Saturday, June 14, 2014

Recommended Reading for Children With LD

Bonnie Z. Goldsmith has worked in the field of education throughout her professional life. She has wide experience as a writer, editor and teacher.

Books by, about, and for children with learning disabilities offer elementary-aged kids valuable stories and guidance written especially for them. Check out the following books, a mixture of fiction and nonfiction, when you want to give your child something special to read.

Worst Enemies/Best Friends by Annie Bryant
This is the first of many books in the popular Beacon Street Girls series about five middle-school girls, one of whom, Maeve, has dyslexia. Maeve, who has a math tutor and is consistently disorganized, joins her friends in stories created to help girls build self-esteem and coping skills.

Spencer Allen Douglass, known as Sparky, keeps a diary that records his ups and downs as he lives with ADD. This optimistic and fun book includes many valuable insights and ideas for children with ADD and ADHD.

Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key by Jack Gantos
The first book in an award-winning series about a boy with ADHD, this story shows an out-of-control Joey being transferred to a special education classroom in another school. A perceptive teacher recommends further medical evaluation, and Joey returns to his former school. These funny, compassionate books are written from Joey’s point of view in a sharp, worried style that veers out of control when Joey does.

How Dyslexic Benny Became a Star by Joe Griffith
Fifth grader Benny is frustrated and embarrassed about his struggles with reading. When he becomes a star on the football field, and when he is diagnosed with dyslexia, he discovers he has a powerful support system – his own personal team. It’s an inspiring story for the whole family.

The Gift-Giver by Joyce Hansen
This is the first book in the 163rd Street Trilogy, which features a vibrant inner-city setting and a boy, Yellow Bird, who has dyslexia. His peer tutor, Doris, doesn’t like him at first, but ultimately becomes his advocate and helps his teacher realize both his reading problems and his unique talents.

How Many Days Until Tomorrow by Caroline Janover
2001 Parents' Choice Award winner, this book is about Josh, a twelve-year-old with dyslexia who spends the summer on a remote island in Maine with grandparents he hardly knows and his older brother Simon, who is a terrible tease. In a dramatic and life-threatening situation, Josh learns he is just as smart as his “gifted” older brother. 

Shelley the Hyperactive Turtle by Deborah Moss
Shelley is a turtle who happens to have a very hard time sitting still. During a visit to the doctor, he learns that he is hyperactive, and that he can take medicine to control his wiggly feeling. The colorful illustrations help to explain the physical and emotional aspects of having a disability in a reassuring and positive way.

Thank You, Mr. Falker by Patricia Polacco
In this richly illustrated, semi-autobiographical book, Trisha is thrilled to start school and learn to read. But she has dyslexia, and her classmates tease her relentlessly. Finally, Mr. Falker, her fifth grade teacher, recognizes Trisha’s problem and her artistic ability and takes the time to lead her to reading.f

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Book 1 of the adventure series Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Percy, who has been diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia, knows he’s different. When a teacher becomes a deadly monster and his best friend turns out to be a satyr, he learns how different he is: he's the half-blood son of an Olympian god.

The Alphabet War: A Story About Dyslexia by Diane Burton Robb
Once Adam enters school, his love of books becomes a daily battle that he truly believes he cannot win. It isn't until third grade that Adam, now suffering from low self-esteem that leads him to behave aggressively, is tested for a learning disability and receives the specialized help he needs. Adam's experience will inspire and encourage many children who find themselves in similar predicaments.

Many Ways to Learn: A Kid’s Guide to LD by Judith M Stern and Uzi Ben-Ami
This book provides easy-to-use tips, information, and strategies to help children with learning disabilities feel better about themselves. The guide includes information on how to involve counselors and parents as a supportive "climbing team," and ways for children with various kinds of learning disabilities to set goals.

The Survival Guide for Kids with ADD or ADHD
by John F. Taylor
Packed with good advice, this guide features clear, kid-friendly writing and cartoon-style illustrations. Chapters cover such topics as medications, getting along at home, making friends, and succeeding at school.

Niagara Falls, or Does It?
by Henry Winkler
The first book in a series inspired by the true-life experiences of Henry Winkler. Hank Zipzer has difficulty reading, writing, and spelling, but his imagination is in full working order. Hank is funny and endearing, the books enjoyable and fast-paced.

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Novel Study Reveals How Sleep Reinforces Neuronal Growth After Learning

Friday, June 6, 2014

A Learning Secret: Don’t Take Notes with a Laptop

Students who used longhand remembered more and had a deeper understanding of the material

Jun 3, 2014 |By Cindi May

“More is better.”  From the number of gigs in a cellular data plan to the horsepower in a pickup truck, this mantra is ubiquitous in American culture.  When it comes to college students, the belief that more is better may underlie their widely-held view that laptops in the classroom enhance their academic performance.  Laptops do in fact allow students to do more, like engage in online activities and demonstrations, collaborate more easily on papers and projects, access information from the internet, and take more notes.  Indeed, because students can type significantly faster than they can write, those who use laptops in the classroom tend to take more notes than those who write out their notes by hand.  Moreover, when students take notes using laptops they tend to take notes verbatim, writing down every last word uttered by their professor.

Obviously it is advantageous to draft more complete notes that precisely capture the course content and allow for a verbatim review of the material at a later date.  Only it isn’t.  New research by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer demonstrates that students who write out their notes on paper actually learn more.  Across three experiments, Mueller and Oppenheimer had students take notes in a classroom setting and then tested students on their memory for factual detail, their conceptual understanding of the material, and their ability to synthesize and generalize the information.  Half of the students were instructed to take notes with a laptop, and the other half were instructed to write the notes out by hand.  As in other studies, students who used laptops took more notes.  In each study, however, those who wrote out their notes by hand had a stronger conceptual understanding and were more successful in applying and integrating the material than those who used took notes with their laptops.

What drives this paradoxical finding?  Mueller and Oppenheimer postulate that taking notes by hand requires different types of cognitive processing than taking notes on a laptop, and these different processes have consequences for learning.  Writing by hand is slower and more cumbersome than typing, and students cannot possibly write down every word in a lecture.  Instead, they listen, digest, and summarize so that they can succinctly capture the essence of the information.  Thus, taking notes by hand forces the brain to engage in some heavy “mental lifting,” and these efforts foster comprehension and retention.  By contrast, when typing students can easily produce a written record of the lecture without processing its meaning, as faster typing speeds allow students to transcribe a lecture word for word without devoting much thought to the content.

To evaluate this theory, Mueller and Oppenheimer assessed the content of notes taken by hand versus laptop.  Their studies included hundreds of students from Princeton and UCLA, and the lecture topics ranged from bats, bread, and algorithms to faith, respiration, and economics.  Content analysis of the notes consistently showed that students who used laptops had more verbatim transcription of the lecture material than those who wrote notes by hand.  Moreover, high verbatim note content was associated with lower retention of the lecture material.  It appears that students who use laptops can take notes in a fairly mindless, rote fashion, with little analysis or synthesis by the brain.  This kind of shallow transcription fails to promote a meaningful understanding or application of the information.

If the source of the advantage for longhand notes derives from the conceptual processes they evoke, perhaps instructing laptop users to draft summative rather than verbatim notes will boost performance.  Mueller and Oppenheimer explored this idea by warning laptop note takers against the tendency to transcribe information without thinking, and explicitly instructed them to think about the information and type notes in their own words.  Despite these instructions, students using laptops showed the same level of verbatim content and were no better in synthesizing material than students who received no such warning.  It is possible these direct instructions to improve the quality of laptop notes failed because it is so easy to rely on less demanding, mindless processes when typing.

It’s important to note that most of the studies that have compared note taking by hand versus laptop have used immediate memory tests administered very shortly (typically less than an hour) after the learning session.  In real classroom settings, however, students are often assessed days if not weeks after learning new material.  Thus, although laptop users may not encode as much during the lecture and thus may be disadvantaged on immediate assessments, it seems reasonable to expect that the additional information they record will give them an advantage when reviewing material after a long delay.

Wrong again.  Mueller and Oppenheimer included a study in which participants were asked to take notes by hand or by laptop, and were told they would be tested on the material in a week.  When participants were given an opportunity to study with their notes before the final assessment, once again those who took longhand notes outperformed laptop participants.  Because longhand notes contain students’ own words and handwriting, they may serve as more effective memory cues by recreating the context (e.g., thought processes, emotions, conclusions) as well as content (e.g., individual facts) from the original learning session.

These findings hold important implications for students who use their laptops to access lecture outlines and notes that have been posted by professors before class.  Because students can use these posted materials to access lecture content with a mere click, there is no need to organize, synthesize or summarize in their own words.  Indeed, students may take very minimal notes or not take notes at all, and may consequently forego the opportunity to engage in the mental work that supports learning.

Beyond altering students’ cognitive processes and thereby reducing learning, laptops pose other threats in the classroom.  In the Mueller and Oppenheimer studies, all laptops were disconnected from the internet, thus eliminating any disruption from email, instant messaging, surfing, or other online distractions.  In most typical college settings, however, internet access is available, and evidence suggests that when college students use laptops, they spend 40% of class time using applications unrelated to coursework, are more likely to fall off task, and are less satisfied with their education.  In one study with law school students, nearly 90% of laptop users engaged in online activities unrelated to coursework for at least five minutes, and roughly 60% were distracted for half the class.

Technology offers innovative tools that are shaping educational experiences for students, often in positive and dynamic ways.  The research by Mueller and Oppenheimer serves as a reminder, however, that even when technology allows us to do more in less time, it does not always foster learning.  Learning involves more than the receipt and the regurgitation of information.  If we want students to synthesize material, draw inferences, see new connections, evaluate evidence, and apply concepts in novel situations, we need to encourage the deep, effortful cognitive processes that underlie these abilities.  When it comes to taking notes, students need fewer gigs, more brain power.

Cindi May is a Professor of Psychology at the College of Charleston. She explores mechanisms for optimizing cognitive function in college students, older adults, and individuals with intellectual disabilities. She is also the project director for a TPSID grant from the Department of Education, which promotes the inclusion of students with intellectual disabilities in postsecondary education.

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孩子的玩具車已經多到成為「路霸」了嗎? 只要拿出絕緣膠帶,一切就搞定了!






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