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Using Unit Studies


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Joined: Nov 03, 2005
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Posted Mar 14, 2001 at 12:00:01 AM
Subject: Using Unit Studies

Hi Everyone,I have been told that using unit studies is the best approach for my 8-year-old dyslexic son since it involves using all the senses. My question is how does one decide what unit studies to use? For instance, if a child is in the first grade, what sort of subjects should be covered? Thank you.Andrea

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Who told you that?It's true that a unit studies approach can work very well with some children. However, I think that has a lot more to do with the individual child's personality and the interests of the teacher than it does with dyslexia.In my opinion, the most important subject for a 1st grader is the development of reading subskills -- phonemic awareness, sound/symbol correlations, etc. This happens also to be the area that dyslexics typically have problems. The book "Reading Reflex" is a good place to start with a dyslexic 1st grader.There are unit study curricula on the internet for all grades. I have some websites bookmarked somewhere. It's an approach that works for some families, but by no means all.Mary: I have been told that using unit studies is the best approach for my
: 8-year-old dyslexic son since it involves using all the senses. My
: question is how does one decide what unit studies to use? For
: instance, if a child is in the first grade, what sort of subjects
: should be covered? Thank you.: Andrea

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Boy I hope this isn't a stupid question...I am still such a rookie . What are "unit studies"?Nadine

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Greetings Nadine,I didn't know what a unit study was either when I began HSing just a little over one year ago!A unit study is an educational philosophy that uses a single topic - the Civil War, for example - to teach multiple curriculum areas. Using this topic, one could read the diaries of soldiers fighting in the war (reading), make an entry in your own diary as if you were living then and your dad just went off to fight (writing), calculate the distances from one important battle site to another and figure out how long it would take a 100-men army troop to march the distance (math and mapping skills), attend a Civil War re-enactment to witness the style of fighting, clothing, etc. used at that time, cook a dish using a recipe from that era (math and life skills), research scientic concepts discovered at that time (science), build a wooden toy popular during that time (math and art), discover what role religion played in the war, etc. - the ideas are limitless! Check out Amanda Bennett's site which has alot of good unit study ideas (click below).Blessings, momo

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

His psychologist told me that with his difficulties the best way to teach him is to engage all his senses at one time. I thought unit studies was the way to do this, isn't it?Beyond looking at unit studies, we mainly work on his phonemic awareness and auditory discrimination skills. He is very weak in these areas and even after a year of working in Reading Reflex, we still haven't been able to do the advanced code. We also work on fluency using Great Leaps. One more thing we do is work on language comprehension skills because he has a major weakness in this area. We use Nanci Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing.We needed to look into a way to teach social studies and science so that's why I asked about unit studies.Andrea

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Actually, engaging all his senses at one time means a multi-sensory approach. Unit studies is a multi-disciplinary approach. Although there can be overlap, these are basically two different things.A multi-sensory approach to reading is recommended for dyslexics. It means having the student use kinesthetic, auditory, visual and motor senses simultaneously in order to reinforce inputs.Unit studies is an inter-disciplinary approach to teaching subjects. It can be a very effective approach to teaching, but it isn't specifically aimed at dyslexics. You can incorporate multi-sensory elements into unit studies, but this isn't what makes it unit studies.Unit studies can be a great way to teach social studies and science.We did Reading Reflex, followed by vision therapy, PACE, and a PG intensive. I also got trained in PACE and PG, so I'm certified in both.I am wondering how your son is doing with PG basic code and what happens when you get into advanced code?Mary: His psychologist told me that with his difficulties the best way to
: teach him is to engage all his senses at one time. I thought unit
: studies was the way to do this, isn't it?: Beyond looking at unit studies, we mainly work on his phonemic
: awareness and auditory discrimination skills. He is very weak in
: these areas and even after a year of working in Reading Reflex, we
: still haven't been able to do the advanced code. We also work on
: fluency using Great Leaps. One more thing we do is work on
: language comprehension skills because he has a major weakness in
: this area. We use Nanci Bell's Visualizing and Verbalizing.: We needed to look into a way to teach social studies and science so
: that's why I asked about unit studies.: Andrea

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

Thank you! This sounds like what my youngest son's pre-k is doing. For example, this week's "theme" is snow and all of their work is based on that theme...like learning "s" words and sound, etc. Sounds like I have a lot to learn. Can you recommend any other websites that would be good for me to explore to learn more about homeschooling?Nadine

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

You're most welcome, Nadine! Yes, a unit study is similar to a thematic study and some people use the terms interchangeably.The book I mentioned at an earlier post, Homeschool Your Child For Free by LauraMaery Gold, contains, among others, chapters entitled "Why We Homeschool", "Homeschool How-To's", "Teaching Tips", etc. providing and rating various websites that discuss these topics in addition to all the curriculum and education essentials. Really a terrific resource! In the meantime, until you get the book *grin*, click below to access the Homeschool House website. It contains great info for beginners (found this in the book).Blessings, momo

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

How could you use a multi-sensory approach to teaching other subjects besides reading?When we do PG, he has a hard a time even with the basic code. He seems to lack the ability to distinguish one letter sound for the other. For instance, he p, b, d, and v all sound alike to him. I keep repeating it for him but eventually I have to 'cue' (we are learning cued speech because of his CAPD problems) it for him to figure out what letter we're talking about. So when he sees d, he might pronounce p or b instead. He has a hard time blending too. He must sound out /k/ /a/ /t/ before he says cat. I've tried to get him out of this habit by telling him to just say the word but it hasn't worked.Andrea

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

I haven't done unit studies myself. With science, I would probably incorporate experiments that have kinesthetic properties -- making gooey stuff, fizzy stuff, smelly stuff, that kind of thing. With social studies, I'd do things like map-making using variously colored/scented clay on paper plates - 3D maps that can be touched, smelled and looked at. I think it would be hard to figure out projects that incorporate *all* the senses simultaneously -- the way it's done with reading -- but someone else may have ideas along those lines.I would take a close look at FastForWord for the sound discrimination problem (http://www.scilearn.com). It can be done for under $1,000 if you train yourself. I think you're waiting for a CAPD eval? Many audiologists won't actually recommend FFW because of the lack of independent research verifying its effectiveness. However, it certainly sounds to me as if your son has the phonological type of CAPD that tends to respond well to FFW. You might want to post a question about this specifically on the boards (Reading and/or Parenting would be best, as they have more readers).With blending, have you done blend-as-you-go? Some kids are really poor blenders and need a *lot* of work in this area. What was recommended at PG training was to do a lot of blend-as-you-go practice. That is, the word "cat" is read "c", "a", "ca", "t", "cat". This can be done with longer words also. Especially with longer words, it may be necessary to hold a card over the part of the word not yet being worked on.They stressed at training that a child should be moved into advanced code as soon as possible -- approximately when a child has 80% accuracy on basic code. This is because basic code is still practiced and reviewed in words that contain advanced code. The most common mistake of parents is to stay in basic code too long (which is what I did also). If your son is strong visually, it might be worth taking this leap. He's going to continue to have problems, though, until he can differentiate the sounds. If he were my child, I'd seriously consider doing FFW.You might want to go to http://www.egroups.com and join the ReadNOW group. There are a lot of experience PG tutors there who may be able to give you tips, or recount experiences with children who have similar problems.If I were you, I wouldn't spend too much time on social studies and science for 1st grade homeschooling. It's more important to concentrate on reading, and maybe a little math. (Just MHO.)Mary: How could you use a multi-sensory approach to teaching other subjects
: besides reading?: When we do PG, he has a hard a time even with the basic code. He
: seems to lack the ability to distinguish one letter sound for the
: other. For instance, he p, b, d, and v all sound alike to him. I
: keep repeating it for him but eventually I have to 'cue' (we are
: learning cued speech because of his CAPD problems) it for him to
: figure out what letter we're talking about. So when he sees d, he
: might pronounce p or b instead. He has a hard time blending too.
: He must sound out /k/ /a/ /t/ before he says cat. I've tried to
: get him out of this habit by telling him to just say the word but
: it hasn't worked.: Andrea

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

I love unit studies! My son also has dyslexia and processing problems. The best way to start out is to write down about ten topics in which you know your child and you would love to learn about. My son loves science and nature but I also put in some on history. After you have your topics research on the web, TV shows, and go to the library to get books on the topic. Most topics can be used for any age children and can be taught however your child learns best, that is the great thing about Unit Studies.Many people will say that you should focus on Reading and Math. These subjects are very important but for most LD children these are their weekness. These children need to have strong points, which are often science, history or something. My son is about 2 years behind his peers in Language Arts and Math but he knows Science about at the 7th grade and this is very important to his self esteem. Good luck and have fun learning (You will learn a lot too) Brenda

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Anonymous
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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

PASSWORD>aa4um5Lp2CxdUAndrea,Regarding the reading problems you mentioned, you might want to look into LIPS from Lindamood Bell. I think that might help him distinguish the various sounds- several people on the Teaching Reading board are familiar with LIPS, especially PattiM.Regarding Unit Studies- the idea of unit studies is that you choose a topic, and as you study the various aspects of that topic you cover all subject areas. For example- if you are studying Ancient Egypt, you read a novel set in Egypt (literature), learn about mummification (science), draw or build a scale model of a pyramid (math/ geometry), read about social customs and culture and write a description of a day in the life of an Egyptian child (history and compostion), etc. Unit Studies can be a great way for students to learn how to pull together skills from various subject areas, but in my opinion they need to be comfortable with some basic skills before they can tackle this type of unit study.We use what I refer to as mini-units. We pick a topic (i.e. structure of the earth and rock formation, or geography/history of NE United States) and study it using a variety of resources and activities. I use LOTS of picture books from the library, experiments and craft activities, videos, poems and songs. They have a science notebook and a social studies notebook, with dividers for geology, astronomy, plants, United States, Canada, etc. We'll spend several weeks on a given topic. Each day we briefly review what we've learned (Look at the map- the pilgrims started here in England, can you show me where they went? Right, and they named it Plymouth colony. Were they the first people to live there? No, Native Americans had lived there for many, many years. What was the land like- forests, lakes, rivers.) Then we'll read a story about Sarah Morton, a little girl who lived in Plymouth Colony. After reading, we might play a game from the time period, or draw a picture of the Mayflower. The kids keep maps, pictures, poems, experiments, vocabulary lists, and lists of books and stories on each topic in their notebooks.I think this approach is multisensory, although it's not nearly as carefully designed as multisensory reading programs! We work on learning skills like reading, math, writing, etc. separately. My older son is just getting to the point of doing simple assignments for a study topic that use the skills he has already mastered. Both my kids seem to be learning (and retaining) a lot of what we study. Keeping the notebooks is nice, because we can go back and review, and add on as new topics come up. For example, we studied basic earth science and rock formation last year- this year when we were going to see an IMAX film on the Grand Canyon, we reviewed our notebooks and added material about erosion. I sometimes feel anxious because we do spend a lot of time on each topic, but since they retain so much of what we study, I think the time is well spent.Hope this helps.Jeah: How could you use a multi-sensory approach to teaching other subjects
: besides reading?: When we do PG, he has a hard a time even with the basic code. He
: seems to lack the ability to distinguish one letter sound for the
: other. For instance, he p, b, d, and v all sound alike to him. I
: keep repeating it for him but eventually I have to 'cue' (we are
: learning cued speech because of his CAPD problems) it for him to
: figure out what letter we're talking about. So when he sees d, he
: might pronounce p or b instead. He has a hard time blending too.
: He must sound out /k/ /a/ /t/ before he says cat. I've tried to
: get him out of this habit by telling him to just say the word but
: it hasn't worked.: Andrea

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Anonymous
Joined Dec 18, 2014
Posts: 69138

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Posted:Mar 14, 2001 12:00:01 AM

: Thank you! This sounds like what my youngest son's pre-k is doing.
: For example, this week's "theme" is snow and all of
: their work is based on that theme...like learning "s"
: words and sound, etc. Sounds like I have a lot to learn. Can you
: recommend any other websites that would be good for me to explore
: to learn more about homeschooling?: Nadine

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