Archive for February 2010

Tim’s Moment of Brilliance

Feb 27th, 2010 | By

A number of years ago, I worked in a school with an Early Childhood Special Education Program. Tim, one of the students in the class, was a very quiet and happy boy. He didn’t have a lot to say but had an ever-present smile, so we called him “Mr. Smiley”. As a speech pathologist, I worked with Tim on a variety of skills, including the classification/sorting skills of inclusion & exclusion. Tim progressed in his speech & language skills through the years and appeared to be ready to “graduate” in 1st grade, so I decided to give him an exclusion task just to see how well he could group, sort and explain his reasoning. I chose 4 pictures: a duck, a turkey, a bear, and a penguin . . . thinking that he would pick the bear because the rest of the animals were birds. A very valuable lesson awaited me when Tim made his choice for what didn’t belong. I asked the question, “Which one doesn’t belong with the others?” Tim thought a moment and replied “the penguin!” as he smiled broadly. Since I had a preconceived thought about what the correct answer should be (the bear), I was [...]

Won’t the Students Be Confused?

Feb 2nd, 2010 | By

It is not unusual for a teacher or administrator to ask this question during a Visual Phonics training, workshop, or class: “Won’t students get confused by the Visual Phonics written symbols when they are trying to learn their letters?” This line of reasoning appears to come from the observation that learning the letter names is not always easy for students and that the letters of the Alphabet are also “symbols” . . so if they are unsure or confused by letters, why wouldn’t they be further confused by Visual Phonics written symbols? At first glance, that would be a logical conclusion . . . however, with a closer look at the characteristics of letters and the characteristics of the Visual Phonics written symbols, a different picture appears. Consider this – a symbol is consistent in what it represents – it represents the same meaning no matter where it shows up. Letters can be described as “squiggly lines” which are not consistent in what they represent. Sometimes they represent their “default” sound(s) (the typical sounds that are taught in preschool and Kindergarten) and sometimes they don’t. For example, the letter A can sound long in “ate”, short in “apple”, like a [...]