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Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Benefits of Kinesthetics in the Classroom


Although many educators and parents know about the correlation between learning and movement, many disregard the connection once children get beyond kindergarten. But did you know that encourging students to sit still while learning and even completing homework could do more damage than good?  

Sitting is Bad for the Body and the Brain
The human body was not designed to sit for long periods of time, and research is now suggesting that a sedentary life is as detrimental to one’s health as smoking cigarettes.  Sadly, many school age children are now sitting in excess of 8 to 12 hours a day, and this has a negative impact on their bodies as well as their brains.  

Three Common Misconceptions:
  • Sitting still improves learning.
  • Students should stay in from recess when they don’t finish their classwork.
  • Classrooms become unruly when students are allowed to move around.

Bringing Movement into the Classroom:
Educators who insist that their students remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal conditions for learning.  Instead, teachers should purposefully integrate movement into everyday learning such as daily stretching, walks, dance, drama, seat-changing, and energizing brain breaks.

Why Does Movement Benefit Learning?
Did you know that the part of the brain that processes movement is the same part of the brain that processes learning?  When you encourage your students to be active, this:
  • stimulates nerve cells to bind which is what learning is, at a cellular level.
  • develops new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus which enhances memory and learning.
  • triggers the release of brain-derived neurotrophic factor which boosts the neurons' ability to communicate with one another.
  • increases the release of neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine and dopamine, which energizes the body and elevates mood. 
  • provides oxygen-rich blood that feeds the brain for optimal performance. 
  • raises blood pressure and epinephrine levels among sluggish learners.
  • improves the ability to handle stress.
  • exercises the muscles, heart, lungs, and bones and strengthens the basal ganglia, cerebellum, and corpus callosum.
  • fosters hemisphere integration.
  • enhances social skills and emotional intelligence.

Kinesthetic Ideas for the Classroom:
Here are a few ideas that can help you to integrate movement into your classroom.
  1. Teach appropriate movements that your students can make while sitting at their desk such as bouncing their legs under the table.
  2. Incorporate movement into lessons.  Allow students to move from one “learning station” to the next where short, interactive activities can engage students.
  3. Do crosslaterial movements that go across the midline to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain.
  4. Offer one-minute kinesthetic breaks in the middle of class where students can do a brain break activity, stretch, or even do a few exercises such as jumping jacks.
  5. Allow learners to stand and move around the class.
  6. Integrate activities such as acting out lessons or let your students create plays that illustrate the concepts.
  7. Offer a kinesthetic corner in your classroom where students can stretch on a yoga mat or roll on an exercise ball.
  8. Place information to be learned onto balloons or balls so that the students can review material by passing props to one another.
  9. Get standing desks, kinesthetic workstations, and chairs that allow students to move and bounce.  I use the Zenergy ball chair in my office, and I find that it helps my students as well as myself.  Place the highly kinesthetic learners on the sides of the class, so that their movement does not visually distract other students.
Clearly, movement is key in the learning process and it also improves overall health and wellbeing.  I hope you too can support this in your classrooms and individual work with students.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Dyslexia Help: Reversing Reversals Beginners - New Publication and Free Samples

I'm so excited to offer my newest publication in 2016 - Reversing Reversals Beginners. This digital workbook is the fourth publication in my popular Reversing Reversals Series.

Why Did I Create Reversing Reversals Beginners?
Upon request, I have created more fun activities that bridge the gap between Reversing Reversals Primary and the original Reversing Reversals. I have included more simplistic activities that strengthen visual processing, tracking, directionality, discrimination, pattern recognition and more.

What Population of Learners are Served by this Workbook?
I created the Reversing Reversals Series to help students with dyslexia to develop the core skills needed for reading and math. These products are often used and recommended by vision therapists, educational therapists and teachers as the activities serve as brain training exercises that strengthen areas of weak cognition.

How Does Each Product in the Reversing Reversals Series Differ?
Image
Purpose
Activities
Fun activities strengthen and develop the core skills needed for reading and writing. All the activities and games utilize animal characters.  Areas of cognition addressed: visual memory, auditory memory, sequential memory, visual reasoning, auditory reasoning, visual discrimination, receptive language, listening skills, mental flexibility, attention, attention to details, visual tracking, spatial skills, and directionality.
๏ Simple animal tracking games
๏ Visual - discrimination and sequential memory activities
๏ Auditory memory/listening skills activities
๏ Spatial memory activities
๏ Following directions games
Fun activities strengthen and develop letter, number and symbol recognition. Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Simple coloring activities for common reversals
๏ Simple tracking activities for consonant and vowel discrimination and common letter reversals
๏ Simple mazes that strengthen letter, number and symbol recognition
๏ Simple sequential and pattern recognition activities
๏ Strategies for success
Fun activities strengthen and develop letter, number and symbol recognition/ common reversals. The publication also works on left - right discrimination and cardinal directions. Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/ discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Tracking activities for vowel and consonant discrimination and common reversals
๏ Challenging coloring activities for common reversals
๏ Mazes that strengthen letter and number discrimination
๏ Activities for left/right and cardinal direction recognition
๏ Game suggestions
๏ Strategies for success
Fun activities strengthen and further develop letter, number and symbol recognition/common reversals. The publication offers additional pages that work on left - right discrimination and cardinal directions.  Areas of cognition addressed: visual processing/ discrimination, sequential processing, tracking, abstract reasoning, attention, pattern recognition, and directionality.
๏ Sorting activities for common reversals
๏ Tracking activities for letter, number and symbol reversals
๏ Mazes that strengthen letter and number discrimination
๏ Hidden image activities that strengthen challenging symbol discrimination
๏ Directionality games
๏ Strategies for success

Can I See Some Free Sample Activities?
Yes, I do offer free sample activities.  Each of the product pages - RR Primary, RR Beginners, RR, RR2 - offer free sample downloads, and you can even get a discount when you purchase the whole series.

I would love to hear your thoughts about my new publication.

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Exposing Teachers to the 12 Ways of Learning




Many teachers are aware of the four basic learning styles: visual, auditory, tactile and kinesthetic.  But did you know that there are eight more common ways that the brain processes information?  Accommodating these 12 ways of processing is a must these days and offering instruction as well as assignments that honor all these modalities helps to prepare our students for a future of life-long learning success.

Let’s Review the Four Basic Learning Styles:
  1. Visual Learning: incorporates pictures, drawings and even personal visualizations into lessons.  This helps students learn through visual observation.
  2. Auditory Learning: involves learning through listening.  This helps students to learn how to focus on and determine the salient information from what they are hearing.
  3. Tactile Learning: consists of touching or feeling objects or artifacts.  It also involves the encoding of information when taking notes or drawing things out.
  4. Kinesthetic Learning: encompasses learning while moving one’s body.  For many students, movement can help enhance engagement in learning and memory of information.

Now Let’s Cover the Other Eight Ways of Processing:
  1. Sequential Learning: entails teaching students in a step by step format that sequences instruction by time, alphabetical order or a numerical series. This prepares students for outlines, timelines, completing long term assignments and keeping materials organized.
  2. Simultaneous Learning: involves teaching children how to categorize materials by likeness. This prepares students for webbing information, conceptualizing main ideas, understanding flow charts and diagrams as well as keeping materials organized.
  3. Verbal Learning: incorporates teaching children how to process ideas aloud. This helps students participate in class discussions and feel comfortable expressing ideas.
  4. Interactive Learning: consists of teaching children how to work with others. This trains learners to collaborate and work in groups.
  5. Logical/Reflective Learning: encompasses teaching children how to reflect upon or think about what they are learning. This prepares students to work independently and process ideas internally.
  6. Indirect Experience Learning: entails teaching children how to watch and learn from a demonstration. This helps students attend to and glean information from vicarious learning experiences.
  7. Direct Experience Learning: involves teaching children how to use their own environment to learn. This informs students that continuing education is ever present in our everyday environment and that there are fabulous learning experiences available through museums, aquariums, historic sites and other locales.
  8. Rhythmic Melodic Learning: consists of teaching children how to use melodies and rhythm to learn. This provides students the tools to utilize beats and songs or come up with their own creative rhythms or melodies when trying to memorize novel information.

Where Do the 12 Ways of Learning Come From:
The 12 Ways of Learning is based on an extensive literature review on learning styles, cognitive styles, Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences and it also considers an information processing model out of school psychology.  You can learn more about this in Dr. Warren’s publication the Eclectic Teaching Approach.

How Can I Possibly Accommodate 12 Different Ways of Learning:
The trick is to weave multiple ways of learning into one lesson or offer assignment options.  For example, a lecture (auditory) can be enhanced with images (visual), discussions (interactive and verbal), written activities (tactile) and so forth.  In addition, assignment options that tap into diverse ways of learning can allow students to demonstrate their knowledge in the most empowering and motivating ways.  


CLICK HERE to view a free Prezi on the 12 ways of learning


CLICK HERE to view a free Youtube on the 12 ways of learning



Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Tutor, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist: What's the Difference?



Are you a parent that is trying to get the best support for your child outside of school?  Perhaps you are a teacher that wants to consider starting their own private practice.  There are a number of professional titles floating out there and understanding the difference between them can be vital in finding the right fit.  To help you with the process, this blog defines the commonalities and differences between a tutor, a learning specialist, and an educational therapist.  

Tutor:  A tutor is a teacher who instructs a child outside of school, especially to provide extra support and review concepts with difficult subject matter or classes.  They often help with homework completion and may offer some strategies on study skills or time management. A tutor often holds a degree in the subject(s) tutored, and many have an undergraduate degree or higher.  

Learning Specialist:
A learning specialist is an educator who is skilled and experienced in providing learning strategies to students who struggle with learning differences. These educators work one-on-one or in small groups to give students intensive support that meets individual needs.  Often an expert in a number of subject areas, learning specialists should offer study strategies, memory techniques, metacognitive and focusing methods, and compensatory learning strategies. They should also be versed in assistive technology, creating an intervention plan, defining reasonable accommodations, and assisting students to develop self-advocacy skills.  Many learning specialists also offer reading, writing and/or math remediation as well as cognitive remedial training, homework help and direct communication with teachers and other professionals.  Learning Specialists should be well educated in learning and cognition as well as alternative learning and multisensory teaching strategies.  They should hold a degree in education as well as a master’s degree or doctorate in a field such as educational psychology, special education, neuropsychology, and or school psychology.  

Educational Therapist:
An educational therapist offers many of the same learning strategies and individualized educational interventions to a learning specialist, but they are also professionals who combine therapeutic approaches for evaluation, remediation, case management, and communication/advocacy on behalf of children, adolescents and adults with learning disabilities or learning difficulties. These professionals should be versed in helping students with any social and emotional challenges surrounding their learning difficulties.  An educational therapist should have extensive training and degrees in learning and cognition as well as psychology, school psychology and/or educational psychology.  Many educational therapists hold a Master’s degree and doctorate.

If you are looking for a specialist to work with your child after school, or you are a teacher that is curious about the opportunities outside of a school setting, being aware of the roles of a tutor, learning specialist and educational therapist can help you to make an informed decision.  If you are seeking a professional for your child or a student, be sure to ask potential tutors, learning specialist or educational therapists about their training, certification, and experience.  
I hope you found this blog helpful. Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Vowel Combinations or Vowel Teams Fun Activities and Free Sample


What if you could teach children the vowel combinations or vowel teams by complete fun coloring activities, searches, and mazes? What's more, embedded memory strategies could help to make the concepts sticky. Vowel Combinations or vowel teams are some of the most difficult lessons for young readers to master. My publication, Vowel Combinations Made Easy is a great OG or phonics base addition to your bag of teaching tricks, and now, you can download a free sampling of activities.    

 Click here to get free sample activities that teach this skills.


Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Memory Strategy: Hooking's a Fun and Memorable Way to Learn

As an educational therapist and learning specialist, hooking is one of the most valuable memory strategies that I teach my students.  In fact, tedious study sessions can be transformed into a memorable and often hilarious task.  

What is Hooking?
Hooking is a memory strategy in which you use the term itself that you are trying to remember to guide you to the answer.  In other words, you search for clues in the word. You can "hook" auditorily, to the sound or sounds in the term or visually, to the way the word looks.  Occasionally, you might find a hook in the word that does not guide you directly to the answer, but you can often create a story or visualization that will make it work.

Image 1
Visual Hooking Example:


  • Take the spanish word ojo.  Ojo means eye, and it is easy to make the word look as though it has eyes. See image 1.

Auditory Hooking Example:
  • Image 2
    Mesa means table in Spanish.  Mesa sounds like messy and I tell my students to think of a “mesa table.”

Auditory/Visual Examples:
  • If a student wants to learn how many pints there are in a quart, I say that pints sounds like pines and a quart sounds like a tennis court.  I then ask them to imagine two pine trees, playing tennis in a quart.  See image 2.
  • Take the distributive property in mathematics.  In the middle of the word you can see the word rib.  I tell my students that they have to draw in the “ribs” to solve the problem.  See image 3.

  • Image 3 
    Learning about the different types of angles lends itself to some fun strategies.  I tell my students that acute angles are “a cute” type of angle, obtuse are “obese” or fat angles, and right angles are “right on” and I show them that they can find the right angle in the “thumbs up” gesture. See image 4. 
  • When my students are learning about the cell organelles one of my favorite hooks is for the golgi body, which manages intracellular transportation.  I encourage my students to think of it as the “Go go Golgi” and ask them to visualize a shipping company like FedEx but the name is “Go Go Golgi.” See image 5.


Teaching Students to Create Their Own Hooks:
Image 4
Creating hooks for your students can be helpful, but if students create their own hooks, memory works even better.  Self-generating strategies gets students to make their own personal connections and connecting new knowledge to prior knowledge is a well research technique to enhance learning. What’s more, when two people look at a term, they don’t necessarily see or hear the same strategy. So, for example, take the word, benevolent.  There are many hooks that could be created to help one remember the meaning of the word, but the question is what does the student hear or see in the word? Benevolent means, kind-hearted, and you could use any of the following hooks:
  • benevolent: If someone lent you something, that was a benevolent gesture.”
  • Image5
    benevolent: Perhaps you know of someone named Ben or Len and they are benevolent.
  • benevolent: The Latin root means “good” and you could make that connection that good people are benevolent.
  • be-ne-volent: When you break up the word, it sounds like “be not violent.” One could that that the opposite of violence is benevolence.
  • benevolent: Right in the middle of the word, you can find the word love written backwards. One might think, when two people fall in love they are benevolent towards one another.

Teaching the hooking strategy to your students can help them to enhance their memories and find joy and laughter while learning. I hope you found this blog post helpful! Please feel free to write a comment and share your own hooking strategies.
Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multisensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials. She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.GoDyslexia.comwww.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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