“No one is born knowing how to read—we all have to learn how. When you read, your brain has to do a lot of things at once. It has to connect letters with sounds and put those sounds together in the right order” ~Sally Shaywitz, M.D., Overcoming Dyslexia
This year I challenged myself as an educator. I enrolled in a college graduate program working towards a certificate in Dyslexia Knowledge and Practice. It is important for me as a special education teacher to learn and apply what’s best for every student all day, every day, year after year. In my courses thus far, I learned a great deal about the brain, the layers of language, and the subtypes of dyslexia. Instead of using highways to connect information, students with dyslexia use country roads. Dyslexia can be quite complex and may not present in the same way(s) for every child. As educators, we must examine students from many different points of view and provide them with the tools and strategies so they can be successful learners.
My teacher dreams came true one day when we were told that a panel of students and adults were coming in to share with us personal experiences of dyslexia. My heart pumped a few extra beats with excitement when I heard the news! I had prepared a list of questions like, “how do you feel you learn best?” and “what motivates and encourages you?” I was delighted to meet the individuals on the panel and even more delighted to see that a couple of my former students and their families had been part of the panel. As they spoke, my mind kept reflecting (spinning) back to when I had them and questioning whether or not I met each of their individual needs. My mind questioned whether or not I had tuned into their social/emotional needs. My mind questioned whether or not I provided them with appropriate tools and strategies. As their former teacher, I felt like I had learned much more from taking my current courses than I had ever known.
Just then, I heard a comment which put my mind at ease and caused a smile to erupt on my face. Someone had asked the question, “what has made a difference for you in school?” A former student of mine glanced in my direction, locked eyes with me, and said,
“Buncee! You can use it for any subject! I love it because it has animations, stickers, typing, and I can record videos and my voice in order to explain my thinking.”
Listening to her words and tuning in to her voice as she spoke passionately about how Buncee made a difference for her, was a “mic drop” moment for me as her teacher. Buncee allowed her to unlock her passion for learning and creatively express her thinking with confidence and ease. We used Buncee in class to create book talks, have class discussions, provide peer-to-peer feedback on individual student Buncees posted to our Buncee boards, creative problem-solving tasks, share goals with parents, and more! This student wasn’t the only *person* Buncee made a difference for… Buncee has made a difference for her former teacher too!
One thing I will continually do is hit the refresh button in my brain to keep the child’s emotional state and self-concept in mind throughout the school year. As we approach our new school year, I encourage you to create a Buncee board and ask each of your students to share, “what has made a difference for you?”
Challenge yourself to shift ordinary teaching into extraordinary teaching and learning with Buncee. In doing so, we create opportunities for a ‘mic drop’ moment of difference for our students.