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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Excellent Reading Comprehension: Developing the 3 Core Cognitive Skills


Every teacher would love to ignite a love for reading and nurture voracious readers, but simply teaching your students how to read and asking them to read each night isn't necessarily going to help them comprehend the text that they are scanning.  The key to helping your students get lost in the pages depends on whether they have developed 3 foundational cognitive skills.  

What are There 3 Cognitive Skills?
  1. Automatized Naming (RAN): RAN or rapid naming is the ability to quickly verbalize a series of familiar items including letters, numbers, colors or objects. Research suggests that RAN is much like executive functioning in that it is a control center.  RAN is a complex set of cognitive processing areas - verbal, visual and motor systems - that work together thus defining one’s reading fluency capabilities.
  2. Decoding: Most students are taught in the traditional classroom how to decode. Decoding is the ability to recognize and analyze printed words and to connect it to spoken words. These skills include the ability to recognize the basic sounds and blends that make up words, grasp what words mean, recognize words in context and know whether words are used correctly in sentences.  
  3. Visualization: Research has investigated the effects of visualization on reading capabilities. Studies have shown a direct link between poor comprehension skills and the inability to visualize text. Research also substantiates that students who picture what they are reading, have better comprehension scores and find greater enjoyment in the reading process. What’s more, studies suggest that training in mental imagery helps students generate their own mental images, make inferences and form accurate predictions.  Finally, the research shows that visualization improves deep connections that aid in memory recall and reading comprehension.  

Developing these Skills to Automaticity
Because reading requires multitasking the three core skills in unison, developing these skills to automaticity is a must.  Automaticity is the ability to do things without occupying the mind - allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit.  Automaticity is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.

How Can I help Students Develop These Skills?
  1. RAN: Games are a motivating option for exercising RAN to automaticity. There are many games that require word retrieval and place time constraints on players. Several rapid naming/word retrieval games are listed below.  Also, don’t be afraid to create your own games!
  1. Decoding: Some students don’t fully pick up decoding when they are exposed to the traditional ways of teaching.  Instead, they may require a more systematic, multisensory approach such as the Orton-Gillingham (OG) approach to reading. There are many successful OG programs on the market today.  The Dyslexia Reading Well offers a comprehensive list.
  2. Visualization:  I have found that the best way to teach visualization is through games and mindful discussions.  Here are a few options:
    • Stare board game
    • Mindful Visualization is a downloadable document (PDF) that provides a review of the research, assessment tools, over twenty game-like activities and lesson suggestions in all the subject areas.
    • Teaching Visualization PowerPoint downloads review the 10 core skills that need to be developed to optimize visualization abilities.
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.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

New Executive Functioning Game: No Match Penguins



I'm so pleased to announce the release of my new Publication: Executive Functioning Game: No Match Penguin! It is the third of a series of four executive functioning games that I have been creating over the past couple months. My students have been active participants in the creation and testing of this game, and they love it!  

No Match Penguin is the simplest of all the games involves and can be played individually or against an opponent.  This game was created to exercise working memory, attention to detail, stamina, response inhibition, as well as mental shifting and sustained attention. It can be used to exercise core cognitive skills, as a warm-up to integrate the two hemispheres of the brain, and it can also be used as a fun brain break.  It’s great for individuals with ADHD, dyslexia, visual processing issues and executive functioning disorder.  It can also be used with the head injured and the elderly.
Card Descriptions: All 27 cards include a mother and baby penguin that can differ by three accessories: the shape of the mother's hat (tall, medium or short) the color of the babies scarf (red, purple or green), and the babies hat (pompom to the right, middle or left).

Object of the Game:
Players quickly compare their cards one at a time to the card in the discard pile.  Players can only discard cards if their cards has no accessories in common with the card in the discard pile. Players race to be the first to discard all their cards.
Other Activities: If the game is a little difficult for younger players, try these simple sorting activities.
● Sort all the cards by the size of the mother's hat.
● Sort all the cards by the color of the baby's scarf.
● Sort all the cards by the shape of the baby's hat.
● Compare two cards to determine whether there are 0, 1, or 2 matches.
Where Can I Purchase the Game?
The game is presently available @ Good Sensory Learning as a digital download.  Also, a set of all four executive functioning cards games are available on Amazon as decks.  The other three games are Focus, Memory Master, and In or Out.
If you get the games and play them, I would love to hear your thoughts!! So far, I’m hearing rave reviews!
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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Changing Edu-chaos to Aweducation: 8 Awe Inspiring Classroom Ideas

Wouldn't you like to be the teacher that inspires a sense of excitement and wonder in the classroom and creates lessons that put students in a state of awe? While research on awe is quite new, studies conducted by Dacher Keltner at the Greater Good Science Center have shown that experiences that generate a state of awe foster enthusiasm, exuberance and even an overall sense of wellbeing!

How Can We Reach a State of Awe?

When people experience an inspiring video, image or mind-expanding idea or theory, they often feel a sense of "wow" that motivates and opens them up to new perspectives and creative ideas. Keltner reports that awe "makes us feel connected to something larger than ourselves" and explains that this is "a crucial and necessary aspect of purpose." This larger connection can help to foster inspiration, motivation as well as resilience when facing challenges.

By integrating awe into the classroom, teachers can increase attention, involvement and presence. What's more is it can help students find personal meaning in their coursework. An awe experience can expand their minds to new ways of thinking, and help to ignite the passion and drive to make a difference in this world.

What are the Other Benefits of Experiencing a State of Awe?
  • Psychologist, Nicolas Humphrey, reports that there is a "biological advantage of being awestruck." Awe can help us to overcome obstacles, and cultivate excitement about our own existence.
  • Research on awe suggests that this state of mine can elevate cognition and emotion.
  • Stanford University study suggests that awe nurtures compassion, altruism, a general state of wellbeing and even expands one's perception of time.
  • Further Research has found that positive emotions, such as awe, creates a deep connection to art, nature or spirituality and this is linked to lower levels of inflammation in the body.
How Can Teachers Bring Awe into the Classroom?
  1. Seek your own personal awe experiences and share them with your students.
  2. When planning a lesson, think about how you can create a sense of excitement and wonder about upcoming topics. 
  3. Integrate cool and fascinating videos, imagery and stories into lessons.
  4. Find leading professionals, authors, and adventurers that are willing to share their own excitement and awe experiences by video conferencing with your class. 
  5. Allow students to dig deeper into their own interests and encourage them to search of awe-inspiring stories or events that they can share with the class. 
  6. Offer competitions for students to uncover and share awesome facts about the concepts they are learning in class. 
  7. Allow students to share their own obsessions so that you can integrate it into your lessons. For example, if many of your students are into MindCraft, use elements or images from Mindcraft in your math lessons. 
  8. See what's trending in your classroom. For example, if Webkinz are popular, use them to demonstrate lessons, create similar pictures in handouts, and consider offering them as rewards.
Helping students find an awe-inspired path to learning can make teaching itself awesome. Let's help students feel enthusiastic about their lessons and conjure a sense of awe and wonder when learning.


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 & 
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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Free 60-Day Pilot of Nessy Reading



I'm so pleased to offer you an incredible opportunity from my friends at Nessy learning.  Nessy Learning is looking for a few Canadian and U.S. schools interested in participating in a free, Spring 2016 pilot of their Nessy Reading and Spelling program, used in over 10,000 schools worldwide.
  • The pilot targets children with reading disabilities such as dyslexia, and other at-risk readers from K-5 but accommodates all students and abilities.
  • The software utilizes intensive, Orton-Gillingham methods in a fun, multisensory game format.
  • The pilot will run for 60 days - beginning this Spring 2016. 
  • Based on previous pilots, you can expect at least a grade level improvement in reading skill.
  • Nessy Learning provides all software, orientation material, and support material at no cost.
  • The pilot can supplement existing reading remediation programs.
  • Three, 30-minute sessions per week for each student is the recommended commitment.
  • Schools are under no obligation to purchase software at the completion of the pilot.
RSVP to ensure participation.

How to Participate:
Please use this activation code: EW101 and complete this: sign up form 

Who can Participate?

  • Teachers and school administrators 
  • Participating students do not have to be dyslexic or have difficulty reading, although struggling or dyslexic readers will benefit most.  
  • There is no minimum number of students required for participation. 
Purpose of the Pilot:
  • The purpose of the pilot is to improve reading skills (vocabulary, phonemic awareness, spelling, comprehension, fluency) for young, struggling students. Based on previous pilots, you can expect at least a grade level improvement for participating students.
  • Data collected from the pilot can be utilized in student evaluation (report cards) and planning (IEPs). 
  • Nessy will use the data from the pilot to improve and enhance the next version of the software.
Note that Nessy Reading has already undergone extensive testing.

Technical Requirements:
  • Windows - PC or Apple - Macintosh desktop
  • Broadband internet connection
  • Latest version of Firefox or Chrome browser recommended
  • Full tablet accessibility with Puffin browser
Nessy's Role:
Dedicated Nessy staff will work with your school for the duration of the pilot. They will:
  • Provide orientation material.
  • Assist in the installation of the Nessy browser and software.
  • Provide technical support.
  • Address any issues arising including any questions.
  • Conclude the pilot early for any reason.
Your School's Role in the Pilot:
Nessy will make every effort to limit any administrative burden.  Each school must identify a person who will work with Nessy. Their role includes:
  • Reviewing orientation material.
  • Viewing a pre-recorded webinar.     
  • Installing the Nessy browser and software.
  • Having all participating students begin with the Nessy assessment.
  • Allocating three, 30 minutes weekly sessions per student for the pilot duration.
Beyond the Pilot:
  • Progress reports data will be available to school staff at every stage of the pilot.
  • Your school will have the option of continuing to use Nessy by purchasing licenses at a steep discount compared to retail rates. 
Please use this activation code: EW101 and complete this: sign up form  





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.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Friday, March 4, 2016

5 Paragraph Essay Freebie

Many learners struggle to master the five paragraph essay.  When I work with students on an individualized basis, I'm continually teaching this concept.  As a result, I created a free Prezi for my students and other professionals, parents and teachers that want to help students master the formula behind writing a 5 paragraph essay.  Students can also use this as a reference each time they are assigned a new essay.  In addition, because many teachers have their own variations or tweak to the 5 paragraph essay, students can show the Prezi to the teachers and make any needed alterations.

I'd love to hear your thoughts!!

CLICK HERE  for free access.
 
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, March 2, 2016

Free Following Directions Sample Activities


Many young learners struggle with the complexities of linguistic cues and following both written and oral directions can be a challenge.  This requires vocabulary development as well as the strengthening of cognitive processing areas such as auditory processing, visual processing, sequencing and more.  Come download free sample activities that you can use to help your students strengthen these needed skills.


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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