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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Part 4 - second part!

Part four:
This week we look at handwriting, spelling, and taking notes.

Here's the assignment:
Create a blog with at least 8 entries to share resources and/or strategies with other educators, administrators, and/or parents. Be sure to include pictures, links, etc. in your blog. Make sure to describe how the resource or strategy might be useful to you and how it would impact VSLs.
Part two - spelling and taking notes.

Again, I'm so glad that I don't have to teach spelling!  Hats off to elementary teachers!

Dr. Silverman teaches how to learn to spell visually.  Now this is a complete mystery to me.  She talks about picturing the word in your mind, placing it in front of your head, closing your eyes and spelling the word backwards.  Strange.  Anyway, if it works for you, then great!

Most of us who know English are no doubt familiar with various spelling rules -- most of which seem to be broken fairly regularly.  (This is, in my opinion, great reason for learning German, French, Latin, Greek and a few other languages that are mostly phonetic.  Then you understand more of the history of our language and spelling makes more sense.)  Our author, Golon, also urges VSL learners to create pictures so that they will remember how to spell the words.  She advocates creating a story to go with the picture and including humor, different letter sizes, and color.  When students have created a mental image they can spell the word backwards.  Now, that's sort of cool - I guess.  I can't do it.  But what use is it?  For students who use a keyboard, she recommends typing the words in different fonts.  Each font should reflect somehow the meaning or feel of the words.  For example "elegance" would be typed in a distinctive, beautiful font.

Note taking
This is a skill students will need from Middle School through college.  In some form students need to learn to take notes.  I took notes, but the process of writing and listening seemed to usually get the material in my head.  I rarely went back and studied them until I was working on my PhD.

Here are some suggestions for helping VSL to take notes.
Doodle!  Contrary to being counterproductive, it actually helps you remember what you hear and see.  So claims Sunni Brown in a TED talk.  29% greater retention, she claims.  Doodling is effective because it helps engage the person in at least two learning modalities (visual, kinesthetic, auditory, tactile).  Sunni argues that doodling is especially necessary when information density is high and the need for its understanding is also high.  The main problem with doodling with younger children is that they don't know how to doodle and still pay attention.  Many of our students get lost in the doodle.  (The same thing happens with ipods, music online etc.  These items become distractions in and of themselves rather than aiding the student to relax.)

Golon claims that pictures are permanent ways of remembering things (how does she know?) and that VSL should be encouraged to take notes in pictures.  This is probably a good idea if they really do remember material that way and if they can keep up with the notes.  For me drawing pictures is time-consuming and tedious.  Is it better for VSL?  For those who can't draw fast enough she suggests taping lectures.  This would probably work well for older students, but I'm skeptical of taping for younger students.  In today's busy society who will find or make the time?  She also recommends a mixture of text and pictures, using abbreviations.  This is a good idea, if you are consistent with the abbreviations!  These websites have examples.  (an online course for $121!)

As part of the reading for this week, we are to read and interact with Dr. Silverman's article on the power of images.  (and take notes on it in pictures.  Oh dear!  That was hard and even my pictures ended up heavily text laden!)  While I understand that she is trying to help students who are more visual learn and correct the neglect that they have suffered, some of what she says is laughable.  She claims on page 1 that visual learning and society will usher in a golden age or near utopia.  Has she no idea of what the Nazis and Communists used?  Doesn't she realize that propaganda can be images as well as words?  What about pornography?  TV ads?  Images can be used, and will be used, and are used, as much for evil as words are.  That's the human condition.  She goes on to talk about how society demands more visual thinkers and fewer auditory and sequential learners and thinkers.  I disagree.  I want my doctors, dentists, rocket scientists, drug manufacturers, and bridge builders to be VERY sequential.  Airline pilots, too.  The idea of them building a structure based on intuition is scary.  And one of the first requirements of a job is SHOW UP ON TIME!  I find her arguments here to be very simplistic and lacking in documentation.  It's not an either/or situation.

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