ABCdraw transforms communication, learning, and collaboration through imagery.
At ABCdraw our goal is to reinvent handwriting and drawing in this digital age. Communication has changed so drastically in this information age that people are losing the ability to create visual representations without a computer device. Our blog has been developed by experts in a variety of fields to cover the many concepts and areas for teaching literacy with ABCdraw products such as; early education, special education, learning disabled, tutoring, online tutoring tools, extra help communications and of course teaching literacy skills for everyone who is losing this skills or never developed them.
Tutors have been helping students succeed academically for as long as we can remember; however, it is only recently that these educators have turned to online to make a difference in students’ education. On the surface, it is obvious how these two tutoring methods differ; however, there are also significant differences that may not be so easy to see. So, just how do they differ? As a parent, you may be wondering: Is one better than the other, and how do you go about making the right choice for your child? As a tutor, you may be wondering if it’s time to step into the online tutoring arena? This will be a 2-part series. First, we will discuss about online and face-to-face tutoring. In our blog next week, we will discuss about how they are different. What is Face-to-Face Tutoring? Face-to-face tutoring involves the tutor and student meeting in person in places such as libraries, cafes or even private homes. Face-to-face tutors function as an extension of the classroom teacher or professor. There are two different types of face-to-face tutors that are popular; 1. Public/Private School Tutors: Public school tutors are employed by individuals that attend a public or private school and simply need assistance in improving grades or learning new study techniques. These educators often meet with students several times per week for a set number of hours, and their main function is to help learners to succeed in the classroom. 2. Home-School Tutors: This type of tutor’s primary function is to help students that are learning from home. Home-school tutors are typically private tutors that meet at the individuals home and monitor their learning and to keep him/her on task. These educators may also help to improve grades, offer tips on test preparation and provide additional study materials. What is Online Tutoring? Simply put, online tutoring is tutoring done via the internet. It involves some or all of the following methods of communication; 1. Instant Messaging: This is one way that tutors and students interact during a session. It makes use of software that allows you to communicate instantly via a chat “box.” The educator and learner type their questions or comments into the box provided and it can be seen instantly on the other party’s screen. 2. Live Video: The student and tutor both have a webcam, and they will be able to see one another and carry on lessons. 3. Online Whiteboard: Online whiteboard software is another way that online tutors communicate with their students. Whiteboard software offers a platform for educators to share presentations, files and information such as formulas that both the tutor and the student can see simultaneously. Stay tuned for next week’s post where we will discuss about how online and face-to-face tutoring are different, and which one might be right for you!
Excellent online tutoring sessions rarely “just happen.” As with any other field, the online tutor needs a well-defined strategy to succeed. Speaking from experience, here are five key lessons that we’ve learned along the way that we believe will make your early foray into the realm of online one-on-one teaching satisfying and smooth. 1) Determine whether or not you’re an expert in the subject at hand. If it turns out that the specific subject the student is studying lies outside your experience and training, don’t be afraid to say so. You’ll be saving both yourself and the client a frustrating experience if you readily admit that she might be better served by another tutor. You’ll also be building your personal and professional credibility. 2) Remember that you’re there to help the student do the assignment well, not to do it for her. It’s all too easy to look at an assignment and say, “Oh, here’s how you do that.” Before you know it, you’ve quite nearly completed the paper for the student, and that’s not your job. Your tasks are to provide tools and stimulate your student’s thought process. 3) Use the Socratic Method. Pose leading questions that may have no immediately obvious connection to the present assignment to the student in the hopes of stimulating her own thought processes. For instance, if the assignment is to write about the philosophy of ethics in the 20th century, I might ask, “How would you say Nietzsche’s concept of right and wrong contrasts and compares to that of Plato?” This kind of query sets the student’s mental machinery in motion; before long, she is able to think clearly about all the 20th century ethical philosophy she has studied to date. 4) Provide lots of hyperlinks. After you’ve read your student’s assignment and gotten a sense of her point of departure, do real-time searches for pertinent links that might shed light on things. Since the sheer volume of information about a given subject is virtually unlimited in the online environment, you may quickly come across scholarly articles or blog posts that your student hasn’t yet encountered which will encourage the student in making real-time comparisons of new information with research she’s already done. 5) Keep the links to your core reference library a click away at all times. No matter which subject you teach, you should be able to “put your finger on” the classic reference texts at a moment’s notice. My own desktop library includes The AP Stylebook, Roget’s Desk Thesaurus, and Magee’s Story of Philosophy (among many others). Ask your colleagues or check out online forums for the classic reference texts related to your subject. This way, you can always know that you are giving solid information to your students, as well as look great professionally. These five strategies have proven invaluable to my tutorials. I hope they will be useful to you as well.
Have you ever wondered why learning a particular topic, such as math equations, comes so easily to some people while to you, or to your child, it seems like a foreign language? Or why some people find it so simple to pick up a musical instrument and can play after a few lessons, while others can take lessons for years and still struggle? The theory of "learning styles", or "multiple intelligences", seems to answer these questions. In short, the idea of learning styles means that all people have natural strengths in certain areas, and not everyone learns the same way. For parents and teachers, it means recognizing that each student has specific skill areas and ways that they learn more naturally, and tapping into those areas can benefit both students and educators. Dr. Howard Gardner first developed the theory in 1983. He came up with seven different areas that describe how people learn: 1) Visual-spatial learners like to use pictures or images to connect ideas. They often like to draw, read maps, and have active imaginations. 2) Bodily-kinesthetic learners enjoy physical activities and hands-on learning. 3) Those with musical intelligence are naturally sensitive to music and sound. 4) Those with linguistic intelligence love reading, writing, and words. 5) Logical-mathematical learners like logic puzzles, reasoning, and calculations. 6) Interpersonal learners enjoy group activities and working with others. 7) Intrapersonal learners prefer to work on their own. Years later, Howard would add two more learning styles: 8) Those with naturalistic intelligence have an affinity for nature and the outdoors. 9) Existential intelligence learners like to ponder deep questions and ideas. Bringing this back to education, knowing your students' learning styles can help teachers tailor instruction to meet students' needs. When educators and parents understand how a child learns best, they can match instruction to the students’ strengths, making it easier for that child to learn. Research indicates that people often teach using their dominant style, which could explain why the instructor feels that everything is perfectly clear while the students are struggling. While looking at the list above, did you identify with a particular learning style? Did you identify the learning styles of your students? If you are not sure which learning style fits you or your students best, Learning styles online offers a learning styles inventory that you or students can take that will identify your particular learning style. Do you know someone who could benefit from information about learning styles? Share this post on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.
You already know that each of your students has strengths and weaknesses. Every student presents a different skill level. For educators working with students with special needs, developing solid learning goals can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are still plenty of ways you can help your students succeed in the classroom. With the help of assessment results, it is possible to create necessary goals -- and to create lesson plans that will help students achieve them. These tips will help you set goals for your students. 1) Look for strengths and weaknesses early on in the school year. This will help you determine how to approach concepts that your student may struggle with, and it will also help you individualize your plans. An early assessment may be the best approach. 2) Make your classwork accessible to all students. With unique learning styles also comes a need for teaching materials that are in a format students will understand. Use these learning styles to gear work toward students with varying needs. This may require allowing students to choose the way in which they present work. 3) Don't forget about technology. Tutors and teachers can provide excellent support for students with disabilities by utilizing voice-to-text and video assistance. Lessons and classwork made available through these means may help students reach their goals quickly. 4) Make sure that the goals you make are specific and easily measured. Vague goals will not allow you to create a solid lesson plan. Additionally, goals should always be realistic based on the student's assessment results. A student reading at the 2nd grade level is not going to catch up to the 6th grade level in two weeks. Plan adequately. 5) If you notice that a student works best without strict deadlines, be open to flexible scheduling. Consider offering additional time to complete assignments in class, and provide parental resources for assistance with homework. Some students are also more likely to achieve short-term goals when they are provided with frequent breaks. Setting positive goals all comes down to adjusting your teaching style to matching the learning style of your students. Learning disabilities can intensify this need, but this does not mean you are unable to assist the students who rely on you.
A new hi-tech tool of the 1800s challenged the “blab schools,” in which teachers lectured all day. Traditionalists claimed the new device would turn students’ memories to mush. By the middle of the 19th century, the chalkboard—yes, the lowly chalkboard—won out and blab schools disappeared. Many observers today think cursive writing is rapidly going the way of blab schools. Do handwriting and cursive writing offer anything to the 21st century student?
Brain GainNeuroscientists point to the complex improvements in the human brain from handwriting:
- Children learn letters and shapes readily
- Early learners improve idea composition and expression
- Children develop fine motor skills rapidly
- Learners rapidly acquire sequencing skills
Note TakingBeyond elementary school, handwriting may strike some students as archaic, but even among college-age learners, keyboarding is not ideal:
- Only about 67 percent of college students take notes in class
- Writing your own notes activates regions of the brain that involve thinking, working memory, and language
- Writing forces the brain to filter and organize incoming thought
- The brain improves its memory functions by processing and filtering new information
CursiveBeyond simply learning to print and handwrite, today’s students must contend with cursive writing, a style created long ago as a way to increase speed and reduce quill damage. Yes, quills, as in bird feathers, whose nibs (ends) split when pressed too hard. Cursive is fluid, but is it functional?
- Cursive improves and develops motor skills—hand muscles strengthen, and brain-hand-eye coordination improves
- Cursive reinforces learning—the original alphabet is reexamined and reviewed
- Cursive helps learning disabled students—dyslexic children can easily recognize b from d and q from g in cursive alphabets
- Cursive is artistic—with school budgets under assault and the Common Core bearing down against anything outside mathematics and reading, cursive writing is a last vestige of personal artistry, and can be a source of immense pride
- Cursive is the language of history—many of America’s most valuable documents, and many personal family papers, are recorded for posterity in cursive, so students and adults should be capable of reading and treasuring their words
There has been a lot of talk about Common Core: what it is, how it works, and whether it's beneficial for students or not. Here is a concise and comprehensive guide to what you need to know about Common Core and how it affects kindergarten through graduation. Common Core: What is it? Common Core is the direct descendant of the earliest attempts at uniform nationwide education. Prior to 1990, there was no uniform educational policy. If a child moved from one state to another they might find vastly different subjects covered at differing levels. The last two decades have been a continuous effort among states to remedy this and create a cohesive, continuous, and uniform educational series that is constant across states from grade to grade. Common Core sets forth a rigid, systematic, and highly ordered system of education for each grade level that appropriately challenges students and adequately prepares them for college and life beyond grade school. It sets forth clear cut guidelines for each grade level that build upon each other, preparing students for future levels, ensuring that they are equipped with the tools they need to succeed in higher education and in life. Common Core: Where Did It Come From? How was the Common Core developed? The Common Core is a collaborative effort of numerous and diverse educational experts, teachers, administrators, parents, and students. It covers the needs of all students by meeting the demands of our global life and economy. Educational experts from kindergarten to college met and compared their collective data and experience to design a system that took the best of what worked, eliminated the things that didn't, and thoroughly implemented the requirements that modern society places on the future workforce. What Does This Mean For Schools? Going forward there are a lot of changes that schools will need to implement to come in line with the rigorous standards set forth by the Common Core. Over 43 states have adopted and implemented the program, with the remaining 7 states currently in works to do so. Schools are best equipped to adopt the Common Core on the local level, addressing the challenges presented with the unique knowledge that only local administrators have. Common Core is a great fit for ensuring that students will be equipped with the tools they need to succeed anywhere in the world, regardless of where their basic K-12 education was obtained.
As an online tutor, your ultimate goal is to provide the necessary tools, resources, and guidance possible to help your students succeed. Helping you to achieve that goal are several innovative, easy-to-use, and exceptional educational software and technology options. Here’s a look at three of them: 1) Skype Connecting with your online students with video chat has never been easier thanks to Skype. Whether you’re using math flashcards to quiz one of your students, explaining an advanced algebra equation to an Honor’s student, teaching an adult student how to speak French, or simply like to teach face-to-face, Skype’s software enables you to call, see, message, and share with your students online from wherever you are ~ whether it’s a classroom in another country, the beach, or in the community. What you’ll need: A laptop or personal computer, tablet, TV, or mobile device with a microphone and speakers; a webcam so that your students can see you, a headset to make it easier to hear, and an internet connection. Some of the features of Skype:
- You can make calls Skype to Skype (tutor face-to-face).
- You can Skype making group calls ( for a class discussion).
- You can send files, photos, and videos of all sizes via your Skype software by easily adding the file into your Skype chat.
- Tutor as many as 10 students simultaneously!
- Communicate via voice or text.
- Draw lines, shapes, or other forms via the text tool.
- Write or draw using the ABCdraw Pad (like writing on paper)
- Use the available Mathematical equation tools.
- Save a snapshot of your whiteboard!
- You can easily collaborate with other individuals involved in the student’s life.
- Creates one space to manage all your resources, conversations, projects, and activities.
As trade becomes more global, Americans may find themselves competing, not just with job seekers from other states, but with those from other countries. This presents a problem when international competitors hold more prestigious reputations. Indeed, many have become alarmed about the test scores of American students, which have been lower in comparison to many international competitors than many policy makers would like. On one recent test administered by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, students from 29 countries scored better than students from the United States in math, while students from 22 nations scored higher than US students in science. Common Core and Accountability Policy makers have placed the responsibility for raising US student performance on teachers' shoulders. Under the Bush administration, the U.S. implemented No Child Left Behind standards that were meant to make teachers and schools more accountable by linking funding to student test performance; however, according to The Washington Post, the system did little to raise student performance and test scores lagged around average, rather than spiking upward. The current administration, along with bipartisan supporters, now favors implementing common core standards, which proponents describe as, “a set of high-quality academic standards in mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA).” The common-core system sets goals for each grade-level, showing what students are expected to have learned each year. Students will be given assessments to measure their progress. Proponents of the standards suggest that Common Core will help students compete in the global marketplace and will ensure that they receive quality education. Opponents argue that the standards undermine teachers and state and local governments and that they are robbing students of creative opportunities. They argue that common core standards lead teachers to teach to tests, rather than allowing them flexibility to teach subjects that may enrich their students’ lives. Criticism of Common Core Opponents decry the common core approach, saying that it is wrong to try to force every student to meet the same standards and that a one-size-fits-all approach fails to take into account the uniqueness of individual students. Critics also take issue with the idea that policymakers have asked states to agree to abide by common core standards before the final version of the standards was released. Worries about federal government overreach and the squelching of creativity have led some states to reject common core standards.
Visual literacy refers to the notion of developing specific skill sets through simultaneously seeing and at the same time having and integrating other sensory experiences. This development is critical for normal human learning. Once a person has these skills, he is able to discriminate and interpret both natural and man-made visible objects, actions, and symbols that he encounters as well as communicate with others. Before children can start to develop verbal skills, they must be competent with their visual skills. Some experts even argue that visual skills are essential for reading and speech skills. Being able to pick out and understand symbols in their world, such as Mom's face and Grandma's house, has a direct effect on later development of understanding and interpreting visual symbols and cues via speaking and reading. From preschool through high school age, visual literary has a wide range of real world applications. Visual literary helps kids interpret art and other visual media and interact with varying texts on a deeper level. It also introduces the concept of analytical thought. One of the key components of reading proficiency is the ability to visualize content as you read it. Visual literary plays an important role in this skill, allowing children to get much more enjoyment out of reading. Visual literary curriculum should include lessons about artwork perception. For example, you may have students discuss how certain literary techniques bring out particular effects or emotions. When they view a magazine advertisement for a beauty product, how does it make them feel? What factors contribute to these feelings? Teaching children about these tactics enables them to question a wide variety of media, including advertising. It is important to cater visual literacy lessons to specific age levels. An exploratory lesson about feelings is perfect for preschool or kindergarten age students. Choose a favorite classroom book or select a book related to a current unit (i.e. farm animals, the state of Wisconsin) and discuss how different aspects of the book make you feel. If you're working with middle school or high school students, you can use curriculum that touches on being skeptical viewers of imagery. Think about using a book or article about how digital photos can be manipulated and talk about how these images are often used in advertisements. Graphic novels are another great way to present older children with visual images in a way that is appropriate for their academic and emotional levels.
December 31st, 2013 Early Education ⁄ Learning Disabilities ⁄ Special Education ⁄ Tutoring ⁄ Visual Literacy
Welcome to the ABCdraw blog! We are glad that you have found us. Our blog is written by industry experts covering the latest information on education, tutoring, learning disabilities and important learning techniques. We will also be covering a newer topic in our digital age - visual literacy. Our world now is filled with more images and visual stimuli than ever before and it is more critical than ever to develop visual literacy skills to understand images and their power. We believe that ABCdraw will transform communication, learning, and collaboration through imagery. So who are we? ABCdraw seeks to offer the best in drawing pad technology for students and their tutors, educators, and parents. Our drawing pad has a technology that will enable students to interact with their teachers using digital technology that allows users to write on their screen like they would on a piece of paper. The ABCdraw Pad works along with our virtual whiteboard software to complete the interactive experience. We have a free one-on-one version of the software or you can upgrade to a Small Class or Big Class account to allow you to collaborate with more students through chat, audio and the whiteboard. As we seek to provide the best in technology for our customers, we also want to provide the most up-to-date information here on our blog for our readers. This blog is aimed at giving teachers, parents, and tutors information about techniques, lesson plans, methods, and best practices they can apply when working with their own students or children. Visit this blog weekly for posts that are written just for you! Our posts will include practical suggestions you can start using right away, and links to websites that allow you to explore the topics even further. Many of our posts will also include ideas for how to incorporate the ABCdraw Pad into your home, classroom, or online tutoring sessions. Do you know someone else who would be interested in this information? Use the buttons below to share this post!
Last week, we discussed online and face-to-face (offline) tutoring. These two types of tutoring are the same in many ways; however, they do have distinct differences as well. This week, we’ll discuss their differences. Practicality Face-to-Face: This type of tutoring is practical for subjects that require the hands-on approach such as music, art and science. Online tutoring may work just as well, but might require some creativity and finesse. Online: Online tutoring wins in the practicality category by offering flexibility. For instance, learners that prefer studying late in the evening or early in the morning (prior to school), have a better chance of finding a tutor online than face-to-face. Also, tutors and students can enjoy the comfort of being in their own home. Socialization Face-to-Face: The tutor and the student are physically present in the same room, and so a majority of the communication may be done non-verbally, such as with body language and facial expressions. Also, as the tutor and student are both physically present, it’s more difficult to be distracted with other tasks. Online: Students are very familiar with the ways of non-face-to-face socialization with the popularity of social media and smart phones. Therefore, some students as well as tutors of the younger may prefer learning using instant messaging, online visual aids and presentations, and may even argue that face-to-face is a distraction. Furthermore, technology is advancing every day to make online interactions just like interacting live while being able to save and backup conversations for later reference. Socialization efforts are diminished slightly when choosing online tutoring. This is because you are interacting with someone that is not physically in front of you, and sometimes, are studying without any human interaction. This is especially true when working on assigned worksheets, learning through presentations and other visual aids or using only instant messaging to communicate. Learning Face-to-Face: Students that prefer a more conventional way of learning may prefer this type of tutor. Studying in person allows for those that are more hands-on or kinesthetic learners to thrive. Online: Online tutors make use of technology for learning. They use online whiteboards, interactive software or computer generated worksheets and study materials. This is ideal for students that are tech-savvy or enjoy learning in new and exciting ways. Which one is better? When it comes down to it, there is no one method of tutoring that is better. As a student, it depends on your learning style and preferences. As a parent looking for a tutor for your child, it depends on your lifestyle as well as your child’s needs. As a tutor deciding between face-to-face or online tutoring, it depends on your flexibility, tech-savviness, and the needs of your students. After reviewing the points above, make a list of pros and cons that apply to you, so that you can make the selection process easier for yourself.
In last week’s post, we discussed 9 learning styles. Today, we want to tell you how you can go about identifying a student's or a child's learning style and modifying your teaching strategy to work with their learning style. There are a few simple methods to accomplish this. Observation can tell you a lot about how a particular child likes to learn. By observing how students choose to interact with and process new concepts, a teacher, tutor, or parent can determine learning preferences for that student. For example, after reading a book or short story with a group of students, give them a choice of how they would like to summarize the book. Allow them to choose between giving an oral summary, writing a summary, or drawing pictures. The students that choose to draw a picture may be visual learners. For them, the best way to make connections and learn new concepts is through drawing or picturing images of those concepts in their heads. It is a good idea to employ the use of visuals when teaching these students, whether they are graphic organizers, visual displays, or other images that help cement the concept. Students who are verbal or kinesthetic learners would likely choose to give an oral summary. They also likely learn well through listening. When teaching verbal and kinesthetic learners it is important to allow ample time for movement and conversation in lessons. A student who has strong linguistic skills will prefer to write a summary of the story. These students feel most comfortable putting ideas on paper and may struggle with presenting ideas to a large group of people. It is best to allow linguistic learners time to take notes and the opportunity to write down their responses. After observing students for a while, it becomes easier to pick up on individual learning styles in the classroom or small group. Another way to identify a child's learning style is to have them take an assessment. This Index of Learning Styles is a 44-item questionnaire that can be completed online. Education Planner has another assessment that is a bit shorter, but will identify what major category a student falls into. Students can complete one of these assessments in class, and the generated profile will identify students’ strengths as well as their weaknesses. Teachers can then use this information to develop instructional strategies that will work for that child. Instructors are also encouraged to take the assessments to identify their own preferred learning style as it is not uncommon for teachers to use that style when in their classroom. When you are aware of your dominant style, you can work to incorporate others in your teaching so that you can reach more of your students.
Humans expand their knowledge by a combination of reading, listening, watching, and practicing. Researchers have researched the relationship between personality, IQ, overall intelligence, and aptitude, and have concluded that there is no one "best," learning style. Types of Learning Styles:
- Auditory- These kinds of students learn best by listening. For example, when assembling a desk, this group of learner which much rather have instructions read to them, as opposed to reading the text or looking at a set of pictures.
- Visual- These learners gain knowledge by looking at things. Following the previous example, visual learners would rather read instructions or gaze at a set of pictures.
- Kinesthetic- These are the "hands on" learners that learn best by physically interacting with learning materials. These learners would do best a trial-and-error experience putting the desk together themselves.
- Think-pair-share gives students time to think about a topic, turn to their neighbor for a short discussion, and then share the results with the rest of the class (visual/audio).
- Minute Papers give students a few minutes at the end of class to answer the following questions in writing: What was the most important thing you learned today? (visual/audio).
- Writing activities of many kinds offer students the opportunity to think about and process information. You can also allow your students to prevent this picture in front of class (visual/audio).
- Games can improve a multitude of skills such as matching, group cohesiveness, problem solving, etc. No one said learning couldn't be fun! (visual/audio/hands-on).
- Debates between students in class will encourage students to think critically about several sides of an issue. (visual/audio/hands-on).
- Group work allows every participant the chance to speak, share personal views, and develop the skill of working with others. Give each group articles to read, questions to answer and discuss, a hands-on project and then have them present it to the class (visual/audio/hands-on).
- Case studies prompt students to integrate their classroom knowledge with their knowledge of real-world situations.
Often student assessments take the form of a stress-fill culminating experience instead of simply being a step on the learning path. Instead assessments should be one aspect of the learning process, and used by educators to inform further instruction. Types of Assessment With standardized testing being so prominent to measure districts, schools and teachers, we sometimes forget that these multiple choice tests are not the best way to assess our students. Multiple choice testing only tells you what students know in one small way, it doesn't take into account students misinterpreting the question, or just misinterpreting one small part. It also doesn't let the teacher know if there's something they could have said in a different or more helpful way. Interactive questions, such as short answer, essay, or even fill in the blank, tell teachers far more information than a multiple choice test. They show you how much information the student does know and give you a better sense of what you can do as a teacher to increase their knowledge. The Timeline Too often assessments are the final step of the learning process. Unfortunately, this doesn't provide students with a very necessary second chance. This is necessary for two reasons, one is that sometimes assessments reveal a miss-communication between the teacher and the class. A good educator will ask themselves if it's possible for them to teach something differently in order to maximize the success of their students. The second reason is that the nature of the learning process should allow for some mistakes. Pilots learn on flight simulators, surgeons learn on cadavers, the learning process does not always yield instant positive results. Involve Students in Assessment Assessing students should be followed by continuing instruction and evaluation in able to maximize the learning process. It's best to involve students actively in their assessment process. A great way to do this is with rubrics or checklists. Have students fill out for themselves what they should have learned, and how well they were able to meet these goals. Follow this up with students thinking through how they can change their learning habits to help themselves reach these goals and you'll have students who walk away with far more knowledge. Assessments are an important part of the learning process. However, the timeline of these assessments, and impact the assessments have on what happens in class is just as important, if not more.
Homeschooling is an alternative to public education for all ages and abilities where a student is educated in their home - usually by a parent or private tutor. Currently there are over 2 million children across the United States that are homeschooled. Who is Homeschooled? Children can be homeschooled through all education levels from kindergarten through high school. As a method of parent-led education, the needs of a household's individual children can be met specifically, with a unique and tailored curriculum focus. Special groups such as children with developmental or social issues, highly gifted children, and those who desire a bigger focus on extra curricular or religious study are perfect candidates. There is no one home schooling demographic, with unique educational opportunities available for people of different backgrounds. Proven Benefits While certain myths exist that homeschooedl children may lack in social or academic development, the opposite is actually true. Proven benefits of homeschooling include:
- 95% of homeschoolers showed a solid understanding of politics, as compared to only 65% of the regular adult population.
- 71% of homeschoolers participate in community service compared to 37% of standard adults of the same age.
- 88% of homeschoolers were active in their communities, participating in church, civic, or professional organization, compared to 50% of average educated students.
Defining Visual Literacy Visual literacy is a tool that educators use so that they have the necessary ability to interpret and decode visual messages. It also requires that educators be able to compose and encode meaningful visual communications. There are several visual formats and styles associated with visual literacy, including digitally rendered, three dimensional worlds, and those worlds require having the ability to read and interpret visual messages, visually communicate, and internally visualize those styles. Why Visualize? According to research in cognitive science, users prefer visual displays of information to verbal descriptions. The human eye–brain system automatically searches for a visual order and hierarchy in what it perceives. One reason educators are interested in transitioning text into visual format is to reduce the learner’s load by simplifying and providing clarity to complex concepts. Visual communication and aesthetics should:
- Convey the structure and order of things
- Connect abstract concepts to life
- Direct the user’s focus and attention
- Aid the user’s perceptive and cognitive skills
- Stimulate interest and excitement
- Confirm interactions
- Support navigation
- Classify, distinguish, and reveal the relative importance of things
- Reduce the amount of written language
- Establish mood style
- Stimulate recognition and recall
- Symbolize and represent items so that they can be directly manipulated
A learning disability or LD is a neurological disorder that can make it tough to gain certain types of academic and social skills. These disabilities are not the result of mediocre intelligence or laziness. As a teacher or parent, if you observe a child with one or more of the following symptoms, you should have him or her evaluated for learning disabilities:
- Trouble comprehending and following directions
- Difficulty with short-term memory
- Difficulty telling left from right and/or identifying or reversing letters, words, or numbers
- Lacking fine or gross motor coordination
- Easily losing track of personal items
- Trouble understanding the notion of time
- Significant difficulty with reading, writing, spelling, and/or math skills
- Dyslexia. Dyslexia can compromise writing, spelling, and even communication skills. It may hinder word recognition, decoding, vocabulary acquisition, reading comprehension, and reading fluency.
- Dyscalculia. Dyscalculia is the term used for a wide spectrum of learning disabilities involving math. It can vary from one person to the next and can affect people differently, depending on their current stage of life. Many people with dyscalculia struggle to do mental math, use counting tactics, and learn math vocabulary.
- Dysgraphia. Dysgraphia affects handwriting and can result in issues with handwriting, spelling, and the ability to articulate thoughts in writing. Many people with dysgraphia struggle to organize letters, numbers, and words on a line or page.
- Dyspraxia. Dyspraxia is a condition that affects motor skill development and often presents alongside learning disabilities. Additionally, many individuals with learning disabilities have trouble with executive function, which controls the capacity to plan, organize, and manage routine details (i.e. getting ready in the morning, setting up a homework schedule).
- Finally, while attention-deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is not a learning disability, it is not uncommon for people with learning disabilities to also have ADHD.
Educational Software Innovations for the Online Tutor (Part 2) We’ve discussed Conferencing Software and Whiteboard in Part one. Here are two more innovations, Special Education Software and Software for Teachers, and tips for using them. Special Education Software Adaptive resources for special education students are available for students of online tutors as well. There are programs and devices for many tutoring topics that are available to make the learning process easier and more enjoyable. Tips for Using Special Education Software 1. Make sure to do assessments One of the most important aspects of understanding how to tutor a student with special needs is determining their current level of understanding. One thing that we recommend splurging on is a software program that can assess your student’s abilities. Many of these programs also have the capability to create materials such as online worksheets and interactive games that cater to each student’s individual needs. 2. Find a software that works with the student’s abilities When you are tutoring an online student that has difficulty reading, it is important to keep in mind their abilities and to find software programs that complement their abilities rather than working against them. Some of the options include voice recognition and large print worksheets that help your student to learn while receiving help with some of the major issues. 3. Make math visually appealing Tutoring math online can be difficult but can also be made much easier with a software that has equations and graphs available. Suddenly you are able to put concrete examples in place of abstract ideas, and interact with your students on a whole new level. In a world where students are attracted to technology, learning in this way may actually make school seem sort of fun. Software for Teachers Not only are there innovations in technology to help students perform better, there are also software programs for tutors to enhance their lessons as well. Tips for Using Software for Teachers 1. Make lesson plans easier for yourself Lesson plan software provides you with templates that can easily be filled in with each session’s information, taking the extra work out of planning. When using this type of program, remember to look for templates that can be customized for your individual sessions or can be planned for multiple days weeks if necessary. 2. Presentations can be beautiful and easy to make There is such software that helps you create beautiful presentations which will help your students learn more effectively through the use of visual aids. These programs offer options such as slideshows, image insertion and graphs to be used to enhance your online tutoring session. 3. Making homework for students can be easier than doing the homework Another type of software generates worksheets by inserting numbers, words or phrases into templates to create workbook pages which can be uploaded onto other programs such as whiteboard or conferencing software and voila, you now have interactive study material for your learners. Making a Difference As an online tutor you have the ability to change the lives of students all over the world. Whether you have just set out on your tutoring journey or have been on the road for some time, explore the software options available to you. New ones are available everyday that just might make a difference in your tutoring and your students’ learning.
Educational Software Innovations for the Online Tutor Are you an online tutor who loves technology? Did you know that technological innovations are steadily changing the way that online tutors educate their students? Whether it is advances in the communication methods, classroom presentations, or study tools, technology is making a difference in the online learning experience. In this 2-part series, we will discuss 4 innovations and tips for using them. First up: the Conferencing Software and Whiteboard Software. Conferencing Software This is ideal for group tutoring sessions because it allows for you to conduct live video chat sessions and also use visual aids and presentation capabilities to conduct lessons. Tips for Using Conferencing Software 1. Headset Having a headset with a built in microphone and earpiece can significantly improve the quality of your tutoring because it allows for a higher quality of sound transmitted and received from both you and your student. One important feature to consider when purchasing your first set is a noise cancelling microphone. I personally own a headset that has this and it is well worth any extra money you may spend for it. I have found that my students are able to hear and focus better because of the noise cancellation because it blocks out any outside noises on your end of the conversation, making your voice clearer. 2. Video Making use of the video chat with your students is ideal in a group setting. It allows for your students to interact with you in a similar way to being with you in the same room. This is especially helpful for language tutors as it makes it easier for foreign learners to understand what you are saying. As an English tutor, I have noticed that my students absorb the language faster when video software is enabled as opposed to simply using instant messaging or voice chat. I believe this is because of the face-to-face interaction that helps them to see the way your mouth forms letters and words. 3. Recorder Before you begin your session, turn on the recording feature on your conferencing software. When this option is employed while you are tutoring it gives your students the opportunity to play back the lesson once you have finished. This is helpful for study purposes, as well as keeping your student on track. Whiteboard Software Whiteboards provide a platform for online tutors to engage students in the learning process. This software allows you to share files, images, documents, charts and diagrams with your students in real-time. Whiteboard is especially useful for math, physics and other subjects where formulas and numbers are used often because learners are able to see such information and request clarification where necessary. Tips for Using Whiteboard 1. Plan Ahead As an online tutor, I find that planning ahead for my whiteboard sessions is essential. You may make formal lesson plans, or just review the functions of the software, but planning ahead ensures that your students get the most out of their lessons and may ease your nerves a bit. The less time you spend on figuring out what comes next, the higher the quality and the smoother your tutoring will be. 2. Visual Aids Keep your visual aids simple. This makes them much more useful and easier to understand. This is a great example of “less is more.” Use bright colors and make use of features such as highlight, bold, or underline when creating text for your presentations. 3. Key Features Other features that are useful on many whiteboard software programs include animation, image insertion, file sharing and diagram capabilities. Using these options may make your tutoring session easier and more professional at the same time. Be sure to check out our blog next week for more software innovations and more tips!