Monthly Archives: October 2009

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learning is a learning style by which students learn through movement. This differs from those learners that can sit and listen to a lecture or just see or read about a concept and grasp it. About 15% of the population are kinesthetic learners. Most of us however, learn best if we are able to use auditory, sensory and visual learning all in one. Most people have a dominant learning style but we all use every style.

For instructors it can be easy to get in a rut where they only teach in one learning style for the most part. This can be very hard on the students so it is a good idea for teachers to purposely try to integrate all teaching styles into their lessons.
If you suspect that you or one of your students is a kinesthetic learner here are a few of the traits that you may see:
  • can’t sit still for a long period of time, needs to get up and move
  • most likely good at sports
  • role playing is fun, handwriting is not
  • likes martial arts, dancing, gymnastics
  • has to take several homework or study breaks
  • does better studying or learning in short blocks
  • does well learning in labs, field trips, hands on
  • studies well with others
To help accommodate these tactile learners you can try some of the following in your curriculum:
  • role play, skits, performance
  • get up and move or dance
  • build models
  • use different colors and textures in presentations
  • provide balls or clay for use
  • use scented markers, stickers or something for cross sensory
  • get up and stretch periodically

Classroom Management

Maintaining some sense of order in a classroom can be very difficult. It is not easy to take so many students with different personalities, behaviors, and preferences and put them into a room together and make the learning environment suitable for each. Here are just a few ideas on things you may want to consider when thinking about classroom management.

Classroom arrangement – How do you set up the desks in your classroom? Is it working for the students? Until recent years we were all used to setting up desks in rows and now we set them up in circles, squares and any other way to help cooperative learning. The key with classroom arrangement is to keep students away from each other that are just bound to have problems together or who have proven in the past that there are problems.
Organization – If a teacher can flow from one subject to another like from math to English with fluidity then there is less time for the students to become unruly or disengaged. This works great for the elementary school student but for high school students teachers really have to have their time management skills honed. They must learn how to flow from one concept to the next without skipping a beat and giving a lull for the class to get out of hand. This does not mean that being prepared will make all problems disappear but it does make it easier. Having your curriculum well prepared will make a lot of difference.
Rewards and consequences – If you set the tone early in the year that the is zero tolerance for certain things such as violence, bullying of any kind, cheating, or vulgarity (just to name a few behavioral problems) then there is less likely to be a problem. You need to set clear guidelines and let the students know what behavior is expected and if that bar is not reached, what will then happen. The key here is to follow through without fail.
Supplies – It is best at any grade level to be sure that you have the school supplies necessary and on hand for whatever you will be doing in class on that day. Being prepared ahead of time will help keep the chaos low and the learning in order.
Visiting the parents of each of your students before the around the first of the year or even throughout the year may help with discipline problems. If parents and teachers are united in the educational efforts of the student, the student tends to take their own education more seriously.

Update on Flu Vaccinations

The flu (influenza) is a respiratory illness that is very contagious and caused by the influenza viruses. Sometimes the illness is very mild but at times it can lead to death. The best way to prevent the flu from spreading is to get your seasonal flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claim that each year anywhere from 5% to 20% of the population gets the flu. More than 200,000 people every year are hospitalized due to flu-related illnesses and/or complications and about 36,000 people die from flu related reasons. The people at the highest risk are the elderly, young children, and people with specific health conditions. The CDC warns that this year could possibly be the worst year we have seen because of the new strain of flu called the H1N1 flu.

Seasonal flu symptoms include fever (sometimes high), headache, fatigue, dry cough, sore throat, stuffy or runny nose, body aches, and stomach symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea (these stomach symptoms are more common in children than adults).
The seasonal flu spreads from person to person through coughing and sneezing. At times it is spread by touching something that has the infection. People with the virus are contagious even if it is before symptoms begin or after they are gone.
The best way to prevent the flu is to get a seasonal flu vaccine. Other prevention tools according to the CDC are: Avoid close contact with those who are ill. When you are ill, stay home and stay away from other people. Cover your mouth and nose. Use a tissue when you cough or sneeze, dispose of it and then WASH YOUR HANDS. This is a huge key. Germs are spread when you touch something contaminated and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth. Get plenty of rest, exercise, nutrition and fluids. Stress prevention is also a great tool.
It is very wise for all children from 6 months old to 19 years to get vaccinated. The CDC says that this is one of the major groups of people who should definitely get this vaccine. Some cases of the flu start going around in October but most hit around January. If you have not yet gotten seasonal flu vaccines for your children or yourself it is not too late. But, you may have to call around and put some effort into finding a place that has the vaccine available.
For H1N1 the largest “target groups” that need the vaccine first are (according to the CDC): Pregnant women, people who live with or care for infants 6 months old or younger, health care providers, people 6 months old to 24 years old and people 25 to 64 years old who have medical conditions that may put them at a higher risk for complications due to H1N1.
All public school are advocates of these vaccines for students and teachers alike. If you have children in any kind of school setting you need to consider finding a vaccination location and getting your kids what they need to fight off these viruses.

Verbs

In this post we will talk about the basic types of verbs. The English language has three basic types of verbs: action verbs, linking verbs and auxiliary verbs or helping verbs.

Action verbs:
An action verb is an action that can be done by a person, place or thing. This can be physical or mental actions.
Alan says he is going to New York.
The dog barks when vehicles drive by.
To be sure if a word is an action very ask yourself if it is something you could do? For example: Todd jogs every weekday. Ask yourself if you can do each word. Can you Todd? No. Can you jog? Yes.
Linking verbs:
Linking verbs tie the subject to the rest of the sentence. These are often different forms of “to be”.
Kathy is a sweet lady.
The new car could be a Dodge.
More often than not a linking verb describes the subject of the sentence. In our two examples the linking verb connects the subject to the definition of the subject. For example the first sentence defines Kathy as a “sweet lady”.
Here are a few of the various forms of “to be” that can work as linking verbs. Am, are, be, is, can be, were, shall be, has been, have been, would be, being, was, could be, has been, should be, would have been, should have been, could have been, will have been, shall have been, have been and will be.
Auxiliary verbs:
Auxiliary verbs are often referred to as “helping verbs”. These words appear in front of action or linking verbs.
The shy girls are sitting at the table together.
You could have been working tonight.
There are many types of auxiliary verbs in our language. Here are just a few of the words that often act as helping verbs. They can also act as action or linking verbs in different sentence structures. Can, could, may, might, must, would, shall, should, will, had, has, and have.

If you want to be sure if a word is a auxiliary very or a linking verb you would just look to see if the action verb immediately follows the “to be” verb. If it does then it is an auxiliary verb, if not it is a linking verb.
Students learn about verbs early on in their school curriculum. However, in the early elementary school grades verbs are simply introduced as “action” words. For more educational tools on verbs you can visit the following:

Homophones

Homophones are words that are spelled differently but pronounced exactly the same. Thus, they have different meanings as well. If a two homophones are spelled the same they are considered to be both homographs and homonyms. This can be seen in the following sentence:

The bear could not bear to be hungry any longer.

These words are phonetically the same and spelled the same but they are not anything alike in meaning. Not all homophones area spelled the same but as shown above, they can be. Many scholars of the English language will argue about whether or not to call this a homophone or a homonym. The meaning is basically there, it is really a matter of opinion on the technical aspect of things. For most educational purposes between kindergarten and high school the term homophone will suffice.
Homophones are great in word games and word play. It is great fun trying to solve different puzzles that may have a play on words or a pun. In these games you will often find multiple word homophones. These are technically considered oronyms. Some examples are:
ice cream I scream
depend deep end
stuffy nose stuff he knows
two lips tulips

These can make great exercises for students to get their brains to think in a whole new way. Word play can provide hours of entertainment and a lot of laughter. No matter what grade you are teaching you can have fun by implementing homophones into your curriculum.

Driver’s Education

Driver’s education was designed to help new drivers so that they have more training than what they get from a state manual on driving. Beginning drivers need many hours of practice in a car, discussion about driving and the responsibility that it comes with and more hours of lessons. Simply handing them a manual and telling a 16 year old that they have to pass one multiple choice quiz to get a license is a scary thought.

Some high schools still offer a driver’s education program. However, due to budget cuts nationwide, there is simply not enough funding for most schools to keep these programs alive. When this is the case, parents have to find their own way to make it so that their student gets the necessary training to not only meet state standards but to know that their child is responsible enough to be entrusted behind the wheel of a car.
Here is some information on programs that you can find online:
DriversEd.com offers online training in most states to help you get the educational hours you need for your state standards. Once you get these hours you will be ready to obtain a learner’s permit and start gaining some driving hours. Hands on experience with a responsibly party are key to success. With DriversEd.com you get all the online training for just $300.
DMV.org (not an official government site) – This is an information packed site that shows you your state requirements, practice tests, online driver’s education, traffic school solutions and more. They offer information on insurances and driver records.
DefensiveDriversEd.com – A site geared for all states to help you obtain a learner’s permit or driver’s license. You do your course work all online in an exciting interactive way. DefensiveDriversEd.com guarantees that you will pass the test! The fee involved for most states is under $100 but it all varies on location. The site is very upfront about the cost which makes it very nice.
No matter it you do a local driving school or online training you will know that you are an educated driver and that buys peace of mind. Just make sure you meet all of your state standards, don’t trust an independent company to tell you the state requirements, get them directly form your Department of Motor Vehicles. Once a teen has a license parents may want to put a parent contract pertaining to driving in place.

Changing Schools

If you are moving, a switch in schools for your student is inevitable unless you are moving right within the boundaries of their current school. If you are leaving the area it can be even more intense for the student because they will have no access other than electronic methods or snail mail to get in touch with old friends.

Here are a few suggestions to help make the transition between schools easier for your student:

  • Realize that wherever you are going that you have options. You are not just stuck with whatever school your boundaries decides on for you. You can always ask for an exception or choose a charter or private school for your child. For example, if your child is very gifted in one area and a certain school will foster that gift better than another you may want to consider using that school regardless of whether you live in the boundaries or not.
  • Talk with your student about the change. If they haven’t switched schools before you may want to talk about what they can expect and also ask them what they would like to get from the new school.
  • Take a tour of the new school. Get the student familiar with the surroundings and possibly where the classes they will be attending are located if possible.
  • Meet teachers when possible. Your student will be much better off if they have at least a few familiar faces when they go to the new school on the first day.
  • Talk to you student about the trials that they may face and give them some coping strategies with how to face these issues.
  • Find your student’s niche. If your student is musical be sure to get them into some music classes. This will give them a built in peer group with similar interests and help them to feel like they have a place of belonging.
  • If you sense that your student will have a difficult time you may want to meet with a school counselor on your own to find out how the school and you can help meet the needs of the student.
  • Keep as many things consistent in your home life as possible during this time. Children of all ages thrive on routine, familiar surroundings and solid family life.

Moving to a new school is not an easy thing for students. Be patient and understanding and always be on the look out for risky behaviors. You don’t want your child to slip through the cracks and have their needs go unnoticed. You can make a big difference in their experience if you will engage in conversations and be proactive.

Volunteering at School

Studies show that children do better in school and have better self esteem when they have parents who volunteer at their schools. Most teachers and school staff beg for the help of parents. There are many things that parents can do when volunteering at a school. Teachers and administrators will have great ideas to utilize your time wisely. Here are a few tips to help you successfully volunteer.

  1. Get to know your student’s teacher. Get to know the schedule at school and look at things from the stand point of what you can do to help out. Talking with the teacher will give you great ideas. Most teachers are very receptive to parent involvement.
  2. If you are financially able you can ask the teacher or school what supplies may be needed to help out and provide them if possible. Even if you just ask the teacher if there is a day that you can bring a certain snack it would most likely be very welcome.
  3. Get involved in your local PTA. Reach out to other parents and network on behalf of making your school a better and safer place. There is always room for improvement and everyone should get involved.
  4. Be at school functions. Make sure you are involved in back to school nights, book fairs and other school events. If possible see how you can volunteer and help organize these events. All of these great occasions are to your child’s benefit so be there.
As we stated before, your teacher and other school staff members will have great input to how you can most effectively give you time to the school.

Choosing a Tutor

When people start having children they never foresee certain problems. We all just assume we will have happy and healthy children that will go to school and do well. Sometimes we miss the signs that there are even problems because we aren’t sure what to look for. Before we go into what to look for in a tutor we will briefly touch on when to think about a tutor.

When you may need a tutor:
  • Progress slows in one or more subjects.
  • The student has a learning disability that keeps them from grasping concepts in a reasonable amount of time.
  • The student is not confident in their abilities at school.
  • The student has behavioral issues or medical issues that get in the way of their education and need some extra reinforcement of educational concepts.
How to go about getting a tutor:
  1. Talk to you child and let them know that you think a tutor is necessary. Be sure to explain why but help your child realize that it isn’t because they are inferior as people. Kids need to understand that EVERYONE struggles with different things at different times in life. Getting help in no way makes them less than anyone else.
  2. Approach the student’s teacher and/or school administrators to discuss where the child is in their education and what help is needed. The teacher or staff may have great ideas on who can tutor the child and best fit the needs.
  3. Be sure to check out the tutors references and credentials. You do not want just anyone spending such one on one time with your child. You also want to be sure that the tutor is competent in the subjects that need to be addressed.
  4. Be clear about your expectations to the tutor. You need to be reasonable but if the tutor knows what you expect it can help keep some misunderstandings from cropping up.
  5. Ask the tutor if they are available for appointments when the child is ready to learn, not tired and restless.
  6. Let the tutor know that you will want to observe some of the tutoring that goes on. If they are uncomfortable with that for any reason let it be a red flag to you and move on to another tutor.
  7. Ask the tutor how they measure progress and how they will keep you informed.

Head Start Programs

The Head Start child development started in 1965 with the goal of serving low-income children and their families. In the 2006-2007 program year there were 1,071,697 children and pregnant women enrolled in Head Start and Early Head Start programs. 976,150 in Head Start and 95,547 in Early Head Start according to the National Head Start Association.

Head Start is an early childhood development program that is very comprehensive. Studies show that the benefits for kids and families that take part in the Head Start program include increased earnings, employment, family stability, less welfare dependency, lower crime, less grade repetition, and less special education. Simply by reducing crime, society gets a huge pay back from contributing to the Head Start program. This point is made because 80% of Head Start funding is from the federal government and then 20% comes from local agencies, private donors and others.
Parents who participate in the program are found to have greater life satisfaction, better coping skills, less anxiety, depression and illness. The children participating in Head Start and Early Head Start are 8 percent more likely to have all of their immunizations. It is clear that there is a high rate of success in this program, not just for the children but for the families as a whole. Research tends to reveal that the families function at a higher rate than those low income families that do not partake of the program.
There has been a debate since the Bush administration about changing the funding from the federal government over to the states. The National Head Start Association points out that there is most likely not enough funding at the local and state level to support such programs. The fear is that because of local and state funding the number of children and families served in the Head Start program would be reduced dramatically and then the progress made in recent years would dissipate. The other fear is that there are not the means or infrastructure to oversee such a widespread program and the children would suffer for it. The argument is made that Head Start programs in general provide a more comprehensive and higher quality programs than their state funded pre-k programs. If the states take over the funding it is likely that that due to lack of funding they will not be able to afford the same quality of teachers and that the outcome of the children will be what suffers.