Thursday, April 1, 2010

Schools for All Kinds of Minds by Barringer, Pohlman, and Robinson

Schools for All Kinds of Minds, Boosting Student Success by Embracing Learning Variation by Mary-Dean Barringer, Craig Pohlman and Michele Robinson is the latest gem from Jossey-Bass.

When I opened the package and saw the names of the authors, my confidence that this book is going to be packed with information applicable to my homeschooled (asd) child soared - Craig Pohlman is one of the authors, and he has impressed me in the past with his way of describing learning challenges and learning styles and what to do about them. (Disclosure: Jossey Bass gave me a copy of this book to review. I am not paid for reviews and I am not obligated to provide a positive review.)

I have had many years of experience with professionals who work with pre-schoolers and students through middle school. I have seen behavior misinterpreted, usually negatively, in educational settings, even in my own home in the behavioral intervention we used (and eventually abandoned) in our early years of autism intervention.

Because of my history, Chapter 4 of "Schools for All Kinds of Minds," is one of my favorites, because it teaches readers the pieces about learning that I wish I'd known from my early autism intervention days.

"Being an effective kid watcher requires suspending judgment and interpretation of the events and instead focusing on describing the phenomenon that you see." from chapter 4, "Digging Deeper, Knowing Students as Learners".

I wonder how many times have children with disabilities been labeled "avoidant" and "non-compliant" and "manipulative" when, in fact, those doing the observing and labeling were missing the real reason for a behavior. I've seen swishing saliva and spitting viewed as a bid for attention when children had strep throat, unable to recognize the pain and/or relate it to a parent or teacher. I've seen teachers mistake rote memorization for reading comprehension, assuming a student is comprehending far more than he actually is capable of comprehending. I could go on and on.

I am impressed with the way the authors walk readers through determining a neurodevelopmental profile for a student. Look at the factors they consider:

From Exhibit 4.1 Sample Neurodevelopmental Profile, page 72:

Attention: Mental Energy
Attention: Processing
Attention: Production
Memory: Short-term
Memory: Active working
Memory: Long-term
Language: Receptive
Language: Expressive
Temporal-sequential ordering
Spatial ordering
Neuromotor functions: Fine motor
Neuromotor functions: Graphomotor
Higher-order cognition
Social cognition: Verbal pragmatics
Social cognition: Social behaviors

Later chapters tease apart these neurodevelopmental pieces even more, helping guide the parent or teacher in determining the strengths and weaknesses of a student and how to use strengths and grow areas that are weak within a positive environment.

The definitions, descriptions, charts and worksheets are clear and allow parents and teachers to thoughtfully assess the behavior of a student through a neurodevelopmental lens and address challenges in a neurodevelopmentally appropriate sequence and approach.

Schools for All Kinds of Minds is another book that I'd recommend to teachers of homeschoolers and school-building schoolers alike. don't let the name fool you into thinking this one is only for school-building schoolers. I suspect this is one parents will like to highlight in yellow and take to IEPs or team meetings about a student's FBA and BIP.

The table of contents is located here. Chapter 1 is available here. The Schools for All Kinds of Minds newsletter archives is here.

"Schools for All Kinds of Minds," ($27.95) is published by Jossey-Bass, an Imprint of Wiley.


Mary Dean Barringer said...

Peggy, this came to me via google alerts. Thanks you so much for the wonderful review and support for our book. I'm wondering if you'd be willing to copy this to reviews. By the way, my teaching career in 1975 began in Detroit with "autistic" students. Back then, at the start of implementing PL 94-142 (now known as IDEA), diagnosis was imprecise and what I learned about the complex and unusual learners came about from kid watching. Glad you enjoyed it. Mary Dean Barringer

Penny said...

Mary Dean, I posted my comments on Amazon a couple of days ago - I do SO like this book! Thank you for bringing it to us!


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