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Showing posts from April, 2017

8 Powerful Strategies for Teaching Main Ideas and Details

Main ideas and details are fundamental, core concepts every elementary student needs to master. It is the foundation of reading comprehension, writing and the organization of ideas. In fact, mastery of these abstract concepts can even help students improve memory, note taking skills and enhance their understanding of lessons.  
What are Main Ideas and Details? Main ideas are the most important central concept or claim that can be expressed visually in writing (often as a thesis or topic sentence) or orally in conversation. Details are single ideas that illustrate a point, explain a concept, or otherwise support the central idea. Details can be facts, descriptions, examples, quotations, or anecdotes.
How Can the Mastery of Main Ideas and Details Improve Student Learning? By understanding and utilizing the concepts of main ideas and details, students can make a conscious effort to organize and manage their learning. This can assist them with: Reading: Understanding main ideas and details hel…

7 Organizational Tricks that Keep Educational Materials Orderly and Accessible

When you have as much material and resources as I have collected over the past 20 years acting as a learning specialist, it can be easy to overlook some great options or even have trouble finding the needed materials.  A number of years ago, I decided to tackle this problem head on.
Strategies for Clearing Your Clutter and Organizing Your Materials Clearing your clutter and organizing your materials can be a great way to make your home and practice manageable, comfortable, and efficient.  What’s more, it makes your space look more attractive and you won’t waste time locating the needed materials.  Here are a number of strategies that have helped me organize my space: Use well labeled, color coded filing cabinets, storage carts, colorful boxes and even old pill bottles to organize materials. Once a year go through your materials and clear the clutter.  Give away or get rid of outdated books, technology, and other resources that you are not using. Shred and recycle old student files and outd…

Teaching Students Relaxation and Attention Skills with the Muse

Due to high classroom expectations and an increase in testing, I find that more and more of my students are coming to my after school sessions spent and weary from a long day at school and many are plagued with social and/or academic anxiety. Additionally, I’m seeing this concerning profile in a younger and younger student population.  
How Can I Address Low Stamina and Student Anxiety? At first, I offered my students the opportunity to dip their hands into what I call my, “zen table.” The zen table is a hollow coffee table that I filled with lentils, mung beans, rocks and magnets. Students plunge their hands deep into the soothing medley, where they can allow the stress of the day to “dribble out of their fingertips.” Concurrently, we discuss the day, choose a positive mindset, engage in occasional meditations, and do deep breathing and mindfulness activities.  When I realized that this was not enough for some of my students, I began to search for other alternatives.  
When I came acros…

Erasable Frixion Markers Make Learning Both Fun and Memorable

Frixion pens, highlighters and markers are currently my favorite tool for making my sessions both fun and memorable.  From colorcoding, to erasing mishaps, to sending secret messages, these magical writing utensils will engage students of all ages. In fact, this past week, one of my students, that is a senior in high school, had a blast breaking down the steps required to complete mathematical logarithms (see the image above).

What Are My Favorite Frixion Options? Most recently, I found a set of 24, different vibrant markers that can bring a rainbow of colors to assignments and projects.  Best of all, with the swipe of the attached rubber eraser, the ink disappears.  I’m also a fan of their highlighters, as it enables my students to erase their markings when they highlight too much information. Now correcting mishaps is somewhat miraculous.

How Does the Frixion Technology Work? The markings become invisible when heated.  When rubbing the ink with the hard rubber eraser, heat from the res…