This month has been so long, but such an amazing learning opportunity. I have been in an in-service class called SMILA from 8am-3pm Monday through Friday for the last four weeks. SMILA stands for Simultaneous Multi-sensory Institute of Language Arts and is a method for teaching children with specific language deficiencies how to read or improve their reading. It was designed for work with dyslexic students, but can be used with any child.
Each day we have lecture, watch a SMILA teacher teach a whole group lesson to students, work in small groups with students, eat, have another lecture, then plan for the next day. A long day for sure, but broken up enough to keep you going. I love that we get to watch an experienced teacher use the steps with the whole group and then I get to try with my two students. Also, to be able to work with real students and watch them improve over the last four weeks has been amazing! One of my girls is an ELL entering 4th grader who went from not knowing all of her letter sounds to knowing all of her sounds and many of the blends and phonograms. I wouldn't have believed the improvement if I had not been a part of the process.
The SMILA method's goal is for students to be independent readers and writers, but it gets there by starting with the basics and moving on from there. I have been coming home every night to my roommate so excited about this or that. My favorite parts of the method are the decoding and that it is a method, not a curriculum! I can take it to my school and use what I have learned within the curriculum I have to teach.
To spend an entire month of the summer in summer school is not necessarily my idea of fun, but I am so thankful for the last month of learning. The teachers I have been working with have talked about children they regret not being able to reach that may have been helped with SMILA, so I am grateful that I am learning about it now! It is now in my tool belt of teaching strategies that engages students, helps a variety of students with different learning styles, and most importantly, helps every child learn to read!
SMILA is mostly in the Tennessee and Mississippi area of the south, but it is based off of the Slingerland method. SMILA is also (soon to be) featured on DyslexiaEd.com if you school is a member (if not, see if you can convince your principle! The state of Virginia got a membership for every teacher in the state.)
Now that SMILA is ending, hopefully I can start blogging more and start gearing up for my first year of teaching!