Saturday, September 18, 2021

When Things Get Tough, Blossom through a Flexible, Creative Mindset


In an overly difficult world we now live in, we need to move forward with empathy and understanding for each other, blooming with a flexible mindset. Tough times, like a pandemic, can overwhelm, even painfully gripping, the most devoted, talented parent/educator with student instructional demands that should reveal positive improvement outcomes.

Having taught many puppetry workshops in the Kansas City area, it became my open door to the creativity process. You might consider applying creative puppetry to your classes as a learning tool. There are many online examples and options.

Accessing your own talents is your open doorway to connecting with learners positively, happily, and reach self-actualization in the process. But, you might ask – how can I do this? It does take time and patience, but I can relate my unusual story, as an example of making worthy progress in bettering lives.

Creating and Realizing Your Inner Mindset

A mindset takes inner resolve of taking action through mental planning. Many teachers and parents feel they have enough to do with student/classroom management without trying to figure out new, creative activities, or wade through the best online applications for every subject. It simply is not their bag when their hands are full enough. There can be simply too many hourly demands. Now, you can decide to expand your mind to energize your own inner resolution that will give you endless hope joy, and peace of mind.

Jump Into Action Tips

1. Spring your own ideas from inspiring, moving, reading/media material.

2. Follow your own inner intuition, rather than including outside influences, to create your personalized mindset. Agreeing with others’ comments, opinions, or criticisms will affect your own creative process. Competing derails your own originality.

3. Use trial and error. Experiment, and then adjust as needed on following days. Have fun with different variations. Make it your own game plan.

4. Build and elevate. Subsequently, your creativity will build more and more, bit by bit, just like mine did into a crescendo, for a new, fluid, mindset.

How Did I Develop a Creative Mindset?     

As a first year teacher, I had a forward looking, enthusiastic, mindset graduating from college early, ready to teach, and create a positive, happy, day for eager learners. Taking a second grade position, with a wide variety of disabilities in my own generational background, I knew that I wanted to address each child independently with as much undivided time and attention as I could possibly muster. Subsequently, I soon had five individual reading groups at different levels for several years in the teaching profession.

For my student teaching practicums, I had understudied with an amazingly creative veteran first grade teacher who taught through poetry. Then, I also did practice teaching the following semester with a traditional, second grade veteran. I hated every minute of it, and decided then and there I would apply art and science methodologies that included music, drama, story- telling, and poetry that I was highly proficient in. The days would brighten. But, I was not certain how I would do it, as diverting from “old school” teaching methods was not the norm.

Accessing my music-speech-drama-science-literature studies background, I began designing special activities to encompass a large variety of learning levels and abilities. Nonetheless, I soon found myself with a school principal that welcomed creativity in a progressive school district. Students applied reading, spelling, language and math learning into writing poetry, songs and dramatic plays. This progressed to combining all subject matter into one dramatic musical episode for parents, teachers, and admin. Soon, I became recognized for giving end-of-semester auditorium performances.

As a family also enjoying books, poetry, music, and science, we soon created a charming puppet play with a home-made stage and hand puppets, for a summer church school event.

An enthusiastic church troupe formed, and we toured nursing homes, facilities for those with special needs, and offered public grade school musical events. Elderly, disabled, patrons often waited an hour in anticipation of our amusing “Teddy Bears’ Picnic” puppet show. 

Meeting a Wood-Carving Puppeteer Strapped in Performance History

While touring with the clever “The Teddy Bear’s Picnic”, I was asked if I had met the local puppeteer, Foy Brown, whose livelihood was a fireman who carved ventriloquist puppets in off moments. He had grown up with a father who traveled nationally to the New York stage, as an entertainer and wood carver at the turn of the 20th century.

Foy Brown lived near our high school.  Enchanted with this history, I purchased the first two puppets. Enjoying his ongoing carving process, I made another upcoming purchase, “Professor Do Little Higgins”.

Foy introduced me to another nationally recognized, vaudeville/Hollywood stage performer, Lucile Elmore, who sold Lily La Teur to me. This created the puppet ensemble necessary to create our “Voco Poco Puppets” advertising productions.

Foy’s and her enthusiasm had become contagious for my family of three children who wrote the scripts, created costumes, lighting, and set designs, as done earlier. We now had three large ventriloquist wooden puppets that sang and had silly, comeuppance story lines, accompanied by my 12-year old son playing the electric piano. Soon, we found ourselves as a big show stopper with advertising demands for the then trendy shopping malls and department stores, for every holiday imaginable.

We gathered large crowds of hundreds enjoying our unique ventriloquist puppets. Noticing that the puppets caught fixated attention, I began wondering if they might be good role models for my teaching with special needs children, as a learning disability teacher.

Lucile attended our productions and was enthralled with our family show.  I enjoyed her ventriloquism lessons with my ongoing vocal studies. When she passed away, I sat behind her attorney at her funeral. He was with a little ventriloquist wooden, Hollywood studio-made puppet, a red-haired, little boy, stage-named Butch O’Malley. Surprisingly, she had bequeathed me Butch, of her early Hollywood 1930s, stage show tours.

When the attorney presented Butch, he announced, “Lucille knew you would do something important with him, and would prevent his storage in a box lost in a museum (that did happen with many of the early puppeteer performers’ stage puppets, props). I was not only astounded, but deeply touched. 

My classroom teaching segwayed into research projects with small, homogonous, group instruction in a home studio. This created my own research and content development company, Mem-ExSpan, Inc. The cognitive skills research and practice work indicated that the lessons required filming for scalable, sustainable, expansion. The Voco Poco Puppets family team created the initial home-filmed lesson segments for test site application, decades ago. Updated filming became paramount, now a reality.

Thirteen national test sites were set up through research and low cost availability. In-depth individualized, standardized cognitive and academic assessments formed remarkably large data pools. This in-depth assessment, evaluations, and data analyses for a wide wage of ages and demographic groups explained the extraordinary, novel methodology. Participants were pleased as they obtained unusual, yet visibly apparent, assessment and outcome results in a short period of time at low cost. Thousands benefited and blossomed.

Throughout this endeavor, I remained in scholarly class work at the University of Kansas, a nearby campus.  Applied research in a variety of settings, was my noteworthy, enwrapped focus.  Testing company executives, the Educational Testing Service (ETS) in Princeton, NJ, and professors, doctoral students, from five different universities joined and worked on the pre-digital data outcomes. I wrote scientific articles that were submitted to journals, juried, published, and eventually received awards as landmark research having completed 5 longitudinal research reports.

This is my story, as to how a flexible mind set created inspirational, lasting, teaching methods, now completed. Never give up. Give it a try and see. What will your self- empowerment story be?

Monday, February 13, 2017

"Cracking Math and Science"

Why Students May Not Perform Well in Science and Math

Unfortunately, there is a reason learners may not progress in science and math as expected. Many do not have enough underlying memory capacity to learn the varied sequential information and then apply it logically.

Furthermore, assuming this, students are unable to understand and follow procedural instructions basic to conceptualizing mathematical and scientific information.

Why is this?

Numerical arithmetic is taught in grades one to three, and there is a major shift in the curriculum in grade four. Right-brain spatial numbers shift into left-brain sequencing with advanced concepts. National test scores show that math scores, including advanced concepts, drop off  beginning in grade four.

Understanding science requires not only doing simple experiments and reading scientific stories out of textbooks, but requires procedural, stepwise learning.

Procedural learning requires the mastery of learning step-wise procedures. Following directions is usually taught with simple question and answer digital question/answer assignments taught by animated characters that may speak and move too quickly for the necessary absorption needed.

Why do we fall behind other foreign countries -- how can these children encode-decode information while ours do not? Perhaps their students have more musical training and learn foreign languages that train auditory (listening) memory, critically needed for learning technical sequences.

What is missing?

Students may be unable to listen to complex instructions (teachers spend hours daily repeating directions continuously). Subsequently, students work in teams where one member does the application "thinking" and fills out the required responses on devices. Others work in small tutorial groups with simple assignments that can be below grade level work. These students may then "fall through the cracks" with their math instruction and output.

Every student processes information differently, with different learning styles and capacities. The missing link is teaching students how to encode and decode sequential information with "mental toughess training", and expand their visual and listening memories an underlying requirement for conceptualizing formulas and mathematical equations.

Yet, teachers do recognize each child's proficiency level in math and science. Unfortunately, completion demands may be placed upon students who naturally lack the necessary "brain-power" to sequence and code math and science instructions.

Yet, we need to understand and expand our technological capacities with performing students in science and math.

Parents can now help fill in this gap - the missing link. There soon will be more parent "how to" information readily accessible through digital learning. Applications will be pleasurable, scientifically tested, and learning will be fast.

The ability to encode/decode sequential information will be taught through specific, scientifically tested training regimens. It might be something for all of us to consider. Let's look to future, innovative possibilities to foster advanced learning in science and math.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

How To Be Your Child's Learning Advocate

What You Can Do Now To Save Headaches Later 

Keep your child enrolled in high school and on the right curriculum path that includes state guidelines. If college is not your aim, focus on obtaining fundamental work skills, so they can be self-supporting.

Focus on a college and/or trade school preparatory coursework in junior high school, especially in English, math, and science.

Follow your child's grade school math, reading, and language skills carefully. They will become the basis for more advanced learning in junior and senior high school, and college.

Grades at all school levels are often inflated, and this camouflage can fool you into false complacency. Future catastrophic career blocks may occur with a lack of performance and achievement in high school and college.

Watch for lost learning experiences that can impede high school, college and career success. Language and math courses are sequential and progressive.

Skills not mastered in the 3rd through 7th grades result in missing links in the student's progressive learning chain.

Differentiated Learning is the new trend. Ask if your child has been placed in an ability level class and which differentiated level he/she is in. Some ability groupings are positive ways of effective classroom instruction, as students are at the same learning pace. Once in middle school or junior high, students may be placed in English and math classes according to their demonstrated ability.

Preparing for a Higher Education or Job Placement

Those who decide to work at semi-skilled labor in industry need the mental abilities to follow sequences of procedures.

These jobs require that a person be able to read manuals, do mathematical calculations and remember details crucial to job success. Students should learn visual sequencing through support computer programs designed for this purpose.

Competency in language, reading, math, and science is essential for entering college curriculums or obtaining skilled jobs to become self-supporting.

Mastering these subject areas is crucial for those who desire gaining admittance to out-of-state or private schools. Many college fields require several hours of foreign language, science, and math. Often, they require a "B" average for admittance into a major field concentration. Therefore, these foundations must be mastered in earlier grades.

Many college-bound students arrive on campus functioning at junior high school levels in basics such as English and math.This creates a problem as college instruction is faster paced than high school and demands more independent work.Classes start at high functioning levels, leaving no time to "catch up".

As a result, when freshman students are required to take basic math or English courses that they should have mastered in high school, typically, more than 60% can receive a "C" average or lower. For example, remedial math courses in 4-year colleges have increased by 75%.

Remedial college classes are the most highly endowed by the federal government. Parents are then forced to pay extra years of college tuition, which can run $18,000 -$60,000. per year to learn the basic courses that should have been mastered in earlier grades at a lower cost, if any.

If You Don't Prepare Early: There Will be Strain on Both Students and Parents

The consequences of being poorly prepared and getting off to a poor start on the job or in college profoundly affect students and parents alike. Let's consider:

A poorly prepared student may be forced to drop out of high school or college. Plans and goals are reoriented to accept a lesser job or career working for a lower wage.

It is difficult to live on a low wage, which precipitates not only personal hardships but creates social dilemmas.

A struggling student may take a minimum college course load and require extra semesters of work to graduate, achieving only a modest grade point average.

If admittance is not obtained in a desired field, alternative fields must be considered. Often the easily accessible majors or career schools have saturated field entry in which job competition is fierce.

Some students take minimal course loads in order to ease study pressure, and many need five to six years to graduate. This extended luxury costs $18,000 to $60,000 per extra year in tuition costs alone.

Increasing numbers of young people in their 20s are living at home or under the parent umbrella. More parents than ever are subsidizing their young adult offspring, still hoping for miracles. Unfortunately, they request "study skills", search for costly tutoring programs, and the dilemma lies within personal information processing deficiencies. Tensions at home direct that the student reside in their own apartment, which is additional family cost.

Your Personal Involvement Checklist

Education will be a priority in our home. I will research online resources. Parent information portals exist, like our 501 c 3 nonprofit Innovative Learning Stratagems, Inc., and offer many low- cost, affordable directions for assistance.

I will observe my child's speaking, reading, handwriting, and spelling abilities, beginning at age six. If there is any difficulty, I will have him/her tested by a qualified professional. Add-itude magazine offers a free download Learning Disability checklist, and a form letter a parent can write requesting a referral for school special services assistance.  Free Download Learning Disability Checklist

I will carefully follow nationally standardized tests given by my school district, and will look at the percentiles and understand where my child fits into the total picture.

I will communicate with my child's teacher if I have questions.

I will meet with the guidance counselor to see which academic path my child has been placed.

I will review my child's cumulative folder for negative notations.

I will investigate whether my child qualifies to take higher levels of math, science, and English.

If I have any concerns about his educational progress with the basics, I will seek professional cognitive skills testing either by the school or by private professionals.

I am aware that in many cases grades can be inflated, and that my child may not be an A or B student as described by his teacher. Those who receive failing grades receive such for incomplete or missing assignments, not for how well they are completed.

I will make sure homework is not only monitored, but completed and turned in on time with the schools' dashboard of assignments.

I will monitor and limit TV viewing, the Internet, computer video games, and focus on applying quality reading materials.

I will visit my child's school at least twice a year, especially on Parent's Night plus other activities.

By observing and following these procedures, you will save yourself from having life-long financial support of your child and double the expenses spent along the way. These suggestions will make your life less hectic and stressful for all the members of your family.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Mastering Sequential Learning

Why Instruct Step-Wise Learning? Although the average person does not understand how sequencing memory works, parents and teachers are beginning to recognize the critical necessity for teaching visual and listening sequential memory as a separate supplemental instructional piece, as it is so integral to academic learning proficiency.

Now, students at all learning levels can be trained to optimum achievement levels with powerful learning solution outcomes.

Not only is serial learning critically fundamental to all technical and skilled trade operations, but it is at the root of all academic and athletic learning – reading, writing, spelling, mathematical equations, learning foreign languages, communicating through written composition, athletic plays, musical compositions, recipes, including operational procedures.

Every movement in your day is a series of orchestrated steps. The faster you can sequence, the more organized you are, and get more accomplished.

Creating adequate working memory resolves often unidentified learning problems. Schools have not overly taught memory organization as an independent course. Not only have there been few available programs, but they have not fit into traditional educational curricula as adaptive learning instruction.

For years, textbook companies did not have a niche for this type of training, and curriculum's absorbed this concept necessity within the routine teaching of math equations or reading comprehension exercises.

Technically speaking, step-wise learning is called visual and listening (auditory) sequential working memory training. Much research was conducted in the 1960s and 1970s in this arena, but few training programs existed, and even today, very few academic or professional programs teach sequencing and coding operations as auxiliary “How To” course.

Now, various supplemental academic learning options abound with digital, online learning, but the question is how to find as an academic companion, like a sequencing training program with evidenced validity. It becomes a question of sorting out options.

Online working memory courses offer teaching visual figural memory matching, and with few
sequencing operations (as in algebraic equations). Two-dimensional cartoon characters lead the way through rapid pacing activities, which actions may be difficult to follow. Video games develop fast visual processing speed, and leave operational logic devices up to the player. Serial operations, or step-wise learning, that instructs formal chunking and coding “How To’s” are not systematically taught.

Now that we have touch screens, we are relegated to visual figural, tactile learning, through tapping interfaces. We are not offered listening/auditory serial processing that is critical as a gateway into our technical world.

It should also be pointed out that any supplemental, accelerated training should not be considered “remedial”. Since listening and visual sequential memory creates conceptualization or the integration of information, parents should step forward to ensure that their youngsters have this necessary foundation to excel in academics at any level.

As a classroom teacher, recognizing the critical need, I researched and developed a training system to optimize fast sequential or operational learning. As the root of all technical operations, it had definite instructional merit.

As a result, my graduates have since risen to top administrative/executive/official levels with the ability to make fast and decisive decisions. Serial training is not only administratively beneficial, but it adds personal power, as it opens access to logic, reasoning, and problem solving, not to mention creating optimized school and workplace efficiency.

For example, recently, an electronics store’s sales clerk inadvertently gave me incorrect operational sequences, leaving out two steps, when programming a newly purchased television remote. Of course, the remote did not operate. Unabashed, I referenced the manual (which most of us are reluctant to do), and noticed that steps were verbally inaccurately transmitted to me. This results in a loss of time, not to  mention the ensuing frustration receiving inaccurate instructions.

To resolve these daily ineptitude issues, schools will emphasize the teaching of reading comprehension, or deep understanding and retention of classroom assignments. There will be alternative forms of practice recitation to create deep learning. Work process flow states will be introduced, and speed of careless input work will be deemphasized.

Professional educator development will be instrumental in learning these new training procedures and processes. The school culture will become one led to continuous personalized student improvement. Now students will move into secondary school levels optimizing their ability to follow directions, compute, read, write, and communicate effectively. All, of which, have the basis of serial learning.

Questions for consideration: Does your student listen, remember, and follow oral directions and/or procedures easily? Can they spell words correctly? Can they complete serial answers clearly? Are mathematical step-wise procedures easily understood and followed without missing steps? Technical operations will not operate correctly if a step is omitted, removed, or out of proper sequence.

Our nonprofit organization, Innovative Learning Stratagems, Inc. offers an information portal to ease parents’ search for applicable online resources. As a result, parents will become more involved and supervise online learning sessions at home, where their child is not lost in a classroom quantum of multiple, asynchronous activities. Students will have their school computerized dashboard transferred to homework assignments. Supplemental online supplemental help – will be utilized and applied at optimum levels.