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Saturday, May 25, 2013

Free Key Word Race Game:

Copyright, 2013 http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/
Math word problems stump a lot of students, as they have difficulty figuring out how to change a sentence of words into a mathematical problem. For many, the stumbling block is recognizing and remembering the different key words that signify mathematical operations such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. I’m continually trying to craft fun activities that make the process fun and memorable. Most recently, I created the Key Word Race Party Game, that I thought I would share.

Materials needed:
1) Colorful plastic eggs

2) 2-5 buckets, bowls, shoe boxes or other medium to large containers

3) Spoons

Preparation:
1) Place the keywords you are reviewing onto colorful plastic eggs. If you are playing with more than one player or team, make multiple sets. Each set should be labeled with numbers on the bottom of the eggs to designate team one, team two and so forth. This will also help sort the eggs for the next play.

2) Label medium to large containers such as buckets or shoe boxes with two or more of the following: Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Equals.

How to Play:
Break the class into teams or pairs. Place the labeled containers on one side of the room and have the players on the other side of the room. Provide each team with a set of labeled plastic eggs and a spoon. Instruct the players that they need to take each plastic egg and place it on a spoon. Then, each player needs to race over to the containers, without dropping the egg, and sort his or her egg into the correct container that classifies the keyword written on the egg. If the player drops the egg, he or she must collect the egg and start the process over again. Once the player gets the egg into the correct container, he or she races back and tags a team member who then repeats the process. The teacher stands at the site of the containers to assure that the eggs are placed in the correct location. If not, the student must go back with the egg and try again. Once a team has sorted all the eggs, they must raise their hands to win the game.

Please note that you can play this game with a single student. Have the student compete against himself or herself by trying to beat his or her best score. In addition, you can also play this game outside.

If you would like to learn about some of my other popular games for sale. Go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com. There, you can even download freebies on many of my product pages.

I hope you enjoy these games!! 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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Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Reading and Spelling Difficulties: 7 Main Causes


Here is a guest blog by my friends at Easyread.  Enjoy, Erica

By David Morgan

It is estimated that up to 10% of the general population struggles with dyslexia. Some studies call that a conservative estimate, with many more people struggling to read and spell.

Many parents of dyslexic children or dyslexic adults find themselves in this situation, armed with a label but no real solution. Some feel it means that their child will never come to love reading. With the right help that is almost certainly not the case!

Reading is a neurological process that the brain undertakes every time it is presented with text on the page. In order to target the primary cause of reading difficulty to find a solution, we have to look at different areas where that process can break down.

There are seven main causes of reading and spelling difficulty that we have found to date. If you or someone you know is dyslexic, see if any of them match up with what you experience.

1. Optilexia - The main sign of Optilexia is guessing when reading, particularly with the short words. Sometimes the longer words seem easier and the reader will read a word without a problem on one page, but not the next. Spelling in free writing is atrocious, but the Optilexic can usually perform well on a spelling test. Unfamiliar words and place names will feel very difficult. The underlying cause of Optilexia can be found in how the learner is processing the text visually rather than aurally. Once that has been switched, a steady rate of progress can be gained.

2. Eye-Tracking Weakness - Does your child skip words and lines? Do single words seem easier than sentences and paragraphs of text? Normally a reader's eyes perform a refined jump from word cluster to word cluster left to right, called a saccade. Some struggling readers have weakness in the neural feedback loops controlling the eye muscles that control this movement. That makes focusing accurately on a word in a sentence very hard. The right simple eye-tracking exercises usually fix this neural weakness in just days.

3. Irlen Syndrome - Has your child ever complained about the words moving around on the page? The human eye has a great visual sensitivity to changes in color and brightness in order to identify patterns. However, some struggling readers have an over-sensitivity to black text on white background, which causes the words to shimmer or move around on the page. This can be alleviated with colored films to soften the level of contrast.

4. Memory Difficulties - Memory plays a big part in the reading process. Not only does the person have to remember each sound when decoding a word, but then multiple words need to be remembered for a sentence, then sentences remembered to comprehend a paragraph. People with short-term memory challenges have great difficulty retaining all this information when reading. Short-term memory difficulties have very distinct symptoms. In reading this can show up as poor comprehension, stilted reading flow and difficulty remember phonemes when sounding out a long word. In life this can show up as inability to remember multi-step directions, inability to remember lists of items and being generally forgetful of recent events.

5. Attention Deficit - Have you seen your child struggling to focus on the task of reading? Fidgeting? Easily distracted? I am sure you know why reading is harder than it should be. However, I am also sure you have seen your child happily focusing for long periods on some tasks; ones that seem enjoyable! That is the key to fixing this issue. Make reading fun with games.

6. Fluency Block - Does your child decode words competently, but struggle to read fluently? A conventional reader uses a part of their brain called the letterbox cortex to recognise common letter groupings. Amazgainly you aer able to raed scarblmed txet quite flnuetly, due to this function. Some struggling readers bypass their letterbox cortex when reading, instead using visual memory to store letter groupings. This causes the reader to be able to decode quickly but never really develop any fluency or smoothness. To fix this tricky problem means engaging this very specialist bit of cortex in the decoding process. We do that with anagrams.

7. Stress Spirals - Reading is a higher brain function and is therefore controlled by the frontal cortex. When the brain is under stress, 70% of the frontal cortex energy is diverted to the fight or flight center (amygdala) and the brain loses its capacity to think clearly. A child who struggles with reading is in a state of stress when trying. This sets the child up for inadequate mental resources when attempting to read. The pattern of being under stress and getting more stressed when trying creates a downward stress spiral which often results in meltdowns, tears and finally giving up.

A dyslexic reader may have one or several of these causes of difficulty. The key to making reading or spelling easier is to identify the cause and then find ways to address it. That is what we specialize in at Easyread.

Looking for a phonics program to help your struggling learner? Easyread incorporates solutions to these causes that may be due dyslexia, auditory processing disorder or highly visual learning styles. www.morganlearning.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 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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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

11 End of the Year Activities Using Balls and Balloons


http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/ 
Balls and balloons offer a cheap and fun way to complete your school year. What’s more integrating balls and balloons brings a tactile, playful, and kinesthetic modality into the classroom. Balls and balloons can be used to review the academic content, as well as mindfulness activities and keepsakes. Below is featured a variety of entertaining, multisensory ideas.

Reviewing Key Topics from the School Year
These games can be played with an entire class in a large circle facing one another, or you can break the students into small groups or pairs.

1) Parts of Speech Game: Place the parts of speech on a balloon or ball. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another. Instruct them to say aloud the first part of speech they see. Then ask them to provide a word that is an example of that part of speech. Players can not repeat a word that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

2) Figurative Language Game: Place the figurative language terms on a balloon or ball. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another, and instruct them to say aloud the first figurative language term they see. Then ask them to provide a phrase that is an example of that type of figurative language. Players can not repeat a figurative language example that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

3) Types of Syllables Game:
http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/ 
Place the syllable types on a balloon or ball. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another, and instruct them to say aloud the first syllable type that they see. Then ask them to provide a word that is an example of that type of syllable. Players can not repeat a word that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

4) Vowel Combinations or Vowel Teams Game:
Place the vowel combinations on a balloon or ball. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another, and instruct them to say aloud the first vowel combination that they see. Then ask them to provide a word that uses that vowel combination. Players can not repeat an example that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

5) Types of Sentences: Place the types of sentences on a balloon or ball. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another, and instruct them to say aloud the first sentence type that they see. Then ask them to provide a sentence that illustrates that sentence type. Players can not repeat a sentence that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

6) Main Ideas and Details: Place main ideas on a balloon or ball. Main ideas could include transportation, colors, vacation spots and so forth. Have the students pass the balloon or ball to one another, and instruct them to say aloud the main idea that they see. Then ask them to provide a detail that would be properly categorized under that main idea. Players can not repeat a detail that has already been used. If they do, they are out of the game.

7) What I Learned: Have the students sit in a circle facing one another. Explain that the only person who can speak is the one holding the ball. Toss the ball to one of your students and ask them to share the most important thing they learned over the school year. When they are finished talking, have them toss the ball to another student. Continue until all the students have an opportunity to share their thoughts.

8) My Favorite Lessons: Have the students sit in a circle facing one another. Explain that the only person who can speak is the one holding the ball. Toss the ball to one of your students and ask them to share their favorite lesson from the whole school year. Ask them to also share why they like it so much. When they are finished talking, have them toss the ball to another student. Continue until all the students have an opportunity to share their thoughts.

9) What I Like About Me and You: Have the students sit in a circle facing one another. Explain that the only person who can speak is the one holding the ball. Toss the ball to one of your students and ask them to share one thing that they like about themselves and one thing that they like about the person who tossed them the ball. When they are finished talking, have them toss the ball to another student. Continue until all the students have an opportunity to share their thoughts.

10) Memory Balls: Give each student a blank inflatable ball, such as a beach ball. Provide permanent markers and let the students go around and sign each other’s balls. They can leave short messages too. Be sure to say that all messages must be positive.

11) Why I’m “Special” Balls: Before you begin this activity, ask your students to help you create a list of positive adjectives that can describe people. Place this list where all the students can see it. Now, give each of your students a blank beach ball or balloon. Provide permanent markers and have the students go around and write a positive adjective that describes the person on the ball or balloon to whom it belongs. Encourage the students to come up with unique adjectives by looking at each ball and coming up with something new.

If you would like to learn about some of my other popular games. Go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com There, you can even download freebies on some of my product pages.

I hope you enjoy these games!! 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, May 4, 2013

Student Learning and Confidence can Skyrocket by Changing One Approach


Student Learning and Confidence can Skyrocket by Changing One Approach

Many teachers fear the moment when a student will ask them a question that they do not have the knowledge to answer.  This uncomfortable situation can cause some teachers to change the subject, others will construct a roundabout explanation, a few will make a guess and several may even discourage their students from asking questions altogether. 

Students Learn to “Fake it”
When a teacher is unable to admit their lack of knowledge, it sends a disagreeable message to the class.  Students can usually tell when a teacher sidesteps a question and many are dismayed when given faulty information or when questioning is discouraged.  They pick up on the insecure energy and learn that it is shameful to admit that they, “don’t get it” and instead they learn to “fake it” and give others the impression that they know the information or understand what they are hearing when, in fact, they do not.  However, there is another way to handle this situation that will benefit both the teacher and the students.

Release your own Fear in the Learning Process
Good teachers must demonstrate a love for and confidence in the learning process.  The first step to this practice is to release any fear associated with the learning process.  A close second is to be comfortable seeking assistance when gaps in knowledge arise.  Both these skills are best learned vicariously through demonstrations.  Therefore, educators must set an example for students to follow so they can feel safe and comfortable asking questions. 

It’s Okay to Say, “I Don’t know?”
So what’s the big deal about teachers admitting their lack of knowledge when a student asks a difficult question?  Are they afraid that they will look unintelligent?  Do they fear that one of their students could have the answer, but this would undermine their authority?  I, too, had this fear at one time and over the years I have discovered that it is not only okay to say, “I don’t know,” but, in fact, there are enormous benefits.

But How Can Your Lack of Knowledge Help the Class? 
Showing students that you do not have the answer can be a critical learning tool.  
· It shows that you are a life-long learner.
· It shows that you appreciate questions that expand    your knowledge.
· It exemplifies that admitting your lack of knowledge can start the process of finding the answer.
· It provides an opportunity for you to share the process of acquiring knowledge.
· It encourages interactive learning and a cooperative environment where students can feel safe sharing knowledge.
· It teaches students to be curious.
· It teaches students how to think critically.
· It teaches students how to be inquisitive, confident learners.

But How Can Teachers Integrate this into Their Classrooms?
Teachers must release their own fears and tell students the truth.  Personally, I like to word it, “I’m not sure about that, let’s figure it out!”  After that, educators need to:

1) Always nurture confident queries.  Encourage students to ask questions.
2) Continually demonstrate how to find answers.  This can be done by asking those around you (students and colleagues), searching the internet, consulting a book and so forth.
3) Constantly cultivate an environment that celebrates and supports exploration. Praise students for asking questions and independently finding the answers.  Create a question box for those that are shy, and let students volunteer to answer the queries with their own knowledge or by volunteering to do the research.
4) Repeatedly, show your students that teachers, too, are comfortable admitting what we don’t know.  Then find the answers or allow others to help you find the answers.  Always provide gratitude and positive feedback to those that help.

If you have any other ideas or anecdotes I would love to hear them!

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 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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