I am not just talking about brain break movement, but movement with learning concepts.

Here is something I often see: Children who have struggled for years to learn how to read or write.  Their self esteem is low.  They do not speak up on how they learn best.  Is it because they are afraid?  Maybe they have never been shown how to do this appropriately?  Is it because they have never been given the opportunity?  I don’t know.

Here is what I do know.  THESE are the children who cannot learn to the best of their ability when forced to sit all day without moving, discussing, singing, making those important connections.  Yet sadly, there are still classrooms where this is happening.  It crushes my heart and has me upset as to why it still goes on.

Why, when we know what the research says about this? Why do we continue putting our children through this? Little AND big children!

I write this not to criticize anyone, but because I want SHARE some really great research and resources on these topics.  My hope is that this reaches one person that may have never considered how this all plays into learning and they try one of these strategies!  Our children deserve it!

Have we ever considered that our students are not intentionally tuning us out? They are not intentionally losing focus.  They want to remember what we are teaching them.  They want to do well.  There are just so many other factors that play a part in this Whole Child’s learning experience. What we need to ask ourselves is this:

What are WE doing to help them?

Here is a fantastic Edutopia article on brain research written by a neurologist suggesting educators have a neuroscience class that updates them on current educational research on the brain.  That would be amazing! (In my opinion!)

Here is article from the Integrated Learning Strategies website on Brain-Based Learning Crossing Midline activities that help all children.  It puts the brain research into action!

Here is a great Whole Brain Teaching article on how it is used from Kinder-College with great results.

Here are some of my Pinterest Boards where I house information I find.

Follow Bridget’s board ADD/ADHD on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Brain Research on Pinterest.

Follow Bridget’s board Dyslexia on Pinterest.

I am teaching Summer Enrichment classes that revolve around brain-based learning and movement, wellness and stress management for kids (think yoga) and dancing!  I will be posting resources I am using when the time is closer.

Advocating for the WHOLE CHILD is my passion! Like the quote above says, there was that moment I realized, I won’t give up!  Our Kids Deserve It!!!!