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Learning is Not Just Measurable. It’s Emotional

Starr Tutoring Guest Blog.
Lois Letchford
www.loisletchford.com
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF-H07Ct7R0
I’ve written a book Reversed: A Memoir mostly my son Nicholas Letchford and his learning journey.

Today his title is Dr. Nicholas Letchford, D.Phil. (Oxf) BSc (Hons) BEng (Hons) (UTas).

 

Indie Author News - Lois Letchford - Reversed A Memoir - NR

But, he was once the “worst child seen in 20 years of teaching.” The school diagnostician branded him with this label…at seven years old.

Nicholas, now thirty, is a confident, delightful, knowledgeable man, and married to an equally wonderful woman, Lakshmi. He talks with passion about mathematics, engineering, and the challenges of the modern world.
It is only when I ask him about his early schooling education that he shut down.
In 1994, Nicholas learning, as a first grader hit rock bottom. He withdrew in class, a place where his teacher shouted at him. He stared into space, which earned him even more shouting, and by the end of the year, he could only read ten words. In hindsight, his teacher destroyed him.
Finally, there was a turning point. In 1995, my husband had study leave in Oxford. Our family joined in, leaving our home in Australia. I decided to teach Nicholas at home. Of course, my initial efforts at teaching regular phonics instruction ended in failure—abject failure. I was no different than his classroom teacher.
It was at this point—the turning point—when my mother-in-law said to me,

“Lois, make learning fun.”

Her words caused me to re-evaluate what I was doing. I began writing poems; simple rhyming poetry which Nicholas and his grandmother then illustrated. My teaching transformed as we investigated simple poems, then expanding to follow more complex ideas, like the changing map of the world. He was beginning to make different connections while appreciating maps and world history. This became our inquiry project. By tapping into Nicholas’s curiosity, immersing him in language and learning, as well as providing meaningful experiences through seeing various museums, artifacts, and libraries, his love of learning grew.
I found a series of books which helped me teach him to decode words: Hear it, See it, Say it, Do it! by Mary Atkinson. The books were brilliant, and Nicholas and I were finally able to connect through the multi-sensory word games.
Nicholas and I enjoyed this learning—both in the short and, amazingly, the long term.
Yet, long-term—like today—still brings up painful memories. I recently asked Nicholas about his early learning experiences and he dissolved into tears.

Twenty three years after his poor schooling, he still could not talk about the pain or the scars left from those years.

When I asked about his reading teacher, he responded with a quick, “I don’t remember her!”
“Nicholas,” I said, “You visited her four days a week, for 30 mins a day…for four years!”
“Ahh,” he said, searching for this memory. “Yes…she was a witch.”
Recalling his early learning from living in Oxford in 1995, Nicholas talked about a growing passion for knowledge, a lifetime love of mapping, and relishing poetry. He remembered some of the poems, the fun he had illustrating, and thinking beyond the poetry. He even remembered that he wrote ingredients for a witches spell!
With this type of education, he became emotionally involved, and this time in our lives determined the trajectory for his future.

So, when we have these young lives in our hands, we know what has to be completed in terms of learning. But how are we doing to do it? What memories are we creating today for our students to recall tomorrow?

As a parent what can you do to help your child through the 11+?

As this year 6 parents breathe a sigh of relief as the 11+ comes to an end, the year 5 parents take in a sharp intake of breath as they realise what is dawning!

As a parent what can you do to help your child through the 11+?

These are some of the activities that we do at Starr Tutoring. I hope they offer you some inspiration.

Obviously encouraging your child to read is going to support them in all areas of their lives. It will boost their abilities in spellings, grammar and punctuation.

 


Confidence with the times tables will also help your child through life and help with the fundamentals of maths. I won’t go into the games we play here as I have talked about them previously in many other blogs, the most recently being:

learning-the-9-times-table

 

There is a long list of words (100+) that I have downloaded from the net

11-plus-important-word-list

What I have done is split this list into smaller lists. I have then split these into groups of about 12 words. Each sub set I have then made into pairs games. I have used definitions from the Oxford English dictionary to achieve this. The aim of the game is to create a fun way of expanding the child’s vocabulary. Many of these words are quite obscure and not used often in modern day English.

Children are normally more receptive to doing something more than once when it is fun. This repetition will help reinforce the child’s knowledge of these words.

 

Spot the difference is a great way to help your child easily spot the difference in patterns and sequences.Sudoku is another brilliant way to help your child spot number patters,
The brilliant thing about these is that they can be purchased for very little money or downloaded for free.
Taking a leap back in time Rubix cubes are also great at helping children solve problems and master the skills needed in non-verbal reasoning.

 

Rummikub

Rummikub was introduced to me a couple of years ago and along with being a truly addictive game, it is also a great way to practice simple number sequences.
There is a word version which is equally fun and a really a good way of looking at spellings and vocabulary. Bananagrams and scrabble are also great games for playing to assist in these areas.

To support spellings, I often take the list of words we are practising. We then choose one of the words from the list, take the letters needed to spell the words and mix them up. You then pass them to the other person who has to rearrange the letters and work out what the words is.

 

5 Minute Challenge.

 

I have also created a selection of 5 Minute Challenges (challenges NOT tests). It is simply a sheet of A4 split into 4 columns and approx.12 rows. In the first column on the left-hand side I will write a category:

Synonyms for xxx
Antonyms for xxx
Places beginning with xxx
Words ending with xxx
Things you would find in xxx

You then have 5 minutes to think of 3 words for each category. The aim here is to get the child used to working in timed conditions. If you both do it together you can compare answers at the end making it more enjoyable.

 

I hope these ideas get you started and offer some inspiration.

There is also a huge range of books that can be purchased and worksheets that can be downloaded on line.

Good luck and if you have any questions, please do comment below and I will do my best to answer. If you think these ideas would help someone else, please do share the link.

Best wishes

Learning the 9 times table

The 9 times table is one of my favourite times tables because there are so many tricks to help you to learn it.

The most commonly known one is that, when written down the units decrease by one each time and the tens increase by one.

When you write out the 9x table the tens will increase by 1 and the units will decrease by 1 each time.png
But there is also the fact that if a number is devisable by 9 the digits that make it up will add together to make 9.

3x9 = 272+7 = 9 shocking fact

Examples of this are:

10 x 9= 90
9+0 =9

2×9= 18
1+8 = 9

12×9 = 108
1+0+8= 9

Then there’s this one and I think this is the cleverest trick of all:

 

Hold your 2 hands out in front of you, palms down.

Imagine you want to work out what 3 times 9 is.

Put down the middle finger of your right hand.
Imagine all the fingers of the left of that middle finger are worth 10. All the fingers to the right are worth 1 (they’re your units).

That means to the left of my middle finger I have 20. To the right I have 7.
3 x9 = 27
It works for each of the questions in the 9 times table from 1 to 10.

 

Imagine I want to work out what 7×9 is.

Put the finger next to the thumb on your right hand down. (This is your 7th finger)
Everything to the left is once again worth 10. Everything to the right is worth 1 (a unit).

This time I have 6 tens and 3 units.
7×9=63.

I can check this is right because 6+3 =9

I’ve found one of the best ways to teach the times tables is through the use of games. At Starr Tutoring we use pairs games, snakes and ladders, fishing games (probably my favourite) bingo etc.

The repetition of playing the games helps to reinforce the times tables facts.

Games are also a great way to make learning fun and to help a child relax. Everyone will learn better when they relax and are enjoying themselves as that is when the brain is more susceptible to learning.

Twitter heading
I have set myself the challenge that in my life time I will help 1 million children find confidence in their times tables through the use of games.

To help me to achieve this you can download all the templates that we use at Starr Tutoring to create these games so that you can play them yourself at home.
You will also gain the link to my e-book: Teach your child their times tables – the fun way!

This e-book goes into more detail explaining how we learn and the importance of using a wide range of resources.

cover

I can have kept the price down to just £12. Not because I question the value you will receive from it, because I think you will receive great value from it if you play the games with your child, but so that it is accessible to as many people as possible.
If £12 is too much for you though, or you have a child with special needs, your child is a young carer, a foster child, etc. let me know. For every course that is paid for another person will receive it for FREE.

For more information on the 1 Million Times Tables Challenge, click here

If you have found this post interesting or you think someone else may benefit from it, please do like and share it.

Any questions, do ask and I will do my best to answer them.

Thanks for reading

Dawn

5 activities to make comprehension more enjoyable

 

5 activities to make comprehension more enjoyable pinterest

Following on from the blog I wrote the other day about the board game you can when doing comprehension with your child, here are 5 activities you can carry out to establish your child’s understanding.

Illustrate the information

Very often a child will be asked to describe the character or the scene they have just read about. Instead of doing this as a written piece of work, why not ask the child to draw what they have learn. Why not draw a picture of the setting and label it with quotes/ words from the extract? A character can also be drawn and annotated rather than just written and talked about.
In “Skellig” (Marc Almond) there is a description of a derelict garage. A description like this is perfect for drawing/ annotating.
The other advantage of interpreting what you have learned like this is that you are creating a visual image. Visual images are not only great for finding the information at a glance at a later date, they also provide an alternative learning technique. The more learning techniques we use the more likely we are to (a) be able to retrieve the information from our memories when needed. (b) Find a learning style that is appropriate your child.

Unscramble the letters

In “The Twits” (Roald Dahl) it explains the different food that Mr Twit has stuck in his beard. Instead of asking the child to recall what Mr Twit had in his beard, why not list the items but scramble the letters.
Scrambled eggs becomes: Smadbrcel gegs

 

Rewrite the scene

Why not ask the child to rewrite the scene from someone else’s perspective? An example could be to write an extract as a diary entry. Ask them to write about their feelings alongside what happened.

 

Word search

Make a word search
Many chapters within a book will focus on a theme: someone’s feelings, an event, an atmosphere, etc. Pick something of relevance from the chapter and ask the other person to create a word search using relevant words from the chapter (or synonyms for those used in the chapter). You can also create a word search for the child to solve. Then once both are prepared, swap and solve the other person’s. You can also use verbs, adjectives, etc. found in the chapter as your theme.

A to Z

A to Z icon
In David Walliams’ book “Billionaire Boy” he describes all the amazing things Jo has in his mansion.
Why not create an A to Z of all the things you can think of that you would have in your billionaires’ mansion?
Examples might be:
A: Aeroplane landing strip
B: Butler
C: Chef
And so on…

To make it slightly harder you can state you need to state an adjective (describing word) before each noun (object) that also starts with that letter.
Examples now might be:
A: Alien’s Aeroplane landing strip
B: Bald butler
C: Caring chef
And so on….

Click here to download the PDF that I use for this game

I hope you like the ideas. No doubt you will think of many more of your own and I would love to hear them. I you have found the ideas here useful or you think someone else would find them useful, please do like and share below.

 

Enjoy

 

Many thanks for reading and if you have any questions or comments, please do ask.

 

The Comprehension Board Game

Comprehension isn’t an activity that most people relish.
Reading out loud isn’t something that many people enjoy.
Yet as a school child this is often a task that is inflicted regardless of the “pain” it puts them through.

 

The comprehension game blog

 

I can remember as a child having to read out loud in class (or in any other scenario) and it would terrify me.
I have always loved reading, and as nerdy as this may seem; as a child one of the highlights of my week was to walk down to the village library on a Friday after school and choose the books I wanted to read over the weekend. For pleasure or for homework, it didn’t matter. This was a routine I still look back on with fond memories.
Yet reading out loud terrified me. I would, and still do, stumble over my words making myself feel stupid. Whilst the people before me were reading their parts, I would work out what I would be told to read. That way I could practice. The flaw with this meant I had no idea of what was happening in the book so if I was asked anything, I had no idea because I’d been so absorbed in my fear of what was to come!

Over the past 6+ years I have worked with many children focusing on comprehension. Whether it is my personal dread of reading aloud that has influenced this game or that of the people I wok with; I am no longer sure.

The game:

I design a board either focusing around the book we are reading the child’s interests (or if I have a lot to carry a generic one). On the board are 18 pictures of three designs.
Example: 6 pictures of the BFG, 6 pictures of Sophie and 6 plain circles.
We will decide in advance who is the BFG and who is Sophie.
For the purpose of this explanation I will be the BFG and you can be Sophie.
Each time you roll the dice you move the number of spaces dictated by the dice. You can go: left, right or up / down the middle but you can’t change direction half way through ago.

If anyone lands on the BFG I have to read a paragraph, page or chapter (depending what is suitable). If anyone lands on Sophie you will have to read.
The other spaces are forfeits such as read another page, have another go, miss a turn, other person reads, etc.

By incorporating a game into the task, it takes the pressure of the person who has to read.
It also means that one person doesn’t have the daunting task of reading long extracts from the book/ article.
At the end of each few pages or chapter there will be a task to complete such as:
Draw and illustrate a picture of (something that was described in the page).
Why do you think the author used this word?
What does he mean by that phrase?
Create a word search using verbs that have been used in this chapter.

If you want me to email you a copy of the generic board I use, please do ask or if you are a parent that would like some help with thinking of questions you could use with your own child, please do get in touch.

Have a great afternoon and if you found this post helpful or think other people would, please do share it.

 

Make Spelling Fun!

Learning needs to be an enjoyable past time because it is something that we will inevitably do through out our entire lives!

3 varied games to help your child learn to spell

For some people an ability to spell correctly seems to be instinctive. For others spelling seems to be an uphill struggle.

We can all try and encourage our children to find a love for books and reading but for some parents you might as well just bang your head against a brick wall!

There are other ways to help your child’s confidence boost when it comes to spelling and that’s through playing spelling games with them.
In the following lines / video I will show you 3 of my favourite games that I use as a tutor to help children improve their spellings.

 

Before we get onto that though, I’d like to quickly explain how games can be so important when it comes to helping your child learn.

Firstly, when we need to retain some information there will inevitably be a certain amount of repetition involved. This can be boring and a lot of children will lose interest at this point.
However, if you are able to make the learning activities enjoyable the child will be less resistant. The less resistant the child is the more susceptible they will be to taking and retaining new information.

 

The other benefit of playing games is that through playing a range of games we create a wider variety of memories. That means that when we need to recall the information, our brain has more places to find it. This makes it more likely that we will get the spelling that we need correct.

These 3 games range from taking no preparation, from costing nothing more than a piece of paper and a pen/ pencil to purchasing a truly addictive word game.

I hope they inspire you, I’d love to hear your comments below or for you to share it with a friend if you think they would benefit from the ideas.

Pairs:

make learning fun
This can be played in a few ways depending on the age/ability of your child and the words that you are focusing on.

The first method is to create two sets of cards.
The first set of cards will clearly have the word displayed. For this version it will probably be a noun (person, place or thing).
The second set of cards will have images of the words used in set one.
Lay all the cards face down on the table.
Then take it in turns to pick up two cards. If they are a corresponding picture and word, keep the pair and have another go.
If they don’t match, place them back down and the other person has a turn.
It is the person with the most pairs at the end of the game that is considered the winner.

The other version of the game involves writing the words out in fairly big text. Then cut each word in half.
These will be your playing cards.
Place each of these “cards” face down on the table.
The first person will turn over 2 cards. If they choose a corresponding beginning and end to a word, they win the pair. They then have another go.
If the 2 parts of the word don’t belong together, lay them back on the table and the other person has a go.

Once again, the person with the most pairs at the end is the winner.

 

Rummikub Word

This game is addictive. I was first introduced to Rummikub by my daughter a couple of years ago as a suggestion to take on holiday. By the time we came home I was 100% hooked.
I then discovered the game “Rummikub Word” which is equally addictive!
I can’t show you a picture of the one I own personally as it is so bashed and battered from the amount of use it gets.
The purpose of the game is to create words out of the 14 letters you choose at random. The winner is the first person to use all of their counters. You can manipulate the other persons words by adding or subtracting letters from it to create new words.
This game also seems to be seriously enjoyed by dyslexic learners. The ability to physically move the letters around to create new words seems to make the creation of words considerably easier than when they are fixed to a piece of paper. (I have found many times over the years with various games the ability to move the letters makes spelling words significantly easier).
If you have the ability to buy a game that will support your child with both spelling and vocabulary, I strongly suggest you make it this one.

Funny Pictures

Funny pictures mini

I’ve saved my best to last. I love this game!
Fortunately, the ability to draw well is not a priority. Nothing more than a stick person is really necessary though if you can go slightly beyond that it will help.
In the video I will explain to you how to make the game.

 


The purpose behind Funny Pictures
Once you have drawn your image and stuck it on to a piece of paper you need to think of as many words as you can to describe him.
So, for example for the image above I might state:
Long neck,
Round body,
Stick arms
Knobbly knees, etc
Spiky hair, etc

For older children or more capable children you may make it more challenging. You can do this by writing the letters A to Z down the side of the picture.
The aim is then to think of a word starting with each letter of the alphabet to describe the funny picture.
In this instance you might go:
Angular nose
Big feet
Curved body
Delightfully big eyes

In order to achieve all the letters, the level of the vocabulary you use, really has to go up a level. It will stretch your abilities to think of various adjectives and stretch your vocabulary.

I’ve put together a great course demonstrating 6 more of my favourite games that support spellings including which witch, lily pads and my own take on battleships. You will be able to download an updated version of the book I had published a couple of years ago. The e-book goes into far more depth of the importance of using a range of learning styles, the need to reinforce your child’s learning with praise and how we all learn differently.

If you want more details when they are available, fill in the box below and I’ll keep you posted:

 

 

 

Please don’t forget to share and comment on this blog if you have found the ideas beneficial to you and you think someone else might benefit from them as well.

 

Enjoy