Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merry Christmas Geronimo!

My son has a great assistant at school and she's noticed that
he sometimes writes "tall" tall. And so she gave him a 
wonderful gift for Christmas-A Very Merry Christmas 
by Geronimo Stilton. He started reading these books in
third grade and enjoyed the way "Geronimo" writes his
words, making "tall" look tall and "frosty" look frosty.
The Stilton series is immense and includes entries from
Thea Stilton too if you have a girl who prefers to read about
girls. The humor, plots, and emotions are 
simple and there are enough illustrations (in addition to
the illustrative words) to help the reading along.
At eleven my son is on the far upper range for these books,
but they are a good choice for readers on the elementary 
school level or for kids like mine where the main idea is 
to keep them reading.
Have a very happy holiday!
No book review next Wednesday during the holiday week,
but I'll be back in the New Year.
-Spectrum Mom 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Fall Mixed Up

Fall Mixed Up
Bob Raczka/illustrated by Chad Cameron
"Every Septober, Every Octember
Fall fills my senses with scenes to remember
Apples turn orange
Pumpkins turn red
leaves float up into blue skies overhead"
Here at the very end of Fall 
(yes, I know but Winter officially starts on the Winter Solstice)
one last book with giggles for all.
This is the kind of picture book that always has
and still does appeal to my boy. Lots of silliness
and rhymes. Depending on your kid's level, you
can have fun and teaching moments pointing
out what the book gets "wrong" (do apples
turn orange?). 
On a more holiday note, if you're looking for book gifts,
the box set of Lobel's Frog and Toad is a great choice
for beginning readers.
Happy giggling and shopping,
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, December 9, 2011

Education Professional-Part Two

"Puzzle" by Grace Goad*

Last week I excerpted (with permission) a few comments from one
of the gifted education professionals working with my son. Here's a follow-up 
note in response to my query about the five paragraph essays:

"From here on out, writing five paragraph essays will be required in most subjects 
at one time or another. Using the “formula” for writing an essay, with the support 
of graphic organizers, I am hopeful that he will independently begin to use these 
supports to complete assignments. 
That is my goal at this point. I believe with the overall goal being an increase in 
reading comprehension, this is a good way to support that while working on
 classroom assignments at the same time. 
You can always find the thinking maps we are working on in the laptop." **

This approach to the difficult task of engaging, sustaining, and testing conventional 
comprehension for a child who connects with text through his own matrices
(today he was writing a song for every two pages of an old picture book,
Ruby's Beauty Shop) may help him understand the more neurotypical
method of reading a book.  Fingers crossed, and many thanks to his talented
specialist and teachers for sharing and caring.


*Read more about this beautiful painting and Grace Goad, the wonderful young artist who created it,
at Leisa Hammett (GraceArt in SOHO! October 21, 2011).

** thinking maps-a way to generate and organize thoughts before you write, they're using the Inspiration
software program.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Detective Little Boy Blue

Have I mentioned that my eleven year old likes nursery rhymes? 
(Oh, only about a dozen times or so .   .   . )
Since I strongly advocate taking an interest and streeetchiiiing
it, I'm trying to practice what I preach here.
Yes, Nursery Rhyme Comics and Detective Blue may skew
a bit young for my son, but I don't think he's ready for
Jasper Fforde's The Big Over Easy yet.
And he sure glommed on to Detective Blue fast, quickly 
spotting all the other nursery rhymes hidden in this narrative
of the eponymous cerulean rhyme child who has grown into 
trench coated fedora wearing missing person case solving.
This is graphic novel lite with big panels and big letters.
There's enough silly stuff going on here to keep the interest
of older kids, but the narrative is straight forward with no
hidden subtexts. This will be a good match for most kids
age four and up-how far up depends on how much they
like being silly about nursery rhymes.
-Spectrum Mom

Friday, December 2, 2011

An Education Professional at Work-Part One of Two

"Puzzle" by Grace Goad*

For Education Friday I'm thrilled to introduce a new voice, one of the professionals from my boy's team who has given me permission to excerpt some of her email updates on his progress. You may remember, the goal with my kid is trying to get him to get a sense of the story. He reads the words, but it's almost like light passing through a window. We're trying to get paint on canvas.
This post may seem to be about writing rather than 
reading, but at this point all we are looking for when he 
writes is, does he remember and understand what he read? 
"Well, here we go, with countless five paragraph essays in his future.  He chose to write about the theme of the benefits of teamwork for his Freak the Mighty essay. 
We created a story map in Inspiration** to get started. I offered character analysis and other choices, but he always chose theme as his topic. I also created a tree map template in Inspiration so we can start out by filling in the squares in the future and won’t have to create the map each time. We also made a map for his “best Thanksgiving”. He is on a roll with putting things in parentheses (I prefer quotation marks myself!).  I don’t know why, maybe you do. J
I am giving heavy support at this point with the graphic organizer maps, but I am seeing progress as he takes my ideas and makes them his with his own choice of words. I am asking him to be more independent with saving documents himself and he is doing well with that. He did a nice group activity today using a white board with a partner to identify adjective-nouns about Thanksgiving, “buttered rolls” and “green bean casserole” (his contributions). He paired up with two other classmates to think of metaphors and similes around the Thanksgiving theme also, which was much harder for everyone, me included!"

-Spectrum Mom

*Read more about this beautiful painting and Grace Goad, the wonderful young artist who created it,
at Leisa Hammett (GraceArt in SOHO! October 21, 2011).

** Inspiration is a software program that lets you make thinking maps-a way to generate and organize 
thoughts before you write.