student working on a laptop

learning

Differences Among Learners, Real and Not

Blog Type:  Learning Date Posted:  Friday, April 26, 2013

Submitted by Annie Murphy Paul

The idea that students have particular “learning styles”—visual, auditory, kinesthetic, etc. — is a popular and persistent one despite the lack of scientific evidence to support it. (For a great summary of the research, see this blog post by UVA cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham.)

The apparent weakness of learning styles theory does not mean, however, that students don’t differ from one another. They clearly do. But let’s focus on differences that have empirical support. Scott Barry Kaufman points out one such set of differences in one of his recent columns on the Scientific American website—that is, differences in working memory.

As Scott explains, “Working memory involves the ability to maintain and manipulate information in one’s mind while ignoring irrelevant distractions and intruding thoughts. Working memory skills are essential for everyday intellectual functioning.” And learners vary in the capacity of their working memory, a fact that teachers can take into account:

“In an educational setting, helping students overcome working memory burdens can be particularly helpful. Over the past decade John Sweller and colleagues have designed instructional techniques that relieve working memory burdens on students and increase learning and interest. Drawing on both the expertise and working memory literatures, they match the complexity of learning situations to the learner, attempting to reduce unnecessary working memory loads that may interfere with reasoning and learning, and optimize cognitive processes most relevant to learning.

Cognitive Load Theory can be particularly useful for students with working memory deficits who are otherwise extremely intelligent and competent as it allows them to more easily demonstrate their brilliance.” (Read more here.)

For learners with such working memory deficits (and for all of us when we’re learning something new or difficult), reducing cognitive load can lead to big improvements in performance. We can do so by breaking concepts and problems into smaller steps, weeding out extraneous information, presenting information in multiple modalities (e.g.,  supplementing written text with pictures or aural information), and simply slowing the pace of learning so that we don’t become overwhelmed.

To quote Dan Willingham: “People do learn differently, but I think it is very important to say exactly how they learn differently, and focus our attention on those differences that really matter.” What are some other evidence-based distinctions we can make among learners? Read Annie Murphy Paul's blog and weekly newsletter, The Brilliant Report.

annie murphy paul headshot

Annie Murphy Paul is a book author, magazine journalist, consultant, and speaker. 

more learning posts

landmark school banner ad

Tags:  Annie Murphy Paul auditory cognitive load theory cognitive process Daniel Willingham John Sweller kinesthetic learning learning style Scientific American Scott Barry Kaufman The Brilliant Report visual working memory

Project Based-Learning as a Tool to Boost Executive Function Skills

Blog Type:  Learning Date Posted:  Tuesday, August 14, 2018

steamworks at landmark high school

By Carl Gasowski

Walking into the STEAMworks Technology Department in the school where I teach, one might see a student working on a computer-controlled wood carving, or perhaps constructing and programming a drone, or maybe even composing and recording music. Aside from the common workshop and studio space that these students share, they also benefit from the experience of using hands-on, project based-learning as a means to develop and understand their thought process.

Five-Phase Production Process

In the STEAMworks Technology Department students move through the development of each project in five phases. They start by identifying what they want to learn about, including skills and content. Next, they brainstorm project ideas, select an idea to pursue, and begin the process of planning. During this phase, students are encouraged to sequence the steps needed to complete their project while researching the materials they may need and anticipating potential challenges. It’s a phase that can teach both the importance of simplicity and the nuances of complexity. The planning and design phase accounts for the bulk of their project and is ripe with opportunities for conversations about their thought process, strategies, and design choices. 

After completing their plans, students begin to visualize the fabrication of their products as they move into the prototyping or drafting phase. They might build a smaller model, test a concept for an individual component, or practice a technique before they move onto the building phase. During the building phase students get to see their ideas come to life. They can identify where their plan was successful and where it may have fallen short. Finally, at the completion of a project, it’s all about evaluating the process and the result. If additional drafts are to be made, then students assess where to make improvements.

Tangible Growth

Aside from planning and time management, moving through the whole process teaches patience, productivity, and perseverance. As an instructor on the sidelines of the process, the success and progression of student skills are tangible in the products that the students create, their awareness of the necessary steps, and their approach to challenges and obstacles.

About the Author

Carl Gasowski is entering his 14th year as a teacher in the Science and Technology Department at Landmark High School.]]>

more learning posts

landmark school banner ad

Tags:  Executive Functioning hands-on learning innovation learning science STEAM STEM technology

What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability?

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Wednesday, November 15, 2017

teacher and girl student working at table

What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? Five Part Series

Landmark360.org launched the five-part series What Is a Language-Based Learning Disability? to define and explain Language-Based Learning Disabilities (LBLD), offer tips on remediation, highlight the importance of early intervention, and give readers a glimpse into the life a family with a child with LBLD.

Read these posts and give us feedback. We're eager to know what you think.

Part One: What We Know About LBLD and Learning, by Bob Broudoflame
Part Two: Language-Based Learning Disabilities: A Primer, by Melody O'Neil
Part Three: Help Your Struggling Learner: Remediation Is a Key to Success, by Christine Ozahowski
Part Four: It's a Myth That Young Children Cannot Be Screened for Dyslexia, by Nadine Gaab, PhD
Part Five: Language-Based Learning Disabilities on the Homefront, by Angela Timpone Gowans

 

brilliance award winner icon

Landmark360.org's post by Bob Broudo about LBLD and Learning won a 2017 Gold InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Award in the national competition that recognizes excellence in private and independent school marketing and communications.

more learning disabilities posts

Tags:  dyslexia early intervention early remediation programs education language-based learning disability learning research

Executive Function 101: Information

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Wednesday, April 11, 2018

This is the third post in a five-part series about Executive Function. Each post includes downloadable templates to use at home and in the classroom. The first article is about managing time. The second addresses managing materials, the fourth achieving independence, and the fifth finding balance between school and extra-curricular activities.

Teaching students how to organize class content and assignments will help them manage their workload, reduce stress, and achieve academic success.

executive function information download tearoffs
Download these templates.

Managing the flow of incoming and outgoing information is at the root of why study skills are so valuable and effective. Students benefit immensely when teachers show students how to:

  • Pre-read using headings and subheadings in textbooks, write two-column notes to identify the main idea or topic, and take time to include supporting details.
  • Actively read by highlighting, using sticky notes, and jotting notes in the margins.
  • Learn to write a summary and follow a structured template for the five-step writing process. (Download the template.)
  • Predict test questions and employ a variety of test-taking strategies to teach students how to manage the large volume of information related to their academics.

Two-Column Note-taking

Two-column notes are a way for students to extract the main ideas from the supporting details of a selection or lesson. Students are often asked to fold their piece of paper in half down the length of the sheet to create a useable format for note-taking. When done correctly, these notes are helpful in studying for tests and writing papers.

 

 

“In all of our classes we teach content but never without first teaching the skills necessary to access this content.” — Robin Day-Laporte, Director of the Landmark High School Study Skills Department

Tips

  • Use two-column notetaking.
  • Utilize templates.
  • Pre-read text to become familiar with the content.
  • Set up well-marked electronic and paper filing systems.
  • Clean and sort files and folders regularly.

 

more teaching posts

SKILLS+_Graphic300

Tags:  active reading Anxiety and test taking education Executive Function learning main idea organization organization and structure parents students summarizing technology template two-column notes writing

6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child’s IEP Is Implemented Properly

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Byline:  By Kristin Stanberry

This resource originally appeared on Understood.org. Reprinted courtesy of Understood.org ©2018. Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.
This is one of four posts about navigating the IEP process. Read the other articles: Questions to Ask Before and During Your Child's IEP Meeting, 5 Important Things to Do After an IEP Meeting, and How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder.

Your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been set in motion. How well is it working? Is the school delivering what it promised? Try these tips to monitor the situation throughout the year.

1. Check in with the teacher.

The parent-teacher conference is a good time to take the pulse of your child’s progress. But you can also check in regularly to make sure your child’s IEP is being followed. Share any concerns based on what you’re seeing at home. If your child spends most of his time in the general education classroom, his teacher will know if he’s being pulled out of class to work with special educators as promised in his IEP.

2. Contact the team leader if the IEP isn’t being honored.

If you think the school isn’t delivering all of the services and supports in your child’s IEP, don’t sit and stew. Be proactive and contact the IEP team leader. Give that person a chance to clear up misunderstandings and correct any problems. The leader may appreciate your alert. If corrective action is required, make sure it happens. Be friendly but firm.

3. If things don’t improve, request a special IEP team meeting.

If you take the steps above but aren’t satisfied with the results, you can request a special IEP meeting. You don’t have to wait until next year’s IEP meeting to iron out any problems. Getting the entire team together may be the only way to put your child’s IEP back on track as soon as possible.

4. Know your child’s special educators and their schedules.

The IEP should state what special education services your child will receive and for how many hours per week. You can ask the IEP team leader for the names of the special educators assigned to help your child. Find out what services they’ll provide and on which days. That way you can casually ask your child, “Did you spend time with Mrs. Smith today?” Your child may tell you a little—or a lot!

5. Read the progress reports.

Your child’s IEP includes measurable annual goals. It should also explain how his progress toward goals will be measured and when this will be reported to you. Many schools send IEP progress reports to parents when report cards are issued. Find out when you can expect progress reports and mark the dates on your calendar. Carve out time to compare the IEP with how well your child is progressing.

6. Watch, listen and read between the lines.

Keep an eye on your child’s homework and classroom test scores. Is the teacher adjusting assignments as noted in the IEP? If so, is your child making progress? Ask your child if he’s getting his accommodations, whether it’s extra time on tests or assistive technology. Talk to your child in a way that suits his age and personality. Listen carefully to what he says—or doesn’t say—about school and learning. Jot down your concerns.

About the Author

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

more learning disabilities posts

Tags:  IEP IEP meeting learning parents special education

5 Important Things to Do After an IEP Meeting

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018 Byline:  By Kristin Stanberry

girl at computer with paper

This resource originally appeared on Understood.org. Reprinted courtesy of Understood.org ©2018. Understood, LLC. All rights reserved.
This is one of four posts about navigating the IEP process. Read the other articles: Questions to Ask Before and During Your Child's IEP Meeting, 6 Tips to Make Sure Your Child's IEP Is Implemented Properly, and How to Organize Your Child's IEP Binder.

After an IEP meeting, you need to take care of some details. These can vary from one meeting to the next. Here are five important things to do after an IEP meeting.

1. If you have objections.

After the IEP meeting, write an email or letter to the case manager summarizing what decisions and questions came out of the meeting. Did the school agree to set up another meeting? Do you plan to request a mediation session? By putting that in writing, you make sure everyone is on the same page and get those next steps on their calendars.

2. Review and sign the final IEP.

Review and sign the final IEP. The IEP you and your child’s IEP team discuss and develop in the meeting is a draft. The school or district will finalize the IEP after the meeting and will send you a copy to sign. Make sure you sign it and return it by the deadline they give you. (Be sure to keep a copy for yourself.) To be on the safe side, refer to Understood's checklist of things to double-check before signing an IEP.

3. Express appreciation to your allies.

Send a simple but sincere thank-you note to anyone who attended the meeting with you. Let them know specifically how they made a difference. If this person is a professional who works with your child—and there is follow-up work to do—try to make it convenient. For example, you might offer to stop by their office to pick up records or reports the school has requested.

4. Debrief your child.

If your child didn’t attend the IEP meeting, share how it went. Be sure to mention the positive things people said along with the challenges. Consider your child’s age and maturity as you explain any changes. Describe new supports and services in concrete terms. If your child joined you at the meeting, ask about how she’s feeling. Praise her for things done well. Start planting the seeds of self-advocacy.

5. Update your IEP files at home.

Organize all of the documents that result from the IEP meeting, including a copy of the new IEP. Note any important dates, such as when progress reports are sent out, on your calendar. Place the new IEP, as well as the notes and documentation you took to the meeting, in your files. This is also a good time to reorganize your filing system to make it easier to use in the future.

About the Author

Kristin Stanberry

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

more learning disabilities posts

Tags:  IEP IEP meeting learning parents

Navigating the IEP Process: Tips for Parents

Blog Type:  Learning Disabilities Date Posted:  Tuesday, March 20, 2018

mom dad son talking

Landmark360.org curated several articles from Understood.org that help parents navigate the often confusing, frustrating, and painstaking process of developing, implementing, and monitoring a child's IEP. Thank you to Understood.org for sharing their content.

Understood.org Resources

Other Resources

Below are links to sites that explain the federal laws and regulations governing the education of students with disabilities.

more learning disabilities posts

Tags:  learning parents special education
Subscribe to RSS - learning