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Tools for Learning

Nov 01, 2019

by Holly Hammond, Teacher

According to the Universal Design for Learning (UDL), there are three primary neurological networks that impact learning:

  1. Multiple means of representation - Gives learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge.
  2. Multiple means of expression - Provides learners alternatives for demonstrating what they know.
  3. Multiple means of engagement - Taps into learners' interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increases motivation.

Keeping this in mind, teachers, families, and educators have a responsibility to provide students with multiple opportunities to learn. If we are lucky...it can be fun!  

The following are tools and games to provide students with additional practice in the classroom or at home.

For teachers of groups of students: Cooperative learning structures are a quick way to offer students a different way to express what they know. Kagan Cooperative Learning provides the following structures that can quickly be used. 

  • Quiz-Quiz-Trade: Each student has a notecard with information. Students walk around the room mingling until they meet with a partner. Both students quiz each other and celebrate, then trade cards and repeat the process with another student. This cooperative-learning technique has students review information with other students by asking and answering questions. Working with peers in a non-threatening manner builds confidence, encourages greater participation, and results in more thoughtful discussions. 
  • Rally-Coach: This structure provides students with an opportunity to coach their peers through problems and questions. Students are paired together: one is Partner A, and one is Partner B. The students solve problems or answer questions aloud in pairs. Students take turns solving one of their problems or questions aloud, so their partner coach can listen to their thinking and process. As Partner B listens, they check for accuracy, clarifies any misconceptions, and "coach" Partner A as needed. The students switch roles when the problem is correct. This strategy supports student collaboration, communication, and mastery in the classroom.

For parents of students: The following is a tool for multiplication and division facts. Students learn seven times faster with games! 

  • Students with language-based learning disabilities may struggle with fact retrieval. To gain fluency, they should practice fewer facts at one given time. Students can make a visual reference for a specific timetable by stringing colorful groups of beads on a shoestring. As the student chants, he/she moves the groups of beads across the shoe-string. “One group of 4 is 4. Two groups of 4 is 8,” as he/she moves the beads to the left. This helps the student see the accumulation of quantity. Using the same beads, students can divide and see visually the equal groups. (Marilyn Zecher, Instructor Multisensory Math 1 & 2, asdec.org).

Keeping your student(s) engaged in learning might seem like a difficult task. The trick is to beg, borrow, and steal! Search online or ask a veteran educator. There are so many creative minds in this world that can add excitement to whatever concept we wish our student(s) to master. Here’s to making learning fun!