Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Sleep, Perchance to Dream...and Remember!

In his Science News Online article titled "Certain memories may rest on a good sleep", Bruce Bower reports on the need for sleep to consolidate procedural memory.
When practicing a musical piece, a gymnastics move, or any other activity that depends on effortless, virtually automatic execution, here's some memory-enhancing advice: If you snooze, you cruise.
Procedural memory in school might take the form of learning cursive writing, tackling the steps of long division, or mastering a new musical piece on your recorder. It includes any number of things that involve remembering how to do things with your hands: tying shoes, knitting/crocheting and folding origami.

Mel Levine has long stressed that what you study right before going to sleep actually gets replayed several times while you are snoozing. Why not give it a try..at least don't keep yourself up worrying about it!

Warning to students:
Do not try this at school...your teacher will not buy the excuse "I was consolidating my long division skills!"

photo by umjanedoan

occupational therapy connection - health and wellness

Saturday, December 15, 2007

More on Chores

"Work is nature's physician, it is essential to human health and happiness." - Galen
Mel Levine talks about the family's responsibility to instill a work ethic in their children. When asked what parents can do, he responds:

Schools are responsible for teaching kids how to learn, and parents are responsible for teaching kids how to work. You build up your work capacity, work rhythms, work ethic at home and not in school. There has to be a very clear assignment that society gives families, the job of making your kid into a worker. That means we have to revise the role of parent as taskmaster rather than recreational coordinator. And parents, from an early age, have to be building working capacity. They have to organize an office for a child, set up certain times of the day that are for brainwork and keep kids in cognitive shape. They have to be communicating that a big chunk of life isn't fun and say that we are terribly sorry about that but everything isn't entertainment. It's a bit of an old American ethic but it needs to be revived and celebrated.
To read more, check out the chapter on "outputs inputs" in Levine's book on The Myth of Laziness.

The topic of chores is discussed by others in the educational field. In his book titled, The Motivation Breakthrough, 6 Secrets to Turning on the Tuned-Out Child, Rick Lavoie discusses how work habits established at home carry over into the classroom and eventually in the work place. Read the chapter on Household Chores and Work Ethic. You can buy this book here or read it free online here.

Carve out some time for chores in your child's life.

occupational therapy connection: skills for the job of living - work

The Value of Chores

Last Thursday we got such lovely snow, about 10 inches of it. Before school on Friday, there was a fair amount of shoveling that had to be done before uncovering our cars. Everyone in my street was out with their shovels, chatting to each other and getting some nice "heavy work" before starting their day. Typically that time would have been spent in front of a newspaper or the computer. I couldn't help but think of several of my students who would have benefited from this "heavy work" prior to their school day.

That brings me to topic of chores. Not only do they teach a great work ethic and persistence at a task, but in many instances they can be designed to provide the needed sensory input in a child's life. Raking leaves, shoveling snow, carrying out the trash and recycling bins all can help to regulate a child. Have we dropped chores from our children's lives because they are so over scheduled? See a previous post on the value of heavy work.

I am hoping for more snow.

Connection to occupational therapy: skills for the job of living - work

photo citation: North Idaho Dad

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Do Good While Learning

FreeRice is a site that lets you do good while getting smarter! How cool is that? For every vocabulary word you get correct, it donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. Here's how it works:
FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the “outer fringe” of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.

There are 50 levels in all, but it is rare for people to get above level 48.
In addition to boosting vocabulary skills in students with language delays, this site can be a nice break for some of our students with advanced verbal skills. Kids with aspergers and NLD need opportunities to build their strengths, something we forget to add to their day. This would be a great built in break for them!

The website cautions potential players - WARNING: This game may make you smarter. It may improve your speaking, writing, thinking, grades, job performance...

After playing it, everyone in my family found it addictive...what a healthy addiction for students and families! I can't imagine hearing, "Stop learning new vocabulary and clean your room!"

occupational therapy connection - learn through play

Connections That Continue After the Bell Rings

The bell rings and the school day is officially over. Now what? You would be surprized how students are connecting, sharing and creating on their own. A case in point is the new Students 2.0 site.
For the first time ever in the history of the internet, we have created a global edublog that is administered, designed, edited, and written by students, and only students. In an otherwise teacher-dominated blogging community, we have decided to speak up and let ourselves be heard. Hailing from Hawaii and Washington, from St. Louis and Chicago, from Vermont, New York, Scotland, Korea, and other points on the globe, we have one goal in mind: expressing our opinions and perspectives about education with clarity and confidence. We plan on contributing our unique and insightful perspectives with the objective to better the world of education.
If you are curious about the world our students live in, stop by often to read their views. Begin with this post from a Vermont high schooler who writes about the importance of his global villages and how they are segregated from his school experience. Why are our school doors so tightly shut?

Connection to occupational therapy: access, inclusion

photo citation - Shareski

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Kids Using VoiceThread

Take a look at this creative way of using VoiceThread. I am not sure where this student goes to school or how old he is, but he certainly knows how to make learning his own! I can't imagine he will ever forget the 5 step writing process!

Connection to occupational therapy: learn by doing