T/TAC Topics                                                                                                     April 2017
Final webinars of the school year. Register now. 

April 26: "Say what you  wanna say"
May 2 : Teaching the Swipe Generation

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Helping teens develop executive skills
reading-dreads-boy.jpg We all know a teenager whose academic performance is affected by weak executive skills: time and task management, planning, organization, impulse control, or emotional regulation. Some of us were that teenager, others have one at home, and many of us have had them in our classrooms. If you are wondering what steps you can take to support a student with executive skills deficits, then it may be time to read the works of Peg Dawson and Richard Guare. These two well-known educators have developed an executive skills student-support program that can be implemented at home or at school and have based it on their unique professional experiences.

Peg Dawson is the recipient of the National Association of School Psychologists' Lifetime Achievement Award for her work in assessment and intervention of children and adults with learning and attention disorders. She works at the Center for Learning and Attention Disorders in Portsmouth, New Hampshire alongside Richard Guare, a neuropsychologist , to create materials for parents, students, and educators to support children, adolescents, and adults with executive skill deficits. In Smart but scattered teens: The executive skills program for helping teens reach their potential, they team up with Colin Guare to include the voice of a young adult with attention deficit disorder who has successfully used the steps in the program.
This book is parent and teacher friendly, with many free resources available online to make following the steps in the program easier. Simple self-assessments are included to tailor the executive skills program to the student's specific needs. The book's engaging parent support materials make it stand out from other executive skills programs. Check out the support website for more information: http://www.smartbutscatteredkids.com.
Dealing with end of the year stress
This time of year can be stressful for teachers and students. With end of the year testing right around the corner, the classroom pace picks up in order to cover all the content and to review previously taught material. During this time, it is important to recognize that it can be stressful for many students. Below are several suggestions to help students relieve stress in the classroom:
  • Post and maintain a daily schedule to provide students sufficient notice of activities and tests that are approaching;
  • Provide students the opportunity to take a practice test in a less stressful environment (e.g., small groups, partners, turn questions into a game);
  • Allow time for brain-break activities. The following websites provide fun and quick brain break ideas:
Multisensory instruction encourages deeper understanding
Multisensory instruction is an approach that incorporates the use of our five senses. Utilizing the senses during instruction encourages students to make deeper connections with presented material and aids them in committing information to memory. Activities that tap into the senses include passing around items with varied characteristics to include taste (when appropriate), texture, smell and color. Body movement is another important component of multisensory instruction. The use of mimicry, music and role play provide students with opportunities to actively participate in learning. In addition rhythmic activities, pictorial representations, graphic organizers, discussions and read alouds  are all approaches that teachers can explore when providing differentiated multisensory instruction.

As educators balance the demands of high stakes testing with planning thoughtful differentiated lessons, they must keep in mind the endless possibilities of a multisensory instruction approach. They can challenge themselves to incorporate the approach within every class and students will be more relaxed, receptive and open to learning.

Library resource:   Making number talks matter
Mathematics is often a subject where student engagement is difficult.   Number talks is one instructional strategy that can help students "change their view of mathematics, teach them number sense, help them develop mental math skills and ... engage them in creative, open mathematics" (Humphreys & Parker, 2015). In addition, number talks can help students communicate and collaborate about mathematical concepts while building their critical thinking skills.

Gone are the days of thinking number talks only exist in the elementary school classroom. Cathy Humphreys and Ruth Parker provide a framework for developing number talks in the late elementary, middle, and high school classroom as well as provide specific examples of how these number talks can look. Their book, Making number talks matter: Developing mathematical practices and deepening understanding, Grades 4-10, is an easy to read text with useful information for having a powerful effect on your classroom instruction. 

This resource is available for  checkout  through the  VCU T/TAC library.
Humphreys, C., & Parker, R. E. (2015). Making number talks matter: Developing mathematical practices and deepening understanding, Grades 4-10. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
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