Posts Tagged ‘ teachable moments ’

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.  [...]

Utility Is the Key

Apr 7th, 2012 | By

Utility directly impacts the lasting recall of Visual Phonics hand shape cues and written symbols. Thoughtful and purposeful use of hand shapes and written symbols can be plugged in to daily dynamic routines of review, daily reinforcement activities involving coding with Visual Phonics symbols, and the use of visual references/charts. Utility is established for teachers when the Visual  Phonics cues become an effective teaching tool . . . and for students when the cues become an effective learning tool. Teachable moments – those unexpected instances when students appear confused, provide a “wrong” answer, or perhaps just don’t know -  provide excellent opportunities to connect sound and print with either Visual Phonics hand shapes or written symbols, and are often more powerful learning experiences than planned lessons. The decision about when, how much and how often to use Visual Phonics is based on how well teachers know their students and how observant teachers are relative to student understanding and response. Visual Phonics written symbols can be easily integrated into Word Walls, Sound Walls, Word family posters, and Sight Word displays. Specific information on implementation ideas can be found in a collection of articles under the Visual  Phonics tab on the Home [...]

Valuing or Devaluing – The Choice IS Ours

Jun 21st, 2010 | By

In any relationship, all parties have choices involving whether to value or devalue others. When we consider Emerson’s thought that “the ancestor of every action is a thought”, we realize that it is our thoughts that determine our actions and our words . . . and that we do have a choice about what we think. Conventional wisdom tells us that actions are stronger than words. Yet we also know that words can be delivered “out of sync” with the actions that accompany or follow.  In addition, it is commonly known from research and practical experience that undesirable behavior can be stopped by negative comments, but changed in a lasting way only with positive ones . . . delivered frequently. There was a study many years ago (source unknown) that involved tallies of comments between parents and their children in their homes for a period of time. Results indicated that parents comments were more negative than positive – a ratio of 13 negative to every positive comment. The data gathering then shifted to a school setting, with tallies of commentary between teachers and students in a typical classroom revealed a 3:1 ration of negative-to-positive. Much better than in the home [...]

Won’t the Students Be Confused?

Feb 2nd, 2010 | By

It is not unusual for a teacher or administrator to ask this question during a Visual Phonics training, workshop, or class: “Won’t students get confused by the Visual Phonics written symbols when they are trying to learn their letters?” This line of reasoning appears to come from the observation that learning the letter names is not always easy for students and that the letters of the Alphabet are also “symbols” . . so if they are unsure or confused by letters, why wouldn’t they be further confused by Visual Phonics written symbols? At first glance, that would be a logical conclusion . . . however, with a closer look at the characteristics of letters and the characteristics of the Visual Phonics written symbols, a different picture appears. Consider this – a symbol is consistent in what it represents – it represents the same meaning no matter where it shows up. Letters can be described as “squiggly lines” which are not consistent in what they represent. Sometimes they represent their “default” sound(s) (the typical sounds that are taught in preschool and Kindergarten) and sometimes they don’t. For example, the letter A can sound long in “ate”, short in “apple”, like a [...]

It’s All in the Noticing

Jan 16th, 2010 | By

Over a century ago, there was a great piece of scientific wisdom from the Dore Lectures on Mental Science by Thomas Troward, who stated: “The law of flotation will not be determined by the contemplation of the sinking of things but by contemplating the floating of things which floated naturally, and then intelligently asking why they did so.” Moving that same line of thinking into education, a universal wisdom about learning results – “The law of successful learning will not be determined by the contemplation of the failure of things, but by contemplating the learning of things, and then intelligently asking why.” A great deal of successful teaching has to do with what and how teachers “notice” the outcomes of their well planned lessons and carefully chosen words (sometimes not so carefully chosen words). Educators must “notice” and comment on what is “right” more than noticing and commenting on errors and mistakes. This also applies to parents. We must be mind “full” of what “is” . . . and mind “less” of what “isn’t”. Many years ago, research shown that the ratio of negative-to-positive comments in American homes was greater than 10:1, which is 10 negative comments for every positive [...]