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

Ten Things Legislators Should Know and Do When Making Education Policy

can teach

Excellent post from a blog at Edweek.org titled Teacher in a Strange Land by Nancy Flanagan. Her entire blog is wonderful and extremely informative. All posts include many links to the primary sources within the writing for further reading if interested.

Ten Things Legislators Should Know and Do When Making Education Policy.

Not only a “Must Read” if you care just a little bit about public education in America, take action and send to all of your elected representatives (and friends, family, colleagues, etc). Even if just a few points made resonate with one of them it will be time well spent. I am actually a bit jaded and more cynical after more than 15 years of being a teacher than my request may sound. I’m trying to be more hopeful for possible changes to be made with what is happening as well trying to do what I can about it instead of just complaining.

I would like to think it is not naive but as much as I love this post, and couldn’t agree with it more, it’s almost depressing to reflect on because it seems to me that legislators and self-proclaimed experts on education are doing the complete opposite of all 10. It seems the drive to privatize public education by those who stand to make billions from this, are winning over the opinions of those in power with their mantra that the current system is completely broken and needs to be rebuilt, not just reformed. (Link with one of the many examples of this I found in another blog post by the same author).

Enjoy the post and please do send it along to any and all legislators.

 

The Edu Talk blog is a Must Read!

​The Edu Talk The Edu Talk blog is one of the best blogs about what teaching I have come across. That is saying a lot coming from one who spends way to much reading about education policy and how it relates to (or interferes with) my teaching. As a teacher who occasionally blogs about such policies, I am truly in awe of this one.

The posts include everything I once aspired mine to embody. Truth to power is articulated comprehensively, eloquently, and viewpoints are powerfully supported with evidence from personal or collective experiences, or with linked references when appropriate.

My favorite topic addressed is the same one I write about – the demise of American schools with corporate privatization of public education through the demonization of teachers by placing entire blame on any perceived failing, when in fact, they have no control over decisions made on how schools are structured, the curriculum they use, the method of delivery, content standards, what gets funded, classroom size (the amount of English Language Learners, special education, etc.), student truancy, parent support at home, “college prep for all” courses being the only ones offered outside of a few SDC for severe disabilities, demanding UC entry requirements for high school diplomas, appropriate assessment criteria (determining if a student was successful for the year using one test score), use of high stakes testing, relevancy of questions such tests… OR ANY LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL POLICY.

Where I spend hours trying to word short blog entries that end up rambling on, sometimes with sarcasm or bitterness like the above, The author matter of a factly states facts, or extremely thought provoking questions, that seem to flow fluently with such mastery of the English language.

My favorite so far is called, “Motives Matter” dated May 2011. Well worth reading if you are interested in education, like reading good blogs, have school age children, or think teachers alone should be “accountable” for the problems (real or perceived) and/or the measurement of every student’s learning should be assessed using one multiple choice test score by memorizing rote facts.

“13+ Things your child’s teacher won’t tell you” Oh Really?

Reader’s Digest has a slideshow of 34 (not 13) “Things your child’s teacher won’t tell you”.

Looks like an interesting read, but no. As a veteran teacher, I had issues with several.

I found the wording on most to come across really bitchy (some outright offensive). Some are only the opinions of a few and do NOT represent collective thinking like the title makes it sound. Some are silly and clearly come from teachers who only have white affluent students. And some were just stupid. Really? Teachers secretly want to tell parents enough with the mugs and frames because we prefer gift cards. Wtf?

I think this article makes teachers sound as bad as the media makes us out to be. Less than half are really what teachers think and I’m going by 13 years of working with them, not just what I think.

So, parents, please know that some of these are crap, or would be more accurate if re-worded positive, or even lighthearted and funny.

“13+ Things Your Child’s Teacher Wont Tell You” article in Reader’s Digest

Read them yourself and tell me what you think. Especially if you teach or work with kids and agree with them. I’d love to know if it’s just me who took them the wrong way.

NEA – 5 Tips for Better Relationships With Your Students

I couldn’t agree with the advice this article offers more!

If these tips are followed, teachers will have very little classroom management issues to deal with. I teach remedial and intervention classes at the high school and middle school level. The majority of my students are unmotivated learners who struggle with academics. Many have poor work habits, failed classss before, and may act out when feeling bored or feeling unsuccessful with their task. I am often asked what do I do to have such a well behaved class and I tell them exactly what NEA has summarized.

NEA – 5 Tips for Better Relationships With Your Students.

One year the student who exhibited the most challenging behavior regularly due to being a huge class clown that always seem to compete for the attention of my class, said something that will stay with me forever. He was a known gang member prone to bullying and causing constant class disruptions but I got along with him. One day he announced that he liked coming to my class because it is such a “kick back” class.
This alarmed me greatly because that is not how I see my class or the reputation I want it to have.
I asked him, “When when does even five seconds go by in here that you are not required to be doing some kind of work?” He looked puzzled and replied with, “Oh yeah.”
At the end if class he told me that he thought about it and meant that this is the class that he is the most relaxed in. This is what I had hoped he meant. That is the environment I strive to provide by getting along with my students.

Many studies have shown that when students are free of stress more learning takes place. Getting along with my students and following what this article advises not only makes my time easier with my students, but also is related to why my students achieve so much in my classes.

My blog was quoted in a magazine again.

I was quoted in a national teachers’ union magazine (NEA Today) that is sent to just about every teacher in the country. When I started this blog, I honestly didn’t think anyone would read it. I saw it more like a place to store all my writing about injustice so I could access it anywhere for quick quotes or facts when I’m writing letters or commenting on something.

The article, “If I Wrote the Law…” used educators quotes from blogs, message boards, etc. regarding NCLB (No Child Left Behind) and my quote is the is the last one. They used:

“NCLB has let parents off the hook by [only] holding teachers accountable. The alarming level of truancy, the work habits of unmotivated students, and behavior issues are the factors that affect the failure of students in our education system.”
—Ronda Gupton-Pruett, high school resource specialist Napa, California

When they called for my consent I thought it was nice that the writer pointed out that he had like a lot of what I had wrote but was using the thing about parents because he had never heard that point being made before.

You can see the online version of the article here. There are many excellent points made by teachers in it.

What Do Teachers Make?

Taylor Mali on what teachers make

I’ve been a fan of Taylor Mali for a while and I can’t watch him perform this one enough!

It actually made me cry recently because I hadn’t seen it for a few years and with all the teachers being laid off (27,000 in Ca) with most of the money cut from local governments coming from education (60%) because of the budget crisis ($11.5 BILLION in Ca). The media covering all of this brought a rash of teacher bashing in blogs and comments in my local paper (The Napa Valley Register) and it was starting to get depressing. I wrote a blog about it called “Since when are the teacher bashers in the majority” or something like that. So after being made to feel beyond appreciated I came across this video again and the timing was perfect! It got me over feeling anything but absolute pride in what I do. Thanks Taylor.