Reviewing Two Childhood Lessons – Memory and Rewards

1967 - 2016

1967 and 2016

By Maggie Dail

Some Background

In third grade, I failed penmanship and arithmetic. Apparently, the teacher told us that I had passed third grade by the skin of my teeth. Looking over my report cards reveals comments such as, “If Margaret would try she would get better grades.” In seventh grade at the DOD school in Madrid, Spain I was given the choice of moving to class D and get a “C” on my report card or stay in class C and get a “D”. Given my father’s value of high grades, I chose Class D. All of this was before 1975 when Special Education became a legislated part of the public school system. Since my perceptions of these memories indicate that I was trying, I likely would receive special education services if I were in school today.

At church, during high school, I was encouraged to memorize Scriptures to improve academics. So, I began to memorize long passages of Scripture, reciting them at church and at church camps. Also, during high school, my dad offered me $1.00 per “A” I earned on my report card. By the time I was a senior, I was on the High Honor Roll with all “A’s”. My first year of college was a challenge, getting a “D” at mid-term in Psychology. However, by my senior year, I was again able to get all “A’s”. I believe I was still probably working harder for those “A’s” than other students, but I was achieving better grades. Decades later, I want to review these lessons in light of what I have learned about how we learn.

Lesson #1: Memorizing Scriptures Develops Cognitive Skill

Yes, the old adage, “use it or lose it” applies here. When you exercise your brain it develops. Scientific Learning’s motto, “Fit Brains Work Better” reveals how this principle works. According to the neurodevelopmental approach, “Duration, Frequency, and Intensity” present three important ideas. Short, frequent, focused review of whatever is to be learned, locks into one’s brain. Today, I tell my students to put spelling words, vocabulary words, math facts or formulas, memory verses on cards. If they go through these cards between subjects, several times a day, they will learn it. Some need to review longer to get the desired results, but they will learn. Sometimes parents must give the input using these cards. Do all of my students follow my advice? No, I am afraid that it is a hard sell, but I am not going to quit telling them to do it. While this works for anything, when one memorizes Scripture you get an added benefit: Psalm 119:11 Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.

Lesson #2 – External Rewards Encourage Learning

As a teacher, I would always prefer that students have internal motivation to learn – “for the love of learning.” It would be great for students to be diligent in their studies in order to please God. We can continue to pray and trust God for this. It happens sometimes, but often external rewards are necessary. It may be something as simple as, “Great job!” or a high five or a sticker on a chart. Twenty-first-century students would normally not be motivated by $1.00 per “A” on a report card as I was in the 60s. While a monetary reward may not be the best, it certainly works on the job for adults.

After reviewing these childhood lessons, I see that I need to remember to apply these in my life even today as I continue to learn.

Maggie Dail (Learning Specialist) operates Unlocking Learning Potential from her home in Bartlesville, Oklahoma. Maggie’s husband, Ronnie (Manager) and Laura Barnes (Brain Trainer) round out the team. ULP offers online services to homeschooling families. Maggie earned an M.A.in Special Education from Adams State University in 1989 and certification with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists in 2007.

http://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net

Check out this video to see how we can help.

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Overcoming Learning Challenges – Online Course for Homeschooling Parents

Vera Bill Connie Maggie 1949

As a young student, I struggled with my learning. During elementary school, I failed Arithmetic and Writing. Teachers thought I wasn’t trying!  I thought I was trying!  Yet, my grades and teacher comments told a different story. In those days, teachers pretty much wrote their evaluation on the report cards without worrying about hurting a student’s feelings.

My father had high expectations for me and encouraged me to keep working at it.  Both of my parents motivated me to keep trying. I didn’t have any labels or diagnosis; I was just expected to learn. I did.  By the time I finished high school I had achieved all A’s and Honor Roll. In college, I got a D in a first-semester class, but by the time I graduated I was on Dean’s List. Being on the Honor Roll and Dean’s List or even earning a Master’s degree in Special Education did not mean that learning came easily for me.

All of these academic struggles led me to work with students who struggle. Since 1994 I have been working with homeschooling families. Finding tools to unlock learning potential in students has driven me to where I am today. Working with Family Academy Online as the Director and the Unlocking Learning Potential as the Learning Specialist I work with families who homeschool and those whose children face learning challenges.

Today we know more about how children develop and learn. This understanding guides us in helping our children overcome learning challenges.  In our work, we offer a variety of services that fit the needs of different families.  We think of these services as Keys on our keyring in our mission of Unlocking Learning Challenges. One of these keys is an online course for parents whose mission it is to help their children in Overcoming Learning Challenges.

 

For more information watch this video:

Visit our website:  http://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net

How Research Leads to Solutions for Struggling Learners

Have you or a loved one received a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” or “dyslexia”? Have you or a loved one struggled with learning to read – no matter what methods and curricula have been used? Research leads us to more answers to our questions and more solutions for those who struggle.

Image result for images of books and reading

How would you feel knowing your student would have more tools to succeed in life? What would it be like for him to learn fascinating information on his own? What would it be like to be carried off to a faraway time and place by reading a great story?

While many have considered dyslexia to be a combination of two deficits, the more current view, based on new research, providers believe that multiple deficits contribute to a diagnosis of “developmental dyslexia” will prove more helpful in helping those who struggle with reading.  Belief that “weaknesses in either the visual (rapid automatized naming -RAN) or the auditory (phonological awareness-PA) can cause dyslexia has led teachers to address these two areas.  Those with both deficits experienced severe difficulties in reading. (Wolf in Journal of Educational Psychology, 1999)

Now, more and more look to these areas and some additional areas: genetics, environmental, and perceptive/cognitive differences.  With the use of fMRIs we can see what is going on inside the human brain.  In a recent webinar, neuroscientist, Dr. Martha Burns, reported new research that confirms how these factors interact to present different kinds and degrees of learning challenges.

Image result for images - brain scans

Not surprisingly the research shows that reading and language share specific parts of the brain that includes both the visual and auditory areas. While searching for the cause and effect relationship within genetic factors, researchers learned that the brain of an infant show signs of genetic causes of learning challenges discovered later. In 2017, Gaab published findings that 50% of children with a sibling or parent with dyslexia were likely to also receive a diagnosis. This number rose to 68% in identical twins.

Finding the underlying cause leads us to specific strategies for the individual since all of these factors combine in different ways.  At Unlocking Learning Potential / Family Academy Online we address reading challenges using the neurodevelopmental approach ( www.unlockinglearningpotential.net) as well as with Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. Dr. Martha Burns, of Scientific Learning, says that Scientific Learning programs paired with an effective curriculum provide the best outcome for our children.

My name is Z.C. I began working with the learning specialist at Unlocking Learning Potential in 2009. By 2011 I could see how I had grown tremendously with my education and learning.  With the neurodevelopmental evaluation, I found out that I was far below my grade level academically. At first, I thought the activities were silly, futile and would not work, but as I kept doing them I started noticing the big differences in every area of my learning. I could read faster, comprehend more, my vocabulary increased, and my memory improved.” Z.C. graduated from high school in 2011.

Watch this video to learn more about these scientifically based solutions to learning challenges:

https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo

3 Ways to Help Students Achieve Success in Reading and Language

reading

Do you wonder why your student struggles with reading? I have spent much of my forty years of teach searching for ways to help student learn. Teaching reading has consumed most of those efforts. As you probably realize, many of our students today are missing developmental pieces and cognitive skills.

I have found that children are so very different and learning challenges do not always respond to the same interventions. However, educators across the country help students achieve success in reading and language using two Scientific Learning programs: Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant

These programs provide us with 3 ways to help our students:

  1. Build students’ cognitive skills. Cognitive (learning) skills addressed by Fast ForWord products:  memory, attention, processing rate and sequencing  Reading Skills addressed: phonological & phonemic (sound) awareness, fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, decoding (sound out words), working memory (remembering long enough to do something with), syntax and grammar (structure of our language)

2. Prepare students’ brains to hear English. Once we fill in the missing pieces of development in the brain, a child can read and use the English language.

3.      Have students practice reading aloud, with support. Finally, we can provide opportunity for the children to read aloud – to other people and with Reading Assistant to the computer which provides timely correction.

You can read a blogger / inservice provider’s experience:  3 Ways to Help Struggling Readers and English Language Learners http://inservice.ascd.org/3-ways-to-help-struggling-readers-and-english-language-learners/

Over 250 studies show that Fast ForWord and Reading Assistance provides all of this for children across the country. www.scientificlearning.com/results

To learn how more about Fast ForWord  / Reading Assistant and how we use it with our students watch this video:  https://youtu.be/5BmNPJ9KdSo   Be sure and watch to the end for the special offers.

Unlocking Math: Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum

math-lesson-plans (1)

            Many homeschooling families use annual assessments to guide you in choosing curriculum for the next year. As you begin your search for a math curriculum that works for your elementary aged child, you need to remember that there are three areas of math to cover: facts, computation and concepts. If math has already become a struggle for your child, then you will especially want to break math down into these three areas. Spread math over the course of the day with short sessions covering these areas in separate sessions.

1. Math Facts – Math facts are primarily a function of auditory memory so be sure you present this new information to your child auditorily as well visually. Whether you have a full math curriculum or find materials that cover the different parts, you must include this in your child’s day.

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math FactsRapid Recall System

 

 

2. Math Computation – At a different time of the day work on computation skills. Computation is primarily a function of visual memory so I recommend 75% visual instruction. That is you do three problems for your child as he watches. You say only a few words to identify steps as you go along. Then your child does the fourth one. Repeat for the duration of the session of say, 10 minutes. You start with simple addition and work up to long division, fractions etc. If the child doesn’t remember a math fact, tell them so that the process of computation is learned without interruption. You work on the math facts during a separate time. You can get the computation problems from any math book, but if you just want to pay for the computation problems, get a book that has only those problems in it.

My Best Recommenation for Learning Math Computation: Straight Forward Math and Keys to Fractions (Decimals, Percents, Measurement)

3. 3. Math Concepts – The first two items are the nuts and bolts of math. Concepts are how the basics are applied to real life. If you want a regular curriculum, look into Math U See, Singapore Math and Right Start Mathematics. They cover the whole spectrum of math in a fresh way, but it makes it harder to separate out the three parts and concentrate on one at a time. There are a host of math games available that apply these math concepts in an interesting way. You can spend big bucks. Perhaps a better way is a book of games that you can play as a family. My best recommendation is actually a series of books, but the original is the best overall for K-8 math games. Family Math arranges the games in sections according to the different math concepts. Each game has an objective, instructions and sometimes a page that serves as a game board. You may need to add some household items for game pieces. Each game is labeled for one or more of the three age groups within K-8.

 

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math Concepts: Family Math

https://www.amazon.com/Family-Math-Equals-Jean-Stenmark/dp/0912511060

Bonus Recommendation for Mental Math / Auditory Skills: The Verbal Math Lesson Level 1 and 2 for early learners or those who struggle. http://www.mathlesson.com/

For some learners, Life of Fred provides math instruction in a story format.

https://www.amazon.com/Life-Fred-Elementary-Complete-Book/dp/3384111117

Since math skills build on each other, home educators find it helpful to use a “Scope and Sequence” for navigating through math. Downloadable lists of skills can be found on the Internet. By including math facts, computation and concepts you can prepare your children for Algebra, Geometry and beyond.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 20 – What have our graduates done beyond high school?

Many of our graduates have gone to college or have gone into a trade. We will feature Jered today. While in high school we attended his Eagle Scout celebration. During high school he wrote a novel (Learn to Write the Novel Way) for class: Guns at Aparri. At one point, he stated that he had received an “atta boy” for his writing skills in a report for work.

After high school, he earned a degree in criminal justice and served in the U.S. Army Reserves.  Since then he has worked for the Department of Homeland Security.  Thank you, Jered for your service to our country.

Personal Reflections – 2017 # 18 – How did we get to know homeschooling parents?

 

WHO Convention 2000 and 2013

Through the years we had booths at the different homeschool conventions, most often the Washington Homeschool Organization’s convention which basically happened in our back yard. We went to others in the Puget Sound Area, as well as one time in Portland and one time in Spokane.  As our work developed to what it is now, we have operated as: Master Enterprises Learning Center and Amazing Grace Christian Literature, Center for Neuro Development and finally Unlocking Learning Potential.  During this time we have been affiliated with Family Academy along with its affiliate school, Academy Northwest.  We also have helped in the development of Family Academy Online. Further, we are affiliated with the International Christian Association of Neurodevelopmentalists. While living in Western Washington, we sold Christian books, homeschooling curriculum and neurodevelopmental supplies as well as providing services to homeschooling families. Now, in Oklahoma, we work with students online and only sell a few physical products. We are building our digital product line – e-books:

https://www.unlockinglearningpotential.net/maggie-s-e-books

Personal Reflections 2017 – 12 – What about annual testing?

annual-testing-catMany state home school laws require some sort of assessment either annually or during specific grades. Even if it is not required, it can provide you with additional helpful information. Most Teacher Consultants of Family Academy / Academy Northwest’s provide standardized assessments and / or non-test assessments because Washington State’s home school law requires home school students to have either a standardized test or a non-test assessment each year.

Standardized testing usually requires the student to fill in circles on an answer sheet. Scoring is according to norms (sample group of students) and produce grade equivalents, percentiles and stanines relative to that sample group of students. This requires that the test be given under specific guidelines prescribed by the test makers. Examples of these standardized tests include: California Achievement Test (CAT), Stanford Achievement Tests (SAT – not to be confused with the college entrance SAT of College Board) and Iowa Test of Basic Skills.  These tests take 2-3 days of testing.

In the Washington homeschool, a non-test assessment must be administered by a certified teacher currently working in the field of education. However, the law does not define that assessment. Therefore, when looking for a test provider, be sure and ask what the process entails and what kind of information the parent will receive. These assessments usually are only one session.

Our learning center administered group testing of California Achievement Tests for many years. We also provided one-on-one settings for SAT and ITBS. Further, we offered non-test assessments in person for years and continue to provide non-test assessments via Skype.

Using Assessments to Unlock Learning Potential

Working hard to assess individuals….now scheduling from August and beyond, 2017!

Gender and exploration (2)

At this time of the year home educators begin to think about annual assessments. Some state laws (including Washington’s) set that as a requirement to access a “second opinion” regarding your children’s academic progress. Keep in mind that this annual assessment does not look at other factors that you believe to be important.  (See www.AllAboutLearningPress.com for their graphic: Important things that tests can’t measure…)

Unlocking Learning Potential offers a number of options for getting

that “second opinion” via video conferencing:

1. Non-Test Assessment (one of the options given in the Washington State law, but helpful for any parent).  Read about this assessment.
2. Brain Training Assessment – some parents choose this assessment if a child has learning challenges. Using the neurodevelopmenal approach our learning specialist assesses the child and then designs an Individualized Neurodevelopmental Plan which the parent may do at home. Additionally, they may choose to add ongoing support with our Brain Trainer.  If a parent is not sure, they can choose the non-test assessment and then within a month may do an upgrade at a discount.
3. NEW – online assessments available as of February 1, 2017 – Structure of Intellect Assessment. Following the Assessment a Training Module(paper) with CD is compiled for the student. This would be an excellent follow on to the Brain Training Assessment.  

Schedule a Free 30 Minute Consultation via Video Conferencing
to help you decide which option is best for you.
maggie@centerforneurodevelopment.com
Use code: MC1-2017

Introducing: Structure of Intellect

Background and History of Structure of Intellect

  • Dr. J. P. Guilford – During WWII given the task of determining why 35% of Air Corp pilot training candidates who were healthy and had an IQ of 120 or more were washing out.
  • Guilford used a set of job descriptions for pilots, navigators and bombardiers to construct a test.
  • Then he compared the scores of successful trainees with unsuccessful trainees. He kept those test items that were consistent with the outcome and threw out the rest. This new test was a better predictor of success.
  • The attrition rate dropped below 10%.
  • Dr. Mary Meeker and Dr. Robert Meeker have taken this “work place” model and developed an educational SOI.
Structure of Intellect Model –a different way to look at and measure intelligence.

Combination of Three Main Areas = 24 Learning Abilities
I.  Three Hemispheric (Dimensions) Learning Styles – Right, Left and Mid- sides of the brain.
A. Figural – concrete; can touch, see, and hear directly. (right)
B.  Symbolic – abstract; shorthand for concrete. (mid hemisphere)
C.   SeMantic —  concepts and ideas. (left)
II. 5 Ways of Thinking – (ReCognition, Memory, Evaluation, Convergent and Divergent Production)
III. 6 Units of Information (Units, Classes, Relations, Systems, Transformations, Implications)

Each ability takes one of each of the three main areas – using  a letter from each – get a subtest and an ability – MFU.

How does this differ from achievement tests?
  • Achievement tests – lack of success without a cause.
  • In medicine: Taking a temperature fever, but without a cause.
  • “A diagnostic-type test (blood panel) leads to a treatment plan (in medicine).”The SOI test is like a blood panel. Measures:
  • 24 abilities that relate to basic learning.
  • Analyzed and interpreted in light of the learning problems … leads to a treatment plan.”
  • SOI uses Training Modules (paper & / or CD).
  • p. 37 Inservice Manual
  • www.soisystems.com

Personal Reflections 2017 – 8 – What about graduation?

graduation-1998

Yes, homeschoolers graduate.  In Washington, many do it with the Washington Homeschool Organization or their coops or churches. Family Academy has been in existence since 1981 and for those early years our graduates graduated with WHO.  In 1996 our group had grown enough to have our own graduation ceremony. Master Enterprises Learning Center began in 1994. By 1998 we had graduates so we participated in the Family Academy graduation ceremony. As our affiliate school, Academy Northwest, developed we went through the grueling accreditation process and continue to work to maintain that accreditation.  This allows our graduates to enter college with an accredited transcript and diploma with private school status.  We haven’t lost the “Family” part because the parents remain the primary teachers of their children. Our Teacher Consultants come alongside the parents to help them and we teach some classes to the students in part to fulfill the contact time required by the homeschool law of our home state, Washington    In recent years we have added online / distance learning through Family Academy Online which allows us to work with students from all over following any applicable laws from their states.