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Showing posts from 2015

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

Executive Functioning Game: In or Out

I'm so pleased to announce the release of my new Publication: Executive Functioning Game: In or Out! It is the first of a series of executive functioning games that I have been creating over the past six months. Card Descriptions: All 30 cards include two images: an inner image and an outer image. There are six images: a car, a light bulb, an alien, a raindrop, a flower and a hand. In addition, there are five different colors: yellow, red, blue, green and purple. It is a complex matching game that requires players to remember and utilize rules to search for commonalities amongst cards. The black symbol in the middle of the inner image directs players to look at the inner image or the outer image. Then players compare cards from their deck to the image in the discard pile. The black cat is simply a distractor and has no other purpose in the game. What Population of Learners Does This Serve? In or Out is a fabulously fun game for anyone, but it also serves as a cognitive, re

Asking Students to Sit Still Can Have Dire Consequences

Sitting and limited activity can have detrimental effects on the elderly, but did you know that this can also have negative consequences for children too? What we are discovering is that excessive sedentary behavior has serious health ramifications at all ages, and one of the biggest culprits that breeds inactivity is school.  Stuck seated motionless behind desks only to come home with a full agenda of homework, results in school children spending an average of 8.5 hours of their day sitting . In fact, sitting increases after age 8 when school, homework, and technology consumes their time. What's more, youngsters are continually asked to sit still, as movement is often labeled distracting to classmates as well as the teacher. These learners that wiggle and squirm in and out of their seats are often considered troublesome and some of these kinesthetic kids are even placed on ADHD medications to temper their excessive commotion and exuberance. What are the Deleterious Ef

Pros and Cons of Every Student Succeeds Act for Dyslexia

On Friday, December 10th, 2015 Barack Obama Signed the Every Students Succeeds Act. This new law now rewrites the No Child Left Behind Act and offers a number of changes that could have both positive and negative ramifications for students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities. As with any new law, the true pros and cons will be revealed over time, but here is a list of considerations. The true test of this law lies in the specifics that will soon be defined by each state. Clearly, it will be important for advocates to speak with state representatives and be involved with the creative process so that the needs of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities are addressed and supported. Pros of ESSA Cons of ESSA The Common Core curriculum can be adopted by states, but it is no longer required. Annually, 3rd through 8th grade students will still have to be tested in Math and English.  In addition, high school students will be tested once. School acc

Nurturing Grit and Resilience: Classroom Strategies for Success

Resilience and grit are two popular terms in education that are associated with student happiness, motivation, and academic success. These are learnable behaviors, thoughts, and actions that help learners cope with stress, face adversity or trauma, and bounce back from challenging experiences. Angela Duckworth proposes that the development of grit is an important skill to teach our students. In fact, Duckworth shows in her research that grit is a better gauge of academic achievement and success than one's IQ! What is Resilience? Resilience is an attribute or skill that helps us recover from negative events or feelings, cope with challenges and adversity, and take care of ourselves. What is Grit? Grit is the ability to maintain passion, motivation, and effort when developing a mastery or an expertise. Some of the Most Important Characteristics of Grit and Resilience Include: Managing Emotions - being open to one’s feelings and able to modulate them in oneself. Awaren

Number 1 Trick to Improving a Student's Writing

There are many effective strategies worth instructing that can improve a student's writing, but my number one, favorite strategy is teaching the effective use of a thesaurus. What is a Thesaurus? A thesaurus is a book or online site that lists words in groups of synonyms or related concepts. What are the Benefits of Teaching Students to Use a Thesaurus? Teach your students or children to use a thesaurus.  This offers many gains and can be used to: Expand vocabulary - Using a thesaurus helps students increase their usable word choices. Avoid repetition - Consulting a thesaurus guides students to alternate word choices when they are concerned with the overuse of a single word within their composition. Improve writing quality and sophistication - Utilizing a thesaurus assists students to select more appropriate or mature wording. Select descriptive words - Consulting a thesaurus helps students find more descriptive words that will enable their audience to better visu

Light emitted by Technology Disrupts Sleep: Strategies for Students

Many students struggle to fall asleep at night, even though they are terribly tired during the day. Why is this becoming a common occurrence? Daily, the average student spends nine hours using technology for enjoyment and school, and many of these hours are after the sun sets. Although sunlight dims to relative darkness, children's exposure to light remains when they are planted in front of televisions, phones, computers, and other handheld, computing devices. What we are now learning is that this extended exposure to light is having detrimental effects on the natural circadian rhythms that have been established across time.  What are Circadian Rhythms? Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle of light and dark in an organism's natural environment. The study of circadian rhythms is called chronobiology. Are Circadian Rhythms Important? Circadian rhythms are key in determining the sleep patterns of humans. Our body'

Solving Spelling Problems with Digital Assistants and Voice Search Technology

Challenges with spelling disrupt the flow of thoughts, distract the writer and often result in poor word choice. Even though the author may have an excellent speaking vocabulary, their writing may suffer due to avoidance of words that are difficult to spell. What's more, many poor spellers skirt writing altogether because navigating spelling potholes can be time-consuming, and they fear that others will question their intellect. What Can Be Done to Help Poor Spellers? The technology age offers a number excellent tools for struggling spellers. Speech-to-Text Software: Speech-to-text is a type of software that transcribes the spoken word into typed words on a computer or handheld device. Writers no longer have to be distracted by spelling. As long as they enunciate their words clearly, all spelling will be accommodated via voice commands. Macs come with this option for free. To learn more CLICK HERE . In addition, there are many other speech-to-text options like Speec

What is Brain Training or Brain Fitness and is it Helpful?

I am a learning specialist and educational therapist. However, I tell many of my clientele that I’m a personal trainer for the brain. I help individuals of all ages to improve overall cognition, develop compensatory learning strategies and master optimal study skills. I have seen, first hand the power of brain training. What is Brain Training? Brain Training, Brain Fitness, or Cognitive Remediation is the act of strengthening deficits in learning or weak areas of cognition. This is typically done using activities that concentrate on specific areas of difficulty. Just like a personal trainer or physical therapist can focus exercises on a particular part of the body, many learning specialists, educational therapists and learning coaches can help individuals of all ages to improve memory, visual processing, auditory processing, attention, executive functioning, stamina and more. The Brain is Not Limited and Defined: The brain is not inflexible and fixed. Instead, it continues

Learn about Strengthening Working Memory with Free Sample Activities

Working memory is a fundamental cognitive processing activity required for learning. It is the part of the brain that is responsible for the transient holding and processing of new and stored information.  What Does Working Memory Do?   Working memory is key for: Executive functioning skills Reasoning Comprehension and learning Updating of memory How Can this Skill Be Strengthened? Here are some sample activities that can help educational therapists, learning specialists, tutors, parents and more help to develop this skill in struggling learners. CLICK HERE for your free download. Cheers, Dr. Erica Warren 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 . · Blog: · YouTube Channel: ·

Technology Shortcuts Every Teacher Should Know

With busy schedules, keyboard shortcuts can save a lot of time and frustration. Committing a few of your favorites to memory is worth the effort, and I have also created an image that you can print so that these tricks can be posted beside your computer - when needed.  Shortcuts often require you to hold down one or more modifier keys while pressing another key. For example, to use the print shortcut, Command-P (print), hold down Command and press P, and then release both keys. Here is a list of the modifier keys: Command ⌘ Shift ⇧ Option/alt ⌥ Control ⌃ Caps Lock ⇪ Function fn Here are my favorite shortcuts: Command Option ESC – Force Quit Command Q – Quit active application Command W – Close active window Command H – Hides active window Command M – Minimizes active window (This is a favorite as I can maximize when needed) Command N – Opens new doc or Internet page Command P – Print active screen or doc Command S – Saves active doc or tab Command Z

Dietary Changes Can Cure Learning Disabilities and ADHD Symptoms

Did you know that comfort foods such as ice cream, chips, cereal, and cookies can impact children's health, behaviors and ability to learn? As a child, I learned that I was allergic to preservatives, and once I got off of processed foods, I felt tremendous cognitive gains. There is a multitude of reported, dietary remedies for students with learning disabilities and ADHD, however, what works for one individual often does not work for another. The reason for this is that each individual has their own background, genetic makeup, and sensitivities. As a result, finding a natural remedy can be a bit of a process, but I believe that it is best to address the cause then to treat the symptoms with medications. Do Allergens/Intolerances Impact the Brain? Everyone's body reacts differently to food allergens and intolerances. Some common indicators are hives, sneezing, coughing, a swollen tongue or lips, and a stomach ache. However, because allergens travel in the bloodstream

Vocabulary Development: Why Reading is Not Enough

You often hear that children's vocabulary will improve if they read more. As a result, many teachers and parents place a lot of pressure on students to pick up a book. However, poor vocabulary can make reading a chore and can turn students off to reading altogether! Here is a better way to think about it: A rich vocabulary improves reading. Research now shows that direct instruction on vocabulary has a greater impact on reading comprehension than comprehension strategies and even phonics programs. Why Reading is Inadequate for Building Vocabulary? Students often skip over or misread unknown words, so even if they glean the meaning in the larger context, it is often not associated with the word. Readers rarely, if ever, stop to look up a word when they don't understand the word in context. Learners will most likely learn a new word when there is repetition. Therefore, when a new word is mentioned only once in a text, the likelihood of them learning it is very small.

Are Academic Accommodations Fair?

Many parents, teachers and administrators worry about whether academic accommodations offer an unfair advantage to some students. They are concerned that providing services such as extended time on tests, the use of a computer with a spell check, a reader or a copy of the teacher's notes provides an uneven playing field. Fair Shouldn't be About All Students Getting the Same Thing: If all students came to the classroom with the same brains and experiences, offering them equivalent expectations and an identical curriculum would make sense. However, that is not even close to the truth. In fact, each student offers diverse strengths and weaknesses, developmental levels, experiences and abilities. As a result, fair shouldn't be about all students getting the same things. Fair is that each student gets what he or she needs to learn. So How Can a Student Get an Accommodation if This is What They Need to Learn? The Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA) and Sect