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Friday, September 19, 2014

Turning Homework Into Home Fun


Motivating students to complete homework assignments can be tricky. After a long day at school, few learners look forward to tackling academics on their free time.  So what can we do to make the process less taxing, and possibly enjoyable?

Strategies for Turning Homework into Home Fun:
Who came up with the idea to call after-school assignments "homework?" Clearly, they were not thinking about the psychological sabotage embedded in that word.  I mean, really, who wants to take schoolwork home?  Here are a number of strategies that will help you to improve students attitudes and motivation, about home assignments.
  1. Don't call home assignments, homework, but come up with a name that is more appealing and motivating such as home fun. Think like an advertising agency that is trying to sell a product, and be sure to create fun and enticing names for all your assignments and lessons.  For example, I never teach script or cursive. I teach roller-coaster letters! Furthermore, generate excitement about upcoming units by showing your own enthusiasm for the content.
  2. Bring the arts, music, and games into assignments.  Many students enjoy fine arts, acting, music, and making as well as playing games, so try to weave these into the curriculum. Encouraging these creative options can also bring the fun factor into learning and make academics more memorable too.
  3. Offer a number of assignment options.  Each student possesses different strengths, and they also have their own preferred ways of learning.  As a result, provide choices that allow students to share their knowledge while granting them the power to select an appealing approach.
  4. Limit the amount of homework.  Students are often cognitively spent after working all day long in school, and there is a lot of research that suggests that home assignments really are not all that helpful.  In fact, a Canadian family took this issue to the Supreme Court in their country, arguing that there was no evidence that home assignments improved academic performance.  They actually won the ruling and their children were exempt from all homework. 
  5. Offer your students extra credit for completing home assignments.  Many students are motivated to improve their grades.  Besides the ones that are doing poorly, are the ones that probably need the extra practice!
I hope you found this blog helpful.  If you have 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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Friday, September 12, 2014

Tailoring Reading Remediation for Faster Results.

There are thousands of reading remediation programs out there as well as reading specialists that can help learners master the complex task of learning to read.  However, the process can be taxing, time consuming and expensive.  In fact, many students are placed into slow and boring programs that force them to wade through a sequence of lessons, many of which are not needed and not fun.

How Can Reading Remediation be Tailored to Meet Individual Needs?
Assessing each students' needs is imperative so that time can be used efficiently and positive results can abound quickly.   This will allow the instructor to individualize remedial goals for maximum results.

How Can Individual Needs be Assessed?
There are a number of areas that need to be evaluated to see where there are gaps in proficiency. Once you know where the problem areas lie, you can focus remediation.  Here are the areas that should be assessed.
  1. Letter: name/sound recognition
  2. Rhyming words
  3. Syllable divisions
  4. Word Blending
  5. Beginning sounds
  6. Middle sounds
  7. Ending sounds
  8. Words to sounds
  9. Drop the first sound
  10. Drop the last sound
  11. Sight words
  12. Closed syllables
  13. Open syllables
  14. Silent-E syllables
  15. Consonant LE syllables
  16. R-combination syllables
  17. Vowel combinations
  18. Syllabication
  19. Beginning blends, digraphs and trigraphs
  20. Ending blends
  21. Compound words
  22. Prefixes
  23. Suffixes
  24. Compound words
Is There A Publication That Assesses These Needed Areas?
The Good Sensory Learning Reading Assessment offers a comprehensive, 27-subtest evaluation that helps to tailor any phonics based or Orton-Gillingham reading program.  It was designed to offer reading specialists, teachers and parents an easy assessment.  The score sheet, pictured to the right, allows administrators to highlight instructional goals, and the re-administration (post-intervention) provides comparative information about the success of the intervention as well as additional needs.

If you would also like to use remedial materials that bring the fun factor into lessons, consider Reading Games, Reading Games 2, and Reading Board Games.  In addition, you can also find other great multisensory, fun reading materials at DyslexiaMaterials.com.
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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Saturday, September 6, 2014

Simplifying What is Best for ADHD Learners

Students that struggle with ADHD battle maintaining their focus on classroom materials and can be a challenge to hook and reel in for any teacher.  Many teachers and parents ask me to help them address what is best for ADHD learners, and the magic for motivating and enticing these students falls into five realms: the learning environment, the teaching approach, the teachers presentation, mindfulness training and the assessment of learning method.

The Learning Environment:  Create an engaging, multisensory learning environment that offers fun learning tools.
  1. Offer hands on experiences and consider creating learning stations where students can complete a variety of activities that reinforce lessons.
  2. Offer a variety of seating options.  Some students learn best when sitting still, while other students need to move around.  Options, such as the Zenergy Ball Chairstand up school desks and bouncy bands offer opportunities for students to move without distracting their classmates. 
  3. Play games that preview or review lessons.  This will bring the fun factor into the classroom.
  4. Make sure that the lighting is optimal for all learners.
  5. Make sure that there are minimal auditory and visual distractions.
The Teaching Approach: Use teaching methods that are empowering for all learners.
  1. Go multisensory:  Teach to each of the 12 ways of learning, while assessing and accommodating your learners best ways of learning so lessons can be most empowering.  To get an assessment and manual on meeting the 12 ways of learning, CLICK HERE.
  2. Make the lesson playful.  If you are not sure how to do this, create a suggestion box and let your students offer ideas.
  3. Go creative and integrate art and music into your lessons.
The Teacher's Presentation: Be enthusiastic and positive when presenting your lesson.
  1. Create excitement or intrigue on class topics.  For example, encourage your students to dress like the historical characters they are learning about, create a game for a lesson and let the students know how fun it will be, provide examples on how a coming topic is used in real life, and invite engaging professionals to share their experiences to the class.
  2. Come up with a fun name for all lessons.  Instead of introducing a lesson with a dull and boring name, come up with a title that sounds fun.  For example, don't teach script or cursive, teach roller-coaster letters!
  3. Be positive in your presentation.  Stop using negative labels and replace discouraging comments with words of encouragement.  Click here to learn more.
Mindfulness Training:  Teach your students to manage and be aware of their own thinking process.
  1. Determine if your students are passive or active learners and help them become conscious learners.  Here is a free assessment you can use with your students.
  2. Lead a discussion with your students about on how to maintain focus.  See what strategies your students are already using and suggest metacognitive approaches and visualization strategies
  3. Share your own metacognitive techniques on how you focus.  You can do this by sharing your internal thoughts.
  4. Ask your students to think about the material and make connections to their own lives.
Assessment of Learning Method: Maximize the utility of classroom and home work assignments.
  1. If you want to assess your students knowledge of a topic through class and homework assignments, provide 3 to 5 different options that tap into the different ways of learning.  
  2. Make sure all homework and classwork is valuable and engaging.
  3. Allow students to get partial credit for errors on classwork, homework and tests so that they can learn from their mistakes.  
I hope you found this blog helpful.  If you have any other ideas, please share them below this blog.


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  

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Ten, Fun Games that Strengthen Visual Processing

Visual processing is an important cognitive skill for children to develop, and there are many fun games that help to strengthen this skill.  

What is Visual Processing and Why is it Important?

Visual processing is a visual cognitive skill that allows us to process and interpret meaning from the visual information that we see through our eyes, and it plays an important role in reading, math, and spelling.  

What Are the Cognitive Skills that Make up Visual Processing

Visual processing involves a number of cognitive components:

  1. Visual Processing Speed: the ability to process visual information at a rapid pace.
  2. Visual Scanning: the ability to look at and absorb all parts of visual information and text.
  3. Visual Spatial Skills: the ability to mentally manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures.
  4. Visual Spatial Reasoning: the ability to perceive the spatial relationships between objects.
  5. Visual Construction Skills: the ability to organize and manually manipulate spatial information to make a design.  
  6. Visual Memory: the ability to remember what is seen.
  7. Visual Motor Integration: the ability to translate visual perception into motor planning, sequencing, control, coordination and speed.
  8. Visual Synthesis: the ability to unite visual information into a coherent whole. 
  9. Visual Sequencing: the ability to determine or remember the order of symbols, words, or objects.
  10. Visual Closure: the ability to make sense of visual information when some of the image is missing.
  11. Visual Reasoning: the ability to find meaning and make sense out of visual information.
What Are Some Games that Can Help to Develop These Skills?
  1. Set: Set is a card game of recognition and deduction. Each card contains one of three symbols (squiggles, diamonds, ovals) in varying numbers (up to three), colors (purple, green, red), and degrees of shading. A player arranges 12 cards, face up, and all the players quickly discriminate "sets" of three cards linked by combinations of sameness or difference. This game works on visual discrimination, processing speed, reasoning, sequencing, and visual scanning.
  2. Tricky Fingers: Who can match the pattern card first?  Non-removable marbles are manipulated.  This game works on visual processing speed, motor integration, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  3. Spot it: Spot it is played with 55 cards, each decorated with eight symbols varying in size and orientation. The object of the game is to be the first to spot the one symbol in common between two or more cards. This game works on visual processing speed, scanning, motor integration, discrimination and memory.
  4. Logic Links: Each puzzle is comprised of a series of clues that instruct the player where to place colored chips to solve a puzzle. This game works on visual reasoning, sequencing, and visual scanning.
  5. Blokus: The goal of this game is for players to fit all of their pieces onto the board. The player who gets rid of all of their tiles first is the winner. This game works on visual motor integration, reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  6. Pixy Cubes: Pixy Cubes uses challenge cards for players to match or they can design colorful pictures with 16 colorful cubes.  This game works on visual motor integration, memory, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  7. Q-Bits: Q-bitz will challenge your visual agility. Players puzzle over how to quickly recreate the patterns on the game cards using their set of 16 cubes. This game works on visual motor integration, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  8. Q-Bits Extreme: This is the same game as Q-Bits, but the cubes are not all the same and the puzzles are more challenging. This game works on visual motor integration, processing speed, spatial reasoning, sequencing, construction skills, spatial skills, and synthesis.
  9. Blink: Blink is a quick game where two players race to be the first to use all their cards. Players quickly match cards by the shape, count, or color on the cards. The first player out of cards wins.  This works on visual processing speed, discrimination and scanning.


I hope you found this helpful.  If you know of other card or board games that you find benefit visual processing, please share them below.  


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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