Wednesday, December 16, 2009

article 3

I am even more excited about getting my masters in special education. In high school I wrote my junior thesis paper on nature vs nurture regarding homosexuality. I determined that biologically the brain was different in heterosexuals than homosexuals but ultimately it was the effect of both environment and biological factors that determined one's sexual preference. Now I'm reading articles related to diferences in the brain that may contribute to LDs. The article clearly suggests that early intervention can diminish the gap between a students reading ability with that of his/her peers. This makes sense. However, I think that most schools don't emphasize the importance of reading skills and their effect across subjects. In math for example you can't take trigonemtry until you've passed algebra and can't take calculus until you've passed both trigonemtry and algebra. A student that cannot read or comprehend what he/she is reading is still moved along in science, history, english etc. How? The don't have the building blocks to understand what they are reading. some students may be able to "fake it" by listening in class. They may have adjusted to lack of reading skills by paying better attention and increasing their oral listening skills. This is not helping them but only hindering their reading skills. If we can determine that an LD is partly biological it would be then covered under most insurances. These students would then be covered by law to get the necessary help they need and deserve.

article 1 & 2

Are the interelated? Do they cause one another? Which comes first depression/anxiety or the LD? With the push for inclusion, I'm hoping that both teachers and students become gentler and more tolerant of others disablities; whether emotional, physical, social or mental. I can rmember my peers teasing other peers because they wore glasses or were slower than the rest of us. Dental braces on the other hand were as common as the new fad of sneakers; no one got teased.
Grade school through high school, I was always part of the in crowd, top of my class and involved in everything. I never teased my peers. Maybe because I was trying to hide what was goin on at home that I overcompensated at school. No one ever knew my home issues. Many still don't. However, in college I was a victim of vicious crime. Everything fell apart. The lie I was living, I was normal, healthy, well adjusted. I began skipping class to avoid any type of run in with my attacker. My grades dropped. My self esteem dropped. My anxiety increased 100fold. I lived in fear. Many of these LD students, I am sure feel the same way. If they are being teased or put down by teachers; they may fear coming to school. If their grades are lower than peers they becomed depressed that they can not keep up with their peers. They may begin to blame themselves when in reality it may be a diagnosed/undiagnosed LD that is causing the poor grades. We do not know what goes on behind closed doors, the student may be in a neglected or abusive environment at home. In high school I can remember teachers ridiculing students for their low performance level in class. These were students who were trying and being put down by the teacher. The teacher was creating a hostile environment. It is important to notice changes in behavior in our students. Also important to notice atypical or inappropriate behavior as well. I truly believe early intervention is a massive tool and needs implemented more; not just LD. I have seen first hand how early intervention with autistic children can work. Many of my old clients no longer need TSS services. No one would even know that they even had a diagnosis unless they were told. A lot of autistic children have self stimulatory behavior which could bring negative attention from others. The negative attention could be in the form of teasing, mocking or pointing. This in turn could lead to low self esteem. We as educators need to help our students with LD notjust with learning but socially and emotionally as well. We can create a safe environment for our students to learn in even if its only in our classroom. The support we provide may be enough to help overcome the other barriers.

article4 & 5

Immigrant students that move around often due to parents relocating for work could compound a LD or may even help create one. The student has to make new friends, adjust to new schedule, new teachers and possibly new curriculum. I can say that when I transferred from private to public school; many of my new classes retaught curriculum that I already had been taught. A waste of time in my opinion. I understand that we all learn at different speeds and while we excel in one area may fail in another. The article discusses the discrepancies of the tests that determine whether or not a child has a LD, from state to state.
I have an idea....just like at your doctors office who keeps your medical records. When you switch doctors or see a specialist they request your medical records. They record more than just your temp and blood pressure. They have all the little details, each cold, broken bone, vaccinations and any ongoing medical condition. Why not have a similar type of record in education? Why not have the same tests nationwide to determine if a child has a LD? I know that students bring their transcripts when they change schools; but those transcripts list the student's final grades and attendance. They should be more detailed. They should record class size, reading group, language, and where the student is at in spcific subjects.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

biomapping the brain

As an undegraduate student I studied biology. I was completely fascinated by the brain and DNA. I even hung my first DNA map on the refridgerator. I was curious what biomapping the brain had to do with reading. After viewing the video of the doctor explaining the difference in the brain waves of this particular student compared with typical peers I understood. The student was hearing sounds and processing them a few seconds later than her peers. This would be very important in an emergency situation not just in reading. A few seconds in a fire for example can determine life or death. I cant imagine hearing a fire alarm and not determining what the noise was for a few seconds. I especially liked the analogy of teaching or retraining the students brain to decode words and sounds more effectively; compared to learning how to play an instrument. I am curious to what the future holds with biomapping. If we can determine the problem and create an effective way to retrain the brain; the amount of effect of a learning disability has on the learner may be decreased.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

HW Misunderstood Minds

Participated in LD Simulations in Attention, Reading, Writing and Mathematics....
Thoughts....As a student without any diagnosis of a learning disability, I have often wondered internally if I did have one. I truly believe each individual learns uniquely. I have often times been "lost" in lecture. Sometimes I'm bored or distracted with other life challenges. Other times I absolutely do not understand my teacher. I have always had to read by myself then teach myself what the lecture was. I take both book notes and lecture notes. My book notes teach me whereas my lecture notes help me determine what the teacher thinks is important to learn and understand. I remember struggling writing papers in high school and could relate to the student in the composition simulation. I would write essays or thesis papers and what I wanted to say never showed up on paper. Finally, in a push to get English college credits while in high school I asked a peer to help me with my papers. I would write drafts. She would then proof them and give me suggestions on how to better organize my thoughts. She would help guide me to move this information to this paragraph and put sentences in a different order. By the end of a the second semester she was giving me suggestions on using some more 50cent words. I bought a thesaurus to increase my use of language. She no longer had to help me reorganize my paper. I owe her greatly for her guidance. I still use the tools she taught me today.
With that said, I can understand how hard it might be for students to learn; whether its specific subjects or understanding through different teaching methods. During the mathematics simulations and the memory section of the reading simulation, I saw how hard it would be if I forgot the basics. My undergrad is in biology. I have taken up to calculus 3, organic chemistry 3 etc. I could answer the questions because I already had retained the information. Had I not already learned these subjects; I would have failed both simulations. It would be extremely hard to not be able to look for the answers in the story that disappeared as you read along. This is how a student who lacks memory retention feels when they test or are asked questions.
I believe students can be taught, taught to teach themselves and taught tools on how to learn and retain information. I hope as a teacher that I can identify these weaknesses in students and help teach them ways to learn around their disability. An example would be; a student who struggles writing notes from lecture. I could give each student an outline of the lecture with room for notes. For the student who is struggling; I could add more information and highlight important information so that he could follow along without falling behind. Only he and I would know that he has the full notes and not the outline. This would help in keeping his self esteem high. I would hope that this and maybe a different test style could help build his confidence. I would then as the year progressed begin to fade out this prompt to simply the same outline as the other students.
It was a great experience participating in the simulations. If I had never felt failure or frustrated in learning it would have opened my eyes up to how they feel. I could definitely see how students with learning disabilities could easily lose self esteem, give up and feel frustrated, lost and lonely. My goal as a teacher would be to build self-esteem in each student. We all learn uniquely and that's what makes us special.