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100 Powerful Learning Specialist and Educational Therapy Materials

This week I wanted to tell you about my online store, Good Sensory Learning. I’m Dr. Erica Warren, and I established this site so I could share all the materials that I have created over the last 20+ years as a learning specialist and educational therapist. When I first began my private practice, Learning to Learn, I had great difficulty finding fun and multisensory materials for my students that were effective and engaging. So back in 2005, I made it my mission to design and distribute high-end, remedial products as well as memorable, motivating lessons that bring delight to learning. If you would like to try a free sampling of my activities , CLICK HERE . How Are the Products Organized at Good Sensory Learning? You can download my Free Printable Catalog or you can browse the site using the grey “search all products” bar in the top right of any page with keywords such as dyslexia, working memory, and executive functioning. What’s more, drop down menus in the red banner allow you t
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How to Develop Reading Stamina for Struggling Readers

Building reading stamina for struggling readers can be a tricky endeavor.  After a few pages of text, many lose interest because reading is a difficult and cognitively taxing chore.  So what can be done to increase endurance and help learners find joy in reading. What is Reading Stamina? Reading stamina is a learner's ability to sustain attention and effort when reading independently. Why Do Some Students Struggle with Poor Reading Stamina? Poor reading stamina is often associated with other areas of cognitive-based weaknesses.  If readers, for example, are placing too much attention and energy on decoding words, there is little mental space left - if any - to comprehend the material.  Perhaps they can decode words, but their tracking, visualization skills, or working memory are lacking.  Again, they may not have the cognitive room to make sense of what they are reading.  Here are a few possible processing areas that could get in the way: Weak visual processing skills Poor auditory

Why Visualization Skills Offer Key Benefits for Students

In the classroom, many students are discouraged from using their imaginations or visualization skills, because, in the past, they have used mental imagery to escape the lesson.  However, when kids learn how to take the reins of their imagination and tame their mind's eye, they can use mental images as well as their inner voice to drop into the teachable moment. What is Visualization? Visualization is the mind's ability to create internal images.  Like a dream or a movie, it's the capacity to imagine objects, experiences, or solutions on one's inner sketchpad.  Some learners have a strong mind's eye and they can easily visualize past memories, ideas, or coming events.  Other's can struggle with what I call a blind mind's eye, and they need to develop this skill with explicit instruction.  As a result, there is a large continuum of abilities. How Can You Assess a Student's Visualization Abilities? If you would like to evaluate a learner's baseline or c

How Can Auditory Processing Be Improved with Fun Games?

Many students that struggle with auditory processing weaknesses can be irritating to teachers and family members because they just don't seem to pay attention or follow verbal directions.  In addition, when these struggling learners attempt to follow through with directives, they may miss sequence tasks, leave out steps altogether, or they may completely misunderstand or misinterpret what was said.  Many times they feel agitation and frustration in those around them, and this can exacerbate the problem. What Can Be Done to Help These Struggling Learners? Be patient and loving because increasing their anxiety level will only make their problems worse.  Don't laugh or make fun of misunderstandings as this often feels embarrassing or shameful. Slow down and speak clearly. Encourage them to repeat back verbal directives.  If you are asking them to complete multiple steps like go upstairs, brush your teeth, and put on your pajamas, ask them to tell it back to you.  To make it fun, y

What is Auditory Processing and How Can I Strengthen This Skill?

Although it may appear that a child or student is not paying attention or listening, sometimes it has nothing to do with that.  In addition, it may not be an issue of effort or intellect, rather they may be lost in a world of words that are difficult to process and understand.   What is Auditory Processing? Auditory processing involves the cognitive functions that recognize, interpret, and make sense of the sounds that we perceive through our ears. What are the Different Types of Auditory Processing? Auditory processing can be broken down into a number of subskills.  This can be very helpful when one is trying to support and remediate the cognitive weaknesses of those with a central auditory processing disorder or auditory processing weaknesses because it enables one to tailor and personalize an intervention plan. Auditory discrimination: the ability to distinguish between sounds that are similar but are distinct. Auditory closure: the ability to understand words when some sounds or ph

How to Help Students with Visual Processing Problems

Visual processing is one of many complex cognitive tasks that allows us to make sense of images we perceive through our eyes.  Although it appears to be an effortless process, it requires a number of different skills that work in tandem.   How is Vision and Visual Processing Different? Many people think that vision and visual processing are one in the same thing.  However, they are two distinct skills that take place in different parts of the brain.   Vision, or the ability to see, happens with light passing through the cornea and the lens of the eye producing an image of the visual world on the retina.  That information then travels into the brain through the optic nerve for processing. Visual processing: or the ability to make sense of what we see, travels through the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus to the primary visual cortex. Although we don't know for sure, studies suggest that visual information goes through at least three processing systems that detect the shape,

How to Improve Working Memory in Struggling Students

Did you know that a strong working memory is one of the best indicators of academic success?  In contrast, those that struggle with a weak working memory often find learning, accessing prior knowledge, and solving problems in their mind challenging. So what is working memory all about? What is Working Memory? Working memory is like a mental sketchpad and guiding voice that allows us to solve problems in our heads. It's a complex cognitive process that involves a number of skills that need to work in concert.  As illustrated in the image below, sensory inputs (represented by colorful leaves) flow into our perception.  Then, our central executive (illustrated as a conductor of cognitive skills) manages four aspects of cognition:  Attention (presented as the sun), Inner voice or inner dialog (seen as the ear) Inner eye or mental visualizations (depicted as an eye) Long term memory or prior knowledge (presented as the soil under the grass)  These four cognitive processing and storage a

How to Quickly Improve Visual Tracking for Struggling Readers

Many struggling readers have a difficult time making sense of text because they lose their place on the page.  In addition, some find it challenging for their eyes to track from one line of text to the next, and they often read the same line, again and again.  Skipping over words, or even missing a line of text altogether is not uncommon.  As you can imagine this could have a profound impact on one's interest in books and can negatively impact reading stamina, speed, and comprehension.   What is Visual Tracking? Visual tracking is the ability to control the movement of vision with the eye muscles.  This may involve the eyes moving left, right, up, down, and even in a circular motion.   How Do Visual Tracking Weaknesses Impact Reading? Poor visual tracking can make it very difficult for individuals to read because their eyes struggle to maintain a fluid motion when scanning the words throughout the page.  Instead, they constantly lose their place.   Why Do Struggling Readers Often H

What Resources are the Best for Online Tutoring?

Finding the best online, learning resources can be a challenge.  There is an overwhelming number of sites, apps, and products, and finding the best ones can be a time-consuming chore.  Having been an educational therapist and learning specialist for the past twenty years, I continually scour the internet for the best resources, and I would love to share with you some of my favorites! My Favorite Online Resources for Remote Learning Use Zoom .  I find it to be the best platform that has some fun and useful tools. Chatbox : They offer a chatbox where thoughts and links can be shared.  I often use this feature for writing games and activities. Screen sharing : Screen sharing is a great feature that allows me and my students to watch videos together. I can share my own resources and we can also brainstorm on a Whiteboard.  An added benefit is the annotation tool that enables both me and my students to draw or type on an image or webpage.   Remote access : When sharing an activity, I can gi

How Can Teachers Trigger Dopamine and Improve Learning?

Wouldn't it be great if a teacher's actions triggered neurotransmitters in the brains of their students that improved attention, motivation, and learning at large?  Many would say that this idea sounds like a science fiction novel, but, in fact,  it's not far from the truth.  What Role do Neurotransmitters Have in the Learning Process? Countless chemical messengers called neurotransmitters are perpetually maintaining our brain's functions and regulating our breath and heartbeat. They even manage our attention and ability to learn. In addition, they also impact a wide variety of emotions including fear, happiness, and boredom. One neurotransmitter, in particular, offers a secret advantage to learning - dopamine. What is Dopamine and How Does it Impact Schooling? Dopamine, commonly referred to as the "feel-good brain chemical" is made by our brains.  Dopamine plays a role in feeling satisfaction and joy, and it is vital to our ability to plan and think.  Here

How to Quickly and Easily Write Neatly with Zoom Annotations

When working with students online using Zoom, it can be frustrating and messy when trying to write out lessons with your mouse. Although Zoom does offer a great typing tool, when doing math problems or drawing an image or diagram that requires a less linear approach there are better options out there. How Can You Use an iPad During Zoom? A great way to write and draw neatly on a Zoom session is to link your iPad to the Zoom session and share the screen.  You can do this through airplay or by using a cable.  Simply: First, select the green button at the bottom of the screen that says share screen Second, select either: iPhone/iPad via AirPlay OR iPhone/iPad via a USB to lightning cable. * I find the use of a cable to be a more reliable option. Third, allow screen sharing on your device by selecting: "Trust this computer" on your device. If it doesn't work, make sure both your iPad and Computer are updated to the latest versions and restart the devices. Fourth, you should

Informative Zoom Presentations and Support for Educators

Have you been looking for a supportive community to help you manage the academic and emotional needs of kids?  Are you an educator or parent that has questions about the best schooling options? Perhaps you would like to learn more about topics such as executive functioning, dyslexia support, serving the needs of struggling students, remedial methods, and more.  Dear friends: I hope you are safe and well during this strange and awkward time! With all this social isolation, I've really come to understand the importance of connection and community. In the past, I have been fortunate to have developed some lovely relationships with a number of my followers and students, and I want to reach out to more of you! I have decided to offer a monthly Zoom group that will feature a focused topic, presentation, and discussion. It won't be a webinar, because I want us to be able to see, interact with, and support one another. Instead, it will be a regular Zoom session with a limited number of