eReader Convert

Screen shot of books I'm currently reading using the
Kindle app on my iPad.
Reading books on my iPad has changed me as a reader. I have always been a big nonfiction reader, mostly professional books and procedural texts. But since getting the Kindle app, I've read more fiction  in the last two months than I have in years. I can finally see the text big and crisp and back lit. I don't have to turn my head from side to side to find the sweet spot in my bifocals. I can feel my eyes relax and I know I'm reading faster. Maybe I just think I am reading faster. Funny, even as an adult the idea of reading faster makes me feel more proficient.

As a kid, I struggled with reading, at least that is what my one of my teachers thought. I didn't like reading because I wasn't good at it. I remember my second grade teacher would let out this audible impatient sigh every time I couldn't remember the difference between "there" and "where" and "were." I hated the Sally, Dick, and Jane books. Those books weren't anything like the books at home. I much preferred Madeline and Curious George but I couldn't read those either. I loved books but I hated reading. From this former struggling readers point of view, reading is more appealing with my iPad.

In my mind's eye, I see eReaders the same way I see classroom amplification systems. Classroom amplification systems increase student attention and the redundancy of the auditory signal. This means that it is easier for students to pick up on sounds and words and the subtleties of oral communication that carry so much meaning. For example, I love reading aloud using a REDCAT because I can change the intensity and cadence of my voice in ways that hold the attention of a large group of children. And classroom amplification systems are especially effective for children who have had multiple ear infections or attention and learning difficulties. A device such as the REDCAT amplifies the teachers voice so that background noise is less distracting. For me, the iPad works in a similar way. It enhances the visual signal and helps me focus on the print. Reading feels easier. I'm not overwhelmed by the amount of text on the page and I feel like I'm reading faster even though I'm probably not. I am also less fatigued when I read.

I would love to get more eReaders or iPads into the hands of kids, especially struggling or disengaged readers. I would be fascinated to hear what children have to say about their own reading experiences when using an eReader. Hopefully, major studies will quickly appear to show what impact these devices are having on young readers. I wonder if reading using an eReader changes reading process. I created the Lino It canvas below to save links to articles I have been collecting on the this topic. Select the the icon of the canvas below for a larger view.

One Little Word Wednesday: Thread

The first happy vegetables from my
garden. :)
I'm growing tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers for the first time. My garden is more like a patch, very small with five tomato plants, five pepper plants (one died), and three cucumber plants. I harvested my first cuke and three banana peppers yesterday. I really don't know squat about growing things. As a kid, my dad's garden took up most of the backyard. I liked being in the backyard among the beans, tomatoes, and strawberries. Somehow my little patch stitches me to my childhood summers. Summers meant sewing projects, riding my bike to the pool, and sitting in my crab apple tree pretending to be Julie Andrews or Karen Carpenter and surveying the progress of my dad's vegetables. Summers meant getting bored too, which wasn't a bad thing at all. When I was a child, having nothing to do wasn't something that was advertised too loudly. Complaining about being bored resulted in cleaning and weeding. As an adult, I am seldom if ever bored, which must be why my house tends to be a mess and there are weeds in my garden. When I go out this morning and survey my patch, I won't be sitting in a tree or singing. I'll be drinking tea and humming threads of Wouldn't It be Loverly.

Six-Foot Wingspan

"It's a rooster. It's one of the neighbor's roosters. See the red."

"No way, that thing is huge. I'm getting the camera."

"Maybe it's a turkey."

"Here, look through the lens."

"Geez, that thing is butt-ugly.That bird has one wicked helmet."

Yes, turkey vultures are butt-ugly, at least their heads are. What the heck was a turkey vulture doing in our neighborhood? He didn't seem to be in any hurry to leave. As he swooshed down from our neighbor's fence I could see the wingspan. Amazing. I wanted to get closer look with the camera but I was a little afraid. I didn't know if these birds were dangerous or not. My 6'2" football player son, who first spied the raptor wouldn't leave the deck. Baby. I stepped out into the grass, a good 30 yards from the thing, and tried to focus the camera. Maybe just another step. I snapped a few pictures. His feathers were beautiful but that head . . . and that icky eye.

"Mommmmm, he's lookin' at you. If that thing gets any closer, I'm outta here."

Wish I could have held the camera steadier.

Sticking with Blogger (for now)

With my recent move back to speech therapy I figured why not start a new blog to document this transition. I created One Speech Therapist as a companion blog to One Literacy Coach. Since I view blogs as ongoing pieces of writing, I needed to consider audience and purpose for the new blog. My purpose for blogging really hasn't changed in the last year and a half. I blog because I enjoy connecting with other educators, bloggers, and writers and sharing ideas. I'm not interested in selling anything or blogging for profit. The challenging part for me for this new blog is audience. Who do I want to connect with? Speech therapists have lots of different specialties and work in many different settings. And I'm not even sure who I am as a speech therapist anymore, although I'm working on it. I've been reading, reading, reading, articles and published handouts and PowerPoint's from recent conferences. I'm also reading professional books written by speech therapists with a deep understanding of literacy and the reciprocal nature of oral language, written language, and reading. So what does all this have to do with sticking with Blogger?

I considered using WordPress for my new blog. I read and reread blog post after blog post touting the benefits and disadvantages of a variety of web hosts, and I decided to stick with Blogger. I know I don't own my content but I'm okay with that. And WordPress isn't going to help me with my concerns about audience. Figuring out audience will take time and effort regardless of the blogging platform I choose to use. WordPress has wonderful features but  I'm not willing to invest the time yet to learn how to navigate it. Blogger is so easy to use and I haven't encountered significant reasons to switch. My biggest whine about Blogger used to be the lack of threaded comments and they added that feature a few months ago. I also enjoy using Blogsy to write and publish posts and it works like a charm in Blogger. Actually, I think Blogsy works great with WordPress and other web hosts as well. Blogsy is an awesome app by the way. So for now, I'm sticking with Blogger.

Going Back to Speech

So you are going back to speech therapy. Wow. That is sort of unexpected. You have been gone for twelve years, which is about nine years longer than you ever anticipated. So why did you leave your comfy speech therapy world to dive into the unchartered territory of literacy coaching to begin with? Oh yeah, you wanted to see if you could glean enough about the connections between oral language, reading, and writing so that you could assist children with language learning difficulties to better access core curriculum. Yup. That’s why. So did you figure all that out yet? Nope. Yeah, but you know a lot more now than you did twelve years ago, right? Yup. That’s good, right? Yup. You knew you would probably have to go back eventually and it isn’t that you left speech because you didn’t like it. You were just looking . . . looking for something more. Looking for answers. Hoping to study things that your grad school profs would have certainly viewed as out of the realm of a speech therapist. So how are you going to handle this transition back? After everything you’ve learned, there is no way you will do things the way you used too. Nope. No way. Maybe some things. You seem a little . . . worried, no, no, more than worried, maybe . . . scared. Yeah, I know you are still sad about the whole lit coach thing but you have to move on. So you are sad and scared and ticked and a whole bunch of other emotions but you’re gonna have to get over it. Good grief, at least you have a good job for crying out loud! That is a heck of a lot more than a lot of people can say in this town. Get off your pity-pot. Here is a to-do list to help get you going.

  1. Find your ASHA (American Speech and Hearing Association) membership card and log into their website.
  2. Review and collect relevant articles on CCSS and speech therapy services from LSHSS (Language Speech and Hearing Services in the Schools) journals.
  3. Search for interesting speech therapist bloggers.
  4. Check Pinterest for speech therapy resources and apps.
  5. Obtain a copy of Michigan Guidelines for Speech Therapy Services.
  6. Read the last book in the 50 Shades trilogy. 

Moving On

 Change feels more inevitable than good right now. Learning communities don't last forever. They are static. I know that. I understand that. I accept it. But I don't have to like it. The literacy coaching initiative in our district has officially come to an end. We had a good run. Twelve years. Twelve years of study, discovery, experimenting, documenting success, and collaboration. To my fellow cliff divers, Fran, Laura, Colleen, and Billi, you have changed the course of my life. Words just aren't enough.

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