FEATURES FOR TEACHERS
Features For New Teachers
Volume 3, Issue 8
We like to have the students create a Grammar Handbook where they can write in the various rules we discuss during the year. Never assume your students know and understand the rules you'll cover during the year. We do review the various parts of speech, though we won't spend much time on those. Through the course of the year, students will continually add rules and examples to their handbooks. Some of these are from notes I provide students, and others are from the discussions we have in class. I also allow the students to use these Grammar Handbooks on quizzes and tests, and they are always available when students write in class.
Our students complete Daily Oral Language (DOL) activities for proofreading practice. The DOL is an on-going activity where students practice editing and proofreading sentences or paragraphs. Put up one or two sentences that have several mistakes in spelling, grammar, or mechanics. Have students correct these using proofreader's marks and discuss the changes as a class. There are a number of companies out there that have workbooks and overhead sheets with plenty of these warm up activities. But you can also put together your own exercises very easily. Find a few sentences from the literature or stories you're reading and type them out, making a few 'mistakes' for the kids to find and fix. Use size 16 or 18 font so they're easy to see, and copy onto an overhead sheet so you can re-use these again. Have a paper copy of the 'answers', the corrected sentences, and be sure to have your students add the new rules to their Grammar Handbook.
Another related activity is the DOL Paragraph. Once or twice a week, we give the students an entire paragraph to correct. This will have the same grammar, spelling, mechanics, and usage mistakes the students had seen during the week.
These three activities, practiced on a daily or weekly basis, can really help your students to learn the various rules of grammar, usage, and mechanics. You can even create paragraph or essay topics to have students explain the various rules they've learned. You'll find a few examples below:
Proofreading is a skill students can become good at, just like any other skill that must be practiced. Similar to the editing procedures, we like to have students 'proof on the fly' when they are retyping their second drafts. This is making the corrections as students are typing. Now granted, many computer programs will actually tell students when a mistake has been made. That does make it easier for students. But there are times when the computers can be mistaken. Homophones are one prime example. I don't worry too much about the computer corrections, because our students are getting so much practice with proofreading. And when the computer displays a mistake, the students still have to know how to make the correction.
Editing and Proofreading are both important skills for your students. But never forget your focus. The best way to improve the students writing is by drafting, writing as much as possible, even on a daily basis if at all possible.
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A child’s view on how SPD
effects family relationships
A child’s view on how SPD effects family relationships
Living and coping with a disorder can often consume a
child’s world. For children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD),
this can be especially challenging as most children with SPD are
seemingly “normal”. Many people do not often realize that these
normal-looking children could be plagued by such an emotionally,
physically and socially taxing disorder. Emily Brout knows all too well
how difficult it is to explain her disorder: “Sometimes it is really
hard to explain what Sensory Processing Disorder
(SPD) is to other people. It’s very complicated and it’s not
even easy for me to understand! Many people don’t know anything at all
about SPD because there hasn’t been a lot written about it or on T.V.
So most people have no idea how SPD makes a person like me feel. In
fact, there are many people who don’t even think SPD is real! That
makes me so mad! Why would
anybody make this up?”
Having SPD makes family life and social time with
friends tough on Emily. “SPD makes me feel like I’m being attacked
by noises, smells, and lights every day. Smells can be really bad, and
sometimes even make me throw up. It is very hard to sit in the cafeteria
with my friends at school and try to hide the fact that I am gagging
because of a smell. Noises are the worst for me. Quiet noises that
repeat over and over make me really upset, and these noises are part of
every day life. My sister
and brother get mad at me because I yell at them for noises that they
make. Sometimes, I get
really sad and don’t want to go anywhere. I also lose my temper and
get really mad at people. I
don’t do this on purpose, but my friends and family don’t always
realize that. I just cannot help it. Every day I struggle to keep myself
calm even though I feel scared, mad and upset on and off, all day.”
Coping with a special need such as Sensory Processing
Disorder can be equally frustrating to both the child and his or her
A parent’s perspective on raising a child with SPD
Emily’s mom, psychologist Dr. Jennifer Brout, can
identify with trying to cope with raising a child who has a special need
and maintaining her family dynamics.
“A wise professor once told me ‘Your primary goal is to not make things worse’. As
I consulted psychologists and psychiatrists alike, I wondered if there
were any clinicians who even understood what Sensory Processing Disorder
(SPD) was!” said Brout. “My daughter received Occupational Therapy
to remediate her symptoms, yet her personality and our family dynamics
had already been shaped by the disorder’s complications.”
Dealing with this frustration and lack of help from mental health
professionals who had no real treatment for her daughter, Brout often
wondered, “was there anyone out there who would understand that I was
not simply giving in to my daughter’s ‘manipulations’ because I
was a browbeaten mother lacking any savvy?”
Everyday life posed so many difficulties and heartache for Brout, as a parent who had to watch her child struggle with SPD. “Although her other senses were affected, extreme over-reactivity to certain sounds caused my otherwise sociable, empathic sweet-natured little girl to be unpredictably moody and explosive. During toddler hood and early childhood she threw tantrums that lasted for prolonged periods of time. She was extremely clingy, and often appeared sad. Background noises that most people didn’t notice set her off into rages.” Not being able to ease a child’s suffering could leave any parent feeling helpless. Brout remembers one of those moments with Emily, “when she was six years old she looked at me and said ‘When I hear bad noises I feel like I’m turning into the Incredible Hulk’. Then she asked intently, ‘Mommy, can you fix my brain?’ This moment defined the extent to which my daughter was suffering, and how negatively her self-image had been impacted by SPD. What little girl should envision herself as a huge, green, out of control mutant?
What can a
parent do? How can a parent mediate Sensory Processing Disorder within
For parents coping with their child’s SPD, Brout offers this advice,
“it is helpful to remind yourself that with Occupational Therapy,
sensory integration treatment, and as he or she gets older, your child
will be able to implement greater control over his or her behavioral
reactions to his or her physiological responses. In the meantime,
however, regulation (calming the child so that he or she is not over stimulated
and agitated) is the first priority.”
She goes on to suggest that in order to make this shift, “you
must allow yourself to dismiss much of what you have been told about
parenting, even by mental health professionals, because it does not
apply to SPD children. For
now, think of your child as one whose body over-reacts to sensory
stimuli, and who is deficient in calming down.”
When faced with an agitated child whose behavior is effecting
family life, Brout suggests using the three R’s: Regulate,
Reason and Reassure
Regulate: “Help your over-responsive child calm down by identifying the source
of the sensory stimuli, and shift the focus from any resulting conflict.
As a child develops greater language and cognitive skills this process
becomes easier. However, even younger children with limited language
skills can be regulated. Each child is unique which is why it is
essential to consult with a professional.”
Reason: “Once your child is calm, review the incident with him focusing on
his thought processes. If
he cannot identify the stimuli that triggered his actions, try to do it
for him by making suggestions. For younger children, you will have to go
through this process with relative simplicity and brevity. With enough
consistency your child will understand your message, and will also learn
that when he or she is over-stimulated, calming down is the first step!
Remember, this process is not an over-night cure!”
Reassure: Remind yourself that your child does not like feeling out of control.
Reassure him that over time he will gain control, and that you will help
him. Let him know that you expect him to try as hard as he can, but
protect his self-esteem and self-image by framing the problem as though
it were ‘a work in progress’. Repairing damaged self-esteem and poor
self-image is much more difficult than reshaping a child’s
misconstrued ideas about the causes and consequences of behavior.
No child should see himself as a huge out of control green mutant
being that repels others!”
In regard to family dynamics, Dr. Brout states,
“the SPD child feels victimized by the overwhelming sensory
stimuli generated by family members. However, siblings are also likely
to feel victimized having often been the object of the over-responsive
child’s mood swings and/or aggression. Therefore, it is important to
let siblings know that they are not responsible for these problems and
that you are doing everything you can to get help for your
over-responsive child and for the family. Behavior is not only about
actions and consequences. It is about interpersonal relationships and
that is especially true in regard to SPD as it affects family
You must set expectations for your students, demonstrate the behaviors, and be vigilant to correct the kids. Don't waver on your expectations; inconsistencies will only confuse the students and cause you more problems.
If you stay calm, collected, and in control, your students will exhibit the same behaviors. The same is true about enthusiasm; if you are excited about your lesson and truly believe in its importance, the kids will respond in kind. Conversely, the kids will know when you are tired, bored, don't want to be there, or are 'winging it.'
If you are late to class, or don't start on time, the kids will pick up on it and be more likely to do the same. The same is true about the way you dress, the way you act, the language you use, and your 'body language'.
If you want your students working from 'coast to coast', or from bell to bell, you need to set the expectation of activity all hour. Start with a warm up, and ensure the kids are doing it. Keep them busy on activities with transitions between each. Don't let there be any down time. Work them to the end of the period, and have them pack up when you say so, not whenever they want to.
If you want your students to quietly read in class, but you are spending that time working on other things, it sends the message that you don't value the activity personally. Modeling the skill for the kids reinforces your belief that it is important. It show you as a lifelong learner who values the skills you're teaching them.
The same is true for writing. Students rarely have the chance to see real people writing - for many, the only examples (and role models) are their classmates. Work along with your students. Now this doesn't mean you have to do this the entire time. You must also supervise, coach, monitor, and actively support their learning. But you can spend at least a few minutes 'at their level'.
Be a positive role model for your students. Don't just explain and show the behavior; be the example day in and day out.
How can I get my students to revise their writing? If this is one of your most frequently asked questions, then this is the book for you - a guide to specific strategies you can teach to enable your students to re-see and re-shape their writing on multiple levels, from word choice to organization.
Longtime writer and writing teacher Georgia Heard knows firsthand what a daunting task revision can seem to both students and teachers. First, she addresses students' confusion about the differences between editing and revision. She shows you how to reassure your students that revision is not an indicator of bad writing, but an integral part of the writing process. Then Heard provides ready-to-use strategies that take the mystery out of teaching revision and help even the most reluctant writers revise.
Using three main Revision Toolboxes - Words, Structure, and Voice - she offers dozens of specific revision tools to inspire students to revisit their work. In addition, Heard includes:
Make revision inviting. Make it a part of your students' writing process. Then watch as they fine tune and improve-and the real pleasures of writing and teaching begin.
Have you read The Revision Toolbox? Do you have comments you’d like to share with our readers about this book? Email your responses to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please type in BOOK CLUB READER RESPONSE in the subject line. Responses will be posted on our website with the StarTeaching Book of the Month Club. All responses will be proofread, and may be edited for content and space before publication.
Six humans trapped by happenstance
Their dying fire in need of logs,
The next man looking cross the way
The third man sat in tattered clothes;
The rich man just sat back and thought
The black man's face bespoke revenge
And the last man of this forlorn group
The logs held tight in death's still hands
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