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Topic Archives: Language, Speaking & Writing

Mindprint Exclusive: Ideas for Reluctant Writers

June 29, 2016

In today’s digital world, both in business and in our personal lives, we often communicate more through writing than through face-to-face contact. The ability to write clearly and effectively is considered to be one of the most important workforce skills. How we present ourselves in writing has a direct impact on how others form opinions of us. Although reading is an important aspect of developing good writing skills, the best way to improve writing will always be through writing. Writing is a complex process that involves the interplay of many skills. So if you have a reluctant writer, you first will want to rule out a specific problem that might be holding them back, like fine motor skills or difficulties with working memory… Read More

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Avoid the Summer Slide in Reading with Online Newspapers

April 24, 2015

By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff According to the nonprofit Reading is Fundamental, “Children who do not read over the summer lose more than two months of reading achievement.” And because reading loss is cumulative, the organization says that by the end of 6th grade, “children who lose reading skills over the summer will be 2 years behind their classmates.” So, what’s a busy family to do? One inexpensive, engaging and fun way to keep nonfiction reading comprehension skills sharp is to encourage children to start the day with a morning newspaper. A mature high school student may be just find reading the entire “A section” of The New York Times, but I’m not a fan of handing it over to… Read More

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Visual Motor Speed: When time matters

December 9, 2014

Visual motor speed can affect a student’s ability to take good notes, accurately complete hands-on project work, and test-taking speed, particularly those bubble sheets! While visual motor speed is not crucial to academic success, it can create problems if it goes unaddressed or unsupported. What is Visual Motor Speed? Visual motor speed refers to the ability to efficiently integrate eyes and hands to complete a task. Why is Visual Motor Speed important? Weaker visual motor skills can be frustrating. The student might know the material, but can’t write quickly enough to get his thoughts on paper. Or the teacher says she can’t read his handwriting and takes points off. Visual motor skills can affect efficient note taking, so students don’t have the notes they need when it’s… Read More

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Verbal Reasoning: The Key to Academic Success

December 9, 2014

Verbal reasoning is the skill most highly correlated with academic achievement in grades K-12. Nothing else comes close. If you want to help your students succeed in school, keep reading about verbal reasoning. What is Verbal Reasoning? Verbal reasoning is the ability to understand what you read or hear. It includes drawing conclusions from limited information and developing an understanding of how new ideas connect to what you already know. We use verbal reasoning in and out of school. Why is Verbal Reasoning so important? Most of in-school learning involves listening to the teacher or reading, skills that rely heavily on verbal reasoning. Following directions in kindergarten, learning to read, and reading to learn beyond third grade all depend on verbal reasoning.  As you might guess, verbal reasoning can be just… Read More

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Vocab Words only a Colonist Can Teach You

March 21, 2014

By Sarah Vander Schaaff We’ve recently returned to the twenty-first century having spent a few days hanging out with the settlers and revolutionaries of Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. My kids will be talking about the experience for days and years to come, and certainly testing out the new words they learned during our trip back in time. Take, for example, cannibalism. I’m sure our readers know the definition, but suffice it to say, my eight-year-old took a few seconds to process the term when she heard it for the first time moments after entering the visitor’s center in Jamestown. Our present weather woes look lovely compared to the  “starving winter” of 1609-1610, when the settlers in the first English colony… Read More

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Music for the Ride

September 18, 2013

By Sarah Vander Schaaff I am not sure if a song can inoculate a child from the bad feelings and dangers of being bullied, but if one could provide fortification, or resistance, then it might be “Bully, Bully” by Shine and the Moonbeams. The tune was recorded a few years ago, but it was just last week when it came on a kids’ radio station that my five and eight-year-old sat silent for a moment in the backseat. “Wow. What is this song?” we asked each other. A quick Google search at home gave us the answer. It’s the creation of New York singer and songwriter Shawana Kemp and guitarist John Heagle. “Bully, Bully” appears on their first album, released… Read More

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The Internships

June 4, 2013

By Sarah Vander Schaaff Of course, Vince Vaughn and I are often thinking about the same things. This week, for example, I planned on writing about internships, and sure enough, he beat me to it with a new movie called The Internship. Perhaps he was also driving in his minivan when he heard a story on Marketplace back in March that put the power of the internship in context. The Chronicle of Higher Education and Marketplace surveyed employers and found that internships were the most important thing considered when “evaluating a recent college graduate.” The Marketplace website quotes Dan Berrett, a senior reporter at the Chronicle, saying candidates’ internships were “…more important than where they went to college, the major… Read More

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Learn a Poem: Own Great Art

January 22, 2013

By Sarah Maraniss Vander Schaaff “To know a poem by heart is to own a great work of art forever.” That’s what England’s Education Secretary Michael Gove said last month when promoting his country’s new competition, “Poetry by Heart,” according to a story in England’s Telegraph. The country is investing a half million pounds in the program run by the Poetry Archive. We Americans aren’t eligible, but the site’s timeline and collection of poems is worth taking a look at, especially if your brain is abuzz with the un-poetic noise the rest of the internet sends our way. Poetry. Memorization. Are these words or art forms we give much thought to in 2013? It’s true the gadgets at our fingertips… Read More

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