Friday, February 27, 2009

Learning Skills 101 - Can You Spell Washington Backwards?

So far, we have been discussing what learning skills are and how they impact a student on a daily basis. If you recall, we stated that learning skills are the underlying mental skills formally known as attention, visual/auditory processing, memory, processing, word attack and auditory analysis. Most of our children experience these skills through reading, writing, spelling, paying attention, remembering, recalling and how quick we can respond to a request.

Over the last few weeks, we have been discussing the three types of attention. Selective, Sustained and Divided Attention, and Working Memory were seen as necessary cognitive skills for students. Without these cognitive skills as strengths, the student has great difficulty within the classroom and in his life.

Remember, we said that Working Memory works with attention to make it possible to process information that is given to us. Working memory is needed for math, reading, comprehension, test taking and follow directions.

This week, I would like for you to try two simple exercises that come from Dr. Ken Gibson's book,
Unlock the Einstein Inside: Applying New Brain Science to Wake Up the Smart In Your Child.

These following exercises will help you begin to understand how all of your cognitive (learning) skills work together to help you be successful in learning. First, as fast as you can, spell your first name out loud.
Let's examine the cognitive skills it took to complete this simple task. To do this, Input came as you read or heard the instructions, "Spell your first name out loud." As a part of Automatic Processing, you gave Attention to the request, held it in your Working Memory, and began to Process it. You then chose to respond to it. You made the internal, executive Decision that this was an easy request; one that you didn't really need to
think about, because you already had the answer stored in your Knowledge Bank. You drew the appropriate information (the spelling of your name) directly from your Knowledge Bank, and spoke it as Output without hesitation. This enabled you to handle this exercise quickly and easily because it was previously Known or familiar information.

Now try this: as fast as you can, spell the last name of the first American president backwards. Again, Automatic Processing enabled you to receive Input; you had to read or hear, attend to, process, and remember the request. But this time the answer wasn't automatic-instead, you made the internal, executive Decision that something about this request was New or unfamiliar. You needed to think about it using one or more of your Higher Thinking skills. You had to come up with a plan of action (using Logic and Reasoning). Your plan may have been to create a mental image (using Visual Processing) of the word "Washington." This may have required you to repeat the name a few times to hear the separate sounds (using Auditory Processing) and then retrieve the letter codes (using Long-Term Memory) that represents those individual sounds before creating the word image and calling out the letters (as Output). Using all these skills, you laid down an imprint in your Knowledge Bank. Repeating this activity a number of times would allow you to spell "Washington" more automatically and make the task of spelling other words backwards much easier.

So, how did you do overall? I want to leave it at that for this week and pick up more next week.

The good news is after a student works with the
Enhanced Learning Skills System, they will have strengthened all of their cognitive skills. ADHD symptoms, that are cognitive based, disappear to the point the teachers and family take notice. Recognize that there is hope and a solution. Call today for more information on your choices! Call me at (908) 285-8352.

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