Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Roanoke Children’s Theatre

Good news! The Roanoke Children’s Theatre has not only announced their plays for the season, they have also released their class times and dates for any child who wants to get involved!
  I spent four years in the drama department while I was in high school. Every student that participated in the Drama Club has learned something or has been creative on or off-stage at some point during any given production. It takes many people with many talents to put a play together and be successful.

 Here is how you get to use your strong and weak intelligences in a theatre company.
§  Verbal Intelligence: Most plays have some form of speaking, except for ballet. It’s not just practice for the actors either. The backstage hands have to know when to perform certain functions and you can only do that if you have read the script. Actually, the majority of the cast will end up memorizing most of the script from memory.
§  Logical Intelligence: This comes into play when building and designing the set. You have a certain amount of space, materials, and a budget to rely on.
§  Spatial Intelligence: In order to draw attention to the play, you have to give the audience eye candy. This is done in the decoration of the set, costumes, make-up, and actors movements on the stage.
§  Interpersonal Intelligence: A play does not do well unless everyone works together as a team! Many times, you are working with people that you don’t normally pal around with on a daily basis. This is good and will come in handy in the working world.
§  Intrapersonal Intelligence: When actors study and create their character, the person draws in emotions and feelings from their own experience and from watching other people. Many of our class activities involved improvisation and memory recall to create the character.
§  Musical Intelligence: This is obvious for musicals. However, music in ANY play can help create the mood and set the tone for the audience. If you listen to the dialogue during the play, you will notice that there is a musical quality to each person’s character voice.
§  Kinesthetic Intelligence: I have never seen anyone in the company sit still during productions. For actors, movement and conveyance to the audience is very high. The actor has to understand why they are moving and the motivations of the character.
§  Naturalist Intelligence: There is an order to which things are done. There is pre-production preparation, production, and post-production tear down. Since many schools are going green, the company has to watch how it disposes of materials and find ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Scene from Madeleine. 

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Art and Math: Driven to Abstraction?

  One of my favorite lithograph artists is Dutch artist M.C. Escher. He is well-known for his abstract three-dimensional artwork such as “Waterfall” pictured below.

  The funny thing is with Escher’s art is that it works mathematically. Don’t think so? Take a look at this link from Make:Online|Math Mondays.
  There is a link to the print of “Relativity” and can be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper. On the paper itself, are instructions that require mountain folding, valley folding, and strategic areas to cut. This is a good project for high school students after testing or a day or two before vacation. It will give them a different perspective on the math that they have learned from geometry.
I challenge my artistic friends to make their own cut and fold Escher! This project really gets you to think outside the box!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Understanding How You Learn

    Have you ever finished a class and wondered, did I really learn anything? As a Mathematics Major at Virginia Western Community College, I understand how difficult it can be to learn in the traditional classroom. Standardized tests do not tell you how you learn, only what you have mastered. For the past fifteen years, there continues to be a strong movement in education towards teaching to many types of learners. You may hear words teachers use such as “differentiation”, “multiple intelligences”, and so forth.
  The one test that is the most important towards understanding how you learn is based upon Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Multiple intelligence tests show educators what mode each student learns. There are eight categories in Gardner’s Theory, and each of us have varying degrees of intelligence in each category. Typically, one category outshines the others and this category is deemed as the way you learn. However, each category can be strengthened and re-evaluated as the individual’s interest’s shift during their lifetime. 

The eight categories are as follows: 

    Once you take the assessment, it will direct you to a results page that tells you how to use your intelligence to learn and what it takes for you to learn more easily. There is also a page on the site called “Practice”, which tells you how to strengthen your other intelligences.
  Remember, you do not always learn the same way a teacher will conduct the classroom. It is vastly important to your education to understand what makes you tick! Once you know what that is, use it to your best advantage in and out of the classroom.

  Update: There is a 9th intelligence called "Existentialist" but the test for this is still in development! 

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dyscalculia is as prevalent as Dyslexia

Note: Since this article was first written, I have successfully pre-diagnosed three people, with confirmed diagnosis by a psychiatrist, with dyscalculia. Working one-on-one with these students every day for a minimum of an hour is a must. My recommendation is that the dyscalculic student not take any other strenuous courses during the same semester that they take their math class. As a tutor, you have to have the patience of a saint for students that are diagnosed with dyscalculia because you will not understand why they don’t “get it.”

New research is showing that dyscalculia may be as prevalent among children at the same rate as dyslexia. Do you remember the kid in grade school who could not understand that 2+2 = 4? At some point we all struggle with Math, but when does it become a disability? Unfortunately, dyscalculia can be inherited and is noticeable as early as primary education. Many of the signs arise during counting exercises, organizing number patterns, and estimation problems.
Once the problem is diagnosed many teachers and parents do not have enough resources to deal with dyscalculia. Luckily, foraging around the web for activities and help is readily available. Most of the activities involve manipulatives and games. As the school aids the students with Individual Educational Plans, parents will have to work with their child to help them catch up. You will want to hire a tutor as a guide and cheerleader for your student. Positive and consistent reinforcement will go a long way in helping your child cope with dyscalculia!

Here is a list of websites and resources with activities and strategies for parents, teachers, and students.
  I am really in love with the last link since it does talk about Math Anxiety as well. There is a lot more resources and help available since dyscalculia became a formal learning disability. Let’s turn this disability into an ability!

Monday, April 8, 2013

Make the Most of Your Online Learning Experience

  Upon graduating high school, students who further their education realize, rather quickly, how different college is from anything that they have done before. With more freedom comes more responsibility. Even students who were serious learners in high school have issues with the transition. It takes time to get into a groove. I am attending a college where all of my learning is in a classroom simply due to their policy of experiential learning required in every class. When I was at community college, half of my classes were taken online. Except for my science and math classes, I prefer to have all my liberal arts courses done online. I think it can be a great success for the student, especially the transitional student. Here are a few reasons why:
  1. I am supporting myself and money is tight.
  2. I don't want to spend a full day in the classroom. 
  3. I have a crazy work schedule. 
  I learned quickly that I loved my online classes. Not only because I was spending less money in gas and time sitting in a classroom, I was able to work at my own pace. What?!?!? You can do that? Yes, I can. So can you. Here is how you can get the most out of online learning. 

  • Learn to be a self-starter! 
    • Fill up your Google calendar with important due dates and set up alerts, in advance. Preferably the day before the homework or Discussion Board assignment is due. For larger projects, set up an alert a few days to a week out to make sure that you have enough time to complete it. 
  • Schedule an "everything goes wrong" day. 
    • This is important. You have to allow time to mess up. This way you allowed yourself a day to scrap a project and start over or a day off when chaos ensues. Know which day of the week can do that to your schedule despite your best efforts.
  • E-mail the prof with questions as they arise.
    • Just because you and your teacher are miles away does not mean that they are not available to you. They will have online "office" hours where they can communicate through your school's system, via instant messaging, voice, or even video (if your computer is set up for it).
  • Schedule at least 15 minutes a day to review notes/readings.
    • This helps you get into a pattern of "studying". You know, something you probably did very little of in high school. It will help you transition back into the classroom when necessary.
  • Ask for outside resources.
    • Hrm, sounds like asking for more things to do? It's worth it. Some of the books you will have to buy for the class include practice tests and tutorials. Check them out along with any websites and any Youtube videos that could help. 
  These are the best suggestions I can give you. If you have a few you would like to share, please do! 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Origami Art

  How can you get students to learn about geometry without realizing it? Why not try an origami lesson plan! There are plenty of websites with instructions on this Japanese paper folding craft. Origami uses the mathematical concept of tessellations. The projects can be made from a single sheet of paper or as a group modular project. Plus, you can improve student fluency by discussing these patterns and folds using the terminology learned in class. Lessons can be made into simple elementary projects that concentrate on squares and triangles or advanced high school and college projects that are complex or involve curvature. Here are some extraordinary origami designs and a video on how to make a cuboctahedron.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Surviving the Job Market with a Liberal Arts Degree

The push for more colleges to turn out more graduates in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors has created somewhat of a push back from those in Liberal Arts and Business Majors. People are generally worried that our country will lose it’s cultural identity (think writing, history, music, art) to students who want to guarantee a place in the job market through STEM.
  I really believe that the worry is over exaggerated. Most of the students that attend school with me and major in STEM areas are very well-versed and well-rounded, academically speaking. Still, many liberal arts and business students have fears about taking STEM classes. I will list a few possibilities on why you should dual major or minor in a STEM program with your liberal arts or business degree. Here are the trends in the job market and what kind of classes will give you an edge:
§  Elementary Education. The biggest complaint with those who receive an elementary education certificate/degree is that they usually have a concentration in English or History. Why not have a concentration in Sciences or Math? These concentrations are highly valued as public schools push to reform how content is delivered. Biology and Chemistry based classes require a minimal Math level of Algebra II.
§  Green businesses. The growth in this field has been phenomenal with the realization of climate change impacts and a push for alternative energy, there could not be a better time to be in this exciting field. This is great for business majors who want an edge. Most of the classes you will need are Ecology based and require a minimal Math level of Algebra II.
§  Social Media Marketing. This is a great area to get into for the English majors. Companies want high level communicators to drive and develop their marketing strategies. Why not pick up a few Web Design classes as well?
§  Medical and Engineering Journalism. There is always a demand for technical writers. Especially writers with a heavy science background. Why? You have to be able to take highly technical material and make it easier for the rest of us to understand. If you want to write about medicine, take Biology classes and Medical Terminology. If you want to write about the latest and greatest in technology, a few technology based classes would not hurt. There is generally more Math involved but not as much as the standard engineering class. And you can save money by taking these classes through your community college.
§  Web Design. This is a good area for Art majors. People who major in Art have an eye for layout, color, and theme. It also allows them to be creative. All it would require are classes in JavaScript and other web-based programs.
§  Geology careers.  History majors would fare well in this area. Why not study the History of the Earth? Classes like Historical Geology and Physical Geology can round out a History degree. If you would like an Earth Science based background, you will have to take Calculus I and II. But how cool would it be to be able to call yourself a PaleoClimatologist? And guess what? You still have to write a lot, something you had to do in your sleep as a college History major.

 These are only a few career options that you can choose from. Why stick with meat and potatoes learning and step out of the box? You don’t have to major in STEM to fill some of the most important and much needed career openings available. Who knows? You may find a job that you really love!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Children with ADD/HD and medication

It does not surprise me how resistant parents are to using medication to help their ADD/HD child.I know there is a lot of worry about how the medication will affect their child. If you remember my post about ADHD as a neuro-developmental disorder it may help you realize that there are several forms of ADD/HD and different medications for each type. Here are a few more suggestions for coping before medication is necessary:

§  Make sure your home is a structured environment for you and your child. Everyone has to be organized. ADD/HD children function best when there are very few interruptions in their life. Organized and colorful bedroom, work study area, etc. Lead to increased productivity.
§  Limit the amount of preservatives in your child’s diet. Fast food and prepackaged food all contain high amounts of sugars and preservatives the aggravate ADD/HD! Keep the foods in your family’s diet as whole and natural as possible!
§  Allow your child breaks and allow for play. Many ADD/HD students are highly kinesthetic or creative. Make sure there are activities that they are involved in to help make school seem less stressful.
  A new study came out that involved the opinion of the kids taking the medications. It’s a very informative article and reinforces the blog link above. The correct diagnosis matters. Here are a few things to remember when you do decide to work with your doctor on the medication issue.
§  Keep a careful log of child’s behavior and grades. This helps the medical professional immensely towards a correct diagnosis. If you and your general practitioner have exhausted the medications or you are not happy with the results, ask for a recommendation for a neurologist that specializes in the area.
§  Talk to your child. I find it amazing how parents dictate and don’t talk to their kids! They are the ones going through it! Talk to them about how they feel! It is absolutely not their fault for what they are going through. You, the parent, are the support system!