Friday, May 26, 2017

Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says


Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching


This post will be a bit of a departure from my usual fare. Typically I like to keep things light and conversational but some topics deserve a more in depth look. This is adapted from a (theoretical) research proposal I wrote for my Master's degree, but much of the research literature I used is relevant to everyday teachers so I wanted to share it.

If you find this topic interesting, I would highly recommend your read The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller. Also I have included a list of references at the end of this post for your perusal.


Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

The Importance of Literacy

In the world of education, student literacy is perhaps the subject most lauded as crucial to success in school and beyond. Indeed, a literate society is a society that is able to thrive, improve, and expand. It was not until the invention of the written word that humans began to show exponential progress, and the importance of reading continues today. In the majority of high schools, demonstrating reading proficiency is a graduation requirement. Reading skills make up half of a student’s score on the SAT, and reading ability is often the greatest indicator of student success in post-secondary education.

Despite the importance of literacy skills, many students avoid reading whenever possible. Many of them never complete required textbook or novel readings, and the percentage of students who read for enjoyment is on the decline. Numerous researchers have posited that students need to spend additional time reading to build the literacy skills necessary for life, but this previously held belief has been shaken in recent years.

When the National Reading Panel released its report in 2000 following review of various research on reading practices, they concluded that there was insufficient evidence to support use of Sustained Silent Reading as more effective than other instructional methods. Many teachers and policy makers took this to mean that it was time to remove independent reading from classrooms across the county and around the world.

However, the National Reading Panel was simply stating that more research needs to be done in this area. In particular, the vast majority of reading research is conducted with elementary aged students, so additional studies are needed at the high school level. Studies have shown that the older a student is, the less likely they are to spend time engaged and enjoying reading. Given that, it is imperative that we examine the effect of independent reading on this group, and how it affects their literacy skills.

So let me repeat: the National Reading Panel doesn't say that silent reading doesn't work. They were saying that it needs to be researched further before it can be considered an evidence based best practice.



Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

The Current State of Reading

According to a 2007 report from the National Endowment for the Arts, high school students “read less often for shorter amounts of time when compared with other age groups and with Americans of the past” (p. 7). “Less than one-third of 13-year-olds are daily readers. The percentage of 17-year-olds who read nothing at all for pleasure has doubled over a 20-year period” (Biancarosa & Snow, 2006).

This trend has been noted for decades, even in adults, and is likely to continue. According to a Gallup poll, in 1978 8% of American adults reported reading no books in the previous 12 months. That number has steadily increased. As of a 2011 Pew Research poll, 19% of adults report not reading any books in the previous 12 months, more than double the initial Gallup poll (Rainie, et al., 2012).

We are heading towards a country, not of illiteracy, but alliteracy - one in which we simply choose not to read – and this can be detrimental to the success of our students. Sullivan and Brown found that, “the positive link between leisure reading and cognitive outcomes is not purely due to more able children being more likely to read a lot, but that reading is actually linked to increased cognitive progress over time” (p. 37). Recently, “Hasselbring and Goin (2004) discovered that the variables that correlated most strongly with reading comprehension ability were the number of books read and the amount of time spent reading” (Cuevas, et al., 2014, p. 129).

Our students simply need to be reading more. The Common Core Curriculum advocates that students read wide and deep. Educators can provide a variety of content to students, but for them to access a wide enough range of text to build a broader understanding of the world, they must engage in independent reading.


Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

The Use of SSR

In the 1960s, Lyman Hunt first proposed the use of SSR, advocating for dedicated classroom time for student silent reading. This SSR followed strict guidelines: book selection made by students, teacher modelling of silent reading, lack of teacher intervention, and avoidance of using accountability measures that may hinder a student’s enjoyment of reading. In 2000, Pilgreen published The SSR Handbook, which expanded and further clarified the guidelines.

For decades, SSR programs were utilized in curriculum throughout the world, from elementary school through high school. Teachers, coaches, and administrators proudly supported these programs, dedicating time several days a week to SSR.

Judine Ladbrook (2014) provided a review of research on SSR and noted that, “studies have supported using school time for pleasure reading for increasing reading mileage - which has a compelling link to reading achievement,” citing:
  • Cunningham & Stanovich, 1997
  • Garan & DeVoogd, 2008
  • Guthrie, Wigfield, Metsala, & Cox, 1999
  • Lenski & Lania, 2008
  • Topping, Samuels, & Paul, 2008
 - and reading motivation:"  (p. 60)
  • Chua, 2008
  • S. J. Ivey & Guthrie, 2008
  • McKool, 2007
  • Yoon, 2002
It was clear that there was a connection between independent reading and reading skills.



Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

The National Reading Panel Report

The issue with the use of SSR was that, while educators believed or felt it was effective, there was a lack of data to back it up. There was correlation between reading mileage and reading achievement, but no clear causation. Nor was there data to suggest that SSR was the best method of increasing how much time students spend reading.

“It must be noted that many of the scholarly articles, chapters, and books directly relating to ISR have been observational in nature, with relatively few true or quasi experiments having been published. Indeed, the highly influential National Reading Panel (NRP) concluded that there was “not sufficient research evidence obtained from studies of high methodological quality to support the idea that such efforts [ISR] reliably increase how much students read or that such programs result in improved reading skills” (NRP, 2000, p. 13)” (Cuevas, Irving & Russell, 2014, p. 131).

This sent a shock through the education community, especially for educators focused on literacy. SSR had been a staple of education, and now it seemed that the NRP was arguing against it. Cuevas et al. explained that, “the panel explicitly argued that rigorous, methodologically sound studies were still necessary in order to test the effects that ISR may have on reading comprehension and vocabulary development” (p. 131), not that SSR or independent reading lacked value, but many only got the first half of the message: SSR was out.


Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

A Move Towards ScSR

While many backed away from SSR and all independent reading programs, some educators continued to advocate for such programs, and pursued the research the NRP report pointed out was missing. At the same time, these educators looked into how SSR could be improved and made more effective. From this desire came ScSR, or Scaffolded Silent Reading, which, according to Reutzel, at al. (2008), “redesigns silent reading practice conditions to deal affirmatively with past concerns and criticisms surrounding traditionally implemented SSR. […] ScSR is intended to provide students with the necessary support, guidance, structure, accountability, and monitoring.”

In 2014, Cuevas, et al. conducted a research study designed to address the concerns of the NRP report. “The design of [the] study was intended to meet the methodological criteria employed by the NRP for scientific reading studies […] It was experimental in nature, focused on secondary school students, assessed multiple groups, included a control group, included a pretest, and statistically controlled for possible nonequivalence of the participants” (p. 131). Their study featured three groups: a control, a group which took part in what they termed “independent silent reading” (ISR), and a “module ISR” group which utilized technology to scaffold ISR.

Both ISR methods differed from traditional SSR in that it was more structured, with teacher guidance for reading selection in both groups, and support during reading in the Module ISR group. The also added accountability measures for post-reading, as “researchers have found that students often do not follow through with reading during ISR time and have documented improved reading performance when measures of accountability were introduced alongside silent reading” (Cuevas, et al., 2014, p. 138).

Results of their study showed that, “students in the combined ISR group showed more than twice the amount of gain in total reading ability as the students in the control group” (Cuevas, et al., 2014, p. 140) and in the area of reading comprehension, the control group gained .7 grade levels, while the ISR groups had a mean gain of 1.8 grade levels.



Sustained Silent Reading: What the Research Actually Says - Disorderly Teaching

The Importance of Enjoying Reading

In 2006, Clark & Rumbold noted that, “reading enjoyment is more important for children’s educational success than their family’s socio-economic status. Reading for pleasure could therefore be one important way to help combat social exclusion and raise educational standards” (p. 6). Despite this, student attitude towards reading is often overlooked by educators, or deemed a frivolous, “touchy-feely” aspect that can’t be quantified and is therefore best left unaddressed.

Students who enjoy reading are far more likely to engage in reading for pleasure, and to actively participate during in-class independent reading, increasing how much they read each year. “Providing a fixed period of time for students to read materials of their own choosing either for pleasure or for information facilitates their attitude toward reading” (Yoon, 2002, p. 186). The use of free choice of books in independent reading can help address this area, as well as fostering a literate social environment in the classroom.

For these reasons we need to push reading enjoyment in all classes.




References


Biancarosa, C., & Snow, C.E. (2006). Reading next—A vision for action and research in middle and high school literacy: A report to Carnegie Corporation of New York (2nd ed.). Washington, DC.

Clark, C., & Rumbold, K. (2006). Reading for pleasure: A research overview. London: National Literacy Trust.

Cuevas, J. A., Irving, M. A., & Russell, L. R. (2014). Applied Cognition: Testing the Effects of Independent Silent Reading on Secondary Students’ Achievement and Attribution. Reading Psychology, 35(2), 127-159, doi: 10.1080/02702711.2012.675419

Dickerson, K. (2015). Reimagining Reading: Creating a Classroom Culture that Embraces Independent Choice Reading. PennGSE Perspectives on Urban Education, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.urbanedjournal.org/archive/volume-12-issue-1-spring-2015/reimagining-reading-creating-classroom-culture-embraces-indepe

Krashen, S. (2003). Rewriting History: A Closer Look at Some SSR Studies. Knowledge Quest, 31(5), 48-49

Ladbrook, J. (2014). sustained silent reading (SSR): what does the research say? English in Aotearoa, 2014(84), 58 – 70

National Endowment for the Arts (2007) To read or not to read: A question of national consequence. Research Report 47. Washington, DC.

National Reading Panel. (2000). Report of the National Reading Panel. Teaching children to read: An evidence-based assessment of the scientific research literature on reading and its implications for reading instruction. Washington, DC: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Retrieved from http://www.nichd.nih.gov/publications/pubs/nrp/Pages/smallbook.aspx

Pilgreen, J. L. (2000). The SSR handbook: How to organize and manage a sustained silent reading program. Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook.

Rainie, L., Zickuhr, K., Purcell, K., Madden, M., & Brenner, J. (2012). The rise of e-reading. Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Retrieved from http://libraries.pewinternet.org/2012/04/04/the-rise-of-e-reading/

Reutzel, D. R., Jones, C. D., Fawson, P. C., & Smith, J. A. (2008). Scaffolded silent reading: A complement to guided oral reading that works! The Reading Teacher, 62(3), 194-207

Sanden, S. (2014). Out of the Shadows of SSR: Real Teachers’ Classroom Independent Reading Practices. Language Arts, 91(3), 161-175

Walker, K. P. (2013). Scaffolded Silent Reading (ScSR) Advocating a Policy for Adolescents’ Independent Reading. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 57(3), 185-188

Williams, L. M., Hall, K. W., Hedrick, W. B., Lamkin, M., & Abendroth, J. (2013). Developing an observation instrument to support authentic independent reading time during school in a data-driven World. Journal of Language and Literacy Education [Online], 9(2), 24-49. Retrieved from http://jolle.coe.uga.edu/

Yoon, J. (2002). Three decades of sustained silent reading: A meta-analytic review of the effects of SSR on attitude toward reading. Reading Improvement, 39(4), 186-195.




Friday, May 19, 2017

An Awesome Introduction to Parody



Today we stumbled into an awesome lesson about parody. We started asking our students what they'd like to read about next year. This led to a discussion on how hard it is to a find text that's funny, a search through Newsela, and the emergence of the flying spaghetti monster. Over the course of three periods we evolved this lesson:




1. Display this image on the screen at the front of the room. (click for larger image)
Trust me, this will grab your students' attention and get them right into the lesson.

Have students analyze the image. Have them identify what they can see. Ask them if it looks familiar at all (leading them to the next picture).



2. Display this image.

Explain that this is a famous painting by Michelangelo called the Creation of Adam, and that it is found on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. Discuss to identify that the painting shows Adam and God reaching to touch each other.

Feel free to work in further image analyzing, identifying the cherubs, discussing the religious relevance, symbolism, etc. You can even show them pictures of the Sistine Chapel, discuss the history of the paintings. Really add anything relevant to your curriculum or student interest.


Some of your students may have heard the theory that the shape behind God is meant to be a brain to suggest that man invented God in his mind and isn't real. Depending on the level of your students you can discuss this theory. I would explain that this is a theory, and we can't prove it because there's no way to truly know Michelangelo's intent. An alternative theory is that it is the shape of a uterus to suggest Adam was born from God. Some of our students felt it looked more like an anatomical heart, suggesting God's love.





3. Switch back to the original image. Explain this this image is a parody. It imitates and changes the original in order to entertain or to make a point.

Work with students, guiding them to the idea that in this painting, the spaghetti monster represents God.



4. Distribute the Newsela article "Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster wins one for the First Amendment." We used the 930 Lexile version of the article.

Read through the article together as you normally would in a group reading. Apply your strategies, discussions, etc. Use whatever works in your class.

We found that most of our students didn't know the word colander, so it was a good context clues moment.


Again, take your discussion as far as you deem fit. Some of our classes got into deep discussion about the nature of religion, freedom of speech, use of parody, people's intentions etc. Other classes struggled to go beyond the surface of the text. So do whatever works for your kids. You do you.



5. After the article (or if you wish, pause during the article when parody is defined), discuss with students what parody is. Ask if they can think of any examples. Some of our students knew The Daily Show, Saturday Night Life, and some You Tube videos. Sadly most of them had never heard of Weird Al Yankovic. I feel old.

Make sure you explain that parody is typically designed to be amusing and humorous, but it often also has a message behind it.




6. Show students examples of parody. We used several examples. These videos seemed to go over best with the kids:

HALO 4 - Glad You Came (The Wanted Parody)

A Thanksgiving Miracle - SNL
(You may want to show a few pieces from the original Adele video for context)

Rebecca Black - Friday (Music Video Parody) - Monday

"Weird Al" Yankovic - Word Crimes


You can find plenty of other videos online. Just make sure you use ones that are relevant to your students, not you. You may find that Breakfast Club parody scene hilarious, but if your students aren't familiar with the original movie, it will be lost on them.




Alternatively, here are some images you can use to demonstrate parody:












Sorry I don't have any fancy printables or worksheets to go with this, but I hope this serves as a good introductory lesson to parody, and that you and your students have fun as you go : )

If you find any really good parody videos, please comment below and I'll add them to this post!













Friday, May 12, 2017

Teaching the Vocabulary of the Common Core




As the school year winds to a close, I've been reflecting on the past school year, thinking about what worked and what didn't work.

One area we struggled with this year was definitely vocabulary. We did our best to teach vocabulary in context, as students learn best this way, but it led to brief introductions to words which we didn't encounter again until Doc and I made a point to throw it in some where.

That's why, when I came across Teaching the Critical Vocabulary of the Common Core at my university library, I grabbed it and started poring through it. I found the book to be very interesting, and it provides some great material for teachers to use. In it the author provides 55 key words that students need to be able to understand in order to meet the Common Core requirements, and to answer questions on Language Arts assessments.

After finishing the book, we've decided that this will be the backbone of our vocabulary instruction next year.



According to the author, Marilee Sprenger, "85 percent of test scores are based on how well the students know the vocabulary of the standards."

If this is true, it makes a very strong case for deep, thorough vocabulary instruction. Of course the vast majority of us would say that we do teach vocabulary. I mean we've got words walls, point out prefixes, do vocabulary quizzes, etc. But I do believe that many of us teach vocabulary and then move on.

Sprenger gives one example that stood out to me: when teaching students to compare and contrast she noticed some of them having trouble, so she explained that they just have the list the similarities and differences. She gave them the information they needed to complete the task, but abandoned the academic terms 'compare' and 'contrast.' I'm sure we do that all the time.


Chapter One

One thing I really like about this book is that it doesn't just jump into a list of words and worksheets. It starts with the research. The first chapter is all about the research on vocabulary, which would be an obvious choice. The author provides research evidence for the understanding that economic status is one of the greatest predictors of student vocabulary and school success. Unfortunately there's not much we can do about our students' histories, but we can recognize that many of them come from a life of "word deprivation" and do what we can to help them.

Sprenger also reviews Maran and Pickering's six steps for teaching vocabulary:

1. Start with a story or explanation of the word.
2. Have student put it in their own words.
3. Student draw a representation
4. Provide several engagements with the word
5. Use informal rehearsals
6. Play games with the words.


Chapter Two

She takes the research further by following this with a chapter on how memory works. I find our brains and their functions fascinating so I love that this was included. I believe having an understanding of how we learn neurologically is key, especially when teaching students with disabilities.

This chapter explains different types of memory, and the fact that when students taking reading assessments, their entire working memory is holding information used to comprehend the text. It's important that students be able to understand the questions being asked automatically so that their working memory isn't needed.

Chapter 2 also contains the crucial adage "if they process it, it will be stored." When we first take in information through our senses, it sits in our conscious memory for up to 30 seconds. If we don't do anything with that information in that time, it's gone. However if we act on the information, it moves into working memory (which cam hold it for a few hours), and with enough processing, it heads to long term memory where it resides for years.

In order to help facilitate moving understanding of vocabulary to long term memory, Sprenger suggests students need to "process the critical words in enough different ways to get them stored in the brain in multiple places."


Chapters Three to Five

The next three chapters get into the vocabulary, with words divided into verbs, nouns, and other. The 55 words in the book were chosen based on their frequency of use in the Common Core State Standards, Bloom's taxonomy, and Webb's Depth of Knowledge.

Each word is presented with a definition, synonyms, and a jingle, as well as how the word relates to the common core. There are also multiple activities suggested for teaching each word, with specific examples.

Some of the activities and suggestions are better than others. For example I like using this play on words for analyze: "because Anna lies, we have to analyze what she is saying to find out what is true." Anna lies and analyze are true homonyms, and pairing analyzing with someone who lies adds to understanding of the word.

In contrast, I'm not wild about pairing anticipate with articulate. The two sound similar but aren't homonyms so I think this would be more likely to confuse students, especially those with learning disabilities or language impairments. Also anticipate and articulate have nothing to do with each other. "Anticipate that you'll articulate" does not aid in understanding the meaning of the word.

On thing to note is that the words are presented alphabetically, but that may not be the best way to teach them. On page 31, Sprenger lists the words by the grade levels in which they are introduced, so moving in that order may be more logical.

Since I teach high school, my students are expected to know ALL of these words, so I'm debating which order to teach them in. Once I work on my unit plans for the year I'll likely see which words work best with which skills and strategies and go from there.


Chapters Six to Seven

The final two chapters briefly discuss how to choose words for explicit instruction, and how to help students retain what they learn.



All in all I like this book and will be using it as a reference next year. I always struggle with choosing what words to target and Sprenger makes a good case for focusing on the terms students need to know in order to be successful on assessments. I refuse to "teach to the test" but that doesn't mean I shouldn't help prepare my students for it.

Friday, March 10, 2017

The Power of Paint: Choosing a Color

The Power of Paint: Choosing a Color for your classroom based on color research - Disorderly Teaching

One of the first things I did when I got my new classroom was paint it. This was something I has planned for since I first decided to pursue teaching as a career, and I'm so glad I went through with it. I had to go in to work several days early, and my back was killing me by the end, but it just made the classroom feel so much more homey and inviting, and it showed the kids that I'm willing to make an extra effort to improve their experience in school. (It also covered all of the grungy and marked up spots on the walls from years of neglect!)

You can see the difference it made here:

The Power of Paint: Choosing a Color for your classroom - Disorderly Teaching

(click to enlarge)

The Power of Paint: Choosing a Color for your classroom - Disorderly Teaching



In a future post I'll have a nice pic spam of before and after shots for multiple classrooms, but first I wanted to share the research behind the colors I chose. I knew there was a lot of theory out there about color design and choice, but I wanted to know what actual research had to say. Below are some of the notes and excerpts I pulled from research, as well as the sources for this information:



According to Barrett, et al.

Color has a more significant impact on student performance in Reading and Writing, versus other subjects like Math.

The color elements were initially rated with pale and white colors rated low and vivid (saturated) colors rated high. However, as already mentioned, wall and display colors were subsequently found to be curvilinear meaning that the optimum level for learning was in the middle of the ranges.

Color, white- or pale-colored walls with a colored accent wall or panel and brightly colored furniture were found to be optimum for learning.



According to Grangaard:

Students in classrooms with light blue and green painted walls had lower blood pressure and pulse, and better behavior than when they were in a room with brown and off-white walls.



According to Mahnke:

The fourth wall, the front of the room that faces the students, should be a different complementary or at least a darker hue than the other walls. […] The different hue and color at the front of the room helps to reduce students' eyestrain as they look up and down to write notes, etc. A deep tone on any one wall can reduce glare.



According to Nuhfer:

Colors best suited for classrooms reduce agitation, apprehension and promote a sense of well-being. In brief, colors that reduce tension and anxiety produce a home-like atmosphere, in contrast to an "institutional" one.

Studies show that monotone environments may induce anxiety and lead to irritability and an inability to concentrate.


Pastel oranges promote cheerful, lively and sociable moods that are desirable in a college classroom.

Pastel yellow has a similar cheerful effect.

Greens and blue greens in pastels are calming and provide a good background color suited to relaxation into tasks that require concentration.


Brightly coloured walls (as well as high light levels) may increase glare. Therefore, the wall colour in a classroom should not be too bright.



According to Yildirim et al.

Cream, the existing colour of the research environment, was the neutral colour; pink was the warm colour and blue was the cool colour. The results of the study clearly indicate that the use of different colours in the interior environment of a classroom has a statistically significant effect on the perceptual performance of male students.

Blue-coloured space was perceived more positively – described as happy, roomy, peaceful, pleasant, calm and comfortable – compared to the cream and pink-coloured spaces. On the other hand, blue coloured classrooms were considered less attractive, exciting and dynamic than the others.

In common with other studies, this study has found that the use of cool colour, blue for interior surfaces would engender pleasant, peaceful, calm and comfortable perception of occupants; whereas warm colours such as pink, would make space seems more stimulating but smaller.




Sources

Peter Barrett, Fay Davies, Yufan Zhang, Lucinda Barrett. The Holistic Impact of Classroom Spaces on Learning in Specific Subjects. 2016


Grangaard, E. M. Effects of color and light on selected elementary students. 1993. (Doctoral dissertation).


Mahnke, F. H. Color, Environment and Human Response. 1996


Nuhfer, Edward B. Some Aspects of an Ideal Classroom: Color, Carpet, Light and Furniture." California State University. 2004.


Kemal Yildirim, Kubulay Cagatay, Nur Ayalp. Effect of wall colour on the perception of classrooms. Indoor and Built Environment. 2014


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have


1. No, I will not have a staring contest with you.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching



2. Let go of his nipple!

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


3. You don't have to tell me that you have to poop.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching

4. Martin Luther King was not the president, and no he's not still alive.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


5. Get out of that cabinet.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


6. I don't know if milk will make your boobs grow. Look it up at home.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


7. Put your pants back on.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching



8. No, we cannot watch 50 Shades of Gray.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


9. Get that thumbtack out of your shoe.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


10. Give me back those paperclips.... All of them... .... .... Aaaaaalllll of them.

10 Things I Should Not Have To Say as a High School Teacher...But Have - Disorderly Teaching


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Asperger's and Manic Episodes

I'm really curious to know if people with Asperger's get manic episodes, or if it might be tied to ADD? Either way I'm in one right now.

Asperger's and Manic Episodes - Disorderly Teaching


When most people hear the word manic, they think manic-depressive or bipolar. Thankfully that is not me, but I do still occasionally (read: every few months) will have a manic day. That usually means I'm hyper, super gung-ho about getting things done, and can't focus on one task at a time.

Today I woke up to check some of Amazon's black friday deals and ended up just staying awake. A coupon for $10 off a book purchase (good through November 28, 2016 at 02:59am EST) led me to hours looking through reviews and excerpts of a number of books in my wishlist about Autism in Women, and neurodiverse relationships (and going into archives of numerous blogs). At the same time I was trying to clear shows from our DVR, do laundry, clear through my desks, find receipts for Kellogg's rewards before they're too old, working on a T-Shirt design for our Autism Speaks Walk, clearing stuff off the stairs, and considering making new dog beds. Somewhere in there I ended up reading an article about artificial sweeteners, taking an OCD quiz, looking into a new planner, and depositing a check. Also on the agenda for later in the day was hanging shelves, putting up our new microwave, setting up my dogs training collar, setting up the new Keurig, and cleaning the bedroom. Plus, you know, maybe eating and such.


Asperger's and Manic Episodes - Disorderly Teaching


It was way too much. I could feel myself trembling with anxiety and also eagerness. I was an accomplishment machine! Except I was bouncing between stuff like a mad woman. When Ki woke up I just started babbling at him about random things, while he noticed the after effects of those things, like the half folded laundry, the dog bed covers sitting in a heap on a pile of boxes, and the disaster of receipts on my desk. Finally a cognizant moment struck and I started to apologize. He immediately acknowledged that I was having a manic day and gave me a good strong squeeze to help me settle.

Asperger's and Manic Episodes - Disorderly Teaching


Then I realized I had a major assignment due today and I had nearly forgotten it.

So Ki took over handing the microwave with Momo, and even did the collar, so I could focus on my stupid, stupid assignment that took hours to do. But it's okay. It's done now.

Asperger's and Manic Episodes - Disorderly Teaching


I'm still feeling hyper but have gotten a bit more focused (although Ki and Momo having "inspriational" music playing while they work on the microwave and it is amping up my anxiety for some reason. Grr). I'm trying to just brain dump a list of everything on my mind and settle in to focus on just a few key tasks and maybe later I'll research Asperger's and manic episodes.


Update: Between writing this and looking for GIFs to add, I got over exuberant about going to measure something, tripped, and almost face planted.

Update 2: The music has gotten louder.

Update 3: I made them turn the music down. Now I feel guilty, even if they understand. Sigh.

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A Thankful Teacher

I think as teachers it's very easy for us to focus on everything that weighs us down and overwhelms us, so today I want to focus on the good things in my teaching life.


I Am Thankful For:

  • A co-teacher whom I adore
  • The opportunity to work in the same school as my sister
  • A principal that supports me
  • Students who are sweet more often than they are salty
  • A kitchen full of books
  • My coffee maker from a former student
  • Decorating Committee
  • Flair pens
  • Pop up post-it notes
  • Student aids who actually do what we tell them to do
  • The grant paying for my master's degree
  • LTM days
  • Light bulb moments
  • Unexpected hugs
So, what are you thankful for in your teaching career?