As a homeschooler, I am finding the opposite is true, too. Families who have been homeschooling forever don't know about a lot of the resources marketed to school-building teachers, especially the resources written for and by the special people who teach children with unique learning styles and needs.
Jossey-Bass Teacher, an Imprint of Wiley, sent me three brand new books at no charge so that I may tell you about them her on my blog. All three new books are aimed at school-building school staff, and yet, the titles are deceiving, because there is an incredible amount of information for homeschooling parents *and* for parents of those children in school buildings who have the unique learning styles and needs.
When my child was in public school, I liked to know what the staff members were learning. As a parent, I often went to workshops for teachers. The workshops usually set me up to be angry and upset, because I rarely saw the school staff pushing to accomplish the wonderful strategies I learned about in the workshops. Change was too slow to happen, and ultimately, became one of the reasons I withdrew my child from school. But if parents are going to hold school staff accountable, parents need to know what options are out there, what successes other schools are having and why. And those who choose to homeschool need proven strategies and techniques, to, to use at home. Jossey-Bass gives administrators, teachers, and parents three new books covering different topics that do just that.
Available this month, Sylvia L. DeRuvo brings us "Strategies for Teaching Adolescents with ADHD, Effective Classroom Techniques Across the Content Areas" ($29.95, paperback). Written for professional who works with students in the 6th-12th grades, this one is packed with information. DeRuvo gives the reader insight into the perspective of the student w/ADHD.
As a parent, I want professionals who work with my child to understand her, to be able to see through her eyes. Autism, ADD and ADHD share many "symptoms" and characteristics. What is ADHD? And what is it not? "Behaviors" are often neurodevelopmental. What does that mean? I know that, but a lot of gen ed teachers do not (even some speech therapists, OT's, Sunday School teachers do not). And what does a parent and/or teacher do about it? DeRuvo provides chapter after chapter of understanding and practical ideas and how-to strategies regarding not only behavior, but academics, specifically ELA, math, science, and social studies.
The pull quotes are fabulous. Here's one from page 40 in a chapter about using research based teaching strategies: "The classroom teacher moves from being a teacher of content to being a teacher of students." (YES!!!)
DeRuvo guides teachers (and parents) in scaffolding within the student's "zone of proximal development" (a Vygotsky term -- where have I heard that before?!) of new information for the student, using what she describes as "we do" (p. 96), where students work with the teacher and the teacher gently hands more and more responsibility to the student in notetaking. In other words, she takes a relationship approach, and not just teacher-student relationship, but student-student.
I am not a school-building-teacher. And my child is not an adolescent. I am a homeschool teacher of an elementary school aged child, and I find the book useful. The strategies are helpful whether you're the parent of a school-building student, a homeschooling parent, or staff at a school. If you are a pro-active parent who looks for helpful books to give to the teachers of your children, put this one on your shopping list and prepare to buy it in bulk.
The next two books light a fire inside me, make me want to return to college to get another degree, this time in education, so that I can be part of the change our kids need. They are inspiring and I was nodding along in agreement as I read.
I. love. the. ideas. in. this. book!
The authors take the time to explain the "why bother" of transforming a school. One question the authors examine is what are the "twenty-first-century skills" that are considered necessary for today's workplace? (An aside: Our autism intervention of choice, RDI®, considers these lists of characteristics important to employers, too, as part of a remediation approach.)
Once you know what "survival skills" are considered valuable, you have to ask the question, how do we grow those characteristics in young people?
The answer is not in teaching to tests or in rote memorization and regurgitation of material.
We haven't been involved in a homeschool co-op, with the exception of a couple of art classes, but from listening to parents and reading their posts on internet groups for homeschoolers involved in co-ops, I suspect that homeschool co-ops are super examples of the kind of teaching and learning that is going on in co-ops for homeschoolers. In fact, I think homeschool co-op organizers and participants might find the information in this book quite useful.
Divided into four sections, Small Schools Big Ideas is thorough for the reader who is serious about how to make transformation work. Part One describes the change that needs to happen, including obstacles and options. Part Two focuses on active participation of both staff and students. Part Three "delves into the inner workings of Essential schools.". (p xxix). Part Four is called "Embedding Successful Change".
This book excites me and depresses me all at the same time. I used to dream of schools like the proactive schools in this book. If we'd had this kind of school, I'd have never begun to homeschool. If we had the option to move my public-schooled children to a transformed school, I'd do it without hesitation. Problem is, (here's the part that depresses me) I don't see the hearts and attitudes in statewide training program administrators, district administrators, special ed administrators, building administrators and teaching staff that we need in order for this kind of transformation to happen.
This is a book that every parent, educator and school administrator should consider reading as we decide what is best for our students and take steps to make that happen.
Response to Intervention is more than a buzz word today. RTI is a federal mandate in our government schools. I have learned more about Response to Intervention than I ever thought possible from this book. Sailor is inspirational and I must have a pen or pencil in my hand as I read this book so that I can underline concepts that stand out to me and write notes in the margins. (I think this book has more acronyms than any other book that I have ever read.)
Parents who hang out on internet chat groups for parent of children w/ special learning needs will tell you that the issue of PBS (positive behavior supports) is HUGE. It's an often neglected and ignored concept, sometimes poorly attempted for the very students who need it the most.
I tend to think about RTI in terms of special education, but RTI is mandated for all students. I associate it with special ed because it's a term tossed around at IEP's and on internet lists for parents of children in special ed. In fact, "Making RTI Work" gives credit to special ed for introducing RTI to schools (page 5). Schools, it seems as I interact with other parents (and sometimes some professionals), don't understand RTI or even evidence based practices in a way that translates into meaningful programming and progress for students in special education settings.
If you've ever had a question (as a parent or a teacher) about your school's understanding of all things RTI, from FBA's to PBS's to evidence based practices, here's the book to explain it all. Check out the table of contents, here.
Sailor acknowledges the problems that schools face and offers solutions. He shows readers what RTI looks like close up in the classroom level, and he zooms out and shows readers what it looks like at a district level. Sailor admits "RTI is not a magic bullet that will fix broken schools," but "it does," he tells us, "create a framework for introducing scientific educational practices into the school." (p 265). That's what this book does -- introduces the reader to the framework, the implementation, the troubleshooting, the long-term plan of RTI.
Who is this book for? Anyone, teacher, administrator, therapist, parent -- with an investment in students who would like to know more about RTI. It opened my eyes, lifted my hopes for those still in school-building settings, broadened my understanding of Response to Intervention. I suspect it will do the same for you.