Helping Students to Record and Turn in Assignments

Recording assignments and turning in the finished product may
seem like a “no brainer” for many teachers, but did you know that executive
functioning, a key cognitive component in planning and organizing, is not fully
developed until many reach their early 20s?  What’s more, many young students are not allowed to use
modern technologies, such as smart phones and Ipads while at school to help
them with this process.  Furthermore,
many students are overwhelmed by the countless distractions in a busy classroom
and miss what appear to be clear directives.  So, what can we do to help students remember to record as
well as turn in assignments? 
Create a Structured,
Reliable Classroom Routine
Plan assignments for the whole week.  This will save a lot of time and
trouble for everyone.
Post assignments and reminders at the beginning
of class in a location that is easy to see. 
Review new assignments as well as those that are
due, verbally, once everyone is settled down.
Make sure that all the students record
assignments and check agendas for accuracy. 
Print assignments out onto labels that students
can place into their assignment pads. 
This is great for students that have graphomotor weaknesses.
Make a document or take a picture of written
assignments and email it to the students and students’ parents with a simple
email list.  
When students hand in their assignments, give
them a sticker of a hand to place into their assignment pad.  This way they will know that they turned
it in. 
To make sure everyone turned in their
assignments say, “Raise your hand if you turned in your assignment.”  Be specific about which assignment and
hold up a sample for all the students to see.
Offer a Consistent
and Planned Approach
for Missed Class Work and Assignments:
Post assignments on the internet.  However, do not use this approach
unless the site is reliable and you can always post the assignments before the
end of the school day.
Require that each of your students share their
contact information with at least 5 other students (Study Buddies).  This way students can contact one
another as needed. 
Suggest a plan for how and when students can
make up the work.
Email assignments to students and their parents.
Allow students to email you finished assignments
when they are not able to attend class. 
Communicate all missed work with students,
parents and any service providers.
you are looking for structured ways to help your students with planning,
organizing and time management, consider purchasing Planning, Time Management
and Organization for Success.  It
offers over 100 pages of graphic organizers and handouts that can help your
students with reading, writing, test prep, planning for long term assignments,
memory, active learning, motivation and more.  Click here or on the image 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 and 

Academic Support for Students with Learning Disabilities: Affordable Options

Just today, I wrote a post on my community blog that addresses the question, How Can I Afford Academic Support for My Child with Learning Disabilities?  Click on the title above or on the image, so you too can benefit from the information.  I would love to hear your thoughts!!

Cheers, Erica

10 Strategies that Transform Passive Learners into Active Learners

forearms prop heavy heads and eye lids become fatigued and weighty. Information fills the room, but
the restless audience remains impervious as attention is stolen by fleeting thoughts
and boredom.  If this is a common
scene at your school, most likely the learning environment is passive.  Although a passive learning environment
can accommodate large numbers of students, it is often an ineffective scholastic
milieu.  In contrast, an active
learning environment should have the opposite effect on students.  This way of teaching encourages
creativity, self directed learning, mindfulness, interaction, discussion and
multisensory ways of processing. 

So what can I do to nurture active learning?
Help your students understand the difference
between active and passive learning.
Encourage your students to complete the free
Passive vs. Active Learning Profile offered free here.
Let your students brainstorm things they can do
to become active learners. 
Allow your students to brainstorm things you can
do to help them become active learners.
Integrate active learning activities into the
classroom such as acting, small group work and hands on activities.
Incorporate fun learning stations in the
classroom, so that the students can move around and process with other peers in
smaller groups.
Encourage students to preview new topics by
watching YouTube clips or doing internet searches so that they come to class
with some prior knowledge.
Give students assignment options so that they
can make a choice on how they would like to demonstrate their mastery of the
content.  Make sure the different
options tap into different learning modalities. 
Consider the 12 ways of learning and teach in a multisensory fashion.
10)  Break the class into groups where they take
opposing positions on a topic. 
Allow one student from each group to facilitate the discussion.  The teacher can act as the judge and
can dole out points for good arguments, creative content and clever
If you found this blog and activity to be helpful, this is
just one of the many resources available in the publication, Planning, Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Functioning Skills for Students

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 and 

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The Difference between a Tutor, Learning Specialist and an Educational Therapist: Choosing Your Best Option

Is your child struggling in school?  Are you considering outside help, but
you just don’t know where to start?  Finding the right individual to work with your child is often
a difficult task.  What’s more,
it’s challenging to determine the type of professional that is required.  To help you with the process, here is a
breakdown of the responsibilities and expertise you should expect from these
three professions. 
A tutor is a private instructor that has an expertise in a specific school subject.  They teach or re-teach classroom concepts, and they may or may not have
formal experience or training in education.  Many offer assistance with homework, and some can offer
advice with time management or study skills. 
Learning Specialist:
A learning specialist is a private instructor for students,
parents, and teachers.  They focus
on metacognitive as well as compensatory learning strategies.  Many also offer instruction, training and
remediation in specific academic areas such as reading, writing or math.  A learning specialist should have
advanced training and degrees in education and significant coursework, if not
degrees in special education, psychology, school psychology, educational
psychology, and neuropsychology.  Specific understanding of learning disorders, psycho-educational
evaluations, and intervention strategies is paramount.  An expertise in multisensory learning, alternative
learning and teaching strategies, self advocacy techniques, and schooling
accommodations is a must too.  In
addition, they should be versed in assistive technology, software tools,
educational websites and apps. 
Educational Therapist
An educational therapist is a private instructor for
students and other individuals that wish to improve their mental
functioning.  They too offer
metacognitive and compensatory learning strategies but also include cognitive
remedial training.  This involves
strengthening specific areas of cognition that are weak, such as auditory
discrimination or visual memory.  Moreover,
the educational therapist should be versed in strategies that address social
and emotional aspects that impact learning.  Many also have an expertise in working with students who struggle with executive functioning as well as attentional difficulties.  Like the learning specialist,
educational therapists have degrees in education and significant
coursework, if not a degree, in special education, psychology, school psychology,
educational psychology, and neuropsychology.  Specific training in learning disorders, psycho-educational
evaluations, and interventions strategies is vital.

What’s most important is that you speak with each professional to learn more about their approach and educational training.  If you have any questions, I would love to here your thoughts!

If you are interested in purchasing learning specialist / educational therapist materials, go to:


Dr. Erica Warren, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist

Motivating Strategies for Reluctant Readers

I just wrote a blog that offers strategies that motivate reluctant readers.  Come check it out on my new community blog (Westchester Professionals for Community Empowerment) that offers free advice from the top professionals in Westchester, New York.  CLICK HERE

Cheers, Erica

Help for Struggling Readers

students struggle with the cognitive skills needed to be good readers. 
With weak abilities in the areas of visualization, tracking, visual processing,
auditory processing and/or memory, the practice of reading can soon become,
frustrating, tiresome and laborious.  When kids pair negative associations
and feelings with books, they may avoid picking up a book
altogether.   For the same reason that you would not build a sky
scraper on a weak foundation, for these kids, it is important to strengthen the
individual areas of cognition first.   Many of these skills can be
developed through game like activities that kids enjoy.    Here
are a few ideas that you might like to try:
1)        When reading to your children have fun sharing your visualizations
with one another by imagining what the settings and characters look like. 
You can even encourage your children to come up with their own illustrations
for stories.   
2)        Pull out a newspaper and encourage your child to find a specific
word, such as the word the, on the page.  Encourage them to follow the words
from left to right so that they are strengthening their tracking skills.  They can use their finger, a thin
strip of paper or even a highlighter to keep their place.
3)        Play games such as the memory game – where students flip cards to
find pairs, or get a free app like the old game Simon which strengthens visual
and auditory memory.

In addition, I also offer four
publications that might be helpful.  I have two visualization training
PowerPoints, and I also have two workbooks titled Reversing Reversals and Reversing
Reversals 2
 that work on
these foundational skills.  Click on the images below to learn more and
download a free image of the 10 visualization skills as well as free samplings of both of my workbooks. 

Cheers, Erica

10 Ways to Help Students Cope with Making Mistakes

One of the most valuable things we can teach
children is how to cope with making mistakes.  Making mistakes is a human
quality that all students need be comfortable with.  They need to know
that if we didn’t make mistakes, there would be nothing to learn. 

However, most all students strive for the
recognition of a perfect score on assignments and tests.  Even a single
mistake can create anxiety and disappointment.  Unfortunately, perfect
scores continue to be rewarded and mistakes frowned upon.
So what can we all do to help?  Here are
ten suggestions:
    1) Be comfortable admitting when you make a mistake.  Show
students that it is okay to be wrong and that you can use it as an opportunity
to learn.   
    2) Make sure to point out what a student has done right on an
assignment as well as what was incorrect. 
    3) Always give your students the opportunity to fix mistakes so that
they can learn from them and correct any misconceptions.
    4) Communicate to your students that their mistakes can help you to be
a better teacher because it helps you to uncover the areas that need more
    5) If more than 50% of your students get a test item incorrect, throw
out that item out.  For those that got it, you can offer them extra
credit.  You can always then make sure to teach the concept in your next
lesson and then include the item on the next test.  
    6) Thank your students for making errors and mistakes.   
    7) Instead of telling a student that they are wrong or incorrect, tell
them that it was a nice try, or that they are close to the right answer and see
if they can amend their response independently.  
    8)  Recognize a student’s effort and guide them to the right answer so
that they can be correct.
    9) If a student provides the wrong answer, ask them why they gave you
the response that they did so you can analyze their misconception.
    10) Keep a positive attitude when students make mistakes.    
     I’d love to hear your recommendations and thoughts on this matter!!

Careless, Lazy and Unmotivated are Three Labels that Should be Banned from Education

Kids never strive to be careless, lazy or
unmotivated and referring to a student in this way never helps a
situation.  In fact, many kids that hear these labels again and again can
develop a sense of learned helplessness. 
I’ll never forget a student of mine coming into
one of our sessions in a terrible frame exclaimed, “I’m careless and
unmotivated!”  He slid a graded assignment across the table in front of
me.  Red marks cut across his work and in bold, scarring letters and
exclamation points the teacher had told Jake that he had made many careless
Even though Jake’s grade was an 88, it took me almost
an hour to convince him that he was not careless and unmotivated. Jake had
learning disabilities as well as ADHD and I knew the errors that he had made
had nothing to do with care or effort.  The poor guy was so detached and
dejected, he hadn’t even evaluated the mishaps, and when he finally looked at
them, he could see that they were all unintentional.
 At the end of our session, I pointed out to
Jake that his teacher had misspelled careless.  She had spelled it
“carless.”  I exclaimed, “How careless of her,” and winked at Jake. 
 I then pointed out that this wasn’t really a careless mistake, it was
simply an oops.  “School is a place where we should be comfortable making
an oops and then learning from it,” I proclaimed. 
I took the paper out into the waiting room and
showed it to his mother.  I then asked her to do me a favor and make an
appointment with the teacher.  “Hand the assignment back to the teacher”,
I recommended, “and point out how careless it was for her to have misspelled
this word.  Then pause for a short while and say, ‘That’s how you made my
son feel.’”
So please take care to erase these negative
labels from your lexicon so your students can feel safe to make mistakes and
then learn from them.
If you have any thoughts on this topic, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!
All the best, Dr. Erica Warren, Learning Specialist and Educational Therapist and

10 Ways to Teach Planning, Time Management and Organization

Teaching students planning, time management and organizational skills is necessary in the classroom as well as at home.  Although some find executive functioning to be quite obvious, there are those that need to learn the process.  Here are 10 recommendations:

© 2012 Good Sensory Learning

  1. Provide verbal, written and even electronic reminders.
  2. Let students select their preferred calendar option.  There are daily, weekly and even monthly calendars.  In addition, a calendar can be maintained on electronic devices, computers, wall charts, as well as printed planners.  
  3. Offer a calm, supportive and mindful environment.
  4. Avoid name calling.  Using terms like “careless” or “unmotivated” only creates negative energy, frustration and helplessness.  
  5. Provide short breaks.  Schedule “unstructured time” in your daily routine.
  6. Offer a structured and organized environment with clear expectations.
  7. Set an example and show how you plan, manage time and organize materials.
  8. Praise and reward self initiation.  In the beginning, recognize any movement in the right direction.
  9. Schedule time, post routines and communicate expectations around the house or classroom.
  10. Provide structure, by offering support and guidance.  In the beginning, do the process together.
To learn all these strategies and more you can purchase my recent publication Planning Time Management and Organization for Success: Quick and Easy Approaches to Mastering Executive Skills for Student. 
Good Sensory Learning

What is Brain Training or Brain Fitness and is it Helpful?

Brain Training or Brain Fitness is the act of strengthening
deficits in learning or weak areas of cognition.  This is typically done using simple activities that concentrate
on 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, stamina and more. 
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 very simplistic level and increase
in difficulty as the participants experience success.  Repeated training clears the hurtles that trip the thought
processes and helps the mind run smoothly and efficiently. 
Clearly, the brain is not limited and defined.  It continues to grow, if exercised,
throughout our lifetime.  Early
intervention can sometimes cure or remediate learning disabilities and even
diseases of the elderly such as Alzheimer’s and dementia can be avoided.  The bottom line is that it is never too
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 people of all ages to improve
overall cognition, develop compensatory learning strategies and master optimal
study skills.  I also write
educational and brain training materials for learning specialists, educational therapists,
teachers and coaches.