Tag Archives: cognition/learning/understanding

Epictetus on Education

“Only the educated are free.”

Epictetus, Discourses (101 A.D.)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, June 11, 2021: A Lesson Plan on Geometric Angle by Degrees from The Order of Things

This week’s Text is a lesson plan on the degrees of angles in geometry. Here is the worksheet with a short reading and a series of comprehension questions.

The reading covers the five types of angles in geometry: acute (1-89 degrees); right (90 degrees); obtuse (91-179 degrees); straight (180 degrees); and reflex (180-359 degrees). This is an exercise designed to supply diverse learners with practice manipulating two symbolic systems–i.e. words and numbers–at the same time. It also, I would think (but also qualify this with something that is beyond dispute–I am not a teacher of mathematics), introduces students to the concept of angles in geometry.

For more on the material I developed from Barbara Anne Kipfer’s superb reference book The Order of Things, see the About Posts & Texts page visible on the masthead of the home page of this blog.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Term of Art: Mapping

“mapping:  In educational terms, a strategy for displaying related ideas in a visual format. Mapping may refer to flow charts, diagrams, or using color coding to draw connections and help recall information. One important example of mapping is ‘mind-mapping’ (also called clustering), which is used in the process of writing to generate and organize ideas and information that can eventually be translated into a linear outline.

A mind map might consist of a core topic at the center of the page, with major subtopics spreading outward from it, and relevant details attached to each subtopic. Such an approach may be especially helpful for individuals who have difficulty with sequencing information but are strong in the area or visual-spatial reasoning.

Likewise a graphic organizer for representing information may help a student who has trouble with reading comprehension because of problems organizing and identifying key information and relationships between concepts and supporting evidence.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Learning Modalities

“learning modalities: The way in which information is received and expressed, such as visual, tactile, auditory, or kinesthetic. Generally, individuals have strengths in a certain modality and learn better when information is presented through that channel. For example, an individual who whose strongest learning modality is visual will have difficulty learning information given by lecture alone, with no visual aids such as notes on the board.

Research shows that since people have different learning strengths, it is better to design lessons what use more than one modality, such as a combination of visual and auditory. This allows all learners, including those with learning disabilities, to access information using their strongest learning ability.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

22 High-Leverage Practices for K-12 Teachers

Very quickly on this Friday morning, here is something that might be useful to teachers and parents, to wit a list of 22 high-leverage practices for K-12 teachers. This is something I transcribed several months ago from the American Federation of Teachers’ excellent quarterly American Educator so that I could place it in my planning book.

If you find typos, lapses in style or syntax, or any other errors in the prose, please advise. Since this is someone else’s work, I don’t seek peer review on it.

Common Errors in English Usage: Pheasant (n), Peasant (n)

Here is an English usage worksheet on the nouns pheasant and peasant. I’m not sure if the former word is essential to the high school lexicon, but the latter certainly is. Any study of history will necessitate the use of the word peasant.

But these worksheets–there will eventually be a hundred or more of them on Mark’s Text Terminal–is primarily usage, not vocabulary building, though I think vocabulary building could be a corollary benefit. I wrote these to meet the Common Core standard (L.11-12.1b), to wit, “Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references, (e.g., Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English UsageGarner’s Modern American Usage) as needed.” I hope they are useful in that way.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Nathan M. Pusey on Staying Abreast of Things

“We live in a time of such rapid change and growth of knowledge that only who is in a fundamental sense a scholar—that is, a person who continues to learn and inquire—can hope to keep pace, let alone play the role of guide.”

Nathan M. Pusey, The Age of the Scholar (1963)

Excerpted from: Howe, Randy, ed. The Quotable Teacher. Guilford, CT: The Lyons Press, 2003.

The Weekly Text, April 16, 2021: A Lesson Plan on the Largest Seas from The Order of Things

Here is a lesson plan on the largest seas along with its accompanying combined reading and comprehension worksheet.

Like the other lessons under the rubric of The Order of Things by Barbara Ann Kipfer, this is a short lesson with plenty of room (and formatted in Microsoft Word for just that purpose) for expansion and adaptation. There’s an excursus on this material, arranged as a unit of 50 lessons (for now–it will inevitably expand when at last I return to classroom teaching) on the “About Posts & Texts” page on this site. I conceived and engineered these materials to use with students with relatively low levels of literacy and/or numeracy; it gives such students some structured materials to practice operating with two symbolic systems at the same time, namely words and numbers.

Anyway, over time, I’d like to continue building this unit, and then develop from it scaffolded, topic-specific subunits that respond to student interest, work to build literacy and numeracy, and help students feel confident in their ability to deal with what might once have seemed like insurmountably complicated material to them. What do you think?

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

18 Common Misunderstandings of Dyslexia

“1. Students benefit from waiting until after second grade to provide reading intervention (False). Early screening and intervention provide opportunities for targeting reading needs and reducing the the likelihood of long-term reading difficulties.

2. Dyslexia requires specific and unique screening and identification approaches (False) Psychometrically sound approaches currently used to screen and identify students with reading problems are useful for screening and identifying students with dyslexia. Layering additional screening measures onto already psychometrically sound screening approaches is an unnecessary burden.

3. Providing more opportunities to read books will resolve their reading problem (False). All students benefit from increased opportunities to read a variety of text levels and types. However, additional reading practice for students with dyslexia is an inadequate approach to improving their reading outcomes. These students also require comprehensive approaches to reading instruction that include decoding, opportunities to practice for fluency, and comprehension instruction.

4. Colored lenses or overlays help improve reading for students with dyslexia (False). Though the issue of colored lenses and overlays continues to appear in a range of professional guides, there is no evidence to support their effectiveness. Similarly, multisensory instruction is not necessary for students with dyslexia. However, there are many systematic approaches for improving reading outcomes for students with dyslexia.

5. Students with dyslexia primarily have reading comprehension problems (False) Students with dyslexia have word-level difficulties that are manifested in difficulty reading text accurately and proficiently. These word-level difficulties result in reading comprehension problems, but teaching reading comprehension strategies alone will not resolve the reading problems of individuals with dyslexia.

6. Many educators have not had opportunities to develop the knowledge necessary to provide evidence-based screening, assessment, and interventions for students with dyslexia (True). There is considerable research documenting the need for educators to have improved knowledge and skills for better identifying and teaching students with dyslexia and other reading problems. Many reading teachers perceived that they lack the confidence to teach students who are identified as dyslexic.

7. Dyslexia is rare, and most individuals grow out of it (False). Dyslexia is a universal condition that occurs across writing systems, not just the alphabetic system, with prevalence rates of approximately 5-15 percent depending on the threshold for poor reading. While the manifestations of dyslexia can dissipate because of effective instruction, most individuals with dyslexia who show intractability to effective instruction have slow and labored reading throughout their lives.

8. Dyslexia operates on a continuum in which the severity can be represented as mild to severe (True). Dyslexia does not look precisely the same for all learners, and the range of reading difficulties because of dyslexia also vary, but reading is normally distributed in the population (i.e. a small percentage of people are excellent readers, most are average or close to it, and a small percentage are very weak readers), and dyslexia is at the lower end of this distribution.

9. Many students with dyslexia display difficulties with spelling and handwriting (True). Students with dyslexia often have difficulties not only with reading words but also with spelling and writing words. Effective instructional approaches target word reading, spelling, and writing.

10. Dyslexia has a familial and genetic association (True). There is a much higher rate of dyslexia in families with a familial history of dyslexia–as high as 45 percent in most studies.

11. Improving home literacy will resolve dyslexia (False). It is not useful to consider the home environment as the causal factor for dyslexia. While opportunities to read are beneficial to all learners, improving home literacy will not resolve reading challenges for individuals with dyslexia.

12. Brain training can improve reading outcomes for students with dyslexia (False). Many approaches to improving dyslexia falsely claim that they can ‘train’ the brains of individuals with dyslexia resulting in improved reading outcomes. Cognitive training in isolation of a reading program does not generalize to improve academic outcomes.

13. Only certified language therapists are capable of providing effective reading interventions for students with dyslexia (False). Educators with extensive knowledge of the science and practice of reading instruction who are using evidence-based practices are prepared to meet the needs of students with dyslexia.

14. Students with dyslexia see letters and words backwards (False). Perhaps one of the oldest and most persistent myths regarding individuals with dyslexia is that they see and write letters and words backwards or upside down. Many young children reverse letters when beginning reading and writing; with instructional practice and feedback, this issue is remedied.

15. Vision therapy is an effective approach for students with dyslexia (False). The faulty idea that dyslexia is a result of a vision disorder of some type has been very slow to go away. Many vision training approaches exist and have not been associated with any improvements in reading for individuals with dyslexia, including a recent randomized trial that showed no effect of optometric exercises on reading skills.

16. Dyslexia can be addressed with medications (False). There is no medication that will remedy word reading difficulties. While many students with dyslexia also demonstrate difficulties with attention and may be diagnosed with attention deficit disorder, medications appropriate for these students are aimed at their attention problems, not their reading difficulties per se, and the medications do not lead to improved decoding.

17. Students with dyslexia are more creative, gifted, and talented than other students (False). There are many highly skilled and capable individuals with dyslexia who have gifts and talents. Just like in the population as a whole, not all individuals with dyslexia would be identified with extraordinary gifts or talents.

18. Classroom teachers can be a valuable asset to remedying difficulties for students with dyslexia (True). Classroom teachers may be the most important and valuable resource for students with dyslexia. Classroom teachers are their primary reading teachers as well as the educators who have the most influence on their self-worth. Classroom teachers can be a tremendous source of social-emotional and educational support for students with dyslexia. Armed with the knowledge and skills, classroom teachers can alter the learning and life trajectories of students with dyslexia.”

Excerpted from: Vaughn, Sharon, and Jack M. Fletcher. “Identifying Students with Significant Reading Problems.” American Educator 44:4 (Winter 2020-2021): 4-8. Print.

Term of Art: Afroasiatic Languages

“Afroasiatic languages formerly Hamito-Semitic languages: Superfamily of about 250 languages presently spoken by and estimated 250-300 million people ethnically and physically diverse people in North Africa and parts of sub-Saharan Africa and in southwest Asia. The major branches of Afroasiatic are Semitic, Berber, Egyptian, Cushitic and Chadic. Berber is a group of closely related languages spoken by perhaps 15 million people in enclaves scattered across North Africa from Morocco to northwest Egypt and in parts of the western Sahara. Cushitic is a family of about 30 languages spoken by more than 30 million people in northeast Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Djibouti, Kenya, and a few areas of northeast Tanzania. Omotic, formerly classified as part of Cushitic, is a cluster of perhaps more than 30 languages spoken by 2-3 million people, most of whom live near the Omo River in southwest Ethiopia. Chadic comprises about 140 languages, most poorly known to linguists, spoken in northern Nigeria, southern Niger, southern Chad, and northern Cameroon; except for Hausa, probably no individual Chadic language has more than half a million speakers.”

Excerpted/Adapted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.