Posts Tagged ‘ Brain ’

Sorting Things Out – An Update

Jun 24th, 2012 | By

Organizing is hard-wired into our brains – our brains love patterns and repetition.  The concept of similarity, or sameness, is a basic organizing strategy . . . a way to be aware of and recognize common characteristics of things seen, heard, or felt.  With the awareness of sameness comes the awareness of difference, another basic organizing strategy. Information that is sorted out through the process of comparing & contrasting (thinking about the similarities and the differences) has high storage strength, and as a result, also has high retrieval strength. The underlying cognitive constructs of polarity, category inclusion and exclusion, are part of the brain’s hard-wired organizational default.  In education, we use the terms “alike”, “same”, “go together” and “not different” to teach and reinforce “sameness”, while the terms “different”, “don’t go together”, and “not the same” teach and reinforce “difference”.  Other ways to express the idea of inclusion include “goes with” and “belongs”, while exclusion can be expressed by “doesn’t go with” or “doesn’t belong”. These very basic concepts of inclusion and exclusion can be infused into the literacy process of connecting sound to print through the use of Visual Phonics hand shapes and symbols, beginning as early as pre-school.  [...]



How to Facilitate Children’s Learning

Apr 6th, 2012 | By

By Dave Krupke and Jeff Knox Education is generally a series of adults asking questions – this has been so since the time of Socrates. Questions are asked with the hope or even expectation that the children will respond with answers that adults have pre-conceived, either by their own thoughts or based on what a subject-area curriculum tells them the answer should be. It can also be said that adults don’t ask questions for which they don’t know the answers. For adults, “sameness” is important – we want children to have the same answers as we do. Some educators feel it is important for children  to be able to explore their world and come up with their own reality. For this to happen, in the home or in a classroom, there must be a sense of shared learning – a perception on the part of both adult and child that curiosity and discovery are fun and have utility for making sense of the world. Shared learning, especially with young children, occurs when adults limit the number of direct questions they ask, such as “what’s this called . . . or what color is that?” When adults ask pointed questions, there [...]



Do We Have to Go Back?

May 17th, 2011 | By

What needs to happen when a student is struggling with the application of phonemic awareness skills needed to establish the neural connections for reading and writing? If we look at early literacy skills as being somewhat sequential, one could pose that these students need to “go back” to re-establish the foundational literacy skills of phonological awareness. That may mean going to Title One Reading or Tier 2 RTI targeted interventions or a reading support program and just focusing on phonological awareness, with the hope that these targeted interventions would transfer back to what is being done and expected in the regular classroom.  While that may seem logical on some level, consider whether the focus of the process is to teach “lessons and concepts” in isolation, with the hope that they transfer, or “discover” those same concepts within the text of reading stories, social studies, science, math, or better yet, in environmental print. Should we take students back to work on shoring phonological awareness skills up as a separate lesson or set of activities? During a recent conversation with Randall Klein, Founder of Early Reading Mastery, this very question came up and resulted in a lengthy and invigorating exchange of thoughts [...]



Sleep On It

Apr 24th, 2011 | By

Found in a recent issue of AARP Magazine: our brains recall new information better if, after learning it, we get a good night’s rest or take a nap – this is according to recent research by Harvard Medical School.



Trouble Shooting for Early Literacy Struggles – The Role of Phonological Awareness Skills

Jan 17th, 2011 | By

Some students have difficulty acquiring emergent literacy skills in preschool and continue to struggle after entering Kindergarten. Both reading and writing are born out of the child’s awareness of the sounds of oral language, the association of sounds to letters, and the subsequent ability to map sound to print. Having the adequate literacy foundation skills of phonological awareness is a necessity. Research tells us that phonemic awareness is critical for reading and writing (especially blending and segmenting), so what is the difference between phonological awareness and phonemic awareness? Phonological and phonemic awareness are interdependent, with phonemic awareness being a subset of phonological awareness. Simply put, phonological awareness involves patterns and all units of sound (the chunks), while phonemic awareness deals with the phonemes or sounds (the pieces). Phonological awareness is innate – our brains are hard-wired for pattern-seeking. Phonological awareness involves the ability to hear/recognize and manipulate the patterns of oral language – words, syllables, rhymes, onsets, rimes, and alliteration, and is an auditory skill (no print involved). It also involves the sense of beginning, end and middle parts of words, as well as word play and the understanding that spoken words consist of sequences of phonemes. Phonemic awareness is [...]



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 . . [...]



The Shower Doesn’t Work

Aug 28th, 2010 | By

Back in May, our niece from California graduated from the University of Iowa, so her family stayed at our house for a few days pre and post graduation. As is the case in most households, having company means cleaning things and rooms that aren’t usually included on the regular schedule. While there is a bathroom on the main floor in a spare room addition, the shower hasn’t been used for over a year. One of my jobs was to clean the stools, sinks, and showers. I left the spare room bathroom for last . . I cleaned the sink, the stool and then turned my attention to the shower. Hmmm . . . water to the sink, water to the stool . . . no water coming out of the shower. I checked all of the water shut-offs and everything was as it should be. Too late to call a plumber, since everyone was arriving that night! We got through the week of company by using other showers and things returned to normal. No hurry in figuring out what was wrong with the shower, right?  Wrong . . my wife announces that  a good friend is coming from out East [...]



The Value of Visual Phonics Training for Pre-Service Teachers

Apr 15th, 2010 | By

Visual Phonics has been an added strength to our Elementary Education program reading endorsement at the University of Dubuque. Today’s preservice teachers are well aware of the latest brain-compatible research for learning. Therefore, they understand the positive impact that VP can have on helping children to learn to read. When they are observing out in the schools, our preservice teachers are now seeing classroom teachers using VP with their early readers. The classroom teachers are very impressed that our students are able to jump in and reinforce the VP hand shape cues. The VP training has also added a unique element to their college resumes, and in some cases, resulted in an elementary teaching job offer! One surprising result of the VP training has been the impact on some college-level readers. In several cases, students have said that it has helped them improve their reading skills, even at this stage in their reading development! One college student preservice teacher said, “I always had trouble distinguishing between vowel sounds when I was learning to read. I struggled back then with reading, but VP has helped me now. I know it would have helped me become a better reader if I had been exposed to [...]



It’s Not the Years in Education . . .

Mar 8th, 2010 | By

I really enjoy ancient wisdoms and thoughts that cause us to stop and think, such as: It’s not the years in education . . . it’s the education in the years. Making the most of our collective and individual time with students is so important, especially when some of our learners struggle with literacy skills that come easily for their classmates. As a very wise colleague once said, “we need to have a variety of brain-compatible/sense-making strategies and activities readily available at all times”. Having a variety of ways to teach and learn touches all of the various combinations of learning channels, a very important consideration for struggling learners. We must find numerous, creative, unique and “fun” ways to connect sound and print, and we need to do that on a routine basis.  Multisensory strategies/methods can open windows of learning that had remained limited or even closed through traditional teaching/learning methods. Visual Phonics, a multisensory strategy for connecting sound & print, is opening windows of learning and helping to make sound-letter connections and “break the code” for many struggling learners. Since the brain loves repetition and patterns, the activities of gathering and sorting are naturally very “brain-compatible”. There are two [...]



Sameness and Difference – The Brain’s Sorting Processes at Work

Mar 5th, 2010 | By

Organization is hard-wired into our brains – our brains love patterns and repetition of interesting and meaningful information.  The concept of similarity, or “sameness,” is a basic organizing strategy . . . a way to be aware of and recognize common characteristics of things seen, heard, or felt.  With the awareness of “sameness” comes the awareness of “difference”, another basic organizing strategy. At the foundation of how we organize is the strategy of sorting. Sorting involves reasoning about “belonging” and “not belonging” . . . or inclusion and exclusion. The underlying cognitive constructs of polarity, category inclusion and exclusion, are part of the brain’s hard-wired organizational default.  In education, we use the terms “alike”, “same”, “go together” and “not different” to teach and reinforce “sameness”, while the terms “different”, “don’t go together”, and “not the same” teach and reinforce “difference”.  Other ways to express the idea of inclusion include “goes with” and “belongs”, while exclusion can be expressed by “doesn’t go with” or “doesn’t belong”. The sorting process can be as basic as “is” & “is not”. For example, when teaching young children about the color “red”, it is “brain-friendly” to use a variety of real objects, some of which [...]