Summer holidays have come round again with parents wondering what would be the most useful way for children to spend the time. I strongly recommend that they should read for pleasure, as this has been shown to improve performance, not only in reading, but also in math. See my blog post of July 2012 SummerReading - Some Surprising Findings
and September 2014:
Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) Edgecomb, Maine. (I started with girls’ books after I was dismayed by the 3 ‘literature’ books, which included Steinbeck's 'Of Mice and Men', listed on a high school booklist.) However, boys like many of these books, too. All books are available on Amazon. Most of the authors have written several books - check them out.
L stands for lexile – a measure of ease of reading – the lower the lexile, the easier the book.
|1||Agell, Charlotte Welcome Home or Someplace Like It|
|2||Bowler, Tim Storm Catchers L560 A scary book set in the UK, liked by boys also.|
|3||Brashares, Ann The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants trilogy|
|4||Carman, Patrick Thirteen Days to Midnight L760|
|5||Choldenko, Gennifer Al Capone Does My Shirts L600 Set in the notorious prison, Alcatraz, where the protagonist's father worked.|
|6||Colfer, Chris Land of Stories Refers to familiar fairy tales.|
|7||Creech, Sharon Walk Two Moons L770 13-year-old girl searches for truth about her missing mother.|
|8||Funke, Cornelia Inkheart L780 The characters come out of the pages of a book.|
|9||Giff, Patricia Reilly Wild Girl L640 A horse story from Brazil to New York.|
|10||Grimes, Nikki The Road to Paris L700 Paris is the name of the brown girl protagonist in a white foster home.|
|11||Hale, Dean Calamity Jack L560 Sci Fi, Fantasy, Fairy Tales and Folklore.|
|12||Hale, Shannon Princess Academy Girls from a mountain village prepare for a prince to choose one of them as his bride. Surprising twist at the end.
|13||Hiassen, Carl Flush and Hoot Fast-paced detective stories related to environmental breaches in Florida.|
|14||Hobbs, Will Jackie's Wild Seattle L660 Adventure related to wild-life rescue.|
|15||Holm, Jennifer Turtle
in Paradise L610 Set in the Great Depression, Turtle (11-year-old girl) is sent to live with relatives in Florida.|
|16||Hunt, Lynda Mullaly Fish in a Tree L550 A story about dyslexia|
|17||Lord, Cynthia Rules The challenges of living with a brother with autism.|
|18||Lowry, Lois Number the Stars L670 Smuggling Jews out of 1940's Denmark.|
|19||Magoon, Kekla The Rock and the River About the Civil Rights Movement.|
|20||Myers, Walter Dean Monster a teenage boy in juvenile detention and on trial.
|21||O'Dell, Scott Island of the Blue Dolphins Survival story of a girl alone on a deserted island.|
|22||Park, Linda Sue A Long Walk to Water Set in the Sudan, with references to The Lost Boys of Sudan|
|23||Patterson, Katherine Lyddie A story of personal determination and growth, set in textile mills in USA|
|24||Riordan, Rick The Lightning Thief L470 Fantasy related to Greek Mythology. There is also a graphic (comic-style) version.|
|25||Ryan, Pam Munoz Esperanza Rising L750 A riches to rags story.|
|26||Sachar, Louis Holes L660 Stanley wrongly sent to a boys' detention centre and unravels a mystery.|
|27||Watkins, Yoko Kawashima So Far from the Bamboo Grove About a Japanese family escaping from Korea at the end of WW2|
|28||Woodson, Jacqueline Feathers L710 takes readers on a journey into a young girl’s heart and reveals the pain and the joy of learning to look beneath the surface.|
|29||Yousafzai, Malala I Am Malala Story of Pakistani girl who survived the attempt to murder her because she wanted an education.|
|30||Zhang, Kat What's Left of Me Fantasy - people are normally born with 2 souls, 1 of which dies. What happens when both survive?|
Thursday, July 7, 2016
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
After delivering her opening remarks, Joy Crooks, Nurse Administrator at CUMI invited Rev. Lenworth N Anglin to lead us in prayer, followed by greetings from stakeholder groups.
Mrs. Gage-Grey of the Child Development Agency (CDA) welcomed the contribution that this charity offers. 10 in every 1000 children are in need of intervention, meaning 8000 children for their population in Jamaica. The CDA is on a mission to protect children and looks out for ways of getting involved in the national conversation. We need to see each child as our own. CDA endorses EPOCC and looks forward to a meaningful partnership.
Dr Claudette Crawford-Brown, Lecturer in the Dept. of Social Work at UWI brought greetings from that institution, and from Jamaica Association for Social Workers, and from other organizations she represents. After 40 years in child advocacy, she recognizes that the social status of the child is in a lot of trouble. I wrote in my notes that 100 children were murdered in 2015. (I hope I made a mistake and that that isn’t true.) Only one child was murdered in 1993. Sexual abuse is increasing at an alarming rate. 700 children went missing. People are crying out for solutions, but the link between the micro-level and solutions is missing. This programme could pave the way to macro-level solutions.
Mrs. Debbian Livingstone Edwards brought greetings from the Office of the Children’s Advocate, (OCA). She also welcomed the programme because children require free and ready access. There is a gap in the availability of psychosocial services, and there is a need for sustained counselling. She reminded us that it is our civic duty to protect the rights of children.
Greetings from FLOW/Lime Foundations was to have been brought by Mrs. Shellian O’Connor, who was unavailable because of illness, but she assured EPOCC of their commitment.
Corinaldi Avenue Primary School choir treated us to an emotional rendition of their song; and Mount Alvernia High School’s Susanna Hyde, Child Ambassador for the OCR for Region 4, performed a poem about a boy accused of stealing. I wasn’t sure if he was guilty or not, but Susanna’s enactment made us feel his fear and sense of isolation.
We saw Ms. Ottoa Wilson busy videotaping the launch, and were then introduced to her work – a short video about child abuse in Jamaica, and her paintings and drawings displayed around the room.
Mrs. Beverley Chung, who was born in Catadupa, St James, but left Jamaica when she was nearly 9, took us on her journey to the founding of EPOCC. She keeps in touch with Jamaica and is distressed about what is happening. She wrote a poem entitled Jamaica Weeps, Jamaica Bleeds. Inspired by a visit to Bridge of Hope Charity in Uganda, her question “Why don’t they do something?” became “Why don’t I do something?” She knew that she herself had the skills to run a charity, inherited from her grandmother, Ellen, and he mother, Pearl, who both started churches and for whom EPOCC is named. She also had experience of working with Childline in the UK. She shared her vision with Dr. Pearnel Bell and Nurse Joy Crooks, who both said, “We need to listen to children”. A further impetus came from Sir Patrick Allen, Governor General of Jamaica’s address to the 6th Biennial Diaspora Conference (June 2015), in which he encouraged support for community projects that would positively impact the lives of children. Hence EPOCC was born.
Mission -Initial Aims:
- Visit to schools, youth clubs/centres and churches to inform on abuse awareness and to empower children to say 'no' and/or to report abuse
- Transitional opportunities and mentoring post 18 years for children that have been in care
- Further educational opportunities for disadvantaged youths
A SWOT analysis was performed:
|Mrs. Juliet Holness in conversation with Dr. Pearnel Bell|
welcomed the launch of EPOCC, pointing out that child abuse includes emotional
abuse; and that we don’t realize how many children are in need of this service.
A desperate human is one with no hope. She implored us to support the work of
The function closed with the presentation of an orchid to Mrs. Holness by Hopeton Ridgard; Vote of Thanks by Mrs. Janette Allen; Closing Remarks by Joy Crooks; and closing prayer by Rev. Milton Davidson.
Monday, May 23, 2016
To address this problem, the Ministry of Education introduced the Grade 4 literacy test to identify children not performing at that level. They were required to have mastery in that test before being allowed to take the Grade Six Achievement Test. Because some children did not do so before being of age to enter secondary school, the Alternative Secondary Transitional Education Programme (ASTEP) was introduced. (See my blog post of March 22) It became obvious to those administering ASTEP that an earlier intervention was desirable. Then came GOILP – Grade One Individual Learning Profile, with children who were deemed not ready for Grade 1 being placed in a separate class.
With the work of the Early Childhood Commission over the last 10 or more years, there has been a great improvement in the standards of Jamaica’s Basic Schools. The great importance of early childhood education and early detection of learning difficulties has come to be recognized. After several years of preparation, the ECC on May 10 and 11, 2016, administered its first diagnostic testing of 4-year-olds in over 2000 Early Childhood Institutions, with the purpose of finding out whether a child has a specific learning disability or learning disorder with another cause, or even a behavior disorder, so that appropriate interventions can take place at the earliest possible time. Interventions will be made by Regional Special Needs Coordinators and Regional Assessment Teams consisting of 2 psychologists and 2 diagnosticians. There is ongoing training of teachers in the area of special education. (See my blog post of April 14)
According to the ECC, this evaluation tool will be specifically designed for Jamaican children and meant to identify what kind of support children need to go forward in the primary-school system. The idea is to be able to identify, before they enter primary school, which of the three categories children fall into: 1) need no additional support in the regular school environment 2) need additional support in the regular school environment or 3) need a specialised school environment.
The evaluation will be timed to allow for a full year of intervention for those lagging developmentally, as well as specialised attention if needs be. The bottom line is that four year olds don't need a four-year-old version of GSAT. If we are to get the maximum return for the necessary investment in early childhood education, then we must have appropriate tools - which we agree on as a nation - to identify the problems and deal with them appropriately.
It is time for child-centric interventions, like evaluations that can best help children. We don't know when the ECC evaluation tool will be implemented, but we know we don't have 18 years to 2030 for all of our children to fully master the basics.”
Saturday, May 21, 2016
|Remains of Railway Station at Catadupa|
Prior to its closure, a tourist attraction called the Governor's Coach, travelled by rail from Montego Bay up into the hills through Anchovy, Montpelier and Cambridge to Catadupa, where you could choose fabric for a dress, be measured and pick up the dress on your return journey.
|Train negotiating a curve and a steep incline|
|Bridal Veil Falls|
|Skagway and Lynn Canal in the distance|
The views from the railway in Jamaica are no less spectacular. The branch from Montego Bay to Anchovy climbs to a height of about 2000 ft in 7 miles.
These include Croydon in the Mountains, near Catadupa:
YS Falls, 5 miles from Maggotty, is a nature-based attraction consisting of seven waterfalls, cascading into natural pools surrounded by lush gardens and magnificent trees. You can take a canopy ride above the falls as well as swimming in the pools.
|One of the natural pools where you can swim at YS|
|Apple Valley Water Park|
Wednesday, May 4, 2016
“What steps would you take if your child had a learning disorder?” Students said that they would try to get the best possible help for their child.
Ms. Georgia Rose is the coordinator of Undergraduate Psychology Programmes at UWIWC. She specializes in learning disorders and works at Cornwall Regional Hospital. She has an MA from UWI and is interested in developmental disorders. She addressed the questions raised in the students’ video and gave examples from her own experience. She referred to DSM, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), which offers a common language and standard criteria for the classification of mental disorders. The focus of this symposium was on learning disorders, namely dyslexia (difficulty with reading), dysgraphia (difficulty with writing), dyscalculia (difficulty with numbers). However, these learning disorders don’t exist in isolation. A child who has difficulty learning to read is often labelled as ‘dunce’ by other children. He knows he’s not dunce in other respects, doesn’t know why he’s having this difficulty, but would prefer to be called ‘bad’ than ‘dunce’. Andre, 15 year-old, grade 9, semi-literate (about grade 3), told Ms. Rose, “No matter how hard I try, I never seem to get it. Everything is a mess. Sometimes it look clear and another time me cannot mek it out … me rather be bad bwoy than dunce bwoy.” Hence, the learning disability gives rise to behavior problems. Parents are distressed when children are not learning and may punish them, even using corporal punishment.
Dr. Susaye Rattigan, a clinical psychologist, had an interactive session with us up and singing before she started her address. Her main theme was that we are all learn differently and that the “one size fits all” approach doesn’t work. She reminded us that the term ‘Learning Disability’ doesn’t include those who have learning problems resulting from visual, hearing or motor handicaps, mental retardation, emotional disturbance or environmental, cultural or economic disadvantage. However, a detailed interview with a psychologist is necessary for a diagnosis. Whatever the reasons for children’s failure to learn at school, we should be moving towards an empathetic understanding of children’s problems.
Dr. Rattigan reminded us of the quote attributed to Einstein:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” This was to illustrate the idea that a learning disability is not a disability but a different ability.
A change in environment may be needed. She gave the example of a little girl brought to her because she couldn’t talk, which was hardly surprising since she was brought up by a deaf-mute grandmother and a mother who barely spoke. In spite of reservations, the girl’s mother followed Dr. Rattigan’s advice to send her to school. A year later, they couldn’t stop her talking! There is a natural inclination of us all to learn, but we aren’t meant to be alike. We should teach in the way that a child wants to learn, whether that is through books, art, movement or any other medium. We were challenged to try to see the world as a dyslexic child would. A question and answer session followed Dr. Rattigan’s address.
Thursday, April 14, 2016
|Mr. Karl Watson|
For children with special needs:
1928 saw the establishment of the Salvation Army School for the Blind, and in
1938 Rev. F.W. Gilby established the Jamaica Schoolfor the Deaf .
There was no provision for children with intellectual disabilities until 1956, when the Randolph Lopez School of Hope was established.
In 1975 Jamaica benefitted from a bi-lateral arrangement with the Netherlands government, through which the following were established:
- A formal teacher training programme in special education at the Mico Teachers’ College (now Mico University College)
- The Mico Child Assessment and Research in Education (CARE) Centre for diagnostic and therapeutic services for children across the region.
- Seven (7) self-contained special education units in primary schools, offering intensive instruction for children with special educational needs
In developed countries, the pendulum has swung from having special schools to including children with special needs having their needs addressed in mainstream schooling. The debate continues about whether this is the best approach. In Jamaica, in 2004, a Task Force on Educational Reform presented its findings to the Ministry of Education, resulting in the Education System Transformation Programme (ESTP). Implementation of the recommendations has been ongoing since 2005. Among the major activities of ESTP is the improvement of provisions for Special Education.
- Continued collaboration with the Guidance Counseling Unit of the MoE; and the Child Guidance Clinic of the Ministry of Health.
- The recently launched diagnostic and therapy clinic for pre-school children at VOUCH, in conjunction with the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (October 2014).
- Mobilization for the establishment of three diagnostic centres at Sam Sharpe Teachers’ College in St James, Church Teachers’ College in Manchester, and the College of Agriculture Science and Education in Portland. These are scheduled for completion by 2016.
|At the launch of APSE|
At every level in the education system, efforts will be made to teach children in the way they can learn and for them to use their abilities to the optimum. Quoting from the Nathan Ebanks Foundation Conference on Inclusion “Creating Pathways to Inclusive Education”:
Monday, March 28, 2016
In the end of early 1920's, Sir Herbert Barker, a famous British Osteopath visited the beach and later published an article boosting it by declaring that the waters have curative powers and that he was restored to good health after bathing there. He said the waters could cure several ailments. This heightened the allure of the beach and Doctor's Cave became famous overnight as foreigners, many rich and famous came to try the water. Hotels were built in the immediate vicinity and thus began the tourist trade.
In the 1940’s another severe hurricane swept away much of this beach and the trustees employed an American expert, Sidney Makepeace Wood, to restore it. He designed and built concrete groynes to harness sand-bearing tides and currents. As a result, the beach grew to about 20 times the original size.
At one point there was a diving platform at the end of the west groin, but it collapsed into the sea during a storm. The remains of it can be seen encrusted with corals.
The photographs below show changes in the beach over a period of seven years.
In this photo, taken in August 2009, you can barely see the top of a concrete column sticking up above the sand, and sand comes to within about a foot of the top of the walkway. Many years ago there was much less sand on the beach and this walkway was a jetty to which boats could be tied.
|November 2012, after Hurricane Sandy|
The next two photos were taken in November, 2012, about a week after hurricane Sandy had scoured away the sand under the walkway. The two concrete columns are completely exposed.
|November 2012, after Hurricane Sandy|
By November 2014, the sand had built up again under the walkway, completely covered the concrete columns and extended further into the sea, entirely as a result of forces of nature.
|November 2014. The sign warning of concrete columns |
under the sand may appear superfluous to the unwary.
|View of eastern end, August 2009|
At the eastern end of the beach also there is a cycle of sand building up and being washed away by the action of the sea.
In 2015, part of the groin broke away. Waves surged in and gouged out a section of the beach in a matter of days.
|Breach in the groin, March 2015|
|February 2016. Rough weather piles up more sand on the beach.|
The effects of the weather are no less dramatic under the sea surface. During calm weather, assorted seaweeds and turtle grass thrive. During hurricanes and winter storms, tons of sand churned by water scour rocks and the sea-bottom, ripping them away. Roots of turtle grass remain, new leaves soon sprouting from them. Dome-shaped flower, star and brain corals in the reefs withstand many storms, but the branching staghorn corals are easily broken and survive only in sheltered pockets. As reefs and turtle grass beds serve to protect the beach from erosion, every effort should be made to preserve them, including allowing parrot fish to live.