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Using Tiled Floor to Create a Coordinate Plan 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.

________________________
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:
  1. It feeds the brain by increasing blood flow and oxygen.
  2. It improves attention, alertness and motivation by uniting the brain and body.
  3. It helps nerve cells to bind together, which is the basis for learning new information.
  4. 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 that when students engage in academic games, they become more excited about school and their learning increases.  In fact, by uniting movement and games with the curriculum students can encode new content on a body or cellular level.  Body memory suggests that the body is capable of storing memories in organs, whereas cellular memory suggests that memories are stored in the cells of our bodies.  
A Coordinate Plane Game:
Here is an easy, kinesthetic game that can be used to help students master the coordinate plane.

Set-up

  • Ask two student volunteers to use masking tape to designate the X and Y axis of the coordinate plane on a tiled floor.  
  • Next, ask two or more students to write the numbers on the X and Y axis.  Finally, challenge another to define the four quadrants.  

Game

  • Break the class into two groups (Group 1 and Group 2).  
  • Hand each group 16 index cards (you can play with more or less cards – depending on the number of students in the class).  
  • Ask the group members to write out four points for each quadrant such as (-3, 5).  
  • Check the stack of cards for accuracy and then ask a student to shuffle and swap the cards with the other group.  
  • Ask Group One to begin the game.  One at a time, each member of the group will select a card from the deck and stand on the designated point on the coordinate plane.  If there are not enough students to stand in the coordinate plane, then the index cards can be placed on the designated points.  Group One will discontinue play when they have at least two players (index cards) in each of the four quadrants.  
  • Ask Group One to add up the number of points they plotted on the coordinate plane.  
  • Clear the coordinate plane for Group 2.  
  • Ask Group Two to repeat the same process.
  • The winner of the game is the group that plotted the fewest number of points on the coordinate plane.
Clearly, teachers who require students to remain seated during the entire class period are not promoting optimal learning conditions.  By adding movement and games, students will maintain engagement and energy levels and provide oxygen-rich blood to their brains for highest learning performance.
If you would like to learn more about the research behind this, check out the book: Teaching with the Brain in Mind, 2nd Edition:

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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Teaching Mental Math to All Elementary Students

Many people think that mental math is too difficult for elementary learners, but, in fact, youngsters have wonderful imaginations and capacities to visualize that can be utilized while doing mathematical calculations.  In addition, it teaches them how to use their brains in an efficient, mindful and active manner.  What’s more it develops working memory, executive functioning skills and attention abilities that can serve them for the rest of their lives.

How Can Mental Math Utilize and Develop Working Memory, Executive Functioning and Attention?
Working memory is the key mental process that enables one to hold, manipulate, organize and process both new and stored visual and auditory information.  When employing working memory, students also develop their executive functioning skills as well as their attention so that they can retrieve, integrate, and process the problem at hand.

Teaching Children the Power of Visualization Makes Mental Math Fun and Memorable
Another important component of an efficient and robust working memory is the capacity to visualize what one is learning.  Creating mental imagery that can be adjusted like an internal movie can make learning both fun and memorable.  If you are interested in helping students to develop this capacity, you can play activities and games that will help young learners to develop this skill.  To learn about why and how you can teach this, CLICK HERE.

What Types of Mental Math Can You Teach Children?

You can begin by teaching very simple mental math problems by encouraging your students to visualize objects that they can then count in their head.  I also love to use mental math to teach simple addition and subtraction.  Instead of rote memorization, I have a different approach.  Here are a few examples.
  1. Students can learn to add and subtract simple addition problems by visualizing dice.  I have them do art activities and play games with dice until they feel comfortable that they can picture them in their heads.  Then when they have to add numbers that integrate 1-6, they can visualize a die and count up for addition and countdown for subtraction.  
  2. I teach funny memory strategies that students can visualize for learning how to add identical digits like 2+2, 3+3, 4+4 and so forth.  For example, with the problem 9+9, I tell them that the two nines are in love, and they get married.  When this happens they become one (1), and two heads are better than one (8). 
  3. Once they can add the identical digits, the mental manipulation comes in.  If they know that 6+6=12, then they can compute 6+7.  All they have to do is 6+6=12 and 12+1=13. 
  4. I am also a strong believer in integrating color, games and multisensory methods.  To learn more about my Mathematic Math Manual idea CLICK HERE.
You would think that mental math is only for bright or gifted children, but I have found that it works brilliantly with children with learning disabilities and even those with low IQ scores.  In fact, it works quickly, and I find that my students have great fun with it.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this matter.  Do you, too, use mental math when instructing elementary students?

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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Strategies that Strengthening Math Abilities for Struggling Elementary Students

There is often an easy solution to helping elementary students that struggle with math.  But first, we must understand that the root of math troubles often results from one or more of the following:

  1. lack of experience and practice working with numbers and symbols.
  2. drab or humdrum instruction.
  3. problems activating the needed areas of cognition to solve these problems.
  4. weaknesses in the cognitive areas of quantitive reasoning, spatial skills, visual processing sequencing, and working memory. 

What Happens to These Struggling Learners in Our Present Education System?


Young learners often lose interest and motivation quickly when they have problems learning concepts. What’s more, when their peers exhibit learning mastery and they do not, it can feel embarrassing and humiliating.  If left unaddressed, anxiety, a poor academic self-concept and even helplessness can result.

How Can We Protect Students from Negative Thoughts that Quickly Damage One’s Academic Self Concept?

  1. Choose names for lessons that bring excitement and anticipation to the learning process.
  2. Make lessons “magical.”  Like a magician, teach your students tricks in an animated way that helps them uncover the answer. To read more about this CLICK HERE.
  3. Bring fun and enticing activities to the table.  Integrate manipulatives, games and movement into lessons. 
  4. Go multisensory in your lessons and teach to the 12 Ways of Learning.
  5. Pay attention to popular fads.  When I saw my students obsessions with rainbow looms, I quickly integrated the color bands and geoboards into my lessons.  
  6. Ask your students for strategy and lesson ideas?  When learners get involved with the teaching process, they often get more excited about the topic or instruction.
  7. Provide scaffolding.  Continue to walk your students through the sequence of steps required to complete a problem, until they can do it independently.
  8. Offer memory strategies to help your students encode and retrieve new concepts.  You can also ask them to generate their own strategies. 
  9. Teach metacognitive skills by thinking through the process aloud. 
  10. Integrate mindfulness into your class and teach visualization strategies.
  11. Teach your students how to be active learners.

How To Activate the Needed Regions of the Brain and Strengthen Weak Areas of Cognition?


But what if the core difficulties are the result of weak areas of cognition or learning disabilities?  One of the best ways to assist is to act like a personal trainer for the brain and help students activate and strengthen foundational skills. 
I created Quantitative and Spatial Puzzles: Beginners for this population of learners.  Eight, engaging activities help students improve upon: 
  • quantitative reasoning
  • spatial skills
  • visual processing
  • sequencing
  • working memory
These engaging activities were designed for 1-5 grade students, but I often use them with my older students to help fortify these key cognitive abilities.   The activities also can be printed and placed into math centers, used or morning warm-ups and offered as fun activities for students that finish their class assignments early.
If you would like to learn more about my new publication, Quantitiative and Spatial Puzzles – Beginners, CLICK HERE or on any of the sample images.  I hope you found this blog helpful. Please share your thoughts and comments.

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 www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Using Simple Images to Teach Math Concepts

Utilizing imagery and visual memory can be very
helpful when learning mathematics. 
A single picture can help a student define and remember a concept, or it
can even help them to recall the steps required to compute a problem.  What’s more, it often brings the “fun
factor” into the learning environment as students can pull out their crayons,
colored pencils or magic markers to complete the activity.

I recently learned about the Palm Tree Method from
one of my students. I scoured the internet to find its origin, but came up
empty handed.  So, although I did
not come up with this idea, it is still one of my favorites for solving
proportions.  
If you would like to learn about other imagery activities
to help your students learn math concepts, you might like my blog entitled Mathemagic or my products Measurement Memory Strategies or Why We Should Learn about Angles.

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 www.goodsensorylearning.com, www.dyslexiamaterials.com www.learningtolearn.biz  

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Strategies for Teaching the Different Types of Angles and Lines

Using multisensory instruction always makes a lesson more
engaging and fun for students.  In fact,
one of my favorite learning modalities to integrate into instruction is
kinesthetics or movement.  For many
learners having to sit still is not conducive for learning, and other children
just need to get their bodies moving and their blood circulating form time to time to fully
focus on a lesson.

One of my favorite topics to teach are the different type of
angles and lines.  I like to cover these concepts
with a multisensory and interactive PowerPoint that I created, then I get the
students to use chants as well as their bodies to encode the information.  Just this week I created a free YouTube video,
where I share some fun activity ideas for lines and angles. 
If you like the video and would like to also acquire my multisensory
PowerPoint presentation, Click Here 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, 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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The Number Ladder: Turning Addition and Subtraction from Top to Bottom

I have never understood why the number-line extends horizontally from left to right.  Young learners often confuse their left from right and others have trouble remembering which way to travel when trying to solve simple addition and subtraction problems.  However, when viewing a vertical number-line, it makes conceptual sense that going up would equate with adding, while traveling down would result in subtraction.  Furthermore, when solving multi-digit problems, we teach students to line up numbers vertically.  Therefore wouldn’t it be best to commence instruction with the number-line extending up-and-down?

Turning the Number-line Into a Ladder
To make the learning process even easier, I like to change the number line into a ladder that travels up into the sky.  This way, when students are instructed to add, they climb up the ladder and when they subtract they descend down the ladder.  What’s more, when students eventually learn about integers, the number line can descend down “into the ground.”

Free Game that Teaches this Concept:  
I love to use a staircase to help students really understand the concept of adding and subtracting. If you would like a free game that is ideal for kinesthetic learners as well as a copy of my Number Ladder, Click here

I Also Offer Two Publications:

  • If you want to purchase an interactive PowerPoint that teaches adding and subtracting whole numbers as well as a PDF file with activities and games, Click here.  
  • If you would like to purchase an interactive PowerPoint as well as a PDF that teaches all about adding and subtracting integers and also offers two games click on the image to the right or Click here

Cheers, Erica

Dr. Erica Warren is the author, illustrator and publisher of multi-sensory educational materials at Good Sensory Learning and Dyslexia Materials.  She is also the director of Learning to Learn, in Ossining, NY.  
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Cognitive Exercises Solve Reading and Math Difficulties

Many young learners struggle with basic reading and math
because the cognitive skills required to do these tasks are weak.  Therefore, these children need to
strengthen these processing areas before they attempt to learn how to decode
words and execute basic computations. 
What are the
Core Areas of Cognition Required for Basic Reading and Math?

1.   Sequential
processing and memory
: The ability to scan, make sense of, and remember
information in a sequence or series.
2.   Auditory
processing and memory
: The ability to listen, make sense of, and
remember information that is heard.
3.   Visual
processing and memory
: The ability to scan, make sense of, and remember
visual information and symbols.
4.   Attention
to detail
: The ability to thoroughly and accurately perceive and
consider all the details and then determine the most important piece or pieces
of information.
5.   Speed of
processing
: The ability to perform
simple repetitive cognitive tasks quickly and fluently.
6.   Spatial skills: The ability to
mentally manipulate 2-dimensional and 3-dimensional figures.
7.   Tracking: The ability
to scan text from left to right.
 
Basic Exercises can Help to Remediate Weak Cognitive Areas

Each of the cognitive areas listed above can be strengthened.  However, what is most important is the
activities need to be focused and engaging enough to enchant young
learners.  From my work with
children over the past 15 years, I have recently created two publications that offer fun
activities and games that your primary students will be sure to love.  These activities can also be used with older students as a form of cognitive remediation.

Following
Directions Primary:

My newest publication, Following Directions Primary, offers
a comprehensive, 49 page, digital download that includes process of elimination and coloring activities.  It develops abilities with the use of cute animals and aliens as well as letters, numbers, shapes and arrows. As students
develop listening skills, they also enhance linguistic abilities and core
cognitive skills.  If you are interested in learning more about this publication
you can come to my product page.  You can even download free samples.
Reversing
Reversals Primary:

This past summer, I created Reversing Reversals Primary.  This two focuses on strengthening the
cognitive foundation needed for reading and math.  It also works on the cognitive areas that impact
students with dyslexia such as perception.  This publication, which is available as a digital download, offers 72 pages of activities and a game and teaches all of the cognitive skills with the use of colorful animal images.  If you are interested in learning more
about this publication you can come to my product page. You can even download a free samples.
By helping young learners to develop their core, cognitive
foundation before commencing with reading and math instruction, you can assure
that these students will have the abilities necessary to succeed. Furthermore, you can avoid learning difficulties and allow your young learners to progress with confidence.

Cheers, Erica

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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Mathemagic: Multisensory and Mindful Math Strategies Tailored for the Individual

Many students struggle with the steps required to complete
mathematical problems.  They may
forget the concept, miss a step, mis-sequence the steps, misread a sign, or struggle
with writing out or lining up the numbers.  In fact, even if a student has understood and executed a
problem with precision, it doesn’t mean that they will retain that information at a
later time.  So what can we do to
help these students to encode, into long-term memory, the steps required to complete math
computations? 
The 3 Key Components
for Effective Math Instruction
1.     Go multisensory: Integrate as many of the
12 Ways of processing as you can into your instructional plan: Visual, Auditory, Tactile, Kinesthetic,
Sequential, Simultaneous, Reflective, Verbal, Interactive, Indirect Experience,
Direct Experience, and Rythmic
Melodic.  To learn more about this
click here 
2.    Teach metacognitive and mindful strategies:
Metacognition refers to
the act of thinking about thinking, or the cognition of cognition. It is the
ability to control your own thoughts. 
Mindfulness refers to being completely aware of the present moment, as
well as maintaining a non-judgmental approach. It
helps to develop emotional intelligence and it instructs students to pay
attention on purpose.  What’s more, mindfulness can help improve memory, test
scores, classroom behaviors and stress management.  To learn more about this click here
3.    Integrate creativity:  Integrating creative lessons and
assignments into the curriculum allows students to incorporate their imagination
and encourages active participation. 
Creative assignments also increases motivation for many students. 
Creating a Math Manual:
One of the most effective strategies I have ever employed
with students is creating a “math manual.”  This assignment or project unites the three components of
effective math instruction and also brings the fun factor into the
classroom.  This can be completed
throughout the academic year and checked for accuracy, so that students can use this resource for tests,
midterms, finals, and even state exams.
What Format Should be
Used?
Students can create the manual by hand or on a
computer.  It can be presented in a
photo album, a blank book, a binder, or a notebook.
Creating the Cover:
I encourage all of my students to come up with their own
unique, creative name and cover for their math manual.  In my illustration at the top of this blog, I called it
Mathemagic: A Magical Math
Manual. 
Create a Sequence of
Color Coded Steps:
Each student should write out the required steps to complete
the problem.  This can be done in a
linear fashion, a numbered list, a web or flow chart.  I also encourage students to color code the steps as this can also enhance memory.
Use Mnemonics:
Memory strategies are
tools that help students organize information before they file it away in their
memory banks.  I encourage my
students to create their own memory strategies and to use both visual and auditory mnemonics.
Complete a Sample
Problem:
Ask the students to provide a color coded sample problem
that illustrates the needed steps to complete a problem.
Other Options:
Ask your students to create
a song, poem, or rhyme with or without a dance routine to define the steps.  Integrating songs, rhymes and kinesthetics offers further modalities that will help to encode computation skills. 

Sample Math Manual Page:
I hope you you found this helpful!  If you would like a free copy of this division strategy, click here or on the image above.

Cheers, Erica

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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Free Key Word Race Game:

Copyright, 2013 http://learningspecialistmaterials.blogspot.com/
Math word problems stump a
lot of students, as they have difficulty figuring out how to change a sentence
of words into a mathematical problem. 
For many, the stumbling block is recognizing and remembering the
different key words that signify mathematical operations such as addition,
subtraction, multiplication and division. 
I’m continually trying to craft fun activities that make the process fun
and memorable.  Most recently, I
created the Key Word Race Party Game, that I thought I would share. 

Materials needed:  
     1)   
Colorful plastic
eggs
     2)   
2-5 buckets,
bowls, shoe boxes or other medium to large containers
     3)   
Spoons
Preparation:
     1)   
Place the
keywords you are reviewing onto colorful plastic eggs.  If you are playing with more than one
player or team, make multiple sets. 
Each set should be labeled with numbers on the bottom of the eggs to
designate team one, team two and so forth.   This will also help sort the eggs for the next play.
     2)   
Label medium to
large containers such as buckets or shoe boxes with two or more of the
following:  Addition, Subtraction,
Multiplication, Division, and Equals.
How to Play:
Break the class into teams
or pairs.  Place the labeled containers
on one side of the room and have the players on the other side of the room.  Provide each team with a set of labeled
plastic eggs and a spoon.  Instruct
the players that they need to take each plastic egg and place it on a
spoon.  Then, each player needs to
race over to the containers, without dropping the egg, and sort his or her egg
into the correct container that classifies the keyword written on the egg.  If the player drops the egg, he or she
must collect the egg and start the process over again.  Once the player gets the egg into the
correct container, he or she races back and tags a team member who then repeats
the process.  The teacher stands at
the site of the containers to assure that the eggs are placed in the correct location.  If not, the student must go back with
the egg and try again.  Once a team
has sorted all the eggs, they must raise their hands to win the game. 
Please note that you can play
this game with a single student. 
Have the student compete against himself or herself by trying to beat his
or her best score.  In addition, you
can also play this game outside. 
If you would like to learn
about some of my other popular games 
for sale.  Go to: http://goodsensorylearning.com. There, you can 
even download freebies on some of my product
pages.
I hope you enjoy these
games!!  I would love to hear you thoughts.
Cheers, Erica

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 and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

Using Simple Imagery to Help Students Learn Mathematics

Utilizing imagery and visual memory can be very
helpful when learning mathematics. 
A single picture can help a student define and remember a concept, or it
can even help them to recall the steps required to compute a problem.  What’s more, it often brings the “fun
factor” into the learning environment as students can pull out their crayons,
colored pencils or magic markers to complete the activity.
I recently learned about the Palm Tree Method from
one of my students. I scoured the internet to find its origin, but came up
empty handed.  So, although I did
not come up with this idea, it is still one of my favorites for solving
proportions.  Here is a sample
problem and the steps to follow.
  1. Write out the proportion.
  2. Draw a green oval around the numerator of the first fraction and the denominator of the second fraction.
  3. Draw another green oval around the denominator of the first fraction and the numerator of the second fraction.  
  4. Notice how the crisscrossing ovals create a multiplication sign.  This will remind students that they will be multiplying the numbers circled. 
  5. Draw the trunk on the tree as a brown rectangle.
  6. Write out the problem:  100·x = 60·80  (placing the equals sign in the trunk of the palm tree).
  7. Solve the next step 60·80=4800 (again placing the equals sign in the trunk of the palm tree).
  8. Then divide the two sides by 100 to solve for x.

If you would like to learn about other imagery activities
to help your students learn math concepts, you might like my products,
Measurement Memory Strategies or Why We Should Learn about Angles.
Cheers, Erica

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 and  www.learningtolearn.biz 

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