Friday, December 12, 2014

An important follow up article To Robyn Trevyaud's visit

amanky via Compfight cc
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Dear all,
This is an excellent CNN article with embedded videos that you all should read and watch. It follows on very well from Robyn Trevyaud's recent visit.


STORY HIGHLIGHTS

·      Acronyms are widely usedacross the Internet, especially on social media and texting apps
·         Some acronyms can be a shorthand for sex, drugs and alcohol
·         Experts say parents should be aware of acronyms and talk to their children about them
·         Expert: "Asking kids not only gives you great information, but it shows that you're paying attention"

Here are the 28 Internet acronyms every parent should know:

1. IWSN - I want sex now
2. GNOC - Get naked on camera
3. NIFOC - Naked in front of computer
4. PIR - Parent in room
5 CU46 - See you for sex
6. 53X - Sex
7. 9 - Parent watching
8. 99 - Parent gone
9. 1174 - Party meeting place
10. THOT - That hoe over there
11. CID - Acid (the drug)
12. Broken - Hungover from alcohol
13. 420 - Marijuana
14. POS - Parent over shoulder
15. SUGARPIC - Suggestive or erotic photo
16. KOTL - Kiss on the lips
17. (L)MIRL - Let's meet in real life
18. PRON - Porn
19. TDTM - Talk dirty to me
20. 8 - Oral sex
21. CD9 - Parents around/Code 9
22. IPN - I'm posting naked
23. LH6 - Let's have sex
24. WTTP - Want to trade pictures?
25. DOC - Drug of choice
26. TWD - Texting while driving
27. GYPO - Get your pants off
28. KPC- Keeping parents clueless



Saturday, December 6, 2014

Harvard Unveils MRI Study Proving Meditation Literally Rebuilds The Brain’s Gray Matter In 8 Weeks

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Test subjects taking part in an 8-week program of mindfulness meditation showed results that astonished even the most experienced neuroscientists at Harvard University. The study was led by a Harvard-affiliated team of researchers based at Massachusetts General Hospital, and the team’s MRI scans documented for the very first time in medical history how meditation produced massive changes inside the brain’s gray matter. “Although the practice of meditation is associated with a sense of peacefulness and physical relaxation, practitioners have long claimed that meditation also provides cognitive and psychological benefits that persist throughout the day,” says study senior author Sara Lazar of the MGH Psychiatric Neuroimaging Research Program and a Harvard Medical School instructor in psychology. “This study demonstrates that changes in brain structure may underlie some of these reported improvements and that people are not just feeling better because they are spending time relaxing.”
Sue McGreevey of MGH writes: “Previous studies from Lazar’s group and others found structural differences between the brains of experienced meditation practitioners and individuals with no history of meditation, observing thickening of the cerebral cortex in areas associated with attention and emotional integration. But those investigations could not document that those differences were actually produced by meditation.” Until now, that is. The participants spent an average of 27 minutes per day practicing mindfulness exercises, and this is all it took to stimulate a major increase in gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection. McGreevey adds: “Participant-reported reductions in stress also were correlated with decreased gray-matter density in the amygdala, which is known to play an important role in anxiety and stress. None of these changes were seen in the control group, indicating that they had not resulted merely from the passage of time.”
“It is fascinating to see the brain’s plasticity and that, by practicing meditation, we can play an active role in changing the brain and can increase our well-being and quality of life,” says Britta H√∂lzel, first author of the paper and a research fellow at MGH and Giessen University in Germany. You can read more about the remarkable study by visiting Harvard.edu. If this is up your alley then you need to read this: “Listen As Sam Harris Explains How To Tame Your Mind (No Religion Required)
http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

Friday, December 5, 2014

Why adults are going back to colouring books

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Photo Credit: Sir. Mo via Compfight cc

Crayons at the ready - colouring books are not just for kids, you know…

Colouring in may well be something you remember fondly from your childhood – or indeed something your own children enjoy now.

But this simple activity has been making headlines lately, especially in France, where colouring books for grown-ups are selling faster than cook books, according to trade publication Livres Hebodo. And many Facebook groups dedicated to displaying colouring and offering tips on where to find the best books or art materials have sprung up across the channel as a result.
With mindfulness the buzz word of the moment, colouring in is an easy way to calm the mind and occupy the hands. Speaking at a mental health workshop in 2009, author, speaker and communication expert Mark Robert Waldman explained that active meditation focuses attention on simple tasks that require repetitive motion. Concentrating this way replaces negative thoughts and creates a state of peace, and many people who have a difficult time with concentrative meditation can find this easier. This gentle activity where you choose the colours to create your picture and the repetitive action of colouring it in focuses the brain on the present, blocking out any intrusive thoughts.
Meanwhile, a recent study from San Francisco State University has shown that people who partake in creative activities outside of work not only deal with stress better but their performance at work improves, too. You need only look at the massive explosion of interest in crafts such as knitting and dressmaking in recent years to see how many people are choosing to occupy themselves in such creative activities.
The UK may not have embraced colouring in to the same degree as the French yet, but 2013 saw the launch of The Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt & Colouring Book by Johanna Basford(Laurence King, £6.97).
Now Art At Home and The Little Book Of Mindfulness author, Tiddy Rowan, has produced Colour Yourself Calm: A Mindfulness Colouring Book (Quadrille, £9.99, on sale 11 September), which contains 30 colour 'mandalas' (from the Sanskrit word for 'circle') with identical copies for you to colour in - mandalas are an ancient form of meditative art that draw your eye towards their centre and it's believed that colouring them in relaxes the mind, body and spirit while also allowing you to explore your creative side.
Pass the colouring pencils…
  • Mille Marotta's Animal Kingdom: A Colouring Book Adventure(Batsford, £9.99) features beautiful illustrations of fish, birds, mammals, trees, plants and flowers from the West Wales-based freelance illustrator. It will be published on 25 August
  • Pretty Patterns: Creative Colouring For Grown-Ups (Michael O'Mara Books, £9.99) is the latest offering from the publisher ofVintage Patterns, and offers 128 pages of flowers, birds and butterflies, along with geometric patterns, while the first half of the Creative Therapy Colouring Book (Michael O'Mara Books, £12.99, published 4 September) has magnificent pictures for colouring, and the second has a doddling section for a more free-style approach where you can let your own creativity take over!
https://psychologies.co.uk/why-adults-are-going-back-colouring-books

Sunday, November 30, 2014

8 Ways to Teach Mindfulness to Kids

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We know mindfulness is good for us. Mindfulness allows us to be present in our parenting, choosing a skillful response, instead of succumbing to our visceral reactions.
Mindfulness is also good for our kids. There is an emerging body of research that indicates mindfulness can help children improve their abilities to pay attention, to calm down when they are upset and to make better decisions. In short, it helps with emotional regulation and cognitive focus. Do I even need to ask if you want that for your kids?
So where do we start? How can we teach these important skills to our children?
First things first...
Establish your own practice. You would have trouble teaching your children ballet if you had never danced. To authentically teach mindfulness to your children, you need to practice it yourself. You can start slowly with a meditation practice of just five to 10 minutes a day. Find ways to incorporate mindfulness into your daily activities. Don't let this step intimidate you -- you're probably practicing a lot of mindful habits already!
Keep it simple. Mindfulness is a big word for young kids to understand. Put simply, mindfulness is awareness. It is noticing our thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and anything that is around us and happening right now.
Check your expectations. Are you expecting mindfulness to eliminate tantrums? to make your active child calm? to make your house quiet? If so, you are likely to be disappointed. While feeling calm or being quiet are nice side-effects of mindfulness, they are not the ultimate purpose.
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to recognize their thoughts as "just thoughts," to understand how emotions manifest in their bodies, to recognize when their attention has wandered, and to provide tools for impulse control. It is not a panacea, and it will not completely get rid of what is, frankly, normal kid behavior, like tantrums and loudness and whining and exuberance and arguing...
Don't force it. If your kids aren't interested in your lesson or activity, drop it. This is a good time for you to practice non-attachment to outcomes!
Now that we've got the preliminaries out of the way, here are some suggestions for how you can begin to introduce mindfulness to your children:
1. Listen to the bell. An easy way for children to practice mindfulness is to focus on paying attention to what they can hear. You can use a singing bowl, a bell, a set of chimes or a phone app that has sounds on it. Tell your children that you will make the sound, and they should listen carefully until they can no longer hear the sound (which is usually 30 seconds to a minute).
2. Practice with a breathing buddy. For young children, an instruction to simply "pay attention to the breath" can be hard to follow. In this Edutopia video, Daniel Goleman describes a 2nd-grade classroom that does a "breathing buddy" exercise: Each student grabs a stuffed animal, and then lies down on their back with their buddy on their belly. They focus their attention on the rise and fall of the stuffed animal as they breathe in and out.
3. Make your walks mindful. One of my children's favorite things to do in the summer is a "noticing walk." We stroll through our neighborhood and notice things we haven't seen before. We'll designate one minute of the walk where we are completely silent and simply pay attention to all the sounds we can hear -- frogs, woodpeckers, a lawnmower. We don't even call it "mindfulness," but that's what it is.
4. Establish a gratitude practice. I believe gratitude is a fundamental component of mindfulness, teaching our children to appreciate the abundance in their lives, as opposed to focusing on all the toys and goodies that they crave. My family does this at dinner when we each share one thing we are thankful for. It is one of my favorite parts of the day.
5. Try the SpiderMan meditation! My 5-year-old son is in to all things superheroes, and this SpiderMan meditation is right up his alley. This meditation teaches children to activate their "spidey-senses" and their ability to focus on all they can smell, taste, and hear in the present moment. Such a clever idea!
6. Check your personal weather report. In Sitting Still Like a Frog, Eline Snel encourages children to "summon the weather report that best describes [their] feelings at the moment." Sunny, rainy, stormy, calm, windy, tsunami? This activity allows children to observe their present state without overly identifying with their emotions. They can't change the weather outside, and we can't change our emotions or feelings either. All we can change is how we relate to them. As Snel describes it, children can recognize, "I am not the downpour, but I notice that it is raining; I am not a scaredy-cat, but I realize that sometimes I have this big scared feeling somewhere near my throat."
7. Make a Mind Jar. A mind jar is a bit like a snow globe - shake it up and watch the storm! But soon, if we sit and breathe and simply watch the disturbance, it settles. As do our minds.
8. Practice mindful eating. The exercise of mindfully eating a raisin or a piece of chocolate is a staple of mindfulness education, and is a great activity for kids. You can find a script for a seven-minute mindful eating exercise for children here.
Above all, remember to have fun and keep it simple. You can provide your children with many opportunities to add helpful practices to their toolkit -- some of them will work for them and some won't. But it's fun to experiment!
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-rudell-beach-/8-ways-to-teach-mindfulness-to-kids_b_5611721.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

Take a Listen: How Mindfulness Could Benefit Your Teaching Practice


"Some schools are building mindfulness programs into their curriculum as part of the effort to build social and emotional skills in addition to academic ones. Studies of mindfulness practice show that when kids focus on what they are feeling at a given moment in time they increase the functioning of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that controls executive functioning and self-regulation. While all kids live in an increasingly distracting world and could benefit from training how to focus, teachers in low-income schools have found that these kinds of programs are particularly helpful for kids struggling with trauma in their daily lives.
Chris McKenna describes his work at Mindful Schools in this audio interview on PAGATIM. For those looking to learn a little more about how mindfulness could benefit teachers and students, it’s worth a listen."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

The One Question Every Parent Should Quit Asking

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"Question #2: "What's the ultimate goal?"
Encouraging a child's potential is a good thing. And there is nothing wrong with extracurricular activities. They teach worthwhile skills and instill core values in a child. Values such as discipline, commitment, goal-setting, and persistence. And providing these opportunities is my job as a parent.
But there is a big difference between wanting what's best for your kids, and wanting them to be the best.
Wanting what's best for your kids is all about the child. It's about helping them find something they are passionate about so they are intrinsically driven to reveal the strengths that God gave them, whether in art, music, sports, writing, academics, or community service.
Wanting them to be the best is all about me. My expectations. My fears. So I yell at them from the stands, correct them after lessons, and coax them into activities that suck the fun out of childhood. And in the process, I teach them that their worth is wrapped up in how they perform. I teach them that second place is losing. I teach them that judgment is more important than love and acceptance.
And it is so wrong."

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Teacher to parents: About THAT kid (the one who hits, disrupts and influences YOUR kid)

Amy Murray is the director of early childhood education at the Calgary French & International School in Canada. The following post, which appeared on her blog, Miss Night’s Marbles and which I am republishing with her permission, is a powerful open letter directed to parents about THAT kid, the one other kids go home and talk about, the one who is violent, curses and gets angry in class, the one who parents worry will hurt, disrupt and perhaps influence their own children. Murray is also the co-founder of #Kinderchat (www.kinderchat.net), a twitter-based global community for educators of young children. She is a speaker and trainer on learning through play, self-regulation, behavior management, and the use of technology within the classroom.
Dear Parent:
I know. You’re worried. Every day, your child comes home with a story about THAT kid. The one who is always hitting, shoving, pinching, scratching, maybe even biting other children. The one who always has to hold my hand in the hallway. The one who has a special spot at the carpet, and sometimes sits on a chair rather than the floor. The one who had to leave the block center because blocks are not for throwing. The one who climbed over the playground fence right exactly as I was telling her to stop. The one who poured his neighbor’s milk onto the floor in a fit of anger. On purpose. While I was watching.  And then, when I asked him to clean it up, emptied the ENTIRE paper towel dispenser. On purpose. While I was watching. The one who dropped the REAL ACTUAL F-word in gym class.
You’re worried that THAT child is detracting from your child’s learning experience. You’re worried that he takes up too much of my time and energy, and that your child won’t get his fair share. You’re worried that she is really going to hurt someone some day. You’re worried that “someone” might be your child. You’re worried that your child is going to start using aggression to get what she wants. You’re worried your child is going to fall behind academically because I might not notice that he is struggling to hold a pencil. I know.
Your child, this year, in this classroom, at this age, is not THAT child. Your child is not perfect, but she generally follows rules. He is able to share toys peaceably. She does not throw furniture. He raises his hand to speak. She works when it is time to work, and  plays when it is time to play. He can be trusted to go straight to the bathroom and straight back again with no shenanigans. She thinks that the S-word is “stupid” and the C-word is “crap.” I know. 
I know, and I am worried, too.
You see, I worry all the time. About ALL of them. I worry about your child’s pencil grip, and another child’s letter sounds, and that little tiny one’s shyness, and that other one’s chronically empty lunchbox. I worry that Gavin’s coat is not warm enough, and that Talitha’s dad yells at her for printing the letter B backwards. Most of my car rides and showers are consumed with the worrying.
But I know, you want to talk about THAT child. Because Talitha’s backward B’s are not going to give your child a black eye.
I want to talk about THAT child, too, but there are so many things I can’t tell you.
I can’t tell you that she was adopted from an orphanage at 18 months.
I can’t tell you that he is on an elimination diet for possible food allergies, and that he is therefore hungry ALL. THE. TIME.
I can’t tell you that her parents are in the middle of a horrendous divorce, and she has been staying with her grandma.
I can’t tell you that I’m starting to worry that grandma drinks…
I can’t tell you that his asthma medication makes him agitated.
I can’t tell you that her mom is a single parent, and so she (the child) is at school from the moment before-care opens, until the moment after-care closes, and then the drive between home and school takes 40 minutes, and so she (the child) is getting less sleep than most adults.
I can’ tell you that he has been a witness to domestic violence.
That’s okay, you say. You understand I can’t share personal or family information. You just want to know what I am DOING about That Child’s behaviour.
I can’t tell you that she receives speech-language services, that an assessment showed a severe language delay, and that the therapist feels the aggression is linked to frustration about being unable to communicate.I would love to tell you. But I can’t.
I can’t tell you that I meet with his parents EVERY week, and that both of them usually cry at those meetings.
I can’t tell you that the child and I have a secret hand signal to tell me when she needs to sit by herself for a while.
I can’t tell you that he spends rest time curled in my lap because “it makes me feel better to hear your heart, Teacher.”
I can’t tell you that I have been meticulously tracking her aggressive incidents for 3 months, and that she has dropped from 5 incidents a day, to 5 incidents a week.
I can’t tell you that the school secretary has agreed that I can send him to the office to “help” when I can tell he needs a change of scenery.
I can’t tell you that I have stood up in a staff meeting and, with tears in my eyes, BEGGED my colleagues to keep an extra close eye on her, to be kind to her even when they are frustrated that she just punched someone AGAIN, and this time, RIGHT IN FRONT OF A TEACHER.
The thing is, there are SO MANY THINGS I can’t tell you about That Child. I can’t even tell you the good stuff.
I can’t tell you that his classroom job is to water the plants, and that he cried with heartbreak when one of the plants died over winter break.
I can’t tell you that she kisses her baby sister goodbye every morning, and whispers “You are my sunshine” before mom pushes the stroller away.
I can’t tell you that he knows more about thunderstorms than most meteorologists.
I can’t tell you that she often asks to help sharpen the pencils during playtime.
I can’t tell you that she strokes her best friend’s hair at rest time.
I can’t tell you that when a classmate is crying, he rushes over with his favorite stuffy from the story corner.
The thing is, dear parent, that I can only talk to you about YOUR child. So, what I can tell you is this:
If ever, at any point, YOUR child, or any of your children, becomes THAT child…
I will not share your personal family business with other parents in the classroom.
I will communicate with you frequently, clearly, and kindly.
I will make sure there are tissues nearby at all our meetings, and if you let me, I will hold your hand when you cry.
I will advocate for your child and family to receive the highest quality of specialist services, and I will cooperate with those professionals to the fullest possible extent.
I will make sure your child gets extra love and affection when she needs it most.
I will be a voice for your child in our school community.
I will, no matter what happens, continue to look for, and to find, the good, amazing, special, and wonderful things about your child.
I will remind him and YOU of those good amazing special wonderful things, over and over again.
And when another parent comes to me, with concerns about YOUR child…
I will tell them all of this, all over again.
 With so much love,
Teacher
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/11/14/teacher-to-parents-about-that-kid-the-one-who-hits-disrupts-and-influences-your-kid/

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Last Generation of Kids That Played Outside

A scary thought hit me while eating breakfast the other day: We're slowly killing the future of innovation.

Let me explain.
Consider the iPad -- The iPad was invented and built by grownups who had to play outside when they were kids. Fast forward to this current generation where the majority of kids sit inside staring at... an iPad.
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It sounds funny, but the iPad may actually cause future "iPads" from being dreamed, invented and built.
From the moment we all held an iPad, we knew it was a remarkable piece of technology and art. To build it, a team of brilliant people had to solve crucial problems, invent countless components and continually choose to not give up.
I remember a story one Apple executive told of his team receiving all the parts for the new iPad and then having to figure out how to fit them all into the smallest shell possible. It had to be thin, light and beautiful. How did they do it?
Not only that, but how did they think to create something like an iPad in the first place?
Then I remembered growing up in the small town of West Linn, Oregon. Many days were spent running around in the backyard, hooking up hoses, sprinklers and water-switches to create cool water shows. I remembered building forts with tarps and wood. I even remembered creating little ant houses with small twigs for walls, ramps and furniture.
I thought back to racing out to my garden the morning after planting beans or peas to see if they had magically sprouted over night, or making whistles by blowing on thick blades of grass. I remembered grabbing some pieces of scrap wood, a hammer and nails to try to make a birdhouse.
I recalled discovering a tiny maple tree leaf sticking out of the ground -- and noticing it was connected to the dirt. I remembered digging it up and replanting it in a proper place in the backyard. I watered and nurtured it until I moved out, watching it grow from a single leaf into a beautiful, full grown, 30 foot tree that provided shade for our house.
Then, in the winter months when it was too cold to be outside, the thousands of hours creating whole worlds, governments and economies out of Legos and Monopoly money. I didn't like sets -- I just wanted a bucket of Legos to build whatever my little head could dream up.
If you're over the age of 20 or 30, I'm sure you have similar stories of adventures in the woods -- of having to solve problems and think outside the box. You probably recall creating your own fun with seemingly boring items.
You weren't dependent on someone else's creativity and ingenuity. You knew how to dream.
You didn't need someone to entertain you or design things for you to have fun with. You could create a game with pinecones and sticks.
When this past generation of Apple creators sat down to dream up the next product, I believe they subconsciously drew back on their own "backyard" roots.
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They knew how to solve problems because they had solved them before. They knew how to dream up new possibilities because they had been doing that since they were a kid.
This brings me to the startling truth: If we allow the current generation to be satisfied thinking within a 9.7‑inch box, we'll rob them of the curiosity and creativity that it took to build that very device they're holding.
If we don't remove easy entertainment from our children, they'll never learn to create their own.
I don't know what the answer is for your family and your children -- but we must be drastic. It's time to stop saying, "But it's just easier to plop them down with the iPad." Or, "They'll throw a fit if they don't get to play with my iPhone."
Even Steve Jobs, the visionary behind the iPad, didn't let his kids use the iPad. He pushed them to play outside, read books and be fascinated with good conversation.
It's time to look inward. Are we losing the sense of wonder that we used to posses? Are our children simply following in our footsteps? Are we grownups forgetting the adventures we had? Are we lazily reading Twitter instead of showing our kids the endless possibilities of curiosity and dreams?
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We have the potential to create a new generation of kids who can imagine and explore -- who can think outside the box and create exciting things.
If we don't, those little maple leafs will go unplanted and eventually die. The ants won't have a fort to play in. The beans and peas won't have a friend to look after them everyday -- and, more importantly, the future "iPads" (or whatever is next) won't be created.
Let's raise a generation of kids that build bird houses and sprinkler shows. A generation that plants bean seeds, maple leafs or whatever else their minds can dream up.
Their future depends on it.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nate-hanson/the-last-generation-of-ki_b_6139504.html?utm_hp_ref=technology&ir=Technology

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Motivating Eager Lifelong Readers

Classroom Experiences to Motivate Eager Lifelong Readers
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It is more of a challenge in this time of an abundance of reading choices to engage students in the joyful habit of reading extended text in both fiction and nonfiction. With texting, Facebook, and other social media, younger and younger children have ready access to read and write about a topic of high interest to most individuals - themselves and their friends. They can also get instant updates on other areas of high personal relevance such as sports, music, entertainment, and video games. For many students, during the challenge of learning to read and the later burden of forced text reading assignments, the idea of choosing to read at length for pleasure is not something they've experienced or value.

Buy-In

The Harry Potter series was a boon to motivating a generation of young readers, but there may not be another series of books with the magnetic power of wizards for some time. Even without a new irresistible series, children can develop the joy of the reading books that already fill library and bookstore shelves. 

Students' interests are the most powerful motivating force to inspire reading. A study of 60 adults with dyslexia who all learned to read late (13 to 14 years) but eventually became good readers supports the motivating power of high interest good readers and writers. The commonality was they attributed their success to hard work driven by their desire to read about very high interest topics such as airplanes and the Civil War. (Fink, R. 2011. Why Jane and John Couldn't Read--And How They Learned

Use your knowledge of your students' interests or those of their age group in general such as their superheroes in sports, fantasy, or music, wild mustangs, science fiction, the ocean, space exploration, insects, people from other lands and times, and special seasonal events. Keep a variety and rotation of books and magazines (and if needed for special need students, recorded books) around the classroom related to their interests and provide casual opportunities for them to come in contact them. 

To extend reading interests and appreciation, observe which topics draw the attention of individual students. Use these observations (and note cards) to guide them to other books on the topics and to set up book clubs with students who share common interests. Once these "clubs" meet, peer curiosity will pull others into the topics that generate their classmates' enthusiasm. 

You'll also inspire expanding reading interests by providing a selection of books that include powerful images, illustrations, and photos such as National Geographic. Curiosity is strong in children, and when not snuffed out by forced assignments with little choice about what they read, they'll at least glance through these magazines or books and from the visuals and become lured into the text. 

For some kids, the "choose your own adventure" books are great for book buy-in. These books give the reader chances to make choices for the character. Their choice is linked with the instruction to turn to a particular page and the story progresses from there. They will develop the previously unlikely habit of rereading when they go back to the pages with the choice to select a different option. 

Because students will have different reading levels, you'll want to provide reading materials suitable to their independent skills. Watch how students evaluate the reading offerings. If a student shows high interest in a book out of her range but is quickly intimidated by the difficulty, length, or small print, seek out abridged versions (even in comic books, recordings, or video versions) as a starting point that offers achievable challenge. Once she has the gist of the plot and characters, she will have more background knowledge for context cues to progress to the complete book. Allow her to return to abridged book or notes taken from the introductory sources to check on her understanding of the movement of the plot, settings, or to keep track of the characters.

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A Cycle of Success and Pleasure

A cycle of success and pleasure can transform students from reluctant to eager readers. As they read more books in high-interest areas, the increased depth of the specialized knowledge that they acquire can help them develop valued expertise and motivate further reading. This cycle is facilitated if you incorporate their special knowledge into planning collaborative group activities that gives value to the expertise they develop in navigation, exotic parts of the world, rare animals, their high interest hero, inventions, or unusual customs. 

When classmates value the special knowledge they acquire from personally chosen reading, students experience a boost in self-image, confidence, and the recognition of the benefits that came from reading for pleasure. These experiences will promote more reading with the accompanying increase in reading skills. As the cycle continues, their increased reading skills will result in more satisfying reading experiences and progress to higher levels of challenge and success in all their reading.

Boost Their Dopamine and Tickle Their Mirror Neurons

 
Read aloud and leave them wanting more. Students of all ages enjoy being read to. The brain is even programed to squirt out a burst of the pleasure-activating neurotransmitter dopamine in response to being read to. Once you establish the reading of an engaging book or magazine article, plan ahead for a stopping place that is especially tantalizing. The desire of wanting more of the book, and of that dopamine, will increase their motivation for independent reading. 

For students not already engaged in an independent reading book, this is perfect timing for them to have five minutes to pick up a new book or magazine from those you've placed around the room, followed by time to explore or read their choices. Some will flip through and reject and try another while others dig in. It is the habit and interest in reading for pleasure that is the goal here, not the number of pages completed; so let them evaluate the books in their own ways. 

If you have regularly scheduled silent sustained reading periods, join in. Even when you don't have these specific opportunities to model your reading, find other times, such as during indoor recess on rainy days or when students take tests, to let them see your physical responses as you read. Your expressions, chuckles, little gasps of surprise, and gestures of satisfaction when you find something you were seeking make impressions on your students. Letting them see and hear your enthusiasm, satisfaction, or pleasure can activate their mirror neurons associated with the same positive emotions in their brains. If you can subsequently describe what you read that with authentic pleasure, you'll be modeling the satisfaction you hope your students will experience in their reading. 

It is also of value for students to see you being challenged when reading, such as by more technical books. This increases their comfort about difficulties they have reading complex books. Talk about your own reading challenges in class and at home. If the primary source historical documents you are reading are dense with facts and you needed to take frequent breaks, just do a few pages a day, or look up unfamiliar words, let your students know how you felt. Tell them, "It is hard reading. I keep getting up and moving to another chair or adjusting the lights. I need to give my brain a break, so I could get through it and learn what I really do want to know. Sometimes, I read the same sentence two or three times, and I even have to write things down, so I can understand and remember what I read. But it is worth it when I understand something that was unclear at first or learn something new and really cool that links to what I'll be teaching you. That happened last night and I can't wait to share it when we get to that topic." 

If you had trouble developing an interest in reading or had a harder time than your classmates when learning to read, this is also good information to share with your students. If there were special interests that connected you with certain books, share these memories. They may see you reading books with tiny print, many pages and no pictures, and think you were just a born reader and didn't have to struggle as they do. Knowing about your frustrations or embarrassments helps them remain optimistic when they are struggling in the same ways.

Overt the Rainbow

As your students' reading motivator, you'll be their guide to the worlds they can reach through books traveling over the rainbow and deep into vast pools of knowledge. Your guidance will light the way and the books they enjoy in your classroom will ignite their pleasure that awaits them as lifelong readers.

Keep igniting,
Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed.  jwillisneuro@aol.com
www.RADTeach.com