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Showing posts from September, 2015

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 Section 504 of th…

Using Tiled Floor to Create a Coordinate Plane Game

I love to use stairs and tiled floors when teaching math concepts.  In fact, I integrate as much movement and games as possible into my lessons with students.  This week, I will present my rationale and share a specific kinesthetic and playful strategy for teaching the coordinate plane.
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Although many educators recognize the connection between learning, movement and games, many dismiss the correlation once children get beyond first and second grade.   I propose we are never to old to move and play!

Movement Improves Learning for 4 Reasons: It feeds the brain by increasing blood flow and oxygen.It improves attention, alertness and motivation by uniting the brain and body.It helps nerve cells to bind together, which is the basis for learning new information.It triggers the development of new nerve cells from stem cells in the hippocampus which is an area of the brain that is used for memory and learning.Games and "Play" Boosts Learning: Studies also suggest…

Nurturing Lifetime Success for Students with Learning Disabilities

There are many successful adults with learning disabilities, but what are the common traits that these people share?  A 20-year research study by the Frostig Center in Pasadena, California answered this question and they identified 6 key attributes that contribute to success. 
Self-Awareness:  Understanding one's strengths and weaknesses is an important indicator of success because students can learn to utilize their strong abilities and, with the right support, deficits can be remediated.  One of the best ways to define difficulties and talents is by pursuing a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation and then working with a learning specialist or educational therapist on remedial methods and compensatory learning strategies.Proactivity: Learning that we can control our future and that we can affect the outcome of our lives is another earmark of future success.  Individuals that are proactive make and act upon decisions, assume responsibility for their actions, and are willing …

Multiples and LCM Made Easy with Millipedes

Over the years, I have found that students struggle remembering how to find multiples as well as least common multiples.  Somehow the wording doesn't cue them into the process that they must execute to solve the math problems.  As a result, I continually associate multiples with millipedes and use the alliteration, multiple millipedes to help them recall and even visualize the process.   



To make the process easier, I have created a new publication (a document and PowerPoint) - Multiples and LCM Made Easy with Millipedes.  This product includes a PowerPoint lesson, as well as a comprehensive document that includes embedded memory strategies, step by step instruction, practice problems, a coloring activity, and an interactive game so that students can receive the practice they need while having fun.  Now students can learn the concept once and continue to remember the process over time. 

Free Text to Speech Software Can Help Students Edit Papers

Text to speech software is a valuable tool that comes for free on all Mac computers, and now a number of free apps make this technology available at no cost for PC users too.  Text to speech has been used as an accommodation for struggling readers, but did you know that it is also an advantageous device for writers too?  In fact, I often teach my students how to use this technology to help them edit their written language.

What is Text to Speech Software?
Text to Speech software is a form of speech synthesis that converts text to a spoken computerized voice. This technology was originally created to aid those with vision impairments so that they could hear the written text.

How can Text to Speech Help Students Edit Their Writing?
Many students struggle to edit their own work because when they go back to refine their text, they often glide over mishaps and read it as they meant to write it.  Furthermore, there are many errors that are easy to make but difficult to see.  For example, fo…

Key Reason Dyslexics and Struggling Readers Hate to Read

Imagine going to the movies with your eyes closed.  How much of the movie would you understand?  How much of the storyline would you recall?  Not much, and it probably wouldn't be very engaging. In fact, you may begin to focus on the smells and the sounds of people crunching on popcorn. Your thoughts might wander, and you could even fall asleep. 

Many struggling readers have a similar experience when they open a book. They get little to no visuals in their mind's eye while reading, they report that it is difficult to maintain attention and many complain that the process is boring.  Others purport to have a "blind mind's eye" and are amazed to learn that it is possible to create mental imagery while decoding text.    

Why Does This Happen?
The average reader puts 20% of their cognitive effort into decoding and 80% into the visualization and comprehension of the text.  However, most struggling readers put 80% of their cognitive effort into the decoding process, leavin…