Monthly Archives: May 2010

>Math Sites to Explore: Have Fun ;-)

>A “Million” Math Sites to Explore!
Have fun 😉

(A) Math Tricks & Helpful Sites:

(B) Math Games & Puzzles:

(C) Additional math links from a colleague:


>The Impact of "Visual Closure" on Learning

>The Impact of “Visual Closure” on Learning

(A) The Impact of “Visual Closure” on Learning

I know that it’s a terribly general statement, but I am always amazed by how much I don’t know … by how much there is to learn. Thankfully, rather than being discouraged I am always encouraged, curious, interested, even invigorated!  I mean, certainly one’s learning curve as a teacher is truly amazing.

Recently I became aware of the impact that “visual closure” has on learning, & I was amazed.

What follows is my understanding (however limited) of the impact that visual closure has on learning … & it can be significant.

Rather than pretend to be an expert I have cut and pasted from articles. I have also included a screening checklist and some sites that have printable visual closure activities. (After all … I’d might as well throw in some practical/every day “stuff”.)

In the end I just hope that this all makes sense, and that someone finds this concept as interesting (& as useful) as I have!

“Visual closure is the ability to recognize an object from partial or limited stimulus or to form a “gestalt”.” (  It is “the ability to visualize a complete whole when given incomplete information or a partial picture. This skill helps children read and comprehend quickly; their eyes don’t have to individually process every letter in every word for them to quickly recognize the word by sight. This skill can also help children recognize inferences and predict outcomes.” ( It has an impact on a child’s ability to recognize sight words, and is related to reading comprehension, expression and organization. “Children with poor visual closure may have difficulty completing a thought. They may also confuse similar objects or words, especially words with close beginning or endings.” (

According to The Wichita Vision Development Center, “(c)urrent research shows that about 20% of school-aged children have undetected vision problems which are hindering their school performance. Many of these children have passed their school’s vision screening, which is only designed to check children’s distance vision as measured by the 20/20 line on the eye chart. Unfortunately, school screenings don’t check to see if children can coordinate both their eyes as a team, track print across a written page without losing their place, or comfortably adjust focus when looking from near to faraway. Children can have 20/20 eyesight, meaning normal distance vision, and still have vision problems in other areas.” (

(B) Initial Screening Tool:
In considering whether I ought to look at this (visual closure that is) in team meetings, I found the following checklist a particularly helpful screening tool. It has helped me to organize my thoughts and understanding. The checklist can be found at: (P.S. If you scroll down you can “click here” for a printable version.)

(C) Visual Closure Activities:
The following sites include practical, printable activities for the classroom:

>Cursive Writing: Presentation Doesn’t Always Matter

>If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see that “presentation” doesn’t always “matter” …

As a teacher I always walk into my classroom carrying the following in mind, like a whisper on my shoulder:

1. These children/students are somebody’s babies … ensure that they are active, engaged, loved, secure.
2. What am I really trying to teach today? What is my real/authentic goal/focus for each lesson?

So, the other day a conversation with a parent presented me with the perfect opportunity to think about “authentic goals” in the classroom … at least in one area: that of penmanship.
& Let me just say from the outset that I do believe that penmanship and proper page set up are important skills to teach.

One sunny afternoon, “Paula’s” mum “Trish” came to speak with me about the presentation of her daughter’s work. She felt that her daughter’s cursive writing and page set up were not always acceptable and she was quite concerned.

Now, I have to say that I love it when parents come to me with questions and concerns. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does it simply tells me that they care about their child’s education … that they are interested. After all, they only want the very best for their child.

Anyway, Trish’s question was a great opportunity to discuss her daughter’s learning profile as well as some of my goals for her child.

We first discussed her child’s learning profile, which presents as follows:
Paula is identified as APD, (ASD), ADHD, and PDD. Her relative strengths are in the areas of non-verbal reasoning and abstract reasoning skills/ability. Her needs are in the areas of social reasoning, receptive / expressive language, auditory verbal working memory, working memory in general, processing speed, visual scanning, reading comprehension, numerical reasoning, math problem solving, attention / concentration.

I went on to assure Trish that we do devote time in class to the study of page set up and cursive writing. For students, (those like Paula who experience difficulty with page set up, organization and letter formation, as well difficulty initiating tasks and following directions) it is important to break down the stages of letter formation (to teach them in isolation) so that the focus is clear.

I explained to mum that it’s true: I don’t always focus on the presentation of her daughter’s work; excellent letter formation isn’t always my primary goal. During the writing process we focus on different goals or outcomes depending on what stage we are at (e.g. brainstorming, the use of graphic organizers, editing/drafting, publishing) and the type of lesson (e.g. cursive, comprehension, writer’s workshop, etc.).

I explained that it is important to understand that writing puts heavy demands on working memory (an area of need for Paula). Working memory is defined as “the processes involved in the temporary maintenance and manipulation of information” ( As Paula engages in the writing process she has to focus on planning and page set up. She has to think about remembering my instructions, organization, word choice, sentence structure, voice, spelling, grammar, punctuation, letter formation, etc. … all the while blocking out any distractions that may present themselves in the classroom. Often times this can present as overwhelming. It’s a lot to juggle, to keep in mind, especially for a child who struggles with working memory.

Owing to her learning profile, when Paula engages in an activity therefore, I have to make sure that the expectations with regard to outcomes are clear. I always ensure that she knows what to focus on. Sometimes the focus is on ideas and organization for example, sometimes it is on presentation, and sometimes it is on both.

We had a great conversation … a lot of back and forth … a lot of information sharing. We discussed our beliefs, our experiences and some of our goals for Paula.
In the end I was really pleased that that she had come in to speak with me … that she had voiced her concerns. It was a wonderful learning opportunity for us both.