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Social & emotional

Same but different

A Washington Post columnist recently lamented the impact of the current polarized political climate in the United States. She said it was “contaminating” our children; that its impact was visible in various interactions.

Leadership and the Power of School Relationships

In the last few weeks I've visited five schools in four states. Each of them educates large numbers of students from low-income homes and students of color, and each is either high-performing or on an impressive improvement trajectory.

The schools are different in lots of ways, but one thing characterizes them all: Teachers, principals, and other administrators work hard at building trusting relationships that help create a sense of agency and purpose.

Here are three examples of what I mean:

"Falling Letters" Animated Short Depicts Learning Differences

The Swedish animated short, "Falling Letters (Bokstavsbarn)," (4:14 min) by Erik Rosenlund depicts a child who learns differently. In this case, some of the character's everyday actions turn out awkwardly or set them apart socially from peers.

The ending offers a heartwarming reminder of the power that parents, guardians, and teachers or helping personnel can have when simple support is needed for reassurance in trying times. The imagery can be especially valuable for young children who compare themselves with others and are saddened by their personal differences.

Response to the Joyful Illiterate Kindergartners of Finland

Reader Question:

The Atlantic just published an article about the mistake American educators make by teaching reading in kindergarten. Shouldn’t we do what the Finns do: let kids learn to read when they want to and end up with high achievement?

Shanahan Response:

Decoding Dyslexia Utah Spells Out 15 Things Never to Say to Parent of a Child with Dyslexia

As school opens and teacher-parent conversations begin again, members of Decoding Dyslexia Utah offer advice on what they hope not to hear from educators or others.

DD Utah is part of a national grassroots organization that is working to stem what members describe as "limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities within our public schools."

"Here's Hank," Read This Book Series About a Young Hank Zipzer Before His Dyslexia Diagnosis

Meet a memorable, comical, and intelligent book character named Hank. He is a second grader whose learning problems in school are not yet diagnosed.

Will You Get a "Letter to My Teacher" Like These Pleading for Dyslexia Awareness + Instruction?

"Sophia's Dyslexia Fight Song," posted on YouTube by Lisa Grannucci on Aug. 7 (3.21 min.) is a video letter by a student with dyslexia to her 5th grade teacher. She makes a compelling case for instruction that is delivered this year so that she can succeed in school. Teachers not only need awareness, they need strategies, accessible educational materials, and instructional methods that may differ from the needs of other students.

Experts Weigh in on Dyslexic Students Reading Aloud; Find a Pronunciation Guide to Ease Anxiety

Their peers often know how much students with dyslexia dread reading aloud in front of others, and hopefully teachers do, too. If not, many experts in dyslexia advise educators across the curriculum to avoid putting these students on the spot and, moreover, to give them opportunities to rehearse if they accept the challenge or volunteer to read in front of a partner or group. Sample some of the advice: 

Diverse Books Blossom, Including Disability! Download a Free Booktalking Kit from WNDB™

We Need Diverse Books™ (WNDB) just launched a Booktalking Kit that is now available to download at no cost. The kit is comprised of 30 titles and helps to increase the comfort level involved in identifying, reading, and discussing books that feature diverse characters, including those with disabilities. The kit also considers diversity among authors.

5 Reasons Why Dyslexic, Other Young Readers Need Accessible Books to Grow Emotionally

Young people with dyslexia and other print disabilities need the same opportunities for social-emotional learning as their peers. Some of this growth occurs as they read books. A student with a print disability needs the same benefit from literature; but this student requires an accessible version in order to access the text. This is possible at no cost and happening for students whose educational team considers and elects accessible education materials (AEM) during an Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting. 

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"Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. " — Neil Gaiman