This week’s lecture and readings on the brain were fascinating. I especially enjoyed the reading on brain imaging and what the future holds for us as educators in that area. Specifically the connection that is made between “the neural differences that exist between dyslexics and non-impaired readers (Shaywitz 1999)” Brain Matters, Wolfe, p.14
This is an area which has been a focus of mine for many years. As an educator early in my career I was part of a language and reading acquisition research group at UW. We worked for a summer intensively studying these topics and how children normally acquire language and reading compared to students who suffer from learning disabilities, specifically dyslexia. This was in 1999 and since then according to Wolfe the technology of brain imaging has greatly increased our knowledge in this area. While I don’t want to become a diagnostician I feel that as teachers we know our students so well and many times before a doctor has seen them we are able to accurately describe and even diagnose the learning issues that occur. We can guide and aid parents in asking the right questions of the doctors, describing behaviors and scenarios that play out in the classroom. For myself, knowing more about the brain and how it works makes me understand what I see each day in my students at a deeper level.
The other area of great interest to me this week was the article on literacy instruction and the reading in Brain Matters regarding oral vs. silent reading (p. 15). Coming from a background of intermediate grade teaching and spending a year last school year at 1st grade I have seen first hand how differentiated reading instruction really needs to be. Now back in the 3rd grade classroom I have a huge range of reading proficiency among my students. I have been utilizing a modified reading group model and was pleased to see from the article support for my decision. One tweak I am going to make is –
On average, instruct two small groups of students per day and alternate them over four days; reserve the fifth day for contingencies, such as reviews and refreshers with whole or small groups. Keep a brisk but not a rushed pace when working with small groups. (Roskos, K., & Neuman, S. B., 2012)
I have been working with each group everyday and I can see how cutting back and really focusing on 2 smaller groups a day would allow for deeper conversation and higher level application of our reading comprehension strategies as well as great differentiation for my students impacted by reading learning disabilities.
The Jossey-Bass Reader on the Brain and Learning. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2008. Print.
Roskos, K., & Neuman, S. B. (2012). Classroom Management For Achieving Readers. Reading Teacher,65 (5), 308-312. doi:10.1002/TRTR.01047
Wolfe, Patricia. Brain Matters: Translating Research into Classroom Practice. 2nd ed. Alexandria: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development, 2010. Print.