Opening Faculty Meetings: The Simulations

Embracing Diversity in Learning and Teaching
[all the posts about the opening session program: 1 2 3 4 5]

The purpose of the simulations was to get everyone actively engaged in experiencing what it is like to have a learning issue where something that is normally taken for granted does not function as expected. The simulations also helped get everyone in gear for the workshops that would follow. There were four simulations in total, and each one is listed and explained below.

Simulation 1
A short story is going to be read aloud to you and you will then be asked to respond to some questions about the story. The story will also be displayed on the screen.

Once upon a time, in a country called Clarita, there lived a gadious bemple named Chup. Chup lasied Mormie and together they goppered and morted throughout the dotter of Clarita. Clarita was a rablited fott. From every wesson and vaxter, Chup and Mormie could hetter numally. It was a duffours webbe!

  • In what country did Chup live?
  • Who lasied Mormie?
  • What did they do together, and where did they do it?
  • What was Clarita?
  • What kind of webbe was it?
  • What type of genre is this?

Okay, now for the second set of questions.

  • Describe the image of a “gadious bemple.”
  • What does the author suggest when she says “Clarita was a rablited fott?”
  • What do the verbs “goppered” and “morted” suggest about the view of life shared by Chup and Mormie?
  • Explain where the author might be leading us when she writes it was a “duffours webbe.”

This simulation reflects the problems of a student with poor vocabulary. They may be dyslexic, have attention issues, be bilingual or have language comprehension weaknesses. As teachers we can be fooled because we feel that they can answer some questions but just don’t seem to get it when we ask more higher level questions. We then make the assumption that they aren’t very bright and perhaps shouldn’t be in our school–when in reality, they need some intensive work in vocabulary development and support for their reading. These same students may be able to memorize vocabulary for tests but not hold on and inculcate it into their repertoires.


Simulation 2
Please use your paper and pencil to do either A or B as described on the screen. It is your choice which you do, but you MUST use your NON-DOMINANT hand for writing.

(A) Write 3 sentences about your summer. As you write, make the following letter replacements:

every /a/ becomes /n/
every /t/ becomes /b/
every /i/ becomes /h/

(B) Or, solve this problem on paper, and reverse every number so that you are writing its mirror image:

382 x 546 = ?

The reason this is frustrating is that you are not getting the kinesthetic feedback to and from the brain in your non-dominant hand. The reversal of numbers or letter substitutions simulates the lack of automaticity that the writers with graphomotor issues have. It takes over a thousand motor movements to operate a pen or pencil and only two to use a keyboard. And with a keyboard there is no issue with remembering how letters and numbers are shaped.


Simulation 3
We are going to put your working memory through the mill. Pay close attention to the next set of directions because you cannot write them down. You must rely on your working memory to carry out the instructions. We all have long term and short term memory, and we also have working memory.

Working memory is the memory we have for holding on to information while we are using it, such as holding a phone number in your mind while dialing it. Working memory plays a critical role in school, particularly in the areas of written expression and multi-step math problems. Now we are going to do a math activity.

Put your pencils down; this is mental math!

• Choose any 3 digit number whose ones and hundreds digits are different.
• Reverse the order of the numbers.
• Subtract the smaller number from the larger one.
• The result will always have 9 as the tens digit. The other two digits will always add up to 9.
• Now reverse the digits of the result.
• Now add that number to the one before it.
• The final number will always be 1089.


Simulation 4
This last simulation also requires you pay close attention and listen carefully.

Visit the PBS site Misunderstood Minds and locate the link for Auditory Activity, then click try it just below Listening to Directions. Follow the directions on the window that opens.

The fact that the teacher’s voice became muted with the background noise is a very common situation for those with either auditory processing or auditory attention issues. They cannot distinguish the salient voice and focus in on it. These students usually tire easily as they struggle to hear all day long. They benefit from Fm systems and fortunately for us, carpeted, small classrooms.


After the simulations, folks went off to participate in the workshops, and at the conclusion of each workshop they filled out Exit Cards.

Participants were asked to respond to three prompts on an index card. All of the exit cards for all of the workshops, including the book and movie discussion, were collected and collated into a Google Doc where they were organized by workshop. There emerged several themes which will serve as the topics for our follow-up sessions during the Fall.

The Exit Card prompts:

  • List an Ah-ha moment that you had.
  • List one question that did not get answered.
  • List one topic about which you would like to know more.

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