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Represent, Act, Engage: How Universal Design for Learning Works

Peeked inside a typical classroom lately? If so, you're likely to see one teacher surrounded by an increasingly diverse group of students--each with unique learning needs. What's more, that 'typical' classroom is filled with students who are anything but typical. For one thing, there's really no such thing as an average student. Each class might contain students who struggle with reading or math, students who don't yet speak English, and students with disabilities. On the other end of the spectrum are the gifted students who may need more challenges to stay engaged. How on earth can one teacher meet the needs of all these diverse learners?
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Do Math Video Games Really Improve Mathematical Skills?

Math can be a frustrating challenge for some kids. Less so for most adults, generally because age and experience make math easier to comprehend. It’s not always so simple for kids. Each child has a unique learning style. Some children learn to add by counting on their fingers. Others may make up a song to help them with their times tables. The best teachers accommodate all learning styles. However, even when teachers use multiple strategies to teach basic addition and subtraction skills, it's sometimes hard to tell if kids are truly fluent in math facts. Flash forward to video games. They've been around a long time and are a huge hit with kids and teenagers. To many teachers (and parents), video games may seem like a complete waste of time. Because kids love them, they want to spend a lot of time playing--sometimes to the exclusion of other worthwhile activities. Enter game-based learning strategies, aka video-based math games. Educators may wonder if these, too, are a waste of time--or if they actually help kids learn. Current brain research seems to indicate the latter outcome.  A Case Study: Timez Attack Big Brainz is a case in point. Its designer, Ben Harrison, was tired of hearing his young daughter come home each day saying that she was "stupid." As she struggled with math, Ben knew there had to be a better way to give his daughter the math skills she needed to feel confident and successful.
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Use Story Maps for Better Reading Comprehension

Today, anyone who wants to read an article or a book can do so quickly. Most can search for reading materials at the click of a mouse or on library/classroom shelves. But even engaged readers sometimes face information overload. For example, young or beginning readers may have trouble remembering the important elements of a story. If you're a teacher, you understand this dilemma and likely use multiple resources to help your students understand what they read. A story map is just one resource that helps young learners with reading comprehension.
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