Monday, February 27, 2012

5 Tell-Tale Signs You're Becoming a Teacher Leader

Published Online: February 21, 2012

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How do you know you're ready to become a teacher leader?
Will a trusted colleague tap you on the shoulder and say, "It's time!"?
Do you have to get so frustrated by something that you simply must speak up and work toward a solution?
Maybe—but sometimes the signs are subtler. Here are a few things that may signal that you're on the road to becoming a teacher leader:

Sign #1: You wish you had an impact beyond your classroom.

If you find yourself yearning to take an idea beyond your classroom, you're probably ready to become a leader.

The first step might be as small as sharing a lesson plan with a colleague down the hall. Then you might spread your expertise further. Perhaps you will blog about how your students are using iPads to work on letter recognition, submit an article to your favorite professional journal, or share your knowledge in topic-focused Twitter chats. Or maybe your next step will be to help "unpack Common Core standards" for your department, or to offer to lead a workshop on bullying.

Whatever path you take, don't wait to be invited. Act on your interests—you'll be glad you did.

Sign #2: Colleagues often ask you for advice.
Are you a go-to teacher? You aren't sure quite why, but your colleagues are beginning to turn to you (yes, YOU!) for advice on how to handle difficult situations. Guess what? You probably have what it takes to lead.

See Sign #1 for some ways to proceed. It's great that your colleagues come to you for advice, but are there ways to share your expertise with even more educators?

Sign #3: You "think big" about problems.

  When others are complaining, you're imagining solutions. You can see ways that the system can change to help you and your colleagues to better serve students—whether at the school, district, state, or national level.

Maybe your next step is to have frank, open conversations with your principal about solving problems at your school. Maybe you will serve on a district leadership committee, acting as a spokesperson for your grade level at a school board meeting. Or perhaps you'll become involved with teacher advocacy through your union.

Whatever the case, other teachers are beginning to look to you as someone who can help them move beyond frustration to positive action. You have the potential to extend the impact of your leadership by getting involved in district, state, and even national initiatives to improve teaching and learning.

Sign #4: You want to take new teachers under your wing.

  You watch new teachers at your school and think, "Wow, I've been there and wished someone would help me out." You have a keen sense of what kind of preparation teachers need to be successful in the classroom. You've probably offered advice and informal support to at least one new teacher.

Your next step might be to volunteer as a cooperating teacher for a preservice college student, or an official mentor to a new teacher in your building. Maybe you will agree to serve on a "walk-through" team, observing teachers and offering helpful feedback. You might even become an instructional coach or take on a hybrid role in which you are adjunct faculty at a local teacher- preparation program.
Whatever the case, you care about the future of the profession. When you begin to invest time and energy in new teachers or preservice teachers, it's a sure sign that you're becoming a leader.

Sign #5: You always want to know more!

You are afflicted with lifelong learning. What you know about the profession isn't enough—you are eager to dig deeper into pedagogical strategies and/or your content area. You read. A lot.

Perhaps you've already taken one next step: enrolling in a master's program. Or maybe you've already developed a Personal Learning Network of teachers across the country who regularly exchange ideas and help each other improve. And you might also be pursuing the rewarding but challenging experience of seeking National Board Certification. So many avenues for learning!

So …

When you find yourself writing, advising, listening, collaborating, networking, seeking knowledge, reflecting, be aware. These are traits of leadership. Know, too, that there is no one "correct" path to becoming a teacher leader. I encourage you to check out the Teacher Leader Model Standards, which highlight a range of ways for teacher leaders to improve schools.

The right next step for you will depend on your own strengths, ambitions, and circumstances. But I can promise you this: When you go beyond what is expected, when you act on your desire to develop and learn, you won't regret it.

100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers

John Costilla

Although YouTube has been blocked from many/most schools, for obvious reasons and not so obvious ones. YouTube does provide great resources and content for teachers and students. View the list of the Top 100 Videos for Teachers. This list is provided by, a leading online resource for current teachers, and aspiring education students and student teachers.

YouTube's 100 Best Teacher Videos:
These videos can give your students a better insight into historical events.
  1. Learn History: This YouTube channel provides loads of videos on historical events related to crime and punishment and the American west.
  2. Animated Bayeux Tapestry: Students learning about European history can watch this video which takes the Bayeux Tapestry and brings it to life.
  3. The Day the Music Died: This video can be a great introduction to pop culture in the 50’s and 60’s through the song American Pie.
  4. Surviving the Holocaust: Teach students about the impact of the Holocaust by showing them how it impacted this individual.
  5. Oliver Cromwell: Here you’ll find photos and text that tell about the life of Oliver Cromwell.
  6. Elizabeth I: Let students learn about the history of England by watching this video presentation on Elizabeth I.
  7. Computer History: Technology is a big deal these days, and students can learn about where it all started by watching this video.
  8. Gettysburg Reenactment: Bring the American Civil War to life by showing students this reenactment of a battle.
  9. The Assassination of JFK: This famous video is a huge part of American history, and you can let students watch it via YouTube.
  10. Fall of the Berlin Wall: Classes studying modern history can learn about the impact of the fall of the Berlin Wall through this news report.
  11. How to Make a Mummy: Created by teachers, this animated video shows how the ancient Egyptians created their mummies.
  12. A Brief History of Mankind: This video sums up the history of mankind in just a few minutes, making it a good intro to history classes.
Make science more fun and interactive by using these videos in class.
  1. Rubber Hand Illusion: This video explores the strange phenomenon of the rubber hand illusion which can help get students interested in biology and psychology.
  2. Theory of Everything: Here you’ll find an explanation of the Theory of Everything.
  3. The World of Chemistry: This video gives a humorous take on several chemistry principles.
  4. Physics of Superheroes: Take physics to another level by showing students how physics can help explain the abilities of superheroes.
  5. The Physics of Baseball: Get students more interested in physics by relating them to sports with this video.
  6. Meiosis: Explain the division of reproductive cells by using this video as an illustration.
  7. Virtual Frog Dissection: If the idea of dissecting a real frog makes you cringe, consider showing your classes this virtual dissection instead.
  8. How to Build a Simple Electric Motor: Science students can watch this video and complete this simple experiment to make class more interesting.
  9. Chemistry Experiments: This series of videos covers a wide range of fun and interesting chemistry experiments.
  10. DNA Replication Process: Show students this video to help illustrate just how DNA replicates.
  11. Classification Rap: What better way to remember the categories of classification than to create a rap? Students will enjoy this catchy song.
  12. Birth of the Solar System: Students may enjoy watching this video that shows how our solar system was formed.
Get advice on improving your language class or use these videos as classroom supplements.
  1. Improving Listening Skills for ESL Teachers: Those teaching students to speak English can help boost their listening skills with some advice from this video.
  2. Language Learning and Web 2.0: Watch this to learn how you can use technology to improve your language classes.
  3. Alphabet Road: Young children will enjoy watching this series of videos that shows them letters in relation to animals and machines on a farm.
  4. Task Based Learning: See how task based learning can impact your language courses by watching this video.
  5. Teach Your Children Spanish: Spanish teachers working with younger children can supplement their lessons with these helpful videos.
  6. Tips on Teaching a Foreign Language: This video gives some valuable tips that can help improve your skills as a language teacher.
  7. Teach Yourself Sign Language: Whether you’re working with deaf kids or just want to learn a new skill, this video can help you to learn to sign.
  8. ESL Teaching Tips: Teaching ESL comes with its own set of challenges. This video can give you some pointers on being a better teacher.
  9. Spanish for Gringos: Students young and old can benefit from these videos which help with pronunciation and grammar in Spanish.
  10. How to Teach Latin: Latin may come off as boring to many students, so help jazz it up with some tips from this video.
  11. Grammar Rock: Who doesn’t love those old Schoolhouse Rock videos? Play these for your kids when they’re learning about elements of grammar, including this one on verbs.
These videos provide great information on art and art education programs for you and your students.
  1. ARTSplash!: This video can help you learn about the ARTSplash program, which can be a valuable addition to the arts education programs in your school.
  2. Teaching Flute to the Remedial Band Student or Novice: Music teachers who are struggling with students working below the level they should be at can get some teaching pointers from this video.
  3. The Dark Genius of Caravaggio: Show students the work of Italian artist Caravaggio in this video slide show.
  4. A Tribute to Vincent Van Gogh: Students can enjoy the colorful and unique work of Van Gogh in this video.
  5. Salvador Dali: Explore the eccentric genius of Salvador Dali by showing your students this video of his surrealist paintings and movies.
  6. Pablo Picasso: One of the best known artists, students can learn to recognize numerous works by Picasso from watching this video.
  7. Rijksmuseum: Take a virtual field trip through the Rijksmuseum and see great works by artists like Rembrandt, Vermeer and Van Gogh.
  8. Art Education for the Blind: Learn to make art education valuable for even your blind students by watching this video.
  9. Art In Secondary Education: Get some tips on using art education in high schools through this video created in part by several museums and high schools.
  10. Art Education 2.0: This video gives educators an introduction to Art Education 2.0, an online community on
  11. Innovative Art Education: Take your creativity to the next level with suggestions from this video.
  12. Cairo Museum: Take a virtual tour of numerous works of art in the Cairo Museum with this video.
Everyone has a hard day sometimes, and you can remind yourself why you became a teacher by checking out these videos.
  1. Teachers Make a Difference: This video tells an inspirational story about how a teacher made a difference in a student’s life.
  2. Teachers Are Like Mirrors: Here you’ll be encouraged to remember that teachers play a big role in building students’ self esteem.
  3. What Teachers Make: Tyler Mali delivers his free form poem about what a difference teachers can make.
  4. The Miracle Workers: Another Tyler Mali poem delivered in 2007, intended to inspire and build morale in teachers.
  5. 100 Ways to Show Children You Care: While geared more towards parents, this video can give some good suggestions on showing your students how you care about them.
  6. Teaching is Amazing: This video shows a series of inspirational quotes on teaching and can be just what you need to pick yourself up on a bad day.
  7. Thank You, Teacher: Here you’ll hear the story of how a simple thank you from a student made a difference in a teacher’s life.
  8. You Never Gave Up On Me: Listen to the story of this teacher who never gave up on a student who struggled to read.
  9. Make a Difference: This story, while fictional, can still be a great inspiration to teachers everywhere.
  10. Teachers Who Make a Difference: This series of videos documents teachers from all over who have made a difference in their students’ lives.
Classroom Management
Ensure your classroom stays a happy and organized learning environment with some help from these videos.
  1. Diffusing Entitle or Helicopter Parents: Dealing with parents can be one of the biggest challenges of being a teacher. This video offers some advice on managing even the toughest parents.
  2. Assertiveness Scenarios: Don’t let coworkers and students walk all over you. This video showcases several scenarios and how to act more assertive.
  3. Education Techniques for Children With Autism: Working with children who have disabilities can be challenging, but this video gives some useful pointers to make it a little easier.
  4. Maintaining Discipline: Watch this video for advice on keeping your classroom under control.
  5. Classroom Management Ideas for At-Risk Students: Those dealing with students that are at a high risk can find out ways they can better work with them in this video.
  6. Tips and Tricks for Classroom Management: Get some basic tips and tricks on keeping your classroom running smoothly in this video.
  7. Positive Learning Places: Here you’ll get advice on several aspects of classroom management and how you can create an environment conducive to learning.
  8. Teacher Training: This video gives teachers some ideas on how to better engage their students and improve their learning environment.
  9. Creating Respectful Classrooms: This video can help give your students the tools they need to be respectful, responsible citizens in your classroom.
  10. How to Maintain Classroom Discipline: Good and Bad Methods: Learn what works and what doesn’t when it comes to classroom discipline through the instruction of this video.
  11. Positive Discipline in the Classroom: Here you’ll learn how to use positive reinforcement to discipline students in your classes.
How-Tos and Guides
These helpful guides and instructional videos can give you assistance with a variety of classroom issues.
  1. Challenging Behavior in Young Children: Learn to modify the behavior of elementary age children with advice from this video.
  2. Preschool Learning Ideas: Get some ideas on how to work with preschool age children through suggestions from this video.
  3. How to Teach a Child Math: This basic video gives some pointers on the best way to teach kids math.
  4. First Year Teachers: What Not to Do In the Computer Lab: While very tongue in cheek, this video does offer some helpful suggestions to engaging your students while they’re in the computer lab.
  5. Teacher Interview Questions: Find out what kind of questions you can expect in interviews for teaching jobs in this helpful video.
  6. How to Become a Teacher By Being a Substitute: This video can help those looking to work as full time teachers who are only substituting at the moment.
  7. How to Be an Amazing Teacher: Want to be the best teacher you can be? Check out this video for ways you can go above and beyond.
  8. How to Start a Class Successfully: Learn how to set the stage for your whole day by starting your class.
  9. Exploring Diversity In Your Classroom: Engage children from all backgrounds in your classroom with some tips from this video.
  10. Teacher Tips Organization: This video can help you learn to get and stay organized.
  11. How to Get the Second Half of the School Year Off to a Great Start: It can sometimes be difficult to get back in the groove of learning and teaching after a lengthy winter break. This video gives advice on how to get back into the swing of things.
These videos can help you learn to use technology in the classroom and on your own time more effectively.
  1. Podcasting for Teachers: Learn how to create your own podcast in this informative series. This video covers one of the first steps: getting your own blog.
  2. What is Moodle?: Moodle can be a great classroom tool for students and teachers. This video can help you learn the basics of the program.
  3. Google Docs Tutorial for Teachers: This tutorial will show you the basics of using Google Docs so you can save and edit documents online.
  4. Microsoft Word Training for Teachers: Don’t let your students run circles around you using technology. Learn to use Word with this helpful video.
  5. SMART Board Orientation: While not all teachers are so lucky to have a SMART Board, those that do can get help on using it from this orientation.
  6. Pay Attention: Don’t think technology is important in your classroom? This video might change your mind.
  7. Using PowerPoint(Or Not): This video explains ways you can use PowerPoint in the classroom and reasons why you may not want to.
  8. A Vision of K-12 Students Today: Here you’ll learn why technology is so important to today’s children.
  9. Using Technology in Education: Embrace the overall health of your students by watching this video which explains how to use technology to improve mental health.
  10. ChitChat Basic Walkthrough: Learn to use the program ChitChat by watching this instructional video.
  11. Shift Happens: Learn what you’ll need to do in order to prepare your classroom to meet the technological needs of your students.
If you need a good laugh, watch these over your lunch hour or after class.
  1. Teachers Suck: While somewhat vulgar, this Tom Green rap can be entertaining to see how some students might view education.
  2. History of the World: This simple revision of world history is a fun and creative video to watch.
  3. Dramatic Chipmunk: This simple clip makes entertaining use of one very shocked looking chipmunk.
  4. Brad Neely’s George Washington: Get a different take on the history of George Washington with this funny and quite catchy song.
  5. Spiders on Drugs: Health teachers will find this parody video entertaining.
  6. History of the USAEnjoy this funny take on the history of the United States. :
  7. St Sanders Guitar Parody: These videos take some of the guitar greats and pair them with lame riffs, with hilarious results.
  8. Welcome to My Home: Old videos have been paired with new commentary in this funny series.
  9. Sneak Thief: Watch as this hungry gull robs a store owner blind.
  10. Super Mole Brothers: Chemistry teachers can appreciate this video project which was made in honor of National Mole Day.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

How to Not Raise a Brat

Blog Post from The Stressed Mom

"I believe instead that our job as parents is to raise mature, responsible, well-rounded adults. And you typically would not get a mature well-rounded responsible adult if your daily goal was to make sure your child is happy.

While a happy child would be nice, children need to learn how to live in a real world. They need to learn that life is demanding and hard, and definitely not always fair.

10 ways to not raise a brat:

  1. Don’t call them more than once in the morning to wake up for school. Or make them set their own alarm clock.
  2. Stop doing their laundry.
  3. Make them clean up behind themselves or confiscate their stuff.
  4. Expect them to help get dinner on the table, and to clean up afterwards.
  5. Don’t buy them a “treat” every time you go shopping, etc.
  6. Teach them how to be responsible for their own school work and make them be accountable.
  7. Don’t allow or reward whining by giving in.
  8. As often as possible, allow natural consequences to happen. Don’t intervene. They can be some of the best teachers.
  9. Teach them to be independent at an early age, and continue to let them mature into further independence.
  10. While you should love your child, and let them know you are there for them as they grow, do not baby them. At age 3 or age 13. That makes for an awful 21 year old who feels entitled to everything and won’t get a job or consider moving out and being responsible for themselves.
Obviously this needs to be age relevant. I am not suggesting that you expect a 4 year old to do his laundry. However, he can learn to fix his own peanut butter & jelly sandwich, empty wastebaskets or help you sort the laundry. See: Teaching kids to do their fair share around the house

I have had more of a tendency to baby my youngest (go figure) and now that she is out on her own, she is having to learn some things the hard way because of my sheltering. I am still there for her, and I will guide her, but I refuse to jump in and always save the day (most of the time).

My oldest daughter has 6 children and she has worked hard to teach her children to be independent from a young age. And she has also taught the older ones to help the younger ones. On one hand, it makes for a little more chaos in their home, but on the other, my daughter is not trying to do everything herself, and her kids are learning to be responsible and think more like a maturing adult would, and not an impetuous teenager.

So, what shall it be? A “happy kid”, or a well-rounded adult?"

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Understanding and Raising a Powerful Girl!

Raising a Powerful Girl
Posted on PBS Parents

Girl riding a bikeHow do you raise a powerful girl and what does that mean?

Powerful girls grow up feeling secure in themselves. They learn to take action, making positive choices about their own lives and doing positive things for others. They think critically about the world around them. They express their feelings and acknowledge the feelings and thoughts of others in caring ways. Powerful girls feel good about themselves and grow up with a "can-do" attitude. Of course, strong girls may (like all of us) have times of insecurity and self-doubt, but these feelings aren't paralyzing because the girls have learned to work
through their problems. Powerful girls will grow up to lead full, valuable lives.                                                                            

Value of Nursery Rhymes for All Ages and Stages!

Nursery Rhymes: Not Just for Babies!

Nursery rhymes are important for young children because they help develop an ear for our language. Both rhyme and rhythm help kids hear the sounds and syllables in words, which helps kids learn to read! Here are some activities and recommended poetry books to aid your child's developing poetry, rhyming, and rhythm skills.

There's a reason we learn nursery rhymes as young children. They help us develop an ear for our language. Rhyme and rhythm highlight the sounds and syllables in words. And understanding sounds and syllables helps kids learn to read!

Activities for younger children

  • Create word families. Use refrigerator magnets to spell a word ending (-ap). Have your child put other letters in front of the word ending to create rhyming words (tap, cap, map, lap).
  • Fill in the blank. Read children's poems aloud and leave off the final word, having your child fill in the missing rhyming word:

    "Run, run, as fast as you can,
    You can't catch me, I'm the gingerbread ____."
  • Make TV time a time for learning. Choose programs with a focus on reading. Check out PBS' Between the Lions, for children ages 4-7, or Reading Rainbow, for ages 4-8.

Activities for older children

  • Write a swap poem. You write one line of a poem, and have your child write the next line, matching the rhythm, and rhyming the last word. (Hint: Use words that are easy to rhyme!)
  • Create a rhyming dictionary. Have a page for –op words, and –end words, and –ing words, and –oat words, and then move on to more complex letter patterns like –ouble (trouble, double).
  • If kids don't like reading, try poetry! Poems are short, provide important practice with reading fluency, and give reluctant readers a sense of accomplishment.

Some good poetry books for kids:

  • Sing to the Sun, by Ashley Bryan
  • In the Eyes of a Cat: Japanese Poetry, by Demi
  • This Big Sky, by Pat Mora
  • The Random House Book of Poetry for Children, edited by Jack Prelutsky
  • A Child's Garden of Verses, by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Any book by Dr. Seuss!

For more recommended poetry books for children, visit:
Reading Rockets (2007)

Friday, February 17, 2012

Understanding Brain-Based Learning

What is Brain-Based Teaching?

brain based teaching explained

I get asked this question a lot… so I am going to provide an explanation of what Brain-Based teaching is, as well as clear up any myths or misconceptions about it.

Brain-Based education is the active engagement of practical strategies based on learning and behavioral principles derived from neuroscience.

All teachers use strategies; the difference here is that you’re using strategies based on real science, not because someone said that they work.

An example of a principle would be…”Brains change based on experience.” The science tells us HOW they change in response to experience. The strategies are based on what we’ve learned from studies on how brains change.

Questions are often raised about the reliability of brain research for training or classroom applications. Cautious, conservative skeptics will, by nature, be hesitant to embrace new things. Overzealous or impulsive risk-takers will, by nature, try almost anything, founded or not.


Our position is let the science do the talking

A better-informed educator usually makes better decisions. We collect the research, form conclusions and make suggestions. Every effort is made to select from reliable sources with supporting data. If the studies are conflicting, we’ll either say so or not present it to you. You’ll need to be the ultimate judge as to whether and how the research fits in your particular learning climate.

One must be cautious and prudent in how research is interpreted and ultimately used. Our policy is to look for both the basic neuroscience research and match it with data from applied psychology or cognitive science. When there are multiple studies, with good samples and clear evidence, you’ll hear about it.

We will never say, “Brain research proves….” because it does not prove anything. It may however suggest the value of a particular pathway. We have heard five basic criticisms about brain-based education. Here’s what they are and our answers to them.

1. “The findings are often exaggerated, misinterpreted and taken way too far.”

RESPONSE: This criticism is genuine. Many well-meaning educators have gone way beyond the research and said that it “proves” that a “certain” classroom strategy is justified. We often hear educators making claims that have no basis in research. Educators who are going to use or quote research ought to know what makes a good study, who is funding it, the reputation of the researcher, the design of the study, what are the implications and constraints on the findings. A little information can be dangerous.

To be accepted as professionals, educators must know their stuff.

We assert that brain research proves nothing. There is no body of brain-based research that justifies every strategy of so-called “good teaching.” In fact, most of what passes for good teaching is a collection of folk wisdom, basic psychology and common sense refined by trial and error. However, new findings can steer all of us in more productive directions.

What educators should say is the following…”These studies suggest that XYZ may be true about the brain. Given that insight, it probably makes sense for us, under these conditions, to use the following strategies in schools.”

This approach, which is cautionary and not causal, sticks with the truth. First, that there are valuable, new studies and second, that given the insight of those studies, certain actions seem to make good sense. We do not claim that “brain-based” is or should be the only criteria for deciding what to do. It’s a bad idea to base a school on biology alone. However, if schools ignore it, they are being equally reckless.


2. “There is nothing new in this approach.”

RESPONSE: When people say “good teachers have been doing this for years,” two things are true. First, you may be very young or have a short memory. Only 40 years ago, good teaching was defined by all-lecture, content-laden classes, clean desks, quiet students (in their seats), with little movement. Yes, it’s true that some teachers have been using brain-compatible strategies for centuries, but most have been moving towards a more brain-friendly approach.

Keep in mind that if you don’t know why you do what you do, it’s less purposeful and less professional. It’s probably your collected, refined wisdom. Nothing wrong with that, but some of the “collected, refined wisdom” has led to some bad teaching, too.

But to be purposeful about your work; ah… that is another matter.

Are there recent discoveries from the world of brain-mind science that can be applied to the classroom? You bet!

Here’s a list highlighting a few specific areas of research that have important implications for learning, memory, schools and trainings.
  • The growing brain: the human brain can and does grow new cells
  • The social brain: how interactions and social status impacts stress levels
  • The hormonal brain: hormones can and do impact cognition
  • The moving brain: how movement influences learning
  • The plastic brain: changing; how to better enrich the brain to rewire changes
  • The spatial brain: how space and relational learning & recall works
  • The attentional brain: prefrontal cortex; what really drives attention and ADD
  • The emotional brain: impact of threats on hormones, memory, cells and genes
  • The adaptive brain: the impact of distress, cortisol & allostatic states
  • The patient brain: the role of time in the learning process
  • The computational brain: the role of feedback in forming neural networks
  • The artful brain: the role of arts and music
  • The connected brain: how our brain is body and body is brain
  • The developing brain: what to do and when to do it; value of the first 3 years
  • The hungry brain: what to eat; the role of nutrition in learning and memory
  • The memorable brain: how our memories are encoded and retrieved
  • The chemical brain: which chemicals do what & how to activate the right ones
As you can tell, these discoveries come from many areas. Critics who worry over where the research comes from are missing the point. Educators need to, and ought to, combine the findings of the brain/mind field with other fields to diversify and strengthen the applications. Neuroscience is not the only source for research; it’s an important part of a larger puzzle. When you synthesize it with other fields like sociology, chemistry, anthropology, future studies, anthropology, therapy and others, you can get some powerful applications.

Cognitive science, psychology, neurobiology, and neuroscience are all studying the same thing!

They are interested in the brain/mind and how it works. The brain is what you have, the mind is using it. Different fields do research at different levels. Basic neuroscience research is usually done at the molecular, genetic or cellular level. At this level, we hear of neurogenesis and the growth of stem cells. That’s contrasted with applied cognitive sciences, which may feature animal studies, or clinical studies that show the real world behaviors we are equally interested in.

The point is, we now know enough about the brain to justify specific strategies that only a few years ago were just good ideas without scientific basis. Here’s an example. We have irrefutable evidence that embedding intense emotions (like a celebration or drama) into an activity may stimulate the release of adrenaline, which may encode the memory of the learning much stronger.


3. “Brain-based education is confusing. One person says one thing, another says the opposite.”

RESPONSE: I agree. There needs to be better sharing and networking so that all of us are on “the same page.” Many ill-informed educators are still confused about some learning basics.

Here is a summary of some of the myths and realities.

MYTH: Early childhood experiences cause our synaptic count to multiply rapidly.

REALITY: If anything, we lose synapses through a “pruning” process in the first five years.

MYTH: Low stress learning is best.

REALITY: In general, moderate levels optimize learning. Under some conditions, low stress is better, and in others, higher stress is better.

MYTH: Research proves the critical need to capitalize on the early windows of opportunity.

REALITY: Normal childhood experiences usually produce normal kids. The most critical windows are those for our senses, the parent-infant emotional attunement, language learning and a non-distressed sense of safety. Those are irretrievable time slots in our lives–once they pass, it’s too late. Other opportunities, like social skills, reading, music and language have a much longer window of opportunity.

MYTH: Rote memorization is brain-antagonistic.

REALITY: The brain strengthens learning through repetition. It’s not repetition that’s bad; it’s when it becomes too boring. There are many creative and fun ways to review.

MYTH: Environments primarily determine learner success.

REALITY: Many factors influence learner success including parents, peers, genes, trauma, nutrition and environment. There is no way to quantify them and say one of them is more important than another.

MYTH: Most learners use only 5-10% of the brain.

REALITY: There is no objective evidence that this is true. On a daily basis we probably use most areas of our brain. Increases in creativity or productivity can come from doing the right thing, or doing it more often, rather than simply doing more.

MYTH: Emotions and intelligence are separate.

REALITY: While they may originate in separate places in the brain, their paths usually cross in the orbitofrontal cortex. So, in a sense, they are inseparable.

MYTH: Mozart is the best music for enhancing learning.

REALITY: Recent studies show many kinds of music can work as well as, or better, than Mozart. One of Mozart’s compositions (K.448) has shown a modest enhancement in spatial-temporal learning.

MYTH: Learning Styles and Multiple intelligences are brain-based.

REALITY: These make good sense based on what we know about the brain. They address the uniqueness of the human brain. But both were developed before our current understanding of the brain and have stronger roots in psychology and social science than neurology.

MYTH: The adult brain cannot grow new cells.

REALITY: Studies have demonstrated that the human brain can and does grow new cells in the hippocampus. Just as importantly, the cells do take on functional roles and interact with existing cells.

MYTH: Getting the right answer quickly is best.

REALITY: Given the value of trial and error learning, probably those who are not the quickest (and not the slowest) are more likely to be better, more reflective thinkers.

MYTH: An enriched environment is one with posters, mobiles, manipulatives & music.

REALITY: Enrichment occurs more because of the process that the learners are undergoing. You need a prevailing contrast from the “baseline” environment. If a kids watches TV all day, going out to play is enrichment. Challenge, feedback, novelty, coherence and time are crucial ingredients for re-wiring the brain. Enrichment means heavier cells, greater dendritic branching, more glial cells, multiple synaptic junctions and, in some cases, new cell growth (in the hippocampus).

MYTH: More focused classroom attention by students on the teacher improves learning.

REALITY: Students need time to digest, think, reflect and act on their learning for connections to strengthen.

MYTH: More content per hour is better.
REALITY: Each subject and each learner probably have an ideal amount of ”ideas per hour” that can be learned based on learner background, motivation, learning skills and subject complexity and novelty. Only language acquisition occurs better with more content per hour.
MYTH: The left brain is logical.

REALITY: The left hemisphere is better with sequencing, language, parts and creating internal dialogues (interpreting events). Any logic produced is not a structure=function relationship result.

MYTH: We now know how to best assess learning.

REALITY: Much of what we learn we still don’t know how to assess. Examples include volition, subject affinity and the development of mental models.

MYTH: More synapses formed means greater intelligence.

REALITY: There is no evidence that this is true.

MYTH: All can learn and meet high standards.

REALITY: This is true only for those who have healthy brains. Add up all the students with some kind of brain dysfunction problems (depression, brain insults, ADD, drug usage, dyslexia, OCD, distress, alcohol, trauma, etc.) and you’ll have from 40-60% of your school population, depending on the school. Healthy brains make for good learners who can reach high standards. Students with unhealthy brains commonly have learning problems. Can they be reached? Most of them, yes, if there are sufficient resources. Others may never reach their potential.

MYTH: The right brain is creative.

REALITY: The right brain processes spatial information, works randomly and with wholes (the gestalt). None of these attributes guarantee creativity. There are very clear, anatomical and functional differences between the left brain and right brain. But how much value there is in applying that knowledge is questionable.


Brain-based education is not a panacea nor magic bullet to solve all of education’s problems. Anyone who represents that to others is misleading them. It is not yet a program, a model or package for schools to follow. One critic of brain-based education said, “It will at least be 25 years before the benefits of brain research reach the classroom.”

I’ll cite just one example to show you why I disagree.

The reading improvement product FastForword, was developed by two neuroscientists, Stanford’s Dr. Michael Merzenich and Dr. Paula Tallal from Rutgers. That product is already in use today in thousands of classrooms around the country. Many students have been helped by it. It specifically uses discoveries in neural plasticity to change the brain’s ability to read the printed word. The fact is, the benefits are already reaching the classroom. And they’re not just through thousands of books and in-services.

Schools should not be run based solely on the biology of the brain. However, to ignore what we do know about the brain would be equally irresponsible. Brain-based education offers some direction for educators who want more purposeful, informed teaching. It offers the possibility of less hit or miss in the classroom. We have learned about how environments impact our learning, the role of trauma and the effects of distress and threat. With additional clarity in research, brain-based approaches may soon suggest far better options for those struggling with learning.

Yes, we are in the infancy of brain research–there’s so much more to learn that we don’t know.

But dismissing it as fad-like, premature or opportunistic is not only shortsighted, but also probably dangerous to our learners. Of course brain research seems conflicting, hazy, confusing, and contradictory. It’s new! That should be expected! But to criticize it? At this early stage, that would be like calling the first dim lightbulb by Thomas Edison a failure because it only was a 10 watt bulb and produced minimal brightness.

The future belongs to those with vision who can grasp not just trends, but the importance of them. Nothing is more relevant to you than your brain or the brain of your spouse, parents, or children. We might as well get used to it. Integrating brain research with our every day lives is here to stay.

written by Eric Jensen

Creative Commons License photo credit: TangYauHoong

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The importance of play

Send the kids outside and let them explore

When I was a kid, we played. We left the house in the morning and spent the day running through the woods, playing whiffle ball in the driveway, or football on the street. As long as we were running and trying to outwit each other, we were happy. When the weather was nasty, we played in the snow until we got cold, then we invented indoor games. One of my favorites involved using a hanger crammed into the top of a door jamb as the basket, and two rolled up socks as a ball. It was the only place this smallest kid in the class could actually stuff the basket. Parents? I am not sure where they were. They had more important stuff to do than worry about kids playing.

We were not obese. We were not bored. We were exploring and discovering our environment, and letting our imaginations fly. We had no idea that we were also developing our brains and learning personal responsibility. We were just playing. So what happened? Why did our society give up on free play?

Somehow we decided that free play is too dangerous for kids, when in fact, it is more dangerous for the future of kids not to play. As Lenore Skenazy says in her book, Free Range Kids, we have changed to a society where “any risk is seen as too much risk.” Even though we live in a time that is actually much safer than it was when we I was a kid, we feel it must be much more dangerous. I mean look at the kidnappings that keep popping up on TV and apparently if you watch the news you learn that it is dangerous to be a pretty blonde and travel to a Caribbean island. In reality, murder just got dropped off the top 15 causes of death in the United States for the first time in a long time, but you won’t hear about  that on the local news.

With parents too scared to let kids go out on their own and play, we have developed structured athletic activities instead. The problem with that, says Hara Marano, author of A Nation of Wimps: The High Cost of Invasive Parenting, “is that the organized sports many kids participate in are managed by adults; difficulties that arise are not worked out by kids but adjudicated by adult referees. Nor is it, in any sense of the term, free play. It doesn’t arise from desires or rules that emanate from the kids themselves. There is no spontaneity. It doesn’t reflect the free-flowing mental activity of children.” It is this free-flowing part of playing that helps kids learn how to handle situations on their own and grow up to become responsible adults. Instead of keeping our kids between the straight lines of a soccer field, they need to start running in the woods and take their feet wherever their brain takes them.

Marano says, “The protectionism that takes all the free play and all the risk out of life for kids rests on a notion of children’s frailty—the assumption that children are easily bruised. The fact is, too much protectionism creates frailty. Not only do children fail to develop coping skills for life’s vicissitudes, and fall apart when they hit a speed bump, kids come to think that something must really be wrong with them if they need so much protection.”

Sure, car seats and bike helmets make sense. But attempting to protect our kid from every split lip or skinned knee will make them too afraid to take on the realities of life. We need to return to this approach to life: I fall down, I get up, I try again—compared to the now more common approach: I fall down, it must be someone’s else’s fault, who can I sue?

Anybody can play. It does not require props or rules, just an imagination and time. We have decided that kids need to be busy every minute of every day with structured activities, so sometimes free time is in short supply, but it’s worth cutting back somewhere else to make time for play. Turn the technology off, leave the homework at home, and go play. Playing is building forts out of rocks and twigs or racing between the second tree on the right and that big bush on top of the hill. It’s about heading somewhere without knowing where you’re going until you get there.

“By its very ambiguous nature play gives brains a workout,” Marano says. “Play is cognitively challenging. It requires attention and so it sharpens senses. It both demands and inspires mental dexterity and flexibility. It thrives on complexity, uncertainty and possibility.” With all the mental development brought about by play, it is no wonder that some brain experts believe that the rise in ADHD problems coincides with the reduction in free play. When it comes to our brains, staring at computer screens or studying for tests are not the only way we learn. In fact, for most of human existence, we have learned by doing the things kids do when playing, exploring our environment and seeing what we find. And if we want to keep our brains developing throughout life, we can’t leave all the fun to the youngsters, adults should hit the woods and do a little playing themselves.

Since some kids don’t understand how to play it may require parents to get them started by taking them to a place where the only thing they can do is play: Take them backpacking. When you arrive at your destination in the wilderness, set up camp, and then let them explore—while you go somewhere else and read a book. It won’t take them too long before they are hiding from each other behind rocks, building wood sailboats with pine needle sails, and inventing new worlds with unusual sound effects.

Deep down we all understand the value of play, but somehow we have convinced ourselves it’s a luxury we can’t afford. Eventually, however, our kids grow up, go to college or a job, and confront a reality that is different than the bubble-wrapped existence we have tried to create for them. In fact, one of the biggest problems colleges now face is that many kids arrive on campus still clinging to their parents. A primary focus of college orientation these days is telling parents to back away from their children, and reminding kids that they are the ones who are in college, not their parents.

If we want our kids to grow up, we need to let them be children, by telling them to go outside and play.

How to Stop Helicopter Parenting

Learn how to raise independent kids and stop micromanaging their every move
By Deborah Skolnik
You finish your child's puzzles. You solve his spats. Heck, you'd cut his applesauce if he asked. It's time to stop being a micromanaging mom. Help has arrived…It's a bird! It's a plane! No, wait… it's you, the Helicopter Parent. That shadow over your kid? It's yours—as you nervously bend over him in his bed, making sure his chest is still rising and falling. That droning noise? It isn't chopper blades, it's you again, on the phone to his preschool teacher, complaining that he said some kid cut him in line. Before that, you were busy wiping his butt, even though he does it on his own at Grandma's house.

Sound familiar? You've got tons of company. Like, for instance, Joy Schoffler of Austin, TX. “My three-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Isabella, will ask to be carried down the stairs,” she admits. “She sees me holding her brother and wants to be picked up, too. Of course, Tyler is ten months and can't walk, and Isabella can. But if I'm running out the door late, picking her up is easier than stopping and saying no.” Schoffler needs to start an online support group with Robin Parker of Atlanta, mother of 2 ½-year-old Thomas: “He's learned to bring his dad or me any challenging task because we'll do it for him,” she says.

Why do so many of us wait on our kids hand and foot, or micromanage their lives to jaw-dropping extremes? Are we trying to elevate troubleshooting to an Olympic sport (or land our own reality show)? There's plenty of evidence that this coddling is as unhealthy for them as it is exhausting for us. So you've gotta stop. But how? Read on for some insights, plus advice that'll help you land your crazy copter.

What the Heli Is Going on?

Think back to your own childhood: Your folks probably didn't hover nearly as much as you do. Chances are, you got to play in the yard unattended, or even made your own snacks. Turns out some pretty powerful technological, economic, and social factors have turned us into a generation of over-zealous moms and dads, experts say.

For starters, there's the explosion of cyberspace, and media in general: “Parenting information is available twenty-four-seven,” observes Christie Barnes, author of The Paranoid Parents Guide: Worry Less, Parent Better, and Raise a Resilient Child. “You can go online and find out every scary thing that could happen to your child. You can also investigate every illness. So there's endless opportunity for fear.” At the same time, the rules for setting your little one on the path to lifelong success have become murkier than ever, adds Margaret Nelson, a professor of sociology at Middlebury College, in Vermont, and author of Parenting Out of Control: Anxious Parents in Uncertain Times. “Even if you've managed to be financially comfortable and happy, you're aware your child may not be able to duplicate what you've accomplished, even if he does exactly what you did,” she explains. “So you ask yourself ‘What should I provide him with?’ Without an answer, you start trying to provide absolutely everything you possibly can, including too much help.”Kids with overbearing moms may have more anxiety and depression.

Time to Back Off

Once you've gotten used to being The Parent from Heli, it's hard to give up your pilot's license. There's even a social element to it, notes Barnes: “So many times, our worries about our kids are what we talk about with other moms,” she says. “There's almost a feeling that if you're not worrying enough, there must be something wrong with you. Worrying feels like love.” But a growing body of evidence indicates that being a (s)mother or a super-protective dad can backfire, badly. Among the latest studies is one from North Carolina State University, in which researchers studied kids and their parents in 20 parks over a two-month period. They found that children whose folks hovered and fretted were far less apt to engage in spontaneous play and missed out on some much-needed exercise.

It's not just kids' little bodies that suffer when you hover; their psyches can pay the price, too. Psychologists at the University of Washington studied more than 200 kids and their moms for three years, and found that when a child already had pretty good judgment and self-control, having a heli-mom who provided too much guidance and not enough independence raised his risk of becoming anxious or depressed. The kids in the study were mostly a little older (9 on average at the study's start), but it's easy to see how a micromanaging mom could frustrate a child of any age.

And what's all this doing to you? Probably nothing good either. One study showed that parents who judge their own self-worth by their children's accomplishments report sadness and diminished contentment with life in general. They appear to have less happy marriages, too, says Nelson, who interviewed approximately 100 parents and found that as the amount of time they spend on childcare rises, “personal relationships seem to be the first thing to go.” So don't go there! Keep reading for great ways to let go of your helicopter parenting ways.

Get a Grip

OK, so now we've (hopefully!) convinced you that quality parenting doesn't mean constant hovering. But how do you start to ease up? Sounds tough, but it can be done. Here, advice from the trenches—including both pros and real parents!

1)  Be a submarine mom or dad instead, says Silvana Clark, author of Fun-Filled Parenting: A Guide to Laughing More and Yelling Less. “Instead of hovering around your child, stay close by—in case of real danger—but mostly out of sight, so he gets out of the habit of running to you for every problem.”

2)  Ask your child's other care-givers what tasks he does when you're not around, then hold him to that standard at home, says Natalie Caine of Empty Nest Support Services, in Los Angeles, who frequently leads parenting groups that include helicopter moms. Does he put on his own rainboots at preschool but whine for you to do it on weekends? Insist you cut the crusts on his sandwiches, even though he'll eat crusts at your sister-in-law's house? Don't give in.

3)  Make your kid a résumé, says Clark. “Take a piece of paper and write ‘Sally is three. Here are some cool things Sally can do by herself.’ Then list some of her abilities, like clearing her plate and putting her stuffed animals on her bed, and put a star next to each. Every time your child masters a new task, add it to the list, with the star. She'll be much less apt to ask you to wait on her, since she'll be so proud.” And as you look at the growing list, you'll have evidence that you don't need to provide concierge service after all. “There's almost a feeling that if you don't worry enough, something's wrong with you,” says Barnes.

4)  Practice some basic playground skills with your child, says Paranoid Parents author Christie Barnes. “Show him how to kick a ball, climb on the mini-monkey bars, or even just go down the slide. If you see he can do these things safely, you'll feel more comfortable sitting back on the bench during his next park playdate,” she says.

5)  Sit down and have a cup of coffee. Make a brief time every day when your butt's in a chair and your metaphorical copter is on the landing pad, too. “If your child calls for you and it isn't an emergency, say ‘I am drinking coffee right now,’” advises Caine. “If he really needs you, he'll come to you, and if you do this enough, he may stop asking for help with every little thing so often.”

6)  Help your child get the picture. “I found myself being a helicopter mom and knew I needed to change,” says Dawn Arnold of Mazon, IL, mother of a 5-year-old. “I filled a small photo album with pictures of my daughter doing all the things she needs to do in the morning before school, after school, and before bed. Now she follows along every day. It lets her be independent, but the things that I think are important are still getting done.”

7)  Count to ten before liftoff. “You know how people always say that you should count to ten before you lose your temper?” says Clark. “I tell parents, as long as their child's not in danger, to count to ten before answering his cry of 'Help me! or ‘I can't!’ In that time, you may realize it's not necessary to rush in after all…or your child may decide he can actually do whatever it is that needs to be done all by himself.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Vital Connections Between Vision and Learning

Vision Therapy Center, Inc.

Teacher/Parent Vision and Learning Guide
The information in this guide was created for teachers and parents. It provides background information on the vital connections between vision and learning.

You’ll find the following information:
• Vision and Learning Overview
• What are some of the vision skills that affect learning?
• Impact on Subjects
• What does the work of someone with vision problems look like?
• Stress Points
• Take the Vision Quiz
• Vision Therapy
• Studies
• Success Stories
• Modifications for the Classroom
• The Vision Therapy Center Contact

Vision and Learning Overview

Good vision requires your eyesight, visual pathways, and brain to all work together. When they don’t, even a person with 20/20 eyesight can experience difficulty reading, writing and processing information, as 80% of all information comes to a child through their vision.

Most people think that if a person’s visual acuity is 20/20 their vision is ‘normal’ or ‘perfect’. That’s not the case.
Visual acuity is a measure of the clarity of a person’s vision and is tested by having a patient read a line of letters on an eye chart. This test does not require the same amount and types of eye movements that reading does, so it cannot be used to determine whether a child has the visual skills necessary to read.

While clear vision is important, it is only one of many visual skills required to be able to read and learn.
·         75-90% of classroom learning comes through the visual system.
·         80% of children who are reading disabled, including dyslexics, have vision problems that can be solved.
·         25% of ALL children have a vision problem significant enough to affect their performance in school.
·         95% of first grade nonreaders had significant vision problems. They had nearly 2.5 times more visual problems than first grade high achievers.
·         In one study, 70% of juvenile delinquents had a vision problem.
·         In one California funded study, recidivism (repeat offenders) reduced from 45% to 16% when wards received on-site optometric vision therapy.
·         When a group of illiterate adults were vision screened, there was a 74% failure rate.
·         School vision screenings, such as a Snellen eyechart, detect only 20-30% of vision problems in schools.
·         Only 13 percent of mothers with children younger than 2 years of age have taken their baby for a functional well-care eye exam. Yet 1 out 10 children are at risk for having an undiagnosed vision problem.


What are some of the skills that affect learning?

When reading, the eyes should aim inward at the same spot in order to fixate on print. If the eyes aim at a spot in front of or behind the print, extra energy and effort is required to maintain fixation and double or overlapping vision may occur. An example is shown to the left.

Directionality is important in understanding how similar shapes can have different meanings when they are in different orientations. To the left is an example of some letters that are commonly reversed by children with poor directionality. The letters are the exact same shape, but are called a different name depending on their orientation. This can be a difficult concept because if another object, such as a chair, is turned on its side or upside-down it is still called a chair.

Form Perception

Below is an example of an item from a visual perceptual skills test. In this particular test the child is asked to identify which form among the choices at the bottom matches the form on top. Other visual perceptual skills tests assess the child’s ability to identify a form from memory, identify which form is oriented in a different direction, identify a form that has a different size or orientation, identify a sequence of forms from memory, identify a figure hidden in ground and identify an incomplete form as if it were complete.

b d p q

Span of Recognition

Children who can read at accelerated speeds often have a good span of recognition, allowing them to recognize and process several words at one time. Children lacking this skill may only be able to see one word or letter at a time. In order to see what this would be like, try reading a sentence or paragraph while looking through a straw.


Visualization is the ability to create mental images. Children who have vision problems may also have difficulty with visualization. This skill is important for success in many school subjects including spelling and math.

Tracking (Pursuits and Saccades)

Commonly referred to as ‘tracking’, maintaining fixation on a moving target (pursuits) or accurately switching fixation between two targets (saccades) are two types of eye movements that are essential for reading and learning.

An example of this is when your eyes reach the end of a line of print and have to accurately move from the end of that line to the beginning of the next line of print. Difficulty with these eye movements can cause a child to skip words or lose their place easily when reading.

Impact on Subjects

Considering 80% of the information you process comes through your visual system, it’s not surprising that a vision problem can affect a number of different subjects. Here’s a brief overview of how vision problems can manifest in various areas.


Vision problems affect reading in two significant ways:

·         When a student is learning to read, a serious vision problem could reduce their ability to know what they are looking at and impact their ability to remember numbers and letters.

·         When a student is reading to learn and has blurry or double vision, their ability to read for long periods of time and comprehend what they are reading can be severely reduced.

The ability to read and the ability to comprehend what is being read are two different things. Comprehending what is read is a visual process, and can be affected when the visual system is not working correctly. If a student sees words on the page as blurry or double, he or she has to use extra effort to keep the words single and clear and this can negatively impact comprehension.

Students with vision problems spend the majority of their time decoding words. Instead of reading fluidly and visualizing the words and the message as a whole, they focus on each specific word. This is a struggle, making it difficult to quickly process sections of text.

As a result, students will track text with their fingers. They’ll read a slower pace and will have fluency issues. Their reading will be marred by repetitions, insertions, omissions and substitutions.

These reading problems are all too often misconstrued as laziness on the part of the student. They are not. They are simply symptomatic of a vision problem. When corrected, it’s common for students to enjoy reading and no longer avoid it.


If a student has difficulty seeing things as clear and single, they may have trouble seeing decimals and/or signs. An important skill in math is to organize what is being written and the student may have trouble lining things up and keeping their place if their visual skills are poor.

Laterality and directionality are also important concepts in math. If a student sees the orientation of numbers incorrectly, they will have difficulty completing the problem.

Students who lack visualization skills can often be found counting on their fingers or verbalizing sequences. Given enough time, they can generally compute an answer, but they tend to do poorly on timed tests. Awareness of numbers and what they mean as well as being able to visualize numbers and quantities, are critical to success in math and can be impacted if a child has a vision problem.

It should be noted that a child with vision problems may do well in math but be a poor reader, primarily because math doesn’t require as many precise eye movements as reading.


Visual recall, the ability to create a visual image based on past visual experience without currently having that experience, is a visualization skill that is critical for spelling. In spelling, it is the ability to create a mental image of a word without being able to look at the word.


Writing involves both handwriting and composition skills. It is necessary for vision to lead the hand for handwriting and this can be very difficult if the student cannot see well. In fact, often you can see in the handwriting where the student stopped looking or became fatigued. Difficulty writing straight on a page is often a result of poor peripheral awareness.

There are several vision-related skills that are critical to good handwriting that may be underdeveloped in a student with vision problems. Visualization is also important in handwriting because the student needs to remember what different words look like in order to reproduce them on the page. Spatial concepts are important in handwriting to know and plan how words will go together. Good laterality and directionality are important to differentiate similarly-shaped letters in different orientations (e.g. b, d, p, q).

Visualization is also critical for writing composition because the student needs to be able to organize and re-organize the composition in his or her head.

What does the work of someone with vision problems look like?

Take a look at some of the work samples of students with vision problems:

Unequal sized print

Words moving or letters running together

Words take off and leave the page

Double print

Reversed letters

Words squished together

Words appear as splotches or streaks

Words are shaky

Stress Points

These are areas that can cause stress for students with vision problems:

• Small print

• Sustained, near point work

• Full pages of print, with blocks of text close together

• Copying from chalkboard or SMART Board to paper on desk

• Fine-motor skills

• Flickering fluorescent bulbs

• Standardized test sheets

• Random lists of spelling words

• Timed tests

• Crossword puzzles

• Reading aloud to a group without being given a warning

• Being asked to instantly identify right and left directions