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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  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

How to do a Successful Video Blog Quickly and Easily

As you probably already know, video is the future of online marketing.  New reports suggest that over 70% of Internet traffic comes from videos.  So, if you want to have a successful business working with students, video is the key to growing your practice.


For all the teachers, tutors, learning specialists and educational therapists that follow my work, I have got something super special for you.   I think you’re going to love it...


People often ask me how I’m able to produce so much content each month.  I run my own private practice, write two blogs a week, post on social media, produce 1 to 4 videos or podcasts a month, create content for Good Sensory Learning produce courses for learning specialists and I maintain four websites.  Over the years, I have learned tricks that have streamlined the process, so that I still have free time to enjoy my life.  


Today, I want to share with you one of my favorite new tools that has not only helped me to grow my audience and business, it has enabled me to cut my production time on videos from about 2 days to about an hour. I have used it to create tutorials for my students, demonstrations for my YouTube channel, videos and podcasts from my blog content, and welcome videos for my websites. Because of this, I now have people contacting me from around the globe for my educational products, courses as well as online sessions. What’s more, the process is fun and super easy to learn! To top it off, it allows me to quickly record my audio, integrate images, and incorporate music.  


I use a special online tool, and I have worked with the company to get you an incredible deal. But first, let me share with you the simple process so you can see for yourself.  First, open the online site and select create new video.
  • Second, come up with a catchy name for the video.
  • Third, select a blog, a part of a publication, or a great email discussion and paste it into the empty block.  
  • Fourth, select the button: "Create Slides for your Video" and the program automatically breaks the text into slides.  
  • Fifth, you can keep the text on the slide, add images from their enormous library or upload your own images.  Sixth, record the slides one at a time into your computer and the program pulls the audio chunks together for you. I love this, because if I make a mistake, I just have to re-record a single slide.
  • Seventh, as an added feature, you can add short video clips recorded on your smart-phone, computer or tablet.
  • If you want a professional look, you can add intros and outros that can be commission on Fiverr for about $10.00-$20.00.  
  • Eighth, select preview and, if needed, you can easily adjust the timing.
  • Ninth, select "Download" - and then "Generate Your Video." Your video is done!  


In fact, I even turned this blog into a YouTube video using this product!  See below:



And now for the exciting part!  The company has agreed to let me share a 50% off deal for my audience. What’s more, you can get a free 7-day trial!   


Here is the link that you can use: http://www.contentsamurai.com/c/EWarren-cs-free-trial   


The video presentation contains images that were used under a Creative Commons License. Click here to see the full list of images and attributions:
https://app.contentsamurai.com/cc/56165

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, March 15, 2017

Fractions Lesson, Activities and Free Video

Fractions are often a complicated mathematical concept for many young learners to conceptualize. What’s more, understanding how fractions relate to everyday life can be an added challenge.  In my practice, I continually design and redesign my lessons to be concrete, memorable and fun. I love nothing more than to come up with strategies and materials that really work for struggling learners and I strive to use engaging characters, implement animations, and integrate joyful and amusing activities. I regularly ask my students to provide feedback, so that I can tweak and refine my methods.  


In March of 2017, I finally put my fraction ideas and materials together and created 31 PowerPoint slides as well as a 25-page adjoining document with interactive activities.  I got a number of my students involved in the project, and I must say that I’m quite proud of the finished product.  This new publication is available at Good Sensory Learning and it is titled Fractions are Fun: Animated PP Lesson and PDF Activities.


A Free Video Demonstration:
As a fun promotion, I turned the first half of the Power Presentation into a video for my audience. This provides a comprehensive glimpse of the publication, but I also hope that it will inspire teachers and students to have fun making the characters come alive when the lessons are presented in class.  

I hope you loved the video and my new publication!  I would love to hear your feedback.

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  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Learning to a Beat Can Improve Student Mood, Attention and Stamina


Having to complete homework after a full day of school is really challenging for some learners. The thought of having to pull out books and get back to work after sitting at a desk for most of the day can be an overwhelming and daunting undertaking.  In fact, many students would rather do just about anything then school work.  So what can we do to help them get through their assignments in a focused and mindful manner?
A Consistent Beat Can Help Improve Mood, Attention and Stamina
Metronomes have been used to enhance abilities in sports and music for decades, and but did you know that for some learners, a consistent beat playing in the background can help to improve mood, attention and stamina?  A metronome is a device that produces an audible beat—a click or other sound—at regular and consistent intervals. While a slow beat can be calming, a fast beat can increase one’s energy level.  The trick is to use a device that allows a student to select their own speed and sound preferences. Downloadable apps are one option, but my favorite choice is a free online site: https://www.8notes.com/metronome/.  This site offers a number of free accents as well as drum beats.  By adjusting the Tempo slider, each student can select the beats per minute.  My personal favorite is called Jazz at 120 beats per minute.

What if Students Find Loops Tedious?
Some students will find a repetitive beat annoying. While many learners enjoy creating their own playlist from their favorite tunes, if lyrics are distracting, they can always listen to upbeat tracks that do not have words.  My favorite online site for this is https://focusmusic.fm/.  They play a constant string of free upbeat electronic compilations.

Although background beats do not serve all learners, I think you will be amazed at how it can help improve the mood, attention and stamina of many struggling students.

Test out the various options and let me know what you think!

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  

Thursday, March 2, 2017

How Can I Improve my Executive Functioning?

 free executive functioning image
Executive functioning, or what I like to call the conductor of the brain, is the process of the mind gathering together and making sense of all the information we receive from our instruments or senses.  Helping us to create meaning from what we see, hear, touch, taste and experience, executive functioning also allows us to focus our attention, think about new information, and make connections to what we already know.  

Many teachers and parents have trouble understanding how simple tasks such as remembering appointments, using an agenda or turning in assignments can be difficult, but unfortunately these and other similar tasks can be extremely challenging for some individuals.  However, the good news is the part of the brain that manages executive functioning, which is called the frontal lobe, continues to develop through high school and college.  Therefore, many kids that struggle with executive functioning can significantly improve their abilities.

You Might have Executive Functioning if:
Here are 11 common signs of executive functioning disorder:  
  1. You have trouble maintaining a planner or agenda for recording assignments.
  2.  Free executive functioning image
    You have trouble planning long term projects and often complete them at the last minute.
  3. You often forget papers, notebooks and other materials needed for school or homework.
  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 multistep directions.
  9. You have trouble transitioning from one task to another.
  10. You have trouble keeping appointments.
  11. You have trouble keeping your bedroom and bookbag organized.

What are Some Common Myths and Truths?

Myth: Kids with executive functioning weaknesses are lazy and unmotivated.
Truth: Most of these kids are motivated and hard-working, but they have trouble maintaining attention and stamina. As a result, these students are often misread and misunderstood.  It is important to realize that weak executive functioning skills are NOT the result of laziness, lack of effort, or carelessness. In fact, criticizing these learners and providing negative feedback and pressure often worsens these difficulties and can trigger feelings of helplessness.  

Myth: ADHD and executive functioning issues are the same.
 free executive functioning image
Truth: Attention is only one small piece of the executive functioning skills that the brain performs.  Therefore, some kids with executive functioning challenges do not have ADHD.  Likewise, there are some kids with ADHD that do not struggle with other areas of executive functioning such as planning, time management and organization. What the research is discovering, however, is that there is a positive correlation between those with ADHD and executive functioning disorder.

Myth:  All kids should be able to learn executive functioning skills.
Truth:  Just like some kids are blind or paralyzed, other kids have learning disabilities that make executive functioning extremely difficult. In fact, some individuals have such a difficult time with executive functioning skills, they require support from technology and people (such as personal assistants or secretaries) throughout their life.

Myth:  Kids can't get school accommodations for executive functioning problems.
Truth:  With proper testing, many of these kids are diagnosed with a learning disability or ADHD.  With a diagnosis, students can get an individualized education program (IEP) or 504 plan  that can offer reasonable accommodations.

What Can be Done to Assist These Capable Learners?
1.   Maintain a structured, daily routine.
2.   Teach them how to set priorities.
3.   Generate a consistent homework plan.
4.   Break large assignments into manageable tasks.
5.   Make to-do lists.
6.   Demonstrate time management skills by generating self imposed deadlines.
7.   Teach study skills and test taking strategies.
8.   Provide incentives and positive reinforcement.  
9.   Utilize graphic organizers for planning ideas and writing.
10. Teach metacognitive skills by thinking through thought processes aloud.
11. Be patient and supportive.

Where Can I Get Ready Made Materials and Exercises that Help Develop These Skills?
The Executive Functioning Cognitive Remedial Bundle offers a comprehensive approach to improving a student’s planning, time management and organization abilities.  This bundle offers a discounted suite of downloadable activities, games, and handouts that were designed to help learning specialists, educational therapist and even parents assist students in developing executive functioning skills.  To get a free sampling of activities from one of the publications in the bundle, Click Here  

If you would like a free copy of the images in this blog, 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  
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