Wednesday, May 29, 2013


Positive Feedback Positive Learning

Learning is best when it is positive. Even brain research indicates that when the brain is in a positive mood learning is more effective. Thus every student should receive positive feedback. Every paper, quiz, assignment or test should contain positive feedback. Even papers with an 'F' should have remarks such as "good try keep working hard", "I'm pleased you turned in a paper.", "You are brave for turning in a paper today."

It takes bravery to turn in a paper you know is not what it should be. Or worse if everyone is turning in a paper when you don't have one, you are filled with anxiety and dread. When you have tried hard, you turn in papers and assignments with a positive feeling and pride. Believe me as a dyslexic student, I know this from personal experience.

Positive comments encourage students to work and try harder. This is called positive reinforcement. The opposite negative reinforcement makes a student dislike learning and causes him to avoid doing assignments. The teachers we remember with good feelings were those who were positive and encouraged us to try hard and to do our best. They are teachers who said positive things and smiled a lot at us. They radiated warmth and kindness.

Brain research shows that positive feedback releases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a neural transmitter which helps nerves to communicate with each other. When dopamine is released by the nerves the student feels better and learning occurs much better as well. So positive feedback is a basic part of our ability to learn and remember new things. Thanks for reading my blog. :-)

Friday, May 24, 2013


Nexus 7 First Impressions

As most of you know I am an avid iPad user. For some time I have wanted to try an Android tablet. The other day a friend of mine came by and gave me a new Nexus 7 tablet.
Here are a few first impressions.

— For accessibility I've mostly used the speech output. The accessibility features are not as tightly integrated as on the iPad. For Android, accessibility seems to be an after thought, not an integral part of the experience..

— The Chrome browser supports a large adjustable font. So I can see most of the things that I want to read. Unfortunately Chrome does not support read aloud. I wish Android supported select-and-speak like the iPad. Such a feature would solve a lot of problems for me.

— I like the swipe keyboard. You don't have to be all that accurate for it to get your words correct. I have longed for a system-wide swipe keyboard for the iPad or iPhone. Do I hear jailbreak? I also like the back keyboard with white letter — so easy to see.

— I find the speech recognition to be very good. After some use I found that simply using the built-in microphone worked best. In fact the Nexus is my go-to device for dictation now.

— Writing is so very easy to do with the Nexus. I now do all my writing and note taking in Google Docs on the Nexus 7. The Google Drive app goes a long way in making that possible. Additionally this means my writing is now cross-platform and available to colleagues. 

— On occasion the built-in word prediction has saved me from spelling mistakes. 

— I have read some books using the Google Play Books app. The read-to-me mode uses the accessibility settings for speech output. I wish the settings for rate had more options. The normal speed is too slow and the fast is way too fast. More rate options would be very helpful.

— Unfortunately the Kindle app does not support read aloud.

— I like the Moon + Reader but it only supports DRM-free books that I can tell.

— I like the 7-inch form factor. A 7-inch tablet feels better for reading books. I just got an iPad mini. The iPad mini is definitely my go-to device for reading, since the read-aloud reading rates are much better. If I could solve the reading rate speech output problem on the Nexus 7, it would be a serious contender over my iPad mini.

Overall I am very impressed with the Nexus 7. If the accessibility was more integrated and the reading aloud was easier for me, I could switch from my iPad mini to the Nexus 7 as my main device. For people or students who don't need as many accessibility features as I do, I can highly recommend the Nexus 7.

Monday, May 20, 2013


The value of self selection in reading

II read a great article on the value of self choice when reading books. Unfortunately I'm not able to find that article at the moment. But the author: makes the point that when children and adults self-select their books they frequently run into a book that will change their life. I remember reading a book that changed my life.

After I graduated with my PhD I have a good friend who liked to read the philosophy of Ludwig Wittgenstein. I found these books too difficult to read myself. So my friend recommended that I should read the American philosopher Norman Malcolm. I read Norman Malcolm's book Thought and Knowledge.
In this book Malcolm sets out Wittgenstein’s argument that thought is not equivalent to brain activity. The sciencentific hypothesis that thought is merely generated by brain activity is called reductionism. Malcolm sets forth a very cogent argument that thought is independent of the brain. Malcolm argues that the reductionist argument is not philosophically sound and is circular logic.
This argument literally made me drop the book while I sat stunned.

As a trained psychologist I had decided that the reductionist hypothesis was the only reality for human thought and existence. With surprise I thought, "If thought existed out of the brain then human existence did not depend on our body alone."  This meant that I could entertain the hypothesis that thought could exist outside of the human body. In other words we as humans have something that is called the soul. This soul can exist beyond the physical body, since thought is not dependent upon the human body.

This then let me on a life long journey of reading scientific research about human consciousness and the possibilities of human existence beyond physical death.

I read scientific research. I wish to repeat that I read scientific research on the following topics telepathy, remote viewing, near-death experience, mental healing, reincarnation, the impact of the mind on physical processes and the impact of prayer on human affairs.

This life long reading has convinced me that thought is independent of the human brain. The brain is a switchboard or first responder between our extended mental capacities and the physical world. I am convinced that our consciousness or soul exist beyond bodily death. The scientific research is still inconclusive as to where our human consciousness goes after death. I prefer to think that the Hindu believe that there are thousands of heavens is a nice hypothesis to entertain. The Hindu believe is that the individual goes to the particular heaven which matches their personality. That is an intriguing hypothesis.

So as you can see simply reading one book can set you on a life long journey of learning and investigation. So I encourage you to read and I hope your reading will lead you to your life's journey.

Saturday, May 11, 2013


iPad Apps to help with language acquisition

Language Acquisition:

Pictures with Vocabulary
— U.S.A. Learns 1st English Course
(#1, #2, #3, #4)
— Oxford Picture Dictionary
— Dictionary for Children
— Flash Cards English
— ABA Flash Cards Animals
— ABA Flash Cards Food
— Kid's Picture Dictionary
— Action Words
— ABA Flash Cards Alphabet
— Speak English
— Little Reader 3 Letter Words
— iTranslate
— Pictello
— Photo Touch Farm Animals
— Comparative Adjectives

Word Building Phonemes and Sight Words
—  IntroToLetters
— Reading Raven
— Pocket Phonics
— Super Sight Words
— Sight Words by Photo Touch
— Ace Writer Dolch Sight Words
— Sight Words Learn to Read List
— Build a Word Express

Pronunciation help
— Merriam-Webster Dictionary
— Speak It!

Early Reading
— Word Wizard
— Rainbow Sentences
— Reading on Sight
— SuperReaders
— LearnToRead
— 2nd Grade Reading I Like Horses
— JumbledSentences
— SentenceMagic

Children's Story Apps
— Toy Story
— Cat in the Hat

Just for fun

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