Archive for November 2010

Neural Systems for Reading

Nov 26th, 2010 | By
Neural Systems for Reading

As more educators come to understand learning and the brain, teaching practices and strategies improve, benefiting all learners. The following is a brief summary of information from the work of Dr. Sally Shaywitz and Dr. J. Richard Gentry relative to brain systems for reading. Broca’s area (area A in Gentry’s diagram of the brain) is the Phoneme Processing Area. This is where subvocalization occurs . . a process that is slow and analytical and most likely to be used in the beginning stages of learning to read, according to Shaywitz and Gentry. This area might be activated when a K teacher has children shouting out the rhyming word in a nursery rhyme as they repeat a part in unison. Broca’s area is also the “speech” area, dealing with articulation . . . how sounds are formed in the mouth. The second area of importance is the Word Analysis Area in the parieto-temporal area of the brain (area B). This is where words are pulled apart and put back together, in essence, linking sounds to letters. It is my belief that the use of Visual Phonics hand shapes helps to activate this area. This is also slow and analytical . . [...]



Counting On What Counts

Nov 24th, 2010 | By

As was so aptly put by Albert Einstein, “Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted”. Those of us in education are very good at counting and keeping track of student performance with numbers and data. We notice every error in spelling, math, writing, reading accuracy, quizzes, chapter review questions, unit tests, and standardized tests. Scores often reflect what is left after all of the errors are subtracted. I have even seen spelling and math tests returned with the “score” in red ink and a minus sign in front of the number. Wouldn’t it be better to put +17 instead of -3? Teachers rarely miss inappropriate behaviors in their classrooms, the hallways, the cafeteria, the gym, at recess or on the bus. Outside of school, parents notice when children are misbehaving much more often than when they are being “good”. That seems to be adult human nature – notice what is “bad” and frequently make a comment. How would we, as adults, like it if the only comments we heard from our boss were about our mistakes? What kind of message would result and how would we feel? Consider this thought from Dr. [...]



Get Contagious!!

Nov 13th, 2010 | By

One of the joys I experience in teaching children and their teachers about Visual Phonics is to witness the “ahas” – those light bulb moments where you can almost hear the “click” of a connection being made. It is heartwarming to witness the excitement of a child when the connection between letters and individual sounds or chunks of sounds finally arrives after being elusive or confusing in the past. It is just as gratifying to see or hear teachers (no matter whether new to the teaching profession or experienced veterans) learn new ideas and strategies that change their teaching and how they look at literacy development. As a part of Visual Phonics courses I teach through Professional Development, teachers are required to write a paper and reflect on the questions with which they are provided. One of the questions deals with what teachers have noticed about the impact of Visual Phonics on their students – frequently, there are comments about students being excited, more involved in their learning, and showing more confidence. Since we’ve all heard “nothing motivates more than success”, I decided to share examples of comments I get to read on a frequent basis. One teacher shared what [...]