Tag Archives: learning styles

Sunday Morning Shout Out

With this blog, I am constantly thinking about educational and parenting issues for columns.  With summertime, more time has been spent thinking about children, behavior, and summer slide, than actual time spent in the classroom.  As a parent, I guess my head is literally more in the sand, the water, the soccer field, or at the fun summer event than the classroom, until now.  I have just become acquainted with the standing desk.

A few weeks ago, “The Washington Post” ran an article “Standing Desks At Schools: The Solution to the Childhood Obesity Epidemic.” Perhaps you think of such desks as simply a feature in swank modern offices.  In fact, more and more schools are using them as a way to fight childhood obesity and attention problems.  They give student, what researchers’ term, “active-permissive environments,” to best learn in and succeed.

Standing desks have been found to be a powerful tool to help children expend energy and calories, a boon to this country’s obesity epidemic and its poor cousins of heart diseases, Type 2 Diabetes, and host of other maladies that are affecting young people today at epidemic rates.  A study reported in the “American Journal of Public Health,” titled “The Impact Of Stand-Biased Desks In Classrooms On Calorie Expenditure In Children” found in its sample of 80 first grade students that students with standing desks burned 17% more calories than those in traditional desks.  Students who were obese in the study burned 32% more.  Multiply the use of standing desks, by five days of school per week, and we have a pretty powerful obesity fighter.

This also turns the old belief of sitting still and learning on its head.  Researchers found that being able to move around is essential to processing new information and learning.  Think of the learners that get lost, while seemingly feeling tortured by the demands of sitting still to learn.  Studies have found the use of standing desks is very effective in helping children who would otherwise become distracted and perhaps behavioral issues in the classroom, more able to stay focused and learn.  Being able to move around while listening to the teacher, allows students a different way to complete course work.  It breaks up monotony for the students. It clears the way for certain learners who tune out and perhaps act up.  Movement promotes learning.

So while I personally prefer thinking about sitting in the sand this time of the year, before we know it-school will be here.  With such promising studies about the standing desk’s efficacy, perhaps more schools and homes will start using them.

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Teen Inventors Saving Lives

Sometimes the best solution to problems come to inquisitive minds that can redefine the issue and recognize new paths to solutions.  Often these solutions are adaptations of something already known to a new area or they are creative innovations that provide breakthrough resolution to a new or existing problem.  Often the mind that brings the insight to the world would be considered less than an expert in the field and tend to to be under the age of 30.  In some instances the invention is created by an individual under the age of 20 and often the focus on social or health issues.  This is really exciting because these teens are thinking outside the box to create solutions to medical problems that change the world and help to save lives. Below are examples of inventive young entrepreneurs who have solved complex medical issues with devices they have created themselves.

Catherine Wong

Need a medical checkup but can’t get to the doctor? Whether you live in a remote area or just want to keep tabs on your heart, Catherine’s invention attaches to your cell phone and allows you to measure your heartbeat. Catherine’s device allows you to take a test called an electrocardiogram which can alert users to irregular heartbeats which would give them time to seek medical help.

Tony Hansberry

Tony is a student at the Carnell Cookman School of Medical Arts which is the first American school to have an integrated medical curriculum. Tony developed a new suture method which radically reduces the time it takes to perform a hysterectomy. This makes the procedure safer for patients and it reduces the recovery time and cost of the operation.

See the video here.

Jack Andraka

Jack may be just a freshman, but his future is already looking bright. He recently won the $75,000 grand prize at this past spring’s Intel International Science and Engineering Fair becoming the youngest participant to do so. Every year, 40,000 people die of pancreatic cancer as it is one of the most lethal cancers, with a five-year survival rate of 6 percent. That may be about to change with Jack’s new invention which comprises a small dipstick probe that utilizes 1/6th of a drop of blood to accurately see if the patient has cancer. The test is easy to administer and only takes five minutes to complete.

Suman Mulumudi

15-year-old Suman attends Lakeside School and has built two medical devices that would reduce healthcare costs and improve accuracy. Suman has built the Steth IO which is a device you can add onto a smartphone which turns it into a stethoscope which is far more accurate than traditional stethoscopes.

His second invention aids in the administration of angioplasties; a procedure that clears blocked arteries. Here lesion in arterial tissue have to be repaired using a stent. The hardest part of the procedure is placing the stents in the correct places. Suman’s device helps to measure the length of the lesions so that accurately sized stents can be used thus reducing the need for repeat hospital visits.

Suman’s invention uses a microprocessor from an optical computer mouse and combines it with 3D modelling and printing to create the LesionSizer which measures the length of the arterial lesions for more accurate results.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/21/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Can We Praise Our Children Too Much?

The power of positive parenting is amazing and parents who grew up with little praise understand that children respond better to positive encouragement than they do to reprisals or the promise of punishment. But sometimes, praising your kids becomes such a habit that we tend to overdo it.

“Somehow, parents have come to believe that by praising their kids they improve their self-esteem,” Paul Donahue, PhD, founder and director of Child Development Associates, says. “Though well-intentioned, putting kids on a pedestal at an early age can actually hinder their growth.”

It’s ok to lose
Sometimes you need to praise the process rather than the outcome. If your child’s baseball team lost, but they went to every practice and tried their little hearts out, then you should praise their resilience, their tenacity and their effort. But take care not to pretend that they didn’t lose. Losing is part of life and they have to learn to deal with the disappointments.

Teach self-motivation
When you over-praise, your kids lose the value of a positive word from mom or dad and the good feeling that comes with achieving something noteworthy. This will mean that you will have to find other ways to motivate your child. Some parents here turn to cash or material incentives but, warns Jenn Berman, PhD, a marriage and family therapist and author of The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy and Confident Kids this will lead to kids who can’t self-motivate: “I believe that we want children who are self-motivated. If you tell your daughter, ‘If you get an A on the test I’ll give you $5,’ then you are creating a situation in which your child is motivated by money, not by the positive feelings of success.”

Steps to proper praise
Each child and situation is unique and as their parents, you know best how and when to praise, but the experts do agree on a few pointers:

Be genuine: Focus on praising when you are sincerely impressed. If words like ‘good job’ and ‘that was great’ pepper your every sentence, it may be time to cut back.

Be specific: Pick out the exact things that you thought they tried really hard at and praise those for example, instead of saying “You are great at science” try “I was really impressed by the work you put into your science project. I know the other kids didn’t do their share so you had to work a little harder and you did a great job of managing your team.”

Say it like you mean it: To praise your children’s every action, even when you aren’t impressed, is to reduce the value of their efforts, so choose wisely.

Praise younger children more: In a study of 24-month old children (Kelley, et. al., 2000), researchers recorded how mothers responded to their toddlers while they attempted a challenging task. A year later the same families were invited back and kids were tested again. Researchers found that the 36-month old kids who were most likely to take on new challenges were the ones whose mothers had praised them more.

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 4/10/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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Understanding Learning Styles

Your learning style is the way you acquire information.  Students learn faster and retain more when information is presented to them in their learning styles of choice.  Most people have a dominant learning style, but they can still learn when information is presented in another learning style.  Teachers should present information in ways that appeal to all learning styles, but they may not always have the time to do so.  When you know what your student’s learning style is, you can tailor information so that they can understand and process it better.  Too bad Common Core standards have not really embraced learning styles in the design and implementation of the teaching goals and materials.

The Seven Learning Styles

  1. Verbal (linguistic): Verbal students prefer using words to communicate, both in speech and writing. They like to read and take notes.
  2. Physical (kinesthetic): These students prefer using their body, hands and sense of touch. They enjoy learning that is action-based like science experiments, making projects and working with their hands.
  3. Visual (spatial): Spacially-oriented students prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding. They work well when information is presented in graphs, pie charts, infographics, pictures or video.
  4. Aural (auditory-musical): These students prefer using sound and music. They like listening to lectures or talks.
  5. Solitary (intrapersonal): These are independent learners who prefer to work alone and use self-study.
  6. Logical (mathematical): These students prefer using logic, reasoning and systems. They are great with math and science.
  7. Social (interpersonal): Social students prefer to learn in groups or with other people. They love organizing study groups and collaborative projects.

Consult your Teachers and Tutors

Ask your teacher or tutor to help to determine your student’s dominant learning styles. Most students use a combination of styles to assimilate information. While they will have a dominant style, it’s important to remember that styles are dynamic. That means that with practice, your student can adjust to any style of learning.

Once you know what your student’s preferred learning style is, you can teach them to arrange material to suit their style. For example, if your student prefers a visual learning style, organize information that they need to understand into graphs, infographics, mind maps and pictures. Let them watch videos on the subject and allow them to create videos and visually-oriented presentations for their projects. Presenting information in their learning style will help them to understand and remember.

Your tutor can help to teach your students how to arrange information into a more favorable format and how to tailor study skills to suit different subjects. Ask your tutor to give a brief test to determine learning style preferences.

Here are some resources for finding out your learning style online. Most of these resources are short tests which help you to see which learning style suits your student best. Do two or three to get a better idea of the learning styles that your student prefers:

Note: Adapted from a post originally published 3/31/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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How Social Media Makes Social Learning More Effective

Social learning has around since the 1970’s when Albert Bandura suggested that learning is a social activity.  His social learning theory postulates that learning occurs more easily when students observe behaviors and mimic them.  This includes the observation of rewards and punishments for behaviors.  When harnessing this theory to effect change in the classroom, teachers can use social media to create a wider conversation and include other influential players.  If used correctly, social media can be a real asset when teaching through social learning.

As parents you have already experienced social learning as your young students mimic your behavior and learn from your actions.  Now with social media, you can augment the social learning opportunities at home and in the classroom by introducing your students to a wider audience of influencers.

What this means is that our educators and tutors are still mentors and models, but they are required to relinquish some of their authority to the community of learners as students learn from each other.  With social media, this community is not restricted to the students in the classroom, but can also include students from around the world and all the resources that the Internet makes available. Now we have an entire network of teachers, tutors and learners all contributing to our body of knowledge and sharing their experiences.

While social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Pinterest can provide a wealth of learning opportunities, they can also serve as distractions that eat up an enormous amount of time without contributing anything to your student’s body of knowledge. This means that social media can be a blessing or a curse and needs to be managed effective to achieve the desired results. Teachers and tutors need to outline lesson plans, goals and guidelines to direct social media actions and continually enforce these guidelines to add a structure to social media interactions. Social media is a wonderful tool to use in social learning, but it must be structured in order to be effective.

Students learn more when there is a human connection to their content. This means that they are more likely to remember an exciting video on a lab experiment than if they read the experiment in a text book. Social media makes this possible as students can watch videos of scientific experiments on YouTube and discuss them with other students in forum portals.

Social media also caters for all learning styles thanks to its multi-media capabilities. Students can talk to other learners, tutors and teachers, read blogs, watch videos and study graphics. No matter what kind of style your student responds to, they are bound to find the information they are looking for in a format they like. Social media also caters to students with different learning speeds. The faster they learn, the more there is for them to discover. Students who work quickly have an endless wealth of resources to explore on the internet.

Social media gives active learners the opportunity to explore and discover. They can work as fast or as slowly as they like and interact with their community and with the information in a format that suits them best.

“Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do. Fortunately, most human behavior is learned observationally through modeling: from observing others one forms an idea of how new behaviors are performed, and on later occasions this coded information serves as a guide for action.”
-Albert Bandura, Social Learning Theory, 1977

Note: adapted from a post originally published 1/6/2014 on the Tutor Doctor Corp. blog

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What’s Your Student’s Learning Style?

Albert Einstein once said: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.” I have worked with so many students who while not labeled as stupid, since that is politically incorrect, have certainly been given less and less attention and support through their school years because they don’t fit in or conform to the system.  Recognizing talent is not an easy task and teachers certainly have their hands full today as common core changes absorb them.  This is where you as a parent need to make extra efforts and help find where your child’s talents and skills lie.  For my daughter her talents lie in the Arts, Nature and Music.  She has issues with language arts and yet she is a great speller.  Her math skills seem to be average.  We are coming to see that she is a Tactile learner.

The problems with reading can be frustrating (actually very frustrating!) for me, but then I keep remembering her talents and where she truly shines.  To help her (and us!) deal with the troubles learning language skill we have had her tutored off and on again for the past 3 years and it has truly helped as the tutors use our input to improve our daughters skills.  As parents it is important to keep remember that children process and absorb information in different ways.  Some students like to see the big picture first and then learn the details and skills of each step while others can’t imagine what the big picture will be until they have learned each little step along the way.

Some students find diagrams and infographics helpful in learning information while others like to listen to the teacher’s lesson to get their facts and figures.  Others like to build, measure, mix and experiment when they are learning.  Knowing what your student’s learning style is will make it easier for you to present information in a format that they can relate to.

Traditionally there are three ‘basic’ learning styles. They are Visual, Auditory and Tactile.

Visual learners
Visual learners like their information presented in an interesting visual format so videos, pictures, charts, illustrations, mind maps, and online presentations are a great way for them to learn. Presenting information this way makes it easier for them to see how things relate to each other. Visual learners should create their own mind maps and graphics when they are studying as this will help them to remember the information and see.

Auditory learners
These students are good listeners. They like teachers and tutors who explain, talk and read aloud. These students learn understand through a more traditional teaching method. When they are learning, auditory learners can benefit from reading aloud or listening to taped lectures and online podcasts.

Tactile learners
These students like to learn through action. They are great with experiments, measuring, observations, field trips, building models and other physically-oriented tasks. Activity is the way to get them to remember information or learn new skills.

Most teachers try to present information in a number of different formats to accommodate the learning style of all of their students. If your student is having trouble with a subject, ask their teacher or tutor to help you ascertain their learning style and then present the information in a way that they will absorb best. The internet is a great resource tool for finding the information you need to share in a format that suits your student. There is a video, infographic and experiment you can try for just about everything.

If you are curious about your student’s learning style, take a quick online test with sites such as ID Pride or VARK. Tutors and teachers are also great at understanding learning styles and they will be able to not only help your student to understand their learning style, but to convert information into a format that they understand and accept best.


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How To Choose The Right Tutor

Homework help or hinderance? (Image Credit: http://reducehomeworkstress.com/blog/)

Homework help or hinderance? (Image Credit: http://reducehomeworkstress.com/blog/)

Struggling academically or doing a little extra tutoring to bring up a grade point average is a natural part of growing up. Most students need a little extra help from time to time and getting a professional in-home tutor tends to be the best choice for improving grades. One-on-one tutoring will mean that your student gets the all the help they need. There are so many benefits to tutoring, but you must find the right tutor to suit your student in order to for them to get the best out of the situation.

Benefits of Tutors

  • Tutors are able to identify the gaps in your student’s knowledge and fill in the building blocks for them.
  • Tutors focus on teaching the skills your students need to excel, rather than just disseminating information.
  • Each student has a learning style. Tutors are able to identify the learning styles of each student and then present information in ways that your student understands.
  • The one-on-one tutoring gives your student the opportunity to answer without fear of embarrassment which helps them to build confidence and improves performance.
  • Tutors teach students study methods that work for them. They can help students to study for exams and tests, help with homework, help them to effectively manage their time and compile study schedules that leave enough time to study for each subject.
  • In-home tutors come to you and fit in with your schedule, so you aren’t inconvenienced.
  • Confidence gained through tutoring will help reduce the anxiety your student feels in academic situations.

Choosing The Right Tutor
Start by talking with your student and their teacher. This will help you to ascertain exactly what difficulties your student is having. Knowing exactly what the problem is will help you to find a tutor that is the right fit.
The success of a tutoring program depends on your student, so get their opinions and input so that they are part of the process.
Once you have established your student’s needs, contact your local Tutor Doctor for a list of tutors in your area. Ensure that the tutors have the right qualifications to teach your student. Ask about their experience levels and what experience they have with the grade your student is in and the kinds of problems they are having.
Work with your student, teachers and tutor to set very clear goals. Ensure that the academic goals are realistic and achievable.
If the tutor isn’t a good fit for your student, feel free to ask for a different tutor. Getting the right tutor will exponentially improve your student’s performance.
In-home tutors are able to give your student their undivided attention, but there are alternatives like extra classes which are given at the tutoring center, online courses or phone tutoring which reduce the costs of tutoring for families.

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