Florida 7th Graders Share Feelings About Being Struggling Learners After Reading New Book, "Building Wings: How I Made It through School"

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Building Wings: How I Made It Through School was written to inspire and motivate struggling readers to self-advocate for their unique learning style in school. The book also serves to remind teachers and parents about labeling or sterotyping students and the signs of behavior problems students often use to disguise their learning struggles.

Observing the emotions of her 7th grade class as they read Building Wings, How I Made it through School, Jennifer Dickens felt it important to share her students' thoughts with educational publisher and author, Don Johnston.

Mrs. Dickens, a reading teacher at Ransom Middle School, Cantonment, FL, said, "I believe all teachers should read Don's book. Struggling learners are often stereotyped as behavior problems in school. Don's autobiography opened the lid on some of my students' feelings about being struggling readers. I saw them relate to Don's personal experience in a meaningful way. My students were eager to express their thoughts to Don, so we did. He replied by sending us each a copy of his book personally signed!"

About Building Wings

Don Johnston did not read until his 8th grade teacher, Mrs. Tedesco, challenged him to think in different ways. Building Wings documents Mr. Johnston's painful journey as a struggling learner. The book describes behavioral strategies that Don used to disguise his fears and learning limitations from his teachers and parents. Building Wings is written with age-appropriate text to respect the interests of older readers while offering the equivalent of a third-grade reading level to enhance each reader's experience. Parents and educators will relate to this all-too familiar story about students who are left behind due to their learning barriers or failed attempts to catch up to grade level.

Quotes from Mrs. Dickens' Students

"Your book helped me figure out how to read better by making pictures in my head."

"I have the same problems. It's cool that you did all of those neat things like work with NASA, take photographs and build your own company to help us. I learned that if I try hard, I can do it too!"

"Your book taught me that not everyone is perfect. Although many people think they will never struggle, they will at some time. Most people underestimate me, but everyone has highs and lows. I am better at math than reading so I guess I have strong subjects and weak subjects. One thing people need to know is that struggling learners can succeed. Who knows what will happen in the future? I might get a scholarship and go to the best college in the US!"

"I have similar problems and have to be taught the same thing many times. I got mad at the part where you had to sit at the baby's table."

"I like your confidence Don. I can't believe you thought you were stupid."

"Your book helped me understand that I don't learn things as quickly as others."

Read student letters online at: http://www.donjohnston.com/building_wings/StudentLetters.html

Mr. Johnston said, "I wrote Building Wings to build students' confidence and encourage them to find the right strategies to advocate for their unique learning styles. I am grateful to Mrs. Dickens and all teachers for taking the time to write. When the letters arrived, I thought, this is the best part of writing this book!"

Since 1980, Don Johnston has partnered with literacy authors, psychologists, teachers, researchers, administrators and scientists to serve the needs of struggling learners. Using brain-based learning strategies, the company has developed a variety of supplemental instruction and innovative technologies to help struggling learners improve their reading, writing and thinking skills. Building Wings is part of the Start-to-Finish® book, audio and computer reading collection written by literacy experts to engage, inspire, build confidence and help struggling learners in grades 3 to adult experience the joy of reading.

Visit http://www.donjohnston.com or call 1-800-999-4660.

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Valerie Chernek
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