by

December 5, 2022

 

Proposal

Dear Colleague: 

I recently participated in a professional learning experience with Lute-Stem about multimodal methods at Lehman College. I learned a lot about ways to incorporate strategies for students’ instruction to be more multimodal. During the summer, I learned about the Scratch program, multimodal literacy, the habits of mind, and the review of a child. 

There was a lot to consider when it came to applying what I learned in the classroom. In this letter, I’d like to focus on multimodal strategies because I believe this is an excellent method to integrate into our instruction. A multimodal approach means a lesson is introduced in multiple ways; it can be performed using visuals, movement, auditory, reading, and writing to meet students’ learning goals. Thus, ensuring that the students are provided with different approaches subject to their learning abilities.  

I would like to propose that we create an activity that incorporates that aspect into the instruction. I would like to implement an activity called “All About Me.” This activity is designed for preschoolers. The students will be given different options to choose from. For example, they can draw a picture, create a poster or record a video of the things they want us to know about themselves. I believe this activity is perfect when including multimodal strategies. Also, since it is the beginning of the school year, it will serve as an introduction to the class and their classmates. This will help to get to know the students and make connections within themselves. Given the age group, the project requires teacher involvement and assistance to complete the activity, which will take about two days. 

To do this, we will need paper, crayons, markers, scissors, magazines, posters, colored pencils, tablets, and google slides.   

The students will have the option to make either a picture, a poster, or a video to present the things they should know about themselves. The final product will be presented on a google slide to the class. 

When the students complete this activity, they will have made progress on these three standards from New York State Prekindergarten Learning Standards: 

  • PK.SEL.2. Recognizes self as an individual having unique abilities, characteristics, feelings, and interests 
  • PK.SEL.4. Develops positive relationships with their peers
  • PK.ELAL.14. [PKW.2] Uses a combination of drawing, dictating, oral expression, and/or emergent writing to name a familiar topic and supply information in child-centered, authentic, play-based learning

Here’s how I think we might introduce this activity. We could give these directions to the students:

During the morning meeting, the class will gather on the carpet. The teacher will talk about the new faces in the classroom. She will explain that new friends joined the classroom as the new year began. She will then say that an excellent way to get to know each other is by introducing ourselves and the things we like. She will introduce herself as a way to model it for the students. She then will explain what the activity will be about. She would ask the students questions such as “What is your name?” “What is one thing you like to do?” What is your favorite color? “What is your favorite food?” 

The teacher will show examples of “All About Me” projects for the students to understand what is being asked. The teacher will work with small groups to assist them when needed. She will work with groups of 4. Before the activity, she will ask the student what of the three choices they would like to pick from. After, she will ask them the questions presented before for them to have an idea. They will be provided with the materials, and the teacher will provide guidance when needed.

I would also propose that the students give each other feedback on their work. They could use this checklist to self-assess and provide each other feedback:

· I can create a picture, poster, or video of the things I like to do

· I can say one thing I like about my classmate’s work

· I can present my creation to my friend

· I can talk about my creation 

This activity should take at least 10-15 minutes to complete, allowing time for productive struggle. (Given the attention span of this age group, this activity could take more time than mentioned above). The teacher will encourage the students to ask questions about the project to promote persistence. This will provide opportunities to check if they answered all the questions about themselves and to revise and add what they are missing to their project.

When they have finished this activity, we can ask the students to talk about how they used one of these three Habits of Mind. Since the students are so young, I will ask them questions about their habits of mind to understand the concepts. Some questions will be: “Did you listen to your classmate?” “Did you wait for your turn?” “Did you create a project? “What was one thing you liked about your classmate’s work?” “What did you learn from your classmate?” Following those questions, the teacher will explain that by answering those questions, they are exercising the habits of mind.  

· Listening with understanding

· Managing Impulsivity

· Creating imagining and innovating

The Habits of Mind will also be used to give the students oral feedback while they are working and after finishing their work. 

Thank you for taking the time to consider this proposal. I hope you see how valuable this activity could be for our students. Please let me know if you have any revisions that I might consider for this activity.

I look forward to working with you on this.


Remote Learning Or Attend Class in Person?

In the article, “Return to Remote Learning?” (McGraw Hill), I learned that local school board officials and government officials are deciding if schools will have to go back to remote learning. This is all being decided because of the new omicron variant that is very contagious. With this, schools have been closed for only a week or two. U.S. Secretary of Education, Miguel Cardona, announced that schools should remain open because students have already suffered enough from remote learning. Many teacher unions, however, disagree with Cardona’s point of view. Many school boards are now instituting mask mandates, mandatory vaccination policies, widespread rapid testing, and other safety measures to try to stay open safely.

I think that as a student, this will affect everyone because when we were trapped in our homes looking at computer screens for 8 hours, it created a more lazy mindset since we were at home and not physically learning. I personally do not wanna go through that again since being at school is better and more efficient. In my opinion, remote learning is just not it. I enjoy experiencing what real learning is instead of just learning from home. Nobody wants to go through that suffering and pain to get up and just be in bed listening to their teacher through a screen. 

Do you believe that we should go back to remote learning or attend class in person?


A Deeper Look at the Education System

Today’s students are mentally exhausted, and one major reason for this is the education system, specifically the weight of grades and consequently the expectations placed on students to excel. It is no secret that grades are the forefront of the education system, as almost everything relies on these grades, such as attending a good college, which is already extremely expensive, graduating, or even being able to participate in an extracurricular activity. So, we are put at a standstill. On one hand, grades are an easy, sufficient way to take note of a student’s progress, yet, on the other hand, grades are also a detriment to students and their ability to genuinely learn, as the expectations and weight of grades have clearly overtaken the place of learning. The question arises; what can we do to fix this expanding problem? And, how do we transition our focus from the grading system, the current threshold for education, and onto learning itself? In order to create a beneficial learning environment, the education system should focus on giving students a place to nurture their passions in a healthy, efficient way, doing so by giving students space for personal interests, forming a more engaging, interactive classroom community, and offering flexibility with students. 

In hopes of creating an environment catered to learning, the education system should make time to place focus on students’ passions, as well as making lessons more engaging, which will consequently drive the want to learn and fuel those passions. Shifting the focus from grades and lifeless lessons and onto fun, engaging ones makes it easier for students to pay attention and participate hand on. By creating engaging lessons, students are more likely to retain the information they learn and become more willing and lenient to follow through the entire class (The Learning Network). Hand in hand with this comes true interest in learning. Though this cannot be done without sufficiently aiding teachers and guiding them to participate in effective teaching, a direct effort from those teachers to engage with students. Teachers have an extremely important job and a difficult, challenging role to fulfill, after all, it is up to them to have a positive, lasting effect on children, nurturing their passions to encourage learning, as stated by the idea that “effective teachers also have a direct influence in enhancing student learning” (Tucker and Stronge). To change and elevate the system, it is necessary that immense care and work is put in on both ends. 

Not only is the education system in need of a more well-rounded and immersive environment, students are also in need of a varied learning atmosphere and more flexibility. As humans, we all learn in different ways. Someone might learn better taking notes, while others learn better through hand to hand experiences. Differentiation is a necessity that should be taken into account, as “Understanding the different rates and styles of learning will help. . . implement them in ways that will support all your students” (Morrow). By giving students this flexibility, such as providing a sufficient, non-overbearing workload in a way that is helpful, all while maintaining expectations for students, they are able to challenge themselves and learn in the most helpful way specific to them. Giving students the opportunity and space for engagement, without unnecessary stress and burdens, creates a beneficial learning atmosphere. In order for this to work, teachers should set the standards as “necessary to achieve the goals, and flexibility should be allowed when there are many ways to achieve those goals” (Morrow). Being flexible should not mean the absence of challenges or hurdles for students to face—mistakes are places to learn from. Rather, the ability to actually, truly learn from those mistakes should not be so strict and the emphasis on grades only heightens this. There is a balance between the two needed to be found.

By giving students space for personal interests, creating a more interactive classroom environment, and offering practicable expectations for students, the education system would grow into a more dynamic and helpful community. In order for this to occur, we must have this conversation with our peers and support our teachers to promote change. Transitioning into a more collaborative and engaging learning environment, with de-emphasis on grades, which are arguably seen as the mark of the youth’s success today, allows for student interaction and growth. We can’t necessarily solve all the issues within the education system immediately, though with effort to form a more collaborative environment, little by little, we can stride toward effective change. 

Works Cited

Morrow, Jasmine. “Teaching Strategies to Help Students Succeed.” CE Credits Online, www.cecreditsonline.org/blogs/news/teaching-strategies-to-help-students-succeed.

The Learning Network. “What Students Are Saying About How to Improve American Education.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Dec. 2019, www.nytimes.com/2019/12/19/learning/what-students-are-saying-about-how-to-improve-american-education.html.

Tucker, Pamela D, and James H Stronge. “Chapter 1. The Power of an Effective Teacher and Why We Should Assess It.” The Power of an Effective Teacher and Why We Should Assess It, www.ascd.org/publications/books/104136/chapters/The-Power-of-an-Effective-Teacher-and-Why-We-Should-Assess-It.aspx.


Is Music Good or Bad While You Study?

There has been a lot of controversy about whether students should listen to music while they study. Some believe that it is detrimental to learning, and others believe that it helps students learn and memorize better. While looking at the studies that have been done I have found good things and bad things about listening to music while studying. Some of the good things is that music is soothing and relaxing, so it helps with relieving stress and anxiety while studying. Also, background music may improve the focus on a task because it is providing a mood and motivation for long time study sessions, aiding endurance. Also, students have found that it helps with memorization because it creates a positive mood and indirectly increases the memory formation

Listening to music can also help with reducing test anxiety. Anxiety can become a blocker for students and work. There has been studied at Cambridge University that says that listening to hip-hop music if they are under a lot of stress and anxiety will help. This is because hip-hop provides an uplifting effect on listeners and help them to accept their challenge and deal/ manage their workload better, and it also helps with the mental health issues that might occur while studying too. Music is found to help people that are under a high amount of pressure to perform better as well. There was also a study done at Stanford that listening to music also helps to focus, and found that musical composers from the 1800s engages with areas of the brain that are involved with paying attention. So, the music choice is also influential in the brain process as well

I listen to music while I study all of the time, and I believe that it really helps me to focus and helps me to memorize things better as well. I personally believe that music is helpful for me to learn and is not a distraction/ detriment to my learning. Listening to music is also not helpful for everyone as well, and can just become a distraction the whole time while they are trying to learn as well. Sometimes music is not the answer for everyone, but it is very helpful for the people that like to listen to music while they are learning. 


Myth or Fact: It Gets Easier Each Time One Learns A New Language

Many people wonder whether it gets easier each time someone learns a new languages. I am here to tell you that yes, it does get easier. In the article called “What Gets Easier When You Study More Languages?”, the author is someone who speaks 7 languages, and she discusses what she has learned about learning new languages. She lists the reasons as to why is gets easier. The first one is that, by the time you start learning your 3rd or 4th languages, you already know the strategies that work for you. Each person learns in different ways, and the more times you do it, the more you learn about yourself and the less time you spend wasting on useless methods. Next is that you become more confident with your language learning skills. Most people have doubts about whether they are able to learn other languages, and the more you do it, the more confident you are with yourself. Even unconscious confidence helps with learning. Many people are under the impression that learning several foreign languages requires a “gift”, and if you don’t have it, then it just not in the cards for you. But that is not true. So, lastly, the author discusses how, as you learn more languages, you realize that anyone can do it if they put the effort and time into it.

The second article, “The more languages you know, the easier it is to learn another one”, supports the first one, and gives a bit more information as well. It mentions that one becomes more confident learning more languages and one “learns how to learn”, but it also talks about the technicalities that are transferred from one language to another. For example, vocabulary and grammar. “Most European languages share a great deal of vocabulary.” When learning similar languages, such as the Romance languages, one gains a broader vocabulary, and a lot of the words are similar. As someone who speaks both French and Spanish, I can say that there are a lot of similarities between then, and when you know one, it becomes less difficult to understand or retain words and information. But even if you are not learning another language that is similar to one you already know, the knowledge of grammar is still transferable and helpful. The more languages you know, the better understand you have of grammar in general, and grammar is a very important part of learning a language. So, even though the rules won’t be the same, or even close, that skill will have already been developed.

Now, this is not to say that, once you know 3 languages, you will be able to learn the 4th one in a week. Learning a languages still takes time, effort, and motivation. However, every time, you develop new skills and more knowledge that will help you in your next attempt. So go, learn! What are you waiting for?

Link to NowComment: https://nowcomment.com/documents/137200?scroll_to=1324475


The Science Behind Why It Is More Difficult For Adults to Learn A Foreign Language

Many people believe that learning a foreign language as an adult or adolescent is a lot more difficult than learning your first language.The article titled “Application of Infants’ Brain Neural Mechanism of Native Language Learning in English Teaching”, that theory is supported. It explores the reasons behind the difficulties adults have learning a second language by first examining how children acquire their first, native language.

Everyone is able to learn at least their first native language as a child. However, as adults, even with better cognitive abilities, we find it a lot harder to learn a second or foreign language. Why is that? Well, first we must understand the essential process of language learning.

According to this article, infants have “the inborn ability of linguistic feature perception and high-speed computation of language’s neuro-expression” (Application of Infants’ Brain Neural Mechanism of Native Language Learning in English Teaching). Research has found that “during the first 6 months after an infant is born, the brain, without a systematic language preference mechanism, can openly and indiscriminately receive all human languages and automatically distinguish voices and morphemes of all languages” (Application of Infants’ Brain Neural Mechanism of Native Language Learning in English Teaching). In other words, before a child reaches 6 months, the are able to receive any type of human language equally and distingue all voices. However, after 6 months, they lose that ability and instead show a tendency to be increasingly sensitive to their native language.

When comparing the native language and strangers speaking a foreign language, infants have shown to prefer their native language and their mother’s’ voice. Experiments have also shown that through repeated speech, infants can successfully perceive the change of vowels and make corresponding responses. For example, in one specific experiments, it showed that  6-month-old Dutch infants are able to distinguish sensitively the syllable combinations “zw” and “vl” frequently found in Dutch, while American newborns of the same age are insensitive to them, since they rarely appear in English.

An important thing to consider is that the continuous simulation of the native language in the infant’s environment allows them to continuously strengthen that area in the brain. Therefore, one reason adults have difficulty learning new languages is that they hear or learn the language with gaps in between, and they are not present in an environment where that language is spoken constantly.

Also, an infant’s brain is highly malleable. Links and neuron circuits are constantly being adjusted in order to form a way in which speaking and understanding their native language can come without thinking. However, as adults, their links are already stable and the brain is no longer as flexible to learn and process new languages, especially two languages in which speech, vocabulary, and grammar are not correlated. Therefore, it is difficult to break this inherent mechanism in adulthood to build new grammar rules and language system. “Based on this, we can easily explain why even professionals who have obtained advanced certificates and are proficient in English are not able to use English instinctively without thinking” (Application of Infants’ Brain Neural Mechanism of Native Language Learning in English Teaching).

It may seem as if children learn their first language so easily and quickly. However, that is not true. It is a gradual process that is facilitated with repetition and constant unconscious learning and training. Lastly, for children, learning their first language is viewed as a life-essential task. But for adults, it isn’t.
Link to NowComment: https://nowcomment.com/documents/136529


The Origins of Language

No one really knows when language first evolved and how. It has always been an important part in history and in civilizations of the past, but how it first came about is still a mystery. The document “Scientists Learn More about the Evolution and Acquisition of Human Language” from the Gale database further explores the theories about language acquisition and learning throughout history.

One example is the belief that there is an “original” or “true” language. Some Pharaohs, Kings, and Holy Roman Emperors conducted experiments to prove this, such as isolating children in the hopes that their first word would reveal this “original language”. None were successful. Another theory is that language is a human invention, started by humans vocalizing sounds they heard around them. With the arrival of Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution came the theory that language evolved through time, from our non-linguistic ancestors to language as we know it today. Recent studies have looked at early fossils and looked at how our mouths and throats have evolved to facilitate language. Scientists have concluded that we would not have evolved this way if our brain was not able to comprehend language.

After all these theories, there is one that this article explores that seems to have the most scientific proof: Chomsky’s theory of language acquisition. He “suggested that children are born with the ability to understand the formal principles of grammatical structure”. To accompany this he proposed that children are born with a “language acquisition device”. In other words, Chomsky was saying that babies are born with some knowledge about language and general grammatical rules, they just master the language with practice and experience. Babies need experience and constant human interaction to match meanings to words. According to this document, “it appears that innate brain wiring plus experience and practice equal language knowledge and ability” (innate brain wiring + experience + practice = language knowledge and ability).

How do we learn a second or third language? There are surely many ways, but one specific way I will be looking at is bilingual education. In the document titled “Bilingual education”, it discusses how it has become of increasing important to help accommodate the immigrants coming from foreign countries in their school. In order to do this, more bilingual programs are being offered. These programs teach new materials in the students’ mother tongue so that they can understand, but also integrating some instructions on how to understand the target language of the country. One example that the article mentioned is “language programs in Canada”. It talks about how many schools in Canada try to teach their students both French and English, which is very interesting for me since I learned to master French and English in Canada.

Link to NowComment: https://nowcomment.com/documents/136427


Language Acquisition and Language Learning

The topic I will be researching and discussing is language acquisition and language learning. First off, there is a slight different between the two. Whereas language acquisition studies how babies learn to communicate and their first language, language learning is the general process of learning languages. I want to learn about how children pick up a language and if that relates to how people learn second or third languages.

As discussed in the article on Simply Psychology titled “Language Acquisition”, there are many theories as to how children acquire their first language. These theories have changed and evolved over time, and scientists are still not fully convinced on any one. These theories include behavioralism, universal grammar, and general cognitive and learning principles. Some scientists are still trying to prove that we are born with innate equipment, such as a universal grammar. Others fiercely argue that language acquisition is all in relation to linguistic input and we are not born with any innate grammar rules and such. I will explore these theories more in my essay, and as well as talk about what different stances scientists have today.

The article on The Conversation claims that “you’re never too old to become fluent in a language”. It defines fluency as communicating with relative ease, completely unrelated to accents. It also mentions that there is no “critical window” to learning a new language, as many believe. It will be more difficult, but not impossible. However, it does not give much evidence or examples of studies that have shown this. It does not even give any reasons as to why adults have a harder time learning grammar rules.

The article on ESL titled “Does it get harder to learn a language as you get older?” gives more information and convincing arguments that “learning a language doesn’t necessarily get harder with age”. It makes this claim, saying that how people learn a new language changes as they become adults. It also lists the advantages of both children and adults when learning languages. For example, children do “soak up” information easier than adults, however adults have more highly developed cognitive systems and know more about themselves and their learning techniques. It then goes on to talk about the best ways for adults to learn new languages. According to this article, the best environment is in a country when the language is spoken. I am inclined to agree. It is a lot easier to pick up on the language and the subtle rules when hearing it and using it in everyday scenarios, rather than sitting in a classroom trying to memorize all the ways the conjugate the verbs.
Link to NowComment and annotations: https://nowcomment.com/documents/135382


Language Acquisition and Language Learning

The topic I will be researching and discussing is language acquisition and language learning. First off, there is a slight different between the two. Whereas language acquisition studies how babies learn to communicate and their first language, language learning is the general process of learning languages. I want to learn about how children pick up a language and if that relates to how people learn second or third languages.

As discussed in the article on Simply Psychology titled “Language Acquisition”, there are many theories as to how children acquire their first language. These theories have changed and evolved over time, and scientists are still not fully convinced on any one. These theories include behavioralism, universal grammar, and general cognitive and learning principles. I will explore these theories more in my essay, and well as talk about what different stances scientists have today.

The article on The Conversation claims that “ you’re never too old to become fluent in a language”. It defines fluency as communicating with relative ease, completely unrelated to accents. It also mentions that there is no “critical window” to learning a new language, as many believe. However, it does not give much evidence or examples of studies that have shown this.

The article on ESL titled “Does it get harder to learn a language as you get older?” gives more information and convincing arguments that “learning a language doesn’t necessarily get harder with age”. It makes this claim, saying that how people learn a new language changes as they become adults. It also lists the advantages of both children and adults when learning languages. For example, children do “soak up” information easier than adults, however adults have more highly developed cognitive systems and know more about themselves and their learning techniques.

Link to NowComment and annotations: https://nowcomment.com/documents/135382


How common is it?

Back again with the topic of learning disabilities, this time to talk about how communities can help people with LDs. The best way for people to discover how they can best help out the member in their community is to better understand what learning disabilities are and how they work. The biggest problem with this is that many people believe learning disabilities are temporary or are result of a previous action done by the person. This belief is false. These are common stereotypes, when in actuality a learning disability is neurological and cannot be reversed. They are also a permanent disability, although with special classes and more focused learning can be subsided to help the student achieve their greatest potential. Another statistic that may be shocking to most people is that nearly 3 million of all students are diagnosed with a learning disability, which accounts for 45% of the student disability population. On top of this, it has been shown that the earlier an LD is diagnosed, the easier it is to get students on the right learning track. Of these 3 million students, about 75% have a reading based disability (commonly dyslexia). With all of these factors taken into consideration, it is easier for teachers and the people in the community to help those with LD’s.

In a previous post, it was mentioned that most teachers see a student falling behind and getting in trouble as a naughty child, however these new stats reveal the appalling reality. Nearly 50% of ‘secondary students’ read–on average–three grade level below where they should be along with their peers. This carries into their high school career were all but 10% tend to drop out due to difficulty in school. This must come to an end. There must be more tests in schools to determine a child’s learning ability and provide them with the right level of education. If it is too difficult for a school staff member to recognize the signs, class sizes must be reduced for the benefit of the student. There must be seminars for teachers to attend so that they know what signs they are looking for. If a student is left at a young age believing they are stupid compared to the rest of their peers because they cannot spell the word ‘cat’ correctly, they will be unaware that they have an LD. Not having the early diagnosis is what leads to the nearly 40% of high school dropouts.

Diagnosing these learning disabilities early is becoming more of a possibility through organizations like the NCLD–National Center for Learning Disabilities–that are working towards ‘improving the life of the 1 in 5 children and adults with learning and attention issues’. This organization is focused on the proper development of children with learning disabilities mainly tackling them from a young age. It has also been shown that the majority of students diagnosed after the age of sixj have reading disabilities. There are tools to help students develop and there are resources, it is simply up to educators and parents to act upon the gifts they are given.


Overprotective Parenting Leads to Struggling Young People

Overprotective parents cause for all kinds of problems in kids, essentially through preventing them from learning how to handle difficult situations on their own, an indispensable skill for all people. Through the removal of risks, challenges, fears, and hurt feelings children are stripped of opportunities for growth and development necessary for their growth into more freedom and independence. Many kids are treated as exceedingly fragile in multiple ways, and through this treatment they are made to be so. In order for our emerging youth to be the strong independent people they need to be in this evolving world, they need to have parents that give them opportunities to learn how to solve problems for themselves, which often requires failure before success, something we’ve come to reject.

Allowing our kids freedom to grow and learn on their own is critical for their development, as well as their current lives. A 2013 UK study directed by Professor Dieter Wolke found that “Children with overprotective parents were 10 per cent more likely to be bullied. Positive parenting traits (authoritative parenting, communication, involvement, support, warmth and affection) made children 19 per cent less likely to be bullied.” Life isn’t always friendly, there are situations where you have to stick up for yourself, despite others doing you wrong. These are lessons best learned early to be employed throughout your life, because bullies do not go away despite involvement from authority figures. Everyone has spats of dispute in their life, and has to find a way to deal with them. Beyond handling social issues, simple problem solving is something that I see young people struggle with quite often when they are without help from an older person. This reliance on external aid directly leads into learned helplessness and an inability to solve problems with critical thinking on your own, an important life skill. I’ve seen high school students often come across situations where instead of looking for a solution on their own first they immediately ask a teacher or adult how they should do something, and while this may come from not wanting to do something wrong, it makes you wonder what some people would do without people constantly around them to help them throughout the day.

I am not trying to say that parents shouldn’t be there to help their kids deal with difficult or stressful situations, but there is a big difference between solving their problems for them and solving their problems with them. In the report of the study on bullying Professor Wolke says, “children need to deal with stressful situations in mild doses to learn how to cope.” I think this is accurate, in that parents shouldn’t be leaving their kids to figure it all out on their own, but shielding them off from all resemblances of difficulty makes for a person who is unable to handle hardship and will cause lots of problems later on in their life. Raising a child is not easy, and there are a lot of lessons that you have to try and teach your kids for them to grow into strong young people, but dealing with difficulties is a part of life, and as they grow older, no matter how protective you are through their youth, they will be confronted with these realities. There is a necessity for young kids to have some independence in their problem solving and social interaction in order for them to be able to deal with whatever life throws at them. The overprotective coddling parenting styles of today’s age stifle the learning in young people and cause them to be unprepared for challenges they will face later in life, but it is hard to manage that balance of being overbearing and letting the leash too loose. So the question is how do we allow kids to learn things independently yet keep them safe and healthy? It’s hard to say what really is the best way to promote independence while still upholding a safe tether.


What Are Learning Disabilities?

A learning disability–or an LD–is a condition in the brain that can make it difficult for a person to comprehend one or more sections of learning (reading, writing, math, etc.). These disabilities are generally something that people are born with, during the first few months of a woman’s pregnancy when the baby’s brain is forming in the womb. The best way to describe how this is that the brain wires itself as the baby forms, but in these cases, there is a wire or two that is incorrectly matched. There are plenty of cases that are prevalent in a child’s learning early on in their life, where they may have trouble reading, writing, or in math. However, there are several cases where a person is a great student in their younger years at primary school when things are easier, but as a teen learning is much more complex and this is when a learning disability may show. This does not mean that a student simply acquired this disability when they got older, but because the LD was dormant while things were easy, and then the brain had trouble processing harder and more complex information.

Only about 15% of the United States population has a learning disability, that is about 3 million people, which also translates to one in seven people. Although learning disabilities limit people on what they can learn, it is not impossible to still succeed. With a little extra time and programs like IEP’s, there is ample opportunity for individuals to succeed and keep up with the rest of their peers. The general idea of a learning disability was referred to as a “hidden handicap” in an article by Jan Farrington which is the perfect way to describe an LD. Most people view the word handicap as someone who is physically incapable or unable to perform an outward task. However, handicap is defined as a ‘disadvantage that makes life more difficult’, which branches out to all aspects of life, not solely a physical handicap.

https://go.galegroup.com/ps/retrieve.do?tabID=T003&resultListType=RESULT_LIST&searchResultsType=SingleTab&searchType=BasicSearchForm&currentPosition=2&docId=GALE%7CA193406264&docType=Article&sort=Relevance&contentSegment=&prodId=STOM&contentSet=GALE%7CA193406264&searchId=R1&userGroupName=pioneer&inPS=true&authCount=1&u=pioneer#annotations:A4uWChDREeifF8-GG_fWow


Learning Disabilities in Schools

Are schools doing enough to accommodate students with learning disabilities?

The majority of the time, learning disabilities are hereditary, so a student cannot control or change the fact they have trouble learning in specific ways. But are schools doing enough to help them be their best? Many sources have suggested that a lot of educators see children with undiagnosed learn disabilities as naughty because they have a harder time following guidelines. Because of this, teachers tend to punish these children for not following directions or for disrupting class. The best way to help a child and see if they do indeed have some type of learning disability is to observe them over time, over the period of a couple weeks rather than one or two instances where they are having trouble in school.

The most common types of learning disabilities are dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, and the ability to process deficits. Dyslexia is seen the most in schools, and is a disability in which a person has trouble reading. ADHD is also very common, but has also been disputed whether it is actually a learning disability. Whether the answer is yes or no, it does tend to impede learning ability. This disability is where someone has an overactive mental capacity, finding it difficult to pay attention and stay on task. However, this disability can be treated with medication to help students focus more. Dyscalculia and dysgraphia are two that are not as widely discussed, but are still in the top five most common disabilities. Dyscalculia is the inability of a person to perform mathematical tasks, which can range from simply being unable to order numbers correctly or being unable to problem solve. Dysgraphia is more of a physical disability causing a student to be unable to write and have trouble writing. The fifth and final most common is the ability to process deficits, which means they have difficulty processing data and facts in numbers.

This epidemic requires by law that schools have programs for children with learning disabilities. Through tests to determine a students disability, they can then be placed in an IEP (Individualized Education Program). These programs are usually specialized to cater the needs of each child’s disability. If these programs are up to the standard so that each child is able to excel at school, then the school is doing all that they can to help the student. A large part of their success also lies within the parents putting in the quality time to help their child with school work at home and in his everyday life.


The Benefits of Learning a Language

I’m planning on writing a paper on the benefits of learning a new language. This topic is relevant to me because languages have influenced me throughout my entire life. I was introduced to languages right away. My mom is a French teacher so she spoke to my brother and I in French when we were little. Immediately, I discovered a passion for learning new languages. I started taking French as soon as I could, which was seventh grade. Then, freshmen year I decided to take Spanish as well. So I chose to test out of Spanish 1 over the summer and enroll in Spanish 2 my junior year. At first, taking both languages at the same time was difficult, but overtime it became much easier and a lot of fun. In addition to the enjoyment of learning a language it is extremely beneficial. From challenging your brain to improving your native language there are several reasons why learning another language is important. Throughout my research I want to discover all of the advantages of being bilingual. I also hope that I spread awareness and encourage people to begin to learn another language.

What do you think about the benefits of learning a new language? Do you enjoy learning languages? Do you think we should be required to take two years of a language in order to graduate? Please add any other thoughts you have.


Learning From the Past

As a society, we have failed to learn from our past mistakes. We are still repeating the past, in the worst ways, and if we do not take preventative measures, the worst parts of history will repeat themselves. We aren’t thinking about the past, why do we even bother with learning history, if we as a society do not learn from it? “We aren’t making clear statements on how we feel about the past, we are acknowledging it, but not doing anything to stop it, or apologize for it. We are making it seen okay that history is repeating itself.” (Friedman)

Events such as Charlottesville, destroying of Holocaust Memorials, and discrimination against other races are removing any possible amends that we might make. We can’t be truly remorseful for something if we do not learn from it, and do our best to avoid it. No actions are being taken to change our society, and its subconscious views of other people. We need to fundamentally change how we interact and see other people, if we want to live peacefully.

White supremacy is so indelibly ingrained within the very fabric of the United States, and the privileges associated with whiteness are so foundational, that real change—uncomfortable change—will only come from true effort by those willing to see the holes in our national narratives of inclusion.”  (Schroeder)White supremacy is one issue that should not exist anymore. It should be a thing of the past, but it is very much a thing of the present. There are about 930 white supremacist groups in the US today. The lack of equality is earth shattering, and not much is being done to stop it.


Patience is a virtue

Over time the voice inside of me has evolved and has become more mature. I think more before I speak. I am also more patient with people then I used to be. I still have a way to go but otherwise. When I was younger I was not able to control myself. I would get very annoyed when people would not give me any attention when I would be talking. So I would interrupt my friends while they are talking. I would always want everyone to listen to me and not others. I saw myself as the most important as does every young boy. They need to be the center of attention in their world. I was exactly that. After a long time of learning i grew up to realize that you need to wait and let others be able to say what they have to say and then respond when they are done.

I can remember a time when my family was going on vacation to Marradi, Italy. We were travelling down there and my parents stopped at a winery on the way down. They wanted to see if anything looked good for them. Ate the time I was about 7 years old. Like any 7-year-old I’m very impatient and want to get to our destination so that I can charge my Nintendo DS and play my Mario game. My parents are looking around for different Pino’s. I’m just standing there looking at these bottles and don’t understand anything because all I care about is my game I want to finish. So I go up to my parents and start asking them if we can go home. They tell me to wait a little but I just can’t. I come back to them two minutes later demanding that we go. My father then turns to me and says; “Luca you have to learn to wait. Let me and mom look at what we want. When we will be done we’ll make our way to Nona’s.” I then went back to the car and sat in it and started to get mad and unhappy but then my anger changed to me making up a story based on what I had in the car. I’ve over time realized that if I get impatient I should just start to think about something else or maybe entertaining myself by thinking of a story and see where it goes.

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