“How I Bring Out My Students’ Unique Skills”

I found this amazing article on using your children’s unique Skills that I wanted to share with you:

“I use a strengths-based approach in the classroom, and I look for ways to tell my students, “Man, I am so lucky to have you as a student!”

A child’s reality is created by the words adults use to describe him. If adults continually talk about student deficits, the student will define himself by what he lacks. This is often the case for kids with attention and learning disorders, who are reminded daily of the skills they’re missing. They think: If they see themselves as deficient, then what’s the point of trying at school?

Using a strengths-based model of teaching kids with disabilities gives kids the chance to redefine themselves and their education in terms of what makes them great — and kids with ADHD have a lot of great qualities. They tend to be more creative, innovative, hyperfocused, and have an incredible sense of humor, which are among the reasons I so love working with them.

[How to Snag the Attention of a Distracted Child]

Kids come with strengths and weaknesses, and harnessing the strengths leads to improvement across the board. It also creates a more engaged learner. In fact, a collection of Gallup data reported that kids who were taught in a strengths-based model earned higher GPAs and were absent from school less often. This is also true in the grownup world. We choose jobs based on our natural strengths, and probably wouldn’t show up to work if we didn’t have opportunities to use our skills on a daily basis.

Helping a child discover and leverage his unique skills helps him develop the confidence to be a learner, and the courage to overcome his weaknesses. Creating that positive atmosphere also makes collaborating with other teachers more productive and enjoyable as they begin to acknowledge one another’s aptitudes.

While adopting a strengths-based model consists mainly of shifting to a positive mindset—acknowledging and creating opportunities for students to let their skills shine— there are some tricks to effectively shift the balance.

1. Measure strengths. Some kids have an idea of their own abilities, but many don’t know for sure. Even if they do, taking a quiz gives them a chance to say, out loud, what makes them great. You can find a series of great tests at UPenn, which contribute to a body of research. You can also find a lower-key Multiple Intelligences questionnaire for free at Scholastic.

[Putting Kids in Charge of Their Learning Needs]

2. Notice and tell kids’ about their strengths daily. It’s important to a) identify what exactly students did well, and b) pair it with an acknowledgement of their effort. Talent alone doesn’t get anyone to the Olympics, my friends, and hard work needs its due credit. If you’re feeling like something is missing in your classroom, challenge yourself to compliment each student daily.

3. Bait for success. Some kids give up on school at a young age when they feel like a perpetual failure. As a teacher, it’s difficult to acknowledge a student’s talents if she never demonstrates those talents. It’s very important — especially for difficult students — to create situations where those learners can be successful, in order for you to point out how skilled they are. They might have a creative solution, a unique insight, or the ability to be helpful when no one else was around. Give them bonus points if they see that no one else was able to accomplish that task (even if it’s because no one else was there). Every day, find some way to tell them: “Man, I am so lucky to have you as a student!”

4. Give options. It can be hard to plan for a group with wide-ranging abilities. Did I say “hard?” It’s impossible. Almost. Providing options for a kid to show what he knows allows him to put his talents front and center and to take charge of his own education. This increases engagement and creates a more independent and self-advocating learner. It is an investment.

[Free Download: What I Wish My Teachers Knew About Me]

5. Teach collaboration. None of us accomplishes anything alone, and nobody is good at everything. Allow children to recognize each other’s specialties and use them together to create something great. Plan group projects, teach students to ask each other questions if they get stuck, and compliment one another throughout the process. Then watch your class collectively develop a great attitude as they learn!”

 

Source can be found here.

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Focus Music

Music has a profound effect on our mood, blood pressure, and heart rate.

Research indicates that music strengthens areas of the brain (that, in a child with ADHD, are weak.) Music strengthens the auditory, visual/spatial, and motor cortices of the brain. These areas are tied to speech and language skills, reading, reading comprehension, math, problem-solving, brain organization, focus, and attention challenges.

Parents of children with ADHD should know that there are methods beyond medication and counseling to treat ADHD. One of them is music. Confirmed by multiple research studies to play a significant role in cognitive development, music can be used to help children organize their thoughts.

But not any music will do. Only certain classical music builds a bigger, better brain. Listening to jazz or pop doesn’t have the same beneficial effects. A study conducted by Donald Shetler, Ed.D., of the Eastman School of Music, found that kids who listened to classical music for 20 minutes a day had improved speech and language skills, a stronger memory, and greater organization of the brain.

Classical music is peaceful and harmonious making it one of the best options to listen to when studying. It seems that there is evidence that Mozart improves mental performance. They call it the “Mozart Effect.”

It is said that to study it’s necessary to have a quiet environment without distractions. However, for some, studying in a quiet environment can backfire. This ‘quiet environment’ can make you end up fighting boredom and succumbing to the allure of sleeping at your desk! This is why the importance of choosing the right music for studying can’t be underestimated.

Although some studies say that listening to music while you study isn’t good, for many people it’s vital. It’s calms them down, which can lead to productive studying. Music can also help elevate your mood and motivate you to study longer.

It helps you focus, reduce distractions, maintain your productivity and retain information when working, studying, writing and reading.

Music stimulates the brain

‘Nothing activates the brain so extensively as music’. So says Oliver Sacks, a doctor and researcher at Columbia University, who has used music as a complementary treatment for many of his patients.

Research backs up his claim. Pleasurable music is known to increase dopamine levels in the brain. Dopamine is responsible for regulating motivation, working memory and attention ( which is often found in lower levels in people with ADHD.)

This is one of the main reasons why there are benefits of music for kids to train their brains and achieve higher levels of self-control and focus – both at home and in the classroom.

Music provides organization

Children may struggle to focus and regulate their thoughts and behaviors to maintain a linear path. Music has a defined structure and can help regain a sense of organization. It can also guide them – many kids with attention issues have trouble following directions, and music can help them to stay attentive and interpret the rhythm and melody as direction.

Music therapist, Kirsten Hutchison, claims that the structure of music has a positive impact on kids’ ability to structure their activities in a timeline, as well as strategize their responses to the things around them. ‘The structure helps a child plan, anticipate and react,’ she says.

Music has a soothing effect

Music has the power to change our moods and influence our emotions. That’s why it’s only natural that certain types of music, mostly slow and tranquil, present a great opportunity for reducing the impulsiveness and restlessness that children with attention issues often suffer from.

But that’s not all. Music can also help to alleviate the symptoms of stress and anxiety.

Music is social

Writing, practicing and performing music are all social activities. That’s why music therapists are eager to use these forms of social practice in order to help children with ADD to learn appropriate behaviors in social situations.

Children can learn how to listen to others with attention, recognize how to anticipate changes, get to know the social rules of taking turns in performance and generally follow cues that might not be as effective when generated outside a music therapy session.

Music therapy means many things – it can be listening to music, creating it or playing together with recorded music. It can even be composing music or writing song lyrics. All of this helps children to communicate their moods and feelings, while simultaneously reducing their level of anxiety and restlessness. Music therapy is versatile and readily available – a great option for complementing traditional treatments of ADD in children.

Feel free to use my Youtube Playlist on music proven to help focus:

 

Camo kids

Camo kids are all around us. You don’t see them because they blend in. They are not troublemakers (though they may be troubled), they are typically quiet and subdued, and they are not very social. They don’t volunteer to answer questions, and they may appear sullen. We tend not to notice them because we are drawn to the kids who need help, the ones we have to constantly correct, or the ones who we naturally like. Camo kids may be the forgotten ones. If they are absent from class, you might have trouble remembering who is gone.

This is not to point a finger at anyone, but merely to heighten the awareness of all the children in our care. Because they tend to blend, we have to be intentional in building relationships with them. Next time you are with a group of kids, notice:

Who is it that is not participating?
Who is it that is extremely quiet?
Who is it that avoids eye contact?
This is not a given that the kid has problems. They may be fully functional and intelligent. The point is that all kids need to be noticed. They need to know they matter. They want you to know their name.

This last point was driven home to me this week as I was tutoring a small group in reading. I called on one girl and she immediately said, “That is NOT my name.” I took a quick peek at my notes and it was indeed her name, so I asked her, “What IS your name?” She said, “That is how you say it in English, but not in Spanish.” I knew she was Spanish but it never dawned on me that she pronounced her name differently until she pointed it out. I apologized and assured her I would work on learning how to say her name correctly. No name is more important to a person than their own…especially if they are a child. If you learn to use someone’s name, it goes a long way in showing you care about them and value who they are.

My challenge to you is to take note of the camo kids and be intentional in getting to know them. You might be pleasantly surprised at what you discover, and the relationship you build with them may indeed be life-changing for both of you.

By Dan Skognes

International Women Day

International Women’s Day is celebrated in many countries around the world. It is a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political.

International Women’s Day is the story of ordinary women who made History and I would like to dedicate this #IWD to the women who inspire me the most in this world : Moms.

A week ago, I posted a message on my group “Things I learned from my mom” :

“There is one person in this world that is both magical, inspiring and love us unconditionally and it’s our Mothers! They are the only people on earth who knew us before we even came to this world. Our mothers experienced our growth while in their womb, delivered us through an experience that can sometimes be excruciating (and that is just the beginning). Interestingly, once a man gets married, he can witness that process far closer.

Standing by the mother of his kids, a man can see what they go through once they become mothers. My experience overwhelmed me with awe when my first daughter was born. My wife spent more than twenty-five hours in the delivery room. It struck me like an electric shock when I saw her in surgery delivering our second baby and take care of him before he sadly passed away from SIDS. I watched my wife, mourning the death of her son, yet not giving up. We got pregnant again and had a beautiful daughter one year after. Witnessing the agony of the loss and the bittersweet joy of having a new baby left me with an infinite admiration for her strength.

My own process as a partner, threw me back twenty years early. I found myself wondering about my own mother. How was she able to do this? Where did she get the strength from? What encouraged her to embrace me unconditionally? How come she didn’t give up on me?

I was born when my mother was only twenty-years-old. For six years, until my younger brother was born, we were just the two of us. She raised me as a single-parent. It was the early 1980’s and my mother was still in college, studying to get her degree (in Education) while working as a young assistant teacher. I remember the days she wrote her first lesson plans, creating activities, making phone calls to parents and even principals. She was a busy young lady!

Despite her hectic life, my mother succeeded in providing me with a great childhood. We had lots of quality time. We hosted many interesting people: stylists, artists, and fashion designers who came to speak with my mother to find some empathy. It was during those days that I learned how people can be different and so interesting in different ways. I remember a lot of 1980’s music too and will never forget how we danced in front of the mirror just for fun. As I grew older, I realized how young my mother was. Having me in her life imposed many kinds of responsibilities which she fulfilled diligently.

Three months before my 30th birthday, my mother passed away. She had just celebrated her 50th birthday a few months earlier. Today, I obviously cannot call her, send her pictures of the girls or go visit her. The only thing I possess is a set of memories, values and life lessons which I try to impart to my children. I created this group to encourage each one of you to share gratitude, express your admiration, and inspire us with life lessons from your mothers. I hope you will take the opportunity to do so because for some of us, it is the only way.”

IWD