Education Resources Blog

VariQuest Blog

The VariQuest Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tools Blog contains resources on classroom ideas, lesson plans, industry news, events, and offers throughout education.

Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.

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Professional Development | Guest Edu Bloggers | Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | universal design for learning

Universal Design for Learning

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
July 16th, 2019

The following is a guest blog from our favorite expert on Whole Brain Teaching & Learning, Dr. Melissa Hughes.  Some of you may know that I started my career in a 4th grade classroom. What many people may not know is that my journey to understand how the brain works and how to make it work better started there. It would have been really helpful for me to know as a teacher what I know now about those factors that impact memory, focus, concentration, creativity. While all students have the same pieces and parts between their ears, each is unique in strengths, challenges, learning preferences, and ability.

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Professional Development | STEM | Academic Subject: STEM | Featured Topics: Professional Development

What's the Difference Between Boy and Girl Brains, When it Comes to STEM?

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
December 20th, 2017

As STEM-related jobs are on the rise, women continue to be widely under-represented in STEM professions. Even though women make up more than half of college graduates, they comprise a staggering minority of engineering and computer professionals. The Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies three broad categories of STEM occupations. In 2016, women accounted for 42% of the workforce in life, physical and social science occupations, but only 25% of the workforce in computer and mathematical industries, and an even lesser 14% of full-time architecture and engineering jobs. 

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How to Write a Grant eBook

How to Write a Grant eBook

This helpful guide includes an explanation of the grant process, including a checklist (with samples!), and useful links and resources to find funding!

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Guest Edu Bloggers | teacher appreciation

11 Things to Remember to Keep your Passion for Teaching Alive [Poster]

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
August 24th, 2017

The floors are polished, the desks are clean, the pencils are sharpened, and the “Welcome Back” bulletin board is up. Teachers across the country have spent the last few weeks cleaning, organizing, decorating, and planning for their new classes. A new school year is underway! As educators, we have a huge responsibility to our students, along with the parents who have entrusted their children to us. Whether you’re a rookie or a veteran, there will be days that it feels like you’re trying to push a peanut up a mountain. And there will be days that you feel every effort goes unnoticed. And then, there will be days that you see a child’s eyes light up with excitement when they finally “get it!” Those are the days that you’ll know exactly why you chose to become a teacher.

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Featured Topics: Differentiated Instruction | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 3600

The Neuroscience of Color

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
July 6th, 2017

Color is believed to be the most important visual experience to human beings. More specifically, significant research has been conducted in recent years exploring the function of color as a powerful channel to cognition and memory. Marketers have known for years how effective color can be with brand recognition and attitudes consumers form about products and companies. For example, a 2004 marketing study found that color increases brand recognition and influences purchasing decisions by up to 80%.

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Lessons/Activities/Templates | Featured Topics: Student Engagement | Featured Topics: Lessons and Activities

Tips to Engage Students While Closing Down Your Classroom and Prepping for the Fall

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
May 23rd, 2017

As another school year comes to a close, let me be among the first to say, “There’s no tired quite like end-of-the-year-teacher tired!” I get it. The end of the school year is exhausting and maybe even a bit emotional as you say goodbye to your students for the summer. Between finalizing student records, completing report cards, and closing up your classroom, the last few weeks are hectic. But there are a few simple strategies that may help you make the most of the time you spend ending the year so that it is easier to begin the year when you return in the fall.

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Featured Topics: Student Engagement | teacher appreciation

Thank You Teachers, for All You Do

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
May 8th, 2017

Dear Teachers, Tuesday May 9, 2017 has been designated as National Teacher Appreciation Day.  Many schools and communities will be recognizing teachers throughout the week with muffins and luncheons, and maybe cards and gifts from students and their parents.  It’s about you, and I hope that you feel the appropriate appreciation within your own community. I wanted to take a moment to go beyond the generic Hallmark sentiment and express deeper gratitude for all that you do for our kids and our communities.  At a time when education is often criticized, scrutinized, and disparaged over test scores and graduation rates, a day of recognition that falls between Star Wars Day and National Tourists Day may feel less than satisfying. You’ve been tasked with one of the most vital jobs in our society, and your sphere of influence exceeds the essential skills our children must be able to demonstrate for evaluative purposes.  You spend valuable time, energy, and money on things that go far beyond lesson plans, report cards, and bulletin boards.

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Academic Subject: STEM | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Featured Topics: Student Engagement | VariQuest Tools: Trifecta 800 3D Printer

The Power of Experiential Learning

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
April 18th, 2017

We used to call it hands-on learning.  Before high-tech classrooms, learning labs, and makerspaces, kids would build and create and make things using buttons, bottle caps, popsicle sticks, and glue.  The focus was on exploration, discovery, creativity, and problem-solving.  There was no clear distinction between the arts, engineering, science, and math.  Kids were making things, expressing their creativity, and they were learning how things worked. The current buzzword is experiential learning, but the concept has been around for over 100 years.  Dr. Maria Montessori would be thrilled to see the future of education rooted in her research.  The movement of “making” brings engineering, science, technology, art and design together and overlaps those instructional principles with the natural inclinations of children the power of learning by doing.  

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Student Engagement | VariQuest Tools: Perfecta 2400 | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | student achievement

Promoting Meaningful Dialogue in Classroom Discussions

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
January 20th, 2017

Think about the discussions that happen in your classroom.  Are they frequent? Do all students participate or are they monopolized by a handful of students?  Do you use discussion to merely check understanding or do you engage students into purposeful conversations to develop thinking? 

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Perfecta | Professional Development | Student Engagement | Poster Maker 3600 | STEM | Maker Movement | Featured Topics: Professional Development

What Happens in the Brain When Students Collaborate?

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
July 22nd, 2016

This post has been republished with permission from Dr. Melissa Hughes, a curriculum and instruction expert. In partnership with Dr. Hughes, VariQuest delivers professional development webinars to valued educators. To learn more about this offer, visit our professional development page. The Maker Movement, as it’s called, is finding its way to more and more classrooms today.  STEM and STEAM initiatives have promoted a learning culture that flips the priority from the consumption of information to the production of innovative and creative meaning. According to some educational experts, the Maker Movement could actually be the impetus for the next industrial revolution.

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Education Policy | Student Engagement | student achievement

Good Teaching Isn't Enough. Be Great!

By: Melissa Hughes, Ph.D.
January 20th, 2016

  At the root of just about every educational reform initiative, debate, or discussion is how to quantify learning and measure academic success. Legislators will argue that in order to effectively “fix education” and fairly and accurately compare apples to apples, all students must have equal access to learning experiences so that we can assess teaching and learning with the same standards and measures. Critics abound with a long list of flaws in the system that cast a dark shadow over the things that are working.   

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