I am thrilled to introduce Sherry Cramer to you. Sherry is an educational therapist with over thirty years of experience working with exceptional students. She recently published a four-part series on motivation and ADHD in the Educational Therapist Journal. It was the best piece I’d ever read in the journal, but the publication is only accessible to Association members.
I wanted more educators and parents to read what she has to say, so I’m honored that she graciously agreed to guest post. Sherry is an educational therapist after my own heart; I hope you enjoy her article as much as I do. You’ll find it chock-full of concrete, actionable strategies to help students find, increase, and maintain motivation.
We all know them – kids with ADHD who are bright, energetic, and creative – yet struggle in school. They don’t enjoy learning. They prefer easier work. They give up easily.1 By all accounts, they lack motivation.
But why? Is it due to a bad attitude? Is it laziness? No, it’s in the wiring!
Earlier this year, our local group of educational therapists hosted Dr. Adena Young. Dr. Young is a school and educational psychologist with a private practice in Oakland, California. She works one-on-one with students, provides neuropsychological evaluations, and consults with teachers and schools.
Dr. Young spoke compellingly about how to support children who are struggling with problems common in learning math. Her two-hour presentation just flew by. So I knew I had to interview her for Bay Tree Blog.
Dr. Young and I sat down earlier this summer to talk about math. I’ve synthesized our interview, which is full of take-home, practical suggestions. I’ve paraphrased in some places for brevity and clarity, and you’ll find her direct quotations in quotation marks. The photos, captions, and formatting were all added by me.
Talk to any kindergarten teacher, and she’ll tell you about her students who transpose numbers. Two-digit numbers puzzle many younger students. It’s not unusual to hear students confusing the numbers “13” and “31” or writing the number “14” as “41.”
This common mistake is sometimes called a transposition. When students transpose numbers, they write down all of the correct numbers, but they don’t put the numbers into the right sequence (place-value order).
Transposition errors often occur in two-digit numbers. For my students, the most commonly transposed numbers are the numbers 12-19. These mistakes with the teen numbers actually reveal the child has a good understanding of the spelling patterns for numbers and words. Mistakes with numbers greater than twenty may indicate that the child needs more place-value practice.
Today, I want to empower you with effective tools for addressing transposition errors. First, let’s figure out why students are confused.
I’m excited to share this free, 50-minute class on understanding and teaching reading comprehension. Originally recorded live for Learning Ally, the webinar was rerecorded so you can watch anytime.
In this dynamic, practical session, you’ll learn proven strategies to unlock children’s reading comprehension. Together, we’ll explore the best tools and strategies for helping children understand, remember, and enjoy what they read. You’ll learn:
How to use YouTube to help kids understand and remember what they read.
Why sticky notes are essential for students who forget text.
What Calvin & Hobbes can teach us about motivation to read.
Comprehension is the pinnacle of reading success and essential for academic achievement.
It’s also, arguably, one of the most difficult skills to teach.
When I started teaching, I knew how to teach exactly one reading strategy. As you can imagine, only teaching kids to visualize didn’t work real well. Before long, most of my students were disengaged. Behavior issues kept cropping up, and reading motivation kept going down. Students were frustrated by their lack of progress. I was frustrated with myself.
I wish I could tell you that everything changed overnight. Sorry, it took longer than that, and I began by doing something radical. I stopped taking on reading comprehension students when I started my educational therapy private practice. (What a privilege it is to work for yourself.) I spent a few years learning how to teach reading comprehension. I read research, attended conferences, and learned from seasoned educators. Then I was ready to start again.
Today, I relish teaching reading comprehension. The complexities of teaching reading comprehension remain. Now they feel like a challenge to be solved rather than an insurmountable problem.
Today, I’m sharing the materials that I wish I’d known about when I first started teaching. These are the books and strategies that have made the biggest difference for my students. I hope you’ll find them as valuable as I have.
You know those great teachers? The ones that a child remembers for life? I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of these virtuosic educators.
Westy Litz is a fourth grade teacher. A graduate of University of Mary Washington, she holds a Masters of Science in Elementary Education. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys being active outdoors and traveling.
Westy Litz is one of those teachers. In her fourth grade classroom, I’ve seen children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD flourish. I’ve always wondered, “How does she do it?”
Over the summer, we met up for coffee, so we could figure out how she structures her classroom, connects with students, plans lessons, and collaborates with parents. This is a must read for teachers and parents.
Join us in conversation!
Over the years, I’ve provided educational therapy to students with dyslexia in your class. They always tell me that you “get” them. They love being in your class because they feel successful, safe, and valued.
It’s clear that you’re open to meeting the needs of students with LD in your class. How did you develop this perspective?
Before I moved to California I taught in an inclusive first grade classroom where about half of the students had an Individualized Education Program (IEP). I co-taught with a special education teacher who’d been teaching for about fifteen years. I didn’t realize how lucky I was. She was incredible and she helped me build a toolbox of strategies for working with every learner. Mostly, teaching there taught me how to have an open mind and think more flexibly. I learned dozens of different ways to adapt my teaching.
Are you looking for teaching methods that will transform struggling learners into successful readers and spellers?
Dr. C. Melanie Schuele
I am delighted to feature Dr. C. Melanie Schuele on the Exceptional Educator podcast. She’s a speech-language pathologist, researcher, and associate professor at Vanderbilt University. Today, she shares with us how to supercharge student reading and spelling skills with explicit phonological awareness instruction.
Melanie shows you how to extract the most out of every moment of your phonological awareness instruction. She provides step-by-step directions on how to scaffold instruction. With the right modeling, prompting, and guiding, you can effectively meet the needs of children with different ability levels.
We also talk about the value of mistakes. They give us insights into how a child is processing phonological information. By thinking about why a child makes a mistake, we can respond in a way that guides the child towards greater accuracy, and more importantly, enduring mastery.
In one of my favorite parts of the interview, Melanie shares stories about how the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program was created. One of the reasons I wanted to feature Melanie on the podcast is that she recently co-authored the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program. I’ve been using this program since it came out last summer, and I can’t recommend it enough. Because it walks the reader through every step of providing phonological awareness intervention, it can be used by educators, parents, and even para-professionals.
I’m delighted to introduce you to Dr. Leilani Sáez. An educational researcher and former classroom teacher, Dr. Sáez knows how tough it can be to reach kids with working memory weaknesses.
Leilani Sáez is an educational psychologist currently working as a research associate at Behavioral Research & Teaching (BRT), a research center at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on the early identification of learning difficulties, and the development and use of assessments designed to guide instruction and learning. In particular, she is interested in clarifying how working memory processing impacts learning. Dr. Sáez has 20 years of experience in school settings, including as a teacher of students with learning disabilities, as a university learning specialist, and a preK-12 researcher. She presents her work at national conferences and writes research articles and book chapters about reading, working memory, learning disabilities, and measurement.
You’re in for a treat today as she demystifies one of the most common challenges educators and parents face – helping kids to follow multi-step directions.
My favorite part? Her powerful and practical three-step toolkit for supporting children.
Have you ever wondered why your student or child doesn’t follow directions well?
Although it may seem as if everyone should be able to follow directions, many children and adults with learning difficulties silently struggle to follow more than one step.
Have you ever seen a blank stare or frozen hesitation from a student after delivering a set of directions? As a parent or teacher, you may have questioned whether you were being understood. But perhaps you didn’t give much thought to the mental complexity involved in your request.
Multi-step directions are cognitively demanding, and their successful completion requires the use of a particular process called working memory. Of course there are other prerequisites (like motivation), but that’s another blog post entirely. In this article, we’ll focus on the role of working memory because it is crucial for completing day-to-day tasks and frequently goes unnoticed. Let me explain.
Imagine a teacher just a few days into the school year, when BAM! Trouble.
Kids blurt out constantly. They don’t stay in their seats. No one follows directions. This once enthusiastic educator walks into work feeling more discouraged and unsupported every day. Her students’ engagement and motivation take a nose dive.
Classroom management problems can be more than a headache. For tens of thousands of teachers, these everyday frustrations erode the desire to teach. Disruptive behavior from just a few students can negatively affect learning for an entire class.
Dr. Alexis Filippini
Today Dr. Alexis Filippini shares her expertise on how to turn around everyday classroom challenges. She shares research-based approaches that support effective teaching, boost student achievement, and create a positive school climate.
Dr. Filippini distills decades of research into easily actionable strategies. Her recommendations are effective in the classroom, small group, or one-on-one setting. She shares the art and science of how to create a calm, organized learning environment.