All posts in Classroom Instruction

How to End Number Switching

How to End Number Switching (BayTreeBlog.com)

Talk to any kindergarten teacher, and she’ll tell you about her students who transpose numbers. Two-digit numbers puzzle many younger students. It’s not unusual to hear students confusing the numbers “13” and “31” or writing the number “14” as “41.”

This common mistake is sometimes called a transposition. When students transpose numbers, they write down all of the correct numbers, but they don’t put the numbers into the right sequence (place-value order).

Transposition errors often occur in two-digit numbers. For my students, the most commonly transposed numbers are the numbers 12-19. These mistakes with the teen numbers actually reveal the child has a good understanding of the spelling patterns for numbers and words. Mistakes with numbers greater than twenty may indicate that the child needs more place-value practice.

Today, I want to empower you with effective tools for addressing transposition errors. First, let’s figure out why students are confused.

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Reading Comprehension Round-Up: Top Educators Reveal Top Tools

Reading Comprehension Round-Up (BayTreeBlog.com)

Comprehension is the pinnacle of reading success and essential for academic achievement.

It’s also, arguably, one of the most difficult skills to teach.

When I started teaching, I knew how to teach exactly one reading strategy. As you can imagine, only teaching kids to visualize didn’t work real well. Before long, most of my students were disengaged. Behavior issues kept cropping up, and reading motivation kept going down. Students were frustrated by their lack of progress. I was frustrated with myself.

I wish I could tell you that everything changed overnight. Sorry, it took longer than that, and I began by doing something radical. I stopped taking on reading comprehension students when I started my educational therapy private practice. (What a privilege it is to work for yourself.) I spent a few years learning how to teach reading comprehension. I read research, attended conferences, and learned from seasoned educators. Then I was ready to start again.

Today, I relish teaching reading comprehension. The complexities of teaching reading comprehension remain. Now they feel like a challenge to be solved rather than an insurmountable problem.

Today, I’m sharing the materials that I wish I’d known about when I first started teaching. These are the books and strategies that have made the biggest difference for my students. I hope you’ll find them as valuable as I have.

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Classroom Secrets for Kids with LD

Classroom Secrets: Simple Strategies Equal Big Breakthroughs for Students with LD (BayTreeBlog.com)

You know those great teachers? The ones that a child remembers for life? I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of these virtuosic educators.

Westy Litz is a fourth grade teacher. A graduate of University of Mary Washington, she holds a Masters of Science in Elementary Education. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys being active outdoors and traveling.

Westy Litz is a fourth grade teacher. A graduate of University of Mary Washington, she holds a Masters of Science in Elementary Education. When she’s not teaching, she enjoys being active outdoors and traveling.

Westy Litz is one of those teachers. In her fourth grade classroom, I’ve seen children with dyslexia, dysgraphia, and ADHD flourish. I’ve always wondered, “How does she do it?”

Over the summer, we met up for coffee, so we could figure out how she structures her classroom, connects with students, plans lessons, and collaborates with parents. This is a must read for teachers and parents.

Join us in conversation!

Over the years, I’ve provided educational therapy to students with dyslexia in your class. They always tell me that you “get” them. They love being in your class because they feel successful, safe, and valued.

It’s clear that you’re open to meeting the needs of students with LD in your class. How did you develop this perspective?

Before I moved to California I taught in an inclusive first grade classroom where about half of the students had an Individualized Education Program (IEP). I co-taught with a special education teacher who’d been teaching for about fifteen years. I didn’t realize how lucky I was. She was incredible and she helped me build a toolbox of strategies for working with every learner. Mostly, teaching there taught me how to have an open mind and think more flexibly. I learned dozens of different ways to adapt my teaching.

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How Phonological Awareness Can Transform Struggling Learners Into Successful Readers With Dr. C. Melanie Schuele (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 5)

Teach Phonological Awareness Like The Experts With Dr. C. Melanie Schuele (BayTreeBlog. com)

Are you looking for teaching methods that will transform struggling learners into successful readers and spellers?

Dr. C. Melanie Schuele

Dr. C. Melanie Schuele

I am delighted to feature Dr. C. Melanie Schuele on the Exceptional Educator podcast. She’s a speech-language pathologist, researcher, and associate professor at Vanderbilt University. Today, she shares with us how to supercharge student reading and spelling skills with explicit phonological awareness instruction.

Melanie shows you how to extract the most out of every moment of your phonological awareness instruction. She provides step-by-step directions on how to scaffold instruction. With the right modeling, prompting, and guiding, you can effectively meet the needs of children with different ability levels.

We also talk about the value of mistakes. They give us insights into how a child is processing phonological information. By thinking about why a child makes a mistake, we can respond in a way that guides the child towards greater accuracy, and more importantly, enduring mastery.

In one of my favorite parts of the interview, Melanie shares stories about how the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program was created. One of the reasons I wanted to feature Melanie on the podcast is that she recently co-authored the Intensive Phonological Awareness Program. I’ve been using this program since it came out last summer, and I can’t recommend it enough. Because it walks the reader through every step of providing phonological awareness intervention, it can be used by educators, parents, and even para-professionals.

Listen to this episode, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or stream the episode below:

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The Hidden Reason Why Some Kids Can’t Follow Your Directions

Unlocking Multi-Step Directions with Dr. Leilani Sáez (BayTreeBlog.com)

Preface by Anne-Marie

I’m delighted to introduce you to Dr. Leilani Sáez. An educational researcher and former classroom teacher, Dr. Sáez knows how tough it can be to reach kids with working memory weaknesses.

Leilani Sáez - headshot

Leilani Sáez is an educational psychologist currently working as a research associate at Behavioral Research & Teaching (BRT), a research center at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on the early identification of learning difficulties, and the development and use of assessments designed to guide instruction and learning. In particular, she is interested in clarifying how working memory processing impacts learning. Dr. Sáez has 20 years of experience in school settings, including as a teacher of students with learning disabilities, as a university learning specialist, and a preK-12 researcher. She presents her work at national conferences and writes research articles and book chapters about reading, working memory, learning disabilities, and measurement.

You’re in for a treat today as she demystifies one of the most common challenges educators and parents face – helping kids to follow multi-step directions.

My favorite part? Her powerful and practical three-step toolkit for supporting children.

Please enjoy!

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Enter Leilani

Have you ever wondered why your student or child doesn’t follow directions well?

Although it may seem as if everyone should be able to follow directions, many children and adults with learning difficulties silently struggle to follow more than one step.

Have you ever seen a blank stare or frozen hesitation from a student after delivering a set of directions? As a parent or teacher, you may have questioned whether you were being understood. But perhaps you didn’t give much thought to the mental complexity involved in your request.

Multi-step directions are cognitively demanding, and their successful completion requires the use of a particular process called working memory. Of course there are other prerequisites (like motivation), but that’s another blog post entirely. In this article, we’ll focus on the role of working memory because it is crucial for completing day-to-day tasks and frequently goes unnoticed. Let me explain.

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The Zen of Behavior Management with Dr. Alexis Filippini (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 4)

The Zen of Behavior Management with Dr. Alexis Filippini (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 4) BayTreeBlog.com

Imagine a teacher just a few days into the school year, when BAM! Trouble.

Kids blurt out constantly. They don’t stay in their seats. No one follows directions. This once enthusiastic educator walks into work feeling more discouraged and unsupported every day. Her students’ engagement and motivation take a nose dive.

Sound familiar?

Classroom management problems can be more than a headache. For tens of thousands of teachers, these everyday frustrations erode the desire to teach. Disruptive behavior from just a few students can negatively affect learning for an entire class.

Dr. Alexis Filippini

Today Dr. Alexis Filippini shares her expertise on how to turn around everyday classroom challenges. She shares research-based approaches that support effective teaching, boost student achievement, and create a positive school climate.

Dr. Filippini distills decades of research into easily actionable strategies. Her recommendations are effective in the classroom, small group, or one-on-one setting. She shares the art and science of how to create a calm, organized learning environment.

Listen to this episode, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or stream the episode below:

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The Science of Spelling with Pete Bowers, PhD (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 3)

The Science of Spelling with Pete Bowers, PhD (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 3) (BayTreeBlog.com)

Have you ever heard a teacher say, “Just sound out the word,” to a struggling young speller?

Or maybe you’ve said those words to a student yourself?

This simple strategy frequently backfires, especially for kids with dyslexia. Why do students end up spelling words like “jumpt,” or “advenchur”?

In this episode, Dr. Pete Bowers reveals why “sounding it out” isn’t enough. He demonstrates how sound-symbol correspondence is a key principle in literacy instruction, but often we miss crucial components of our writing system: orthography and morphology. What’s more, research shows that this type of instruction is most powerful for struggling learners.

Using Pete’s methods, teachers can revolutionize spelling instruction into a dynamic opportunity to foster logical thinking, vocabulary development, and deepen literacy skills.

Pete Bowers

Dr. Pete Bowers

Pete Bowers is the founder of the WordWorks Literacy Center in Ontario, Canada. In his career, he’s worked as an elementary classroom teacher, researcher, writer, and worldwide presenter. He’s a sought-after speaker in North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia.

This summer, I had the pleasure of attending a conference Pete presented here in California, and it transformed my understanding of spelling and inspired my teaching. I know you guys are gonna love this one!

Listen to this episode, subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher, or stream the episode below:

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How to Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn, with Diana Kennedy (The Exceptional Educator, Ep. 2)

How To Teach Students Who Are Too [Insert Emotion] to Learn (BayTreeBlog.com)

For a moment, I considered titling this episode, “How To Be A Cool Cucumber When Your Students Are Angry Apples.”

Too much fruit.

I don’t know about you, but remaining calm when a student is in pain is one of the most challenging parts of being an effective educator. And forget about actually teaching when a student goes nuclear.

Diana Kennedy

Diana Kennedy

To help us manage these common difficulties, I’d like to introduce you to my friend and colleague, Diana Kennedy. Diana is a fellow educational therapist who runs a thriving private practice in Marin County, California. She’s compassionate and playful, and one of the best educational therapists I know.

Listen to this episode and subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher or stream the episode below:

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Do You Make These 3 Mistakes Teaching Phonemic Awareness?

3 Mistakes You Could Be Making With Phonemic Awareness (BayTreeBlog.com)

You know that nagging voice inside your head? The one that says that you’re missing something BIG?

“What’s wrong with my teaching?” it says. “Why can’t my students do something as simple as blending together three sounds?”

The little worries keep piling up. Most of your students are doing fine. But that little voice reminds you that things are not working for all of your students.

“Well, those students aren’t trying as hard. They’re just distracted,” you say.

“What if it has nothing to do with your students?” the voice replies.

What if it really is you? What if that little voice is telling the truth?

We’ve all been there, and THAT’S the truth.

I know I have.

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37 Ways to Help Students with Dyslexia Flourish in the Mainstream Classroom

Classroom Tips for Teaching Students With Dyslexia (BayTreeBlog.com)

As promised, here is guest post number two!

I feel honored to be featured on Rachel Lynette’s popular blog, Minds In Bloom. I’ve included the introduction to the article below. You’ll find my 37 tips over at Minds In Bloom (link below). Please enjoy and share with a friend if you’re moved to do so!

37 Ways to Help Students with Dyslexia Flourish in the Mainstream Classroom

You work so hard. You’re dynamite with your students. You spend hours preparing your classroom activities. And yet, your hard work isn’t paying off for all of your students.

You’re not alone.

Most classroom teachers have a small handful of students who misspell words, struggle to memorize math facts, or hate to read out loud. Sound familiar?

Chances are good that some of these students have dyslexia.

Dyslexia is a loaded word.

There are lots of misconceptions and misunderstandings about this condition. Maybe you’ve heard a few of these myths?

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Teaching Tools for Educational Specialists