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Sunday, April 27, 2014

Teaching Students to be Mindful and Conscious Learners

According to recent research, a growing number of school-aged children are experiencing a plethora of social, emotional and behavioral problems that interfere with school success, interpersonal relationships, as well as the potential to become competent adults and productive citizens.  What's more, many students are passive learners that mindlessly attend classes and complete the work.  As a result, a growing number of young learners are unmotivated to learn, struggle with encoding academic content, and have trouble getting the grades that they desire.  So what can we do to help these students?  A simple strategy is to teach learners to be mindful and conscious of their academic approach.

What is Mindful or Conscious Learning?  
Mindful or conscious learning is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one's feelings, thoughts, and sensations.   When taught to young learners, recent research suggests that training in this method can help students:
  1. foster empathy for peers and others
  2. reduce stress
  3. increase attentional abilities
  4. improve emotional regulation and social behaviors
  5. boost motivation
  6. raise grades
How Can This Skill be Taught?
The best ways to teach children to be mindful and in the moment is to be fully present yourself and share your own thought processes.  In addition, you can implement short meditations where you encourage learners to be aware of their breath and just observe their thoughts.  Here are three useful videos.  The first two videos can be shown to students and helps to explain the practice, while the third video shows practitioners in the classroom teaching this skill.  


Teaching children the skill of mindfulness can help them in school, but it will also help them to control and manage their emotions and physical state of being for the rest of their lives.  If you have had any experience using mindfulness in the classroom, please leave a comment.  
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, April 17, 2014

Using Positive Reinforcement to Shape Behaviors in the Classroom

With large class sizes and unruly students, teachers can be prone to leverage motivation through punishments. For instance, eliminating recess or after school detentions can serve as a negative consequence. However, this outcome often only creates anger and frustration. So, instead of employing penalties, try utilizing an approach in which privileges are earned through positive reinforcement.

Many students are not internally motivated to complete homework, sit at their desks for hours at a time, and listen to lectures. While integrating multisensory methods may help, issues of avoidance and complaints often indicate that there is an overwhelming agenda. Students can tire, and when organization, time management and planning are not helping as they should, external motivation, or an incentives program may prove to be an effective remedy to increase productivity and improve students’ attitudes.

With an incentives program, students can earn points for completing activities, tasks or exhibiting appropriate behaviors. Points are recorded which can then be “cashed in” for rewards. Small rewards can be earned in a day, whereas larger rewards may take weeks or even months.

Many teachers feel that it is inappropriate to reward a child for completing schoolwork. However, as adults, we are paid for work and would not complete the tasks without such compensation. Therefore, earning rewards can be a practical learning tool for students that will help prepare them for the workforce. Moreover, students often develop a sound work ethic.

What are the Steps?
1) Identify the problems and define goals.
2) Reveal motivating rewards and assign each with a point value.
3) Select a number of tasks for which points can be earned. Try to limit it to 5 tasks. As success is reached, new tasks can be substituted into the program.
4) Decide the number of points that each of the tasks will earn.
5) Record daily points.
6) Once every few weeks, review the tasks and rewards and revise as needed.

To learn more about helping young learners develop executive functioning skills and acquiring other helpful handouts and advice, consider purchasing Planning Time Management and Organization for Success. This publication offers methods and materials that guide and support students in the areas of time management, learning strategies, planning, and organization. It includes questionnaires, agendas, checklists, as well as graphic organizers. You will also find materials that focus reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and incentives programs. 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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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Kinesthetic Learners: 10 Empowering Approaches

When learning, some students find it helpful to sit quietly at their desks, while others find that movement helps them to maintain attention and encode information. The needs of the latter group often remain unaddressed in the classroom because behaviors such as tapping a pencil, fidgeting, leaning back in chairs and asking for repeated bathroom and water breaks can be annoying to the teacher as well as peers. Many of these students are kinesthetic learners and having to sit still and listen can be virtually impossible. So how can teachers empower the often-conflicting needs of their kinesthetic learners?

Here are 10 suggestions:
1) Incorporate movement into the lessons. Allow students to move from one “learning station” to the next where short, interactive activities can engage the students.
2) Permit kinesthetic learners to sit on the side of the classroom, so if they need to move around or stand, it won’t distract the students behind them.
3) Allow your students to have a one-minute kinesthetic break in the middle of class where they can do a brain break activity, stretch, shake out their bodies or even do a few jumping jacks.
4) Allow kinesthetic learners to stand from time to time.
5) Integrate kinesthetic activities such as acting out lessons or let your students create plays that illustrate the concepts.
6) Teach your students appropriate kinesthetic movements that they can make while sitting at their desk such as bouncing their legs under the table.
7) Never take recess away from a kinesthetic learner.
8) Have a kinesthetic corner in your classroom where students can go to stretch on a yoga mat or roll on an exercise ball.
9) Consider placing information to be reviewed onto balloons or balls so that the students can review material by passing the props to one another.
10) Consider getting chairs that allow students to bounce. I have a Zenergy ball chair in my office, and I find that students that need movement love this seat. Just be sure to place the kinesthetic learners on the sides of the class so that their bouncing doesn’t distract others.  If you clicc on the image below it will take you to Amazon where you can purchase it.

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, April 4, 2014

Free Preposition Instruction with Pierre the Proposition Mouse


Recently, one of my students expressed some confusion about prepositions.  I reached into my cabinet looking for manipulatives and pulled out a stress toy that included a rubber mouse and his block of Swiss cheese.  I explained that a preposition was anything that the mouse could do to the Swiss cheese.  We decided to call the mouse Pierre and had fun giving him his own “voice.”  We placed him in various positions in relation to the cheese to explore the many types of prepositions and had a good belly laugh.    

To share our fun, we decided to create the following YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYZLKp2_EqU&list=UUClFDLZtuJD99TBMGxb-ekw



I also offer a fun, multisensory publication called Preppy the Preposition Penguin.  Students get to complete an art activity where they create Preppy the penguin as well as Preppy’s igloo.  Then students can have fun exploring the different things that Preppy can do to his igloo by using prepositions.  The download also includes lesson ideas, fun worksheets and three interactive games.  To learn more, 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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