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Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Creating the Ultimate Student Planner: Executive Functioning Success

Why is it that more and more students are struggling with the process of recording, completing, and turning in homework assignments?  It used to be that every teacher had a similar process.  They:
  1. Wrote assignments on the blackboard.
  2. Asked students to record this information into their planner.
  3. Collected the student’s daily assignments.
Now that teachers use varying degrees of technology, it seems like each teacher has different expectations as well as different procedures.  As a result, those students with weak executive functioning skills, often struggle with the homework process. Without a consistent, structured routine, planning, time management, and organization can fall by the wayside. Sadly, many of these students are often mislabeled as careless, lazy and unmotivated and they may struggle to get the grades that they deserve.

Is it the Student's Fault when they Fail to Turn in Assignments?
It’s easy to see that it is not a student’s fault if they are paralyzed and need a wheelchair. It’s also easy to understand that if a child can not see the blackboard, that they may require glasses.  But because executive functioning troubles are “invisible,” those that are good at planning, time management and organization tend to have trouble believing that what is a “no brainer” for them, can be extremely challenging for others.  Furthermore, executive functioning is one of the last cognitive processes to fully develop and often continues to improve throughout the college years. Therefore, when elementary, middle school and even high school teachers expect all of their students to manage the homework process, this can lead to problems.


What Can Be Done to Help Students with Weak Executive Functioning Skills Manage Their Homework?
The first step is to help these students find or create a planner or agenda that they are willing to use.  Although apps can be helpful, I find that parents and teachers often have a better time helping and monitoring with printed options.  


What are Some Helpful Features When Creating or Purchasing an Ideal Planner?
What is most important is to consider each student’s needs.  
  1. If a student has difficulty remembering what materials to take to and from school, you might want to include checklists or symbols that can serve as a reminder when they are packing up their book bag.
  2. If a student has a hard time managing his or her time, you can include a place to record the estimated and actual homework time.  You can also help them to establish a structured daily routine.
  3. If a student forgets important details, you might want to include a place for teacher or parent initials as well as check boxes to indicate assignments are finished and filed into the allocated folder or binder.
  4. If a student has trouble with long-term assignments, he or she should have a way of planning a week or a month at a glance.


What are Some Other Important Features to Consider for an Ideal Planner?
  1. Book bag checklists
  2. Reminder checklists
  3. Prioritizing checklists
  4. To-do lists
  5. Grade trackers
  6. Student and teacher contact sheets
  7. After school planning sheets
  8. Academic or personal goals sheets
  9. Mindful options can provide a place to share:
    1. Daily gratitude
    2. A word of the day
    3. A quote of the day
    4. Reflections
    5. Visualizations


The Ultimate, Mindful and Editable Planner/Agenda for Students with Executive Functioning Weaknesses:
If you would like to quickly create and tailor your own student planners, consider purchasing my 73-page customizable planner/agenda.  This editable publication offers
a large selection of planner formats and documents that can be used by learning specialists, therapists, parents, and students.  This publication helps students to:
  • structure time
  • remember important materials and appointments
  • track grades
  • establish goals
  • reflect on the past
  • establish a weekday and weekend routine
  • collect the needed contacts
  • plan for upcoming events and assignments
  • improve communication between parents and teachers
  • juggle responsibilities.
Because the pages were created in PowerPoint, purchasers can easily create a second copy of the publication and then quickly alter the dates, wording, design, colors, fonts, and images.  The publication offers both color and black and white options.  You will also receive both a PDF (non editable version) and a PowerPoint (editable version).
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 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, February 15, 2017

Do I have dyslexia? Explaining Symptoms and Myths for Kids

What do you do when you learn that your child has dyslexia? Should you hide this diagnosis to protect them from labels and misunderstandings, or should you tell them? If you do decide to tell them, how do you do this? Can you help them to overcome any potential fears or misunderstandings? These are the questions that I will answer in this blog that includes kid-friendly graphics.

What are the Benefits of Telling Your Child That He or She Has Dyslexia?
Educating your child with dyslexia about the common signs and misconceptions can help them to:
  • understand that they learn in a different way than other kids that don’t have dyslexia. 
  • shed negative labels such as stupid, careless, unmotivated and lazy.
  • correct any misunderstandings.
  • identify with other successful people that have or had dyslexia.
  • acquire the needed intervention and instruction in school.
  • learn that many people with dyslexia have strengths that others do not have. Individuals with dyslexia are often:
    • great at communicating their ideas aloud.
    • creative, critical thinkers.
    • good at seeing the big picture.
    • excellent at solving puzzles and building things.
If you want to learn more about dyslexia consider reading:

Help your Child Understand Dyslexia by Reviewing the Eleven Common Signs
Show your child the image below and read the list out loud. Ask them to identify which symptoms describe their difficulties.
  1. You have or had trouble with letter reversals (b and d) and words reversals (was and saw).
  2. You have or had troubles with reading aloud.
  3. You have or had trouble with words problems in math.
  4. You have a hard time estimating how long a task or project will take.
  5. You have trouble starting your homework independently.
  6. You are easily distracted.
  7. You have a hard time keeping track of your possessions and often lose important materials
  8. You have trouble listening to and following multi-step directions.
  9. You have trouble transitioning from one task to another.
  10. You have keeping appointments. 
  11. You have trouble keeping your bedroom and book bag organized.

What are Four Myths and Truths about Dyslexia:
Show your child the graphic below and read the list of myths and truths out loud. Ask them to respond to each of the myths - "Have you ever felt this way?" Then read the truth and address any questions.

Myth #1: People with dyslexia are not smart.
Truth #1: Many dyslexic individuals are extremely bright and creative. In fact, many kids with dyslexia are gifted. Watch a video on famous people with dyslexia: Click Here

Myth #2: People with dyslexia cannot learn to read or write.
Truth #2: With the right intervention and instruction people with dyslexia can become excellent readers and writers.

Myth #3: People with dyslexia see things backwards.
Truth #3: Dyslexia is not a vision problem. It has to do with how the brain make sense of what is seen.

Myth #4: People with dyslexia are lazy and should try harder.
Truth #4: Kids with dyslexia learn differently. When they are asked to learn in a way that does not work well for them, it can take more time.
Finding Multisensory Remedial Tools for Kids with Dyslexia: 
If you are looking for fun, creative and multisensory remedial materials, lessons and games created for learners with dyslexia, 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 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, February 8, 2017

Social Media Disrupts Homework: Five Management Strategies for Success

Although many students think that they can manage an onslaught of distractions while they are doing their home work, there is a price to pay.  Pings from social media and bleeps from electronic devices present constant interruptions that pull attention away from the task at hand.  In fact, because many students try to juggle multiple activities, divided attention can turn an hour of assignments into three hours or more.  An added problem is that diversions prevent learners from fully engaging in their work on a deep level and their learning curve takes a sharp dive.  As result, these students often have to take the additional time to relearn the information at a later date - if they don’t want their grades to suffer.   


What Can We Do to Help This Generation of Young Learners Manage Social Media?
  1. Teachers can integrate social media into classroom and homework assignments.  
    • Start a group for your class so that students can share study tips and strategies.
    • Record your classes on Periscope, Zoom, or Skype so that sick students that miss the lecture can access the content.
    • Ask students to follow and connect with authors or experts that tweets, blogs, tumbls, snaps, pins or scoops.
    • Post notes and resources in DropBox and Google Docs and let the students know through social media.
    • Share resources and links on sites like Facebook, Pinterest and Tumblr.
  2. Teach your students strategies on how they can use social media to benefit their studies.  
    • Establish a study group on Google Hangout.
    • Use social media to connect with classmates when missing an assignment or needing help with a problem.
    • Teach students that they can learn missed instruction by watching YouTube videos you or other teachers have created.
  3. Encourage learners to schedule blocks of time where they “turn off” all social media.
  4. Instruct students to use a timer for uninterrupted homework time and a timer again for social media breaks.
  5. Ask students to read articles that review the pitfalls to multitasking such as Think you are Multitasking?  Think again!, and review research that investigates the pros and cons of using social media while completing homework such as The Impact of Social Media on Children, Adolescents, and Families.  Have them write a paper about what they learned as well as a personal plan of action.  

Technology and social media is here to stay, so it’s best to embrace these tools and teach learners how to manage and leverage these resources in positive and productive ways.

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, February 1, 2017

Mindfulness Training Improves Weak Emotional Intelligence: Symptoms and Strategies Defined


I find that more and more parents and teachers are complaining that our youth have underdeveloped social skills.  Instead of face to face encounters, many youngsters have their attention buried in their electronic devices, and they are not learning to read important social cues. As a result, many children are not developing their emotional intelligence.  

We are now learning that mindfulness-based approaches can be very beneficial to both the learning process and the development of emotional intelligence.  This is a form of metacognition that can help youngsters gain a sense of control over both their thoughts and emotions. In addition, these practices can improve self-esteem and resilience.

What Does Mindfulness have to do with Emotional Intelligence?
Psychology Today defines emotional intelligence as "the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and those of other people." It involves the following three skills: emotional awareness, emotional application, and emotional management. Some believe that mindfulness is the foundation of emotional intelligence. By exercising our attention through mindfulness, we can actually teach the brain to become more emotionally astute. As an added benefit, people with a well developed emotional intelligence usually display high levels of resilience, experience more trusting relationships, and they are better able to manage their social interactions, attitude and temperament.

What are Some Key Symptoms of a Weak Emotional Intelligence?
  • Student often feels like others don’t “get it,” and it makes them feel impatient and frustrated.
  • Student often criticizes others.
  • Student is easily annoyed or angered when someone disagrees with them or has a different opinion.
  • Student is unaware or surprised that others are sensitive to his or her comments or jokes.
  • Student believes that his or her ideas and assertions are right and rigorously defends them.
  • Student finds others are to blame for his or her own mistakes.
  • Student has trouble managing negative emotions.
  • Student lacks compassion or empathy for the feelings of others.
  • Student resists learning anything new.
  • Student has trouble reading facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
  • Student easily gives up when learning new content or when they reach a difficult problem.

What are Some Activities that can be Done to Develop Emotional Intelligence?

Ready Made Activity Cards for Developing Emotional Intelligence:
I created a set of Mindfulness Activity Cards for Developing Emotional Intelligence based on the current research on emotional intelligence and social emotional learning.  There are 50 cards in the set, and they can be used in therapeutic sessions or classrooms to help develop mindfulness, emotional regulation, emotional intelligence, resilience, and community. Additionally, they can be used to teach authentic dialogue and develop self-esteem. These task cards are ideal for individual sessions, round table discussions, and circle groups.  I also have a series of Mindfulness Activity Cards for Developing Working Memory.  

Would you like to Watch a Video Blog on this Content?

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 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  
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