Friday, March 27, 2009

All 3 Eye Can Too! Read books are available as of this week

Just in time for the St. Louis Home School Expo this weekend, the Green Book of the Eye Can Too! Read book series by Lesley Barker, became available from the publisher. This book provides a set of academic activities for home schoolers (and others) which also gives students practice using their visual perceptual skills. There are several different visual perceptual skills that are important to efficient learning: visual discrimination, visual memory, visual form constancy, visual figure ground, visual spatial relations, visual sequential memory, and visual closure. The book introduces you to each skill, how it is used to process visual information, and how to promote your student's visual perceptual development. There are standardized tests that can assess an individuals visual perceptual development given by developmental optometrists, educational psychologists, and neurologists. Even without a diagnosed visual perceptual developmental delay, this book will give parents and educators a tool to use to identify and improve areas where a student may be struggling. Besides, everyone's visual perceptual skills can improve with the experiences in this book. The three Eye Can Too! Read books are available in their prefered format: a PDF download, or as a printed text from the publisher, Home School Incorporated. You are welcome to browse the sample pages at the publisher's website or, if you are in St. Louis, visit the Center For Vision & Learning booth at the Home School Expo tomorrow between 9-5 at the First Evangelical Free Church on Carmen Road in Manchester. We'll also be doing a workshop at 10:30 and a clinic at 3.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Shameless Self-Promotion: I'll Be at the St. Louis Expo This Weekend

If you're in the St. Louis area, I'll be at the St. Louis Expo from Thursday afternoon until Saturday at 5PM. I designed the booth for the Center For Vision & Learning to have plenty of interactivity for students. I'll have copies of the Eye Can Too! Read series of 3 books - the third book will be out this week. Nicknamed "The Green Book," it provides activities for K-8th graders that require various visual perceptual skills. The second book, "The Yellow Book," is filled with activities using laterality & directionality; and the first book, "The Purple Book," gives students practice using their ocular motility skills. Each book will help a student improve their learning-related visual skills, which, in turn, should help them to make better academic progress. One of the most valuable tools in the books is the set of observation questions to help parents and teachers make sense out of how a student performs an activity. Of course, my message always includes the wisdom of having each child get an annual eye exam by a developmental optometrist who is experienced working with children and who is open to vision therapy as a part of their practice. So, if you are in St. Louis and can get to the First Evangelical Free Church on Carmen Road this weekend, find me. I'll be speaking with Dr. Cheryl Davidson at 10:30 on Saturday morning and then I'll facilitate a session at 3 PM Saturday where participants can ask questions which I'll try to address. The Expo is free on Thursday and there is an admission charged on Friday and Saturday. Find out more about the Expo at At the Expo, I'll also have a coupon code which you can use on the Home-School-Inc website to save money when you purchase any of my books before Monday, March 30. I'm looking forward to meeting you there.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Incomplete Math Worksheets May Indicate Learning-Related Visual Issues

Many elementary school math worksheets and tests contain a single sheet of problems arranged in rows and columns. It makes sense. More problems fit on the same page so you save paper. The problems can be solved by working directly on the sheet showing their carries and borrows so that the teacher can easily see if the student knows the concepts and if they deserve partial credit if they got the answer wrong.

But, students whose learning-related visual skills are challenged by ocular motility deficits of either their saccadic or pursuits eye movements may have a very difficult time completing the assignment. Since these students have not yet developed adequate automatic control of their eye muscles (there are six muscles connected to each eye), they may not be able to hold a visual fixation on a single math problem long enough to find it in the first place. So, the paper they turn in may look like a piece of Swiss cheese because so many problems are left undone. In addition, for the same visual reason, these students may start to answer one problem, look away for a second (perhaps to look up while thinking or trying to remember the math fact) and be unable to find the problem again. So the answer to one problem may be written on a different problem nearby.

So, after attacking all the problems (not really) that they perceive, the students assume that they have completed the work and hand it in. "You didn't do all the problems," says the teacher (probably for the 50 thousand time since the year started), surprising and frustrating the student who really really tried. "Go back and finish the paper." A few minutes later, the student returns, again thinking that the whole assignment is done. A few more problems may be, but there are still many left undone, leaving "holes" on the worksheet. Yet, if the teacher points to a problem while the student completes it, or assesses the students' learning another way, these students may be able to show mastery of the mathematical skills that the worksheet was meant to assess.

It isn't that they do not understand how to solve the arithmetic. It could be that they have deficits of their eye movements. They probably are the same students who lose their place when reading, skip little words, and find paper and pencil tasks laborious, frustrating, and terribly time consuming. But, they are obviously intelligent, articulate, and engaged when the learning is delivered and assessed without a need for reading and writing.

These students do not have to spend 12 years of their lives being frustrated and feeling a sense of failure. Recommend that they see a developmental optometrist for a complete binocular vision examination. Then, follow up with in-office vision therapy if it is indicated.

In addition, these students may be assisted to improve their eye muscle control with the activities in the first (Purple Book) of the Eye Can Too! Read series. While the activities are designed with the home school context in mind, many of them are appropriate for use in the regular elementary school classroom. They each serve an academic as well as a visual objective and come with suggestions for what to do when you observe certain behaviors as your students do the activities.