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Training Device Management Begins With Awareness April 21, 2019 17:45

Advertising Strategies Used By Game Makers

Introducing students to the following strategies used by game makers to lure them into a game and keep them there will help students see how the game is manipulating them. This knowledge will help develop their online critical thinking skills. The goal is to empower users to control the device instead of the device controlling them.
I recommend playing the games with your children and challenging them to see who can find the most examples of the following strategies in the game. 
  • FREE is the most powerful word game makers use. They attract players because it is free. Once players are hooked, they use different methods for coaxing players to purchase internet currency. Players are often offered ways to buy passes or clues, so they can achieve new goals in the game. The first thing I noticed in several games I explored was an offer to purchase online currency. Most games' goals are to get the users to purchase this currency or to watch ads posted by companies that sponsor the games. Ads are placed strategically throughout the games. There are also ads offering players the option to play Ad Free for a small purchase of $.99 a month. Multiply .99 by 10 million users and the game maker is doing quite well. Once they get their game user addicted to the game, they have guaranteed income. 

 

  • Educational is a key word that give parents a false sense of game value. It can make one feel the game will do no harm if the children are learning something. Many children, 10 million or more, are playing a popular social media centered game for FREE that advertises itself as educational.
When students were asked to share what was educational about it, one eight year old girl stated, “It teaches you how to make choices. Today, I had to choose between a donut and a bagel in my game.” When asked what she chose and how it was educational, she said, “I chose the donut. It was educational because I had to make a choice.” I asked if she was told the donut was unhealthy. She replied, “No, it just gave it to me.” The choice came with a price. I discovered that the cost of the donut was more than the cost of the bagel. There wasn't even an economic's lesson in this game. She couldn’t identify the lesson she learned, other than she was asked to make a choice. One child said, “Sometimes they ask me to do a math problem in class. They had me add 3 to 100. Then a friend in the game told me I could buy a pass, so I didn’t have to take the test.” Savvy players can use money to avoid doing any aspect of the game that is educational. 

     

    • “Your Friends Can Play” is a lure to satisfy our brain's innate desire to interact with others. It is just another way game makers' activate the pleasure center of our brains.
    When I signed on as an eight year old to play the game my third graders were playing, no one in the game knew I was a 69 year old teacher. Children say they are playing with friends because the players are nice to them, but they have no way of knowing if the person they are playing is 8 or an adult who entered the game to eventually manipulate them to purchase items.
    When I began playing the game for the first time, I found how to text and made friends with other players. One person who was nice to me and offered to help me play. She showed me where to find the things I could buy. It wasn't long before I witnessed the first signs of bullying. The screen shot below shows the name calling that a normal eight year old would not know how to deal with or how to respond to.
    When I asked my students about this situation, several of them shared stories when they were bullied. One third grader shared she had a panic attack one night and couldn’t sleep because of something that happened in the game. A friend who had been nice to her for a year, but who she did not know personally, started making fun of her clothing and that said she looked poor. After repeated bullying incidents, my student felt the need to stop the bullying by purchasing clothes to change her identity. She finally caved in and used a gift card to pay for the new clothes, which caused her to feel anxious.
    Many people would be judging her mother after reading this, but her mother had taken her Ipad away so she couldn't play, but gave her a Chrome book to type her stories. Her mother did not know she was going through the bullying situation, because she had no idea her daughter could access the games from her Chrome book.
    • Free Daily Bonus is another strategy used in marketing. It gets the users to come back everyday for the FREEBIES.
    When asked why they would go back everyday to play, the girls shared that they didn't want to miss the FREE prizes the game offered just for playing each day. The Free things aren’t so free. The free choices are limited. The most enticing items cost internet currency that a player can purchase with a gift card or credit card.
  • Pre-order and Save is one strategy game makers use to see if their games are where they want them to be before they go into full scale marketing.
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  • In-Game Advertising is designed to let you play for free, but you have to be willing to be interrupted by advertisements.
  • Your click response is quickly analyzed and more products that interest the player are sent their way. The goal is to get the player to buy the “no advertisement version of the game.” Advertisers know the best place to market items is to children. Children of today have more purchasing power than in any generation. Advertisers know if they target children, the children will convince their parents to purchase items they see advertised. Many in-game strategies have name brand products built int
  • o the game itself, thus subliminally targeting children. 
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    • Cereal Box Offers are a common advertising method to grab children’s attention. Once they go to the website to play the free games, they are a captured audience. Players tend to spend an average of 27 minutes on the cereal sites, which is enough time to grab their attention about new products.
    • Hook Loops are designed to get users to go back to their game because users are notified when someone liked their entry or outscored them in a game.
    • Loot Boxes are mysterious boxes that can be purchased with real money or internet currency. Purchasers don’t know if they are getting an ordinary item or a rare one. They have to make the purchase to find out.
    • Behavior Modification works by offering rewards or incentives to keep the user playing.
    • Attention testing is used to track the user's pattern. Then, an algorithm is created to increase the user's engagement. If a player usually plays for 30 minutes, the game will be programed to make an offer of a free item at 29 minutes. This is designed to  keep the player engaged and extend the normal playing time. A banner may appear that says, “You are almost there. You only need fifty points to make it to the next level.”  

    As students begin seeing these strategies in their games, they will become critical about what they view. This will be a necessary life skill for motivating them to control their use. They need this skill because technology is and will continue to be a part of their future. 

    References:

    I recommend the following videos for more insight into the impact of video games on all of us. 

    https://www.cnn.com/ampstories/health/glued-to-our-screens-and-trying-to-get-unstuck 


      How Can I Motivate a Student? November 23, 2018 13:47

      At my most recent presentation, I was asked, "How can I make a child do their homework?"

      My answer was rather blunt, "One can't make another do anything against their will." The old saying, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink," holds true to children as well. 

      So, how do we encourage children to do their homework? I use the same means to motivate students as advertisers employ to motivate people to purchase products, or politicians use to motivate people to vote for them. I help them see what is in it for them. 

      There many things teachers have done in the past in their desire to motivate students. Some have been punitive, while others use rewards. Neither is tremendously effective when the fear or the reward is removed. We want students who are intrinsically motivated. Neuroscience Education has accomplished that for my students. 

      Neuroscience help to create buy-in for my students.  They begin to see the value of regular practice provided by homework.  Neuroscience explains how the brain makes and retains information. It explains why students make think they will remember concepts, but without practice, they forget.  It has been the single most effective way for students to be encouraged to:

      • Study every night instead of waiting until the last minute
      • Review for tests and quizzes to determine what they didn't know
      • Practice for presentations
      • Ask questions about homework so they are prepared to do every part of it when they get home. Neuroscience explains why questions help the brain find answers and cement concepts. 

      I begin the year with a lesson on the different parts of the brain involved in learning and creating memories that will support them with their homework and tests. Once they understand how each part of the brain functions best and how to use each part effectively, students will practice for tests and presentations without any prompting from the teacher. 

      I have several ways to share neuroscience with students. Contact me for more information.


        What Would Your Children Put in Their Bags? August 21, 2017 15:17

        My grandson just started second grade. His first homework assignment was to fill a bag with five items that would tell the class something about him. He gave it great thought and placed the following items in his bag: 

        • A medal he earned from swim team that required lots of practice to show improvement
        • A belt that he earned in Tai Kwon Do
        • A medal he earned in diving that only came after many back and belly flops
        • His Par Core Band 
        • A badge he earned in Cub Scouts

        I thought he would put in a dinosaur because he used to spend hours playing with them. Each of his choices are centered around something that didn't come as a gift, but instead came only after hard work. His medals weren't the "you tried and so you deserve a medal" kind. They represented a symbol of hard work. Not one of the items were connected to anyone helping him.

        There were times when he wanted to quit, because he wasn't making progress. My daughter encouraged him to keep working at it. She retold stories of people who gave up on mountain climbs one foot from the top of the mountain. He heard stories of Michael Jordan, who was told he would never make the high school team, but kept practicing until he did. 

        So when we want to step in and help our children do that which they can do for themselves, we need to remember the struggle is what holds the real value. We simply need to coach in strategies that will allow them to experience the joy of the journey and obstacles they overcome. They will come to realize the real joy is in the struggle and not the medal, grade, or award.

        Be sure to take time to celebrate every struggle as a means to an end. When they achieve their goal, celebrate the struggle that led to the success. Tap into how the struggle felt and how the achievement feels. Tapping into the emotions will assure them of continuing the work toward future goals.


        To Guarantee a Successful Year-Start at the End! August 18, 2017 07:17

        It’s a new school year and an opportunity for students to get a fresh start. Now is the time to decide what they want to accomplish this year. 

        The best way to have a good year is to start at the end. This may sound odd, but I am a firm believer in creating a clear picture of what one wants to accomplish and the specific reasons as to why. 

        I ask students to write what they would like to see on their report cards at the end of the semester. Some of the comments might be, “Susan was an active participant in the class,” or “Jane never gave up and when things got hard, she eagerly asked for support.” I focus on the behaviors they might exhibit rather than on grades.

        If students initially focus on the grade, I ask them to define the behaviors or actions to demonstrate in order to achieve the desired grade. It is helpful to coach students with some of the following statements:

        To get an “A” I will need to:

        1. Listen intently in class.
        2. Pay attention to what the teacher writes on the board.
        3. Remember to ask for material I miss when I am ill or out of class.
        4. Preview chapters and form questions about what I think I will learn.
        5. Read the questions first on all assignments before reading the material and before the concept is being taught. This will allow me to focus better on the things I need to learn.
        6. Read written work aloud several times to both proofread and check that it makes sense.
        7. Ask for clarification to be sure I understand the teacher’s instructions. 
        8. Make note cards to use for studying and review material regularly.
        9. Ask questions when I am unsure of what the teacher is explaining.
        10. Pay attention to homework assignments when I enter the classroom, so I know what I am expected to complete after school. Plan to get started during recess, if I have a lot to do after school. 
        11. Pre-read homework assignments to see what I do not know and ask questions before I leave class. 
        12. Do nightly homework and turn on time.
        13. Check over graded work and find out why I missed problems.
        14. Have someone quiz me before tests, so I am sure I understand the material.
        15. Use only positive comments when thinking or speaking about my abilities.
        16. When I do not do as well as I expect, I immediately make an appointment with the teacher to ask for strategies to improve. 
        17. Write reasons I made mistakes on my corrected work.
        18. Review all tests for information to check to see if there were possibly errors in correction and to find out what I didn’t know.
        19. {Made a separate item.} When studying for a semester or year exam, I will make sure to determine the correct answers and make note cards for review.
        20. Use the teacher’s office hours to discuss my progress.
        21. Keep a running record of my grades so I know where I stand at all times. 

        I ask students to visualize themselves opening their report card at the end of the semester and reading all the wonderful comments and seeing the desired grades. I want them to tap into the wonderful feeling they get when they achieve what they have planned. Tapping into that feeling is a crucial step towards insuring they stay on task. 

        Then they are to type up a copy of their goals to review each morning when they are brushing their teeth. It can be posted on the bathroom mirror as a constant reminder of the things they need to do daily to achieve their goals. 

        All students can benefit from using the list provided above, however, high school and college students often have to take classes they don’t want to take to meet a school requirement. There has to be a reward in it for them in order to create the desire to make it through the class. I ask them to list three reasons they are taking the class and three ways it benefits them.

        Examples:

        I am taking counseling in order to get a clearer picture of what I want to do for a career. Then I will know what classes to take, and understand the way I learn, and school will be easier for me.

        I am taking photography to learn new skills because I love taking pictures. It will give me personal satisfaction, and I can learn about career options related to photography. 

        I am taking anthropology because I need to improve my grade, and taking it again give me a better chance of getting into a four-year college.

        It will also allow me to try out my new study strategies, because I think they will help to improve my grade.

        With an image of the end of the semester clearly in their minds, students will find it much easier to achieve their goals. 


        Secrets Students Need to Know #5 March 7, 2017 14:03

        Secret #5 Teachers Won't Do For You What You Can Do Yourself

        Children need to learn how to work things out themselves. Offering problem solving strategies is all that is necessary to empower children to find their independence. They learn to dig deep and find the infinite ability they possess to be problem solvers.

        If we read directions aloud for them, we are disabling them. Reading word problems and detail directions are best done aloud, but if students feel they always have to have someone do it for them, they never find the power they possess. 


        Secrets Students Need to Know #2 March 1, 2017 07:09

        Secret #2: Teachers don't hit pause when you leave the room.

        One secret I love sharing with the children is one I received from Marianne Gazille, a retired elementary school teacher. She was experiencing an increase in children leaving the class to use the restroom. In her frustration she came up with this pearl and my second secret about teachers, "You know I don't hit pause when you leave the classroom. You might miss something while you're gone."

        I love this quote. I use it frequently, especially when we are reviewing over a test and students insist they missed problems because I never covered the material. 

         


        Intend to Attend February 2, 2017 06:58

        I love the sayings on my wall in my classroom:

        Proper Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performances!
        Proper Prior Practice Prevents Poor Performances!
        Get the Edison Ethic!
        ASK!

         

        I’ve added a new one.

        Intend to Attend!

        My third grader reading class students are very precocious. They somehow got the impression that being smart meant they needed to be good at everything. So, when they come into my den of learners, they find the first challenge most have had since they entered school. Imagine determining their ability to achieve at such a young age even without having been introduced to problem solving strategies. When we delve into the topic, some confess they are afraid to let the teaches know they don’t know how to do something because they get the response, “You can figure this out, you are smart.’ Wow, that is a powerful message. Since they are bright, they form the opinion that they have to know everything or they aren’t smart. In other cases, they have people who automatically do everything to make things easy, so when they hit a challenge they can’t solve independently, they don’t feel they are as smart as others have told them.

         

        Since these students are competent readers when they came into third grade, I step up the demands, but not without many discussions about how the activities make them feel.

        The first assignment always is a half page story. The questions require inferential answers. I assure the children that this is an assignment that they are free to leave blanks if they can’t find the answer. They look at the paper and think, “She doesn’t know how smart we are,” and deduce it is an easy assignment because of its length. Then they proceed to speed through it. It isn’t long before I begin to see squirming and in some cases outward signs of distress. It all starts with the first child crying. Then another comes to me privately with expression of frustration. It is clear by the lack of answers on the papers, that I have achieved my objective. My goal is to deal with how these types of activities make them feel.

         

        In a Socratic dialogue circle, we discuss how this assignment made them feel. It takes a little staging to get them to be honest. I always share how this type of assignment made me feel. “I hated these assignments. It didn’t help when the kid next to me finished in ten minutes and celebrated his completion. Then I felt even dumber. Anyone share my experience?“ The following responses followed:

        “I pride myself on finding the right answers and I couldn’t in this assignment and I felt like ripping up the paper.”

        “I’ve been told I have to get 100% on everything, or I wasn’t a good enough student to stay at this school.”

        “I should have been able to do this, Everything else has been easy and this is the first hard reading assignment I’ve had.”

        “I felt frustrated and thought I shouldn’t be in this class if I couldn’t do this paper.”

        “If I don’t do well on all my work, my parents make me go to a tutor.”

        There wasn’t a child in the class of 26 that didn’t share their feelings. What they needed to know was they were in good company and others shared their feelings.

        The semester has been spent with delving into different types of text and exploring different strategies for each type. As a result, when I gave them another short story to read their responses changed, “Oh cool, I can do this.”

         

        They felt empowered until they discovered I increased the difficulty one more time.They handed the frustration so much better and tried many of the strategies they had learned. I had a few asked to read the assignment aloud outside. Before I knew it, there were more children outside then inside.

        The right amount of frustration is good if, and only if, it is followed up with a means for relief.

        It was clear they had reached another level of frustration and needed more strategies. This provided an excellent opportunity to touch on the topic of automatic negative thoughts. The negative thoughts set off the amygdala and block their ability to see the answers.  My job was to demonstrated how the negative thoughts about this assignment was impacting their ability to complete it successfully.

        “If you have already decided you can’t find the answers, you have told your hippocampus to stop looking, so put down your pencils down and don’t do anything more because you won;t find the answer with that mindset. However, if you have decided that you haven’t found the answers yet and have told yourself you are not giving until you do, continue re-reading the passage differently until you do. Your brain will keep searching until it finds it. You may have to read it seventeen times using different tones each time. If you decide before that you couldn’t find the answers, change your thinking and you will change your results.”

        I demonstrated seven ways to read the first two words, “Mother! Mother!” Just in those readings, three children realized that the third way I read it helped him find the answer. The children continued to reread the story and smiles began to appear on faces around the room. They had acquired yet another strategy and validation that they were in fact smart.

         

        They decided to “Intend to Attend” until they found the answer.


        Cure For Hissy Fits Over Homework October 2, 2016 08:32

        "When people feel that they have no control over their situation, they may also begin to behave in a helpless manner. This inaction can lead people to overlook opportunities for relief or change." Theory on Learned Helplessness

        "I am going to get into trouble because I forgot an assignment. The teacher is going to yell at me and embarrass me in front of the class. I don't want to go to school tomorrow. I want to change schools. I hate my teacher!" Susie screamed after she realized she left her workbook page at home. Her mom stepped in and tried to console her, but she didn't get anywhere because Susie was unconsolable. She was certain of the outcome of forgetting a paper. So, her mom did what many mothers do, she got angry at the teacher and threatened to report her to the principal, "No teacher should make fun of a child who forgets a paper! I'll just have to do something about this." 

        Susie's mother made an appointment with the principal the next day, and the principal asked her to speak with the teacher. Susie's mom met with the teacher reluctantly. She really wanted to tell her off for being so mean, but she quickly discovered the teacher was very sweet about the missing assignment, "We all forget things and this will not be the last time Susie forgets something. I will make sure she knows that it is not a big deal. We are working on strategies in the class to help children resolve issues like forgetting assignments. When children have strategies for handling challenges, they will stop with the meltdowns. Should Susie get upset again, please reassure her that all she has to do is come to me and let me know she had a challenge, and we can discuss ways to avoid the same mistake again." 

        Susie was conditioned to respond to mistakes in a learned helplessness way. Her mother would respond emotionally each time and step in to resolve the problem. Susie's mom became the momma bear ready to protect her disturbed cub. Susie had FEARS: Feelings and Emotions that Appeared Real to her. Her mother's reaction validated the unrealistic fears. Both Susie and her mother lacked strategies for handling challenges related to the homework. 

        With the support of Susie's teacher, Susie's mom was able to fill her toolbox with strategies to help Susie manage future challenges. 

        Homework Solutions for Weary Students and Their Parents offers 32 different challenges students face and the possible solutions which will fill student's toolboxes and empower them to no longer feel helpless. 


        A New Year - A New Start August 23, 2016 20:32

        When I see school supplies in the stores, I am instantaneously taken back to a very pivotal September. It was in 1982 when seeing the same supplies gave me a panic attack. On that day seeing pencil bags, pens, paper, folders, and new backpacks sent a message to me, “Your lazy carefree days of summer are over.” I knew the following days would be filled with carpools and the dreaded nights packed homework struggles. Being a teacher didn’t help my situation, because to my children, I was their mother, not the teacher. I really didn’t think I could bear another year of struggles. At the same time, I had a game changing event happen in my classroom. Susie, who wasn’t listening, told me it was okay if she didn’t listen in class because her mother would help her at home. I realized she had no reason to listen because she could rely on outside help. So I made a decision. I decided to stop parent involvement in homework for my students, and I removed myself from my daughter’s.

        I began the year by informing my daughter that I was not going to be able to help her with her homework, because I had not idea how to do it. As a result, I asked her to be sure she could do every item on her homework before she left class. If she couldn’t, she was instructed to ask the teacher for help. Playing dumb was very powerful. Her first response was one of FEAR. She had several reasons that this new situation was not going to work: The teacher will get mad. There isn’t time to ask questions. I’ll get in trouble for asking a question. With a little role playing of how to ask for the help, my daughter hesitantly went off to school. I am a little sneaky, but I knew I would have to elicit the help of the teacher for this new approach to work. As my daughter left for school, I phoned the teacher and was fortunate enough to reach her. I shared my new approach and that my scared daughter was going to reluctantly talk to her about the type of help she would need this year. I also asked if she could help put my daughter’s unrealistic fears of getting in trouble for asking questions to rest. Her teacher was very responsive  and it set the stage of self-advocacy for my daughter. It also ended to our nightly stress from homework. I didn’t need to do much after that other than rehearse some ways my daughter could ask questions effectively. There were teachers who were less than open to her questions, but we role played dealing with them. To this day my daughter swears those role-playing sessions helped with her interactions with supervisors she encountered in her career. Try it. You’ll love it.

         

        For more support on making the transition to No Help Homework, check out my Homework Solutions: A Teacher’s Guide and Homework Solutions: A Parent’s Guide.

         


        Combating Confabulation February 28, 2016 14:47

        To combat the negative affects of confabulation. students can ask for clarification during instruction to be sure they are receiving the information in the manner it was intended.

        Reviewing all graded work for what was marked wrong and asking the teacher why the problems were incorrect will help clarify thinking.

        It isn't enough to tell students to ask for clarification. They need strong model questions to use to clear up confusion. The following are questions I trained my daughters and students to use to get the support they needed and to be sure they were receiving the information in the way it was intended:

        "Am I correct to believe that you said...............?"

        "Can you show me where I went wrong on this question?"

        "Is there another way to show me how to do this problem? I am not making sense of it, and I want to be sure I am understanding the instruction."

        "Am I correct the you want us to ............. for this project?"

        Do a sample of what the project looks like

        When a paper comes back incorrect, the student can always say,"I think I must have been confabulating and I thought you meant...... Will you show me where I went wrong/"

        Each situation will require a different type of question. Brainstorming with students how they could ask supporting questions will help fill their backpacks with questions they can use later as situations occur. 

        Simply sharing the meaning of confabulation and how the brain can cause a misunderstanding for them will encourage students to ask questions when they otherwise would be embarrassed.  Overcoming the fear of asking questions will be addressed later. 

        Click Here to Received Future Mindset Minutes With Victoria


        Cell Phones For Children February 27, 2016 17:22 3 Comments

        Sleep issues plague my students. Recently a student approached me for help with her sleep problems. It was clear that the culprit of her sleep deprivation was due to the endless group texts that continued binging until eleven o'clock at night. 

        One would not be surprised if this comment was made by a middle schooler, but I am a third grade teacher. Apparently, this is a common problem amongst my eight year old students.

        The first reaction of most is to past judgment on the parents for letting the children have a phone or ipad of their own in the first place. There is a belief held that parents should control its use. 

        I love technology and all it has to offer, however I am aware of the negative impact of using these devices. A few come to mind: sleep deprivation, early onset of cataracts in thirty-somethings which usually don't appear until one is a senior citizen, computer vision syndrome, and social media/game addiction. 

        Some pediatricians feel children should never be exposed to technology until they are forced to use it once they reach school age. Others believe children should not have a phone of their own until they are at least eleven. Those selling apps for children's use will tell you the technology will make children smarter and more competitive. Of course, their data is designed to sell a product. 

        What do you think? Please weigh-in with you opinion in below.

         

         


        The Value of Play is Highly Underrated October 13, 2015 06:54

        "Ask any children what they do for fun. You will be amazed at what they consider play. One little girl stated she liked to play dress-up. When asked how she played, she responded, "I have this program, and I get to click on the dress I want the doll to wear." Author Unknown

        This child is missing the experiences and the fine motor development children of the past benefitted from. She is missing the cutting out of dresses, folding the tabs, and then carefully placing the dress on the doll so that it wouldn't fall off. She is missing the experiences that paper dolls offers. She is using one finger. 

        If she really played dress-up, she would gain strength in her abs as she dressed in over-sized pants. Putting one leg in a pant leg forces the other leg to engage muscles and strengthen the core. Weak cores translates into difficulty completing tasks and sustaining attention in class. 

        Unstructured play that engages the entire body and all of the senses can help children grow cognitively in ways that no amounts of tutoring or computer programs can replace.  In the following excerpt from my new book, I tell a story of one of our field trips and offer some suggestions to help children improve their writing ability. 

        We had a wonderful trip to Shipley Nature Center. When we arrived, a student was heard saying, What are we going to do for thirty minutes? Is there playground equipment? Did we bring balls?We replied by saying, You have nature to play with. See what games you can come up with.They quickly found trees to climb, sticks to use as building materials, as well ducks to follow and watch. Games of tag and running around the park also followed lunch. As we explored the habitat of the Tongva during our time at Shipley, we were doing more than sharing the history of a people who lived in this region; we were teaching the children how to observe their surroundings. With their enthusiasm for the rabbits, spider webs, lizards, and butterflies, we knew they would have plenty to write about when they returned.

         

        We know parents want to help their children maximize their performance in class. If youd like to help you child become a better writer, forego extracurricular writing classes and try some of the following free programs:

         

        1. Ask your children to turn off their devices and look out the window.
        2. Play I Spycar games. This is a game that has children describe what they see outside and the other passengers guess what it is that was spied.
        3. Take your children to the park with nothing other than a lunch and a blanket. Engage all senses by sharing what you hear, see, smell, and feel. Touching leaves, the grass, and tree bark and then describing it is offering sensory experiences that will give children something to write about.  Lie on the blanket and look up at the sky and share what you see. This is great on cloudy days, but also good when there isnt a cloud in the sky. Ask your children to wonderabout what they see. i.e., I wonder why the bark on that tree looks like it is peeling?or I wonder what is living high in those branches?” Go for a walk and talk about what you see and ask them to share. Encourage them to look at the colors in leaves and grass. Sharing these experiences is front-loading childrens writing with beautiful images. Verbalizing observations later translates into excellent writing.
        4. Go to the beach and build a sand castle together. Discuss how the sand feels. Observe what happens when the water is poured onto dry sand over and over again. Take time to let your senses experience the trip. Have them stop and take a few minutes to observe what they smell, see, hear, and feel. The texture of dry and wet sand offers great opportunities to share how each feels and why there is a difference.

        If we were to translate the dollar value of these experiences, it would be far more than what the extracurricular programs cost, and have a further reaching benefit for the children. When they learn how to observe their environment, they will begin to do it automatically.


        

         

        Anecdote: Mr. Helliwell and Ms O went on a several trips together.. Mrs. H noticed that Ms. O  was moving so fast, she was missing a lot. So, she suggested Ms. O sit in one place, carve out a one square foot section in the sand and just observe it for ten minutes. What could one see in a 1 square foot of sand is amazing, but how many of us take the time to do that. Try it, you will be surprised. 

         

        The value of unstructured play and free exploration is highly underrated."


        Recommended Reading October 11, 2015 19:29

        I highly recommend Goldie Hawn's book 10 Mindful Minutes. It is amazing how much students performance can improve when they learn how to be mindful. There are many books available that offer strategies that I will share in the future. For now, her book offers strategies that gives students and ourselves the social and emotional skills to reduce stress and anxiety for happier and healthier lives.

        Know-It-Alls With Comprehension Problems August 27, 2015 05:54


        Since we can all learn from each other, I would like to share questions a parent posed about her son recently at one of my trainings and my answer. I hope this helps other parents struggling with the same thing.

        Questions: She shared that she is concerned about her first grade Know-It-All son who struggles with reading comprehension.  He is going to be in a first grade accelerated class in the fall. What should I do?

        This is my answer to her:

        It is hard for parents to know exactly how much to push their children and when to back off. I have the advantage of having seen children grow and develop over the years. Firstly, the know-it-all child doesn't always grow into the know-it-all adult. If your fear is that he will become that adult that no one can stand, I can assure you that he will quickly be leveled by his teachers, peers, and the reality of the real world.

        "Know-it-alls" tend to be more insecure and that is how they cope. It can be a coverup for knowing he isn't as smart as everything thinks he is. Young children coverup not knowing how to do something by saying it is boring or they already know it. If he begins avoiding work and doesn't do assignments because they are "boring," he will be sending the message that he is struggling. In the minds of bright children, it isn't okay to struggle. They don't realize that even bright people struggle. Helping him identify that he is labeling hard things boring and offering strategies to solve the challenge will help him more in the long run. Reassure him that hard is okay for even bright children. 

        Since he is going to be in an acceleratd class, I encourage you to watch his reactions to those things that are challenging.

        If he is a strong math student, he may not be great at writing. He may be a good reader, but his comprehension skills do not match his oral reading fluency. This is not uncommon for young readers. They are so focused on reading the words, which is what they are learning to do at that age, that they haven't yet develped the ability to retain what they have read.

        I can read a whole chapter to my class, have them engaged because I am reading with feeling, but I won't remember the next day if I read that chapter.

        Reading words and retaining the meaning are two separate skills created in two separate parts of the brain. The left brain is reading and the right brain is forming images to retain the meaning. They don't often come together, especially for boys, until later. For this reason, your son may not remember what he has read. If someone pressures him, he will feel inadequate and resort to being a know-it-all. It's all a coverup. I would recommend having him stop after each sentence and see if he can picture what he read in his mind. Then have hime retell the story. That is training for real comprehension. 

        Watch my video on the brain. It will explain what will happen to him when someone asks him questions about what he read that puts him into stress mode. He will not remember his name if he is stressed enough. 

        One more point: Most early readers skil the important skill of learning the rules of phonics. They make the connections between letters and sound, but because they come in with reading, they are skipped into a program that doesn't teach phonics. As a result, when they are older and the words become more difficult, they don't always know how to break them apart. If you see that happen, I would alert the teacher about his never being taught phonics and that he might need some training in the rules of syllabicaiton and irregular sounds. 


        Secrets to Managing Time: Cure for Procrastination August 15, 2015 12:08

        LIMITED TIMED OFFER!!

        With the new school year starting, getting students to understand their daily schedule is very important. To help you help your children, I have created a Backwards Planning Time Management Video. I am making the first in the series available to you for FREE.

        Click here to view this video NOW! It will only be available for viewing for a short time, so tell your friends.

        ONLY SUBSCRIBERS WILL RECEIVE NOTICE OF THE FOLLOW-UP VIDEOS, IT'S FREE TO SUBSCRIBE, SO DO IT TODAY.

        If you are not a registered subscriber, 

        CLICK HERE to register for my Ezine. You will find the sign up box at the bottom of the page.

        Do it today TO GET STARTED BEING THE FIRST TO RECEIVE FUTURE VIDEOS FOR FREE!!


        Parents Share Their Concerns July 29, 2015 06:38

        Last night, I presented to a lovely group of moms of children of various ages. They shared many of the same concerns, so I thought my readers might enjoy hearing their questions and some strategies I offered for dealing with their challenges.

        In today's blog, I will answer Question Number One: What if my son claims he is bored?

        Boredom is often misunderstood my students. They use boredom when they really mean “hard.” Clarifying this will help them understand what ‘boring’ feels like and what they can do about it.

        It helps to ask them what is boring about the subject they are studying. They may be able to answer that question, or they may say the teacher is just repeating what they already know.

        If they don't know what is boring, clarification is helpful. Ask if they have a subject that isn't boring. Then ask, "Why isn't it boring." I can pretty much guarantee they will say, "Because it is easy." Respond by saying, "So _____ isn't boring because it is easy, right? Could it be possible that ______ is boring because it is hard?"  Students will see they have been defining their feelings incorrectly and will understand what they actually are feeling is “it is hard for me.”

        Redirection again about dealing with “hard” is very important. "So if it is hard, how do you think it can get easier?" Most students will honestly answer, "By practicing." Offering students ways to practice is helpful.  They will need actual things they can see themselves doing in order to change their feelings from “hard” to “easy.” Be watching for my next blog about my soccer analogy. It helps students see the value of practice.

         

        If children claim the material they are learning is what they know already, share that teachers often remind students of past information when they are trying to offer new information that is an extension of something they have already taught.

        Encourage them to listen for the new information. Repeating information is also another way teachers help students build stronger recall around important information. Teachers will revisit concepts to assure that the concepts are not lost. The movie Inside Out beautifully demonstrates the workers throwing away old useless memories that aren’t needed anymore to make room for new ones. The movie is a beautiful explanation of how the brain stores and prunes information. Helping children see that revisiting these concepts is something to be glad about, since it is helping them store memories and saving them for future use.


        Seven Secrets About Teachers Every Student Needs to Know to be Successful July 22, 2015 10:08

        Over the years, I have been training students how to create their own Owner's Manual for their teachers. It is somewhat like a Teacher's Manual on How to Teach Me, a student's manual. When students know what they need to be successful, they are more apt to become engaged learners. Instead of passively participating in the class, they become actively engaged learners who know how to get their needs met. 

        The first place I start is by sharing my "Seven Secrets About Teachers."  Today I will share my first secret: "Teachers are NOT Mind Readers!" 

        Teachers can have the most expensive mind reading glasses or taken the most expensive mind reading course like I have, but they still don’t know what you are thinking or feeling. In fact, they may often misread your mind.

        They also might think you understand everything they are saying, and yet you do not. They may think their instruction is clear, when it is not. They may think you don’t care when you do, or they may think you weren’t listening, when in fact you were. 

        Students' jobs are to make sure they communicate effectively and ask lots of questions. By asking questions, they are helping the teacher clear up confusion.  Questions alert the teacher to the strategies for instruction that are most effective for each student.  Future instruction is directed more by students' questions than by a manual. If the questions are asked of parents, parents are the only ones who know what the students are thinking. If the questions are asked of the teacher, instruction will improve. 

        Overcoming the fear of asking questions is the next topic I will be discussing in my blog. So stay tuned.

        I will be demonstrating my "Seven Secrets about Teachers" in my new Video.  It will be available next week for trial reviews only. Only my subscribers will be offered a limited time free viewing. So keep visiting my blog for the announcement. Only the first twenty-five to respond to the "Request to View," will receive the special code.