The Science of Learning Blog
Text Size A A A

Showing posts with tag teacher impact  Show all posts >

Self-Regulation Strategies for Students With Learning Disabilities

Self-regulation strategies

When a student with a learning disability struggles academically, it’s logical to think that the issue is related to the student’s deficit in a specific ability. And while that may be true, there might be more to it. Students with learning disabilities often encounter academic difficulties, at least in part, because they don’t have effective strategies for working through challenges.

One effective tool that students can use to improve academic performance, regardless of ability, is self-regulation. Self-regulation is the process by which students take charge of their own learning, monitoring their behavior and progress and making adjustments along the way to get from idea to execution. It’s the transformation of thought into purposeful action. Here are several strategies teachers can introduce for use in the classroom and at home:

Setting Goals

Goal setting is an important part of self-regulation and can be foundational to other self-regulation strategies. When used effectively, the process of goal setting gives students an opportunity to observe their own behavior and pinpoint areas for improvement. It helps students identify what they need to do, lets them see how they are progressing, and motivates them to act productively.

Students should set goals for themselves that are specific and challenging, but not too hard. A goal should be quickly attainable so students can experience a sense of accomplishment and move on to tackle the next one. For example, when two students are struggling with homework, each might need to set a different goal to see improvement. The first student might identify time management as a problem and decide to cut out a leisure activity in order to achieve the goal of completing homework before dinnertime each day that week. The second student might realize that he needs to bring his class notes home from school every day so he has the information he needs to achieve his goal of completing all of his homework assignments for the week.

Self-Monitoring

Students self-monitor by asking themselves whether they have engaged in a specific, desired behavior. Building on the goal-setting examples above, our students might ask themselves, Am I using my time in the right way to complete my homework by dinnertime? Or, Did I put all of my homework assignments in my backpack to take home? Students may find it helpful to self-monitor for behaviors like paying attention, staying on task, following strategy steps, and meeting performance expectations such as completing all homework problems or spelling 8 of 10 spelling words correctly.

Self-Instruction

Self-instruction is also sometimes called “self-talk” and is part of normal development for many younger children. It can also be quite powerful when used by students of any age to purposefully self-regulate and direct learning behavior. For example, a student who is struggling to comprehend a challenging text might think, I need to look up the definitions of these unfamiliar words and read this page again.

Students can use self-talk to remind themselves to focus their attention, to take positive steps when faced with difficulties, to reinforce positive behaviors, and more. Teachers can model effective self-talk, but should allow each student to create and use her own statements. A little advance planning can be helpful here. Coming up with the right phrase in the heat of the moment – when focus has been lost or frustrations are running high – is unlikely to help. But taking a little time to write out some useful statements before starting a new project or beginning a homework assignment can enable students get themselves out of a tight spot.

Self-Reinforcement

Self-reinforcement occurs when a student chooses a motivating reward and then awards it to himself when he achieves a milestone. Self-reinforcement can be used over shorter and longer timeframes and can tie into goals. Our student who has identified time-management as an issue, for example, might decide, I can go to the movies on Sunday because I finished all of my homework before dinnertime every night this week.

Self-reinforcement can also work well in the classroom. Teachers and students can select rewards together and teachers can let students know how to earn them. Once a student has met the criteria for a reward, she can award it to herself – say, by selecting a sticker for her journal after completing the day’s writing assignment and getting her teacher’s approval.

Purposeful Learning

Becoming a better self-regulator isn’t a panacea for academic difficulties, but students with learning disabilities who learn effective self-regulation strategies will have some advantages. They will have tools in their toolbox that they can try out in a variety of situations before seeking outside help, or when help is not immediately available. They will understand how their behavior influences their results. And they will understand that their learning is a purposeful, active process in which they play the leading role.

Best of all, these self-regulation strategies can benefit all learners, not just those who are struggling. Why not give them a try?

References:

Reid, R., Lienemann, T.O., & Hagaman, J.L. (2013). Strategy Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities, (2nd ed.). New York: Guilford Press.

Self-Regulation. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://cehs.unl.edu/csi/self.shtml

Related reading:

Teaching Persistence: How to Build Student Stamina

5 Reasons Why Every Parent Should Be Familiar with Executive Function

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Family Focus, Reading & Learning, Special Education

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Teach More Vocabulary, Faster, Using the Power of Morphology

morphology

You can teach your students 10 vocabulary words the usual way – one at a time – or you can teach them 100 vocabulary words with little extra effort. The second approach seems like the obvious choice, and in Dr. Tim Rasinski’s recent webinar, Comprehension – Going Beyond Fluency, he makes the case for greater adoption of the accelerated approach.

Going Beyond Fluency

Rasinski is known as a passionate advocate for teaching fluency as a bridge to reading comprehension. But there’s more to comprehension than just fluency. Vocabulary plays a big part as well, and Rasinski talks about how to teach students “the meaning of words,” knowledge that is not only practical for everyday and academic life, but is also required by the Common Core.

Teaching Morphology

Morphology is a technical term that refers to the part of a word that carries meaning. It’s the Latin root “spect,” for example, in words like “introspection” or “spectacle,” that signals not only a commonality in spelling but also a kinship in meaning.

Knowing that “spec” means “look” makes it relatively easy for a student to understand (or figure out) that “introspection” means “to look inward” and “spectacle” means “an eye-catching occurrence.” The list of words built on the root “spec” is long, and by learning just one root, a student knows or can more easily interpret the meanings of many new words.

Rasinski calls this the “generative” or “multiplier” effect of morphological vocabulary study: the fact that Latin and Greek roots, prefixes, and suffixes have a one-to-many correspondence that dramatically increases access to vocabulary. And it’s not just Rasinski’s opinion that this approach gets results. Research has shown that during the early grades, morphological knowledge is a better predictor of reading comprehension than vocabulary levels.

Faster Learning

The more you do something the better you get at it. It’s how the brain works – practicing a skill rewires the brain to perform that skill more efficiently and effectively the next time. The online Fast ForWord® intervention program has the capacity to give students much more intensive, targeted practice in most aspects of reading – including morphology – than other programs or methods. That’s because Fast ForWord delivers nearly 35,000 learning “trials” in the same amount of time that other software programs deliver just over 5,000 trials. The result is often significant learning gains for even the most struggling students.

Rasinski hands the webinar over to Cory Armes, who demonstrates Hoof Beat, an exercise in Fast ForWord Reading 4 that develops morphological skills such as recognizing and understanding Greek and Latin roots, suffixes, and prefixes. It also works on word analysis, synonyms, antonyms, analogies, and more. With a fun video game style format that keeps students engaged while challenging them with in-depth practice.

Armes goes on to present statistically significant results from several studies of students using the Fast ForWord program, including increased reading achievement for elementary learners, improved comprehension for secondary learners, and over 2 years of improvement in reading grade level for ELLs.

The Nitty Gritty

Check out the full webinar and get all the rich details:

  • How many words students can learn weekly by traditional direct instruction;
  • How many words students can learn over the course of their K-12 education by traditional direct instruction;
  • How many words are in the English language (HINT: it’s probably more than you think);
  • How Fast ForWord develops vocabulary through morphology (see the product in action);
  • How – and in what grade – teachers can start teaching morphology to accelerate vocabulary learning; and
  • The details of Rasinski’s 5-day plan for using morphology to teach vocabulary.

If you’re not yet using roots, prefixes, and suffixes as a mainstay of vocabulary instruction – or if you’d like to explore how technology can help – don’t hesitate to watch the webinar. Your students will thank you…someday.

Related reading:

5 Fluency and Comprehension Strategies That Every Reader Can Use

Squelching Curiosity: How Pre-Teaching Vocabulary Stifles Learning

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: English Language Learners, Fast ForWord, Reading & Learning, Special Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Teaching Persistence: How to Build Student Stamina

how to build student staminaTeaching persistence in the classroom is an important part of setting up learners to succeed. Students who have mastered persistence are able to work through challenges, deal constructively with failures and adversity, and achieve the goals they have set for themselves.

It’s a lot like running a marathon. The runners who make it to the finish line are the ones who persist in showing up for practices and trainings, learn to anticipate slumps and pace themselves, engage in positive self-talk during tough times, take steps to effectively prevent and treat injuries, and adjust expectations to fit reality – even if “finishing” means having to crawl the last mile.

Like a runner who has not trained to run longer distances, learners can’t persist in their learning if they haven’t developed the stamina they need to keep going when things get tough. Teaching persistence depends on first developing student stamina as a way of conditioning learners to handle sustained effort.

To help learners build stamina and persistence, it’s important to create the right learning environment:

Help Learners Develop a Growth Mindset

Learners need to know that they have the ability to grow and change, and that effort is the key. Praise them when they focus their efforts toward specific, clearly defined goals. When you say things like, “Those extra 10 minutes of reading each day are paying off – you are decoding unfamiliar words much more easily now,” you help learners make the connection between effort and achievement. The goal is for learners to become intrinsically motivated to engage in effortful learning now and in the future.

Push a Little Bit – and Know When Enough is Enough

Sometimes learners just need a little bit of encouragement to get past a hurdle. A few supportive words, like, “Think of how good you will feel when you finish those last two addition problems and you know you did the whole worksheet all by yourself!” can make all the difference. On the other hand, a learner may need to know that it’s okay to take a break and come back to a particular task when he’s feeling less frustrated. In that case, it’s important that the learner really does come back and complete the work to get the experience that he truly can “do more” when he persists.

Model Persistence

Most learners love to hear personal stories from their teachers. Telling your learners about your weekend plumbing project that didn’t go as planned – and how you got through it and completed it – is a great way to help learners see that everyone feels like giving up sometimes. It also models for them how to overcome those feelings and reach a goal – without coming off as preachy.

Teach Positive Self-Talk

Some learners need a lot of help knowing what to say to themselves to stay motivated. If a learner’s typical internal dialogue consists of statements like, “This is too hard,” or “I don’t know how to do this,” it may come as a revelation to discover that there are other options. Giving learners specific wording, like, “I know I can do this if I keep at it,” or, “If I’m really stuck I can ask a friend or my teacher for help,” can begin to change the way they think and act when faced with a challenge.

Expect More

Let learners know that you have high expectations and that you have confidence that each and every one of them can meet those expectations. Be sure they have access to the tools they need to be successful, and that they know how to use them.

Make the Most of Technology

Online tools like the Fast ForWord program can help learners make the connection between effort and achievement. The Fast ForWord program gradually builds learner stamina for enduring increasing degrees of cognitive load. The exercises develop reading and language skills at the same time as they boost memory, attention, processing, and sequencing ability. It gives learners immediate feedback on their performance and automatically adjusts the difficulty level for just the right degree of challenge. Fun reward animations help learners see when they have achieved a goal to help them stay motivated.

Call Out the Brain

It’s never too early – or too late – to teach your students about how the brain learns. Introduce the concept of brain plasticity – the idea that the brain changes in response to how it’s used – as a way of reinforcing the idea that learning is achieved through focused, sustained effort. Help them understand that every brain is capable of making dramatic changes and leaps in learning.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Students learn persistence in the same way that they learn sight words or multiplication tables – through repetition. Strategies like modeling persistence, connecting effort to achievement, and pushing students to do a little more than they think they can aren’t a one-time deal. But when repeated over time, the cumulative effect will likely be increased stamina, improved persistence, and intrinsic motivation for ever greater learning.

For Further Reading:

Teaching Perseverance

True Grit: 10 tips for promoting strength, resilience, and perseverance among your students.

Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance: Critical Factors for Success in the 21st Century

Related reading:

Deliberate Practice: How to Develop Expertise

The Curious Mind: Interest, Drive, and the Road to Academic Success

 

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Brain Fitness, Education Trends, Reading & Learning

Tags: , , , , , , ,

5 Trends in Education for 2014

education trends 2014A brand new year certainly has a way of getting us thinking about the future. The holidays are behind us, the first term of the school year has wrapped up or soon will, and New Year’s resolutions beg for action. It’s a natural time to look forward.

So why not get out our crystal ball once again and look into the future of education? What trends are predicted for 2014?

  1. Explicit Instruction in How to Listen
  2. The inclusion of listening standards in the Common Core heralds a new focus on listening instruction in the classroom. The Common Core raises up listening as a literacy skill, giving it equal weight to the more traditionally emphasized reading, writing, and speaking.

    In 2014, teachers will spend more time demonstrating what listening “looks like;” explaining what students should be doing with their eyes, ears, and bodies while listening; directing learners to notice when they haven’t been listening; and measuring how well learners apply what they’ve been taught.

  1. Evolution of the Teacher-Student Relationship
  2. Teachers may have more knowledge in their memory banks, but the Internet has given learners equal access to information. That simple fact continues to drive classrooms away from the information hierarchy model that places teachers at the top and toward a more equal learning community model. It’s a 21st century model that regards learners and teachers as partners in education, with students creating and collaborating and teachers supporting, directing, and coaching student efforts.
  1. Increased Responsibility for Students
  2. As teachers shift to a supporting role in the classroom, they will be transferring more responsibility to students for their own learning. Increasing technology integration and personalized learning will drive students to be more self-directed and self-disciplined. This trend has the potential to accelerate learning and produce more college-ready high school grads if balanced by frequent and effective coaching from teachers.
  1. A Move Toward Project-Based Learning
  2. More schools are shifting toward project-based learning as a way of increasing engagement and creativity in the classroom. It’s not a matter of simply marking the end of a lesson or unit by making a book or a diorama; instead, project-based learning engages students in meaningful, long-term projects that are themselves the learning experience.

    Fourth-grade students might conceive, coordinate, and run their own semester-long weekly farmer’s market. They then learn as they go – how to market their goods, how to anticipate what will sell, how to total a purchase and make change, and what it feels like to accomplish all that and contribute the cash earned back to their classroom or school.

  1. K-12 Will Get Serious About Coding
  2. The voices calling for coding instruction in K-12 are starting to gain traction. Teaching code is considered by some to be equivalent to teaching a traditional foreign language—except more relevant to today’s learner who will have to be tech-savvy to compete for future jobs. Look for courses on “game design,” which sound cool and have the potential to attract students to STEM who might not think of themselves as being “the tech type.”

References:

Davis, M.R., (2013, June 11), Computer Coding Lessons Expanding for K-12 Students. Education Week, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.edweek.org/dd/articles/2013/06/12/03game-coding.h06.html

Fairbanks, A.M., (2013, May 20). Digital Trends Shifting the Role of Teachers. Education Week, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2013/05/22/32el-changingrole.h32.html

Lynch, M. (2013, November 22). Future Trends in K-12 Classroom Management and Discipline. Education Week, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/education_futures/2013/11/future_trends_in_k-12_classroom_management_and_discipline.html

Murphy, A.P. (2013, October 29). Ready to Learn? The Key Is Listening With Intention Annie. MindShift, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/ready-to-learn-the-key-is-listening-with-intention/

Schwartz, K., (2013, January 2). What Project-Based Learning Is — and What It Isn’t. MindShift, Retrieved December 9, 2013, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/01/what-project-based-learning-is-and-isnt/

 Schwartz, K., (2013, October 14). Five Research-Driven Education Trends At Work in Classrooms. MindShift, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/10/five-research-driven-education-trends-at-work-in-classrooms/

Vangelova, L. (2013, November 13). Subverting the System: Student and Teacher as Equals. MindShift, Retrieved December 5, 2013, from http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/11/subverting-the-system-student-and-teacher-as-equals/

Related reading:

21st Century Learning: Preparing Students Today

Why Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) are Hard to Spot

 

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Brain Fitness, Education Trends, Reading & Learning, Reading Assistant

Tags: , , , , , , ,

The Neglected (But Necessary) Goal of Your Reading Program

goal of your reading programIf you’ve been following Dr. Timothy Rasinski’s webinars and posts on this blog, then you know how passionate he is about reading fluency. In September, more than 2000 educators signed up to hear Dr. Rasinski speak about the importance of fluency instruction.

What fluency is really about, Rasinski explained, is automaticity in word recognition and reading with appropriate expression. There are many kids at the middle school level and higher—and even adults—Rasinski said, who come across as robotic readers and could benefit from greater fluency.

Dr. Rasinski entertained many questions along the way in his most recent webinar, such as:

  • What are the building blocks of fluency?
  • How much time should be spent on fluency instruction?
  • How does word recognition instruction affect fluency?
  • How effective is reader’s theater as a fluency activity?
  • When should students be reading above their instructional level?

A recording of the complete webinar, including audience questions and answers, is now available. Anyone who works with beginning or struggling readers, or who wishes to improve their own reading fluency, can benefit from Rasinski’s insights.

In just a few short weeks, Dr. Rasinski will return to give a follow-up presentation continuing the fluency conversation. The next presentation will focus on methods for effective reading practice. Check our webinar registration page for details, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for webinar announcements

Related reading:

Why Dr. Timothy Rasinski Thinks Reading Fluency Should Be “Hot!”

Reading and Riding: How Learning to Read is Like Learning to Ride a Bike

 

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Education Trends, Reading & Learning, Reading Assistant

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cooperative Learning Strategies in the Classroom: Creating a Culture of Inclusiveness

cooperative learning strategiesIt’s more than just a generational trend: research has shown that employing cooperative learning strategies in the classroom can actually help students learn better and even like each other more. But breaking students into effective working groups, training them in cooperative learning techniques, and promoting positive experiences for all learners takes know-how.

Research out of Stanford University shows that lower-status students may be excluded from full participation in cooperative learning groups even when they repeatedly attempt to engage with the group. While certain students may remain silent because they lack confidence in their ability to contribute due to a language barrier or lower ability, other students who do attempt to participate may be ignored when they speak or are blocked from accessing a task (e.g., other students may physically dominate an area where building materials are laid out).

Shaping Social Perception

One wonderful benefit of cooperative learning is the opportunity that it affords teachers in helping their students appreciate what every student has to offer. When a teacher takes the time to notice a unique skill or ability of a quieter learner—say, Rosa—and to point it out to the entire learning group, every member of the group gets the chance to shift their perception of Rosa and of her value to the group—including Rosa herself. It’s as simple as saying to the group, for example, “Rosa is good at planning things out step-by-step; your group can use her as a resource and rely on her to help keep your project on track.”

Learning How to Learn Cooperatively

As with most new skills, learning how to learn cooperatively must be trained. Teachers can help by ensuring that all students understand the purpose of cooperative learning and have the knowledge and tools to participate effectively.

Recommendations for enhancing a classroom’s cooperative learning culture include:

  • Knowing what type of instructional grouping is best for achieving the desired goal
    • Formal cooperative learning groups meet for a time span of at least one class period, and potentially up to several weeks with the goal of completing an assigned project
    • Informal cooperative learning groups are ad-hoc groups that support direction instruction (e.g., breaking up into small groups to discuss a teacher demonstration)
    • Cooperative base groups are comprised of students of varying ability and perspective, forming for a year or longer to provide social support and academic encouragement to members
  • Assigning students to diverse groups and avoiding long-term groupings based on ability
  • Helping students learn what behaviors work best for cooperative learning
    • When contributing ideas, students can listen, take turns, and use language like “I suggest” and “We could”
    • When checking for understanding, students can make eye contact, wear an interested expression, and use words like “Can you give me an example?” and “How do you get that result?”
  • Assigning a group facilitator to ensure that every member of every group is contributing, offering and seeking help, and practicing active listening
  • Allowing students to practice cooperative learning strategies risk-free before beginning to grade on group outcomes

Who is a Leader?

Students who are easily recognized as leaders may not be the only leaders in the classroom—or even the best. Within cooperative learning groups, teachers can, and should, place many different students in leadership positions during group projects.

When a teacher makes the effort to recognize a student with hidden leadership potential and to reframe the learning group’s perception of her with a positive statement about her ability, real opportunity can arise for her within the group—even if that student has weaknesses in other areas, such as literacy.

Authenticity is Key

When her teacher stands up in front of the group and says that Rosa is good at planning step-by-step, you can bet that at least some students are judging that statement. An attempt to manipulate the group’s opinion isn’t likely to fly.

To help reframe a student’s status within the group, then, any statement about the student should meet a few basic criteria:

  • Be specific to the student (not generalizable to every student in the class)
  • Be recognizable in the student (others should be able to recognize the trait in the student when they try)
  • Be useful to the group (everyone, including the student, should be able to understand its value)

The real beauty of authentic acknowledgement is that it spotlights the recognition that every learner brings ability to the group and that no one learner is good at everything—and that that’s okay.

The sooner students realize this truth, the sooner they can discover that knowing how to work with others to get the job done is what ultimately counts in life—and that’s a real-life skill that every single student can take out into the world and use.

Related reading:

Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning with Alan November

Beating Bullying for Better Learning

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Education Trends, English Language Learners, Reading & Learning, Special Education

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Underachieving Students: Why They Struggle and How Educators Can Help

student underachievementHow early does environment begin to shape children into successful students or underachieving students? The answer has to do, in part, with how early babies start acquiring the skills needed to learn to read.

Watching Beth Connelly’s recent webinar, Breaking the Cycle of Underachievement, I was surprised to learn that children as young as four days old can distinguish the vowel sounds of the language in their natural environment. Four days old.

I couldn’t stop thinking about the implications of that timeframe. Suppose one child grows up in an enriched (typically high-SES) environment with a lot of stimulation and adult interaction, while another child grows up in a low-stimulation, low-interaction (typically low-SES) environment.

As Hart and Risley noted in their landmark study, the first child will be exposed to 42 million more words than the second child by age four. That difference in language exposure plays a big role in establishing the achievement gap that—without effective intervention—continues to widen as learners progress through school and then out into the world.

When I think about how babies as young as four days old are extracting information from the words they hear—distinguishing sounds and learning the building blocks of language—it is easy to understand how a child’s ability to learn can increase or decrease depending on the degree of stimulation in the learning environment.

It’s not just the richness of the learning interactions that influences learning ability, however; babies with frequent ear infections or fluid in their ears can also have trouble extracting accurate information about language sounds, as can babies and toddlers growing up in environments with a lot of background noise.

In her webinar, Connelly covers a wide range of research that often surprises. For example:

  • When babies are only six months old, what can researchers predict about their future reading ability?
  • What are the greatest differences in ability between low- and high-SES learners, and what is the connection to brain differences?
  • To what extent do our genes determine our academic destiny?
  • How do educators transform students’ ability to succeed?

That last point is especially important, because—as Connelly discusses—educator impact can be huge, influencing the actual biological processes that determine how successful learners are in the classroom.

Watch the full webinar and discover the critical importance of classroom teachers and technology in preparing all of our students—and especially our most vulnerable students—for life after K-12.

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Brain Fitness, Brain Research, Fast ForWord, Reading & Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Student Engagement Strategies That Can Help Your Learners Read Better

help your students read betterHow can we build better readers? What should we be doing to ensure each student leaves the classroom able to read better than they did when they arrived? Teachers are plagued by these questions. Even when teachers are highly prepared and expertly understand the strategies for reading improvement, learners may disengage. With limited instructional time and the added pressures of today’s classrooms, teachers need effective student engagement strategies along with appropriate instructional strategies for reading improvement.

Guided oral reading, for example, is a highly effective instructional strategy for improving reading. But engaging all students with sufficient guided oral reading opportunities is a daunting and difficult thing to do. Students who do not read well are often clever enough to find ways to avoid reading in front of their peers. I know from personal experience that students paired together may sometimes “cheat,” letting the stronger reader do all of the reading while the struggling reader listens. Too often, the students who need it most simply do not get the daily reading practice they need to grow their skills.

Reading comprehension—the entire aim of reading—requires active engagement. Too often students read a text purely with the intent of moving through it and completing the assignment. The purpose of reading for learning and discovery is lost to them. Students need to be drawn into the text. They need to use their background knowledge, to make predictions, to concentrate on details and hold information in their minds. The reading practice needed to realize improvement cannot be a passive activity.

Picture for a moment an engaged classroom working on a reading lesson. We would see every student participating, each one of them focused on learning. We’d see body language reflecting their mental participation and physical responses as they learn. We would also hear them asking questions and getting excited about what they were reading. A zealous vibe would be palpable. When we feel that excitement in a classroom we know that our instructional strategies are working to help students learn. 

So what can we do, as teachers, to help our students engage?

  • Make the challenge manageable. It’s important for us to assess student ability and find the right balance of challenge and success. Appropriate challenge is motivational. 
  • Make the learning meaningful. Students engage when their learning is made relevant to their lives and they are able to feel connected to what they are doing.
  • Provide feedback in the moment. When students get the feedback they need as they need it, they can compete against themselves and see growth.

Self-esteem is built through engaged, dedicated effort that yields results.  Our focus needs to be on ensuring participation, motivation, and excitement around reading for every student.      

 

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Reading & Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Why Dr. Timothy Rasinski Thinks Reading Fluency Should Be “Hot!”

reading fluency

Tim Rasinski is on a mission to change minds and he shares that mission with us in his webinar, “Keys to Increasing Reading Comprehension in the Age of Common Core.”

What’s Hot, What’s Not

Rasinski laments the fact that reading fluency has been ranked “Not Hot” for years in the annual “What’s Hot, What’s Not Literacy Survey” in Reading Today. Worse, he says, is the fact that the reading experts surveyed said that fluency should not be hot.

Fluency is one of the key skills, says Rasinski, that increases comprehension, the real goal of reading. So he wrote an article called “Why Reading Fluency Should Be Hot!,” which was featured in last May’s Reading Teacher magazine.

Building a Bridge to Reading Comprehension

Rasinski likens reading fluency to a bridge that connects accuracy in word study (phonics, decoding, spelling, and vocabulary) to comprehension. When students do not pick up the connection intuitively, educators have to teach it. But, if educators do not see fluency as an important component of reading instruction, the bridge to comprehension may never be built.

Teaching fluency means developing automaticity in word recognition, so learners can devote their available cognitive energy to comprehension. When that limited energy is spent on word recognition, there’s often not enough left over for the difficult task of deriving meaning from the words that have been read.

Ways to Develop Fluency That Really Work

Rasinski outlines what he calls “the essentials” of developing reading fluency:

    1. Reading real literature
    2. Getting real-time word recognition support
    3. Reading with expression
    4. Participating in assisted reading activities
    5. Practicing both “deep” and “wide” reading

Anyone interested in helping students become eager and capable readers should take the time to watch the full webinar and hear Rasinski’s thoughts on these points in his own words. It’s a topic he’s thoroughly studied, and he brings his extensive knowledge and passion to the discussion.

The online Reading Assistant program, as Rasinski points out, supports classroom teachers by delivering these five essentials—including real-time corrective feedback—to any number of students simultaneously.

Reading comprehension all comes down to meaning, says Rasinski, and teaching reading fluency ultimately helps learners get better at deriving meaning from any text.

Doesn’t that sound “Hot!” to you?

Related reading:

5 Fluency and Comprehension Strategies That Every Reader Can Use

Print Exposure and Reading Fluency: Building a Foundation for Academic Success

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Education Trends, Reading & Learning, Reading Assistant

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Instilling a Love of Reading: What Every Teacher and Parent Should Know

As an educator I spend a considerable amount of time providing advice to parents whose children are finding it difficult to be inspired with reading! Parents will describe their child as  “struggling,” “disinterested,” or ”anxious” about reading and are searching for ways to instill the love of reading, when it is such a tedious task for their child.

It’s really quite simple: Children who do not read well will not be inspired to read, or to practice reading more. So, how do we get our reluctant readers to find reading fun?

As the director of a school that specializes in working with students with reading disorders—and a parent of a youngster who was diagnosed with dyslexia in 3rd grade—I see this issue from both sides.  Some suggestions that I share with our parents (and that I used with my own son) can create a safe haven for reading for the emerging reader, gifted reader, or a student who needs more direct instruction to improve reading skills.

The Practice of Reading Skills

Keep the work of developing reading skills separate from pleasure reading. Students who require reinforcement in their decoding or vocabulary should practice those tasks for a short time (15-20 minutes) several times per week. Use some of these ideas to make the reading fun!

  • Play Scrabble using real or nonsense words! Get the real game board! Let students use a dictionary to look up words that they can create with their tiles. Or, play a game with nonsense words, but everyone should be able to read their words! Non-word reading is a good way to practice decoding.
  • Word of the day: Have the whole family select a “word of the day” and keep a tally on how many times that word is read, or spoken throughout the day. At dinnertime, share the results of the family “survey” and select a new word for the next day.
  • Matching game: Have your child use index cards to write their words for practice on one card and the definition on the other. Play this game like the Memory card game (also known as Concentration), encouraging the student to read the word and the definition for every card turned over. (My son and I both did this when we were studying—he used his 5th grade spelling words and vocabulary, and I had my “deck of cards” on education law terms and definitions for my Master’s degree coursework).
  • Use Unique Materials! Change it up! Have your child practice by writing spelling words on the sidewalk with colored chalk. Put shaving cream on the kitchen counter and let your child write their spelling words in foam! Put a piece of screen material in an open picture frame. Have your child place a piece of paper over it and write their words on the paper with crayon. This approach provides practice and highlights the individual letters with a unique, textured surface. See some examples here:  
  • Create your own storybook: Children, by nature, will be more involved and interested in practicing oral reading if they are excited about a topic. Using some of the newest technologies, such as the camera feature on your phone, have the child take photos of a favorite activity that the child or the whole family enjoys doing, or take pictures that match the vocabulary list!  Put those photos into a PowerPoint and have the child tell or type the words, match vocabulary or create a story to go with the photos. With PowerPoint you can add motion, sound, or music—so be creative! You can even print the pages and bind them into a book, and you have some great stories for practicing oral reading. The book can also make a great gift for a relative for a birthday or holiday.

Reading for Pleasure

Children who are behind in their reading abilities, such as decoding, vocabulary, or comprehension, may not always select independent reading material that “matches” their age and grade. In fact, many children who struggle with the mechanics of reading may be interested in topics that are way above their independent reading level. To meet their intellectual interests and instill the “habit” of reading for pleasure, consider these ideas:

  • Read aloud for evening wind-down: What child doesn’t want to delay bedtime? This is a perfect time to read a chapter or two and discuss the elements of a read-aloud story. Ask questions about the characters and setting and inquire if they can predict what will happen next. Let your child select a book that they have an interest in, regardless of the reading level, and read it to them before bedtime. For those youngsters who are gifted, be sure that the topic is not above their maturity level. You may want to read the selection before you read it together, as some authors do include more mature themes than some of our learners are ready to handle.
  • Books on tape in the car: Face it—we are a mobile society! I have parents who report spending many hours in the car for errands, driving kids to practice for sports, and waiting on our busy roads to make it home in the late afternoon hours. Audio books can be a great way for everyone to enjoy a good mystery or listen to a story that will soon be featured in film at the local movie theatres. Use of an audiobook is also a great way to keep a youngster connected to current trends in literary work. Students who are behind in their reading abilities may still have an interest in the latest chapter book that will be featured in an upcoming movie, such as Hunger Games. Although your child may not be able to wade through the actual printed version, listening to the audio series will permit them to understand the content and will encourage their discussions with their peers about the latest chapter of a popular series.
  • Model reading activities! In our busy lives we sometimes forget that our children and students need to see us reading! Some schools still include a specific reading time where everyone in the school reads a book or magazine for 15 minutes.  As parents, we should practice what we want our children to do, so they can see our enjoyment of literature! Every summer, I would take a stack of paperback books with me to the beach, and my children would know that I was enjoying my “junk novels”. Now, when we get together for our annual beach week, my young adult children break out their Kindles and read too!
  • Don’t get concerned if your child has selected something to read independently that is not at their grade level. Nothing concerns me more than when I hear a parent or teacher indicate that the “child” is selecting a storybook, chapter book or series to read that is “not at their grade level”. Reading for pleasure should be just that, for pleasure. Allow and encourage reading for entertainment value. I often remind my students’ parents that “eyes on print” is a good thing, and not to get concerned over the level of the material that a child reads for pleasure. I don’t look at the back of the book I am purchasing for my annual beach trip to see what grade level it is before I purchase it. I select books that I am interested in reading for fun! I enjoy books that have a mystery and involve law, written by authors such as John Grisham. What I don’t do is determine the Lexile Score, or Independent Reading Level of the text or content. So, allow your child a choice in what they wish to read independently and encourage them to develop the habit of reading!

Above all, BE PATIENT and ENCOURAGING with your child as they develop independent reading habits. The “art” of reading is quite complex. Some children will require more support, individualized instruction, and continued practice, and may benefit from the services of a reading specialist. Your positive influence, patience, and support can make your child feel safe to take the “risk” of reading new words or selecting more challenging material. Celebrate the small steps, and keep positive so your child will become more confident!

Related reading:

18 Ways to Encourage Students to Read This Summer

5 Reasons Why Your Students Should Write Every Day

 

Subscribe to this blog to get new blog posts right in your inbox and stay up to date on the science of learning!

  

Attend one of our popular webinars with thought leaders in learning. Live and pre-recorded webinars are available. Register today!

Connect with us on your favorite social network! RSS youtube linkedin

Categories: Family Focus, Reading & Learning

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Choose a product to log in.

Not a customer? Find Out More

Log in to MySciLEARN

What is MySciLEARN?

  • One destination for products, training, reports and tools
  • Auto-assign tool
  • Implementation Success and Gains reports
  • SciLEARNU training portal
  • Expanded roles capability

Learn More

Choose a product to log in.

Not a student? Find Out More