Good-bye, Letter-of-the-Week: A Better Way to Teach Literacy

I was clicking through the many channels on my cable television and happened upon one of my favorites – “The Miracle Worker.”I have always been fascinated by this story about when teacher Anne Sullivan started working for the Keller family in 1887.She was hired to teach 7 year old deaf and blind Helen who had no means of communication.Helen had literally no way to connect to the world – she couldn’t see and she couldn’t hear – until Anne made a connection.They went on to become lifelong companions and friends.
When I was a girl, I watched “The Miracle Worker” with great interest because I had a great uncle who was deaf.I watched my uncle sign and I knew how important his sight was in his ability to connect and function. I was enthralled by this true story of someone who couldn’t see sign language but had to feel it in her hands.
As the years went on, I watched this through a different lens – that of a person who teaches.I was inspired by the power of the relationship between Helen and A…

Are We Insulating Our Children Too Much? Risk and Rewards in the New Year

We have become a fearful and, therefore, over-protective society.I remember when I was a young girl going to a store and having my parents tell us to “Go over to the toy section and we will meet you there.”Then, children like Adam Walsh were kidnapped and parents tightened the reins.I remember going to playgrounds filled with swings and seesaws. Then, someone got hurt somewhere and now new playgrounds don’t have those pieces of equipment.I remember when 24 hour a day news started to bombard our living rooms with fearful stories of people getting hurt and we lost a real sense of how much danger is or isn’t around us.This was around the same time when students started to be tested so much and so often that parents became afraid that their children wouldn’t measure up.
What has this all led to? It has brought us to a place where parents and teachers are afraid of the possibility of the littlest mistakes and the slightest possibilities of a minor injuries like a skinned knee.Students from …