DyslexiaLand Book Review

A few months ago I saw a book on Facebook that I knew I had to read. I bought it and added it to the TBR pile, where it sat for a few months. I wanted to make sure I dedicated a solid chunk of time to reading it since it’s not the usual YA novel that tends to call my name.

DyslexiaLand: A Field Guide for Parents of Children with Dyslexia, by Cheri Rae, is a must have book for parents and educators about the realities of dyslexia.

First and foremost, this guide is written by a mom with a dyslexic son AND a dyslexia advocate. I love this on so many levels. Rae gives us the mom-to-mom heart to heart in a way that is supportive and engaging. There is no pity party, but rather advice to provide families with comfort and guidance.

The guide does not read like a textbook, and the organization and structure are insanely user-friendly. I love how I can easily flip to exactly what I’m looking for and not feel overwhelmed with text on a page. One of my favorite aspects is the acronyms list of educational terminology. Even as a seasoned English teacher and Reading Specialist, this is an extremely handy list that I have book marked for future IEP meetings.

I was definitely interacting with this text while I was reading. I have underlines, hearts, stars and exclamation points all over the place. Rae totally hit a HUGE nail on the head when she discussed that teachers do not have the proper training or professional development for supporting students with dyslexia. As I’ve mentioned in We Need to Talk…About Dyslexia, I was one of those teachers who lacked training. My knowledge of dyslexia and appropriate teaching strategies were pretty much non-existent until I started my Orton-Gillingham journey. In the public and charter schools I’ve worked in over the years,  I have never had any training for dyslexia, which supports the point Rae brings up.

I have also been in about 25 IEP meetings since August, and have seen the term “specific learning disability” and ideas like reading comprehension and fluency associated with it. Yet, the “d” word has never been uttered in any of these meetings. I’ve been very intrigued with IEPs recently (probably from being part of so many), and I find it fascinating that I have not seen dyslexia ever mentioned in one. So needless to say, I was all over the section on IEPs. For the first time ever I completely understood what was being discussed about these legal documents. Rae’s explanations are crystal clear and makes IEPs less confusing (which is not an easy feat).

Middle school is my jam. Always has been and always will be. However, one of the biggest obstacles I’ve faced is the belief that learning to read only happens in elementary school. This is not the case for all students. Rae makes it a point to discuss dyslexia from elementary school through high school (woot woot!). The transition to-do lists are super awesome and spot on.

I also appreciated how Rae discussed that Orton-Gillingham tutoring can be done online. As a virtual teacher and tutor, it’s often difficult for people to wrap their heads around online education, let alone embrace it. As research has proven, OG is a successful approach when working with dyslexia. Whether the instruction is given in a school environment, at a center, or one-on-one with a tutor in person or online, the goal is to help students with reading.

Overall, I am absolutely over the moon about this guide. I believe it should be in the hands of every educator. Yes, every math, science, consumer arts, woodworking teacher, etc. should read this book. Literacy and reading impacts all areas of life. It provides parents with a sense of direction in tackling DyslexiaLand. It equips parents for the meetings, discussions, and realities of navigating the educational system.

To purchase this amazing guide click here.

Unicorn Growing Up Grateful Book Review

I currently work with a very special population of students who are all classified, and many deal with anxiety, depression etc. When I meet one-on-one with these students, they are usually very negative and have a hard time finding positivity in their lives. I try my best to provide them with positive reinforcement, but they often have a hard time accepting it.

Unicorn Growing Up Grateful is a journal that children can use to record positive aspects of their daily lives. There are a few different journal options to choose depending on the individual child that will be using it. The two themes are unicorns or dinosaurs. There are also two versions- one for students with disabilities or writing difficulties, and one for students who can write.

Here are the links to the four journals:
For the child who can write:
Unicorn
For the disabled child or young one not yet learned how to write:
Unicorn
Dinosaur

 

I work with students with disabilities and dysgraphia, so I chose the unicorn journal for that population of children. Visually, the journal looks like a coloring book with adorable images of a cuddly unicorn.

One of the best tools to offer students with writing disabilities is a graphic organizer. The organizer provides lots of space for a student to write or draw each day. There is a space to practice writing the date and a sentence starter for what a child is grateful for that day. My favorite aspect of the organizer is the happiness scale. Kids draw the mouth on the unicorn to indicate how happy they were that day. There is also a section for kids to reflect on the best part of their day.

I see this product being used more at home than in school. The book is a 66 page habit forming journal, so it can be used effectively during after school hours. Personally, I would have my child complete a page in the journal after dinner during reading time. Kids can use crayons,  markers, or colored pencils to color and fill in the graphic organizer while we talk about their day. I can see this as being a very powerful tool to help kids reflect on the day, their actions, etc., and to recognize the positive moments that happen every day.

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