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The Psycho-Educational Teacher
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Abstract concepts are essential to achieving in school. They are also a source of frustration and difficulty for students who struggle in the classroom; many of these students find even basic concepts difficult to grasp. Teachers can provide low achieving children with the necessary support by applying alternative teaching techniques that take the student from where he is conceptually to the next level in the learning process. Teachers need to use a high support approach that aims at helping low achieving children comprehend and interpret what they hear, see, and read in the classroom. Some suggestions follow.
Help Students Connect the Information
Students can relate the new information or unfamiliar concepts by connecting it to something with which they are already familiar; for example, discussing how the Renaissance is like a video game.
e.g. Compare two seemingly unrelated objects. Make the New Information Relevant Relevancy. Tom’s is not an example. or pieces of information. and link the patterns to what they already know. You can use graphics like flowcharts or concept maps to help children see how two different concepts relate. or topics by analyzing and discussing the similarities and differences between the two. Identify related concepts and explain how we can generalize from one concept to others. provide examples and “not an example” of the concept. Relate what the student has learned in one setting or situation to other settings or situations. Relationships are more obvious when we progress from the known to the new. e.g. it is students’ perception of relevancy what matters. Help Students See Patterns and Relationships Explicitly teach relationships among the different concepts. but remember. Help students formulate a rule from the examples. . Ask children and discuss why the new information is important to learn. or meaning. from numbers to money or from fuel to energy.Begin your lesson with a known concept and progress to the new concept. To help your students see patterns. topics. Have the students talk about the patterns they see emerging. is one of the major factors affecting retention of new material. ideas. For example. aren’t and we’ve are examples of contractions. concepts and vocabulary words learned during the morning should be pointed out in the afternoon’s social studies lesson or when the child is solving math word problems. not the teacher’s. Concepts and new vocabulary words should be incorporated in writing activities. Move from simple comparison to contrasting based on multiple attributes. The student is not likely to retain new information if he or she perceives the information as meaningless.
do not “bury” the important information in a lot of distracting and irrelevant information. stop at key points to check comprehension. but the truth is that repetition is only minimally helpful.Make Key Concepts Apparent Make sure that key concepts are both apparent and unambiguous to children. and make sure that students can identify easily the salient characteristics of key concepts. e. During the lesson. Give visual examples (e. or storytellers. use films and videos. field trips. Use Multiple Representations of the Same Concept Some teachers believe that repeating the same information louder.g. explaining. Stories will help illustrate the main points. and answer questions. using different formats and/or in different scenarios. and antonyms) of the same concept. . modeling. or write songs or poems to illustrate the concept. talk about the concept and provide pictures to look at. examples will help associate them. When teachers provide multiple representations of the same concept. analogies. When lecturing or delivering directions. we are presenting the same information in more than one manner. For example. helps children retain the information. creating analogies. or several times. synonyms.g.g. provide explicit outlines and study guides to help students organize the information. drawings or pictures) and auditory examples (e. have students make drawings. in other words. or singing. Teachers can enhance conceptual understanding by presenting the new information or concept several times in different ways. clarify concepts. Combine Storytelling with Multiple Examples of the Same Concept Give multiple examples of the same abstract concept. using maps. Make sure the study guide includes questions for key concepts. Stories and examples provide the associative context that will help the low achieving child remember the new information or concept.
” and “now the most important point. Make Students Aware that Not All Information is Equally Important Make children aware that certain points in your lecture are more important than other points in the lecture. that is. Give verbal cues to direct children to pay attention to the important information. point to the area on the page. and gestures. where you write on the chalkboard key words or phrases of the important points you are going to cover during the lesson. or explain a new concept. and watching the speaker’s facial expression. chalkboard.Reinforce the Auditory Information with Visual Stimulus Use visual support combined with your verbal instructions or lectures as much as possible. e. For example. Make children aware that watching the speaker’s face and paying attention to the speaker’s tone of voice will give clues to meaning.” You can begin your lesson with an advanced organizer. Explain to your students the importance of using visual cues to clarify the auditory information. Train children to watch and use visual cues to reinforce the information they hear. or chart where the relevant information is placed.” . “This information is important to know. body posture.g. Use verbal organizational cues such as “first. Students can improve their comprehension of material delivered orally by paying attention to the emotional impact of the speaker’s words.” “second. what the student must pay attention to. Train your students in using visual imaging of the verbal context introduced by drawing a mental picture of what they hear. presenting the new concept in a way that highlights what is especially pertinent. Explicitly distinguish the important information from what is less important. when you give directions.
The Psycho-Educational Teacher. . Her classroom background. and in teaching students with learning or behavior problems. Reyes.About the Author Carmen Y. She also has extensive graduate training in psychology (30+ credits). Carmen is the author of 60+ books and articles in child guidance and in alternative teaching techniques for low-achieving students. and educational diagnostician. has more than twenty years of experience as a self-contained special education teacher. Carmen has a bachelor’s degree in psychology (University of Puerto Rico) and a master’s degree in special education with a specialization in emotional disorders (Long Island University. Persuasive Discipline: Using Power Messages and Suggestions to Influence Children Toward Positive Behavior. from kindergarten to post secondary. Carmen is an expert in the application of behavior management strategies. Carmen has taught at all grade levels. in New York City and her native Puerto Rico. The Psycho-Educational Teacher. Brooklyn: NY). visit Carmen’s blog. resource room teacher. includes ten years teaching emotionally disturbed/behaviorally disordered children and four years teaching students with a learning disability or low cognitive functioning. You can read the complete collection of articles on Scribd or her blog. To download free the eGuide.
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