Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Before I start the series on working memory I thought that it might be a good idea to have an interlude. I know how mind stretching these blogs have been (LOL).

This is something for those who enjoy books with paper pages.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Promoting Executive Functioning for Students - Book Review Pt 3

This book helps teachers implement executive function processes and strategies—such as planning, organizing, prioritizing, and self-checking—into the classroom curriculum. Chapters provide practical strategies to enable students to learn more effectively by improving how they think and learn. 

This is a practical and highly informative book directed at classroom teaching and features many useful whole-class ideas and suggestions. The book also shows how to differentiate instruction for students with learning or attention difficulties. 

This is an edited book that incorporates ideas from high quality researchers and practitioners. It is firmly grounded in best teaching practice. 

However, for this up-commig series on working memory I have chosen to draw from the first two chapters because I will be appealing to a wider audience. The other chapters will be useful for other applications, from which I intend to draw ideas that can be applied elsewhere.

I would highly recommend this book for classroom teachers. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Working Memory and Learning Review Pt 2

The second book review looks at  'Working Memory & Learning: A practical Guide for Teachers'.
The language is clear and easy to follow and will appeal to those who may or may not be familiar with cognitive psychology of memory. It informs the reader about current research and how it can apply, in practical terms, to the classroom (or home) teaching situation.

The authors identify some basic principles that should be applied when assisting children with poor working memories. These are:
  • recognise working memory failures
  • monitor the child for these failures
  • evaluate working memory loads
  • reduce working memory loads when necessary
  • be prepared to repeat information
  • encourage the use of memory aids
  • develop the child's use of strategies to support memory
Some very practical ideas are given to illustrate these principles. This book is a must-have for those wanting to be informed about the learning process and to know how to assist struggling learners.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Improving Working Memory

My earlier blogs were originally designed to show some parents how to help their 10 year old daughter who is experiencing difficulties with literacy. I chose to use a blog format to show them what they could do to help her and thought that the ideas might also benefit other children with similar issues.

So far I have posted 3 series of 10 blogs on; assisting reading, vocabulary, and reading fluency. My next series will focus on how to improve working memory. To help prepare for this series I ordered several books, which I will review before starting the series.

The first book is "Improving Working Memory: Supporting Student's Learning" by Tracy Packiam Alloway.  I have previously read some journal articles by this same author and I found them very informative and they have, to some degree shaped my own research.

The book arrived yesterday and I was pleasantly surprised at how clear and logical her ideas were.

The book contends that working memory can explain reading and math difficulties in children with disorders such as Dyslexia, ADHD, Autistic Spectrum Disorder, etc. Although these disorders are quite complex the writer was able to give a clear explanation regarding the role of working memory in the reading process and to give some practical remedial strategies to help them.

In terms of reading comprehension, poor comprehenders cannot be lumped together but have unique needs. The book shows how groups of readers can differ from one another and how their particular needs can be met.

I would highly recommend this book.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Word Cloud

Now that I have finished my series on on vocabulary and fluency I created a word cloud from 'Wordle' at http://www.wordle.net/create

You can make your own cloud by visiting the site and pasting in a list of words.

There are endless possibilities.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Fluency Part 10 - Speed of Reading - Radio Reading

Digital Bedtime Stories

Visit http://digital-storytime.com/wp/?p=561 for guidelines for selecting good iPad book apps for bed time reading. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Fluency Part 9 What to do about that finger

Many parents and teachers have asked, "What should I do about that pointing finger?"

I remember my older sister helping me with my reading at home when I was 'knee-high-to-a grass-hopper' and telling me not to use my finger while reading. This kind of made sense because I knew it wasn't polite to evacuate your nose in public or to point upwards with the 'rude finger'. However, I do remember having a sense of frustration because there were lots of words on the page and I thought, "How can I possibly keep track of where I am in this jumble of words without using one of my digits?"

Maybe older sisters, parents, and teachers have digititis (fear of the pointing finger) or better still, let's get to the point (so to speak). The eye does not move in a straight line from letter to letter or from word to word but moves around the page in stops, starts, progressions, and regressions. Children naturally use a finger to assist their eyes in this complex tracking process. Most children find this extremely helpful when they are novice readers but eventually ween themselves away from this habit. As they develop as readers they become better at tracking and will discover that the pointing finger actually begins to stifle their fluency.

Well, is it a good habit or a bad habit? The answer is yes, it can be both. If a child is still using his or her finger it is for a good reason. However, it can develop into word by word reading rather than reading with flow and expression. What is the answer?

The important thing is to develop their confidence by using the method of repeated reading or highlighting text phrases (see previous blogs in this series). Don't discourage the finger pointing but don't encourage it either. One sure way to enhance tracking and develop fluency without amputating the finger (or taping it to the inside of their palm) is to show your child that he/she can place their finger at the end of the line rather than below each word. After a while they will come to see that it is easier to let the eye do all the work and that moving beyond single word reading enhances comprehension.