Recently, I visited my favorite Georgia park, Old Roswell Mill. Throughout my hike, I was reminded of the importance of the shades of color, beautiful sounds, and natural aroma that enveloped me as I walked. These details made my journey transformational. During this time, I reflected and realized how similar the importance of allowing our children to write freely is to wondering in nature.
"First copies are meant for recording initial thoughts and ideas."
Each time I visit Old Roswell Mill, I am drawn to different animals and plants that surround me. The same can be said for drafting a piece. It is essential to keep in mind that first copies are meant for recording initial thoughts and feelings. While I have worked with families that hope their child’s writing will mirror their final draft, this simply isn’t possible. It has been my experience that the best ideas originate when students are given the freedom to record without having spelling and conventions hindering the process. These two components are important, but there will be time to reflect on these at a later point.
During each visit, I have varied encounters. I have found that time of day has an impact on the animals, people and overall tone of the park. The same can be said for the editing process. The timing of this process can not be forced. I encourage allowing students adequate time to self-edit before revisiting their work together. Colored pencils or pens can be used to make this process more exciting. However, this is a vital step in guiding children’s awareness of their writing.
For some students, editing spelling can be overwhelming and frustrating. Therefore, I initially encourage students to perform their best with this task. I then provide a tool to further guide their understanding. This tool is featured in the picture below.
The child is given the opportunity to record their first attempt at spelling a given word. A check is then placed above every letter that is correct. A second and third attempt is then made by the student to correct spell a given word. After the third attempt, the spelling of a word is then provided for a child.
The shades of green and yellow leaves, crystal blue water and gray gravel brought such beauty to my walk. Providing your child the opportunity to illustrate can bring joy in the process and illuminate their written work. Illustrating fosters pride and a sense of accomplishment in children’s work. Simply provide their preferred tools and I’m confident you will be delighted with the result!
Are you searching for guidance regarding expectations and how to advocate for your child with an IEP? The Dyslexia Network of Forsyth County is holding a workshop to clarify this process. Parents and administrators will be present to share stories of their journey and answer questions. It’s sure to be a meaningful and empowering experience for all attendees. I have featured the meeting details below. I would love to hear of your experiences after the meeting!
Tuesday, September 23, 2014 at 7:00pm
Forsyth County Board of Education, Drive Lab 1 & 2
1120 Dahlonega Highway, Cumming, GA 30040
Children will naturally visit their writing area once they are inspired and ready to begin the process. I highly encourage parents not to force this process as children are likely to become resistant to writing if they are forced to begin this process before they are ready. For some the act of writing will simply flow naturally with very little guidance. For others however, they may require assistance in collecting their ideas. For those children requiring further guidance, may this post provide you with guidance in the process.
This process begins by simply allowing all ideas. The brainstorming process can be a simple one if all of the ideas your child shares are encouraged without labeling ideas as “good” or “bad.” In writing, there are no truly “good” or “bad” ideas, they are simply ideas. During this initial stage, it’s important to allow the child to creatively brainstorm all the ideas possible. You may find your child needs assistance with recording these ideas. For others, they may be quite comfortable with recording, but need an organizational tool for doing so.
I highly recommend Thinking Maps for collecting and recording ideas. For further clarity, I have featured a Thinking Map called a bubble map on the topic of Spotted Salamander. As is evident, the central topic is located in the center circle. All supporting ideas are recording in the surrounding circles. For further ideas regarding brainstorming tools, take a peek at this site.
Throughout the brainstorming process, I encourage you to guide your child. At times, your child may have a plethora of ideas for recording. At other times, they may require questions to probe further into the topic. While these questions vary depending on the topic, it is essential that answering the question extends beyond “yes” and “no.” For instance, in the exploration of lizards, I might pose the question “how do lizards differ from other living things?” I may also guide using the question “what aspect of the lizard do I find fascinating?” Guiding, simply put, allows the child to formulate their own ideas without having a required outcome. This allows children to fully express themselves.
"Throughout the process, it is essential to take time to recognize your child for their effort, creativity and enthusiasm. "
The final idea I wish to share is simply to enjoy. Writing can be an exciting, invigorating, and fun process when the ideas are generated and flow naturally. Throughout the process it is essential to take time to praise your child for their efforts, creativity and enthusiasm. Enjoy all your child brainstorms as a representation of them. Please take a moment to share your thoughts and questions by commenting on this post. I would love to hear what you have to share!
I have had the opportunity to work with many families searching to provide authentic opportunities for their children to write. Often, a journal is implemented to provide this opportunity. While I applaud the implementation of this tool, some students require
further inspiration to write. In these instances, sensory rich experiences can be used.
I have outlined several types of these experiences below.
One of these experiences is nature immersion. Throughout the Atlanta, Georgia area there are various parks and nature preserves. Within these special spaces lay a variety of animals, insects and plants to be discovered. Leading your child in a guided
exploration of these areas can provide a truly fulfilling experience. All senses are engaged as nature naturally unfolds before you. This experience can also lend itself to the opportunity for your child to research further about the living creatures you encountered while exploring. In the slideshow below, I have featured a few pictures from my favorite spots around Atlanta!
I also encourage you to establish shared experiences with your child. During one summertime lesson, I created ice cream with a student. This experience later motivated the child to write about the steps in the process. She also wrote a beautiful story about
a town made solely of ice cream. It was a true delight! A favorite trip or vacation spot can also lead itself to wonderful stories. Often, I will use treasured storybooks to provide a catalyst for writing. Providing students the opportunity to rewrite the end of a familiar story, create an original version, or change the setting excites students and inspires writing.
I firmly believe, tapping into children’s interests brings learning alive for students. One of my favorite writing activities to provide students with an interest in the arts is “Scribble Writing.” As the name implies, students are given the opportunity to construct a large scribble on a blank paper. Using their creative talents, they form a unique picture depicting an object based on the scribble. The picture is then used as a catalyst for writing. Many of the students I guide enjoy Legos. I recently came upon art and writing projects incorporating these toys at Homegrown Learners.
Guiding children in becoming inspired writers can be facilitated by sensory rich experiences. Allowing the child to fully experience the enjoyment of the trip,
activity, and craft facilitates the natural flow of future writing ideas. Guiding child to enjoy rather than mandate a piece based on a specific writing topic lays the foundation for
students to become lifelong writers. What activities do you enjoy establishing to facilitate writing inspiration for your child?
Writing provides a foundation for communication. Through writing, authors are able to share ideas and vivid details that may escape the conventions of casual conversation. Due to the nuisances of language and grammar, I have guided students who carry a fear of writing. For some, this fear of writing is ingrained; others simply find the process tiresome and dull. Therefore, in the next few blog posts, I will provide ideas to guide children into becoming better equipped and more inspired writers.
Create a Space
Creating a space is essential for guiding budding writers. One would not think of going to the hardware store to read a novel or visit the library to practice their drum solo. Creating a space for writing is equally as important. I have had the opportunity to guide several students in the process of strengthening their writing skills. I found providing a means of collecting all their brilliant ideas centering on a specific topic to be an essential first step. Therefore, having 2-3 favored brainstorming tools available for the writer is important. I will explain in further detail in my next post directions for guiding students in the use of both the Circle Map and Bubble Map featured in the picture below.
I also ensure that colorful, developmentally appropriate writing paper is available. I have noticed colored paper excites and motivates students. However, the hue of the paper can influence the writers’ mood. Research suggests that colors including light blue and green create a mood of calm and centeredness. While red and orange create moods of vibrancy and excitement. Check out the University of Georgia article on the impact of sensory details on student learning. http://sdpl.coe.uga.edu/researchabstracts/visual.html
It has been my experience that including in this space a personal word wall is beneficial. This word wall can be centered on a specific topic including “Water Words.” It may include words that the student has struggled to record previously. Grade level sight words may also be featured. Displaying this word wall in a prominent location is essential to facilitate its use. I encourage the creation of the word wall to be a process shared between you and the writer. When children are actively involved in the process of creation, they are more likely to use this tool.
Including within this space the opportunity to fidget is also important. Many students require movement while brainstorming and explaining their writing ideas. Squish balls, balance ball chairs, and visuals can be used to provide opportunity for movement and tranquility within the space.
A carefully planned and well-organized space is ideal for guiding children into becoming inspired writers. When the writing process is looked upon with excitement and passion, students are more likely to write with eagerness. The space provided for children lays the foundation for future writing experiences.
To remember a date, item, or event is one of life’s greatest treasures. Whether it’s a birthday, favorite scene from a movie, or a moment of sheer happiness, remembering is our way of holding onto what’s important. In the classroom setting, remembering is not only pleasant, it’s vital. Let’s then take a closer look at memory and methods for improving memory storage.
The process for storing vital details can be summarized in a 3-step process. Information presented is processed and then stored in short-term memory. Here prioritizing, sorting and discarding are all essential. Based on the data presented by Paula Moraine M.Ed. 99 percent of the information presented is discarded by the short term memory. The active working memory acts as a link in connecting the short and long term memory. Generally, up to seven items can be processed in active working memory. Long term memory is where facts and details are stored for long term retrieval. The number of pieces of information that can be stored here are limitless.
The memory experiences each individual encounters varies. Providing tools and strategies that are “just right” must be based on individual memory systems. I have selected a few of these systems and offer study strategies to enhance student’s learning opportunities.
Those that store memories based on content viewed have a strength in the visual memory system. To facilitate learning processes for those with visual memory strengths, I suggest using video demonstrations encapsulating dates, techniques and processes previously presented. Kahn Academy is a great resource in this domain. This site contains video tutorials on topics including math, art, sciences and more.
This memory system relies on action and performance. Many learners that fall within the parameters previously described as right brain learners demonstrate strength in motor memory systems. I would recommend visiting my Pinterest page at www.pinterest.com/tutorwise for strategies for these learners. There are games, sensory experiences and various tactile activities for these students.
This memory system relies on the retention of the order of items. For students studying events in history, battles in the Civil War, or sequencing story events, I recommend creating a timeline to facilitate the retention of essential details. The website ReadWriteThink offers a tool to create, save, and later retrieve timelines created.
Information stored for speaking and writing relies on the declarative memory system. For those with a strong declarative memory system, I recommend using Twitter to provide an authentic outlet for communication. This site provides learners with information relating to world events, current trends, and celebrations. It will help to strengthen the student’s sense of self as they communicate and receive feedback on their ideas. I would love to connect with students and their families at twitter.com/tutorwise.
With these ideas in mind, I would enjoy learning more about your opinion. What memory system is predominate for you and/or your child? What tools and strategies have you found to enhance the learning process? I look forward to hearing your insights!
With the implementation of the Common Core, increased demands are being placed on children to produce high quality writing. Despite children’s best efforts, the content may be overlooked due to the presence of reversals, lack of spacing, and random capitals interspersed throughout their writing. While I have seen teachers use a multitude of methods to guide children in correcting these mistakes, the strategies implemented often only offer a temporary fix or teach a reliance on a tool to compensate.
Let’s take a closer look at the mistakes children can make in their writing. I will then offer a solution to train children’s brains to eliminate these errors and increase writing production.
The conventions of writing can be challenging for students. Beyond age 8, some students continue to struggle with distinguishing b and d in reading and writing. This behavior in turn impacts their comprehension and readability of their written work. Others may write words as one continuous unit as opposed to incorporating spaces between words in their sentences. I have seen students incorporate capital letters randomly throughout their stories as well.
While all of these behaviors may distract the reader and interrupt the flow of writing, these behaviors tell a much deeper story. While observing a student writing, whose work contained these traits, I noticed many of her letters including t’s, b’s and y’s were formed beginning at the bottom. While this method is not inherently wrong, the amount of effort and stamina required exceeds that needed by beginning at the top. Also, for letters including p and q, requiring the student to cross the given line, she stopped at the line. Thus indicating neural misfiring, causing many of the writing characteristics described earlier.
How can these neural pathways be strengthened thus eliminating many of the earlier described behaviors? Tutor Wise offers clients brain training sessions specifically targeting children’s production of written work. This program is designed to strengthen the neural pathways and in turn makes writing easier for children. The end results in an improvement in the quality of children’s writing and an increase in their confidence. Contact us today to find out more about how our services can assist your child in the process of becoming a better writer!
With education research suggesting a variety of strategies and techniques for learning, how can you select the best suited strategies for your child? Considering the functions of brain hemispheres and your child’s preference will provide guidance in this area.
Understanding the hemispheres and the most effective methods for presentation of information is essential in facilitating the learning process.
The primary methods used in classrooms appeal to eft brain learners. These
learners assimilate new information into their short term memory through concentration and structured lessons. This brain hemisphere is responsible for interpreting auditory
information and works with details to synthesize the main idea. Left brain learners excel on tasks involving logical/analytical processing and understand the nuisances of language with ease. These traits naturally lend themselves to today’s classrooms in which
lessons are established in a structured format involving rigorous demands of
The question then becomes what if a child possesses the ability to learn through pictures and colors, understands and thrives when humor is integrated into the lesson and understands the whole idea before breaking it down into essential components?
These attributes describe many right brain learners. They learn through movement and visual stimuli. The right brain hemisphere is responsible for long-term memory and
automatic processing. Students that are right brain dominate prefer options when completing a task. They enjoy environments that are unstructured.
With a basic idea of the brain hemispheres and their role in the learning process, how can you better equip your child to excel in the classroom? I believe a strengths
focused approach is ideal. Praising and emphasizing your child’s strengths is essential.
As I previously shared, for students with a right brain preference, visuals are key. Developing interesting stories and pictures to accompany challenging spelling words will assist in recall. For instance, while working with a first grader on the word city, I created buildings and streets integrating each letter of the word. I then went on to explain that all the individuals in the city had a special power, they could fly. The use of visuals can be extended to math facts as well. These methods provide right brain dominate children with the “hooks” needed to improve their recall. On the contrary, left brain dominate child learn best through activities involving the structure and practice.
Therefore, spelling activities requiring them to write words several times using paint, markers, and/or scented colored pencils are fun ways to create memorable learning experiences. Left brain learners would benefit from audio books and video lectures on
a specific topic or process.
Through careful observation and study, your child’s learning preferences emerge. Carefully noting these preferences and considering them when supporting instruction at
home will benefit your child. Whether your child is right or left brain dominate, making learning a memorable and engaging experience is essential in creating life-long learners.
Are you interested in learning more about how the brain impacts your child’s behavior at home? Are you looking for methods to assist you in guiding your child to become a hard working and responsible adult? The Dyslexia Network of Forsyth County is holding a workshop lead by Mary Hynes Danielak, Psy.D. This workshop offers parents a 5-step parenting program for enhancing their child's behavior in the home based on brain research. Further information can be obtained by visiting www.dyslexiaforsyth.com.
Many meaningful report card comments have been lost once this report has been read. This can be attributed to students difficulty with connecting these comments to work completed daily. While the teacher’s relationships with the student does have an impact on the likelihood that these comments will shape the child’s performance, often this is alone is not sufficient. In these cases, a simple post-it can make all the difference!
As I mentioned in a previous post, a student that I work with on writing recently received his report card. We discussed the comments recorded on this report. Using this conversation as a catalyst, we drafted a checklist of 5 areas to be edited upon his completion of a piece. He was excited and motivated by this idea. Through this conversation and tool, he was able to implement the daily directive given by his teacher to edit his writing. He heard and understood the importance of this request however he struggled to implement a plan for completing editing. As Paula Moraine states in her text, he could see the big picture, needing to edit his writing, but struggled to pinpoint specific traits to check. Therefore, this tool provided him a method for doing so.
This tool is not simply limited in its use to editing writing pieces. For example, while reading, a post-it can be created featuring a specific type of comprehension question, including main idea and details. This post-it can be placed on each page read. After reading a given page, the child needs to answer a main idea and details question given by the adult. Some students struggle to recall the steps in a math problem. A post-it featuring the steps in order can be placed at the top of a page of math homework to assist with ease of completion. Once the child gains confidence and ease in completing the problem, the post-it can then be removed.
Beyond the vast array of experiences this tool can enhance, the discussion and active involvement of the student in the learning process is essential. The better a child understands him/herself as a learner, the better equipped they will be to use this tool and others like it to assist their learning. Empowering students to take ownership for their own learning is the key to the successful implementation of any new tool or strategy.
Ms. Melissa believes education should be engaging and fun! Throughout her lessons, she offers structure and choice to guide children into becoming life-long learners. She provides this blog to all those interested in education and learning more about Tutor Wise LLC. services. Thanks for stopping by!