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Saturday, October 26, 2013

Cognitive Exercises Solve Reading and Math Difficulties


Many young learners struggle with basic reading and math because the cognitive skills required to do these tasks are weak.  Therefore, these children need to strengthen these processing areas before they attempt to learn how to decode words and execute basic computations. 

What are the Core Areas of Cognition Required for Basic Reading and Math?

1.   Sequential processing and memory: The ability to scan, make sense of, and remember information in a sequence or series.
2.   Auditory processing and memory: The ability to listen, make sense of, and remember information that is heard.
3.   Visual processing and memory: The ability to scan, make sense of, and remember visual information and symbols.
4.   Attention to detail: The ability to thoroughly and accurately perceive and consider all the details and then determine the most important piece or pieces of information.
5.   Speed of processing: The ability to perform simple repetitive cognitive tasks quickly and fluently.
6.   Spatial skills: The ability to mentally manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures.
7.   Tracking: The ability to scan text from left to right.
 
Basic Exercises can Help to Remediate Weak Cognitive Areas

Each of the cognitive areas listed above can be strengthened.  However, what is most important is the activities need to be focused and engaging enough to enchant young learners.  From my work with children over the past 15 years, I have recently created two publications that offer fun activities and games that your primary students will be sure to love.  These activities can also be used with older students as a form of cognitive remediation.


Following Directions Primary:

My newest publication, Following Directions Primary, offers a comprehensive, 49 page, digital download that includes process of elimination and coloring activities.  It develops abilities with the use of cute animals and aliens as well as letters, numbers, shapes and arrows. As students develop listening skills, they also enhance linguistic abilities and core cognitive skills.  If you are interested in learning more about this publication you can come to my product page.  You can even download free samples.

Reversing Reversals Primary:

This past summer, I created Reversing Reversals Primary.  This two focuses on strengthening the cognitive foundation needed for reading and math.  It also works on the cognitive areas that impact students with dyslexia such as perception.  This publication, which is available as a digital download, offers 72 pages of activities and a game and teaches all of the cognitive skills with the use of colorful animal images.  If you are interested in learning more about this publication you can come to my product page. You can even download a free sample.

By helping young learners to develop their core, cognitive foundation before commencing with reading and math instruction, you can assure that these students will have the abilities necessary to succeed. Furthermore, you can avoid learning difficulties and allow your young learners to progress with confidence.
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, October 19, 2013

Reading Comprehension Strategies for Stories


Helping your students to develop excellent reading comprehension skills can help them to succeed in academics as well as life.  But simply decoding words is not enough.  Successful readers must remember content, understand inferences, maintain focus and make connections. It is a comprehensive process that requires mindful pre-reading activities, reading activities and post-reading activities.

Pre-reading Strategies

1.     Reading a summary of the chapter helps students to conceptualize main ideas so that they can read deeper and prepare to visualize the content.
2.    Questioning prior knowledge about the topic can help students make connections and it can capture their interest.
3.    Skimming a prior chapter or reviewing personal notes can help to bring back the story line or main idea for the reader.
4.    Predicting what will happen in the story can help to engage learners imaginations and creativity.

Reading Strategies

1.     Underlining important characters, settings and events can help the reader document important details.
2.    Annotating or taking notes in the margins can help students to document their thoughts and focus on important events or ideas.  Symbols such as S for setting and Þ for important event can help students to be mindful of key features and actions.
3.    Pretending to be a movie director and trying to make the characters and setting come alive can help students remain engaged and can improve memory for the story.

Post-reading Strategies

1.     Using a notebook or sticky notes to record 3 to 5 bullets that summarize each chapter can help the reader pull the story together.  In addition, this strategy can also be used to help students to write a summary of the book.  Furthermore, jotting notes can also offer a preview when the student returns to read another chapter.
2.    Drawing a picture or more for each chapter that summarizes the events can help students to develop their visualization capacity.
3.    Creating a timeline as the reader progresses through the story can clarify the structure and the sequence of events.  Colorful drawings can also be added to the timeline to help students imagine important details.
4.    Making marks in the book where there are descriptive sections or character descriptions can be a good strategy for students that have trouble visualizing while reading.  When they reach the end of a page or passage, they can go back and visualize the events and scenes.

I hope you found these strategies helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.  If you would like a free handout of these strategies click here.


To learn more about academic strategies as well as other helpful learning tools, consider purchasing Planning Time Management and Organization for Success. This publication offers methods and materials that teach learning strategies, time management, planning and organization (executive functioning skills).  It includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic organizers.  You will also find advice and handouts for math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives programs.  What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages.  Lastly, 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 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, October 12, 2013

Free Vowel Combination Game

Using games to teach students the vowel combinations or vowel teams can be a wonderful way to entice your students and brings the fun factor into your lesson.  
Here is a free game, Voweleos, that I created that is similar to the game Dominoes.  

            For two to five players (for 3-5 players make two or more sets mixed together).

The vowel combinations can be:
  1. Copied onto 3” by 5” index cards that are cut in half horizontally 
  2. Written onto rectangular tiles 
  3. Printed on card stock and cut  
            Directions: Play on a surface with a lot of cleared space or play on the floor.  Shuffle the deck or tiles.  Decide which player begins and play proceeds in a clockwise rotation.  Each player or team should be dealt ten cards or tiles.  You can play open or closed handed.  Beginners should always play with their vowel combinations visible to everyone, so that the teacher or parent can assist them.  Place the rest of the deck/tiles face down and turn one card/tile over and display it in the middle of the playing field (the beginning card).  The first player must select one of their cards/tiles that makes the same sound as one side of the beginning card/tile and then place it aside the beginning card/tile.  Like dominoes, you can only play off the ends.  If a player cannot make a move, they must select from the card deck or remaining tiles until they can.  The winner is the first one to use all of his or her cards. 
Please note that you can color-code the cards/tiles to remind students the number of sounds that each vowel combination can make: red = 1 soundblue = 2 soundsgreen = 3 sounds.  For example, ai is red because it only makes one possible sound, whereas ea is green because it can make three possible sounds.  If you would like to play this game before you have introduced all of the vowel combinations, you can make two decks of the red cards/tiles and play with the vowel combinations that make a single sound. 
Here is a list of all the playing cards/tiles.

To learn about other reading games, consider purchasing one of my Reading Games publications. These digital downloads offer a large selection of reading card games and board games that are wonderful for any phonics or Orton Gillingham reading program.  Finally, look on the page for a blue button for a free sample of one of my board games too. If you like this game, please share it with your friends and leave a comment below. 
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, October 5, 2013

12 Memory Strategies That Maximize Learning



Most students have had the experience of knowing an answer, but they are unable to access the information in a stressful moment. This is a common difficulty when students are taking a test, as anxiety can block recall. In fact, one may be able to recall the first letter of a name they are trying to conjure from memory but fail to retrieve the whole word. In addition, they may be able to describe the word or concept but only call to mind similar words or concepts.

The brain is much like a filing cabinet, storing information that you have learned, and if a student quickly packs information into their head in a random or disorganized fashion, uncovering the needed material can be a challenge. Like finding a favorite shirt in a messy room, a student may waste a lot of time searching for the right word, or even worse, they may not be able to demonstrate their knowledge when called upon in class or when recording answers on a test. This can be frustrating and discouraging. However, if students take the time to sort the novel information and make connections, recollection can improve significantly.

Memory strategies are tools that help students organize information before they file it away in their minds. The following will introduce you to a variety of memory strategies that can assist students with the learning process, so that they can save time, achieve better grades and gain improved confidence in their ability to demonstrate their knowledge.
  1. Make Connections: Making connections between new information and prior knowledge can help students learn and encode novel material in an organized fashion. 
  2. Chunking: Chunking allows students to organize material into manageable units. 
  3. Looking For Patterns: Looking for patterns in new material can also aid in some learning situations. 
  4. Tell a Story: Creating a story about the information to be learned can help with both memory encoding and retrieval. If stories are humorous, it’s even better. 
  5. Rhymes: Rhymes use a poem or verse that has a pattern of sounds, especially at the ends of lines. Creating rhymes with academic content embedded can make recall an easier process. 
  6. Create a Visual Association: Visual associations allow students to connect a mental or drawn image with the information memorized. 
  7. Create an Auditory Association: Auditory associations can help with learning vocabulary. A word may sound like something that reminds you of it’s meaning. 
  8. Graphic Organizers: Graphic organizers are also called Mind Maps, Concept Maps and Flow Charts. They are all illustrative ways to organize information and thoughts. They are powerful tools that help students make connections and see the big picture. 
  9. Acrostics: Acrostics are short sentences that use the initial letter of each word or phrase to be memorized. 
  10. Hooking: Hooking is a method that helps students connect the question to the answer so that information is stored in the same location and can be easily accessed. This is a great strategy for remembering vocabulary words because the answer is embedded in the question. 
  11. Verbal Rehearsal – Teaching Material: Some students are assisted when they are able to process information aloud. Many individuals do not really know what they are thinking until they have had the opportunity to articulate it. Being able to discuss new topics, or even teach the material to others, can be an effective way of securing information into one’s memory. 
  12. Songs: Songs are wonderful tools that can assist students in memorizing mundane facts. 
For a full free document that goes into greater detail on the above memory strategies and provides examples Click Here.

To learn more about these memory strategies as well as other helpful learning tools, consider purchasing Planning Time Management and Organization for Success. This publication offers methods and materials that guide, and support students in the areas of learning strategies, time management, planning and organization (executive functioning skills). It includes agendas, questionnaires, checklists, as well as graphic organizers. You will also find advice and handouts for reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives programs. These materials were created over a ten year period for my private practice. 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 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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