Tag Archives: > Teacher Interest

Shakespeare for Kids: Activities!

by Adrienne Edwards

[O-G tutoring in Columbus OH: see below]

Shakespeare for Kids: His Life and Times, by Colleen Aagsen and Margie Blumberg (Chicago Review Press) arrived in the mail this month.  This slick, colorful, oversized and lavishly illustrated book offers — in addition to a deep look into the Elizabethan world — a glimpse of the habitats and habits of the Bard himself.  There are, in addition, twenty-one activities for a young student of Shakespeare to do.

If you’re a teacher who is bringing drama into the classroom, if you offer theater classes, or if you’re the parent of a kid who is participating in a “Shakespeare in the Park” experience (or thinking about it), you can find in this book a wealth of information and fun projects to build the kind of background information he or she will be grateful to have in Middle and High School.

The book is organized into five “Acts,” each of which contains historical and biographical material, as well as projects typical of life in these times.

In “Act 1, Early Years: A  World Full of Wonders” your student can make a pomander ball, decorate a pair of gloves, learn how to juggle, create a habitat for birds, make a hornbook, whip up some Apple Moye , and create new words (and then even focus in on Oxymorons).

“Act 2, Days of Love: Leaving Marriage and Family,” you’ll learn two Elizabethan games to play: Teetotum and Nine Men’s Morris.

“Act 3, A Life and Career in London: The Nature of Success,” explains how to make a quill pen, compose a sonnet, create sound effects, design a coat of arms, use a goblet for a prop, create a shushed-shirt costume, or make a sword.

“Act 4, Home Again: Naturally Shakespeare Returns,” will allow your student to paint a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bind your own folio, and start a scrapbook.

And finally, in “Act 5, Your Place in This World of Wonders,” your student will have access to a Glossary; she or he will find a List of Shakespeare’s Plays, as well as web sites and a bibliography for more exploring.

Charts, illustrations, maps and photographs show (among many other pleasures) Shakespeare’s family tree (you can make one of your family!), the various Shakespearean homes and their layouts, Shakespeare’s baptismal record, the interior of the King Edward VI New School, a map of London showing the playhouses erected before 1840, a contemporary “View of London from the Thames,”and a photo of Shakespeare’s monument in Stratford.

“This book provides a welcoming and expansive gateway for young people to enter the powerfully imaginative world of Shakespeare’s plays,” writes Edward Gero, an actor at The Shakespeare Theatre in Washington DC.

“Chock-full of information, insight, and entertaining hands-on projects, Shakespeare for Kids brings the stories and characters to life in clear, accessible ways. And it’s fun!”

Check it out!

ISBN 1-55652-347-5

And here they are on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShakespeareForKids?fref=ts

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com 

Advertisements

+ Exercise Is ADHD Medication

By James Hamblin (from The Atlantic)

Mental exercises to build (or rebuild) attention span have shown promise recently as adjuncts or alternatives to amphetamines in addressing symptoms common to Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Building cognitive control, to be better able to focus on just one thing, or single-task, might involve regular practice with a specialized video game that reinforces “top-down” cognitive modulation, as was the case in a popular paper in Nature last year. Cool but still notional. More insipid but also more clearly critical to addressing what’s being called the ADHD epidemic is plain old physical activity.

This morning the medical journal Pediatrics published research that found kids who took part in a regular physical activity program showed important enhancement of cognitive performance and brain function. The findings, according to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, “demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health.”

If it seems odd that this is something that still needs support, that’s because it is odd, yes. Physical activity is clearly a high, high-yield investment for all kids, but especially those attentive or hyperactive. This brand of research is still published and written about as though it were a novel finding, in part because exercise programs for kids remain underfunded and underprioritized in many school curricula, even though exercise is clearly integral to maximizing the utility of time spent in class.

The improvements in this case came in executive control, which consists of inhibition (resisting distraction, maintaining focus), working memory, and cognitive flexibility (switching between tasks). The images above show the brain activity in the group of kids who did the program as opposed to the group that didn’t. It’s the kind of difference that’s so dramatic it’s a little unsettling. The study only lasted nine months, but when you’re only seven years old, nine months is a long time to be sitting in class with a blue head.

Earlier this month, another study found that a 12-week exercise program improved math and reading test scores in all kids, but especially in those with signs of ADHD. (Executive functioning is impaired in ADHD, and tied to performance in math and reading.) Lead researcher Alan Smith, chair of the department of kinesiology at Michigan State, went out on no limb at all in a press statement at the time, saying, “Early studies suggest that physical activity can have a positive effect on children who suffer from ADHD.”

Last year a very similar study in the Journal of Attention Disorders found that just 26 minutes of daily physical activity for eight weeks significantly allayed ADHD symptoms in grade-school kids. The modest conclusion of the study was that “physical activity shows promise for addressing ADHD symptoms in young children.” The researchers went on to write that this finding should be “carefully explored with further studies.”

“If physical activity is established as an effective intervention for ADHD,” they continued, “it will also be important to address possible complementary effects of physical activity and existing treatment strategies …” Which is a kind of phenomenal degree of reservation compared to the haste with which millions of kids have been introduced to amphetamines and other stimulants to address said ADHD. The number of prescriptions increased from 34.8 to 48.4 million between 2007 and 2011 alone. The pharmaceutical market around the disorder has grown to several billion dollars in recent years while school exercise initiatives have enjoyed no such spoils of entrepreneurialism. But, you know, once there is more research, it may potentially be advisable to consider possibly implementing more exercise opportunities for kids.

Over all, the pandemic of physical inactivity, as Hillman and colleagues put it in their Pediatrics journal article today, is “a serious threat to global health” responsible for around 10 percent of premature deaths from noncommunincable diseases. But it clearly manifests in ways more subtle than deaths, including scholastic performance, which we’re continuously learning. I talked last week with Paul Nystedt, an associate professor of economics and finance at Jönköping University in Sweden, who just published a multi-country study that found that obese teenagers go on to earn 18 percent less money as adults than their peers, even if they are no longer obese. He believes that’s most likely because of the adversity that obese kids experience from classmates and teachers, which leads to both cognitive and noncognitive disparities between obese and non-obese kids. Because obese children are more likely to come from low-income homes to begin with, that only perpetuates wealth gaps and stifles mobility. Nystedt and his coauthors conclude, “The rapid increase in childhood and adolescent obesity could have long-lasting effects on the economic growth and productivity of nations.”

John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, suggests that people think of exercise as medication for ADHD. Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications like Adderall do. In a 2012 TED talk, Ratey argued that physical exercise “is really for our brains.” He likened it to taking “a little bit of Prozac and a little bit of Ritalin.” As a rule, I say never trust anyone who has given a TED talk. But maybe in this case that’s a constructive way to think about moving one’s body. But not the inverse, where taking Ritalin counts as exercise.

Copyright © 2015 by The Atlantic Monthly Group. All Rights Reserved.

This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/exercise-is-adhd-medication/380844/

Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Vocabulary Talking Points: New Words in New Texts

Vocabulary building tips from Text Project.org —

Tell your middle school students that written material contains more rare words than everyday spoken language.  Explain to students they should not be surprised; they should expect them.

Here are some talking points explained (using our what/when/why/how approach):

WHY?

Develop the understanding that every complex text has new, challenging vocabulary. Vocabulary instruction gives students the means for figuring out new words in text, not instruction in every single word that might appear in new texts.

WHEN?

Talk about the vocabulary of new texts;  this needs to occur across a school year (with extra doses prior to assessment periods).

HOW?

Take a portion of the text (25 or 50 words is enough). Use a highlighter to mark the words in the 1,000-2,000 most-frequent words (List of 4,000 simple word families at: http://textproject.org/classroom-materials/lists-and-forms/lists/word-zones-for-5-586-most-frequent-words/)
Mark the words that are potentially challenging with a different colored highlighter.

The example given is of a snippet of text for a board/projection. It is the about 10-year-old Amelia Earhart, who attended a flying exhibition, saw a rusty airplane  performing stunts, and developed a passion for aviation.  (It comes from a sample assessment for Grade 7)

WHAT?

Here are some of the talking points for a conversation between teachers and middle-school students about new vocabulary in complex texts:

  • “One of your goals as middle schoolers is to understand that any new text likely has words that you haven’t seen before.”
  • “This is a text from one of the sample assessments for the new state test. This text might look like it is hard and it may even be on the first read. But I’ve studied the text and I know that all of you know most of the words. Even most of the words that you don’t know (point to stunt) can be figured out with the word skills you have.”
  • “Also remember that words that are capitalized inside sentences are usually names. The strategy with names is to do the best you can, knowing that names are often pronounced in unusual ways because they may come from different languages. In this case, the person’s last name is one that you can figure out with your knowledge of words (demonstrate with Ear hart).”
  • “That leaves two words that are multisyllabic in the text and that you might not be able to read (point to exhibition and aviation). I want you to read this paragraph and see if you can figure out these words.”

Source: http://www.textproject.org/classroom-materials/lists-and-forms/vocabulary-matters-5-facts-actions-and-resources/

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ 8 Tips for Understanding Middleschoolers

by Jennifer Gonzalez,  who says

I never planned to teach middle school. When I got my teaching degree, I was set on teaching high school English, but the only open position I found was in a middle school. So I took it, planning to “move up” as soon possible.

Well, I never looked back. Something about that age just got me. And over those years, I became kind of an expert on the idiosyncrasies of sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. I figured out how to make the most of their special qualities. If you recently started teaching middle school, or you have a child this age, you’re probably discovering these things, too.

1. They care more about the opinions of their peers than pretty much anything else.

This means they will sometimes do things that make no sense, like not turning in an assignment you know they worked hard on, because they just found out they will have to read it out loud in front of the class.

Or refusing your offer of a chocolate milk, even though they love chocolate milk, because someone else is around who recently declared all chocolate milk to be babyish.

How to deal with it: See if you can make this quality work for you: Find the most confident kids in class, the ones everyone looks up to, and try to get them to take on a new project or help you lead the charge toward some endeavor you want everyone else on board for.

If Josie the cool girl says she likes Shakespeare, others are more likely to follow. Also, know that socializing is a huge motivator for middle school kids. If you promise five minutes of talking time at the end of class in exchange for hard work the rest of the hour, you’re likely to get full cooperation.

2. They are horrified by what their bodies are doing.

For those of us who are well past adolescence, it’s easy to forget what it was like to deal with the constant betrayal that comes with a new body: There you are, going about your regular kid business, when one day your skin explodes with zits. Popping them turns out to make them even more noticeable.

Or you’re sitting in third period, quietly suffering through some kid’s serious B.O. Escaping to fourth period, you discover the smell is there, too. After a quick check, you are struck with the devastating realization that the person with B.O. is YOU.

Every couple of weeks, some new phenomenon introduces itself into the middle schooler’s physical life, threatening to destroy their social lives until high school graduation.

How to deal with it: Try not to call attention to their bodies; they would prefer that no one point out that their voices are changing, their feet are getting bigger, or worse, that they don’t seem to be growing at all.

Also, if you’re trying to get a kid to do something public, like do a problem on the board or pass out a worksheet, and they really resist you? There’s probably a physical explanation, be it a boner, a suspected period leak, or the sudden discovery of a muffin top.

If you get inexplicable resistance, back off. Don’t try to figure out the reason. Just move on to another kid. The one you let off the hook will be eternally grateful.

3. They trend toward hyperbole.

You say there’s a spider in the corner of a seventh grade classroom? Get ready for a wall-climbing, horror-movie-screaming, Armageddon-style wig-out. Did it just start snowing outside? Sit back and watch them all act like they never saw snow, complete with squeals and fist-pumps and fist-bumps and the whole gang rushing to the window!

Wait — is someone crying in the bathroom at the dance? Observe as ten girls sprint through the gym, tugging each other’s arms, with faces that say this is the most important thing that has ever happened. Ever. Whether it’s due to limited life experience, hormones wreaking havoc on emotions, or the trying on of identities, young adolescents tend to exaggerate just a bit.

How to deal with it: Validate the real feelings behind these exaggerations while trying to re-frame their experiences in more realistic terms: “Yep, spiders can be scary. Let’s take care of this little guy so we can get back to work.”

By describing problems in calm, rational language, you’re modeling the way a healthy person navigates life’s little surprises. And try to have a sense of humor: Instead of getting annoyed by this behavior, know that it will pass, and in a certain light, it’s actually kind of funny.

4. They are mortified by public praise.

Elementary school kids seem to delight in being recognized in front of their peers: Winning the perfect attendance award, student of the month, highest math score – all of these make them beam with pride.

But pull a middle school kid up in front of his peers to wax poetic on his good qualities, and you’ll see that kid shrivel up like an old grape.

I had a student once, a tough Bosnian guy who also happened to be a fantastic writer. One day while returning papers I called out, “If you want to see a really well written essay, take a look at Emir’s.” My thinking was that they would be all, Wow, if a cool guy like Emir writes well, then I want to do that, too.

Nope! Emir looked at me like I just took his wallet. And for the rest of the year, he turned in crappy writing. It’s not that the praise was unwelcome, it was the public part he didn’t like. If I wanted him to keep writing well, I should have kept quiet about it.

How to deal with it: Definitely keep up the praise, but do it in private.

5. They can’t be trusted.

Just found out you’re pregnant and want to share it with a student you’re close to? Might as well put it in the morning announcements. Throwing a surprise party for another teacher and want to let your kids in on the secret? Consider the surprise ruined.

Middle school kids may have every intention of keeping confidential information to themselves, but when an opportunity to share presents itself, they won’t be able to resist being the one who’s in the know. At this age, they don’t yet understand the consequences that can result from sharing something that’s not meant to be shared.

What’s worse, they have a way of dropping all subtleties from the original message, so when you happen to say, “Mrs. Flowers’ class is a little more structured than mine,” it is passed on to Mrs. Flowers as “Ms. Gonzalez said you’re too strict.”

How to deal with it: Treat your middle school kids the same way you should treat the internet: Don’t share anything you aren’t willing to see broadcast in public.

6. They just now realized you are a human being. Wait…never mind.

As children move through Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, they go from being completely egocentric — perceiving themselves as the center of the universe — to being more aware of the existence of life outside their immediate surroundings. Right around age 11 or 12 is when people typically enter the final stage, formal operational, where they start to understand that others might experience the world differently than they do.

But getting firmly into this stage takes time, and it’s a bumpy road. This means a couple of things:

* They will be intensely interested in you, sometimes. They’ll ask all kinds of questions about your personal life, your family, the kind of food and music you like, and whether or not you cuss and drink outside of school hours.

*Their awareness of other people’s needs is still patchy. On days when you’re not feeling well and ask them to just give you 15 minutes of quiet at the end of a class period, they’ll agree, fully intending to help you out. Cut to five minutes later and your room is a fricking zoo.

How to deal with it: Enjoy the admiration and interest when you get it, but don’t be surprised if there are times when they forget you exist at all. That formal operational stage can be awfully slippery at first.

And as for those super personal questions? Answer them within reason: In school you are a role model, a professional, and you are not their friend, so always give them the G-rated version of your life.

7. They are pulling away from their parents.

I can’t count the number of parents who have told me their kids barely tell them anything anymore, who said they had no idea what their kids’ school lives were like. Pulling away from parents is a normal part of adolescence.

Although kids this age need adult guidance possibly more than at any other time in their development, they have reached the point where their parents may be the last ones they’ll look to for it.

How to deal with it: As a trusted adult in their lives, you’re in a unique position to influence these kids and fill in the gaps that have been left by their self-imposed isolation from their own families. So remember to be the adult.

Advise responsibly, model smart decision-making, and unless you suspect genuine abuse, avoid taking the child’s side over their parents’. You are in partnership with the student and their primary caregivers; be sure your students are always clear about that.

8. They are still kids.

One minute you’re having a deep philosophical discussion with them about the symbolism in a Robert Frost poem, they’re really getting it, and you can almost see them maturing right before your eyes. Ten minutes later they’re making armpit farts and asking if it’s okay to drink the water from the fish tank.

And then there’s the wiggling — an almost unbearable amount of it, especially from the boys. The demonstrated maturity level of middle school kids is all over the map, changing from child to child and within each individual.

How to deal with it: Don’t expect mature behavior to last, and when childishness shows up, know that it’s normal – they are acting their age. Learn how to capitalize on it.

Unlike high school kids, middle schoolers are much more enthusiastic about things like review games, and they are unbelievably willing to take a note to the office or hand out papers for you. The wiggling is normal, too — those bodies are growing like crazy, and with no more recess, there are few opportunities to burn off that energy.

If you find that the wiggles are disrupting class, it’s a good sign that you haven’t built enough movement into your plans. Add that in and you should see more self-control when it’s absolutely necessary.

Most of the time . . .

. . .when I told someone I was a middle-school teacher, I got the same basic reaction: They’d wince, or say whoa, and then add something along the lines of “Tough age.” And I would smile and nod, knowing that tough didn’t begin to cover it. One word could never quite capture the ridiculous, smelly, stubborn, fragile beauty of them all. ♥

Jennifer Gonzalez taught middle school language arts for seven and a half years (she insists on counting that half year…it was a doozy) and prepared pre-service teachers at the university level for four. Now she works full-time on her website, Cult of Pedagogy, where she shares strategies, tools, and articles like this to help teachers make their work more effective and more fun. You can follow her on Twitter @cultofpedagogy. Join her email list and get a free copy of her booklet 20 Ways to Cut Your Grading Time in Half.

SOURCE: http://www.middleweb.com/19645/8-things-about-middle-school-kids/

Orton Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Improv Can Be a Gift for Atypical (& Typical) Students

By Linda Flanagan

Long before Amy Poehler became famous for her comic roles as Hillary Clinton on “Saturday Night Live,” and as indefatigable bureaucrat Leslie Knope on “Parks and Recreation,” she was a college freshman looking for something to do outside class. During her first week on campus, she auditioned for the school’s improvisational theater group, “My Mother’s Fleabag,” and discovered a passion. “Everyone was getting to act and be funny and write and direct and edit all at the same time,” she writes in her memoir, Yes, Please. “My college life sort of exploded in happiness,” she adds.

What Poehler found liberating as a performer — the free-wheeling, creative and judgment-free nature of improv — is what makes it an appealing way to learn.

Improvisation is well-known as comedy and entertainment, but during the past decade it has grown as a method of teaching and learning as well, says Robert Kulhan, adjunct professor of business administration at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, and CEO of Business Improvisations. Today, improv is offered in the theater departments of many colleges and some high schools, according to Kulhan. As well, improv troupes around the country offer short workshops to school kids on specific subjects, and teach the basics of the art form in afterschool programs and summer camps. ImprovBoston, a 30-year old nonprofit comedy theater, sends staff into local schools to perform assemblies and share the fundamentals of improv to teachers and students.

The first rule of improvisation is “yes, and,” meaning that anyone’s contribution to the group discussion is accepted without judgment. “We always talk about the four ‘c’s of improv: creativity, critical thinking, collaboration and communication,” says Deana Criess, director of ImprovBoston’s National Touring Company, about how she teaches the form to seventh-graders. To persuade students to abandon their fear of mistakes, she insists on unconditional support to all answers, then works to build trust among the group and invite risk-taking. “Once we have confidence in our ideas and in our teammates, we can free ourselves up to have fun,” she says. “So support, trust, risk, confidence and fun. That’s what improv is all about,” Criess says.

Improv enthusiasts rave about its educational value. Not only does it hone communication and public speaking skills, it also stimulates fast thinking and engagement with ideas. On a deeper level, improv chips away at mental barriers that block creative thinking — that internal editor who crosses out every word before it appears on a page — and rewards spontaneous, intuitive responses, Criess says. Because improv depends on the group providing categorical support for every answer, participants also grow in confidence and feel more connected to others.

“It’s one of the few opportunities they have to truly create something, and have a voice that isn’t prescribed for them,” Criess says about students engaged in an improv exercise. And the form’s imperative to be fully “in the zone,” as Kulhan puts it, is a rebellion against the interruptions and distractions of our modern, high-tech lives.

Improv is especially beneficial for atypical kids, no matter their stripe. It helps children with learning and physical disabilities develop a sense of play, and enables the socially awkward intellectual to socialize more easily, Kulhan explains. Run-of-the-mill introverts, who might be reluctant to raise their hands or audition for the play, also gain from the experience, Criess says. When they know they’ll be supported no matter their answer, introspective kids thrive. “Introverts give improv its richness,” she says, adding that many improv instructors identify themselves as introverts.

Facilitators at the Institute for the Study of Knowledge Management in Education's Big Ideas Fest 2014 conveyed the improv mindset for solving problems and learning new ideas.

And improv is liberating for those in fields like science, where emotional detachment is critical for success. The Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University offers a graduate course on improv to help emerging scientists convey their ideas without resorting to textbook speak or one-sided lectures. “Improv helps the scientist re-engage with their own passions in their work, get out of their head and connected to the needs of the listener, be able to respond more freely, spontaneously and flexibly,” says Valeri Lantz-Gefroh, the improvisation coordinator at Stony Brook.

A Student’s Perspective

Lilly Hartman, now a junior at Brookline High School in Brookline, Massachusetts, took her first improv class in eighth grade, and remembers thinking it seemed cool but kind of nerve-wracking. Her first few times on stage she felt anxious about what her peers would think of her, worrying that she might do something foolish or embarrassing. But the more times Hartman did it, the less self-conscious she became, and the quicker she began to trust her own ideas and to think on her feet. “It’s about deciding to go with the flow and acting on what’s around you, and making decisions based on that,” she says. “And then feeling good about those decisions,” she adds.

Unlike the classroom, where the learning environment is often tense and competitive, an improv setting builds enthusiasm among the participants, Hartman explained. “When you’re performing, it’s not competitive,” she says, and the trust that the performers build with one another is rewarding in itself. Acknowledging that math and English classes teach important skills, Hartman says that her improv work has been more personally transformative. “Improv helps you change on the inside,” she says. Without it, “I would be a more scared and quiet person,” she says. In fact, she adds, “I wouldn’t be the same person.”

Improvisation Exercises

Improv works cumulatively, so that a group ordinarily starts with a simple task and moves on to more challenging assignments once they’ve loosened up and begun to trust one another. Kulhan offers these two simple introductory examples:

One-Word Story: In this exercise, a group of individuals tells a cohesive story one word at a time. It starts when one person says a single word, and unfolds when someone else in the group offers up another word. Groups can do this in circles, so the participants know when it’s their turn to talk, or at the will of the teacher, adding a randomness to the exercise. The improvising continues until the group has created a story. “It takes a lot of focus, concentration, adaptability, flexibility, attentive listening, etc., just to create a single sentence … let alone a whole story,” Kulhan says.

Conducted Story: This is more advanced than the one-word story. Here, participants form a line with the teacher up front, who behaves like the conductor of a line orchestra. When the conductor points to a student, that person talks for as long as the conductor remains pointing — perhaps just a couple of words, or maybe a few sentences. But as soon as the conductor turns to another student, the first talker must stop immediately and allow the second speaker to take over the narrative. The conductor moves haphazardly, forward and back through the line, lending even more unexpected twists to the story.

Variations of improv are also useful in helping revitalize a sleepy or distracted class or to introduce more proactive kinds of learning:

Shakeout Exercise: Together, the teacher and class stand at their desks and count backward from eight to one — then seven to one, and six to one, etc. — saying the number out loud as if it’s the most important word they’ve ever heard. While counting, they also shake their right hands in keeping with the number. Then they do the same series of countdowns while moving their left hand, then their right leg, and finally their left leg. “It’s superpowerful,” says Criess, “and doing it together can teach kids and adults it’s OK to look foolish in front of each other.”

Living Wax Museum/Historical Talk Show: Students pick an important historical figure to research, and later “become” that person, improvising answers to questions posed by fellow classmates, visiting parents or the talk-show “host”.

An Aid for Teachers and Schools

Inviting kids of all types to engage together in improv exercises reinforces the values that most schools seek, Criess says. With its emphasis on support and acceptance of all ideas, improv’s “yes, and” code penetrates social tribes and teaches kids to see the positive in their peers, creating a healthier climate at school. “It helps kids be positive community members,” she says.

Facilitators at ISKME's Big Ideas Fest 2014 conveyed the "Yes, and" mindset for solving problems and learning new ideas.
Training in improv may help teachers be more effective as well. Criess began learning improv while working in a preschool for children on the autism spectrum, and found herself applying the lessons from theater to the class. “What I was doing there with adults is exactly what these kids needed,” she says. Improv class helped her work with the kids on their level rather than according to a preconceived idea about what they needed to know.

It also reminds teachers that listening and responding to students, and adapting to their needs, is more educational than obeying a rigid teaching plan, Kulhan explains. “It’s communication based on observation, collaboration, and not teaching with blinders on,” he says. Teachers might also find that kids are energized and more attentive after engaging in simple improv exercises that induce everyone to look ridiculous together.

But does “yes, and” diminish one’s ability to think critically? Are there limits to all the right answers? “Improv says yes to the idea of ideas,” Criess says. Not every original thought will turn into the next invention, but offshoots of that first idea may lead to better ones, she explains. “Let’s agree to have ideas,” she says. “And set up a culture where risks are encouraged, and greeted positively and with respect.”

Linda Flanagan — source http://blogs/kqed.org/mindshift

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

 

 

+ Eight Tips for Studying Smarter

by Joseph Stromberg; posted in VOX

The way most students study makes no sense.

That’s the conclusion of Washington University in St. Louis psychologists Henry Roediger and Mark McDaniel — who’ve spent a combined 80 years studying learning and memory, and recently distilled their findings with novelist Peter Brown in the book Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning.

USING ACTIVE LEARNING STRATEGIES IS MOST EFFECTIVE

The majority of students study by re-reading notes and textbooks — but the psychologists’ research, both in lab experiments and of actual students in classes, shows this is a terrible way to learn material. Using active learning strategies — like flashcards, diagramming, and quizzing yourself — is much more effective, as is spacing out studying over time and mixing different topics together.

McDaniel spoke with me about the eight key tips he’d share with students and teachers from his body of research.

1) Don’t just re-read your notes and readings

“We know from surveys that a majority of students, when they study, they typically re-read assignments and notes. Most students say this is their number one go-to strategy.

WHEN STUDENTS RE-READ A TEXTBOOK CHAPTER, THEY SHOW NO IMPROVEMENT IN LEARNING

“We know, however, from a lot of research, that this kind of repetitive recycling of information is not an especially good way to learn or create more permanent memories. Our studies of Washington University students, for instance, show that when they re-read a textbook chapter, they have absolutely no improvement in learning over those who just read it once.

“On your first reading of something, you extract a lot of understanding. But when you do the second reading, you read with a sense of ‘I know this, I know this.’ So basically, you’re not processing it deeply, or picking more out of it. Often, the re-reading is cursory — and it’s insidious, because this gives you the illusion that you know the material very well, when in fact there are gaps.”

2) Ask yourself lots of questions

“One good technique to use instead is to read once, then quiz yourself, either using questions at the back of a textbook chapter, or making up your own questions. Retrieving that information is what actually produces more robust learning and memory.

RETRIEVING INFORMATION IS WHAT PRODUCES MORE ROBUST LEARNING AND MEMORY

“And even when you can’t retrieve it — when you get the questions wrong — it gives you an accurate diagnostic on what you don’t know, and this tells you what you should go back and study. This helps guide your studying more effectively.

“Asking questions also helps you understand more deeply. Say you’re learning about world history, and how ancient Rome and Greece were trading partners. Stop and ask yourself why they became trading partners. Why did they become shipbuilders, and learn to navigate the seas? It doesn’t always have to be why — you can ask how, or what.

“In asking these questions, you’re trying to explain, and in doing this, you create a better understanding, which leads to better memory and learning. So instead of just reading and skimming, stop and ask yourself things to make yourself understand the material.”

3) Connect new information to something you already know

“Another strategy is, during a second reading, to try relating the principles in the text to something you already know about. Relate new information to prior information for better learning.

“One example is if you were learning about how the neuron transmits electricity. One of the things we know if that if you have a fatty sheath surround the neuron, called a myelin sheath, it helps the neuron transmit electricity more quickly.

“So you could liken this, say, to water running through a hose. The water runs quickly through it, but if you puncture the hose, it’s going to leak, and you won’t get the same flow. And that’s essentially what happens when we age — the myelin sheaths break down, and transmissions become slower.”

4) Draw out the information in a visual form

“A great strategy is making diagrams, or visual models, or flowcharts. In a beginning psychology course, you could diagram the flow of classical conditioning. Sure, you can read about classical conditioning, but to truly understand it and be able to write down and describe the different aspects of it on a test later on — condition, stimulus, and so on — it’s a good idea to see if you can put it in a flowchart.

“Anything that creates active learning — generating understanding on your own — is very effective in retention. It basically means the learner needs to become more involved and more engaged, and less passive.”

5) Use flashcard

“Flashcards are another good way of doing this. And one key to using them is actually re-testing yourself on the ones you got right.

KEEPING A CORRECT CARD IN THE DECK AND ENCOUNTERING IT AGAIN IS MORE USEFUL

“A lot of students will answer the question on a flashcard, and take it out of the deck if they get it right. But it turns out this isn’t a good idea — repeating the act of memory retrieval is important. Studies show that keeping the correct item in the deck and encountering it again is useful. You might want to practice the incorrect items a little more, but repeated exposure to the ones you get right is important too.

“It’s not that repetition as a whole is bad. It’s that mindless repetition is bad.”

6) Don’t cram — space out your studying

“A lot of students cram — they wait until the last minute, then in one evening, they repeat the information again and again. But research shows this isn’t good for long term memory. It may allow you to do okay on that test the next day, but then on the final, you won’t retain as much information, and then the next year, when you need the information for the next level course, it won’t be there.

PRACTICE A LITTLE BIT ONE DAY, THEN TWO DAYS LATER

“This often happens in statistics. Students come back for the next year, and it seems like they’ve forgotten everything, because they crammed for their tests.

“The better idea is to space repetition. Practice a little bit one day, then put your flashcards away, then take them out the next day, then two days later. Study after study shows that spacing is really important.”

7) Teachers should space out and mix up their lessons too

“Our book also has information for teachers. And our educational system tends to promote massed presentation of information as well.

“In a typical college course, you cover one topic one day, then on the second day, another topic, then on the third day, another topic. This is massed presentation. You never go back and recycle or reconsider the material.

“But the key, for teachers, is to put the material back in front of a student days or weeks later. There are several ways they can do this. Here at Washington University, there are some instructors who give weekly quizzes, and used to just put material from that week’s classes on the quiz. Now, they’re bringing back more material from two to three weeks ago. One psychology lecturer explicitly takes time, during each lecture, to bring back material from days or weeks beforehand.

THE KEY, FOR TEACHERS, IS TO PUT THE MATERIAL BACK IN FRONT OF A STUDENT DAYS OR WEEKS LATER

“This can be done in homework too. It’s typical, in statistics courses, to give homework in which all of the problems are all in the same category. After correlations are taught, a student’s homework, say, is problem after problem on correlation. Then the next week, T tests are taught, and all the problems are on T tests. But we’ve found that sprinkling in questions on stuff that was covered two or three weeks ago is really good for retention.

“And this can be built into the content of lessons themselves. Let’s say you’re taking an art history class. When I took it, I learned about Gauguin, then I saw lots of his paintings, then I moved on to Matisse, and saw lots of paintings by him. Students and instructors both think that this is a good way of learning the painting styles of these different artists.

“But experimental studies show that’s not the case at all. It’s better to give students an example of one artist, then move to another, then another, then recycle back around. That interspersing, or mixing, produces much better learning that can be transferred to paintings you haven’t seen — letting students accurately identify the creators of paintings, say, on a test.

“And this works for all sorts of problems. Let’s go back to statistics. In upper level classes, and the real world, you’re not going to be told what sort of statistical problem you’re encountering — you’re going to have to figure out the method you need to use. And you can’t learn how to do that unless you have experience dealing with a mix of different types of problems, and diagnosing which requires which type of approach.”

8) There’s no such thing as a “math person”

“There’s some really interesting work by Carol Dweck, at Stanford. She’s shown that students tend to have one of two mindsets about learning.

IT TURNS OUT THAT MINDSETS PREDICT HOW WELL STUDENTS END UP DOING

“One is a fixed learning model. It says, ‘I have a certain amount of talent for this topic — say, chemistry or physics — and I’ll do well until I hit that limit. Past that, it’s too hard for me, and I’m not going to do well.’ The other mindset is a growth mindset. It says that learning involves using effective strategies, putting aside time to do the work, and engaging in the process, all of which help you gradually increase your capacity for a topic.

“It turns out that the mindsets predict how well students end up doing. Students with growth mindsets tend to stick with it, tend to persevere in the face of difficulty, and tend to be successful in challenging classes. Students with the fixed mindset tend not to.

“So for teachers, the lesson is that if you can talk to students and suggest that a growth mindset really is the more accurate model — and it is — then students tend to be more open to trying new strategies, and sticking with the course, and working in ways that are going to promote learning. Ability, intelligence, and learning have to do with how you approach it — working smarter, we like to say.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Source: http://www.vox.com/2014/6/24/5824192/study-smarter-learn-better-8-tips-from-memory-researchers

Orton-Gillingham tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ 25 Fun Activities for Library Visits

From MamaScouts.blogspot.com

 MamaScouts spend many afternoons at neighborhood libraries. At some point, they say, things switched from going to find particular books, to just hanging out. For hours. Reading, exploring, asking questions, sharing, talking…. even some writing.

Here is MamaScouts’s quick list of fun things you can do at the library, other than just check out books.  Any of these ideas would be a great boredom buster. Just tell your kid you have an adventure in min and embrace the mission! You will have a great time!

 ———————————————————————————–

 1. Look at microfilm from your birthday, or a hundred years ago, or when grandma was born.

 2. Look for the biggest book in the library. Take your picture with it.

 3. Browse the travel section, find a place you want to visit, make some plans.

 4. Go to the cookbook area, choose a recipe, go the store, get the ingredients and cook it that day.

 5. Everyone find a poem, read it out loud and then copy it into your journal.

6. Choose a random CD, listen to it all the way through.

 7. Kind Bomb: write happy, friendly, welcoming notes and slip them in random books to be found by other children.

 8. Scan the books of quotes. Find a good one and write it outside on the sidewalk with  chalk.

 9. Bring paper and colored pencils. Draw from the easy I-Can-Draw-Books for an hour.

 10. Take a present to the librarians.

 11. Leave a thoughtful review on a post-it note in a book you really loved.

 12. Find out what services your library offers. Ellison machine? Study prints? Study rooms?

 13. Occupy! Have a meeting, writer’s group, books club, homeschool co op, adventure planning committee at the library.

 14. Make photocopies of your hand, funny book titles, weird images….

 15. Make a list of suggested books and media for your library to buy. Make the library YOUR library.

 16. Arrange a library tour.

 17. Browse books on the flora and fauna of your area. Learn to identify something new.

18. Check out the corresponding children’s or adult section to your favorite area (reptiles, art, mystery…)

 19. Ask about the special collections.

 20. Read a biography from the children’s sections on someone you know very little about.

 21. Find a baby name book, make a list of funny name combinations, choose a new name for the day.

 22. Hunt for authors with your same last name.

 23. Look in the reference section. What is the weirdest reference book you can find?

 24. Buy old magazines, cut them up and make happy posters, rehang in the library.

 25. Make sure each kid has their own library card and bag. Do not fuss about late fees. Ever.

~Source:  http://www.mamascouts.blogspot.com

Orton Gillingham Tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com