Monthly Archives: August 2013

Technology – the changing face of education

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXV-yaFmQNk

A Magazine is not an iPad!

How fast things change. I bought a used Mercedes Benz in 1993 that came with a phone. This seemed like a bonus since I’d never thought to have what was then called a hand-held, portable cellular phone.  This one was built into the console and was roughly the size of a brick, so it wasn’t the portable variety. It was attached to the huge box by a three-foot cord; just long enough to feel opulent while driving down the road. I never paid for service. $199 for the plan plus an extra 59 cents a minute and 20% taxes was a ridicules fee.  Another caveat – there had to actually be one of the sparsely located cellular service towers in the area or it was nothing more than a box that left no room to hold a Tab.

My, my, my….how far we have come.

Now, often for free, we can talk, Skype, Viber or text people around the world or someone in another room of the house. If we are in danger on the road, instead of having to look for someone to help us, we can run from our burning car, with our credit card phone in our hand and get immediate help.

So what about the changes technology has brought to education? These new ideas can provide an amazing opportunity for a child to reach beyond the experience and knowledge of their teacher. Why limit that? Education as we currently know it in traditional schools will reach a tipping point, according to Stephen Harris of Connect Principals, in his January 2013 article. He believes that the current school model with exhaust itself sometime in the next decade. He asks, “Why would a child attend school in a traditional way if better ways to educate a child emerge?

Our children will interact with technology in ways that are not yet mainstream. Voice activated writing, touch screen technology, spreading from being fixed installations to multi-surfaced & pervasive…this will be their world.”

Just as we cannot envision our world today without our mobile devices to do our banking, travel plans, to entertain us, to gives us pictures of a world we have never seen, our children will not remember a childhood of learning or exploring solely through books or paper delivery.  Our children already seem to be born with innate touch-screen skills.

Mobile learning is the future. We need to embrace it.

Say What?

ear bigger icon

Auditory discrimination refers to the brain’s ability to organize and make sense of language sounds. Children who have difficulties with this might have trouble understanding and developing language skills because their brains either misinterpret language sounds, or process them too slowly. Words like “whale,” “wheel” and “while” can sound exactly the same. “Fill,” fell,” and “feel” are not heard as being different. Children then are hampered in reading and spelling these close-sounding words.

Children with auditory discrimination delays often fall behind in school, because they lack the phonological awareness needed to make relationships between sounds and the symbols that represent them.

Imagine writing the sentence, “Jim fill into the hole whale walking home.”

Or sounding out the sentence, “Fill the pail with water from the wheel,” but the child reads out loud, “Feel the pell with water from the whale.”

Several of the games in UCanConnect addresses auditory discrimination improvement. Squared Away is an auditory matching game that forces the child to listen closely to similar sounding words, eg. (‘tile, while, wool, tail, tall, wall,’ or ‘nest, best, mess, less, west, guess,’ and then find the exact match. Below the game board, a jungle picture emerges, encouraging the child to complete the puzzle.

If this skill is delayed, reading 20 minutes a day will not improve it. Auditory discrimination has to be trained. Check out the free trials on www.ucanconnect.org to see all of the processing areas that are improved in just 35 minutes a day!

 

Bridging the gap in reading

 

bridge_101144

Bridging the gap in reading

Our marketing team recently showed a reading specialist of 20 years the UCanConnect Reading program, and she got very excited. “These are the exact activities we have always needed in our toolbox to help students master reading, especially since they can be done at home.”  She went on to say that it is essential that children increase their visual and auditory processing skills in order to improve reading fluency, sight word recognition and phonological awareness.

She needed to be peeled away from the games. “These are so much fun!” She added, “And the low price is something every family can afford, especially when you look at the cost of outside tutoring.”

The UCanConnect Reading Program was developed to address the findings of current literacy research, for example, studies from Expert Perspectives on Interventions for Reading, published by the International Dyslexia Association, 2012, and The International Handbook of Research in Children’s Literacy, May 2013, Wiley-Blackerll.

Current findings state:

  •     Poor word-recognition skill is a main factor in limited reading comprehension.

—-> UCanConnect exposes the reader to over 2000 sight words at each level, both through the visual and auditory modalities.

  •     Children with reading weaknesses cannot be treated alike. Instruction needs to be intensive, structured, but dynamic, and must address all the learning processes involved in reading.

—-> UCanConnect works on 12 areas of visual and auditory processing skills, gradually increasing the difficulty as the child progresses through 4 tiers of difficulty in each game.

  •     The home is the smallest school. Reading problems in a classroom can be minimized when parents become a part of the reading team.

—–>  UCanConnect is web-base and takes approximately 30-35 minutes to play. Whether the practice is 3 or 5 times a week, this intensive, yet minimal amount of time, fits into the home’s time-crunched schedule.

Some scary facts on literacy!

lady  scared face

Some scary facts about literacy in America:

  • Two-thirds of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will never catch up. Most will end up in jail or on welfare. Over 70 percent of America’s inmates cannot read above a 4th grade level.
  • 1 in 4 children in America grow up without learning how to read.
  • As of 2011, America was the only well-developed country where the current generation was not as well educated than their parents.
  • Literacy is a learned skill. Illiteracy is passed down from parents who can neither read nor write.
  • 53 percent of 4th graders admitted to reading recreationally “almost every day,” while only 20 percent of 8th graders could say the same. (2009 study)
  • Reading at school is critical, but increasing reading skills outside of school is essential to fostering school success. Research indicates that without outside practice, students lose reading skills. 55% of children do not engage in programs that can enhance their processing and reading ability. The main reasons stated for not seeking these alternative programs were the cost of outside help, the time it takes to attend these programs and the child’s lack of motivation because the programs were seen as “boring.”

U CAN CONNECT Reading program: it’s web-based, has a low monthly cost for daily access to the dynamically changing programs, and it fits into your family’s busy time schedule!

Skills we needs before we read…

3236872358

Question: Why did we a build a reading program that put a strong emphasis on visual processing skills?

Answer: Visual processing skills are the fundamental skills needed to become a proficient reader. In learning centers and schools across the world, visual processing tests are administered to determine a child’s abilities, yet there were no structured programs that helped train a child if the scores turned out to be low.

Voila! U CAN CONNECT was born!

Unfortunately children don’t begin reading by instantly decoding sounds and acquiring sight vocabulary.  They move through predictable phases of recognizing letters, recalling their sounds, and then understanding that when the sounds are blended together, these are words. Words carry meaning and when combined into sentences, a story is build.

But, there are other areas that silently play into being a good reader – visual processing skills that we take for granted because they just seem to happen for most of us.

There are many visual processing skills that affect reading and all of the learning situations.

Visual Discrimination uses the sense of sight to notice and compare the features of different items to distinguish one item from another as in letters and then words in a sentence. Children with poor visual discrimination have a hard time seeing the difference between two similar letters, shapes or objects. This affects the speed to learn new words and spelling skills.

Visual processing speed is the ability to recognize numbers, letters and words quickly, an important factor in good reading fluency. Research shows that children with high visual processing speeds are faster readers than children with low processing speeds.

Visual sequential memory ability is the ability to determine or remember the order of symbols, words, or objects.  This skill is particularly important for spelling.  A child who struggles with visual sequencing may leave out, add or switch around letters within words.  Recognizing and remembering patterns may also prove difficult.

Visual memory means that students must be able to look at a word, form an image of that word in their minds, and be able to recall the appearance of the word later. Once the word is erased or out of sight, students with good visual memory will recognize that same word later in their readers or other texts and will be able to recall the appearance of the word to spell it.

Visual closure is the ability to visualize a complete whole when given incomplete information or a partial picture. This skill helps children read and comprehend quickly. Children with poor visual closure also may have difficulty completing a thought or making an accurate judgment from partial information. In reading, they may confuse similar objects or words, especially words with close beginning or endings. This skill is an essential skill for fluency and speed in reading and spelling.

And that’s why we decided to build a visual and auditory processing reading program!

 

 

Official Launch of UCanConnect!

ipad-ucc

It’s here!

As the summer ends, now is the time to get your child ready for the school year.  Designed to fit into busy schedules, UCanConnect can be played on any mobile device, tablet or desktop computer!

With dynamically alternating games and exciting reward activities, your child won’t even realize that they’re learning. UCanConnect can help your child develop the skills they need to be better readers.

Click here to login and start improving your child’s processing!