Auditory Disorders in Children Affect Learning

Auditory Disorders in Children Affect Learning

Auditory learning plays a large part in the learning process especially for a child. But what would happen to a child who listens but can’t hear what she’s supposed to hear?

For children with auditory processing disorder, distinguishing sounds proves to be a challenge. According to speech and hearing expert Gail Chermak  of Washington State University, an estimate of 2 to 5 percent of children are affected with the disorder and that many cases are left undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. This could be because the symptoms that are presented by people with APD which include difficulty paying attention, low performance in school, and poor reading and vocabulary are more often mistaken for attention deficit disorder (ADD) or Autism.

Since this disorder affects only a small population of children, APD is still little known. Thanks to the efforts of talk-show host Rosie O’ Donnell, some light has already been shed to this sporadic disorder. O’Donnell recounts their experiences and struggles with the disorder in a book “The Sound of Hope” by Lois Kam Heymann, the speech pathologist and auditory therapist who took attention to her son’s problem.

Heymann said while children with APD can hear perfectly, they have trouble distinguishing the different sounds from each other. Rhyming words may sound exactly the same to a child with APD. This makes the child work harder into making sense of what she hears and while she does that, the teacher not knowing the issue, continues at a normal pace. The child in turn gets left behind in her classes, and develops a limited vocabulary including difficulty in reading and spelling. Interacting with other s may also be hard for these children which results in social and behavioral problems.

To help children with APD, parents and educators should come up with adjustments to help the child cope with her environment. Carpets and strips of felt can be installed on the floors and tennis balls can be placed on chair and desk legs to minimize the noise and avoid the child becoming distracted. The use of simple words in giving instructions lets the child understand things better and faster and cutting out abstracts and metaphors is also very helpful in lessening confusion.

Parents’ efforts to support their child play a big role in the success of the learning process. Like in O’Donnell’s case, she cut back on large, noisy gatherings that are upsetting to her child. Another parent in Westchester County had the teachers wear a microphone that delivers the sound to a speaker installed on the child’s desk.

APD does not in any way affect a child’s intelligence. Blake, O’ Donnell’s son, has an encyclopedic knowledge of animals, accelerated classes in Latin and achieved honors in Science class. Though academics may reflect results of their hard work and adjustments, it doesn’t stop there. A child who accomplishes something acquires not only a sense of achievement but also a feeling of belonging and social acceptance, that she is no different than anybody else.

On-line Reputation Management

Online reputation management

By John Freeman

In the information age, your reputation is vastly different from years previous.

A good name can be worth millions, and we all know by now what happens when a good name gets into bad trouble. Tiger Woods is only one example of how important your reputation is, and how easy it is to be damaged. Perhaps irreparably.

The online world has created a new area of law in this age of Web 2.0. Its called Online Reputation Management Law, and it straddles the law of defamation, freedom of speech, privacy law, copyright law, and trademark law. It also involves the non-legal (but equally as important) fields of public relations and crisis management. Many of the legal issues in this area involve Facebook, which has over 350,000,000 users, (including about 90% of all the middle school and secondary school students you and your colleagues teach every day. You might be a Facebook user as well.)

If someone says or publishes something about another person that is untrue, not otherwise privileged, and this damages the other person’s reputation, this may well amount to defamation and legal consequences may follow. “online” publication of defamatory statements on Facebook, Twitter, or on blogs is still publication. But what if the damaged reputation is self-inflicted? Although there are things that older adults may share with others in more private ways, there has never been a generation so willing to share their innermost feelings, their outrageous opinions and their inappropriate photographs than the under-25 age group who make up the mainstay of Facebook. I hear stories about the things 15- to 18-year-olds post on Facebook through my own kids and their circle. But I see the 22- to 25-year-olds because they’re at an age where they want me to hire them in my law firm. Many of these people don’t seem to understand how the comments and photos they post to Facebook can be publicly accessible, profoundly inappropriate, and career-limiting.

From the 15-year-old’s perspective, it might be a badge of honour to post photos of her or his wayward drunken exploits on Facebook, knowing that, as their parents aren’t “friends,” Mom and Dad won’t see last week’s vodka bender. And it might be cool to tell the world you belong to groups and fan clubs that are sexually explicit, or to swear on one’s wall, knowing only one’s “friends” will see it.

But it’s disingenuous to think one’s parents (or the people close to them) won’t see the inappropriate photos and comments if the teen has 750 “friends” on Facebook, (how can anyone have 750 friends?). The reality is that, despite amendments to Facebook’s privacy controls to comply with the directives of Canada’s Privacy Commissioner, it’s still relatively easy to see and copy what a user has posted to Facebook.

I can only echo what most of the deans of Canada’s law schools tell their new students each year: “Clean up your Facebook pages. Your prospective employers are all law firms. They will be looking for you.”

I can tell you first-hand, we do. All employers do. We have to.

So here are a few legal and practical things that might interest you and your students about managing and protecting their online reputations.

1. Notwithstanding new privacy settings announced in December, 2009, Facebook can retain cached archives of everything everyone puts on Facebook, even if it’s deleted 60 seconds after being posted.

2. Any posting on Facebook can be saved to another’s computer by a simple screen shot. And any photograph on Facebook can be dragged to another’s desktop and circulated to others by e-mail, even though it may have been removed from the original poster’s Facebook page. Digital pictures pulled from Facebook can be Photoshopped and otherwise manipulated in very bad ways.

3. Insurance company investigators regularly check Facebook pages of those they are investigating, sometimes posing as high school friends, or friends of friends so they can surreptitiously see the Facebook page and confirm or deny the claim. A woman in Quebec was recently denied insurance coverage when investigators saw recent pictures of her “dancing up a storm” one night rather than convalescing at home after an apparent injury.

4. Canadian courts have ruled that one’s Facebook page can be evidence and can be the subject of cross examination, even though a defendant had made his page as private as possible.

5. A court in New York City forced Google (as owner of a particular blogging website), to disclose the name of an anonymous blogger who arguably defamed a prominent model; the moral of the story being that no one is anonymous anymore. The defamed can always find the defamer.

6. Displaying your birthday and work history may be inviting scammers to apply for credit cards and otherwise steal your identity. Don’t give out your birthday.

7. Tweets on Twitter will soon be searchable on Google, (so that tweets about how much a student hates his math teacher can be found by that math teacher).

8. Former NDP candidate Ram Lam had to abandon his candidacy during last year’s BC election when the press discovered sexually provocative pictures of him on his Facebook page.

9. Users should limit the number of friends on Facebook to real friends. If someone has 800 friends, one of them may be an insurance investigator, and another could be someone far, far worse.

10. Privacy Privacy Privacy. Facebook users should adjust their privacy settings so that only friends (and not “everyone”) can see what they have posted. And never allow “friends of friends” access. Although Facebook changed its privacy settings in December 2009, the Globe and Mail reports that 70% of users still have their settings set to “everyone can see everything,” possibly because they don’t know how the privacy settings work. And of course, Google sees it all.

11. Although Facebook doesn’t allow anyone under 13 to create Facebook pages, under 13’s lie about their age.

12. Parents might want to monitor Facebook and other social networking activities of their teens, but teens (understandably) don’t want to allow parent access as “friends.” Perhaps a “designated driver” is a good idea as a friend; a young adult the teen and the parent both trust, and who won’t contact parents about questionable postings or photos (but will call up the teen).

13. Finally, students shouldn’t post pictures or comments they wouldn’t want their mother, their grandmother, or their future employer to see, because one day soon, they will.

Anticipating Full-Day Kindergarten

By Karen Bernath

There has been a lot of discussion and debate about the concept of full-day Kindergarten since the government first started discussing the concept. Change can be very stressful and changing the Kindergarten students’ day to full time is a huge pedagogical shift from the way the Kindergarten program has been delivered over the course of my 21 years as a teacher in British Columbia. Many questions have been raised by teachers, parents and politicians alike—do four- and five-year-olds have the stamina for a full day at school? Will there be nap time? Will Kindergarten become a mini-Grade 1? Are we, as a society, placing too much emphasis on academic achievement? The government has made it clear that full-day Kindergarten IS happening—partial implementation for September 2010 and full implementation across the province for September 2011. There comes a time in the debate when we need to focus on moving forward as Reinhold Niebuhr said “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

The public debate and discussion around full-day Kindergarten has caused me, as a Kindergarten teacher, to examine my practice and reflect upon what I truly believe about the Kindergarten program. Many early primary teachers in my local have moved away from teaching Kindergarten in the last five years because of the workload issues associated with teaching Kindergarten in today’s world of high-stakes testing and accountability. I disagree with the screening of Kindergarten students before they have a chance to become familiar with the routines that will help guide them toward security in their learning environ ment. Being a Kindergarten teacher means doing double screeners in my district—one set for your morning class and one set for your afternoon class. Teaching K means double the report cards and double the parent teacher interviews—maybe one class of students for the full day wouldn’t be such a bad thing? The government has stated that the Kindergarten curriculum will not be doubled with the addi tional instructional time. Perhaps there will be an opportunity to move back to a true “play-based” program where children are allowed to learn in an experiential way. I have dusted off my Primary Program binder and started reminding myself of the way that I learned to teach primary back in the “Year 2000” with themes and centres and field trips and cooking. I have heard that the Provincial Primary Teachers’ Association is working on workshops to revive the Primary Program. Suddenly as a Kindergarten teacher, I’m excited about the possibilities—thinking maybe this change will be okay for our Kindergarten students. It is my professional responsibility to ensure that the proposed changes bring about positive benefits for the profession and the learning environ ment of my students, always striving for a program that is playbased, experiential, and values the developmental needs of the students in my classroom. One of my favourite quotes by Mary Englebreit comes to mind: “If you have knowledge, let others light their candles by it.”

As a Kindergarten teacher who has had the opportunity to teach full-day, every-day Kindergarten to a group of ESL, students with special needs, and First Nations students in the past, I will be helping my colleagues acquire the knowledge that they are seeking to ensure that this change is in the best interest of our Kindergarten students. Watch for workshops sponsored by the Primary Teachers’ Association and the BCTF in your local. I have decided that rather than stress about the change, I’m going to embrace it and use the additional time to make my Kindergarten program a good place for four- and five-year-old children to learn. In the words of Alan Cohen, “It takes a lot of courage to release the familiar and seemingly secure, to embrace the new. But there is no real security in what is no longer meaningful. There is more security in the adventurous and exciting, for in movement there is life, and in change there is power.”

Karen Bernath teaches at Bankhead

Elementary School, Kelowna, and is

a member of BCTF Professional

Issues Advisory Committee.

Public education at the brink

By Robin Barrow

The following is an excerpt from a presentation given at the Public Education Conference, November 13–14, 2009.

What the public school system is primarily there for is to educate people. Education is good in itself, because it is better to be educated than un- or, worse, mis-educated. Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied. The mind being the chief characteristic that distinguishes the human from other animals, to be well educated, to have well-developed understanding, is to be more fully human—to achieve a degree of specifically human excellence. It is to be empowered. It can also very plausibly be argued that educated people, by and large, make more of themselves and contribute more to society than the less well-educated. It should also be pointed out that social justice demands a public system for educating people, because, while of course one can educate oneself, by and large people don’t—in particular people already disadvantaged in various ways, don’t.

While I am as displeased as anyone with recent news relating to the economy, I do not think we should claim that a shortfall in our funding means that we cannot succeed.

What, then, does threaten the provision of a proper education?

  1. The confusion of education with training, or a preoccupation with preparing people directly for jobs rather than developing their minds.
  2. A lazy acceptance of the fashionable view that everything is a matter of opinion such that we cannot think in terms of right and wrong, correct and incorrect, sense and nonsense.
  3. A climate of political correctness that inhibits serious debate about such matters as inclusion or multiculturalism.
  4. An incoherent rhetoric of rights that has led to a degree of vulnerability for any teacher who wants to speak her or his mind, exercise discipline or, more broadly, make demands on, and “correct,” students.
  5. A misguided belief in a science of teaching and a consequent attempt to train teachers in various generic skills and practices: thus, for example, all teachers are supposed to follow the same “best practice,” to generate lesson plans in the same way, and to write report cards according to formula.
  6. A tendency to feel that it is inherently desirable to utilize the most up-to-date technology all the time, whereas in point of fact technology may very often get in the way of true education.

But surely the most obvious problem for today’s teachers is simply that more and more tasks are imposed upon them, most of which have nothing to do with education. It is the fact that teachers have more and more bureaucratic tasks to fulfill, that they are expected to take on all the social problems society faces, and that their freedom is constantly curtailed inhibits their ability to focus on education.

Robin Barrow is a professor, SFU Faculty of Education

It’s For The Kids

It’s for the kids

By Joanna Krop

“Teaching is becoming expensive for teachers when there’s no budget” read my Facebook friend’s wall post. He was buying an adaptor cable to show YouTube clips from his I-pod on a TV. I thought that’s great—it’s cheaper than DVDs and you have it for your own use too. But then someone posted that they were contemplating buying a video projector because the school couldn’t afford one.

Since I like to have money to do things, such as pay my bills, I flung myself into this debate. I posted: “I’d never spend so much for school unless I was being directly compensated. It’s time districts/ ministries started valuing the work we do rather than assume we are going to make up for the inadequacies of a system that undervalues its teachers not to mention students.”

People online didn’t like that.

To paraphrase the next five posts: We shouldn’t need to pay out-of-pocket but we do it because it’s good for the kids. If you don’t get what you think is needed, students suffer because you can’t do the best possible job. Unfortunately, it’s part of the job, but teachers who spend on their classroom take pride in having quality materials for students.

I doubt you’d find a doctor bringing in her own personal supply of gauze, disinfectant, and syringes for a shift in the emergency ward, in addition to the defibrillator she bought yesterday because the hospital didn’t have enough. How is it any less ridiculous when teachers do it?

It’s for the kids. I’ve said it before. I’m sure you have too. We’re not heartless—we’re teachers! But before we wax sentimental about why we went into teaching, let’s ask a critical question. When we say—it’s for the kids—which kids are we talking about?

Is it the kids of the teacher who has the economic and social positioning to be able to essentially donate money for the students? What about the kids of the teacher who can’t? Are we saying that such a teacher doesn’t take pride in having quality materials for their students? That the students should settle for an inadequately funded classroom? Even if teachers can afford it—should they?

While we are fortunate to have autonomy in our classrooms they are not “our” classrooms. The classroom and teacher are embedded within a larger system tied to social, political, and economic realities. That system has a mandate—to educate the future of the province. It is not like donating your time or money to a non-profit that does good works with kids. The ministry is not a charity. When we take it upon ourselves to make up for the inadequacies of the system, we enable it to get away with not fulfilling its mandate.

Back in the Facebook debate I posted again: “I’m all for what’s good for the kids so long as it’s not to the detriment of the teacher. Principled political action through your union, your vote, or letters to your MLA is, to me, preferable to taking this on with your wallet.”

The refrain, “It’s for the kids,” needs to expand beyond the limited scope of the 30 kids in our class to the thousands of kids in our districts and the collection of districts across the province. The responsibility of funding education rests with the province, not with the teacher. If anything should be “for the kids,” it’s a strong, well-funded education. They deserve it.

Joanna Krop, Queensborough Middle School, New Westminster. Joanna also has a blog on wellness for teachers:

The three basics of being a successful, self-employed tutor

The three basics of being a successful self-employed tutor: Business, Academics & Personal life

You are a brilliant tutor and have a well-established list of long-term students who refer their friends to you constantly. You spend the time to prepare for each of your students and go the extra mile to be original, creative, and even more entertaining so your students learn effectively while enjoying their lessons with you. Your collection of testimonials is growing and now you almost do not even need to advertise… students call you only because they heard of you from someone else. You have turned into a tutoring celebrity keeping a busy schedule and at the same time desperately trying to sneak in a moment for a massage, run in the park, or even a quiet day of reading at home with your phone off.

Now that you have established your business, you will have the opportunity to step back and look at it as exactly… a business.You are your company. The sooner you realize this fact, the easier it will be for you to maintain it and further develop it. A very good start would be to write down everything that you have achieved so far and then list all the goals you foresee that you will achieve in the future. This simple exercise will give you direction – what are you aiming at? More clients? Sub-contracting other tutors? Increasing your price? Improving the quality of your service? Now that you have all answers (please remember that this is only a beginning point for you and your goals and perspective may change with circumstances or as time goes by) you can draw the map, which will get you there. Your map is your portfolio – business, academic, and personal.

Your business portfolio is going to provide the financials and business development information. Create a system of filing every piece of paper that will be relevant to your business. Example of documents you will need:

Revenue spreadsheets: expense and profit
Include both current (where you are) and future (where you want to be in a certain period of time). Record all discounts, sample lessons, promotions, etc. Include everything that brings or spends money from your bank account. The easiest way to keep track of all profit and expenses is by creating invoices/receipts for your clients. Number and date them and file them accordingly – by student name, by topic, or by date. Meanwhile, keep all receipts from your purchases and expenses for accurate calculation of your costs. Remember that as a business owner (even if you don’t have a registered company or business name you must keep these records; in Canada you don’t need to register a company if your revenue is under $30 000/year – consult with an accountant!) you must provide all income sources and write off eligible expenses when you file your income tax. Your business revenue is your personal revenue if you are a sole-proprietor or have a home-based business.

Marketing: Ad campaigns and referrals
Record all your advertising sources and keep track of how students hear about you. This will show you which sources are worth expanding and which you need to stay away from. For example, if you have been paying $100/month for a newspaper ad but no students actually found you through it, you will not need that expense and it is a dead-end source. If you spent 2 days and $200 to print and distribute flyers and 80% of your students come to you with this very flyer in hand, then maybe you should relocate the $100 from the newspaper ad into printing out more flyers and even pay someone to distribute them for you.

Keeping track of all referrals is extremely important. Who sent whom to you? Are you going to give some sort of reward for the person who referred 3 new students to you? Record all relationships of your students who refer other people to you. Maybe you have included a “buddy discount” in your ad campaign and now people are taking advantage of it. Make sure you know whom these people are. Give them incentive to keep sending you students and reward them for “working” for you.

Your academic “map” scripts who you are as a tutor and educator. This is your academic portfolio where you store your teaching materials, research, articles, professional development pieces, ready-to-use materials, demonstration materials, sample lessons plans, etc. This virtual academic bank starts with your educational philosophy and goals, and finishes… never. This is the ongoing work of a professional educator who collects, revisits, reflects and develops every artifact in it. Your academic portfolio will not only demonstrate your methodology and resources, but it will also help you organize your work as an educator. Remember to include your testimonials in this portfolio. There is nothing better than being able to open a page and show your potential clients what past students have said about you or what gifts they’ve given you. Choose the best format to represent your academic portfolio – paper-based, electronic (webpage, blog, etc.) or combined.

Your academic map will also include your students’ files. Keep track of what you teach. Knowing how your students progress and what you have already taught them is precious. It is very important that you include lesson plans you have already used – did they work? Why or why not? Every student has different interests and personality and you will benefit from keeping a diary of your interactions. Believe me, when you have so many students and so many lessons, you will start to forget or mix up students. This is a normal course of the tutoring process and you are not a robot or computer to memorize every little detail. That is why it is worth recording it instead.

That’s right! Your personal life also needs organizing. As you are your company, you need to make time for work and you need to make time for rest, vacation, coffee time, breaks, etc. Make sure you always have a calendar handy so you can record appointments, dinners, etc. There is nothing more embarrassing than calling a student to cancel a lesson because you forgot you had a hair appointment at the same time. A calendar is an excellent time-management tool which is a lifesaver when it comes to scheduling.

Nothing Official – reality cheque

Nothing official—reality cheque

By Tony Wilson

Reprinted from Bartalk Magazine

Maybe we’re not quite as valuable as we think we are

My daughter is entering Grade 12 this year, which means she has only a few hoops left to jump through before she graduates, and then discovers that life will force her to jump through hundreds more on her way to what she will inevitably “do for a living.” I’m told it won’t be law, which she describes as “Job Z.” Oh well.

The amazing thing is that the three-year-old girl who I used to take to “parent participation pre-school” in the 1990s (instead of sitting at my desk recording billable hours on some forgettable file), is now a self-assured and confident young woman who drives a car, scuba dives with me in Mexico, speaks fluent French, skis like a pro, and is looking at university calendars as I write this. She pens stories in her spare time and has no difficulty sitting in her room for hours immersed in a new book. A friend from Victoria e-mailed me last month and said, “Emma’s in Grade 12? How did that happen?”

Since we’ve had our two kids, my wife and I have always left the house and returned from our respective law offices at sensible hours, in large part, to have dinner together as a family, and to not let the practice of law consume us like it can (and does) consume others. It’s a trade-off in terms of compensation, but we think it’s a good one. They’re only kids once, and then they’re not. Blink, and you may miss it.

But between 8:00 a.m. and 3.30 p.m. we have more or less surrendered our kids to their teachers since they were in Grade 1, (and if you count Kindergarten, even longer). So the daytime upbringing of our most important “treasure” has been entrusted to other people between the months of September to June, Monday to Friday, for almost 12 years now (summers, holidays, and Pro-D days excepted). That may well amount to 15,000 billable hours per child, if teachers billed by the hour (being professionals of course, they don’t). At my hourly rate, that’s $6 million each. And that doesn’t include the after hours marking time, sports coaching time, lesson prep time, one-on-one time, and the countless hours that their teachers put in over and above simply showing up for class. So to an enormous extent, the people who are responsible for shaping what direction our kids’ learning will take, (and arguably, who they will inevitably become as adults) are their teachers.

Although I am olive green with envy over their impressive pension plan, why is it that society pays me (and you) buckets more money to draft contracts, close business transactions, or defend insurance companies than those who are responsible for educating the most important people in our lives? Sure, it’s great for me to charge $400 per hour for what I do, but why is drafting a franchise agreement for yet another new chain of pizza restaurants worth more than teaching my kids French or Biology or how to successfully jump through the hoops that life will put in front of them? Regrettably, it’s the same society that thinks CEOs, hedge-fund managers, and professional hockey players are worth gazillions of dollars a year, but teachers shouldn’t be paid more than $70,000 because they get summers off and can go home at 4:00 p.m.

It’s all too easy to be seduced by our own sense of self-importance, just because we’re paid a lot of money, or we know how the levers of power work, or because others put a value on the legal profession that, dare I say, is sometimes out of proportion with other vocations and callings. In many ways, teachers are more valuable than lawyers, because unlike us, they don’t talk about changing the world. They do it day by day—child by child.

Some of my closest friends in the world chose to become teachers rather than lawyers. And it makes me very happy that my daughter wants to become one too.

Tony Wilson is a Vancouver franchise and intellectual property lawyer practicing with Boughton Law Corporation and is an adjunct professor at SFU. He has written for the Globe and Mail, Macleans Magazine, and Lawyers Weekly, and is a regular columnist with Canadian Lawyer and Bartalk Magazine, where this article first appeared. He is currently writing a book on ìOn-Line Reputation Management.î