01 09 10

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

8 Powerful Strategies for Teaching Main Ideas and Details

Main ideas and details are fundamental, core concepts every elementary student needs to master. It is the foundation of reading comprehension, writing and the organization of ideas. In fact, mastery of these abstract concepts can even help students improve memory, note taking skills and enhance their understanding of lessons.  

What are Main Ideas and Details?
Main ideas are the most important central concept or claim that can be expressed visually in writing (often as a thesis or topic sentence) or orally in conversation. Details are single ideas that illustrate a point, explain a concept, or otherwise support the central idea. Details can be facts, descriptions, examples, quotations, or anecdotes.

How Can the Mastery of Main Ideas and Details Improve Student Learning?
By understanding and utilizing the concepts of main ideas and details, students can make a conscious effort to organize and manage their learning. This can assist them with:
  1. Reading: Understanding main ideas and details helps students improve reading comprehension, and it can also help them conceptualize the overall schema.
  2. Writing: Mastery of main ideas and details helps students organize thoughts, so they can support the central idea and illustrate claims.  
  3. Memory: Organizing one’s understanding of concepts into main ideas and details makes it easier to encode and then retrieve information at a later date.
  4. Note Taking: Utilizing main ideas and details when taking notes can help to keep notebooks organized and easy to navigate.

What are 8 Fun Ways to Teach this Important Skill?
  1. Make a list of 5 to 10 very different main ideas.  Under each main idea list three supporting details. Now place all the main ideas and details onto their own index cards. When working with students, have them sort the 3 details under the correct main idea.
  2. Give your students 5 to 10 very different main ideas. In groups, ask them to come up with a list of five details that could go under each main idea.
  3. Place main ideas on a beach ball or balloon. Pass the ball around and ask the students to read the main idea that they first see when they catch the ball.  Then ask them to come up with a supporting detail.
  4. Think of a main idea. Give one detail and see if the student(s) can guess the main idea.  If not, give them another detail and let them guess again. Continue providing details until they figure out the main idea.
  5. Make a series of web diagrams that illustrate main ideas and 4 to 8 related details.  Now delete some of the information, so that the students have to fill in the blanks.  See image to right.
  6. Ask students to color code readings. Whenever they see a main idea, ask them to highlight this central concept with a specific color. Then ask them to underline all the details with the same color.  When they see a new main idea, ask them to repeat the process but with a different color.
  7. Place main ideas and details onto about 10 to12 blank foam dice. Have the student roll the dice.  Can they find any main ideas and supporting details that go together? If so, ask them to organize the dice and explain their reasoning. You can grant them a point for each of the dice that they are able to properly categorize.
  8. Write a series of main ideas onto cards. Then collect visual representations of details and print or paste them onto cards.  For example, if you use the main idea transportation, you can have a picture of a car, plane, boat…  Ask the students to place the image cards under the correct main idea.

Ready-Made Materials:
If you would like to learn more about how I teach these lessons in a fun and multisensory way, check out these ready-made digital downloads:


Would you Prefer to Watch a Video of 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 Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/, https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

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 Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/, https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

7 Organizational Tricks that Keep Educational Materials Orderly and Accessible


 

When you have as much material and resources as I have collected over the past 20 years acting as a learning specialist, it can be easy to overlook some great options or even have trouble finding the needed materials.  A number of years ago, I decided to tackle this problem head on.

Strategies for Clearing Your Clutter and Organizing Your Materials
Clearing your clutter and organizing your materials can be a great way to make your home and practice manageable, comfortable, and efficient.  What’s more, it makes your space look more attractive and you won’t waste time locating the needed materials.  Here are a number of strategies that have helped me organize my space:
  1. Use well labeled, color coded filing cabinets, storage carts, colorful boxes and even old pill bottles to organize materials.
  2. Once a year go through your materials and clear the clutter.  Give away or get rid of outdated books, technology, and other resources that you are not using.
  3. Shred and recycle old student files and outdated materials.
  4. Place loose materials and printouts into well labeled and color-coded binders.
  5. Make sure you have enough shelving to accommodate all your books and binders.
  6. Organize your technology by placing apps and files into labeled folders.  
  7. Schedule a weekly time to clear your workspace and your computer’s desktop.
My Favorite Organizer:
I would have to say that my favorite organizers are my four 10 drawer carts that are featured in this blog's title image.  They come with wheels, but I decided not to use them to improve stability.  Each bin offers enough space that can house things like math manipulatives, games, dry erase boards/pockets, index cards, paper, balloons and more.  It didn’t take me long to fill all 40 drawers, and even my parents and students have expressed appreciation for setting a great example. In fact, I may get a couple more. ;) If you would like to get some too, CLICK HERE or on the image to the right.

Although it takes some time to create your system, I can promise you, that it is well worth it!

Helping Your Student's or Children Get Organized:
If you would like to learn more about how I get my students organized, consider looking at my publications, Executive Functioning: Cognitive Remedial Bundle or Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success or The Ultimate, Mindful and Editable Planner/Agenda
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 Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/, https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Teaching Students Relaxation and Attention Skills with the Muse

Due to high classroom expectations and an increase in testing, I find that more and more of my students are coming to my after school sessions spent and weary from a long day at school and many are plagued with social and/or academic anxiety. Additionally, I’m seeing this concerning profile in a younger and younger student population.  

How Can I Address Low Stamina and Student Anxiety?
At first, I offered my students the opportunity to dip their hands into what I call my, “zen table.” The zen table is a hollow coffee table that I filled with lentils, mung beans, rocks and magnets. Students plunge their hands deep into the soothing medley, where they can allow the stress of the day to “dribble out of their fingertips.” Concurrently, we discuss the day, choose a positive mindset, engage in occasional meditations, and do deep breathing and mindfulness activities.  When I realized that this was not enough for some of my students, I began to search for other alternatives.  

When I came across the Muse, I was intrigued. I purchased it for myself as I was wanting to optimize my own ability to meditate. After my first try, I was hooked and quickly realized that this could be a wonderful resource for my students.  

The Muse: What is it?
The Muse is a brain sensing headband that teaches one how to get into a deep sense of relaxation. It measures brain signals with 7 sensors that detect brain activity. The device sends information to a linked Apple, iPhone, or Android device through a free downloadable app. With the app open and the Muse headset in place, one can access guided, attention-training exercises, meditations, real-time, auditory feedback about your brainwaves, and a visual and written summary of complete sessions. The way the Muse provides feedback while meditating is ingenious. When the mind is cluttered and unfocused, you can hear brisk wind through the paired device.  As you become calmer and more relaxed, they wind dies down.  Then, once you have reached a deep relaxed state, you hear birds chirping.  My students and I all feel that this feedback is very motivating, and it helps us to develop the metacognitive skills required to manage our attention and stress levels.

So What are the Benefits?
Research shows that meditation reduces stress and increases attention. However, learning how to meditate is often challenging, because this internal activity is hard to guide and monitor. The Muse addresses these difficulties, because it provides immediate feedback on what’s happening in your brain. It lets you know when your mind drifts away from the activity and teaches you how to reach a deep level of relaxation, presence and focus. In particular, the Muse can help:
  • motivate you and your students to improve cognition.
  • provide a better way to manage stress and depression.
  • manage the amygdala - the fight or flight portion of the brain.
  • establish a meditation and mindfulness routine that nurtures greater happiness, attention skills relaxation and metacognition.  
Link for 15% off: http://mbsy.co/gFjSL

How Can The Muse be Used with Students?
The free, online Professionals Program is designed to help give Therapists, Learning Specialists, and Coaches an innovative way to introduce meditation into their practice and monitor client activity. Personally, I use my own Muse to introduce my students to the product. I find that most decide to purchase one for themselves, as they are very affordable. What’s more, the company offers an affiliate program that allows me to offer a 15% off coupon to my friends and students! The offer will show when you reach the final checkout page. Link for 15% off: http://mbsy.co/gFjSL

So hats off to the crew that invented the Muse and its many mindful meditation options!  If you would like to get one for yourself, I can assure you that you will not be disappointed. Again, here is a link for 15% off: http://mbsy.co/gFjSL The offer will show when you reach the final checkout page.

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 Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/, https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Erasable Frixion Markers Make Learning Both Fun and Memorable

Frixion pens, highlighters and markers are currently my favorite tool for making my sessions both fun and memorable.  From colorcoding, to erasing mishaps, to sending secret messages, these magical writing utensils will engage students of all ages. In fact, this past week, one of my students, that is a senior in high school, had a blast breaking down the steps required to complete mathematical logarithms (see the image above).


What Are My Favorite Frixion Options?
Most recently, I found a set of 24, different vibrant markers that can bring a rainbow of colors to assignments and projects.  Best of all, with the swipe of the attached rubber eraser, the ink disappears.  I’m also a fan of their highlighters, as it enables my students to erase their markings when they highlight too much information. Now correcting mishaps is somewhat miraculous.


How Does the Frixion Technology Work?
The markings become invisible when heated.  When rubbing the ink with the hard rubber eraser, heat from the resulting friction causes a temperature-sensing compound to activate an acid compound.  This neutralizes the dye, and the ink virtually disappears!


Other Cool Tricks:
  • If your Frixion highlighters, markers or pens stop working and they are not out of ink, place them into a freezer, and they will be as good as new.
  • You can quickly erase a page of markings by adding heat from a hair drier, a flame, the stove, or the sun.
  • You can have your markings reappear by placing the paper or notebook into a freezer.


Ways to Use the Frixion Highlighters, Markers and even Pen
  • Write assignments or clues on an index card.  Apply heat so that the text disappears.  Ask your students to place their assignment in the freezer to decode the message.
  • Help your students organize lessons by allowing them to use the Frixion markers or pens to color code notes or a sequence of steps.
  • Allow students to highlight their handouts and textbooks.  Then, if you would like to quickly clear the highlights, apply heat from a hairdryer and all the markings with disappear in seconds.

If you don't have any of the many Frixion options, click on the images to learn how to get them on Amazon.  

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Motivating Students: 3 Misconceptions and 10 Strategies for Success

Motivation is purported to be a common obstacle that obstructs academic success, however this is a misconception.  As Rick Lavoie said, "It is not that students become unmotivated, because all human behavior is motivated." Instead, other core factors such as depression, anxiety, a poor self concept, and learning disabilities are the source that affect learning and appear to impact motivation.


Assisting Students that Appear Unmotivated?
To help students that appear unmotivated, first we must investigate the cause of the academic struggle or unwanted behavior.  One can attempt to uncover these stumbling blocks through mindful discussions, but it may be best to pursue additional assistance from a therapist, educational therapist or learning specialist that has some training in psychology.  In addition, if the student’s difficulties manifest as poor grades, a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation can help to uncover the core problem.


Once the underlying causes have been disclosed, an academic and/or behavioral action plan can be established.  Additionally, if any diagnoses are revealed, a 504 or Individual Education Plan can define the needed structure, reasonable accommodations and support.


3 Common Misconceptions:
  1. Students are motivated by the same things:  In fact, students can be motivated by a large selection of contrasting factors.  One reason for this is because each learner comes to the classroom with different preferences, strengths, and weaknesses.  But personality issues are also a key ingredient in the recipe for learning.  For example, some students are motivated by challenging activities while others are motivated by manageable or easy activities.  In addition, some students are motivated by competition, while others are motivated by cooperation.  
  2. Punishments increase motivation:  Punishments are dangerous, because they often create anger and resentment.  What’s more, they present a negative association to the learning process.  For example, if a student loses recess because they didn’t complete a math assignment, they may link these negative emotions to the academic content and learn to hate mathematical concepts.  In addition, if a student is motivated to do well, but is struggling due to learning disabilities, punishments can result in anxiety, depression, and even learned helplessness.
  3. Rewards motivate students:  Rewards can offer some external motivation, but what students really need is to be internally motivated.  In other words, the motivation to engage in a behavior is best when it arises from within the individual because it is intrinsically rewarding. Intermittent rewards, however, can be helpful, particularly as a way to celebrate success.
What Can Be Done to Motivate Students?
  1. Praise effort and improvement.  If you praise students at times when they know that they did not deserve the recognition, your accolades often lose credibility. Instead, when effort and improvement are recognized, research suggests that this builds motivation and resilience.  Click here to learn more.
  2. Hold onto your power by offering limited choices.  Many young learners will challenge authority, but giving into fears and complaints reinforces protests and defiant behavior.  However, when providing limited and reasonable choices, parents and teachers can maintain control and avoid disagreements and conflicts.
  3. Develop positive, supportive relationships.  Try not to let a student's negativity or frustration impact your mood.  Instead, stay calm, use a soft, soothing voice and maintain control.  
  4. Offer intermittent or unexpected rewards that celebrate achievements.  Recognizing student growth helps students feel pride in their accomplishments.
  5. Help students to uncover their "genius qualities" and integrate them into academics wherever possible.  If students learn how to use their strengths to compensate for any weaknesses, this empowers them to be self directed and resilient.
  6. Replace tests with manageable projects.  Providing a number of enticing and multisensory project options also gives students’ options and some power in the learning process.
  7. Move away from competition and create a cooperative learning environment.  The only students that will be motivated by competition are the ones that know they will win.  All the other students will feel discouraged and may even come to resent the teacher or their peers.  Instead, provide all students equal recognition.  For example, instead of recognizing and posting a single student's achievement, allow all students space to post their best work of the week.
  8. Instead of pointing out what is wrong - recognize what is correct.  Also, encourage students to learn from their mistakes by allowing partial credit from test and assignment corrections.  
  9. Replace negative feedback with words of encouragement. Instead of using discouraging words such as “no, wrong, mistake, and incorrect,” use guiding words such as “almost, getting there, and try again.” Additionally, when a student provides an incorrect answer, gently guide them to the correct answer, so they can experience the satisfaction of being correct and shed any fear of peer humiliation.
  10. Avoid negative labels such as careless, lazy, and unmotivated.  Nobody is encouraged by deprecating remarks.  Praise the good behavior and ignore the bad.

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 Learning Specialist Courses.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to http://www.learningspecialistcourses.com/, https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...