About Laurie

My students call me “Miss Laurie”.  I have been an elementary teacher since 1995, teaching students aged 4 to 18 in several countries including the United States, Canada, and France.  I am the creator of Giggle Facts and founder of Giggle Learn.

I have a Bachelor of Arts (Honors) degree in French from Trent University and a Bachelor of Education degree from Queen’s University.

I speak two languages, and I have taught in both English and French classrooms.  I have taught all grade levels K-6: Kindergarten, First Grade, Second Grade, Third Grade, Fourth Grade, Fifth Grade, and Sixth Grade.  I have evaluated learning resources for a publishing company and created curriculum for several school districts.  Currently, I offer 1-1 tutoring to pre-school, elementary, and middle-school students.  I am very devoted to kids, love teaching children, and enjoy developing individualized programs for each of my students.  I am a life-long teacher and learner.

My Teaching Philosophies

I have a few key principles that guide my overall philosophy of educating children.  These beliefs serve as a framework for everything I create, teach, and believe in regarding education as a whole.

Learning Should Be Fun!

I strongly believe that most concepts can be taught with games.  I constantly invent new games to teach concepts to kids, where the concepts have typically been taught in more traditional ways.  This makes the child’s learning much more fun and therefore more meaningful and engaging.  It is always great for parents and myself to see how the children who come to me for after school tutoring enjoy their time and have so much fun learning.

Child-Centered Learning

Education should be centered around the individual child.   Children absorb concepts, subjects, and material in many different ways and at different speeds.  A child’s learning style should be nurtured to ensure that his/her potential is unlocked.  Different approaches must be used in teaching different children since each child has individual learning styles and strengths.  It is my job as an educator to identify each child’s needs and learning strengths and then teach the child in a way that best suits them.

Build Confidence in Children

Self-confidence is an important factor in a child’s learning, and it serves as an important foundation for his/her future.  We teachers must constantly build this self-confidence in the children we teach as it is imperative to their success and to their sense of self-worth.  I create many opportunities for children to be successful by using creative approaches and positive reinforcement.  This engenders the love of learning.  A teacher’s support and positive attitude create a nurturing and safe learning environment for children.   I make sure to celebrate kids’ accomplishments, big and small!  They really thrive on the positive reinforcement!

Connect With Children

I make real connections with students.  This comes first and foremost by having sincere respect for them.  I earn their trust; I don’t just expect it.  Humor is a valuable tool that I often use to connect with my students.  Children have a great sense of humor and they love laughing, and so I make their learning fun, making it less serious and more interesting to them.  Frankly, I am certain that they often think we are just playing together, not knowing that I am actually teaching and guiding them.

When teaching more difficult concepts, it is imperative not to take things for granted, such as a child’s assumed prior knowledge.  I break down tough concepts into bite-sized pieces and teach the base vocabulary that helps students connect learning to their own lives.

Mental Math and Problem-Solving Skills

When teaching Math, I guide children with two main ideas in mind.  I want them to develop strong Mental Math skills and Problem-Solving skills.  Children are very capable of being critical thinkers when they are given the necessary tools and guidance.  I encourage them to use many strategies, allowing them to solve problems in a variety of ways.  I let them decide which strategies and methods best suit their way of thinking and learning. 

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Stan Jurewicz March 2, 2010 at 1:09 PM

Ms. Laurendeau,

We have added a blog roll page to our website and would like your permission to post your Giggle Learn RSS feed. The post of your article on our page will be limited to the title tag, about the first 220 characters of the description tag (the article), and the link back provided in the feed. Thank you for considering this request.

Mr. Martini’s Classroom
http://www.thegreatmartinicompany.com

Laurie Laurendeau July 17, 2010 at 2:14 PM

Mr. Jurewicz, this is great and you have my permission to add our homework help and tutoring blog to your website.

Laurie

Laura July 9, 2011 at 10:52 AM

Laurie,
I wanted to ask for any suggestions you might have on how to help my son Bailey at school. He’s super smart and does well in school so far. We’ve been worried about his printing skills all along, and they are not getting any better (he’s just finishing 2nd grade). We’ve addressed it with his teacher and we’re not seeing any improvement. In fact, I had the distinct impression that she doesn’t feel that there’s much of a problem (“oh, I have a few kids in the class that haven’t mastered printing yet…be patient”).

Here’s what we see:
1) he CAN print his letters properly when he’s doing a program like handwriting without tears…we’ve done that until he’s mastered them.
2) He CAN print neatly and legibly, good size, shape, direction, etc. when he’s copying words from a paper or the board…here we think “ahhh, he’s figured it all out”.
3) When he prints something that he’s thinking about in his head, his printing is horrible. It’s extremely messy, not on lines, letters are poorly formed, basically illegible, only a few random words here and there can even be read, certainly not enough to understand the context of what he’s trying to write, thoughts are very scattered, no punctuation, no capitalization, etc.
4) His drawings are VERY immature, barely even stickmen, people don’t even have all the appropriate body parts yet, size perspective it all wrong.
5) His ENTIRE spelling book that was sent home has nearly perfect words, spacing, sizing, etc. (these are lists he’s copied down from somewhere else, not testing his spelling abilities)
6) His ENTIRE journal book is illegible and the pictures are meaningless.

When we discussed it with the teacher, her solution was to do extra worksheets on letter formation with him, but he can do those no problem. So then she says “see, no problem here”. It’s the having to write down stuff from his head that it’s all a disaster. She says that he can print (as evidenced by the spelling book), he’s just choosing not to be neat at times. I feel that if it was a choice he’s making, or he’s rushing through the task, then there would be some days that his journal would be more legible than others…he’s likely not choosing to always be illegible in one book and neat and legible in a different one (there aren’t any exceptions to this in either book). He’s a kid that wants to please people, so I really feel like if he could do it better that he would.

We’ve always been willing to work on areas of development with him at home, but I don’t know how to help him. I’m worried that at this point, he’s not even able to print functionally (i.e. to fill out a form as he gets older). I’m nervous about the switch to cursive in 3rd grade, although I’ve heard of kids that learning cursive goes so much better…I have my doubts for him as nothing that requires fine motor skills has ever come easy to him, he’s had to be overtaught all of it! I feel that if he doesn’t get a handle on this that things will just get worse as he’s currently unable to express himself in writing in a way that another person can understand him. He’s a very smart kid that for the most part still likes school, but I’m worried that that won’t last long if he has trouble communicating in writing.

Is there any kind of OT that specializes in this kind of thing? Does this sound like dysgraphia to you, if so, who tests for that to make a diagnosis? Have you seen kids with this issue before? How have they overcome it? How do I get the school to help support him better when the teacher has so many other kids in her class to teach too? Can you think of any specific technology that would help him? Any thoughts or suggestions would be most welcome as we’re very frustrated and don’t know how to help him.

Laurie Laurendeau July 10, 2011 at 9:03 AM

Laura,
Thank you for the detailed email. I can tell you’ve put a great deal of thought into trying to figure this out. It sounds as though it is taking all of Bailey’s mental energy to come up with the story he’s writing (or the word he wants to use, or the spelling of the words), and he is so focused on that, that the handwriting is secondary.
Some thoughts…
*Is he rushed when he’s story writing/writing in his journal? (as opposed to copying words from the board)
*It doesn’t sound to me as though he’s choosing this, for the same reasons you mentioned.
*With cursive writing coming soon, I would definitely see how that goes, but if you find that it’s more of a frustration, I would talk to his teacher about alternatives.
*How does he do with TYPING a story? I’m wondering if his thoughts would be logical and sequential?
*How do you make sure he gets the attention at school… You’re probably already doing it… being in the classroom, providing as much information to the classroom teacher as possible to help her understand the situation, ensuring that accommodations have been implemented and being followed in the classroom.
*I would suggest you contact an Occupational Therapist that speciliazes in writing difficulties. He/she might be able to work with Bailey directly or give you other suggestions of how to help him yourself.

Best of luck,
Laurie

Karen Warren November 29, 2011 at 10:11 AM

Ms. Laurendeau:
I am interested in learning more about your program. I am the mother of a first grader. He is struggling with understanding basic math facts, especially fact families. First grade math is so different from when I attended elementary school. His teacher has suggested flash cards and computer practice. However, my son becomes bored and frustrated with this. He does not feel confident about math at all. I so want to help him feel better and have a sense of comfort that he is understanding what is being taught. His school’s curriculum includes the Mad Math Minute, where the student has to get so many addition and subtraction problems right within a minute. Unfortunately, his teacher has moved on to subtraction so now my son is doubly confused. We live in St. Louis, MO. I would most appreciate any thoughts or suggestions you may have. Thank you for your time.

Laurie Laurendeau November 30, 2011 at 9:28 AM

Karen,
Thank you for your interest in Giggle Learn. Many students struggle with learning their Addition and Subtraction Math Facts, which is exactly why I created my Giggle Facts Math program. His teacher has suggested flashcards and computer practice because they are easy to do at home, but you’re right, they’re not always very fun! I would highly suggest you purchase the Giggle Facts program and begin right away. If you play the games in sequence, your son will be able to learn new facts quickly and with confidence, and have fun with you while he’s learning! Even though they have moved on to Subtraction in class, I would highly recommend that he master the Addition facts before working too much on the Subtraction facts. This will build his confidence and ease the transition between the two concepts. I hope this was helpful, and if you have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help!

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