Learning Styles Strategies

Knowing the learning styles of your students can make lessons more effective.

It is not news that people process information differently. Therefore, it makes sense that teachers should vary methods of teaching.  As a student teacher supervisor, I coach many novice teachers in lesson plans. One of the areas that we seem to discuss often is trying to design lessons to meet the needs of ALL learners.  Check out the strategies lists below for each of the 8 learning styles.  

Strategies for Learning Styles

Visual learners – Visual learners retain information more effectively when visual aides are used (pictures, images, colors) and understand better when data is presented in charts and graphs.  

  • Write key points in lesson presentation.
  • Substitute words for colors and pictures.
  • Encourage note taking.
  • Use visual aids.
  • Color or emphasize key points in text.
  • Avoid large blocks of text.
  • Color code and organize materials to help student organization.
  • Use storytelling to help with visualization.

Aural learners – Aural learners respond to sound and music. 

  • Encourage classroom discussions.
  • Allow audio books.
  • Suggest listening to music as they review material.
  • Suggest reading notes aloud.
  • Encourage problem solving aloud.
  • Allow classroom recordings.
  • Encourage partner discussions.
  • Use mnemonic devices when available.

Verbal learners – Verbal learners favor using words and linguistic skills in speech, reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  They like word games, jokes, rhymes and are often strong public speakers.

  • Use verbal teaching and writing activities.
  • Use acronyms for mnemonic devices.
  • Ask them to teach material to class.
  • Role playing
  • Ask them to rewrite their note cards.
  • Use lists of key words.
  • Use quizzes in lessons.

Social learners – Social learners process information by interacting with and relating to others.  They enjoy working with others.

  • Include group work.
  • Engage in role-play.
  • Allow discussion and sharing stories.
  • Encourage sharing ideas and comparing with others.
  • Ask opinions on topics.

Logical learners – Logical learners favor using logic and reasoning.   They like to classify and categorize information and solve problems with numbers.  Logical learners are especially good at analyzing cause and effect relationships.

  • Provide the class with problem-solving tasks.
  • Include critical thinking exercises.
  • Provide statistics and facts.
  • Present with evidence and ask them to make conclusions.

Physical and tactile learners – Physical learners process information effectively when they use their bodies and when are doing something.

  • Use physical exercises and provide hands-on-experiences.
  • Exercising when standing and walking are highly effective.
  • Encourage drawing diagrams, graphs, and maps.
  • Interaction with materials and/or solve puzzles.
  • Role-playing

Solitary learners -Solitary learners like to work and learn by themselves. They may come across as shy but are more likely to speak up when they are more comfortable.

  • Ask questions to discover student thinking.
  • Provide individual problem-solving exercises.

Naturalistic learnersNaturalist learners process information by working with and experiencing nature. They often use scientific logic for understanding.

  • Use examples linking to daily life, people, or nature.
  • Ask them to think about learning by finding patterns.
  • Include experiments in your lessons.

By varying the methods of teaching you will keep the attention of your students for longer and make the learning experience more enjoyable. A win-win for everyone.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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May Dates for Classroom FUN

May Dates for Classroom Fun

May dates are sure to bring lots of fun to classrooms. Calendar dates can help to make days special and opportunities to learn. Special days and observances can be everything from silly to serious and everything in between.

These special days don’t have to be only celebrated at home.  Knowing the days can extend to homes and family activities too.  Aren’t we all looking for ways to make learning at fun everywhere?  After a year of being in the midst of a pandemic aren’t we all ready for some FUN?  

I know I have NOT included every celebration in the list below.  But the list below should get you started with some “hours of fun!”  ENJOY! If you are ready for even more fun, check out the websites below that list additional holidays and celebrations.  Along with basic information you will find classroom resources and lesson ideas.  ALL FREE!

May Dates: Daily Celebrations

May 1         Kentucky Derby Day

May 1         Mother Goose Day

May 4         Brothers and Sisters Day

May 4         National Teachers Day

May 5         Cinco de Mayo

May 6         No Homework Day

May 9         Mother’s Day

May 12       National School Nurse Day  

May 14       National Dance Like a Chicken Day

May 15       National Chocolate Chip Day

May 24       First Morse Code Message Sent

May 31       Memorial Day

May Weekly Observances

  • National Bike Week – Third Week in May
  • National Children’s Book Week – May 3-9, 2021
  • Teacher Appreciation Week – May 3-7, 2021 (First Full Week in May)

May Monthly Observances

  • Home Schooling Awareness Month
  • American Bike Month

FREE Celebration Resources

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Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Closure: Important in Lesson Design

Closure: Important in Lesson Design

An important component of an effective lesson is a meaningful and structured closure activity. It is a quick review at the end of the lesson to remind students what it was that they learned.  It also allows the teacher to see where the students are to plan for future teaching. The activity chosen for lesson closure highlights students’ needs and helps the teacher plan for future lessons. Although there are many different types, the goal of closure is to articulate learning, discuss lesson importance, and/or self-assess learning. 

Closure is often forgotten or not given enough time in lesson design. Often it is due to pacing issues in the lesson. However, closure is much more than the end of the lesson.    A good closure includes what, why and how of the learning so learning is solidified.

The closure activities below are popular and would be a great addition to student teacher toolkits.  A time saving tip is to list the activities numerically and just add the number to your plans. This helps save time and diversifies closure activities.

Possible Closure Activities

  • Three W’s -Students discuss or write: what did we learn, why was it important, what do we do next.
  • Pair / Share – Tell the person next to you 2 (3,4, 5…) things you have learned today, then the groups report out. Variation is to have students Think/Write/Pair/ Share
  • Gallery Walk -Students create graphic representations of their learning and post them. Students can either share out the posters or students can move from station to station – writing questions or comments, noting similarities and differences, reflect on what they might do differently if they were to repeat the process.
  • Explain a Procedure -Write to an absent student and explain how to …….
  • 3-2-1 – Students write on a post it, paper, index card: 3 things they learned, 2 things they have a question about, 1 thing they want the instructor to know.  
  • Whip Around -Students quickly and verbally share one thing they learned in the class today. You can have them toss a ball from one to another or just have volunteers.
  • Exit Ticket/Pass – Student must answer in writing questions or reflect in some way about the learning before being allowed to leave the room.
  • Thumbs Up / Thumbs down – Pose some questions that can be answered thumbs up/down/ sideways, ask for explanation of the decisions.
  • Quick doodles – Doodle / draw two or three concepts presented in the lesson may include words or numbers.
  • “What am I?” – Have students construct clues (riddles) about the key terms and quiz partners.
  • Five W’s – Students explain the who, what, where, when, why and how of the lesson.
  • Postcard – Students are given an index card to write a postcard to their parents explaining the day’s lesson.
  • It Fits Where? – Students create a “timeline “of the concepts taught (sequence the concepts) or explain a connection to something else they know.
  • Element of Surprise – Students receive an envelope containing a card with a word or phrase selected by the teacher. Students discuss the concept and list the content-specific vocabulary necessary to discuss it.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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Motivated Kids LEARN

Learning starts when kids are motivated to learn

Let’s face it.  School is not always FABULOUS.  Sometimes it is great but other times it is not. So, how do you keep kids motivated to learn?  Check out the ideas below to “capture and keep” a child’s attention. 

5 Ways to Keep Kids Motivated

  • Create a Learning Atmosphere – Social, emotional, and academic growth should extend outside the walls of the classroom. Parents and teachers who look at the world as learning opportunities promote a world of on-going learning. 
  • Enthusiasm – As parents and teachers we must show and sometimes “fake” enthusiasm.  IF we show enthusiasm kids are much more inclined to be interested in learning. 
  • Hook into Student Interest – Do we like to learn things we are not interested in?  Of course not.  So, find out what your child is interested in and focus learning in that direction.  Example: If you want them to learn to count and they like cars; count cars.  If they are interested in outer space and you want them to write, write about space. Flexibility and creativity on your part is key.
  • Encourage Different Learning Styles – Since everyone processes information uniquely, in a class of 20+ kids there are going to be a variety of learning styles. As adults we might even have a dominant leaning style (the way we learn best) depending on the situation.  Exposing kids to ALL learning styles will help them be ready for ALL learning opportunities. Try planning experiences that tap into the 8 learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, social, solitary, logical, physical/tactile, and naturalistic.
  • Learning Games – Games can provide opportunities for deeper learning and may motivate kids to learn. Who doesn’t want to have fun?  It is up to teachers and parents to find creative ways to teach kids and have fun at the same time.  We might even have some fun too!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Anchor Charts Anchor Learning

Anchor Charts Anchor Learning

Anchor Charts are one of the best, most effective tools to support instruction (i.e., “anchor” the learning for students).  As you teach a lesson, you create a chart, together with your students, that captures the most important content and relevant strategies. After your chart is created, it can be displayed as needed—for a short unit, as a one-time reference tool, as something you add to over time, or as something that stays up all year. Anchor charts are best used as an interactive tool but are a great resource throughout the year.  

Benefits of Anchor Charts

  • Student engagement – Getting students involved in the process of creating learning tools to help them make connections to learning.
  • Bring lessons to life – Posting the charts keeps relevant and current learning accessible to students, reminds them of prior learning, and enables them to make connections as new learning happens. Students can refer to them and use them as they think about the topic, question ideas, expand ideas, and/or contribute to discussions in class.
  • Support independent work – Anchor charts provide students with a source to reference when working on their own.
  • Charts for classroom management – Expectations and routines are listed that allow students to self-monitor their behavior.
  • Create a library of reference materials – Perfect to use as a reference for commonly used information.  Like a word wall, students can use the anchor chart for reminders. (e.g., math terms, grammar, writing workshop)
  • Reinforce classroom procedures – Provide students with a visual to remind them of routines that make your classroom run smoothly.

Anchor Chart Construction

Anchor charts are simple to make with common classroom resources.  If you have chart paper and an assortment of markers; you are ready to go.

  • Make your anchor charts colorful and print-rich – Use different colors and bullet points to help students discriminate between strategies and quickly access information.
  • Keep them simple and neat – Use easy-to-read graphics and clear organization. Avoid distracting, irrelevant details or stray marks, such as arrows or overemphatic use of underlining.
  • Draw simple pictures to complement the words. – The more ways students can access information about a subject, the better. 

It is easy to incorporate anchor charts into your lesson plans. All it takes is a clear purpose and some pre-planning. Anchor charts build a culture of literacy in the classroom by making thinking—both the teacher’s and students’—visible.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

Math Websites: Fun for Kids

Math Websites: Fun for Kids

I have found 4 great Math websites that contain varied resources that can be used to review, remediate, and enrich student learning. The resources are easy to incorporate into home packets, math centers, homework, and classroom assignments. Many of the kid-friendly websites listed below also include games that review and reinforce concepts in a fun environment. There is a variety of topics and games that will give kids hours of learning and of course, FUN!  

4 Great Math Websites to Explore

  • Fun Brain – Fun Brain math games can be searched by topic or grade level.  The games reinforce key math concepts and engage young learners. Many of the games are kid-friendly theme based.  Be sure to check out the videos which help visual learners.  For pre-K and kindergarten students the “Playground” section will provide hours of fun. I have been using Fun Brain for over 20 years. This site includes other subject areas also.
  • Hooda Math – Extensive resources that with a range of math activities from math fact practice to logic and reasoning. Site includes games that focus on higher order thinking and problem solving.  These challenges help to sharpen students’ math skills.
  • Math Game Time – Site is designed for students from pre-K through 7th grade.  The site offers educational games focused on critical math concepts.  Games are fast paced and quickly engage students.  A favorite of 3rd through 5th graders.
  • Cool Math Games – One of my favorite because it has some unique learning activities that are not seen in other websites.  The photo puzzles are great for developing spatial relations in young learners.  It also contains an extensive preview and review of precalculus and calculus in addition to both elementary and middle school games and reviews. A comprehensive website worth investigating. There is a fee if you choose to go ad-free.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?

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Classroom Management for Student Teachers

Classroom Management for Student Teachers

Student Teachers and novice teachers reach those classroom doors armed with coursework and minimal classroom experience.  Along with teaching they are charged with managing student behavior.  While coaching student teachers, I have learned that many of them are looking for “tried and true” classroom management ideas to get them through the first few months of teaching.

What I learned through my years as a new teacher, administrator and college supervisor is not to “invent the wheel”. We all need to heed the advice of those who have already walked in our novice shoes. If you are struggling with classroom management or are worried that you might; here are 10 tips that might be helpful.   

10 Classroom Management Tips

  • Speak only when students are quiet and ready – Waiting for ALL students to be quiet and ready will send the message that what you are all doing is important and we need to be ready to learn. It works because kids will start to cue each other that you are waiting.
  • Set Acceptable Voice Levels -If we want kids to talk at a normal, acceptable volume, we must tell them our expectations. A common Voice Level strategy in schools is 3 – outside voice level, 2- inside voice level, 1 – whisper level and 0 – no talking.
  • Hand signals and nonverbal cues – Clear and consistent hand signals will help students know and follow your nonverbal communication cues. Examples: raise your hand, fingers up, eye contact.
  • Flick the lights – Flicking the lights off and on once to get students’ attention is an “oldie but goodie”. It is an easy to understand cue to get student attention to complete a direction. It works in the theater to get people back to their seats, so it will work in your classroom.
  • Echoing – Echoing” either a verbal or movement command is an active way to get the attention of our youngest students.
  • Address behavior issues quickly and wisely – Remember praise in public and criticize in private. A problem-solving approach with the child is often the best strategy to address problem issues.
  • Have a well-designed, engaging lesson – Students that are not engaged will not stay on task.  Keeping them busy cuts down excess talking and disruptive behavior.
  • Always plan extra – Better to run out of time than to run short on a lesson.  Use any over-planning for future lesson, follow up lesson, a time filler or an assessment.
  • Prepare time fillers – Valuable lesson extensions, class incentives or breaks from difficult lessons for the students or their tired teacher.
  • Use Your Teacher Voice – Use your “teacher voice” to show you are in charge of the classroom. Try differentiating your tone, not your volume.  
    • Classroom discussion – try a matter-of-fact tone.
    • Giving direction -use a declarative routine voice. 

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Isn’t education All about reaching the kids in the classroom and at home?