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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Using Positive Reinforcement to Shape Behaviors in the Classroom


With large class sizes and unruly students, teachers can be prone to leverage motivation through punishments.  For instance, eliminating recess or after school detentions can serve as a negative consequence.  However, this outcome often only creates anger and frustration.  So, instead of employing penalties, try utilizing an approach in which privileges are earned through positive reinforcement.

Many students are not internally motivated to complete homework, sit at their desks for hours at a time, and listen to lectures. While integrating multisensory methods may help, issues of avoidance and complaints often indicate that there is an overwhelming agenda. Students can tire, and when organization, time management and planning are not helping as they should, external motivation, or an incentives program may prove to be an effective remedy to increase productivity and improve students’ attitudes.

With an incentives program, students can earn points for completing activities, tasks or exhibiting appropriate behaviors.  Points are recorded which can then be “cashed in” for rewards.  Small rewards can be earned in a day, whereas larger rewards may take weeks or even months.

Many teachers feel that it is inappropriate to reward a child for completing schoolwork.  However, as adults, we are paid for work and would not complete the tasks without such compensation.  Therefore, earning rewards can be a practical learning tool for students that will help prepare them for the workforce.  Moreover, students often develop a sound work ethic.

What are the Steps?

1)    Identify the problems and define goals.
2)    Reveal motivating rewards and assign each with a point value.
3)    Select a number of tasks for which points can be earned.  Try to limit it to 5 tasks.  As success is reached, new tasks can be substituted into the program.  
4)    Decide the number of points that each of the tasks will earn.
5)    Record daily points.
6)    Once every few weeks, review the tasks and rewards and revise as needed.

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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kinesthetic Learners: 10 Empowering Approaches


When learning, some students find it helpful to sit quietly at their desks, while others find that movement helps them to maintain attention and encode information.  The needs of the latter group often remain unaddressed in the classroom because behaviors such as tapping a pencil, fidgeting, leaning back in chairs and asking for repeated bathroom and water breaks can be annoying to the teacher as well as peers.  Many of these students are kinesthetic learners and having to sit still and listen can be virtually impossible.  So how can teachers empower the often-conflicting needs of their kinesthetic learners? 

Here are 10 suggestions:
1)    Incorporate movement into the lessons.  Allow students to move from one “learning station” to the next where short, interactive activities can engage the students. 
2)    Permit kinesthetic learners to sit on the side of the classroom, so if they need to move around or stand, it won’t distract the students behind them.
3)    Allow your students to have a one-minute kinesthetic break in the middle of class where they can do a brain break activity, stretch, shake out their bodies or even do a few jumping jacks.
4)    Allow kinesthetic learners to stand from time to time.
5)    Integrate kinesthetic activities such as acting out lessons or let your students create plays that illustrate the concepts.
6)    Teach your students appropriate kinesthetic movements that they can make while sitting at their desk such as bouncing their legs under the table.
7)    Never take recess away from a kinesthetic learner. 
8)    Have a kinesthetic corner in your classroom where students can go to stretch on a yoga mat or roll on an exercise ball.
9)    Consider placing information to be reviewed onto balloons or balls so that the students can review material by passing the props to one another.
10) Consider getting chairs that allow students to bounce.  I have a Zenergy ball chair in my office, and I find that students that need movement love this seat.  Just be sure to place the kinesthetic learners on the sides of the class so that their bouncing doesn’t distract others.

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, April 4, 2014

Free Preposition Instruction with Pierre the Proposition Mouse


Recently, one of my students expressed some confusion about prepositions.  I reached into my cabinet looking for manipulatives and pulled out a stress toy that included a rubber mouse and his block of Swiss cheese.  I explained that a preposition was anything that the mouse could do to the Swiss cheese.  We decided to call the mouse Pierre and had fun giving him his own “voice.”  We placed him in various positions in relation to the cheese to explore the many types of prepositions and had a good belly laugh.    

To share our fun, we decided to create the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYZLKp2_EqU&list=UUClFDLZtuJD99TBMGxb-ekw



I also offer a fun, multisensory publication called Preppy the Preposition Penguin.  Students get to complete an art activity where they create Preppy the penguin as well as Preppy’s igloo.  Then students can have fun exploring the different things that Preppy can do to his igloo by using prepositions.  The download also includes lesson ideas, fun worksheets and three interactive games.  To learn more, 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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

Thursday, March 27, 2014

7 Great Free Homework Help Sites


The internet offers a growing number of wonderful resources for students, and there are quite a few free websites that can help to make the learning process both fun and memorable.  Here is a list of my favorite resources:

Quizlet:  http://quizlet.com/  

Quizlet allows students to browse through and use millions of study materials created by other users, or they can also generate their own.  Once information is entered into a set, students can use this content in many ways.  Electronic flashcards can be viewed or printed or students can also learn the material through questioning activities.  In addition, a variety of games can be generated from the information entered.  Finally, students can create tests in a number of formats and take them online for an immediate score.  Testing options include multiple choice, true and false, and fill-ins.  There are even visuals and a feature that reads information aloud.  Students can save their content, share them with others, and even merge them for midterms or finals.


Wolfram Alpha:  http://www.wolframalpha.com

Instead of placing your questions into Google and other search engines, Wolfram Alpha offers its own engine that computes answers in many subject areas.  The content and resources on this website are growing daily, and it already has a huge collection of knowledge.  Go to Wolfram Alpha and ask a question.  You will be amazed.  It’s fabulous for calculating difficult math problems, and is a great way to check homework.


BookShare:  https://www.bookshare.org/

Bookshare is supported by the Department of Education and offers audio books at no cost for school aged students with print-based disabilities.  Others can use it too for a nominal fee.


Shepard Software:   http://www.sheppardsoftware.com/

This website offers hundreds of educational, interactive activities and games to help students learn math, geography, science and more. It's great for all ages.


The Khan Academy   http://www.khanacademy.org/

This is a wonderful not-for-profit organization that provides a free, quality education to students around the globe. They offer an ever growing collection of thousands of videos covering everything from basic arithmetic and algebra to chemistry, programming, history, SAT prep and more.  They also have a practice/lesson component that is terrific.  This allows students to test their new knowledge, and if they get stuck, the website walks them through the process and even offers the needed video tutorial!  They have built into this site motivational tools such as avatars as well as feedback and progress summaries for parents and teachers.


Prezi:   www.prezi.com

If you want to take your presentations to a whole new level, create a Prezi!  Like PowerPoint, you can generate a presentation, but a Prezi offers a different experience.  Present your ideas on a large canvas, and show relationships thought scale and placement. 

Google Docs:    docs.google.com/
Google Docs is Googles version of a word processing program.   You can create documents, spreadsheets, presentations, surveys and more.  In addition, they offer a growing selection of add-on apps that provide templates, bibliography assistance, table of contents help, a thesaurus and more. What makes this extra special is that documents are save in cyberspace so they can be accessed from any location.  In addition, you can invite others to view or even work on the same document. 

Google accounts are free and they can be accessed from any computer.  Google also offers free email (gmail), an excellent personal calendar (google calendar), and a translator (google translate).  


To learn about some more great resources on the internet that I share with my students, 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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Over 120 of the Best, Free, Online, Educational Games


Many parents and teachers limit computer time as many young learners get addicted to mindless computer games that reinforce all the wrong behaviors such as impulsivity and guessing.  However, there is a huge selection of wonderful educational and cognitive games available to young learners that can both strengthen areas of weakness and also teach difficult concepts. Over the past decade, I have created descriptions and links to some of my favorite games for my students on my Learning to Learn website.  In addition, I have organized them under the following categories: Cognitive Games, General Education Games, Writing and Language Games, Social Studies Games, Science Games, Spelling Games, Reading Games, Digital Story Telling, Math Games, Grammar Games, Typing Games, Social Skills, and Sequencing.  In an effort to "spread the word," I'm providing a link to my page so others can benefit from these beneficial games too.

To view all these games CLICK HERE

If you know of other free games that improve cognition or learning, please leave them in the comments below.  I will be sure to check them out and add them to this growing resource.

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