Sunday, November 13, 2011

Processing and Understanding their Learning: Tools and Strategies to Help

As my youngest moves further into more in-depth learning I am finding his processing of the information becoming increasingly more difficult.  He has been struggling with the processing of the information especially if there is many steps or levels of information on that particular topic.

I am not surprised with this, because of his learning disabilities this can be expected, however, I am not willing to allow his struggles to be a reason for not learning things and not understanding them.

There are strategies for these kinds of struggles and I thought I might share a few of them here;

Online Graphic Organizers/Mind Maps:

Free Technology for Teachers had a post on their blog that offered Nine Tools for Collaboratively Creating Mind Maps.  There are many here to look through and try out on your own before introducing them to your learner.   I found a couple here that will really help us.  I searched out a few topics and found some great information on how I might use these.  For example, we are right now studying the Human Body and that can contain LOTS of layers of information and topics.  These online Mind Maps or Visual Organizers can really help my guy sort out his thoughts and reinforce new concepts and skills he is learning.

Printable Graphic Organizers:

Grades 4-8 Graphic Organizers- I really loved this site.  This is a wonderful resource in helping to understand some tricky concepts in Mathematics. Just clicking on a couple will help you to see how helpful these might be to the visual learner.  

Education Place has a listing of Graphic Organizers to print out for all areas of learning.

EducationOasis has some printable concept and also vocabulary graphic organizers. 

Freeology is another great site that offers over 100 printable graphic organizers to use in different areas of learning.

 Busy Teachers Cafe ( a K-6 site)  has this helpful Graphic Organizer for helping younger learners understand new vocabulary.

Graphic Organizers - this site has a bunch of printable organizers to use.

Other ideas/tools to help: 

KWL Charts- ( see example here)  can be really helpful to be used for many different subjects and can really help reinforce lessons and skills learned from beginning and to the end of a topic.
Here is a KWLH which takes it one step further. 

Mnemonics- ( definition on Wikipedia) Sometimes this kind of tool can really be helpful for a learner to understand bits of information that might be perhaps sequential. My son has found success using this kind of strategy.    We tend to make up our own which I believe is part of the reason why they can be so effective since it is based on things that my son can relate to. But if we get stuck here are a few things:
Fun with Words and Math Mnemonics.
Education World has more math Mnemonics.
Index of Mnemonics

Role Playing- ( adding movement to learning) I remember a while back our youngest had been learning about Photosynthesis and we noticed he just wasn't getting it.  We used an organizer, we colored it and talked about it more and more but he still wasn't getting a real understanding of it. So, I decided to add movement. I decided to get Daddy and big brothers involved and my youngest was the plant and all of us were the other elements that involve the process of photosynthesis. I explained it and we all acted it out and he finally got it! There was lots of laughing and carrying on, which I almost think he sort of loved too! Heck it was fun! lol

Another example I can give is my little guy a few years ago had trouble with skip counting. He just couldn't get his 2's down or any other really so I decided again, to add some movement. We went out side armed with some chalk and I made a ladder and I added the 2's in each of the boxes. I had him jump and yell out on each one the skip counting for the 2's. ~ we did this for only five minutes or so then I had him draw the 2's on our driveway, saying them as he went... the next day or two I had him tell me back and skip count the 2's. He got the first two or three then I saw him get up and march or hop and he was able to remember the 2's! I knew I was onto something at this point. :] 

Consistency and Repetition in learning just about anything can be a very power strategy and tool that we can use in our teaching at home. Each day, as we begin our studies, we can go over things we did yesterday in a particular topic. We can do this in ALL subjects not just Math or Grammar.  If you get stuck on what you did, then your daily home school journal will help remind you what they did and any trouble spots in say Spelling or a particular concept in Science. 

I hope some of these ideas help your learners if they are struggling in a particular area of understanding.


Velma said...

Great post, Tracey. I am going to check out the mind-mapping tools and try them. I knew about them, of course, but just haven't really used them.

Learners at Home said...

Welcome Velma! I am right there with you~ I need to put these in the forefront so that we are using these daily and actually great for review too! :)



Fatcat said...

I am looking forward to exploring all these links, especially the mneumonic (sp?) things. My youngest has a lot of trouble with reversal of letters. Do you know where to find anything about that?

Learners at Home said...

Hope you find some of the links especially the mneumonic ones helpful :) As far as letter reversals, my youngest ( now 12) used to have trouble with this. Many kids who had problems with this I learned are just developmentally young and extra help in this area is needed, while others, it is a symptom of an LD ( like Dyslexia) but not always. I know the first thing a developmental pedi looks at with this is the age and stage developmentally of the child. I have seen the Stevenson curriculum have helpful things in this like for example working with b and d making a line in between like a "bed" to show the differences between the two. Reversals for my guy got better as we practiced slowly and he would eventually self correct himself, knowing after he did something that it wasn't right. Not sure if this helps at all~

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