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Saturday, March 30, 2013

Helping Students to Record and Turn in Assignments


Recording assignments and turning in the finished product may seem like a “no brainer” for many teachers, but did you know that executive functioning, a key cognitive component in planning and organizing, is not fully developed until many reach their early 20s?  What’s more, many young students are not allowed to use modern technologies, such as smart phones and Ipads while at school to help them with this process.  Furthermore, many students are overwhelmed by the countless distractions in a busy classroom and miss what appear to be clear directives.  So, what can we do to help students remember to record as well as turn in assignments? 

Create a Structured, Reliable Classroom Routine:
   1)   Plan assignments for the whole week.  This will save a lot of time and trouble for everyone.
   2)   Post assignments and reminders at the beginning of class in a location that is easy to see. 
   3)   Review new assignments as well as those that are due, verbally, once everyone is settled down.
   4)   Make sure that all the students record assignments and check agendas for accuracy. 
   5)   Print assignments out onto labels that students can place into their assignment pads.  This is great for students that have graphomotor weaknesses.
   6)   Make a document or take a picture of written assignments and email it to the students and students’ parents with a simple email list.  
   7)   When students hand in their assignments, give them a sticker of a hand to place into their assignment pad.  This way they will know that they turned it in. 
   8)   To make sure everyone turned in their assignments say, “Raise your hand if you turned in your assignment.”  Be specific about which assignment and hold up a sample for all the students to see.

Offer a Consistent and Planned Approach for Missed Class Work and Assignments:
   1)   Post assignments on the internet.  However, do not use this approach unless the site is reliable and you can always post the assignments before the end of the school day.
   2)   Require that each of your students share their contact information with at least 5 other students (Study Buddies).  This way students can contact one another as needed. 
   3)   Suggest a plan for how and when students can make up the work.
   4)   Email assignments to students and their parents.
   5)   Allow students to email you finished assignments when they are not able to attend class. 
   6)   Communicate all missed work with students, parents and any service providers.

If you are looking for structured ways to help your students with planning, organizing and time management, consider purchasing Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success.  It offers over 100 pages of graphic organizers and handouts that can help your students with reading, writing, test prep, planning for long term assignments, memory, active learning, motivation and more.  Click here or on the image to learn more.
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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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Why Do Finnish Schools Finish First? 10 Ways to Improve US Education


Let’s face it, the US education system is a mess. Most kids are anxious and stressed, many teachers are fearful and disrespected, countless parents are confused and annoyed and scores of administrators are angry and aggressive. When programs are hurting most, funding is usually diminished. Kids don’t receive services until they are failing or close to failing, and if interventions help these underachieving students, services are continually stripped away as soon as they get their heads above water. It’s a competitive, punitive, and dysfunctional system that desperately needs radical reform.

This blog post reflects back on and summarizes the main points of an interesting article from The Atlantic Magazine published back in December of 2011 entitled, What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland's School Success. This is what they suggest:

10 Strategies for Success:
1. Assign less homework!
2. Integrate creative play into classroom lessons.
3. Get rid of standardized tests.
4. Let teachers create their own assessments.
5. Give teachers appreciation, responsibility and respectable pay.
6. Improve teacher training.
7. If a teacher is not doing a good job, it must be addressed.
8. Teachers and schools must stop competing and become cooperative.
9. Provide equal education opportunities for all children regardless of income, background or location.
10. Offer all students free meals, healthcare, counseling and guidance.

What do you think of these suggestions? Do you have any other strategies that could help?
Here is the link to the article:
http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2011/12/what-americans-keep-ignoring-about-finlands-school-success/250564/

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 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, March 23, 2013

Show Don’t Tell: A Descriptive Writing Game


Descriptive writing enables the author to paint scenes and characters in the mind’s eye of the reader. Like an artist, carefully selected, colorful words can convey vivid imagery, but only if the author learns to "show" and not "tell" the audience. Learning how to use illustrative adjectives, action verbs, graphic adverbs, expressive metaphors, vivid similes and showy personification is the key to writing engaging stories. What's more is it makes the process of writing a lot more fun!
Concrete learners or students that struggle with visualization or language processing can find descriptive writing difficult to learn. They can also find the learning process boring and tedious. As a result, I created a game to help make descriptive writing both enjoyable and memorable.

Show Don’t Tell & Show Don't Tell 2 Fabulously Fun Descriptive Writing Game, by Dr. Erica Warren at Good Sensory Learning, will walk you through the process. You will be amazed at the beautiful paragraphs that players of all ages will create.

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, March 17, 2013

11 Steps to Writing an Outstanding College Essay


www.goodsensorylearning.com
Wouldn’t you love to hear from a college admission's counselor that they thought your college admissions essay was great?  Perhaps it was the deciding factor that got you into your number one college.  I have heard this story a number of times from my students, and I wanted to share some strategies that can help you to also achieve this goal.

1: Take your time.  This is one of the most important essays you will ever write, so give yourself the attention and resources to make it one of your best compositions.
2: Allow others to help you throughout the process.  Share your thoughts, ideas and written work with your peers, parents, counselors, and teachers for feedback and ideas.
3: Make sure that you find the best college for you.  Many students select a college based on reputation or peer influence, but reviewing the college website and marketing materials as well as talking with their students, admissions counselors and alumni is important to assure that it is the right place for you! 
4: Make it clear that you are the type of student that the college wants.  Look back through their website and marketing materials and note key words that resonate with you.  Next, write down any buzzwords that reflect the qualities they are searching for in prospective students.  You may want to use some of these words in your essay.
5: Read sample college essays from books or online resources. Make a list of ideas as you read through the essays and start a list of what works and what doesn’t work.
6: Find a topic or passion that will communicate your essence.  Make sure that you select a subject that tells the college about your strengths and unique qualities in a creative and engaging way.
7: Make sure you enjoy writing about the topic you select.  If you select a focus that excites and empowers you, this energy is often reflected in your writing.
8: Find a creative way to write your essay.  Selecting an imaginative strategy and tone is imperative. College counselors read thousands of essays and you want yours to be unique and memorable. 
9: Write a catchy opener and introduction.  It is extremely important that the beginning of your essay grabs the readers attention and makes them want to learn more about you. 
10:  Make sure the introduction and body of your essay addresses the question.  Many colleges ask prospective students to write an essay on a particular topic or theme.  As you write, make sure that you stay within the parameters of the question.
11: Edit, edit, did I mention editing?  Throughout the process, revise your work for content, mechanics, and spelling. 

If you would like more guidance and materials that will walk you through the process, with checklists, forms, and detailed handouts consider purchasing - Writing The College Essay Workshop.  

I hope you found this helpful!  If you have any questions or thoughts, 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 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, March 10, 2013

Using Beach Balls for Comprehension


I just love to use balls for teaching students.  It's a great way to accommodate and engage your kinesthetic and tactile learners, and it always brings the fun factor into your lesson!  I often purchase beach balls at the dollar store and use permanent markers to write down different, reading, writing, grammar, and math concepts.  

Here are a few things that I use balls for:

  • parts of speech
  • multiplication
  • touch math
  • vowel combinations
  • types of sentences
  • letters
  • blending
  • writing prompts

But for those of you who would like to buy ready made options, I just came across these nifty products on Amazon.  I included the links below.  

If you use balls for other lessons, please share your ideas.

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 and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Free Reading and Spelling Game for the TCH or CH, DGE or GE, CK or K Rules


The English language is packed with confusing rules that can make decoding and reading difficult tasks to master.  What's more, many of the workbooks and activities are boring, and even if students complete the lesson, it doesn't mean that they can apply the content in a different learning situation.  However, presenting the same content in a game-like format can make a lesson memorable and engaging even for struggling learners.

Here is a fun game that my students love to play.  It's great for literacy centers or reading centers, and it will also assist students with spelling.


Materials:

  • 1.5 -2.0 hole punch or round object that can be traced
  • Craft paper
  • Laminating sheets and laminator or 
  • Round wooden discs from the craft store and glue
  • Playing cards:  You can purchase blank playing cards on Amazon:  see link at the bottom, or use laminated craft paper and then write the letters on the blank side with a permanent marker.
How to make the game - using TCH and CH:
  • Place the word beginnings onto playing cards.  I make a stack of at least forty cards.  Twenty cards should illustrate the beginning of TCH words such as MA, WI, DU, and STI. The other twenty cards should illustrate the beginning of CH words such as MUN, HUN, BEA, and BEL.  Many lists can be found on the internet.
  • Make the spinning disc with the two word ending options on either side.  You can glue craft paper and colorful letters onto wooden discs, or glue two, thick, round pieces of craft paper together and laminate.
Instruction:
  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  TCH is usually used after a short vowel sound, and CH comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.
  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  DGE is usually used after a short vowel sound, and GE comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.
  • Teach the students the spelling rule:  CK is usually used after a short vowel sound, and K comes after a consonant or long vowel sound.
How to play:
  • At the beginning of each turn, the player spins the round disc with the word endings on them.  Hold the disc with one finger as illustrated and flick the edge with another finger.   
  • When the disc falls to the table, select a card with the word beginning.
  • Put the word beginning and word ending together to see if it forms a word with the correct spelling.  
  • If it does, the player gets to keep the card.  If not, the card is returned to the bottom of the stack. 
  • The winner is the first player to collect 10 cards.
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! 

I hope you enjoy this game.  I would love to hear you 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, March 2, 2013

Sight Word Jewelry

As the saying goes, "Out of sight out of mind."  Well, now tricky sight words can remain "in sight" and tailored to each individual student's needs.

Kids love to make and wear their own jewelry.  So, here is a fun project that your students will be sure to enjoy that will also help them to master difficult sight words.    Links can be added or subtracted as they come across new, challenging words and master others.


Here is the process:

Materials:  

  • contact paper
  • permanent markers
  • paper clips
Step one: Cut the contact paper into small strips.
Step two: Write the difficult sight words onto the contact paper.
Step three: Peal of the backing and wrap the contact paper around one of the paper clips.
Step four: Link another paper clip onto the first and then wrap your next sight word onto the new link.
Step five: Continue the process until it is long enough for a bracelet or necklace. 

I hope you enjoy this project.

I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Cheers, Erica
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