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Teaching Phonics: Helping Kids Read

Teaching phonics starts at a young age, but even if kids come into your classroom at any age it’s not too late.

First: Address where the child’s at

Data heads most schools, but sometimes when there’s language barriers, it makes these tests harder for students. No matter what additional factors are at play, simple one on one should allow you to know: does the child know their alphabet, do they know sounds, are they starting to get sight words, or just at what level they can read.

SECOND: Create a Goal and A Plan To achieve it

Nobody reaches the finish line without first figuring out where they are headed. Future readers likewise need to have achievable goals, so they can feel the success, and build on it. Notice nuance in each child. If the child is older, they might not be grasping why they even need to learn to read. They need to find inner motivation if they’re going to put forth the effort to master a new skill. This means they might need even more of a game type atmosphere. If you can think of a way to make learning fun, do it! The reward of it for everyone will pay off ten fold!

teaching phonics

Third: Know the Basics of Language yourself

Here is some vocabulary around reading. Although it is not essential to memorize these words, the ideas behind them are what the students and all of us need to master.

Phonemes = any distinct unit of sound that when put together with other phonemes create words (for example ‘d’ in ‘dog’)

Grapheme = the symbols we use in writing (for example ‘d’)

Automacity = For it to be automatic and natural. The more words that fit into this category for the child the easier time they’ll have collecting information from a book or a street sign

Language Structure Also Effects Sound

Closed Words = CVC (consonant, vowel, consonant)

Open Words = 1st syllabol ends in a vowel

Silent ‘e’….also the other silent letter nuances

Vowel Team Words = like ‘Chair’ or ‘Neat’

Consonant ‘le’ and ‘er’ Words = like ‘supper’ and ‘turtle’

Lastly: Start Small

Our language is immense! People get Doctorates in just English, so remember achievable goals. Maybe a third grader just needs to learn the alphabet, but until that goal is accomplished the rest of English will not make sense. Good luck and stay patient!

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Individualize Instruction: Classroom Modifications

classroom modification

Individualize Instruction: Classroom Modifications

As we know, all kids learn differently. This means individualized instruction with possible classroom modifications. Some are the ‘easy’ kids who want to please, and have the capability to keep their bodies in check. Some kids simply need modifications. Even if this means they are simply sunning extra errands for the teacher so that they can get their wiggles out. I recently came across this video, which so greatly encompasses the students’ needs. It is great what you can learn by simply talking to the students’ needs. It is also great to help them gain some self-prospective on their own needs. This means that every year they can work toward reaching the goal of filling their own needs, so that they can get the most out of the classroom experience to truly learn. Here’s the video with kids who really know themselves well.

Some basis modifications in a classroom can include (but are not limited to):

  • Listing things on the board, so students do not have to remember it all
  • A wiggle seat
  • A phone book on the floor so that they can truly plant their feet on the ground
  • A squishy ball or something to keep their hands busy
  • Not requiring eye-contact but simply modeling
  • Highlighting important information
  • A visual schedule
  • Extra exercise throughout day to get the wiggles out
  • Limitations of distractions
  • Preferred seating (whether closer to the teacher, materials, or off by self)
  • Role-play
  • Communication book home
  • Limit talking-time
  • Be patient
  • Shorter reading/writing assignments
  • Explain why material is important to learn
  • Use large text, braille, sign, whatever the student needs

It is important to individualize the instruction to each kid. No this does not mean redoing the whole lesson, but it does mean taking everyone’s abilities and struggles into account. This also means getting to know the students.

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online learning

Great Online Learning Sites For Kids

There are so many great online learning sites out there for kids. Obviously monitoring is key, as there are more non-friendly kid sites. Here are just a few of the many:

Sparkle Math – It has math games, activities, worksheets, and more. Starting with preschoolers. It also has a special needs kids section.

Funbrain – It has math, reading, and just a section of ‘fun.’ Great for elementary school kids.

Switcheroo Zoo – This is an online source and an app. It is geared more toward the sciences.

Storyline Online – A cute place full of books. Like books that you would check out of a library. A fun different way to get your kid(s) into the classics if they would rather be online instead.

Hour of Code – This site has things like angry birds, but it is also there to get your child engaged in problem solving and learning

ABC ya – For grades pre-k to 5th, this online source has tons of online game. It includes reading, math, strategies, and skills. It will keep your child/student having fun while learning.

Wordle – Make cool shapes out of your favorite words. This is great for practicing spelling and typing. It keeps the creative energy flowing, while also learning some basic skills for reading and writing.

Starfall -An easy go to for early reading. This online site also has other subject areas like math. It is great for basic beginners.great online sites for kids

When looking for a learning site, look for something that’s not cluttered. Little eyes may have issues filtering through all the jargon. Ads are on almost all sites, unless you pay for membership, but look for one that doesn’t have too many. The ads can get confusing to kids and pretty soon, they will have way too many pages open. Think about what your child really likes and search to see if they have a learning site for that. Building on children’s natural interests has so much potential. They might just have a free site that is full of good learning. What is your favorite site for educating your child online?

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ADHD in the Classroom

Since 1 to 3 students in the average classroom has ADHD, it seemed like some attention should be drawn to it. We typically think of these students as the ones with so much energy, but there are other symptoms both the teacher and the parent can look for. Things like: making careless errors in math and writing, taking longer to read assignments, regularly losing homework, difficulty paying attention, focusing elsewhere when you talk to them, and blurting out answers. There seems to be much controversy now a days if ADHD truly exists or if it is being diagnosed, but what we do know is that it can be seen in a brain scan. Those with ADHD also have the odds stacked against them with 45% being suspended at least one time while in school, 25% having a serious learning disability, and 35% becoming drop outs. It seems imperative that we give them the tools to succeed in school.

adhd

Some easy interventions are:

  1. Physical breaks- they might need to sharpen their pencil a couple extra times or run the errands out of the class for the teacher, but their brains literally need the breaks to focus
  2. A timer- they might need to visually see the time they have left
  3. Less math Problems- Once they demonstrate the knowledge, they need to be able to move on to other learning
  4. Recorder for Writing- their brains often work way to fast for their hands and getting those thoughts onto paper can be confusing; they may need tools to simplify the process
  5. Voice to Text Software- another great tool to capture their ideas
  6. Breakdown Steps- If they can focus on one step at a time and know what comes next, they may be more likely to follow through; visuals are key; Something like a timeline can really help them accomplish the task
  7. Consistent Place for Homework- An easy step at home that will let their brains now it’s work time
  8. An Alternative Workstation in the Classroom-  to help with the wiggles and get them refocused; a standing station in  the back may be ideal
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gifted children challenges

Gifted Children: Existential Depression and Other Challenges

Gifted children can face many unique challenges. This interesting article was sent to me on how children who are uniquely gifted are also more challenged because they are so in-tuned with so many things. Existential depression might be more prevalent to them as gifted children are truly great philosophers and thinkers, so it is natural for them to want to link meaning to their lives and search out bigger questions. Unfortunately existential depression itself has not been widely researched and does not have a specific known therapeutic approach that works well for it. It is good to know however that gifted children are more than just brilliant minds. They too face many challenges. Finding friends can be hard from a young age. Often they do not understand their peers because their peers do not keep up with their train of thought. Over-excitability and oversensitivity in general, to their environments are very common in gifted children. When your mind is going so fast and you are receiving so much information from your environment, it is understandable as to why you too would be overwhelmed. These children have a lot to sort out and even more that they want to create. It is hard for them to find the perfect balance. Studies suggest between 1in 50 to 1 in 200 of academically gifted students drop out before completing high school. Now the numbers might be high due to SES or some other outside factor, but the fact remains that brilliant minds are falling through the cracks.

gifted children challenges
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