Parents Education Network


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  • May 09, 2013 2:59 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Congratulations to all the artists who participated in this year's EdRev 2013 art show, and especially to the following winners!

    Visual Art:
    1st Place: Kevin York, Bayhill High School, "WWII Combat Indian Motorcycle" , wire sculpture
    2nd Place: Margot Witte, , The Bentley School"Self Portrait", mixed media

    Written Word:
    1st Place: Emma Lassen, St. James School, "One Step Behind"
    2nd Place: Nathan Worley, Home Schooled/Horizon Charter School, "The Skilled Mouse"

    1st Place: Kodiak Adams, Chartwell School, "Dignity of Differences"
    2nd Place: Jon Horn, Stanbridge Academy, "Becoming a Firefighter "

    1st Place: Stephanie Woodford, St. Ignatius College Prep, "En La Noche"
    2nd Place: Alex Dobrov, Sterne High School, "Over the Mountain"

    Learning Differently:
    1st Place: Kodiak Adams, Chartwell School, "Dignity of Difference" (video)
    2nd Place: Cassandra Alter, Drew School, "The Dumb Group" (Written Word)
  • May 08, 2013 5:00 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    PEN is seeking volunteers with the following skills and time to donate on an ongoing basis:

    Finance: We are seeking a volunteer with a background in finance to help oversee our budgeting process and help reevaluate the way the budget is organized.

    Time commitment: 2 to 5 hours per month.

    HR/Personnel: We are seeking a volunteer with a background in human resources or personnel to help define personnel policies and procedures.

    Time commitment: 2 to 5 hours a month.

    Events: We are looking for several people with a background or some experience in event planning and coordination to take on more responsibilities in event coordination to support EdRev. The majority of the time commitment would be between January and April.

    Time commitment varies.

    Please contact us if you are interested.

  • May 08, 2013 3:51 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    We often receive inquiries about parent support groups. We are happy to pass on this announcement from the Pathways Institute, who are facilitating our upcoming Parent Meeting:

    Parents of children with learning and/or attention differences have a unique and different experience of parenting than their peers and other family members. Kids with LD/ADHD are often dependent on their parents longer, and sometimes have a slower physiological and psychological developmental trajectory than other kids their same age, which often is judged by those outside of the family who don’t understand. Parents frequently find themselves under stress and may feel isolated. This is often overlooked and misunderstood.

    Parents spend significant time thinking, learning and advocating for their children which they need to do. But parents are rarely asked, “How are you doing with the demands of having a kid with learning and/or attention differences? How have you changed? How do you handle the stress and its impact on you? Are you feeling your resiliency cup is full or empty?

    Pathways Institute is offering a weekly therapy group for parents of children with learning and/or attention differences. This group is therapist-led, and will offer a place of therapeutic support, information, and healing for parents grappling with the complex issues and challenges of raising children who don’t fit neatly inside of our current educational system.

    For more information call Elizabth Corsale, MFT at Pathways Institute at 415.267.6916.

  • March 13, 2013 8:22 AM | PEN (Administrator)

    Sylvia Stein & Marko Kehm are collaborating with Peggy Stern, the founder of, the 'first stop on the web for any child who is identified with dyslexia or struggling with reading'.  To better serve the needs of these children, they are speaking with mothers and fathers of kids who have been diagnosed with dyslexia in the past ~5 years.  They are primarily interested in exploring problems and struggles experienced by parents and their children as they navigated their dyslexia. These ~20 minute, informal conversations will allow you to participate in helping other kids benefit from your experience. If interested, please email to schedule a time for the call.  Many thanks in advance.

  • January 08, 2013 1:55 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    A guest post by QWERTY Education Services 

    Helping students to develop the ability to sustain attention is a goal for all parents and educators.  That task is especially difficult when the student has ADHD.  In this blog post, we suggest various strategies and orienting reminders which can help in managing your student’s challenges with attention.  Consistent application of these principles can lead to a more productive and positive outcome for both the student and parent/educator.

    Find a balance in how often you make an issue of attention: 

    The problem cannot be completely ignored, but it should not become the primary focus of your interaction for any length of time. 

    Make your own distinction between situations where obtaining focus is critical, such as when asking a question or when giving directions, versus other situations in which focus is slightly less essential or can be drawn in more slowly.

    Get attention first:

    “Mary . . . “  Use the person’s name before giving specific directions or requests.  Do not use her name constantly, however, as this will wear thin.

    “Hey!  Check this out.”  You are asking for immediate attention because it is especially important.

    “Did you notice . . . ?” or “I was just thinking about . . .”  You are attempting to draw in his interest more slowly.  We don’t necessarily want to reinforce rapid shifts of attention.

    Check for understanding:

    “Can you tell those directions back to me?” 

    “What exactly do we have to remember about . . .?”

    “I wonder if you’re sure about . . .” You can ask for verbal evidence or simply look for body language clues.

    Comment rather than criticize or direct:

    “I notice you are looking out the window a lot.” Follow this by an immediate and obvious switch of your own attention back to the task at hand.  The student can draw his own conclusion that he needs to redirect his attention, and you are providing a model of doing so.  He is not being “accused” or blamed. It is often more effective to comment on a behavior in a neutral tone than to direct a child to change that behavior. 

    “It looks like you’ve got a pretty busy brain today.”  Said with a smile, this may clue the student that he or she needs to make a special effort to focus in this situation. 

    “It might be hard to think about math right now [with all that noise in the hall] [when the TV is on in the other room] [after having been running around out there].”   You can model your own “shift of attention” to the task or comment in a way that shows empathy with this challenge.

    Some students are slow to come to attention but remain engaged once they have been “hooked.”  There can be different reasons for this; some simply need time to mentally “finish up” what their mind has been doing previously.

    Consider taking a specific, short break before starting a new task to allow some time to change gears. 

    Avoid giving essential information in your initial statements following a transition.  Allow for different paces that children may have in making the transition.

    “Put your finger on the first word in this paragraph.”  Giving the child a physical task can shift her attention or can indicate that her attention is not yet redirected.

    Empathy and modeling are more effective than direction:

    “Some people have very busy brains.  I like people like that; they are interested in so many things.”

    “I’ve got a busy brain, too.  Sometimes it’s so hard to just think about one main thing at a time.”

    “I love having a busy brain.  But gets in the way sometimes because it wants to do something else when I have to do [whatever].  Sometimes I have to tell it to stop.”

    “It looks like you are thinking about [something else].”  You are not saying something negative, as opposed to, “You are not thinking about [what we’re doing].”

    “Oops.  I just noticed that I was thinking about [something else].  Sorry.  We’re doing math right now.”  It is good to show that we all share the problem of distraction.

    While it is often good to reinforce desired behaviors with immediate positive feedback, this can be counterproductive in the case of redirecting attention. 

    If he just tuned back into the math textbook after a period of distraction, to comment on that, even positively, would take a student’s attention away from the math book.  It is better to increase your positive “energy” in relation to the math task so that the math task itself feels reinforcing.  When the task is complete, then you can comment on what a great job he did in getting back on task.

    Use vicarious reinforcement in a group:

    “Cathy and Sara look ready.”  Debbie may get herself ready upon hearing this, and you did not have to give her direct attention.

    “Is everybody ready?” allows you not to single out a particular person.

    Humor can be an effective tool:

    For some, a humorous response can tend to reinforce getting off task, especially at first.  However, it can be worthwhile to work through that initial tendency in order to establish a neutral verbal cue for redirecting attention or increasing focus.  For example:

    We established the phrase, “off-island excursion” to refer to one teen’s internal distraction.  We are able to use this phrase and related phrases (“So, how was it out there?”  “Hmmm . .  .  I wonder if they have cell service that far away?”) to redirect attention with a smile.

    In the movie Up, the hyperactive dog’s attention instantly and fully crumbles when he sees a squirrel.  With one teen, we “count squirrels” during a task, meaning I take note of each time he gets distracted.  Sometimes we will make tally marks under the heading “Squirrels,” with no particular consequence other than to increase his awareness that he is being distracted.  Sometimes I encourage him to count my squirrels.  At other times, we use the reference in anticipation: “I wonder how many squirrels you’ll get today?”  “Feeling like hunting today?   We could make squirrel stew tonight.”  This essentially says, “Focus!” without sounding critical.

  • January 08, 2013 1:52 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Review of Differentiated Instruction and Mindset: Paving the Way to Learning given by Judy Rex, Educator & Educational Consultant.

    By PEN Member Christine Kantor

    This was a very meaningful lecture on the framework for teaching and learning; some salient points I took away from the presentation are below.

    The most important factor in classroom management is the quality of student-teacher relationships because that is key to a student feeling included in a community. “The promise of the differentiated classroom is the promise that all students will feel affirmed, engaged and supported by their teachers.” - Carol Tomlinson

    In my opinion, differentiated instruction is about enabling a journey to success as well.  "There is a brilliant child locked inside every student."  ~ Marva Collins

    Rex based much of her lecture material on the work of Carol Tomlinson and Carol Dweck.  

    A Quality Curriculum: Engagement + Understanding = Success

    But what goes into each variable to reach success?

    Engagement starts with community: as Tomlinson writes, "a teacher focused on community-building understands that teams (and communities) must be built."  

    What about understanding? The elements of a focused curriculum include:  

    Facts: Columbus came to the "New World."
    Vocabulary: voyage, scurvy...

    Concepts: exploration, change...
    Principles: Change can be both positive and negative.
    Generalizations: Exploration results in change.
    Big Ideas: People's perspectives affect how they respond to change.

    Basic: literacy, numeracy.
    Thinking: analysis, evidence of reasoning, questioning.
    Discipline: graphing/math/social studies.
    Planning: goal setting, use of time.
    Social: …

    … and also keeping a balance between effort and success. 

    Non-negotiables for Differentiated Instruction according to Carol Tomlinson:

    1. Teacher-kid connections
    2. An environment that is a catalyst for learning.
    3. A sense of community in the classroom.
    4. Curriculum focused on student understanding for all students.
    5. Persistent assessment to inform teaching and learning.
    6. Respectful tasks for each student.
    7. Flexible grouping.
    8. Attention to student readiness, interest, and learning profile.
    9. Modification of content, process, product, affect, and learning environment to address student need.
    10. Teaching up.

    Additional books by Carol Tomlinson like these were displayed and were highly recommended for further investigation into this topic:  

    The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners

    Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom

    How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms (2nd Edition)

    Judy Rex's parent presentation was the last of three she had given on her visit to San Francisco and although she was winded by the marathon of speaking engagements, I found myself riveted by her words.  

  • December 19, 2012 3:43 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Russell Bede School is a small private school in San Mateo serving students in grades 1-6 who have learning differences. We are seeking a part-time Principal with experience in supervising staff members, recruiting students, handling budgetary and facility matters, communicating with parents, Board, and the community, making curriculum decisions, and dealing with educational technology.  A California Administrative Services credential is required.  Experience with Special Education programs is preferred.

    Russell Bede School has only three classes and six students per class.  It is the ideal teaching and working environment, with intimate classrooms, supportive staff, wonderful parents and a unique location in a Victorian home.

    Russell Bede School is a private non-profit 501(c)(3) school.

    Please send resume and cover letter to

  • December 11, 2012 1:21 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Dear Parents and Students:

    We are very excited to announce the creation of a Peninsula chapter of SAFE (Student Advisors for Education). It is time that this incredible group, and their message, moves on down the Peninsula. We are looking for parents and students who are interested in joining this new chapter! If you have ever wondered about SAFE, now is your chance to get involved!

    SAFE is a group that strives to educate, mentor, and support students, parents and teachers about the strengths and challenges of students with learning and attention differences (LD / ADHD). Students and advisors will collaborate to increase the awareness of parents, faculty, administrators, and our communities, about the truth of LD /ADHD based in science. By sharing their stories and developing relationships with others, students will gain a better understanding of themselves, empowering them to be positive role models in their communities.

    Check out the video links below to get students’ perspectives of what SAFE is all about. We also encourage you to join us on facebook and sign up for our mailing list.

    The first meeting of the Peninsula SAFE chapter will be held on January 12th from 10:00 to 11:30 in San Carlos. If you are interested in attending this meeting please contact Nick Wynn at (650) 533-2338 or

    Nick Wynn
    Peninsula SAFE Coordinator

    Watch the SAFE Video

    Join our Mailing List

  • December 11, 2012 12:54 PM | PEN (Administrator)
    Dear parents,

    My name is Julia, a Dutch student interested in the lives of children with ADD/ADHD in the US. Where I come from many bright children in today's society cope with ADHD. In comparison with the Netherlands, Americans often seem to approach living with ADHD in a more pro-active way. PEN is a good example of this.

    As an anthropology student I am fascinated by this approach and would really like to find out how children diagnosed with ADHD give meaning to their diagnosis and what role it plays in their lives. I believe that we can learn a lot from listening to children's voices and trying to understand their views of life; this is why I believe in the value of researching this.

    As a student I would like to ask you as parents of ADHD/ADD children (with the children’s permission as well) to meet you and your children to talk with them about ADHD. Of course all gathered information will be kept anonymous and no personal information will be published. By taking part in this study you can help me gain my Master's degree. I would really appreciate your help!

    If you are open to meet me to talk a bit more about my study project, I am happy to do so. You can contact me any time at From the 10th of January I will be staying in San Francisco and open to meet you and your children. I would be really happy to hear from you.

    With this research I aim to let the children have a voice in the ongoing ADHD debate. Every child is unique and has a story of his or her own. As an anthropologist I would like to get closer to understanding what it means to have ADHD as a child. By means of my study project I hope to work towards more sophisticated as well as child-centered support for children with ADHD.

    Please contact me if you are interested in contributing to my project. I also intend to be present at PEN events from January on.

    Yours sincerely,

    Julia Nijland

    VU University Amsterdam
    Student Social and Cultural Anthropology
    Tel: 0031(6) 57060016

  • December 10, 2012 3:56 PM | PEN (Administrator)

    Student Advisors for Education (SAFE), the student branch of PEN, was recently invited to give a panel presentation to Google employees. Google has now posted the presentation online as part of the Google TechTalks series!

    Please support SAFE and other programs for students with learning and attention difficulties by contributing to PEN's Annual Fund campaign. Donate now to support student success >>>


Parents Education Network (PEN), 6050 Geary Blvd., Ste. 101A, San Francisco, CA 94121    Phone: (415) 751-2237

PEN is a registered 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, federal tax ID# 43-2008436.

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