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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Building Self Confidence and Combating Stress for Struggling Readers


Image courtesy of photostock @ freedigitalimages.net

Learning to read can be one of life's most stressful events for a child. For some children, picking up phonics and spelling seems like second nature. For others, the reading process sparks long-lasting low confidence and a chronic distaste for schoolwork. There are several critical issues that can block a child's reading, which we have written about, but an important one for most struggling readers is confidence and stress. Parents often find it difficult to know how to build up self-confidence in a child while also correcting their mistakes. Pairing praise and criticism is not an easy job, so we have a special rule that helps to keep the two in balance.
We recommend something called The Rule of 5. The Rule of 5 states that for every one time you have to correct your child, you have to praise her five times.
This formula comes from a simple idea that I'm sure every parent would acknowledge: even children with good self-worth take corrections as criticisms. For a struggling learner, the very act of trying to read exposes him to lots of public failure - in front of a teacher, peer or just a parent. A word of correction, even gently spoken, can further lead to despair if it's not balanced with praise for little achievements as well. Getting into a pattern of praising success re-routes that negativity and confidence grows.
We call it The Rule of 5 simply to make this general praise-first model more tangible. You could decide to implement a Rule of 4 or even a Rule of 9! The point is to give yourself a challenge which you can then measure yourself against. As humans, we are better at performing to a specific task than a general one.
Especially if your child struggles with school and has fragile self-esteem, The Rule of 5 not only increases confidence but also will usually improve academic performance. Stress can be a main cause of reading difficulty, because your body responds to stress by shutting down the learning centers in the brain. This is a part of the "fight or flight" response. The body focuses all of its energy on responding to the threat, at the expense of non-essential functioning like digestion and learning. So once some of that school-related stress has been alleviated, the brain is much better prepared for the learning environment.
Give this a try and let us know what you find. I doubt a single reader will be disappointed!
By guest blogger, David Morgan

David Morgan is the founder of Morgan Learning Solutions and creator of the Easyread System. Easyread is a computer-based program that helps children with dyslexia, auditory processing disorder and highly visual learning styles improve their reading and spelling through Guided Phonetic Reading techniques.

David Morgan is also the founder of the not-for-profit site: www.HelpingEveryChildtoRead.com

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Free Money Game Idea


Integrating games into academic lessons ignites the fun factor, makes instruction multisensory and grabs the attention of even the most discouraged learners.   I, too, enjoy the creative process and love pulling out my craft and scrapbook materials, so the new game of the week brings excitement and wonder into the classroom.  This week, I created the Fun House Money Game to help students develop their skills identifying and adding pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. 

Items needed:
  1) small box
  2) craft or scrapbook paper
  3) glue
  4) scissors
  5) long table or a melamine shelf
  6) marbles or shuffle board pieces (I purchased the shuffle board pieces on Amazon and included the link below.)
  7) play money or real change in a small basket or plastic bin

Process:
  1) Remove the bottom of the box with scissors.
  2) Cover the box with colorful craft paper.
  3) Cut four doorways/holes in the side as illustrated.
  4) Label the doorways: pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.  You can also use this same game for fractions, or other numerical denominations.

How to play:
Place the colorful box at the end of a table or melamine shelf.  Then, give each player twelve marbles or shuffle board pieces.  Next, decide who goes first, and take turns trying to get the marbles/shuffle board pieces into the doorways of the box.  When a marble enters the box, have that player select the correct change from the change basket. Once one of the players has rolled all their marbles into the box the game is over and all the players add up their change.   The winner is the player with the highest total.  

I hope you enjoy this idea!  I would love to hear 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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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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 and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Language Arts Letter Cubes: Fun Literacy Center Freebie

I love to use foam blocks for all sorts of language arts fun. Most recently, I created a game that my students adore. Here are the steps so you can create it too.

1) You can purchase colorful foam cubes on Amazon for a very reasonable price.  I included a link at the bottom of the post.

2) Select 12 cubes and with a permanent marker add the vowels and consonants as suggested in the table below.

3) Assign the point value on the bottom right hand corner.  This will also help the players to orient the letters.  For example, the letter M will look like the letter W when it is upside-down but as long as the number indicating the point value is in the bottom right hand corner, players can recognize that they need to rotate the letter to the proper orientation.  Also, using capital letters helps with letter confusion.

4) Other items needed to play:  

  • a timer 
  • a set of 12 colored cubes with the letters and point values for each player.

5) How to Play:  

  • Each player rolls a set of 12 colored cubes onto his or her playing area (players can not change the orientation of the cubes but must use the letters rolled).  
  • Set and begin the timer for 2-5 minutes.  You can decide on the amount of time you prefer.
  • Words must crisscross or join like a scrabble game, and players must try to use as many cubes as they can.  Like Scrabble, proper names and abbreviations can not be used.
  • When the timer goes off, the round ends and players add up their points as indicated on the cubes for each word created.
  • Bonuses are granted as follows:
    • 4 points for a 6 letter word
    • 5 points for a 7 letter word
    • 6 points for a 8 letter word
    • 5 points for using all 12 cubes
  • The winner is the player with the highest score after 5 rounds
If you would like to learn about some of my other popular reading games, go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html  There, you can even download another fun, free game for learning the short vowels! 

If you like this or have any other ideas, please share 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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Learning Center Ideas: Free, Fun Phonics Activities


It’s wonderful when giggles of joy and excitement ring through the classroom as young students eagerly learn the skills needed to be proficient readers.   Learning centers or reading centers are often the place where this can happen, but the trick to tickling your students attention often lies in multisensory, interactive activities or games. 

Here is a fun phonemic awareness activity I designed that you can make with old recycled pill or vitamin containers and other common household goods.  It’s a wonderful learning center idea that will help students blend phonics sounds into words.



   1)   Collect and clean old vitamin or pill containers. I like to use the clear, colorful ones.
   2)   Decide upon the playing pieces.  I use a 1 inch hole puncher with thick cardstock, large lima beans, or wooden craft discs. 
   3)   Place consonants, blends, digraphs, word endings or more onto both sides of the playing pieces.  I like to color code the pieces to match the color of the container so that clean up is quick and easy.
   4)   Label the containers as illustrated or as you like.

     How to play (2-4 players):

The object of the game is for players to select “a pill” from each container and try to make a word by blending the sounds.  If a player can make one word or more, they write down the biggest word on a score sheet and collect one point for every letter used in their word.  After each round, the playing pieces are returned to the appropriate container.  Players shake the bottles and then select new pieces.  After ten rounds, the winner is the player with the highest score. 

If you like this game, you will love my newest Reading Games 2 publication.  Come check it out! There, you can also download a full, freebie sample board game! http://goodsensorylearning.com/reading-games.html
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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

10 Strategies that Transform Passive Learners into Active Learners


Students’ forearms prop heavy heads and eye lids become fatigued and weighty. Information fills the room, but the restless audience remains impervious as attention is stolen by fleeting thoughts and boredom.  If this is a common scene at your school, most likely the learning environment is passive.  Although a passive learning environment can accommodate large numbers of students, it is often an ineffective scholastic milieu.  In contrast, an active learning environment should have the opposite effect on students.  This way of teaching encourages creativity, self directed learning, mindfulness, interaction, discussion and multisensory ways of processing. 

So what can I do to nurture active learning?

  1)   Help your students understand the difference between active and passive learning.  
  2)   Encourage your students to complete the free Passive vs. Active Learning Profile offered free here.
  3)   Let your students brainstorm things they can do to become active learners. 
  4)   Allow your students to brainstorm things you can do to help them become active learners.
  5)   Integrate active learning activities into the classroom such as acting, small group work and hands on activities.
  6)   Incorporate fun learning stations in the classroom, so that the students can move around and process with other peers in smaller groups.
  7)   Encourage students to preview new topics by watching YouTube clips or doing internet searches so that they come to class with some prior knowledge.
  8)   Give students assignment options so that they can make a choice on how they would like to demonstrate their mastery of the content.  Make sure the different options tap into different learning modalities. 
  9)   Consider the 12 ways of learning and teach in a multisensory fashion.
  10)  Break the class into groups where they take opposing positions on a topic.  Allow one student from each group to facilitate the discussion.  The teacher can act as the judge and can dole out points for good arguments, creative content and clever presentations. 

If you found this blog and activity to be helpful, this is just one of the many resources available in the publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for 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 and Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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