Friday, January 30, 2015

Superflex and Rockbrain

As we continue to learn about and practice self control, we will introduce two new characters in Peace Class in the month of February: Superflex and Rockbrain. Both of these characters are from the wonderful curriculum of Stephanie Madrigal and Michelle Garcia Winner that teaches young children cognitive-behavioral strategies for thinking about and managing their own behaviors. We will be learning all about the words "flexible" and "inflexible" (for more on that, see my previous blog post), and how to apply these concepts to our thoughts and actions. We will learn how Superflex uses his flexible thinking strategies to defeat Rockbrain, his nemesis who likes to invade brains and get them stuck on ideas, and how they can practice the same strategies when getting "stuck" cognitively at
school or home. Do you have a child who refuses to turn off the video games when it's time for homework? Who only wants to eat plain pasta night after night? Who has to sit in the same spot to watch TV and gets upset if someone else "takes it?" That's Rockbrain at work! As the month goes on, look out for strategies and phrases you can use to help your child "defeat" Rockbrain and be super flexible all the time. They will be coming home with your child as we learn about these concepts in school. As always, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments, or concerns!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Response to Intervention (RTI): A Primer for Parents

Greetings Parents...Welcome to 2015.  The first semester is over and we are entering into the second half of the 2014-2015 school year.  The Lafayette staff is here to help you if you have any questions.  We are part of the resources available to help your child succeed in school.  Harriet

Mary Beth Klotz, PhD, NCSP, and Andrea Canter, PhD, NCSP of the National Association of School Psychologists stated that a major concern for parents as well as teachers is how to help children who experience difficulty in school. All parents want to see their child excel, and it can be very frustrating when a child falls behind in either learning to read, achieving as expected in math and other subjects, or getting along socially with peers and teachers. Response to Intervention (RTI) is a multi-step approach to providing services and interventions to struggling learners at increasing levels of intensity. RTI allows for early intervention by providing academic and behavioral supports rather than waiting for a child to fail before offering help. Some new federal laws have directed schools to focus more on helping all children learn by addressing problems earlier, before the child is so far behind that a referral to special education services is warranted. These laws include the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004.  Both laws underscore the importance of providing high quality, scientifically-based instruction and interventions, and hold schools accountable for the progress of all students in terms of meeting state grade level standards. RTI is a process designed to help schools focus on these high quality interventions while carefully monitoring student progress. The information gained from an RTI process is used by school personnel and parents to adapt instruction and to determine the educational needs of the child
 What Are the Essential Components of RTI?
“Response to Intervention” refers to a process that emphasizes how well students respond to changes in instruction. The essential elements of an RTI approach are: providing scientific, research-based instruction and interventions in general education; monitoring and measuring student progress in response to the instruction and interventions; and using these measures of student progress to shape instruction and make educational decisions. A number of leading national organizations and coalition groups, including the National Research Center on Learning Disabilities and the 14 organizations forming the 2004 Learning Disabilities (LD) Roundtable coalition, have outlined the core features of an RTI process as follows:
• High quality, research-based instruction and behavioral support in general education.
• Universal (school-wide or district-wide) screening of academics and behavior in order to determine which students need closer monitoring or additional interventions.
• Multiple tiers of increasingly intense scientific, research-based interventions that are matched to student need.
• Use of a collaborative approach by school staff for development, implementation, and monitoring of the intervention process.
• Continuous monitoring of student progress during the interventions, using objective information to determine if students are meeting goals.
• Follow-up measures providing information that the intervention was implemented as intended and with appropriate consistency.
• Documentation of parent involvement throughout the process.
• Documentation that any special education evaluation timelines specified in IDEA 2004 and in the state regulations are followed unless both the parents and the school team agree to an extension.

Perhaps the most commonly cited benefit of an RTI approach is that it eliminates a “wait to fail” situation because students get help promptly within the general education setting.  Secondly, an RTI approach has the potential to reduce the number of students referred for special education services while increasing the number of students who are successful within regular education. Since an RTI approach helps distinguish between those students whose achievement problems are due to a learning disability and those students whose achievement problems are due to other issues such as lack of prior instruction, referrals for special education evaluations are often reduced. RTI techniques have been favored for reducing the likelihood that students from diverse racial, cultural or linguistic backgrounds are incorrectly identified as having a disability. Finally, parents and school teams alike find that the student progress monitoring techniques utilized in an RTI approach provide more instructionally relevant information than traditional assessments.



Mindfulness transforms a school community

From Fight School to Peace School

This is a powerful video segment about the dramatic effects of a mindfulness program in a San Francisco middle school.  The principal of what was once called "Fight School" was so desperate that he finally agreed to try mindfulness.  He even agreed to add 30 minutes on to the school day so that every single student had a chance to practice mindfulness for 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes at the end of the day.  The results are miraculous.  Check it out:

- Linda

Mindfulness at the Super Bowl?!

Mindfulness at the Super Bowl?

This week my students were pretty surprised to hear me talk about football since it's not exactly the most peaceful of sports.  But it turns out that the kids at Lafayette have something major in common with the Seattle Seahawks:  they all practice mindfulness!  As you may know, the Seahawks have not always been the best team but they won the Super Bowl last year and are going to the Super Bowl again this year.  Most commentators attribute their recent success to Coach Pete Carroll's emphasis on Mindfulness Meditation.  Coach Carroll believes that mindfulness helps his players focus, block out distractions, deal with anger, anxiety and stress, and create a more cohesive team.  Check out these articles to find out more about Coach Carroll's philosophy.  If mindfulness can help professional football players play better, just imagine what it can do for our little leaguers, or soccer players, or ballet dancers, or violin players!

- Linda

Monday, January 5, 2015

Topic for January: Self Control

Hello and welcome back to school! I'm sure parents are as excited about this time of year as we are; it's nice to be back in our routine. This month we are kicking off our Peace classes with the topic of Self-Control for students in grades Pre-K and K. We will be watching some of the Cookie Monster videos on self-control, whole body listening, and following directions and then putting those terms into practice with games and activities in the classroom. You can follow along by checking out the videos at home (if you're a Star Wars fan, you'll especially enjoy "Star S'Mores") and asking your child to tell you what they know about the topic. 

We will also continue practicing mindfulness at the beginning of each class. The kids are getting very good at belly breathing (also called "flowers and candles") to help self-calm. Today one little girl told me she used belly breathing over the break when she got mad at her mom and it helped her not feel so angry. That's why we practice every week, and you can encourage your child to use this and other self-control methods at home such as counting to ten, thinking about something else, or going to a calm-down spot in the house. Research has proven that as kids get a little older and more mature, these self-regulation skills learned early on will help them face increased challenges and make better decisions when it's most important...something we all want for our kids! For more information on that reserach, check out this review of the Cookie Monster series.

Happy New Year,