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Thursday, August 29, 2013

DIY 5 Paragraph Essay Templates: A Creative, Metacognitive Tool


Although there is a common formula to writing a five-paragraph essay, students soon learn that each teacher has their own unique preferences.  I can remember a teacher that didn’t allow students to use the transition, “on the other hand,” unless they had already used, “on the one hand.”  Some insist on transitional sentences, others do not.  Some want a student’s thesis statement in the middle of the introduction, while others want it at the beginning or even at the end.  As a result, students have to adjust their writing to accommodate each new teacher.  How can this be done?

Help Your Students by Reviewing Your Expectations: 
At the beginning of the school year, it is important for each teacher to share his or her expectations, preferences and requirements so that each student can prepare for success from the very beginning.   
        1.     Provide a lesson and a handout that reviews the 5 paragraph essay.  Make sure to discuss everything you want in your introduction, body paragraphs, and conclusions.
        2.     Review and define important terms such as:
               ·   thesis statement
               ·   topic sentence
               ·   transitional words
               ·   transitional sentences
               ·   supporting details
               ·   quotes and examples
               ·   catchy opening
        3.     Introduce the idea that you will be asking the students to make their own, creative, 5 paragraph essay template.  You can even turn it into a contest and let the students vote on their favorite.

Help Your Students Create Their Own Essay Template:
One of the best ways to help your budding writers is to ask them to create their very own essay template.  This can be a fun assignment, and I have found that if my students are a part of the creative process, they will most likely “get it” and “use it.” 

Steps to Creating a Clever and Creative Essay Template:
This activity can be done collaboratively with your students, in small groups, or it can be given as a class or homework project so each student can exercise their own ideas: 
        1.     Ask your students to come up with a fun and creative name for their templates.  Thinking up a catchy title always helps to integrate the fun factor.
        2.     Encourage your students to bring color and images into the project.
        3.     Explain to your students that they can choose their own format.  Then make some suggestions and let the students brainstorm in small groups or independently.  Some possible ideas to get you started are:
·   Create a PowerPoint or Prezi presentation
·   Create a web, flow chart or diagram
·   Create an outline.
·   Write a poem, song or rap.

What are the Benefits of Creating an Essay Template:
        1.     Develops metacognitive skills.
        2.     Permits students to be creative.
        3.     Helps to uncover misconceptions.  Always be sure to look closely at each template to assure that each student integrates all the needed components.
        4.     Offers a tool or strategy that the students can use through the school year.
        5.     Teaches an approach that students can use with each new teacher that they encounter in the future.  Your students can always share their template and then make any needed alterations.
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If you like this writing organizer, you can get this and many more by purchasing Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success.  Be sure to download the free samples on the product page!  I hope you found this idea helpful.  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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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dyslexic Advantage Webinar on Multisensory Teaching for Students with Dyslexia

Dear Friends:
I wanted to share a link to a free webinar on Multisensory Teaching. The hosts, Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, the authors of The Dyslexic Advantage and The Mislabeled Child, are international experts on dyslexia and learning differences and they interviewed me as a guest speaker. This online event took place this August and you can view a youtube version of the webinar at the following link:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVXwqyxTbPs

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, August 17, 2013

Back to School Tools and Methods for Kinesthetic Learners

Some students can sit quietly at their desks while others seem to struggle to stay in their seats. This later group of learners may annoy the teacher or their peers by tapping their pencil, jogging their leg, fidgeting, leaning back in their chairs and asking for repeated bathroom and water breaks. Many of these students are kinesthetic learners and having to sit still and listen to a lesson is an uncomfortable battle that feels like trying to tie your shoes while in a straight jacket.

What are Some Products that can Help Kinesthetic Learners at their Desks?

  1. Inflatable discs and wedges can offer your kinesthetic learners some movement while staying seated. These products can be placed on any seat and they allow students to move their hips and develop core muscles (see below for product link).
  2. Safeco, a furniture company, just came out with the Zenergy Ball Chair for older students and the Runtz for younger students. Both of these products offer four stable legs with an upholstery covered exercise ball. Unlike swivel chairs, that allow students to spin away from their work, this product allows students to have short bouncing breaks while attending to their work. Again, this product develops core support as students must balance on their chair. Likewise, Abilitations Integrations offers an inflatable Six-Leg Ball chair that offers a little bit more mobility (see below for product links). 
  3. Visual Ed Tech now offers an adjustable desk that allows students the option of standing at their desk or sitting on a high stool. In addition, under the desk is an attached swinging foot rest which allow students to expend excess energy while working at their desk. If you would like to see a video on this technology click here
  4. What are Some Teaching Methodologies that can Help Kinesthetic Learners?
  5. Have pairs of students or a student and a teacher toss a ball or balloon back and forth while practicing new material.
  6. Break instruction into short lessons and offer kinesthetic, brain breaks. If you are searching for some energizing brain break ideas, consider purchasing David Sladkey’s Energizing Brain Breaks (see below for product link).
  7. Integrate movement into lessons. For example, when teaching the adding and subtracting of integers, place numbers on a staircase and explain that when adding you go up the stairs and when subtracting you go down the stairs. Give the students problems and allow them to solve them by traveling up and down the stairs.
  8. Create a place in the back of the classroom where kinesthetic learners can exercise their need to move. 
I hope you found these ideas helpful. If you have any of your own ideas that you would like to share, please post 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 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, August 15, 2013

Early Detection of Dyslexia


Early intervention is key as it can remediate and work around upcoming academic difficulties.  This is a very important approach for students with dyslexia.  Recent reports suggest that dyslexia impacts 5-10 percent of the population.  Now wouldn't it be wonderful if this condition could be detected before children learned to read? Weaknesses could be strengthened and appropriate teaching methodologies could be selected, making the process of reading successful the first time.  This could save the educational system a fortune and these young learners could sail through elementary school with an intact self-esteem.

MIT News Reported, on August 14th, 2013 that research suggests that brain scans may help to diagnose dyslexia.  Differences in the size of the arcuate fasciculus, the brain structure that unites two language processing areas, is now detectable.  To learn more about this and their continued efforts, CLICK HERE

I hope you found this helpful.
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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Friday, August 9, 2013

Mathemagic: Multisensory and Mindful Math Strategies Tailored for the Individual

Many students struggle with the steps required to complete mathematical problems.  They may forget the concept, miss a step, mis-sequence the steps, misread a sign, or struggle with writing out or lining up the numbers.  In fact, even if a student has understood and executed a problem with precision, it doesn’t mean that they will retain that information at a later time.  So what can we do to help these students to encode, into long-term memory, the steps required to complete math computations? 

The 3 Key Components for Effective Math Instruction
1.     Go multisensory: Integrate as many of the 12 Ways of processing as you can into your instructional plan: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Kinesthetic, Sequential, Simultaneous, Reflective, Verbal, Interactive, Indirect Experience, Direct Experience, and Rythmic Melodic.  To learn more about this click here 
2.    Teach metacognitive and mindful strategies: Metacognition refers to the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the ability to control your own thoughts.  Mindfulness refers to being completely aware of the present moment, as well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach. It helps to develop emotional intelligence and it instructs students to pay attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve memory, test scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.  To learn more about this click here
3.    Integrate creativity:  Integrating creative lessons and assignments into the curriculum allows students to incorporate their imagination and encourages active participation.  Creative assignments also increase motivation for many students. 

Creating a Math Manual:
One of the most effective strategies I have ever employed with students is creating a “math manual.”  This assignment or project unites the three components of effective math instruction and also brings the fun factor into the classroom.  This can be completed throughout the academic year and checked for accuracy so that students can use this resource for tests, midterms, finals, and even state exams.

What Format Should be Used?
Students can create the manual by hand or on a computer.  It can be presented in a photo album, a blank book, a binder, or a notebook.

Creating the Cover:
I encourage all of my students to come up with their own unique, creative name and cover for their math manual.  In my illustration at the top of this blog, I called it Mathemagic: A Magical Math Manual. 

Create a Sequence of Color Coded Steps:
Each student should write out the required steps to complete the problem.  This can be done in a linear fashion, a numbered list, a web or flow chart.  I also encourage students to color code the steps as this can also enhance memory.

Use Mnemonics:
Memory strategies are tools that help students organize information before they file it away in their memory banks.  I encourage my students to create their own memory strategies and to use both visual and auditory mnemonics.

Complete a Sample Problem:
Ask the students to provide a color-coded sample problem that illustrates the needed steps to complete a problem.

Other Options:
Ask your students to create a song, poem, or rhyme with or without a dance routine to define the steps.  Integrating songs, rhymes and kinesthetics offers further modalities that will help to encode computation skills. 


Sample Math Manual Page:
I hope you found this helpful!  If you would like a free copy of this division strategy, click here or on the image above.
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, August 3, 2013

Back to School: Planning, Time Management and Organization Instruction

Many teachers can not fathom how apparently simple tasks such as using an agenda or turning in an assignment can be very difficult for some of their students.  In fact, many students need comprehensive instruction and scaffolding to learn to plan, manage time, and organize.  Executive functioning, which encompasses these skills is the last part of the brain to fully develop, and in actuality, does not reach maturation until students reach their early 20's. 

How Hard Can it Really Be to Plan, Manage Time and Organize?
I have to admit, when I first started working with students that struggled with executive functioning, I was surprised how challenging planning, time management and organization could be for some of my young, bright learners.  What seemed to be clear and obvious was obscure, taxing and problematic for them. 

These Students are Often Misunderstood:
Instead of compassion and strategies, students that have difficulties with executive functioning are often intimidated, harassed and mishandled with discipline and inconsistent methods that result in poor grades. Many of these students are continually told that they are lazy, unmotivated and careless, and this often results in feelings of frustration, anger and even helplessness.  Acquiring accommodations for students that struggle with executive functioning difficulties is rare, and now, with technology at our fingertips, each teacher seems to have their own way of communicating and collecting assignments.  As a result, this population of learners seems to be under additional pressure due to the lack of cohesive structure across classes and their need for consistency. 

So What are the Signs that a Student has Executive Functioning Deficits?  
They often:
1.   lose materials.
2.   forget to turn in assignments.
3.   leave things to the last minute.
4.   miscalculate or underestimate the amount of time it will take to complete a task.
5.   fail to record homework in an agenda or planner.
6.   leave needed materials at school.
7.   leave needed materials at home.
8.   fail to prepare for tests.
9.   fail to plan and break down long-term assignments into manageable tasks or goals.
10. neglect to plan for midterms or finals.
11. forget details.
12. lose focus and miss important notes or directions.
13. lose mental stamina and fail to complete a task.
14. misplace important materials.
15. rush through work.
So What can be Done to Assist these Students?
1.   Create a structured daily routine.
2.   Set priorities.
3.   Generate a homework plan. 
4.   Break large assignments into manageable chunks.
5.   Make to do checklists.
6.   Teach study skills.
7.   Illustrate note-taking skills.
8.   Demonstrate time management skills by breaking large assignments into manageable chunks with numerous deadlines.
9.   Teach test taking strategies.
10. Demonstrate memory strategies.
11. Help student motivation by offering incentives and positive reinforcement.  
12. Create and use graphic organizers for writing.
13. Teach metacognitive skills by thinking through the process aloud. 

Where Can I Get Ready Made Materials?
To learn all about these strategies and more, I have created a 116 page publication on CD or digital download that offers methods and materials that help to structure, guide, and support students in the areas of time management, planning and organization (executive functioning skills).  This comprehensive document includes agendas, questionnaires, checklists, as well as graphic organizers for writing and test preparation.  You will also find advice and materials in the areas of reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and creating incentives programs.  These materials were all created over a ten year period in my private practice.  What’s more, the materials are varied and accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  Finally, you can also get a free sample assessment from the publication, as well as view a free video on executive functioning.  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 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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