Friday, January 20, 2012

YES ... Allow the JOY!!

As I read the article here posted, a conversation this past Monday, with the parents of a young student enrolled in the APOGEE Achiever™ Program, was clearly defined. A "Standardized" Reading Evaluation administered by the school, he is presently attending, indicated that the child was below grade level in reading, and obtained a reading comprehension score considerably below grade level. When looking at the reading passages, his answers, and the 53% rating he received, it became obvious that there was something amiss here. This young student is bright, verbal, sensitive, deeply aware and able to be discerning when what is presented is itself clear. It became evident that the passage was indeed confusing, firstly, because of the particular use of words that were not familiar to him. Once those words were 'cleared' his understanding was indeed on target.

On New Year’s Eve, we and another couple sat, as we have for many years, playing party games — waiting for midnight, a final toast, and a conservative but not reactionary bedtime shortly thereafter.

In past years our friends’ two girls led (and clobbered) us in rousing games of Pictionary; this year they were too old to hang out with their parents on this most festive night of the year. Our kids (younger) were already asleep.

Instead of Pictionary without the champions we decided to play a new game: “take the third-grade English Language Arts practice test” that our son had brought home from school as his vacation homework (if that is not an oxymoron, it should be).

We felt pretty confident of our ability to do well on the test: we all have Ph.D.’s in the humanities, three of us are tenured professors and one is a university administrator. We all make a living through reading.

The first section of the test comprised reading a short story and answering six multiple-choice questions about it. The story, concerning a pair of tiger siblings (an older sister named Tikki and a younger brother named Mista), was short and simple.

“Tikki eyed Mista, her little brother,” it began. ” ‘You sure don’t say much,’ she said.”

In the course of the story Tikki gets annoyed with her little brother because he can’t talk yet, attempts to get him interested in looking for bugs, then joins him in tearing bark off a log.

She tries to instruct him in this task, but discovers to her surprise that he is better at it than she is.

The first question asked, “What is this story mostly about?” (bold present on the test question) and offered four choices:

  • A) what tigers like to eat
  • B) how tigers tear bark off logs
  • C) how two tigers get along
  • D) what tigers like to do

An intense literary debate followed the reading aloud of the story and this first question. In fact, we never got beyond it. One of our party felt that B, “how tigers tear bark off logs,” best summed up the action-oriented nature of the story, while another thought that C, “how two tigers get along,” best highlighted the interaction between the two animals.

The third felt that the story was mostly about sibling relations, and fretted that there was no E) none of the above.

And, predictably, the fourth felt that all the possible answers had merit: F), or all of the above.

The truth is, even such a banal story cannot be reduced to a single theme, nor should it be. By asking young students to spend time taking tests like this we are doing them a double disservice: first, by inflicting on them such mediocre literature, and second, by training them to read not for pleasure but to discover a predetermined answer to a (let’s not mince words) stupid question.

Consider for a moment what it would be like to try to answer this question of a major work of children’s literature. So: what is the story “Piglet Meets a Heffalump” mostly about?” Is it about hunting and trapping techniques? Facing one’s fear of scary monsters? Joining with others in a great enterprise? Trying to impress your friends by claiming knowledge you don’t possess? Or does it mostly reveal how friendship and love can transcend all our foibles?

It is about all these things and more. Discovering such themes and trying to understand how they are presented is worthwhile; deciding which is the “main” one is not.

Literary texts, whether by A.A. Milne or Leo Tolstoy, always admit multiple interpretations — and the greater the work, the more robust the tension among these readings, and the graver the loss in trying to reduce the work to a single idea.

We cannot help but see a connection between the reductive approach to literature exhibited by the test and the reading program in place in the classroom, which we learned about during curriculum night early in the school year. We were informed that the school’s system for teaching reading was that of Fountas and Pinnell, a widely used curriculum developed at Columbia Teachers College.

This system ranks books, and children’s reading skill, according to an alphabetical scale of difficulty (“Harry Takes a Bath,” level E; “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets,” level V).

During curriculum night the teacher admonished that our children should under no circumstances read books either above or below their assigned level, because that would hamper their progress. She also frowned upon their reading a book more than once, presumably because it wastes valuable time children could be spending improving their reading strategies on new books.

These instructions were completely at odds with the way we both read as children: we re-read beloved books dozens, if not hundreds, of times, for years after our initial encounters with them, long after they had ceased to be challenging.

This is how our love of literature was born: by having committed to memory our favorite books, by internalizing the rhythms and cadences of their language. And yes, also by tackling books that were too hard, experiencing the excitement and mystery of partially glimpsing visions we would only possess in the distant future (long after the spring testing season).

By turning the experience of reading into something that is to be quantified, both in the way it is taught and the way it is tested, our son’s curriculum ensures that children will learn to regard reading as a chore and not as one of life’s great pleasures. Worse, it can become an instrument of competition.

“Greg is only reading at level E,” our son informed us scornfully early in the year after Greg had hurt his feelings over something. “And I’m at level P!”

In his recent State of the State address, Governor Cuomo said he wants to be an advocate for children. Let him lobby to protect their natural curiosity and love of learning from the onslaught of anti-intellectual, ends-oriented teaching practices forced on our educators by over-emphasis on standardized tests.

Thus was our first, and only, new year’s resolution formed as the clock struck midnight and we opened one last bottle of Spanish Cava to toast the new year: We will boycott the standardized test this spring, and we will do everything we can to encourage fellow parents to join us.

Anne Stone is associate professor at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Jeff Nichols is associate professor at Queens College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. They are the parents of eight-year-old twins in the third grade in New York City schools.

Article Source:

An Added Word

In 1975, as Founder of the Rockland County Association for Children with Learning Disabilities, and subsequently the President of the New York Association for the Learning Disabled, I launched a campaign, "KEEP A SMILE...." It was later proclaimed by the Governor of New York, on behalf of all children with learning disabilities. We have yet to fulfill this promise, and so the work presently is defined. A young mother then, a grandmother now, and many a child's smile to save.

Autistic Girl Expresses Unimaginable Intelligence - a 2012 story once told of Helen Keller...


Belief Beyond Doubt

For those who are deemed learning disabled, dyslexic, underachievers, ADD, ADHD, Asperger's, I too live, YES, I CAN! I live the belief, the faith, the inner knowing, that defines success for my students.

Yours in Faith, in Belief, Beyond Doubt

Rose Marie Raccioppi

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." Helen Keller

APOGEE Learning™ allows us to better understand and implement the supports, modifications, adjustments and educational approaches that are needed to assure effective learning and stress management.

and so the intent and goal of

The APOGEE Achiever™ Program...

With autonomy, mastery, and purpose
creative, caring, free thinkers
and doers are developed.

All inquiries are welcomed. All posts will receive a response.

(Rare!) Helen Keller & Anne Sullivan (1930 Newsreel Footage)

When Belief Overrides Doubt

One of my students found inspiration from what he learned about Helen Keller and her teacher Anne Sullivan. There was, because of his own early learning needs, a deep appreciation for what it was that Helen Keller had to overcome and a deep appreciation for the dedication of Anne Sullivan.

I am sharing his completed paper, in response to a school assignment, for it speaks to the very principles inherent in the APOGEE Achiever™ Program of which he has been a participant. Yes, he knows that belief can and does override doubt. Yes, he has learned that different learning styles are to be seen as challenges that require understanding and appropriate supports. His progress has been notable, his humanity exemplary.

Helen Keller

During the 1880s people who were deaf or blind were considered mentally handicapped and generally put in mental asylums. This was because the community felt there was no where else to send people with these handicaps. Handicapped people generally did not have the resources or understanding from the whole community as they do today. In the, “Miracle Worker,” Helen Keller, as a very young child was not blind nor deaf. An illness ensued and she lost her hearing and sight. In that time, people did not have the medical knowledge to understand what caused such a loss. It was assumed that if one was blind and also deaf, that they could not be educated nor disciplined as a normal child could be. The assumption was that without the ability to be taught or disciplined they could never learn the skills that would allow themselves to earn a living. Without the ability to earn a living, it was concluded that such a person could not have an independent life nor hope for a family of their own.

It becomes clear that knowledge and belief direct a course of action. It was the belief of “The Miracle Worker,” Anne Sullivan, that within Helen Keller there was a deep intelligence that was not able to be expressed. When first being introduced to Helen, it was clear that discipline was never introduced to Helen by her parents. Helen was given free reign without the usual requirements that would allow one to develop appropriate social skills. Anne Sullivan knew that if she was to be of any benefit to Helen Keller, the first step had to be one of disciplinary action. The kind yet strong position of care that Anne Sullivan took, was based on what were to become the very words that Helen Keller presented in her later adult years.

"Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired, and success achieved." Helen Keller

Anne Sullivan proves that Helen was indeed capable, could be made to understand commands, was capable of developing a means of communication, and could indeed be a model of hope, faith and promise for others with handicapping conditions. The landmark progress that Anne Sullivan was able to bring to Helen Keller redefined the meaning of ‘can’t and can.‘ Programs that support, rather than confine those that are blind and/or deaf, have allowed many to live fully productive and satisfying lives. Braille, sign language, lip reading, and many newly developed technical supports have allowed what was once seen as impossible to be a new reality.

Well trained seeing eye dogs can further bring mobility and safety to a blind person. Hearing aids have been developed that have brought improved hearing to one that may otherwise be deaf. Books on tape have brought the spoken word to blind people. Technology, along with the determination to improve the quality of life with those with handicapping conditions have brought about significant changes and most certainly a measure of dignity that once did not exist. MF


APOGEE Learning ™ is a system of learning and educational therapy that considers the visual, auditory, motor, psychological, attitudinal, kinesthetic, cognitive, biochemical, nutritional, neurological, educational, vibrational and reciprocal factors that relate to learning and creativity. It addresses the Academics and the Arts.

Through the use of Cognitive Kinesiology™ the student is brought closer to understanding the integrative action of the mind-body energy system. The student experiences the communication between the mind and body and comes to more fully appreciate the power of one’s own inner resources.

The assessment experience provides the student with opportunities to explore how behavior and stress patterns affect mind-body energy. The student is given the opportunity to more fully appreciate the interrelationship of the physical, mental, creative, and spiritual self. The student comes closer to understanding how his or her learning and creativity are influenced by what he or she has experienced, feels, attracts, knows, thinks, believes, wants, enjoys and fears. To know these aspects of self is to know the keys or locks to learning and creativity.

APOGEE Learning™ allows us to better understand and implement the supports, modifications, adjustments and educational approaches that are needed to assure effective learning and stress management.

and so the intent and goal of

The APOGEE Achiever™ Program...

With autonomy, mastery, and purpose
creative, caring, free thinkers
and doers are developed.

All inquiries are welcomed. All posts will receive a response.

The APOGEE Achiever Program
The Academics and the Arts
~ Soar To Success ~

•Individualized Subject Tutoring•
•Study Skills and Mastery Strategies•
•All Learning Styles•
~Communication Skills~
~Assignment Management~
~Stress Management~
~ Acu-Tone™ Sound Therapy~
~Relaxation, Breathing, Attention and Focusing Exercises~
~Achievement Goals~
~All Ages ~ All Grades ~ All Subjects~
~PSAT~ SAT ~ All Test Preparation~
~Family Therapy~

• Inquiries welcomed
• Call or post
• All Questions Answered •

For more information on services
provided for all learning needs:

APOGEE Learning ~ A Whole Child Paradigm

Learning styles honored and supported
Readiness experiences provided
Task analysis applied
Student interests as motivators
The Whole Brain approach to study and mastery

Inquiries Welcomed
Call for your FREE Introductory Consultation.
toll free: 1-866-228-8663

For information on Qualifications and Experience:
Rose Marie Raccioppi | LinkedIn

To listen to a recent interview by the Progressive Radio Network of
Rose Marie Raccioppi
go to: Pure Imagination - 08/31/11 - Pure Imagination

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Way of the Wayseers ~ He Sings Out ~ An Educational Manifesto

Garret John LoPorto

This is for you...

This is your calling Wayseer
You’ve found your tribe
Welcome home…
Welcome home to a family of 7 billion souls – struggling to survive
Welcome home to a planet in desperate need – a tiny dot of life – hurling through the outer reaches of space alone
Welcome home to your generations calling – to heal this world

Society is sick but you have a unique capacity to change things
because your awakened mind can replace the thousand dysfunctional rules of society
with just three simple guidelines
Turn on. Tune in. and Drop Out.
Each of these sacraments builds on the next… First you must…

Turn on – to what you are.
You’re wild and intuitive and you take it too far. Your ability to see out of the cage.
Lets you take us all – to the next stage.
Doesn’t matter – what the experts claim -
You got the vision that’ll change the game
Now you know what you came here for.
You got the keys to unlock the door
Turn on to what you are.
Tune in the Sacred Light.
Drop out of all the lies.
Turn on to what’s inside.

you might have felt alone
Cuz you were different in a world that never understood you
Authority figures looked down on you – you wouldn’t conform to their expectations
You wouldn’t give in to their misguided rules and you didn’t respect their unjust systems
you just knew there was a better way
Deep inside you could feel the heavens open up -
starlight beaming down upon your consciousness
trying to remind you of the higher calling you came here to fulfill
trying to incite you to riot against the prison walls erected inside your mind
trying to get you to experience the revelation that awaits you
when you

Tune in – to the Sacred Light.
Giving the authority to the power inside. The Way, the Truth, the intelliegence of Life.
Lay claim to what society denied.
Love – unites us (all). Doesn’t
matter what you call it – just that you call.
tap – the ancient wisdom of creation
Let your mind fill with light and revelation
[Now you’re flyin with divine revelation]
Turn on to what you are.
Tune in the Sacred Light.
Drop out of all the lies.
Turn on to what’s inside.

Now you’re turned on.
you’re tuned in.
You see things differently.
You see the answers that are intertwined and contained inside of the problems.
You see the opportunities to create better systems that shed light into this world.
(But don’t get hooked on your new ideas.)
You see all those helpless souls still stuck in their systems?
You know attachment is what keeps them there…
You know programs are the shackles that bind your consciousness -
But they’re only supported by your choice to stay hooked into images from the past
At any time you can withdraw your support from old structures
that are no longer helpful or necessary
That’s when you exercise the third step…

Drop out of all the lies.
Sure the system had you – till you opened your eyes
Bad habits, Status, Greed and compromise
That’s all just slavery in disguise.
Don’t get hooked on nonsense from the past
You gotta realize nothing man made will last
men can’t offer a permanent solution
That’s why we need this nonstop revolution
Turn on to what you are.
Tune in to the Sacred Light.
Drop out of all the lies.
Turn on to what’s inside.

Click here and listen ~ feel the "Potential Made Real"

An Added Word...

This the Educational Reform of 2012
All Learners ~ Potential Made Real

Garret and I co-presented at a workshop several years ago. I first learned of his work via: "The Davinci Method," which was in total alignment with the APOGEE Achiever™ Program I had initiated in 1983. He presents most certainly a spirited, heartfelt and defined mission of awareness, confront, resolve and change, one that echoes a mission I defined in 1960, when I began my teaching career. As you peruse the various offering and articles here posted, you will see that it is YOU that defines the Winning!!