01 09 10

Friday, July 18, 2014

The Best Reading Remediation: Tackling the 3 Core Cognitive Skills


There are a plethora of reading programs that walk students through the rules, patterns and irregularities of our complicated English language, however, many students need to begin their remedial instruction by strengthening the core and foundational cognitive skills required to be a competent reader.

What Are the Core Cognitive Skills Required for Reading?
There are three main cognitive skills that students must strengthen to prepare them to read. Although there are other cognitive processing areas that the brain uses to read, such as executive functioning, spatial skills and processing speed, here is a list and discussion of the primary ones:

1) Visual Processing: ability to scan and make sense of visual information and symbols.
Within the realm of visual processing are the following:
  • Visual Sequencing: ability to process visual information in a series or sequence.  Example: Accurately processing and comprehending a sequence of letters.
  • Visual Closure: ability to discern visual information when part of the image is missing.  Example: Accurately processing and comprehending a poorly copied page.
  • Visual Synthesis: ability to combine individual pieces of visual information into a comprehensible whole.  Example: Combining individual letters into a word.
  • Visual Discrimination: ability to distinguish similarities and differences in size, shape, pattern, form, position and color.  Example: Telling the difference between letters and numbers that are similar in shape.
  • Visual Memory: ability to remember what is seen.  Example: Being able to recall what sight words look like.
  • Tracking: ability to accurately follow an object or words across the page.  Example: Reading words across a page and also from line to line.
2) Auditory Processing: ability to process and understand what is heard.  Because students "say the words in their heads" and also sounds blend together to make words, auditory processing is utilized while reading.  Within the realm of auditory processing are the following: 
  • Auditory Sequencing: ability to recall a series or sequence that is heard.  Example: Accurately processing and comprehending a sequence of sounds.   
  • Auditory Closure: ability to discern auditory information when part of the sounds or phonemes are missing.  Example: Accurately processing and comprehending someone that does not speak the English language proficiently - leaving out sounds.
  • Auditory Synthesis: ability to combine individual pieces of auditory information into a comprehensible whole.  Example: Blending sounds into words.
  • Auditory Discrimination: ability to detect differences in sounds.  Example: Telling the difference between similar sounds such as the short sounds of the letters "a" and "e."
  • Auditory Memory: ability to process, analyze and recall orally presented information.  Example: Being able to recall what sight words sound like.
3) Verbal Reasoning: ability to understand and reason with words.   
  • Higher Order Language:  ability to summarize information, make inferences, understand multiple meanings, comprehend non-literal meanings, glean the main idea and predict outcomes.   
  • Reading Comprehension:  Ability to understand what is read.  
How Can We Strengthen These Foundational Cognitive Skills?


Following Directions Primary:
Following Directions Primary, offers a 49 page download that includes coloring activities and process of elimination activities.  Cute animals and aliens as well as numbers, letters shapes and arrows are used to develop listening skills, linguistic abilities and the core cognitive skills needed for reading.  If you are interested in learning more about this publication and would like to download free samples click here.

Reversing Reversals Primary:
Reversing Reversals Primary strengthens the foundational cognitive skills needed for reading and math.  It also develops visual perception such as reversals that impacts students with dyslexia.  This publication is available as a download, and it offers 72 pages of activities as well as a game.  If you would like to learn more about this publication and also get free samples click here.  

By helping young learners to develop their core foundation before beginning reading instruction, you can assure that students will have the needed abilities and tools to succeed.  

Cheers, Erica

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.com
www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Follow on Bloglovin

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Mastering Tricky Wording: Free Follow Directions Summer Fun Activities

 Following Directions Activities

It's easy to forget how challenging it can be for children to learn the complexities of the English language.  Following a parents' directives, interpreting the needed steps to complete a homework assignment, understanding multiple choice test questions, and discerning a teacher's instructions are just a few examples of how young learners need to be able to understand and navigate the subtleties of linguistic cues.  For many children, learning to follow directions is a complex task that requires instruction, and the mastery of this skill involves vocabulary development, mental flexibility, attention to details, listening skills, receptive language skills, and verbal reasoning.

What Happens When Kids Have Trouble Following Directions?
When kids have trouble following directions, they often encounter the annoyance and frustration of others.  In fact, a true misunderstanding can even result in ridicule and punishments that can leave the child confused and dejected.

How Can We Teach This Needed Skill in a Positive Way?
The two most important things to do is to be patient and to make the process fun and engaging.   Playing games like "Simon Says," or creating a scavenger hunt can help to teach this needed skill, but finding the time to do this can be difficult.  However, if you would like to develop this skill through printable, game-like handouts or workbooks, I am offering free samples of my Following Directions: The Fun and Easy Way publications.  Just click here to learn more.

I hope you found this post, ideas and materials helpful.  If you have any thoughts or further ideas, please share them below this post.
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.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  

                                          Follow on Bloglovin


Friday, July 4, 2014

10 Ways to Motivate and Empower Struggling Readers

Making the reading process fun over the summer months can transform an apparent chore into an enjoyable activity that young learners can relish.  One can make the reading process pleasurable by integrating engaging activities, creating a fun reading environment, teaching kids how to visualize, pairing the activities with pleasantries, sharing the process with them and integrating technology such as books on tape.

What Are Some Specific Strategies?
  1. Be positive and excited about your own reading time.  If kids see that you love it, they will want to do it too.
  2. Help your children learn to visualize or imagine pictures when reading or listening to text. While reading together, talk about your own visuals and ask them about theirs.  Creating a movie in your head improves reading comprehension, attention and will help kids picture the characters and settings.
  3. Create an exciting and comfortable niche for your children to read.  With your child or children collect pillows, blankets, stuffed animals and other items that create a relaxing, comfortable and fun environment for reading.
  4. Allow kids to listen to books on tape while reading along.  This will improve sight word vocabulary and listening skills.
  5. Make your child's favorite snacks and drinks available during reading time.  This will provide positive associations with the reading process.
  6. Create a family time a few days a week, where the whole family reads to themselves or as a group.
  7. Go to the library or book store and help your children select reading materials that they find engaging.  This could be a book, magazine, comic and more.
  8. Integrate activities that your children enjoy into the reading process.  For example, if they love to draw, encourage them to illustrate a scene out of each chapter that they read.  
  9. Read the book with your child so that you can talk about each chapter.  You can even make it into a game.  See how many character, setting and plot details you can each remember from your reading. 
  10. When kids self-initiate reading, be sure to praise them and celebrate their self-directed accomplishments.
I hope you found these strategies helpful.  If you have any other ideas, please share them!

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.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  

                                          Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, June 27, 2014

Teaching Handwriting: An Important Skill to Master


With the integration of technology into the classroom and limited instructional time, teachers spend less and less time on the teaching of penmanship.  In fact, many schools have stopped teaching script all together.  Instead, the instruction and practice time that was once used to refine printing and cursive skills has been reallocated to other tasks such as keyboarding.

What Are the Long Term Effects of Limited Instruction on Penmanship?
Because young learners are spending less time on penmanship, many students do not fully develop this skill, and their fine motor abilities suffer.  Therefore, when they write, they have to think about letter and word formation, leaving little to no room for listening, the formation of ideas or sentence structure.   In addition, we are seeing a number of adverse effects across areas of academics:
  1. Because student handwriting skills are not fully developed to a degree of automaticity, many students still need to concentrate on penmanship.  As a result, they have less cognitive space to devote to the complicated tasks of listening, writing and solving mathematical computations.  
  2. Note-taking skills suffer as students are concentrating on the act of writing instead of the academic content that the teacher is instructing.
  3. Poor penmanship can result in illegible notes and students can lose points on assignments that are difficult to decipher.
  4. Many students are less motivated to write because the process is labor intensive and tiring for the hand. 
  5. When students have poor penmanship, they are often shy about others seeing their work.
  6. Practicing penmanship also helps to develop fine motor dexterity, and strengthen the muscles of the hand. 
Areas to Focus on When Teaching Handwriting?
  1. Formation of letters: Teaching the proper formation of the letters is key to neat handwriting.
  2. Legibility of Penmanship: Helping students to learn the proper sizing and placement of letters and words is important too.  You might like to check out one of my products: Color Coded Handwriting 
  3. Speed of Penmanship:  Practicing penmanship also helps to increase a student's ability to form letters quickly.  This can be key to developing comprehensive note-taking skills.
What Can We Do To Make the Process Fun?
  1. Consider the expression: "It's all in the presentation."  Be sure to make your activities sound fun.  For example, instead of calling an activity "learning script" or "learning cursive," consider using a fun, exciting name such as "learning roller-coaster letters."
  2. Strengthen fine motor dexterity by integrating fun activities such as mazes and coloring into a daily routine.
  3. Get tracing paper and let your students trace images and words.  Also, using carbon paper between an image and a blank piece of paper will allow kids to trace over images and reproduce them on the blank piece of paper.  These activities will also help to develop fine motor skills.
  4. Have fun making a collage of letters.  For instance, when teaching the letter "b," cut out this letter from magazines and paste them onto a piece of card stock.
  5. Allow students to form letters and words out of fun tactile materials such as sand, marbles, shaving cream, clay and more.
  6. Consider reading my blog post: 5 Strategies that Make Learning the Alphabet a Lot of Fun.
I hope you found this helpful!  I'd love to hear your comments.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Using Free Mac Text to Speech to Edit Student Writing

For many students it is a struggle to edit ones own writing - if it is even done at all.  We all tend to read what we have written the way we meant to write it, and it’s easy to scan over misspelt words, word omissions, improper word choices and more.   Typos like “form” instead of “from,” will never be detected by a spell check and these types of mishaps can be very difficult to notice.  However, activating text to speech on the Mac, can really help with the editing process.

What is Text to Speech?
Text to speech is an assistive technology device that allows the writer to highlight text and with a simple command, the computer will read your writing aloud.  It uses computerized speech, but there are a couple voices that are quite realistic.  

 
How Can I Use This Technology on My Mac?

  1. Go to system preferences.
  2. Select “Dictation and Speech” which offers a microphone icon.
  3. Select a "System Voice" (my personal favorite is Alex), and pick a speaking rate by sliding the icon between slow-fast.
  4. Select the check box next to “Speak selected text when the key is pressed."
  5. Select the “Change Key” button and make your preferred selection.  Let me suggest using the control key and the letter s).
  6. Now, select the text that you want the computer to read and hold down the control key while selecting the letter S.


What Else Can I Use Text to Speech for?

If you find text on the Internet, and you would like your computer to read it to you, all you have to do is highlight the desired text and hit the control key while selecting the letter s.  You can also use this to edit your emails.  I do it all the time.

I hope you find  this helpful!

Friday, June 13, 2014

10 Great, Free Typing Games


Over the summer months, kids can easily improve their keyboarding skills while having fun. There are numerous free typing games available on the internet, and this blogpost highlights a few of them.  The very first one listed, Dance Mat Typing, is by far my favorite of all the options.  In fact, it is better than many purchasable software programs and online lessons. The first two games offer lessons, while the last eight are games that allow students to practice their keyboarding skills.

This is a comprehensive typing game.  It is a free, beginners keyboarding game by BBC.

This site offers some simple, free typing lessons.

Kids can practice keyboarding skills by typing the words on the oncoming planes to make them disappear.

Type the letters to make the oncoming spaceships disappear while dodging their attack with the space bar. 

Kids can save a martian colony by typing strings of letters that will destroy the attacking flying saucers.

Kids type in the string of letters to destroy the oncoming meteors.

If kids type the string of letters, a frog will eat the oncoming words before hit the ground, if not, the frogs will disappear - one at at time.
Kids race down a road and type in the string of letters to drive past the cars.

If kids type the string of letters before they hit the ground they will disappear, if not, the ghouls will disappear.

This game helps kids learn the location of all the keys.  It involves shooting down bombs that have letters on them before they hit a city. 

If you know of any other great, free keyboarding games, please let us know by commenting below.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Teaching The Joy of Writing: A Scaffolding Approach

For many students writing can be an overwhelming, taxing chore.   In order to be proficient, students must be able to manage multiple tasks at one time, and to juggle these responsibilities, the following must be developed to near automaticity:
1.     Conjuring up and organizing ideas.
2.     Understanding and being able to implement basic grammar and sentence structure.
3.     Recording words through legible penmanship or proficient typing.
4.     Comprehending and utilizing various literacy devices.
5.     Knowing how to spell.
If a student struggles with any of the above tasks, their writing will likely suffer.

How Can Students Develop the Needed Skills to Automaticity? 
I evaluate each student's current writing capabilities and note any difficulties.  Then the two of us collaborate and write together.  The student picks the topic.  It could be a story, a research paper, a blog, a book of poetry, a diary, a recipe book...  In fact, I have been known to write 20-40 page documents with young learners that are illustrated and later bound.  
I never came across a student that didn’t have a wonderful imagination that could be unearthed, and I provide the support needed so they can get those ideas in writing.  I offer a scaffolding approach, which gifts the needed backing until the student can do each task on his or her own.  In the beginning, I am doing the majority of the work, but by the end, the student has taken over most of the tasks. This means that I first offer repeated demonstrations, then I present recurrent verbal reminders - where I think aloud, and eventually, I pass responsibilities on to them – when they are ready. 

What Are Some Examples of a Scaffolding Approach?    
1.    If spelling, penmanship and typing is a problem, I offer to be the secretary - so I can capture their ideas. 
2.    If organization is a problem, I help the student to shape their approach. 
3.    If sentences are simple and word choice is poor, I teach the student how to use a thesaurus and help him or her to learn how to visualize their ideas and “paint with words.” 
4.    If grammar and sentence structure is poor, I walk the student through the process.  For example if capitalization is a problem, I might say for each sentence.  “I start with a capital letter.”  After ten sentences, I say, “I start with a…” and let them fill in the blank.  Later I ask, “How do I begin my sentence?

5.    If they struggle with thesis statements, topics sentences and supporting details, we weave those concepts into the project.

I do offer three writing games that can also help to bring joy to the learning process.  Five W's Detectives was created for my beginning writers, Show Don't Tell helps students to develop creative writing abilities, and Word Shuffle assists students with the mastery of grammar and literary devices.  

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

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.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  

                                          Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, May 30, 2014

11 Multiple Choice Strategies

With the end of the school year quickly approaching, many young learners are prepping for finals. Learning the content for these comprehensive exams is imperative, but mastering the strategies for approaching multiple choice tests can also serve as a means to elevate final grades.  

Why Should Students Learn About How to Take Multiple Choice Tests?
Due to large class sizes, increasing paperwork as well as common core curriculums, multiple choice tests are becoming the fast favorite of educational institutions.  Ironically, these are the most difficult tests to create, they are often poorly written and they commonly include tricky wording. As a result, test items can be a linguistic nightmare for some students.  They can become an obstacle course that can trip up learners with language based disabilities or weaknesses, making it virtually impossible for them to share their true knowledge of the academic material. What's more, teachers are not properly trained on how to write and evaluate this testing format. For instance, if 50% or more of the class misses an item, teachers should discard the item as it measures one of two things.  Either the teacher did not adequately teach the material or the question was poorly worded.  Sadly, many teachers do not even have the power to eliminate items as many tests are mandated from the powers above.  So what can we do to manage this difficult situation?  We must train our students to be linguistically savvy and make them aware of the many looming booby traps that are embedded in multiple choice tests.

11 Multiple Choice Tips
Here are a number of strategies that I teach my own students:

  1. After reading the stem of each question, anticipate the answer before looking at the options.  Then match your answer with the best choice.
  2. Read each item completely.  Even if you think you have found the answer, study every option before moving onto the next problem.
  3. Eliminate options that are clearly incorrect so you can simplify the task.  Most questions have throwaway items.
  4. If you don't know the answer, flag the item and come back to it later.  You might find the relevant information in other test questions.
  5. Options that offer broad generalizations are usually incorrect.  Watch for words like always, necessarily, only, completely, must, totally, never that make this option improbable.
  6. Options that offer qualified pointers are usually correct.  Look for words such as perhaps, sometimes, often, may and generally that make this option probable.  
  7. Be aware of words such as not, no and none as well as prefixes such as a, un, and dis.  These words or prefixes can change the meaning of the question. 
  8. Be aware of double negatives that make a statement positive.  For example, not atypical means typical and not false means true.
  9. Choose from familiar options and avoid unknown terms and wording.
  10. If you have to guess, chose one of the following: 
    1. Choose the longest answer.
    2. Choose the answer that is presented in the middle.
    3. Choose one of two opposite answers.
  11. If you get anxious, close your eyes, take a a few deep breaths and visualize successful results.
I hope you found this post and these strategies helpful.  If you have any thoughts or further ideas, please share them below this post.

To learn more about helping young learners develop executive functioning skills and acquiring other helpful handouts and advice, consider purchasing Planning Time Management and Organization for Success.  This publication offers methods and materials that guide and support students in the areas of time management, learning strategies, planning and organization.  It includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic organizers.  You will also find materials that focus reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives programs.  What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  Finally, I offer a free sample assessment from the publication too, as well as a free video on executive functioning.  To Access this Click Here

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.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com, www.learningtolearn.biz  

                                          Follow on Bloglovin

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Secret to Motivating Students

Motivation is thought to be a common culprit that plagues students, however this couldn't be further from the truth.  As Rick Lavoie said, "It is not that students become unmotivated, because all human behavior is motivated." Instead, other factors such as anxiety, a poor self-esteem, learned helplessness, depression, and learning disabilities are just a few real causes that impact learning and appear to impact motivation.

How Can We Help Students that Appear to be Unmotivated?
First, we must try to understand the root causes of the unwanted behaviors.  One can try to uncover these blockades through discussion, but it may be best to pursue help from a therapist, seek a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation or find an excellent educational therapist or learning specialist that has some training in psychology.  Once the underlying causes have been uncovered, one must provide the structure and support that will help to guide the student to better habits and behaviors.

3 Common Misconceptions:
  1. All students are motivated by the same things.  In fact, students can be motivated by a wide range of contrasting options.  One reason for this is because each learner comes to the classroom with different strengths and weaknesses.  But personality issues can also play into the recipe for learning.  For example, some students are motivated by challenging activities while others are motivated by manageable or easy activities.  In addition, some students are motivated my competition, while others are motived by cooperation.  
  2. Punishing students will increase motivation.  Punishments are often dangerous, because they can create anger and resentment.  In addition, if a student is motivated to do well, but is struggling due to learning difficulties, punishments can result in learned helplessness, anxiety and even depression.
  3. Rewards will motivate my students.  Rewards can offer some external motivation, but what students really need is to be internally motivated.  Intermittent reward, however, can be helpful, particularly as a way to celebrate success. 
What Can Be Done to Motivate Students?
  1. Try to only praise effort and improvement.  If you praise students at times when they know that they did not deserve the recognition, your accolades will lose credibility. 
  2. Hold onto your power by offering limited choices instead of giving students open ended options.  Many young learners will challenge your authority, but giving into their fear and complaints will only teach them to protest and be defiant.
  3. Develop positive, supportive relationships.  Try not to let a student's negativity or frustration impact your mood.  Instead, stay calm, use a soothing voice and maintain control.
  4. Offer intermittent or unexpected rewards that celebrate achievements.
  5. Help students to uncover their "genius qualities" and integrate them into academics wherever possible.
  6. Replace tests with manageable projects.
  7. Move away from competition and create a cooperative learning environment.  The only students that will be motivated by competition are the ones that know they will win.  All the other students will feel lousy and may even come to resent the teacher or their peers that continually succeed.  Instead, provide all students equal recognition.  For example, instead of posting a single student's weekly achievement, allow all students space to post their best work of the week. 
  8. Instead of pointing out what was done wrong - recognize what was done correctly. Also encourage students to learn from their mistakes by allowing partial credit from completed test corrections.  
  9. Replace negative feedback such as no, wrong, mistake, incorrect with almost, getting there, try again. 
  10. Avoid negative labels such as careless, lazy, and unmotivated.  Nobody is encouraged by deprecating remarks.  Praise the good behavior and ignore the bad.
For more useful strategies consider Rick Lavoie's YouTube: Motivation Breakthrough  
or purchasing his book:

I hope you found this blog helpful.  If you have other ideas about how to motivate students, please leave a comment below this post.

Friday, May 16, 2014

12 Strategies for Overcoming Test Anxiety

With finals around the corner, many students are becoming anxious about end of the year exams. Although a small dose of the jitters can provide some motivation, larger degrees of anxiety can virtually cripple many young learners. 

What is Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety is a product of fear or worry about a test or quiz.  In fact, a student that struggles with test anxiety may know the material, but he or she can not access the information during the examination due to this enfeebling mental state.  

What are the Causes of Test Anxiety?
Test anxiety can manifest from a number of root causes?
  • Questioning ones own abilities can create the fear that you will do poorly or even fail a test.
  • Distractions by other students, noise, or even ones own internal thoughts can make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Physical symptoms can also hinder students.  Short breaths, fast heart rates, nausea, headaches, and body sweats can make it difficult to recall answers.
  • Mental blocks can also make it difficult to recall learned information from ones memory.
How Can You Beat Test Anxiety?
Here are a few strategies that can help:
  1. Create a distraction free study environment.  If students prepare for tests with full concentration, they will learn the material quicker and better.
  2. Be sure to have students review all class materials.  This includes class work, homework, notes, prior tests, and projects.
  3. Create study materials and encourage students to show their approach to their teacher to assure that all the content is addressed.
  4. Form a study schedule so that students can prepare for tests over time.
  5. Encourage your students to get a good nights sleep before the test.
  6. Ask your students to consume a nutritious meal before the test and avoid sugary and starchy foods. Sugar and starch require a lot of energy to digest and can make it difficult to concentrate.  In contrast, foods like meats, eggs, nuts, and vegetables can help to energize the brain. 
  7. Help your students make a conscious effort to take deep breaths and relax any tense muscles while taking a test. 
  8. Teach good test-taking strategies to your students such as: doing the easiest questions to enhance confidence, answering every question - even if you are not sure of the answer, using all the time allotted, and eliminating answers that are definitely wrong.  To learn more strategies, CLICK HERE
  9. When taking the test, encourage your students to ask for clarification when needed.  Although teachers will not provide answers, they can often clarify confusing words or questions that can help lead students to the correct answer.
  10. Instruct your students about memory strategies such as mnemonics and hooking to aid recall during the test.  If you would like to learn more about memory strategies, CLICK HERE. 
  11. Consider teaching your students the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).  This method unites acupressure and dialogue to relax the mind and body.  It also helps to relieve any lingering energy blockages due to past trauma or struggles.
  12. Consider doing a mindful meditation with your students before the test to help calm the mind, relax the body and enhance confidence.  This strategy will help students become aware of their anxiety, observe the way they are feeling and then choose to let it go. 
I hope you found these strategies helpful.  If you have any other ideas, please share them by commenting below this blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Teaching Students Metacognitive Strategies Improves Grades


We are living in an information, distraction rich time and multitasking seems to be a common way of navigating the complexities of reality.  Our youth have grown up observing their parents juggling multiple responsibilities at one time, while they have also been immersed in the modern day influx of technology.  As a result, many young learners have applied their observations to academic endeavors, and homework is often completed while laying prey to constant interruptions from social media, online video chatting, texting, television and more.  Although there is some utility in life to being able to multitask, the learning process is hindered when attention continually shifts.  In contrast to this multitasking approach to learning is metacognition, and this can play a critical role in successful learning.

How Can Students Learn to Do Schoolwork with Greater Efficiency?
The foundation to instructing students how to maximize their learning potential is teaching them metacognitive strategies.  Metacognition is often described as "thinking about thinking,” and it involves higher order reasoning that actively controls the thought processes engaged in learning. Some other terms that are often used interchangeably with metacognition are self-regulation, and executive control.  Planning a learning approach, self-monitoring comprehension, and evaluating ones progress are examples of metacognitive skills.    

Teaching Metacognitive Approaches:
1.     Share your own thought processes aloud, so that students can hear how you think about your own thinking.
2.     Encourage students to focus on one task at a time from beginning to end.
3.     Tell students to remove all distractions when completing schoolwork. 
4.     Teach students to be aware of their own thought processes through mindfulness.  Here is another blog that discusses mindfulness
5.     Instruct students on how to plan and manage their time.  Provide handouts and materials that help them to think through the process.
6.     Ask students to create an after-school routine where they schedule homework time and down time separately.
7.     Urge students to plan their approach, create deadlines, and report their intentions to you or a small group of classmates.
8.     Provide assignments that merely ask students to create a study approach and have them share their ideas with their classmates. 
9.     Encourage students to keep a written log of their approach to your class.  For example, after students get back tests and assignments, ask them to evaluate their approach.  What worked?  What didn’t work?  How can they improve their strategy moving forward?


If you would like ready made checklists, handouts and assessments that can help your students develop metacognitive skills, check out the many resources available in my publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and EasyApproaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for Students.