Dr. Warren’s blogger articles on teaching advice.

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 on 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 place on ADHD medications to temper their excessive commotion and exuberance.
What are the Deleterious Effects of Sitting too Much on Kids?
Inactivity can result in a number of problems for school-age children:
  • Obesity: Sitting slows metabolic rate resulting in the diminished burning of calories.
  • Heart Disease: Sitting increases blood sugar and decreases the burning of fat.
  • Muscular Atrophy: Excessive sitting can cause ones muscles to degenerate.
  • Osteoporosis: Sitting can lead to poor bone density which is a precursor for osteoporosis.
  • Circulation: Sitting causes blood circulation to slow and blood can pool in the legs.
  • Inattention/lethargy: Sitting reduces the amount of blood and oxygen that reaches the brain resulting in a decline in cognitive performance.
What Can Teachers Do to Skirt a Sedentary Style?
  • Integrate activities into your lessons that allow students to get up and move around.
  • Encourage your students to get out of their seats at least once an hour and engage in a minute of exercise.
  • Provide adjustable desks for your students, so they have the option of standing or sitting on a tall stool.  Many schools are now using standing desks with a foot swing. See image below.
  • Use sites like GoNoodle that offers kinesthetic brain breaks for young learners.
  • Get involved with organizations like Let’s Move and https://www.designedtomove.org/

Bringing movement into your classroom will only help you and your students to improve attention, retention, motivation and alertness; but regular activity will lead to better test scores, improved behavior, and the integration of healthy habits.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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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.
  • Awareness of Strengths – cognizant of one’s talents or strong abilities.
  • Persistent Determination – continually pursuing a course of action despite difficulties or opposition.
  • Passion-Driven Focus – actively persevering with a powerful and clear intention.
  • Resourcefulness – acting effectively or imaginatively, especially in difficult situations.
  • Personal Sense of Control – subjective awareness that one is initiating, executing, and managing one’s own actions.
  • Ability to Reach Out to Others – pursuing connections and assistance from those around us.
  • Problem-Solving Skills – finding solutions to difficult or complex issues.
  • Bouncing Back – quickly recovering after a setback or when facing significant stress, adversity, or trauma.
Key points in the Research:
The research offers some important outcomes about resilience and grit in the classroom:
  • Students and can learn skills that can increase their resilience and grit.
  • Teachers start the transformational process by believing in themselves.
  • Teachers can change their own attitudes and improve connections with their students.
  • Teachers can learn to nurture and instruct these skills.



Teaching Strategies that Nurture Resilience and Grit:
There are a number of approaches that can help to culture resilience and grit in your classroom and create a sense of community.
  • Be present and find joy in being with your students.
  • Nurture caring and supportive relationships that make each student feel valued.
  • Offer guidance and high expectations in each student’s potential for growth.
  • Present opportunities for creative expressions and critical thinking discussions.
  • Build community in your classroom, and provide opportunities for students to help one another.
  • Encourage students to ask for help.
  • Recognize and reinforce the expression of feelings.
  • Teach learners to see failures as opportunities for growth.
  • Help students to recognize and change negative and self-defeating behaviors.
  • Help learners cope with stress.  Talk about stress factors with your students in the classroom and brainstorm management strategies.



Classroom Activity Ideas:
  • Have your students complete and score a grit scale test.  Then watch Angela Duckworth’s TED video and lead a discussion about how students can become more gritty.  
  • Once a week/month, sit in a circle with your students for appreciation dialogue.  Ask each student to express appreciation for another member of the classroom and share it aloud with the group.  Then ask them to share a personal accomplishment.  If they have trouble with this, ask the rest of the class to help.
  • Avoid negative labels such as incorrect or wrong.  Instead, use words like, “nice try” or “almost” and guide your students to the correct answer.
  • When grading assignments make positive comments about growth and effort.

                                       


Becoming resilient and gritty is a challenging skill for anyone to master.  However, employing this mindful approach can help teachers find joy in their profession, nurture a supportive community within their classroom, and help students to reach their true potential.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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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 to grow, if exercised, throughout our lifetime.  Repeated brain training creates new neuro-pathways, clears the hurdles that trip the thought processes and helps the mind run smoothly and efficiently. In addition, early intervention can sometimes cure or remediate learning disabilities, assist the head injured in regaining skills and can even prevent diseases of the elderly such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.  The bottom line is that it is never too late.


How Should Brain Training Activities be Administered?
When instruction focuses on the area of difficulty, it’s important for the activities to be engaging and fun.  They need to start at a simplistic level that offers some challenge for the individual, and difficulty is increased as the participants experience success, thus keeping them in their zone of proximal development.  
Where Can I Get Brain Training Materials?
I have been creating cognitive remedial tools for the past nine years.  To learn more about my products go to Good Sensory Learning.  Otherwise, one of my favorite home-fun options is Lumosity.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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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 – Undo previous command (If you delete something by accident this can be a lifesaver)
  • Command  Y – Redo previous command
  • Command  A – Selects whole document or contents of screen
  • Command  I – Italicizes text in docs
  • Command  U – Underlines text in docs
  • Command  B – Bolds text in docs
  • Command  L – Left justifies text
  • Command  R – Right justifies text
  • Command  E – Centers text
  • Option  Delete – Deletes word left of cursor
  • Command  1 – Single line spacing bt. sentences
  • Command  2 – Double line spacing bt. sentences
  • Command  5 – 1.5 line spacing bt. sentences
  • Command  F – Opens find window to locate words or quote in document or website (This is fabulous when searching for a quote or word in a PDF, Doc or web page)
  • Command  E – Uses the selection for a Find (Great to use with Command F)
  • Command  D –  Bookmark website
  • Command  Tab –  Toggles between open websites
  • Command  T – Opens new tab in web browser
  • Command  + –  Zoom In (Plus sign is above the = sign)
  • Command  – –  Zoom out (Minus sign is next to the number 0)
  • Command  + Shift  + 3 – Capture the screen to a file
  • Command  +  Key + 4 – Capture a selection to a file (Great for copying an image from the computer)
  • Command  X – Cuts selection and stores in Clipboard
  • Command  C – Copies selection or text to Clipboard (Great for copying text from the internet, so it can then be pasted into a document with Command V)
  • Command  V – Pastes contents of Clipboard in location of the cursor
  • Double Click a Word – Highlight a word
  • Triple Click a Word – Highlight a sentence
  • Click on a file Space Bar – Quick look at the file without opening it.
  • Control Eject – Opens a dialog box so you can sleep, shut down, or restart your computer

Shortcuts on Other Devices I Can’t Live Without:

  1. When working on your iPhone a double space at the end of a sentence will provide a period, a space, and will capitalize your next word.
  2. When taking a selfie, your volume button can also be used to take the picture.
  3. Ask Siri to open your apps, so that you don’t have to search for them on your device.
  4. On Google, when you type Define before a word, Google will provide a definition of the word.
  5. On Google, if you type in your flight number, you will get the gate, airline and time.
  6. On your phone’s camera, half press the shutter button to focus.  Once you have done that, if you push down, it will avoid any lag.
  7. Any side button on your phone will stop it from ringing.
  8. With popup menus – to fill in the state, type the first letter multiple times to scroll through the options.

To get a free, crisp copy of this shortcut list, click on the image to download a free PDF

I hope you find these tricks helpful!

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  
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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 to consult with others and weigh options. 
  • Perseverance: Pursuing goals with repeated persistence despite difficulties is also a common characteristic of successful individuals with learning disabilities.  These individuals are resilient, motivated by challenge and continue to refine their approach until they reach their objective.
  • Goal Setting: Setting attainable yet flexible goals is another key trait for success. These goals cut across education, employment, family, and personal development and often includes a well-organized and planned approach.
  • Support Systems: Supporting, guiding, and encouraging family members, friends, mentors, teachers, therapists, and co-workers are also important indicators of success for individuals with learning disabilities. Yet, as these individuals move into adulthood, they often reduce their dependence on others and usually switch roles to help others in need.
  • Emotional Coping Strategies:  Learning to manage disability-related stress and frustration as well as avoiding triggers is a final strategy for success. In particular, there appear to be three components of successful emotional coping: 
    • Awareness of the situations that trigger stress
    • Recognition of developing stress
    • Use of coping strategies that include 
      • seeking counseling
      • asking for help and self-advocating 
      • switching activities to manage stress
      • expressing feelings
      • asserting oneself 
      • utilizing peer support and encouragement 
      • learning to ask for help 
      • planning ahead for difficult situations
      • avoiding negative or critical people
      • obtaining medication – if necessary
      • working through differences with friends and family
      • sharing with sympathetic friends and family

What’s more, recent research also points to the added emotional coping strategy of mindfulness techniques such as meditation, and relaxation techniques.  To learn more Click Here

Clearly, one of the best things we can do for students with learning disabilities is to provide the nurturing support system and mindful discussions that will help them to develop these key attributes that lead to success. 

If you would like to learn more about the Frostig Center study,  SchwabLearning.org offers a free Parent Guide which describes each of the six success attributes in greater detail.  Here is a link so you can get your own free downloadable copy: CLICK HERE  In addition, to read more of the research conducted at the Frostig Center: CLICK HERE


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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com, & www.learningtolearn.biz

Successful Educational Therapy Remediation: Learning How Each Student Thinks


Every student processes information and learns differently because we each have our own, individual cognitive makeup as well as strengths and weaknesses.  As a result, the key to successful remedial outcomes is to celebrate, understand, and accommodate the unique ways that each student thinks.

How Can Educational Therapists and Learning Specialists Uncover How Each Student Thinks?
There are a number of things that professionals can do to reveal how each individual processes information.

  1. Read comprehensive psycho-educational evaluations and progress reports. 
  2. Talk to parents, teachers and other professionals that know this student well.
  3. Ask the student.
What Valuable Information Can Be Gained From Prior Testing and Reports?
A comprehensive psycho-educational evaluation can help uncover each student’s strengths as well as their areas of challenge.  On the one hand, by focusing on strengths, professionals can help students to develop compensatory learning strategies, so that they can learn to work around difficulties by using their best abilities.  For instance, a student may struggle with writing due to spelling and graphomotor challenges. However, if this student also possesses excellent expressive language skills, they could use speech recognition software to sidestep their difficulties.  On the other hand, by remediating areas of challenge, students can often improve cognition and develop abilities.  For example, by repeatedly exercising an area of cognition, a student’s capacity can improve over time.

How Can Discussions with Parents, Teachers, and other Professionals Help?
Discussions with parents, teachers, and other support personnel can also help to uncover areas of talent and challenge.  What’s more, feedback can provide clues concerning strategies that have and have not worked in the past.

The Most Valuable Person to Speak to is the Student Themselves:
The most important individual to consult is the student.  Surprisingly, they are often overlooked.  In fact, many students, when asked the right questions, can guide you to quick and easy interventions. One of the most important activities is asking the student how they think and approach different learning tasks.

  1. Ask each student how he or she processes information, and if they can not express it in words, allow them to draw a picture and then explain it.  Focus on one achievement area at a time.  For example, ask a student what it is like for them to read.  What is their inner process?  If needed, you can ask guiding questions such as: 
    • Do you see images?  
    • Do you hear an inner voice? 
    • Do you make personal connections to the information that you are learning?
  2. Question them more about their capacity to visualize?  
    • Can you imagine imagery in your mind’s eye? 
    • How strong are your visualizations?
    • Are your mental pictures in color or black and white?
    • Can you see movement?
    • Can you hear, taste and smell your visualizations?
    • Do you use mental imagery while learning in school?
  3. Ask them more about their internal voice.  
    • Can you hear thoughts and ideas in your head?  
    • Can you hear your memories?
    • Do you ever rehearse information aloud when trying to learn or memorize it?
  4. Ask each student about his or her best ways of learning.  You can do this qualitatively or you can use an inventory such as the Eclectic Learning Profile.  Consider asking about all 12 ways of learning:
    • Visual – seeing
    • Auditory – hearing
    • Tactile – touching
    • Kinesthetic – moving 
    • Sequential – ordering
    • Simultaneous – categorizing
    • Reflective/Logical – thinking to oneself
    • Verbal – talking and sharing thoughts
    • Interactive – collaborating
    • Indirect Experience – learning vicariously
    • Direct Experience – encountering in real life
    • Rhythmic/Melodic – applying music or a beat to aid memory or maintain focus
Four Specific, Student Illustrations that Show the Importance of Evaluating How Each Student Thinks:
  1. Pat struggled with school-related anxiety and expressive language deficits.  He experienced great difficulty communicating verbally and through written language. When I asked him to try and explain to me what it was like inside his brain to write, I offered him the choice of using words or a drawing to share his thoughts.  I was surprised that he had no difficulty finding the words.  Pat expressed that it was like trying to do a puzzle.  His problem was that he could only look at one piece at a time.  He had no access to the gestalt or big picture.  This was such an insightful comment that helped me guide his instruction to learning the “formula” to writing, so that when he “picked up a single piece of the puzzle” he would know where to place it.  
  2. Peter was diagnosed with dyslexia and ADHD, and he had the most trouble with written language.  When he came to me, everyone reported that he struggled with “writer’s block.” When I asked him how his brain worked when trying to write, he could not come up with any words to describe his internal process.  However, when I gave him a dry erase board and some markers.  He quickly produced an insightful image.  Many squiggly, overlapping lines were trying to get through one small opening.  Peter didn’t have writers block, he had, what I like to call, “writer’s bottleneck.” Instead of having no ideas, he had too many ideas, and we found that creating his own graphic organizers was the solution.  
  3. Sue struggled with memory deficits and her problems manifested in poor test grades.  Through discussion, I soon learned that Sue had what I call, “a blind mind’s eye.” She was unable to create mental imagery, and her visual memory was extremely poor.  Through discussion, Sue remembered having a wonderful imagination as a young child and recalled using mental imagery when playing.  Soon, she realized that her ability to visualize stopped after she experienced the traumatic experience of seeing her father die of a heart attack.  This event was so disturbing for Sue, that, as a coping strategy, she mentally blocked her capacity to visualize. Once she realized this, she was able to make the conscious effort to tap into this ability again and her visual memory and capacity to visualize improved, resulting in higher test grades.
  4. Jay attended sessions to determine strategies for improved reading comprehension.  I was happy to learn that he had strong decoding and verbal abilities and also had a strong capacity to visualize.  In fact, Jay possessed all the needed skills.  However, he had never considered visualizing text, and after a few lessons, was able to apply this skill to reading.  Not only did Jay’s reading comprehension ability soar, but he reported that the process of reading was, “so much more enjoyable!”
Once You have Learned How Each Student Thinks, Help Share This Valuable Information:
Once you understand how a student processes the world around them, this information often uncovers the best remedial methods.  Most importantly, be sure to share your discoveries with others, so optimal ways of learning can continue to be realized.  Be sure to:

  1. Communicate with teachers and other professionals.
  2. Tell the parents.  
  3. Educate the student and help them to learn metacognitive skills, a growth mindset and self-advocacy skills.

I hope you found this blog helpful.  I would love to hear your thoughts.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to www.goodsensorylearning.comwww.dyslexiamaterials.com & www.learningtolearn.biz  

Are We Grading or Degrading our Students? Let’s Shift Paradigms

Over the 15 years that I have worked as a learning specialist and educational therapist, I have never had a student come into my office with a poor test grade and ask me to help them to learn the material that they clearly did not master.  Instead of nurturing a desire to learn, our current paradigm instills a fear of failure.  As a result, when a student receives what they believe to be a poor grade on a test or assignment, they often feel degraded and ashamed.  Oftentimes, these tests and assignments are hidden or thrown away, and learning takes a nosedive.  In fact, when a student does unexpectedly poorly on a test, they are often so mortified that they learn little to nothing the rest of the day.  Instead they tend to internally ruminate and stress about the grade.  Sadly, it is the high test grades that students love to share and celebrate, as students quickly learn that they are rewarded for perfection.

Traditional Grading Only Points Out the Errors:
When teachers limit feedback to pointing out errors on assignments and tests, this can be both demoralizing and discouraging for learners.  Can you imagine working in an environment that only points out errors?  Too much criticism can be discouraging and can cause kids to dislike school and ultimately learning.

Where Does This Leave the Average Student or Struggling Learners?
Average students and struggling learners are often disempowered and frustrated, as they rarely, if ever, get to experience the grades they desire.  As a result, many of these learners can fall prey to a sense of learned helplessness.  Learned helplessness is a condition in which a person suffers from a sense of powerlessness, arising from persistence failure.  They learn to give up quickly as past efforts have failed.  It is thought to be one of the underlying causes of depression, acting out in school and even juvenile delinquency.

Learning to Embrace Mistakes Builds Resilience:
Conversely, we should thank our students for sharing their misconceptions and mistakes and offer rewards for learning from them.  We should teach them the value of, “giving it another try” and learning from mishaps.  They should know that most of our greatest inventions were the result of repeated mistakes.  In fact, it was reported that Thomas Edison made 1000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When asked about it, Edison allegedly said, “I have not failed 1000 times.  I have successfully discovered 1000 ways NOT to make a light bulb.” 

How Can We Shift Paradigms to an Environment that Helps Students Embrace and Celebrate Learning?

  1. Teach students that you love hearing about their mistakes and misconceptions.  You can even offer a locked box where students can safely and anonymously ask questions or request the review or reteaching of a topic.
  2. When students make a mistake, guide them to the correct answer.  Use words like:
    • “You’re getting there.”  
    • “Almost.”  
    • “You’re getting warmer.”
    • “Give it another try.”
  3. Reward students for effort instead of intelligence. As Winston Churchill professed, “Continuous effort – not strength or intelligence – is the key to unlocking our potential.”
  4. Let go of grades and only make comments.  Begin by telling students what they did right, and then point out a few things they can do to improve their abilities.  Try to offer more feedback on what you liked and limit negative feedback, so students do not get overwhelmed.
  5. Allow students to always earn back partial credit for doing assignment and test corrections.
  6. Share your own past mistakes and misconceptions.  
  7. If you don’t know an answer to a question, admit it.  Then demonstrate for your students how to find the answer.
  8. When students make a mistake, do not give them the answer.  Instead guide them to the correct response.  You can even turn it into a game like, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” – where students can ask for one the the following lifelines: 50:50 (give them a choice of two options), ask the class (poll the class), or ask a peer.

I hope you found this blog helpful.  If you have some other suggestions, please make a comment below this posting.

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

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Multisensory Teaching Accommodates the 12 Ways of Learning

Teachers are always trying to reach more learners and improve retention.  One of the best ways to do this is to employ a variety teaching methods.  This involves integrating the 12 ways of learning into instruction.  Here is an infographic that reviews the 12 ways of learning and provides some statistics on how learning improves when teachers implement multisensory instruction.

Here is an image of the same infographic that can be shared on Pinterest.

  
I hope you found this to be informative and inspiring.  If you have any thoughts you would like to share, please leave a comment below this blog post.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  
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15 Ways to Nurture a Growth Mindset in the Classroom

How can we nurture resilient, active learners that embrace challenging academic material and become successful lifelong learners? Carol Dweck suggests that what we need to do is help students shed a fixed mindset and adopt a growth mindset. What’s more, Dweck contends that developing a growth mindset will also result in less stress and a more productive and fulfilling life. 

What is a Fixed and Growth Mindset?
In a fixed mindset, students believe that their abilities are dependent on fixed traits that can not be changed such as intellect or talent. Individuals that think this way, often cultivate a self-defeating identity, feel powerless, and many struggle with a sense of learned helplessness. In contrast, students with a growth mindset accept that abilities and aptitude can be developed with persistence and effort. As a result, these individuals are not intimidate by failure, because they realize that mistakes are a part of the learning process. They continue working hard despite any difficulties or setbacks. 

So What Can Teachers do to Nurture a Growth Mindset in the Classroom?

  1. Instruct your students about what it is to have a growth mindset and ask them to interview and write about someone that has a growth mindset.  
  2. Resist offering hints when students struggle to answer questions.  Instead, allow your students the time to think aloud and formulate answers so that they can embrace this as part of the learning process.
  3. Demonstrate your own growth mindset by seeing yourself as a lifelong learner that can improve and grow.
  4. Teach your students that what is most important is what they do after a failure.  Ask them to discuss this in small groups and then share their conclusions with the class. 
  5. Create an environment that nurtures and rewards students that maintain motivation and effort. Provide opportunities for students to learn from their mistakes, make corrections and improve grades.  
  6. Share real-life stories of past and present students that have exhibited a growth mindset. Challenge your students to do the same.
  7. Read about successful people who worked hard, struggled, and overcame obstacles to reach a high level of achievement.  Ask your students to write about how they could apply a similar mindset to their own life.
  8. Recognize initiative and praise students for hard work.  Avoid accolades for intelligence or talents.  To learn more about this, watch this video by Trevor Regan at Train Ugly.
  9. Encourage students to be aware of their inner voice and to speak to themselves like they would speak to their best friend. Help them to become aware of any fixed mindset phrases they may use such as “I can’t do this.”  Ask your students to share other fixed mindset phrases they have used in the past and make a list on the board.  Next, as a group, reword all the fixed mindset phrases listed with growth mindset suggestions.  For example, a growth mindset phrase might say, “This may be difficult at first, but with practice and effort I can master this!”  
  10. Watch this video by Trevor Regan at Train Ugly and lead a discussion with your students about how they can become better learners.
  11. Celebrate mistakes and thank students for sharing any misconceptions. Tell your students that this will help you to be a better teacher, and they will become resilient learners. 
  12. Offer a suggestion box to your students, so that they can share thoughts and ideas that can help to improve the classroom environment, instruction methods, and assessment tools. 
  13. Find out what motivates your students and integrate it into the curriculum. Then, share your own enthusiasm and excitement on the topic.
  14. Don’t give homework.  Instead, assign creative, home-fun activities that are optional.  Provide assignment possibilities that students will enjoy completing and let them be a part of creating these assignment options.  
  15. Have your students complete and score a grit scale test.  Then watch Angela Duckworth’s TED video and lead a discussion about how students can become more gritty. 
If you have any more suggestions on what we can do to nurture a growth mindset in the classroom, please make a comment below this blog post.

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, in Ossining, NY.  To learn more about her products and services, you can go to: www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  
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Should ADHD Students Sit Still? New Research on Movement and Learning

Can you imagine trying to learn in a classroom all day while being bound in a strait jacket?  For many kinesthetic learners as well as kids with ADHD, requiring them to sit still during instruction is quite similar to binding them in their chairs.  Although some learners do benefit from sitting motionless, for others it is almost impossible to learn while their bodies remain idle.

Why Do Most Middle school and High school Teachers Require Their Students to “Sit Still?”
It makes sense that one would teach in a way that they, themselves, learn.  As a result, most teachers reflect upon their own ways of processing information when they create their lesson plans. I have found in my many years of conducting workshops with teachers, that very few teachers personally find movement helpful with the learning process.  In fact, I have my own theory that teacher education does not attract many kinesthetic learners, as the process to become a teacher requires little to no movement.  This hypothesis was tested when I conducted a workshop at a private middle school and high school.  When I assessed the learning preferences of the entire 200+ faculty, I was amazed to learn that only one of the teachers reported that they were a kinesthetic learner and that movement helped them to learn.  When I asked them what subject that they taught, they replied, “Gym.” Because the majority of subject-based teachers in middle school and high school don’t find movement helpful in the learning process, and often find it distracting, one can understand how difficult it can be to find teachers that are comfortable accommodating students that need to move around while learning.
What Does the Research Suggest About Movement in the Classroom?
New research that was recently published in the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology indicates that physical motion is critical to the way that students with ADHD encode and retrieve information and solve problems. Dr. Mark Rapport, a psychologist at the University of Central Florida conducted a study that was published this April, 2015 in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.  The article, entitled, Hyperactivity in Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD): Impairing Deficit or Compensatory Behavior? indicates that movement aids working memory and attention for boys ages 8-12 with ADHD, while these higher levels of activity resulted in lower working memory for typically developing students.  This indicates that the hyperactivity for students with ADHD has a functional role.   It would be nice to see more research that looks at the needs of other kinesthetic learners that don’t have ADHD.  They do exist, as I have worked with quite a few of them myself.
How Can We Accommodate These Kinesthetic Learners in the Classroom?
Clearly, motor activity is a compensatory mechanism that facilitates neurocognitive functioning for kinesthetic students as well as those with ADHD.  Therefore, instead of requiring students to sit motionless in their chairs, schools need to offer students the option of sitting on ball chairs, integrating adjustable desks with foot swings that give the students the option of standing, and integrating desks with exercise equipment.  In addition, these students need to be coached on appropriate and non-disruptive ways that they can move in the classroom, and teachers need to be educated about the benefits of movement for many students.
Personally, I love to integrate movement into my lessons for those that need it.  It’s amazing to see how engaged and motivated students can become when they learn in a way that nurtures their best ways of processing.  Here are some links to some of my favorite kinesthetic tools for the classroom!

If you would like to assess the learning preferences of your students and uncover the kinesthetic learners in your classroom, consider learning more about my Eclectic Teaching Approach. This publication also comes with an assessment that will help you define the unique ways of learning for each of your students, so that it is easy to accommodate and empower them. 

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