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Marilyn Scala is a literacy and inclusion consultant with thirty years of experience in general, special education, and inclusion classrooms. She has always loved watching students become readers and writers, and coaching allows her to still be present at those moments when students and teachers are filled with the excitement of talking about a book or publishing a writing piece.
Her first book,Three Voices: An Invitation to Poetry Across the Curriculum, was co-authored with Dr. Bernice Cullinan and Virginia Schroder, and it grew out of her experiences using poetry to inspire all students, but especially those who were struggling. Her second book,Working Together: Reading and Writing Across the Curriculum, continued with stories about students who stepped into inclusion classes for the first time and, through differentiated instruction, flourished from the participation, friendship, and interaction of regular education students. Their stories made a lasting impression on her, and linking research with practice seemed too important not to share.
Under engaging and relevant teaching methods, struggling students became avid learners. One bright learning-disabled boy, struggling with dyslexia, had felt like a failure until he was immersed in literature through read-alouds, taped books, guided reading, and his own improved efforts and told her he would rather now try to get into Harvard than have a career in skateboarding. A young girl who was testing below standards was so engaged in the mini-lesson on turning social studies notes into a poem that she continued to write poems about colonial times over the weekend, for fun. Another special education student, who found visualization was a strategy that helped him make meaning, told Marilyn, "I need to draw to be able to think. Art is my oxygen."
Now Marilyn is involved in working with school districts, modeling differentiated instruction techniques that support all students in becoming lifelong readers and writers. She likes the challenges and teamwork that this provides, celebrating teachers and their students in what they already do well, discovering what they wonder and need, and developing relevant professional development plans. "I'll always be a kid-watcher," Marilyn says, "from my classrooms and the classrooms of others, to my children, and now to a new granddaughter."
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Mathematizing Children’s Literature
Sparking Connections, Joy, and Wonder Through Read-Alouds and Discussion