Books–The Gifts that Keep on Giving!


Every December and June I have a big book give-away for my students. I scout garage and library sales throughout the year, and I ask anyone and everyone for donations. So, I’m asking you, dear parents, to peruse your child’s book shelves. Are there any books that are no longer needed? If you can answer yes, please consider donating those books to my classroom book give-away for December. It will be held the last week of school before break. I hope to send every student home with at least 4 books.
Books–the gifts that keep on giving!
(Teachers–you may want to consider doing this for your classrooms, as well!)


MCTI–Michigan Career Technical Institute (Hint: It’s FREE)


I recently had the pleasure of touring the campus of MCTI, a FREE college option for some of our students/children with severe learning differences. They have many career path options. Students take an introductory 5-week class on pinpointing strengths and skill areas, and then they begin their chosen program based on those results. A few examples are Electronics, Auto Repair, Culinary Arts, Office Machine Repair, and Graphics. Programs usually take 1-2 years to complete and run 11 months of the year (they are closed in August).

All classes have text to speech capability (THIS IS HUGE!) and classes are offered in basic reading and math initially if your child needs that support. A few of the programs require a 6th grade reading level to be admitted, due to the complexity of the knowledge and skills needed to be successful, but most don’t.

Tuition is FREE, uniforms (if needed) are FREE, food and housing are provided FREE, books and all materials needed are provided FREE. It is a HANDS-ON experience in learning. Your student/child must be registered within the MRS (Michigan Rehabilitation System) network to qualify to attend. (Find out if your student/child qualifies! Give them something to work toward! You can never start too early on this stuff!)

The campus is located north of Kalamazoo near Delton. It is situated on a beautiful, clear swimming lake. Pontoons, kayaks and paddle boats are available (free) for students to sign out. Bikes are also available for check out (free) with bike paths nearby. The social calendar is filled with things like outings to movies or the mall, frisbee golf, and karaoke (with free transportation). The campus has its own bowling alley, archery area, and weight lifting room, as well as a beautiful pool, gym, and ropes course. The dorms are located on four floors of the main building, which also houses most of the academic programs. The culinary students prepare food for the campus restaurant, with no items priced above $4, but all cafeteria food is available for free.

I encourage you to schedule a tour of the campus, either with a student who would benefit, or on your own to keep in mind for future students. (Pressed for time? Check out their website http://www.michigan.gov/mdhhs/0,5885,7-339-73971_25392_40242—,00.html.) I loved the tour and will be singing MCTI’s praises to all who will listen!


Welcome to the 2016-17 School Year, Teachers and Parents!


Welcome to the new school year at Grand Ledge Public Schools!

My name is Francie Skarritt and I will be teaching Language! Live at Hayes Middle School this year. I have been teaching for 29 years and am looking forward to another year using this wonderful program. Language! Live is designed to help your child improve in reading skills.

Part of my days will be spent as the district’s literacy coach, as well. I provide support to any elementary or secondary general education or special education teachers who teach literacy through the Language! Live or Language! Programs.

Please look around on my website for teacher or parent tips, videos of lessons taught, and for more information about my classroom and myself. Check out a great (and short!) video on what Language! Live is all about. Click on “Parent Tips” in the Parent section, and scroll down to the fourth entry. In addition, there is a short power point on the elementary reading programs we use. Just look over on the right side of this page and click on the icon. Feel free to leave comments on any posts you see throughout the coming year. I love feedback!

If you would like to reach me, the best way is by email (skarrittf@glcomets.net). My classroom number is 925-5649. The best time to reach me is after 2:30.

Here’s to a great year ahead, and to LOTS AND LOTS of reading!


EdWeb.net a Great FREE Resource for Teachers


EdWeb.net may be just the thing you’re looking for if you need more FREE professional development hours and are not sure where to get them. The webinars are very user-friendly, and you can watch them when they are on and interact or listen to them whenever it fits into your schedule. You can print out a certificate that says you attended, as well.

Some examples of upcoming webinars are:
–Recognize, Respond, Report: Preventing and Addressing Bullying of Students with Special Needs (3/31/16)
–Universal Design for Learning in Action – Ensuring Every Student Can Create and Collaborate (4/6/16)
–Integrating Autism & Mental Health Interventions with Behavioral Strategies
Engaging All Learners (4/14/16)
–5 Steps to Creating More Inclusive Classrooms (4/14/16)
–S/he Hit Me First: Learn Proactive Solutions to Teach Social Emotional Skills through Daily Conflict (4/21/16)

I hope this helps in some small way.


Surviving the Teenage Brain (book)


So what is up with the teenage brain anyway, and how do we survive this period of time in our kids’/students’ lives?  In The Teenage Brain,  Dr. Frances Jensen explains that a teenager’s brain is like a souped up sports car with no brakes.

The last organ in the body to mature is the brain, and that doesn’t happen until the mid- to late-20s.  The teenage brain also has more “synaptic plasticity”, meaning it has a great ability to learn, but addictions can happen more strongly and quickly than in an adult’s brain.  The teenage brain can’t “put on the brakes” as easily because it doesn’t have the ability to regulate itself as well.  While the brain is maturing and making connections, risk-taking behavior can be high.  Male brains tend to take longer to make these connections, which probably comes as no big surprise to any of us.

Sleep is also a key part in teen brain health.  If a teen is sleep deprived, his learning will be negatively impacted.  Our current school day schedule is not conducive to teenage brain health.

Stress also plays a big part in the developing teen brain.  Teens tend to be more anxious due to a hormone that is released in response to stress.  In adults this release calms anxiety, but in teens, it ramps it up!

So how can we survive the teenage brain?  We need to be very mindful of any kind of addictions in our teens, from alcohol and drugs to video game usage.  (Cocaine and gaming turn on the same areas of the brain.)  Educating our kids about their brain health and what is happening is an important step we need to take, and we need to encourage downtime for them to reduce stress as much as possible.

If you’re the parent or teacher of teens, you may want to pick up this book for a more thorough read.  Good luck out there!