Friday, January 28, 2022

The Different Learning Styles

 The Different Learning Styles

By Maura Baker


Everyone learns in a slightly different way. Some people retain information the best by reading about it, others while being told about it, and so on. These are often referred to as learning styles. Knowing which way you learn best can help you with many things in life, for example, knowing how you learn best can help you learn more and at a faster rate. If you have a learning difference, you might find it even more helpful to know what your learning styles are, and to use them to your advantage. There are many different learning styles, and below is a summary of each. 


Neil Fleming’s “VARK” Model

One of the most accepted explanations of learning stylse comes from Neil Fleming’s (an educator from New Zealand) “VARK” model. “VARK” stands for Visual, Aural, Reading/Writing and Kinesthetic learning. These identify the way in which most people learn best.


Visual Learning

Visual learning means learning via visuals. Visuals can be anything to images, graphs, etc. Being more of a visual learner means that you learn better when you can see what you’re trying to understand. For example, drawing pictures next to your vocab words might help you remember them better. 


Aural Learning

Being an aural learner means that you learn best through sounds and being told information. For instance, you might find it easier to remember your vocab words if you have someone read them and their definitions out loud to you, or by making up a song about them that helps you remember.


Reading/Writing Learning

Reading/writing learners are more likely to remember information if they read it to themselves, or write it out. For example, if you have a set of vocab cards you need to memorize, reading them and their definition and/or writing them down yourself can help you remember the words. 




Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learning is learning through movement, and it can also be like “hands on” learning. For an example, you might be able to remember those same vocab words better if you can come up with a movement (such as a dance move, facial expression, hand motion, etc) that makes you think of that word.


It’s important to remember that none of the learning styles are superior to any others; it’s simply whatever works for you! There’s also overlap between the learning styles, and you can definitely have more than one! To figure out what your learning style is, try a variety of strategies for things such as memorization to see what clicks the best.


Friday, November 19, 2021

Is Dyslexia a Blessing or a Curse?

 Is Dyslexia a Blessing or a Curse?

By Maura Baker

People talk about Dyslexia or having Dyslexia in many different ways. There is the argument that having Dyslexia is a huge disadvantage, especially in school, as it may take you longer to read/write/comprehend class material. There is also the argument that having Dyslexia is a huge advantage, as Dyslexic people often have many strengths and talents in many areas. But, which argument is right? Well, let’s look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being Dyslexic.

Advantages of Having Dyslexia

People who are Dyslexic often are very intelligent and see things through a big-picture lens. Many of them can see multiple perspectives at once, and can see beyond the formulaic elements of academics. Lots of Dyslexic people tend to be very curious and like exploring complex ideas.

Dyslexic people also find that they have talents in many creative areas. Many things fall into the creative categories; music, story telling and listening to stories, even sports and kinesthetic intelligence can bring out the creativity in people. In order for society to work and advance, it’s important for different people to be good at and like different things.

Despite many Dyslexic people having trouble with reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension, many Dyslexic people are actually great writers, speakers, leaders, etc. Dyslexic people are often persistent as a lot of the time, they do have to learn to self-advocate.

Disadvantages of Having Dyslexia

Whether we like to admit it or not, we live in an academic/school oriented society. Many people with Dyslexia do have trouble with school, especially reading, writing, spelling, and comprehension. This can cause many Dyslexi people to lose confiensent in their abilities, and it can make school hard and unenjoyable. Dyslexia can also make standardized tests harder too. Depending on if you plan on pursuing higher education or not, standzirared tests like the SAT or ACT can be important.

Dyslexia can make everyday life harder, as everyday you often have to read or write fast, which is hard for many people with Dyslexia (labels, street signs, etc).

Many people with Dexlia can also experience low self-esteem as a result of struggling with reading and writing. Additionally, many times Dyslexic people get made fun of or are talked down to for being Dyslexic, and it can be hard to find support.

 

So, what is the answer to the argument about Dyslexia? The answer is, that Dyslexia has both advantages and disadvantages, and it really comes down to what you make it.


Friday, November 5, 2021

Colleges with Good Accommodations for Learning Differences

 Colleges with Good Accommodations for Learning Differences

By Maura Baker


College is one of the many great ways to expand your education and gain insight about the world, but that also means that it will not be easy, especially in the adjustment period, for many people. Being a junior in high school myself, I have been thinking about college more than ever recently. Of course, being dyslexic is something that has impacted my education, even in my pre-college years. After doing some research, I decided to make a mini list of American colleges and universities that have a good reputation for giving assistance and accommodations to students with Dyslexia and other learning differences. So, here is my small list (in no particular order):


Fairleigh Dickenson

Fairleigh Dickenson has a good reputation for giving academic accommodations to students who have Dyslexia. They have many teacher training programs that train teachers in the Orton Gillingham Approach, which helps teach students with Dyslexia and other learning differences through explicit, phonetic and multisensory instruction (reading, writing and spelling). Additionally, on their website (www.fdu.edu), they offer a lot of resources and information about Dyslexia. 


University of Arizona

The University of Arizona has a program called the “Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques (SALT)” Center, which is all about helping students with learning differences succeed in school. The SALT Center provides students with a variety of resources, from tutoring to workshops. You can find out more on their website (www.arizona.edu).


Hofstra University 

Similar to the University of Arizona, Hofstra has a program called, “The Program for Academic Learning Skills (PALS)” to help support students with learning differences. As it says on their website (www.hofstra.edu), this program allows students with learning differences to be connected to and assigned a learning specialist to assist them during their educational experience at the university.


Adelphi University

Adelphi has a “Learning Resources Program”, which allows students to talk with experts to find out what services and accommodations would help them most to succeed in and out of an academic setting. According to their website (www.adelphi.edu), part of these services include finding support groups for students, as well as sessions with a learning specialist.



University of Connecticut

The University of Connecticut has a program called “The Beyond Access Program”, which allows students to meet with a strategy instructor, one or several times a week. These instructors can help students with learning differences develop the skills they need to succeed in college, as well as help with accommodations and self-advocacy. You can find more information about this on their website (www.uconn.edu). 


There are many, many things that can affect where you want to go to college, and access to accommodations may be one of them if you have a learning difference. It's important to remember that you should go to the college that will ultimately work best for you as an individual, because you will be the one studying there, and you should enjoy your time in college as much as you can!


Friday, October 22, 2021

The Importance of Extracurriculars

   The Importance of Extracurriculars 

By Maura Baker

Extracurricular activities are clubs and teams that students do outside of the classroom, such as playing sports, joining the school play or student council, or even volunteering. Participating in extracurriculars has many benefits, but if you have a learning difference and/or you find that academics are not really your cup of tea, then extracurriculars can be especially enjoyable.

For one, extracurriculars help students find new hobbies and interests. By being able to explore different clubs and sports, students can figure out more about their own likes and dislikes, and also expand on their skill set. Extracurriculars also relate to the theory of multiple intelligences, as some people find their strengths and smarts to be in areas practiced in these clubs and sports. For example, some people are more kinesthetically intelligent (e.g. soccer teams, basketball teams, dance teams, other sports and movement, etc) while others are more linguistically intelligent (e.g. writing clubs, debate teams, etc). While there are many types of intelligences and people are most often mixes of them, extracurriculars can help people tap into all forms of intelligence. 

Extracurriculars are often great socializing opportunities as well. Being able to interact with people who share interests can give students a sense of belonging and allow for students to create strong bonds with each other.

On a similar note, extracurriculars can also be a great source of education. Joining extracurriculars can teach leadership, teamwork and other life skills. People can also learn about the world around them from extracurriculars. For example, other cultures, literature, sciences, current issues, and so much more, depending on what the club is about.

Extracurriculars are often more rewarding than the actual school day for many people, so I definitely hope that people do have access to these types of activities, because they are extremely beneficial.


Friday, October 8, 2021

The Importance of Persistence

                              The Importance of Persistence

By Maura Baker


Life is full of changes through which you have to persist and not give up. This can be especially true if you have a learning difference. Things such as school and work may not come as easy to you, so you’ll have to work a little harder to finish your work and tasks. There are many situations in which you would need to be persistent, and here are just a few:

  • If you have a learning difference, you may need to be persistent when it comes to work and school. It may take you longer to learn content  and complete assignments, which means you might have to push yourself a little harder to learn.

  • Another thing you might find yourself needing  to be more persistent about is self-advocacy, especially when it comes to accommodations. If you explain to others that you need accommodations to be able to work to your fullest potential, they may not understand you, believe you, or take action at first mention. It’s important to advocate for yourself to make sure you get the help you need to succeed.

  • Something important to remember about persistence is that sometimes, you need to take a step away from it. Fighting (even if it is for yourself) too often and too hard can leave you burnt out. Make sure to often take steps back to reflect on the situations you are in so as to not overwhelm yourself.

Having a learning difference may mean you have to work a little harder than others to learn certain things, but it is important that you believe in yourself, and persist, even if it seems hard to get where you want to be (in life, career, etc).


Friday, September 24, 2021

Back to School Tips for People with Learning Differences

 Back to School Tips for People with Learning Differences

By Maura Baker


Back to school season is typically hard for most students, but it can feel especially daunting if you have a learning difference. Going back to school, it is important that you take steps to make not only the transition period easier, but also take steps to make the whole school year as great as possible. Here are a few tips for going back to school if you have a learning difference. 


  1. Get a Support System

Having a good support system can be essential for succeeding in school, especially when you have a learning difference. It is important that you have people you can go to when school work, extracurriculars, or social situations get to be too tough or stressful to handle on your own. 



  1. Manage Your Time and Plan Ahead

Time management is a good skill to have, but it can be especially helpful when you have a learning difference. Having a learning difference may mean it takes you longer to do work (such as worksheets, readings, etc) and you may need more breaks. This is why it is so important that you schedule time to work and schedule in necessary breaks. You can try using an agenda, planner, or any other method of time management that works for you. 



  1. Ask for Help When You Need It

Having a learning difference can mean you might have to work a little harder when it comes to school and academics. This is why it’s important that you get extra help if you need it. For example, if you are struggling in a class, it might be a good idea to ask your teacher to explain the content to you in a one-on-one setting after school, or you can ask a friend or family member to help explain class material to you. 



  1. Do Research On (And Speak Up About) Accommodations

If you have a learning difference, you might do well to ask for accommodations in school. Accommodations can be anything from extra time on assignments to having apps (or a designated person) to read texts for you. There are so many accommodations, so it is a good idea to do some research to find what type of accommodations would work best for you. Then, after you have done some research on your own, you can bring it up to your teachers. Accommodations are usually easy to get in school, but sometimes it can require testing for you to be eligible for them. Here is a good site for researching accommodations to get you started: Common Classroom Accommodations and Modifications | Understood - For learning and thinking differences.


These are just a few tricks to try to make school a bit easier, especially if you have a  learning difference. As the school year progresses, it is important that you take note of what is working for you personally, since everyone is different. Then, you can change and adapt to use strategies that fit your own individual needs. 


Friday, June 4, 2021

Creative Hobbies to Try Over the Summer

 Creative Hobbies to Try Over the Summer

By Maura Baker


With the summer coming up, many people (especially those who are in school) might be wondering what to do with their free time. There are many things you can do to pass the time over the summer, and picking up a new creative hobby can be a great thing to do, especially if you tend to be a smart and creative person, as so many people with learning differences are! Here are some ideas for hobbies to try this summer!


Nature Drawing/Writing

If you like to draw, or write, or both, either of these can be fun. All you have to do is draw or write something (like a poem) about something you see in nature, like flowers, trees, sand at the beach, etc.


Find Some New Hiking Spots

If you’re someone who likes to move around, going on a hike can be really fun. Try to go to a bunch of different hiking sights though, as changing the scenery up from time to time can make it even more fun!


Start a Little Garden

It can be a potted garden, or a garden in your yard. Either way, having plants around may brighten the mood, and it can be fun to have something to tend to everyday.


Get Into Arts and Crafts

Arts and crafts can be a lot of fun, and you can make many projects out of it. For example, tie-dying clothes, making cards, and making collages are cool arts and crafts projects to try!


Learn How to Cook Some New Dishes

The summer months bring lots of food and flavors. Learning how to cook some new dishes using the variety of summer fruits and vegetables (and even the grill, if you like that sort of thing) can be lots of fun.


These are just a few hobbies that might be fun to do over the summer. The most important part of finding a hobby is finding something that you like to do and where you can shine, so consider this mainly when finding a hobby.



The Different Learning Styles

  The Different Learning Styles By Maura Baker Everyone learns in a slightly different way. Some people retain information the best by...