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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Unleashing Learning Potential: Simple Strategies for Success

About a year ago I was interviewed by Elisheva Schwartz, a fabulous entrepreneur that hosts the Dyslexia Quest Podcast.  Soon after the recording, Elisheva had her second child.  As a result, our interview just went up onto Itunes last week.  It was a really fun and lively discussion that centered on the amazing benefits of mastering the metacognitive skill, visualization.  There is a wealth of information in this podcast, so I hope you will take the time to listen.

What Does the Podcast Address:
  • My own background and expertise.
  • The benefits of visualization for reading, writing and other areas of academics.
  • The ways visualization builds attention skills.
  • My journey on expanding my own personal visualization abilities.
  • My work with students to develop their mind’s eye.
  • The process of visualization training.
  • Elisheva shares her own struggle utilizing visualization when she was a young student.
  • We discuss how visualization brings the “fun factor” into learning.
  • The history of visualization.
  • How visualization can help in everyday life.
  • I play a game with Elisheva that helps to strengthen visualization skills.
  • Where to get visuals when the mind is having trouble.
  • Ways to use audiobooks to improve visualization.
  • Using games to improve visualization abilities.
  • How to take text and turn it into mental imagery.
  • How to support your children with dyslexia.

How Can I Access This Podcast - The Secret Weapon to Unleashing Your Learning Potential:  
You can learn more about our interview on Elishiva’s website.  If you would prefer you can go directly to iTunes or Stitcher Radio by following these links: | iTunes | Stitcher Radio
Be sure to give the episode a thumbs up, and all comments are welcome.  If you can share the podcast on social media too, that would be awesome!

Where Can I Learn More About Developing Visualization Skills?
I have found that the best way to teach visualization is through games and mindful discussions.  To help with this process, I wrote a book entitled Mindful Visualization for Education. This 132 page downloadable document offers a review of the research, assessment tools, over twenty game-like activities and lesson suggestions in all the subject areas as well as for vocabulary development and listening.  In addition, I offer two PowerPoint downloads that review the 10 core skills that need to be developed to optimize visualization abilities.

If you have any thoughts on visualization for learning, please post a comment! Also, if you have had success with visualization and learning, please share your experiences.
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 Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Preparing for Finals: Powerful and Easy Strategies for Success

Many students wait until the last minute to prepare for finals, and they experience anxiety when bombarded with an overwhelming workload. When panic sets in, the amygdala triggers a fight, flight or freeze response, and the stress hormone cortisol is released. Unfortunately, cortisol has a negative impact on learning, and it leads to memory loss and problems with recall. As you can see, preparing for finals in a timely and organized manner can help students manage their tasks, enhance memory, and avoid the negative consequences of triggering the reptilian part of the brain.


When Should Students Begin to Prepare for Finals?
I encourage my students to create a study schedule about four weeks before finals. This gives them plenty of time to organize materials, schedule needed appointments with teachers, and fully prepare for exams. I also find that this process offers them a manageable approach that avoids unneeded stress and anxiety.


What is the Process?
  1. Write out a list of the courses that require a final exam or project.
  2. Estimate the total number of hours it will take to prepare for the test or project.  This includes organizing materials, creating study materials, consulting with teachers, and encoding all the content.
  3. Create a calendar or use the free downloadable test preparation calendar (illustrated to the right) and schedule the preparation time for each class.  
  4. Write out the study approach for each class (also included in the download). This might include the
    1. chapters, topics covered
    2. materials that need to be reviewed
    3. test format
    4. study strategies


Helping students organize materials, manage time, and plan an approach can provide them the tools to influence their grades and develop the executive functioning skills needed to take charge of their lives into the future.


If you haven’t already downloaded my free test preparation calendar and test preparation sheet illustrated to the right, CLICK HERE for this free download.


Academic Tools for Success:
To help students develop successful study strategies and more, I created a 116-page publication that offers methods and materials that structure, guide, and support students. This comprehensive document includes agendas, questionnaires, checklists, as well as graphic organizers for writing and test preparation. You will also find advice and materials in the areas of reading, math, memory, motivation, setting priorities and creating incentives programs.  What’s more, the materials accommodate learners of all ages from elementary to college.  I also have The Executive Functioning Cognitive Remedial Bundle, which offers a comprehensive, remedial approach.  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.  

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, May 4, 2017

7 Free Activities that Sharpen and Strengthen Language Skills


Integrating fun activities that help students to improve their language processing skills can be a great way to ignite a love for learning and strengthen cognition. In fact, strong language processing skills are vital for interpreting and interacting with the environment.
 
What is Language Processing?
Language processing is how people use sensory stimuli to process and understand incoming information as well as how they use words to verbally express ideas and feelings. Therefore, it is how the brain understands (receptive language) and creates language (expressive language).

What are Some Signs of Language Processing Difficulties?
  • Problems following oral directions. 
  • Difficulty expressing thoughts and ideas in discourse.
  • Challenges with reading comprehension.
  • Problems expressing thoughts and ideas in writing.
  • Difficulties understanding jokes and sarcasm.
  • Challenges accessing the right words when expressing thoughts.


7 Fun, Free Activities that Sharpen and Strengthen Language Skills
  1. Build Inferential Thinking Skills: Look at advertisements in magazines, on TV and on Billboards. See what product each ad is promoting and see if you can uncover any inferences or hidden messages.
  2. Develop Verbal Reasoning Skills: Play with anagrams - Write down a word that has at least 6 letters. In 5 minutes, see how many new words you can create by scrambling the letters.
  3. Promote an Understanding of Main Ideas and Details: Play catch with a football, baseball or beach ball. When you first toss the ball, call out a main idea such as days of the week. You can also write the main ideas on the ball. When your student/child catches the ball, he or she says one of the days of the week. When they toss it back to you, you say another day of the week. Players can only say each detail once. If a detail is repeated, the player can't think of another detail, or there are no more detail options, that player loses the round. Keep score and play to 10. Other main ideas could be food, transportation, shapes, presidents and so on. 
  4. Teaching Personal Visualizations when Reading: Read a short, descriptive passage aloud to your child/student. Before you read it, explain that their job is to visualize or create a mental image of what you read to them in their mind. Once you have finished the passage, discuss the imagery or give them a blank piece of paper so they can draw an image of what they saw in their mind’s eye.
  5. Practice Understanding Jokes: Go to online sites like http://jokes.cc.com/ and read the jokes aloud. Discuss the meaning and why they are funny.
  6. Develop Listening Skills: Give your child/student(s) a series of funny directives to follow such as “stand on one leg, spin in a circle, and wiggle your nose.” See if they can act out the series of directives. Start with two activities and add more as they experience success. 
  7. Building Writing Skills: Find a picture on the Internet or in a magazine. Practice creating captions or stories that go with the images. 
If you would prefer to purchase some workbooks that focus on language processing skills, Dr. Warren has a few products that you might like. Click on the following titles to learn more.

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 Go Dyslexia, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to https://godyslexia.com/, www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Wednesday, April 26, 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:
  1. Reading: Understanding main ideas and details helps students improve reading comprehension, and it can also help them conceptualize the overall schema.
  2. Writing: Mastery of main ideas and details helps students organize thoughts, so they can support the central idea and illustrate claims.  
  3. Memory: Organizing one’s understanding of concepts into main ideas and details makes it easier to encode and then retrieve information at a later date.
  4. Note Taking: Utilizing main ideas and details when taking notes can help to keep notebooks organized and easy to navigate.

What are 8 Fun Ways to Teach this Important Skill?
  1. Make a list of 5 to 10 very different main ideas.  Under each main idea list three supporting details. Now place all the main ideas and details onto their own index cards. When working with students, have them sort the 3 details under the correct main idea.
  2. Give your students 5 to 10 very different main ideas. In groups, ask them to come up with a list of five details that could go under each main idea.
  3. Place main ideas on a beach ball or balloon. Pass the ball around and ask the students to read the main idea that they first see when they catch the ball.  Then ask them to come up with a supporting detail.
  4. Think of a main idea. Give one detail and see if the student(s) can guess the main idea.  If not, give them another detail and let them guess again. Continue providing details until they figure out the main idea.
  5. Make a series of web diagrams that illustrate main ideas and 4 to 8 related details.  Now delete some of the information, so that the students have to fill in the blanks.  See image to right.
  6. Ask students to color code readings. Whenever they see a main idea, ask them to highlight this central concept with a specific color. Then ask them to underline all the details with the same color.  When they see a new main idea, ask them to repeat the process but with a different color.
  7. Place main ideas and details onto about 10 to12 blank foam dice. Have the student roll the dice.  Can they find any main ideas and supporting details that go together? If so, ask them to organize the dice and explain their reasoning. You can grant them a point for each of the dice that they are able to properly categorize.
  8. Write a series of main ideas onto cards. Then collect visual representations of details and print or paste them onto cards.  For example, if you use the main idea transportation, you can have a picture of a car, plane, boat…  Ask the students to place the image cards under the correct main idea.

Ready-Made Materials:
If you would like to learn more about how I teach these lessons in a fun and multisensory way, check out these ready-made digital downloads:


Would you Prefer to Watch a Video of this Blog?  
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  

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, April 19, 2017

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:
  1. Use well labeled, color coded filing cabinets, storage carts, colorful boxes and even old pill bottles to organize materials.
  2. 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.
  3. Shred and recycle old student files and outdated materials.
  4. Place loose materials and printouts into well labeled and color-coded binders.
  5. Make sure you have enough shelving to accommodate all your books and binders.
  6. Organize your technology by placing apps and files into labeled folders.  
  7. Schedule a weekly time to clear your workspace and your computer’s desktop.
My Favorite Organizer:
I would have to say that my favorite organizers are my four 10 drawer carts that are featured in this blog's title image.  They come with wheels, but I decided not to use them to improve stability.  Each bin offers enough space that can house things like math manipulatives, games, dry erase boards/pockets, index cards, paper, balloons and more.  It didn’t take me long to fill all 40 drawers, and even my parents and students have expressed appreciation for setting a great example. In fact, I may get a couple more. ;) If you would like to get some too, CLICK HERE or on the image to the right.

Although it takes some time to create your system, I can promise you, that it is well worth it!

Helping Your Student's or Children Get Organized:
If you would like to learn more about how I get my students organized, consider looking at my publications, Executive Functioning: Cognitive Remedial Bundle or Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success or The Ultimate, Mindful and Editable Planner/Agenda
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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