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Let's Hear from Professionals

A Magic Wand for You
by Nicola Woywitka

If you could wave a magic wand over your language arts classroom, what would you ask for?" I posed this question to a dedicated teacher. In essence, the following values emerged from our conversation.

Mrs. Peale said, "Essentially, I would like to ensure that my students see themselves as worthy of life's opportunities because they have self-esteem and positive character traits.

So that they have proof of their worthiness, I want them to perform language arts skills with excellence. Therefore they need to read well using higher level thinking skills, spell correctly, write with skill and talent, learn speech arts and stage presence, and score well on achievement tests.

In addition, their heart and soul must be nourished. This means enjoying poetry which is the language of the soul, achieving goals, integrating subject matter and skills to feel the interconnectedness of life, proceeding at their own rate of learning, and becoming balanced individuals by learning in different ways.

"Not asking much, am I?" she sighed. "I doubt if it's possible to accomplish all this in any one classroom. But if I had a magic wand, that's what I'd do."

If I hadn't encountered the Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning for language arts instruction, I would have agreed. Yet Blended Sound-Sight has proved to me that, through a remarkable classroom management system, Mrs. Peale's hopes and dreams for children can be achieved.

This program is a systematic and sequential way of organizing classroom instruction and classroom procedures which insure that children learn. Through the fun-filled and exciting motivators of setting and achieving goals, the students quickly become competent in the areas of reading and writing. When the goals are near, clear and attainable, it doesn't take long for the children to experience success, and this success develops a positive self-identity and the determination to reach the next goal.

Appealing visuals help the children chart and view their progress. Hands-on activities provide the necessary movement needed to connect the hand and the brain for optimum learning. Experiencing numerous learning styles offers opportunities to learn in one's dominant mode while gaining exposure to others. Rhyme, rhythm, storytelling, song, movement, drama and art are interwoven creatively through daily lessons, permitting children to learn through all the senses at their own pace.

This program motivates because all individuals acquire a sense of purpose, or a personal mission, which provides daily direction in their lives and which cultivates lifelong, positive character traits.

All children experience success in this program with its built-in success features. After the first week of school, for example, grade one students reach their first goal: a gold star for the correct reading of a very short story. A later goal becomes the reading of the Big Book which earns the privilege of taking home their first little reader.

When the children can demonstrate how to care for their activities and games, how to play them cooperatively with a partner, and how to move around the classroom without disturbing others, they may begin the much-looked-forward-to Activity Time. Proven competence in these activities allows them to move on to the the next goal, Discovery Card Packs. Completion of the packs give entrance to the Classroom Library. Similar setting and achieving of goals continues throughout the year.

Using Blended Sound-Sight is like waving a magic wand. Mrs. Peale was receptive. She implemented the program and observed her hopes and dreams for the children being accomplished. They learned to read, write and spell with skill in a rich, language environment. In a letter she wrote: "I am very grateful for this program and believe it is one reason why my classes have scored in the 89th percentile in overall language on their national test scores. It has enriched the educational experience for many children and has greatly aided my teaching."

The Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning became my answer to effective, dynamic leaning in the language arts classroom. It could be yours, too.

For information regarding the yearly summer workshop contact Alberta Vocational College - Continuing Education Division at cvandebu@telusplanet.net. Phone: (403) 523-6690. Fax: (403) 523-3303

Nicola Woywitka, began her teaching career in Edmonton, Alberta. She has taught all grades from preschool through middle school and most subjects.

Over the years, Nicola became interested in techniques that would help children learn in a variety of ways. Eventually, she incorporated into her language arts classes the Blended Sound-Sight Program of Learning, which provided an organized and creative method of meeting the needs of children at their various levels and interests. This led to her becoming a master instructor and teaching alongside the program's originator, Anna Ingham, who is a recipient of several awards for her work: the Hilroy award from the Canadian Teachers' Federation, the Founders award from the University of Saskatchewan and the Order of Canada, one of Canada's highest honors.

As a natural outcome of Nicola's desire to have the right activities and projects for her students, she began to create her own materials such as the book and musical cassette The Positive Pixies: 12 Steps to Success for Children and the teacher's guide for Fairy Tale Fun, a character-building, creative arts program for children.


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