Watching the documentary “The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia” could be life changing for so many…

The documentary The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia, directed by James Redford, is absolutely amazing! It’s not very often you find a film that explains everything about how you think, how the way you think impacted your life, and then propose your theories about how you feel about it now. At end of this post I’ve included two different links to to watch this movie right now for free.

This is one of the most telling, accurate, de-mystifying and just wonderful accounts of what dyslexia is, and what it feels like to have it, that I’ve come across. Unfortunate because it’s an area I should be an expert on being a veteran special education teacher with 75+ graduate units in this field, AND also experienced the confusion growing up living with dyslexia myself.

The Big Picture: Rethinking Dyslexia

DVD cover

I have several learning disabilities that constantly make me look stupid because I suck at things most find simple. I didn’t know I wasn’t stupid until I started college and the classes were way easier than high school for me. I excelled, transferred to UC Berkeley, and now feel lucky I’m “learning disabled”. I think it’s directly related to being “extra able” in the many other more interesting & much more important ways in areas that actually matter. The stuff related to being what is considered successful in all areas of life. (The ability to do mental math, read quickly, spell good, or earn high-test scores are NOT what gets you hired at job interviews, excel and/or get promoted, make you likable in work/social settings, be of use to making your personal relationships work, or lend to the incredible satisfaction of expressing yourself creatively).

This documentary gets inside the lives of several families and shows what it is to go through life feeling so different. The top experts in the field offer explanations and discuss how different doesn’t equate to lesser. It also features many iconic leaders, CEO’s, scientists, etc. discussing growing up with dyslexia and how it affects them today. Always very powerful.

What I loved most was the theories & experiences were providing evidence that leads to understanding that all along the smart kids are the ones with “learning disabilities”. It seems like the opposite because American education system develops curriculum, delivers lessons & assesses learning for how the average majority think, not for extraordinary minds. I’ve been trying to convince teachers, parents & ESPECIALLY my students of this of for years. I wrote a thesis on how I thought genius and LD went together but it wasn’t very good. I couldn’t be more happy to know that this is where the current academic thought is going.

A MUST SEE FOR ANYONE WHO STRUGGLES WITH DYSLEXIA. It was incredible seeing what I experienced through others and knowing it’s being shared with the masses through this film. My methods of thinking, how I processes information, and other weird things I do explained and/or given ration. One of my most validating moments.

EVERY TEACHER & PARENT OF A CHILD WITH DYSLEXIA SHOULD BE REQUIRED TO WATCH THIS because they would walk away with such a deeper understanding of their child that will no doubt lesson frustrations or conflicts.

Watch The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia for free in one of the links below.

The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia documentary on YouTube

The Big Picture: Re-thinking Dyslexia on Netflix

A Reminder of who we are……

I know this is dated and we have all seen it but… we also need to re-watch this again and again to realize how quickly we can be put in our place of pre-judging not expecting the best of those who we expect the least from. I no longer work in the music industry but this is lesson of life that I can relate to the students I work with.

REGGAE IN THE VALLEY Festival in Napa, CA presented by The Calendar Guy Productions

Come join me and support the arts with my newest passion. I have been helping out my dearest friends at The Calendar Guy Productions: James and Kristine and I forgot how much I love doing stuff like this! Since I began teaching I’ve always missed working in the music industry so volunteering in this area is extremely fulfilling. I’m hoping this is just the beginning of my involvement with both The Calendar Guy Productions and Napa Valley Arts Council because it has also given me a missing connection to my art and the art of those close to me.

This is the first show I’m helping with so come and support the arts.

Reggae in the Valley: Napa Valley’s Earth Day Evening Celebration!
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Napa Valley Expo, Chardonnay Hall (575 3rd Street) in Napa, CA
4:30 pm – 11 pm (doors @ 4)
Caribbean-Style Food!
Hot Air Ballon Ride Raffle
All Ages Event!
Tickets $20 Advance / $25 Door

Info from the press release:
This event will benefit Arts Council Napa Valley’s Arts Education Programs. A destination that should not be missed, this Wine Country is the most widely visited Valleys in the country as a wine and dining epicenter mecca, and event producer James Byrum says that “we plan to turn this valley into a music mecca as well.” Event is sponsored by 1440 KVON & 99.3 THE VINE, Reggae Festival Guide magazine and Ozcat Vallejo Community Radio.

For more information, contact THE CALENDAR GUY PRODUCTIONS at 707-225-5649 or visit

How a Cal dorm changed my life

Tonight, my closest friend from when I attended UC Berkeley, sent me a friend request on Facebook after searching for her online for years, sometimes what felt like hours at a time. I just about screamed when I saw it and ended up actually crying while sending her my first message. Over the years I have also unsuccessfully searched for others I made friends with from our 7th floor dorm in Freeborn Hall at Unit 1. (I have even sent messages numerous times to people through various social networks with the same names asking if they knew me from Freeborn Hall and all apologized for having to say no, lol).

Decided to search again, now using Facebook, and to my absolute delight found four more. These 10 to 15 friends that I knew for only a year, almost 20 years ago, had forever changed me.

I transferred l in my junior year after Napa Valley College in 1991. I chose not to live in junior transfer housing because I am lazy and there was a freshmen dorm closer to the campus. I chose an all girls floor because I didn’t want to share my bathroom with boys. Both of these decisions ended up being some of the most valuable ones I made regarding college.

Growing up in the very secluded and then mostly white town of Napa, moving to Berkeley, particularly the closeness I gained to so many amazing people from different races and ethnicities, a whole new world opened up to me. Even though I had always had an interest in race issues, diversity, other cultures, countries, etc. my actual experiences consisted of visiting Chinatown in SF a few times. Even though I was 21 and some of these girls hadn’t even turned 18 yet, they seemed so much more mature and obviously more “cultured” than I did.

Instead of scoffing at things like my thinking Asian markets only existed in Chinatown, let alone that most Asians are Chinese, these girls took me under their wing and shared each of their cultures with me. I learned about life being East Indian, Korean, Creole, Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Black, and the daughter of a Mexican farm worker. My life has been forever changed because of it and most likely they have no idea of the magnitude their influence had on me. Within weeks I even changed my major from History to Social Science so I could have an “interdisciplinary field studies” major with a concentration in Race/Ethnic Issues in Education. Because of this I not only got to take undergraduate Education courses but also ones from different departments like Ethnic Studies, Mexican American History, Sociology of Race Relations and many other truly, truly amazing classes.

Getting the opportunity to re-connect is so important also because these were really the only “college friends” I had. The majority of us became close living on the 7th floor of Freeborn Hall. My next and only other year at Cal, I spent in an apartment living my first year being married, involved in a fast growing ministry, working at my first real job, being active in social justice causes, and writing my senior thesis. This led to very little time to make new friends at school, let alone grow close to them.

Some of these girls had such a positive experience in our dorm that they decided to do it again for a second year. All reported at the time that it was nothing like ours and that everyone pretty much kept to themselves with their doors closed most of the time. This is a far contrast to us who lived in each other’s rooms. To me, it felt like we lived as one huge family involved with each other’s lives. We even waited for each other to go to the dinning hall for meals each day in one huge group.

I invited my entire dorm floor to my wedding the following summer and many of them came. One even transported and played her harp while my guests were being seated. They all chipped in to buy us an expensive rice maker that we still use today. This was a larger model of the Asian ones they brought from home that I fell in love with.

So, I would like to express deep appreciation to for the friendships we shared and for making my first year at UC Berkeley one of the best ones I’ve had. Like I said, my life has been impacted more than you know. At the time I’m not sure I even knew how much.

How “No Child Left Behind” Affects Students

Going to school is nothing like it was when we went.

I teach high school at Napa High in California and due to No Child Left Behind, schools have to what ever they can to up the test scores of those students who perform below the mark George Bush says, so most of my students have double periods in math and Engligh. This means they don’t get electives until their junior or sophmore year. I can’t even imagine high school with out electives.

There is great article in the The SF Chronice explains what NCLB is by using Napa High to show how schools are graded, how many/type of goals required, and what has to happen to the whole district if just one school doesn’t meet just one goal.
I teach the Read 180 class discussed (and pictured) in the article.
Napa High School, a state standout, is considered a federal failure

You won’t regret reading it.

Because it mostly covers the effects it has, you’ll want to read the posted comments for bigger picture its obvious agenda.

…And let me know what you think of my school. : )