Sunday, January 23, 2011

Helping Low Achieving Students Understand Concepts

Abstract concepts are essential to achieving in school. They are also a source of frustration and difficulty for students who struggle in the classroom; many of these students find even basic concepts difficult to grasp. Teachers can provide low achieving children with the necessary support by applying alternative teaching techniques that take the student from where he is conceptually to the next level in the learning process. Teachers need to use a high support approach that aims at helping low achieving children comprehend and interpret what they hear, see, and read in the classroom. Some suggestions follow.

Help Students Connect the Information

 

Students can relate the new information or unfamiliar concepts by connecting it to something with which they are already familiar; for example, discussing how the Renaissance is like a video game.
Begin your lesson with a known concept and progress to the new concept. Relationships are more obvious when we progress from the known to the new.
Compare two seemingly unrelated objects, ideas, or topics by analyzing and discussing the similarities and differences between the two.
Move from simple comparison to contrasting based on multiple attributes.
Relate what the student has learned in one setting or situation to other settings or situations. For example, concepts and vocabulary words learned during the morning should be pointed out in the afternoon’s social studies lesson or when the child is solving math word problems. Concepts and new vocabulary words should be incorporated in writing activities.

Help Students See Patterns and Relationships

 

Explicitly teach relationships among the different concepts, topics, or pieces of information. You can use graphics like flowcharts or concept maps to help children see how two different concepts relate. Have the students talk about the patterns they see emerging, and link the patterns to what they already know.
To help your students see patterns, provide examples and “not an example” of the concept, e.g. aren’t and we’ve are examples of contractions; Tom’s is not an example. Help students formulate a rule from the examples.
Identify related concepts and explain how we can generalize from one concept to others, e.g. from numbers to money or from fuel to energy.

Make the New Information Relevant

 

Relevancy, or meaning, is one of the major factors affecting retention of new material. The student is not likely to retain new information if he or she perceives the information as meaningless. Ask children and discuss why the new information is important to learn, but remember, it is students’ perception of relevancy what matters, not the teacher’s.

Make Key Concepts Apparent

 

Make sure that key concepts are both apparent and unambiguous to children; in other words, do not “bury” the important information in a lot of distracting and irrelevant information, and make sure that students can identify easily the salient characteristics of key concepts.
When lecturing or delivering directions, stop at key points to check comprehension, clarify concepts, and answer questions.
During the lesson, provide explicit outlines and study guides to help students organize the information. Make sure the study guide includes questions for key concepts.

Combine Storytelling with Multiple Examples of the Same Concept

 

Give multiple examples of the same abstract concept.
Give visual examples (e.g. drawings or pictures) and auditory examples (e.g. analogies, synonyms, and antonyms) of the same concept.
Stories will help illustrate the main points; examples will help associate them. Stories and examples provide the associative context that will help the low achieving child remember the new information or concept.

Use Multiple Representations of the Same Concept

 

Some teachers believe that repeating the same information louder, or several times, helps children retain the information, but the truth is that repetition is only minimally helpful. Teachers can enhance conceptual understanding by presenting the new information or concept several times in different ways, using different formats and/or in different scenarios. For example, talk about the concept and provide pictures to look at; have students make drawings, or write songs or poems to illustrate the concept; use films and videos, field trips, or storytellers.  When teachers provide multiple representations of the same concept, we are presenting the same information in more than one manner, e.g. modeling, explaining, using maps, creating analogies, or singing.

Reinforce the Auditory Information with Visual Stimulus

 

Use visual support combined with your verbal instructions or lectures as much as possible. For example, when you give directions, or explain a new concept, point to the area on the page, chalkboard, or chart where the relevant information is placed.
Train children to watch and use visual cues to reinforce the information they hear. Explain to your students the importance of using visual cues to clarify the auditory information. Make children aware that watching the speaker’s face and paying attention to the speaker’s tone of voice will give clues to meaning. Students can improve their comprehension of material delivered orally by paying attention to the emotional impact of the speaker’s words, and watching the speaker’s facial expression, body posture, and gestures.
Train your students in using visual imaging of the verbal context introduced by drawing a mental picture of what they hear.

Make Students Aware that Not All Information is Equally Important

 

Make children aware that certain points in your lecture are more important than other points in the lecture. Give verbal cues to direct children to pay attention to the important information, e.g. “This information is important to know.” You can begin your lesson with an advanced organizer, where you write on the chalkboard key words or phrases of the important points you are going to cover during the lesson.
Explicitly distinguish the important information from what is less important, presenting the new concept in a way that highlights what is especially pertinent; that is, what the student must pay attention to.
Use verbal organizational cues such as “first,” “second,” and “now the most important point.”
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Mathematical Modeling for Kids

How wonderful would be the class where kids are talking about models for addition, subtraction, multiplication & division. Mathematical Modeling being a very fundamental necessity, though lately realized, should be practiced and taught right since primary education.
 

More than actual modeling at such an early stage, it would be highly encouraging to have students thinking on these lines. At a later stage when they actually have to handle complex problems, it would be on their finger tips on how to analyze the inputs, outputs and parameters affecting the inputs and outputs.
 

In this article, I have focused on how to teach unconventional methods along with conventional learning methods to trigger the learners’ mind towards understanding and exploration of Mathematical Modeling.
 

Starting with an example, once addition is taught in a standard way, there are ways of thinking addition symbol “+”as a Mathematical Model for adding the two numbers.
 

Now, lets say “addition” is being introduced to a kid who is learning it for the first time.
Since he/she would be knowing counting (assumed), lets do it this way, say we want to add two numbers 3 and 4. Addition is a box, in which we put these two numbers and it gives another number which is sum the two numbers fed to the box.



The question is what this box does ? ? ? Well that’s where we build what do we have inside the model.



1.


Lets say, it takes the first number, it draws those many number of lines. Then it takes another number, draws those many number of lines, and then add all lines (because this addition model assumes that the person who is building it, knows counting) !!! . And you give the final count, and name it as output. Can you believe introducing a kid to “inputs” and “outputs” when he/she has just started learning addition.


2.


Now, say you want to introduce addition of two digit numbers. For example 23 and 36, same procedure, define our old box, but yes this is an upgraded model now, because if this model is calculating like the “kid’s addition” model then, perhaps its going to take a lot of time.
 

So, here we expand the horizon, for example:
 

a. 
Standard Addition model: We put the standard convention method that is taught in schools into our this model. We add the digits at units place, (using the model for single digit addition), see if anything is carried, nothing then add the digit on tens place, and we are done. The output is thrown out of the box.


b. 

Split Addition model: We split the numbers themselves. 23 = 20+3, and 36 = 30+6, and now we can use our model of single number digit addition.
 

The idea is at this stage you know how to use a model inside another model. Vow, not bad !! Ok, at this stage, we can introduce the concept of verification of a mathematical model. So, for verification we first need to have the result which is right and then compare our models’ output to it. So, lets consider the conventional method taught by our teachers is the right one and produces accurate results. So, we use our model and compare the results. We do have many complex models for addition, wherein in my methodology, I believe Vedic addition is also a model for addition “+”. So, we expand the horizon of learning at this stage itself.
 

Similarly, after teaching models of subtraction, we can introduce verification models. For example “Digit Sums” is a good verification for the answer.
 

So, lets switch over to an example of multiplication model.
 

Now assuming that the learner knows counting, lets say our “kid” model, where in say 5 X 6 is read 5 times 6, that is the model draws 6 lines, 5 times, and count all the lines and gives the output.
 

At this stage itself, we can have some very interesting models, one I read it in “Left Hand Brain Mathematics”, I call them drawing models of multiplication. We know that kids are very crazy about drawing boxes, circles and what not. So, why not exploit their talent. So, lets make this circle:



Now, if we start with our pencil on “3”, and start the table of “3”, we start with 3 times 2 = 6, stop at 6, then 3 times 3 = 9, drag to 9, then 3 times 4 = 12, so here since we do not have “12” on our circle so drag to 2 and write 1 infront of “2”, making it look “12”, similarly complete the table.

 

That’s wonderful actually because of Maths has a beauty and creativity inside it. We need to give a spark of the Mathematical Modeling ideas, and they start growing in child’s mind on its own.
 

Just to conclude, I would like to describe an experiment I performed in a primary school. I focused on Mathematical modeling ideas for a week to a group of students, and then I had a group of students of the same class from another school. I just asked them one question, and asked for an answer next day. Being an aeronautical engineer, I am lopsided in my questions J. The question was: There is an aeroplane on the Runway, how can you find its weight? J
 

Next day, I checked everyone’s sheet, now-a-days kids are too strong at google, I was amazed to have a good data of weight of different aircrafts. Except for one, who had this on her answer sheet:





I was first shocked to see it, what did it really mean? On being asked to explain to everyone, the answer was “This is an aeroplane on the runway, and when it will pass through my box, it will find out its weight”. It was in fact fascinating as out of a group of 5 students, I was successful in imbibing a spark of mathematical modeling.

 

I strongly believe, that its just a thinking strategy needed right from the beginning to have a grasp of the mathematical modeling.
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Teach Teamwork To Students

Why is it important to teach teamwork to students and how can it be done?
With the increasing use of social networking, instant messaging and online communication students are becoming connected to more and more people. I do feel positive about the increase of this type of communication and the growth of the internet as a learning tool. However, students seem to be interacting face to face with their peers less often, and some key communication and teamwork skill are being left behind and not taught effectively. Despite the growth of online communication, direct communication will always be important and necessary. Those people with these communication skills will be at an advantage as opposed to those who can’t quite get along with their peers.

There are many group work tasks you can give to teach teamwork to students and allow them to practice their positive and productive communication with each other. There are projects students can work on in teams, jobs students can complete together and a huge range of games students can play that involve productive teamwork skills to be successful.

To teach teamwork to students however you also need to highlight to them the importance of teamwork and also what skills they will need to communicate effectively and work well in a team. Here are some vital skills you can highlight and discuss with your students.

Listening:
The most important is that students need to listen, first of all so that other students can speak without being interrupted and secondly so that all students know what is being discussed and where the conversation is heading. A simple way of assisting the students with this is to give the group a toy or object, only one person can speak at a time and it is the person holding the object. I use a fluffy animal but it can be anything, I’ve had groups of students who have just used a particular pencil.

Speaking:
Of course people do need to speak in groups, to give their own ideas and give feedback to other people’s ideas. Lots of students have no trouble talking to their friends but to work effectively in a group students have to learn how to talk effectively to the whole group. When speaking, students need to express their ideas clearly and get to the point so that they are easily understood. People can tune out if someone is talking for too long about one thing or jumping from one idea to another and younger children have a shorter attention span than adults.

Confidence:
Not so much a skill as much as a state of mind but I believe it’s a state of mind students can practice and learn. To participate in teamwork students need confidence, they need to express their ideas confidently and accept other students’ negative feedback without being too offended to continue. Building a students confidence can be a long elusive process but the more group work your student partake in and the more they learn how to listen and speak effectively their confidence towards working in teams will improve.

There are many other skills you can discuss to teach teamwork to students including respect, leadership and assignment of roles and responsibilities. You can go into these in more detail with your students when the fundamentals of listening, speaking and confidence have been discussed and practiced.

An excellent way of introducing students to teamwork and to help them practice their abilities is through classroom games, either team games or individual games that require them to interact with each other. Games are a great engaging way for students to practice communication and teamwork.
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When Children Fail in School: Understanding Learned Helplessness

Learned helplessness is the belief that our own behavior does not influence what happens next; that is, behavior does not control outcomes or results. For example, when a student believes that she is in charge of the outcome, she may think, “If I study hard for this test, I’ll get a good grade.” On the contrary, a learned helpless student thinks, “No matter how hard I study for this test, I’ll always get a bad grade.” In school, learned helplessness relates to poor grades and underachievement, and to behavior difficulties. Students who experience repeated school failure are particularly prone to develop a learned helpless response style. Because of repeated academic failure, these students begin to doubt their own abilities, leading them to doubt that they can do anything to overcome their school difficulties. Consequently, they decrease their achievement efforts, particularly when faced with difficult materials, which leads to more school failure. This pattern of giving up when facing difficult tasks reinforces the child’s belief that he or she cannot overcome his or her academic difficulties.
Learned helplessness seems to contribute to the school failure experienced by many students with a learning disability. In a never-ending cycle, children with a learning disability frequently experience school difficulties over an extended period, and across a variety of tasks, school settings, and teachers, which in turn reinforces the child’s feeling of being helpless.
Characteristics of Learned Helpless Students
Some characteristics of learned helpless children are:               
1.      Low motivation to learn, and diminished aspirations to succeed in school.

2.      Low outcome expectations; that is, they believe that, no matter what they do in school, the outcome will always be negative (e.g. bad grades). In addition, they believe that they are powerless to prevent or overcome a negative outcome.

3.      Lack of perceived control over their own behavior and the environmental events; one’s own actions cannot lead to success.

4.      Lack of confidence in their skills and abilities (low self-efficacy expectations). These children believe that their school difficulties are caused by their own lack of ability and low intelligence, even when they have adequate ability and normal intelligence. They are convinced that they are unable to perform the required actions to achieve a positive outcome.

5.      They underestimate their performance when they do well in school, attributing success to luck or chance, e.g., “I was lucky that this test was easy.”

6.      They generalize from one failure situation or experience to other situations where control is possible. Because they expect failure all the time, regardless of their real skills and abilities, they underperform all the time.

7.      They focus on what they cannot do, rather than focusing on their strengths and skills. 

8.      Because they feel incapable of implementing the necessary courses of action, they develop passivity and their school performance deteriorates.
The Pessimistic Explanatory Style
Learned helpless students, perceive school failure as something that they will never overcome, and academic events, positive or negative, as something out of their control. This expectation of failure and perceived lack of control is central in the development of a learned helpless style. The way in which children perceive and interpret their experiences in the classroom helps us understand why some children develop an optimistic explanatory style, and believe that they are capable of achieving in school and others develop a pessimistic explanatory style, believing that they are not capable of succeeding in school (Seligman, Reivich, Jaycox, and Gilham, 1995).
Children with an optimistic explanatory style attribute school failure to momentary and specific circumstances; for example, “I just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.” Children with a pessimistic explanatory style explain negative events as something stable (the cause of the negative event will always be present), global (the cause of the negative event affects all areas of their lives), and internal (they conclude that they are responsible for the outcome or consequence of the negative event). A typical pessimistic explanatory style is, “I always fail no matter what I do.” On the contrary, when the outcome of the event is positive, a pessimistic child attributes the outcome to unstable (the cause of the event is transitory), specific (the cause of the event is situation specific), and external (other people or circumstances are responsible for the outcome) causes.
Learned Helpless Students Need Learning Strategies
Due to this perceived lack of control of the negative event, a learned helpless child is reluctant to seek assistance or help when he is having difficulty performing an academic task. These children are ineffective in using learning strategies, and they do not know how to engage in strategic task behavior to solve academic problems. For example, learned helpless children are unaware that if they create a plan, use a checklist, and/or make drawings, it will be easier for them to solve a multistep math word problem. With learned helpless children, success alone (e.g. solving accurately the multistep problem), is not going to ease the helpless perception or boost their self-confidence; remember that these children attribute their specific successes to luck or chance. According to Eccles, Wigfield, and Schiefele (1998), trying to persuade a learned helpless child that she can succeed, and asking her just to try hard, will be ineffective if we do not teach the child specific learning and compensatory strategies that she can apply to improve her performance when facing a difficult task. The authors state that the key in helping a learned helpless child overcome this dysfunctional explanatory pattern is to provide strategy retraining (teaching her strategies to use, and teaching explicitly when she can use those strategies), so that we give the child specific ways to remedy achievement problems; coupled with attribution retraining, or creating and maintaining a success expectation. When we teach a learned helpless child to use learning strategies, we are giving her the tools she needs to develop and maintain the perception that she has the resources to reverse failure. Ames (1990) recommends that, in combination with the learning strategies, we help the learned helpless child develop individualized short-term goals, e.g., “I will make drawings to accurately solve a two-steps math word problem.” When the child knows and implements learning strategies, she will be able to experience progress toward her individualized goals.
Learned Helpless Students Need to Believe that Effort Increases Skills
To accomplish this, we need to help learned helpless children recognize and take credit for the skills and abilities that they already have. In addition, we need to develop in children the belief that ability is incremental, not fixed; that is, effort increases ability and skills. Tollefson (2000) recommends that we help children see success as improvement; that is, we are successful when we acquire or refine knowledge and skills we did not have before. We need to avoid communicating children that, to succeed in school, they need to perform at a particular level, or they need to perform at the same level than other students. When we help children see success as improvement, states Tollefson, we are encouraging them to expend effort to remediate their academic difficulties. In addition, we are training them to focus on strategies and the process of learning, rather than outcomes and achievement.
Concluding Comments
To minimize the negative impact of learned helplessness in children, we need to train them to focus on strategies and processes to reach their academic goals, reinforcing the belief that, through effort, they are in control of their own behavior, and that they are in charge of developing their own academic skills. For example, to help a child focus on the learning process, after failure, we can tell the child, “Maybe you can think of another way of doing this.” This way, our feedback stays focused on the child’s effort and the learning strategies he or she is using -within both the child’s control and modifiable. When children themselves learn to focus on effort and strategies, they can start feeling responsible for positive outcomes, and responsible for their own successes in school and in life.
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There are two ways to teach children to read.

The wrong way: Whole Word advocates say children should memorize the shapes of words just as the Chinese memorize their ideograms. English has FAR too many words for this approach to even be considered. Furthermore, every English letter and word appears in a truly staggering number of variations. Even if a child memorizes “bright,” it’s not likely that the child would recognize “BRIGHT” or even “bright.”

In practice, Whole Word ends up being a Ponzi scheme. Initially, there appears to be success. By memorizing several dozen sight-words, a child can seem to be reading little books. The bitter reality, however, is that things never get faster or easier. There’s no breakthrough. Even if an industrious child could master 1000 words, that child would still be functionally illiterate. The vast majority of the English language remains terra incognita. Just as troublesome, the words the child supposedly knows are rarely known with genuine automaticity. Sight-word readers typically stumble, hesitate and sweat as they try to remember the meanings. (For more on why sight-words are a dead-end, see “42: Reading Resources” on Improve-Education.org.)

The right way: Conversely, phonics appears most difficult at the beginning. There seem to be a lot of little details and rules to deal with.  (Ironically, the slower kids seem to be the ones that most need these details and rules; more about this in a moment.) But parents are perhaps more confused than the children. How best to proceed? What to do next? 

Here’s a reassuring thought: every highly regarded phonics program makes the same claim, a short lesson each day for four months will teach a child to read. It’s much like learning to play the piano. You take little baby steps, and you practice, and the weeks and months go by and suddenly you’re doing it. So relax. Any good program with patience, poetry, and the passage of time equals success.  

The astonishing thing for me when I look at videos on YouTube and the internet generally, there is a vast amount of material still pushing sight-words, and in a very smug way. All this despite the fact that we have 50,000,000 functional illiterates, obvious proof that the “experts” pushing sight-words don’t know what they’re doing.

To make people think twice about sight-words, I created an article and video with essentially the same title “Preemptive Reading -- Teach Your Child Early.” They serve the same purpose, a quick, simple intro to reading. Both the article and video are addressed to parents with young children not yet in school. 

The basic idea is to do everything possible to familiarize a child with language and sounds. If the child later attends a school with phonics instruction, it will be very easy. If the child attends a school using sight-words, the child has been inoculated to a large degree. Once the child understands that letters on the page stand for sounds, that child is safe from the worst ravages of sight-words.

Article and video discuss the same seven steps:

1) MEMORIZE ALPHABET

2) ENJOY THE LANGUAGE

3) READ TOGETHER

4) LEARN THE SOUNDS

5) REALIZE THERE ARE TWO ALPHABETS (UPPERCASE AND LOWERCASE)

6) SOUND OUT SYLLABLES, THEN WORDS

7) HAVE FUN

Parents can accomplish a lot in the years before school starts. (Also, please note that if a teenager or adult has been rendered unable to read by sight-words, the road to recovery is THESE SAME SEVEN STEPS. Start over, do it right, and never guess again.)

I want to revisit a point that I find totally fascinating: the slower kids seem to be the ones who most need the formal, systematic structure of a phonics program. Remember that the main initial argument for sight-words was that learning phonics was boring and hard work, especially for the slower kids! So what was the preposterous answer? Make them memorize the English language one word at a time. Talk about boring, hard work that will never end.)  

 Here is a wonderful quote from a book written in 1955 by a school teacher named Joan Dunn. She is speaking about all subjects, but her insight falls with particular force on reading:

"Further, the children suffer academically because learning is neglected, and the time that should have been devoted to school work in reading, writing, thinking, and speaking is given over to chatter. Nobody knows this better than the children. They want to be taught step by step, so that they can see their progress. The duller they are, the more important and immediate is this need." 

I think about this quote a great deal. The easiest way to understand the depth of this insight is to think back to a subject in high school or college that was really difficult for you. For me that subject is calculus. I never got it; I never knew what was going on. I now understand that for slower kids ALL of their education is like that. And if you want to save them and keep them in the educational process, you have to go slowly and patiently. But make sure they see progress! Going back to reading, it’s the slower kids who enjoy mastering the phonics details because those details give the child control over print.

Many of the smarter or more verbal children can learn to read on their own, almost spontaneously. When a child like this goes to a sight-word school, they seem to be learning with sight-words, and many years later they may say that that is what happened. In fact, they seem to pass through the sight-words, grasp phonics, and learn to read despite the sight-words. There is a dreadful consequence of this, as the years go by. The smarter, more successful people (the ones making the decisions for schools, etc.) often look back and say, “I learned to read with sight-words; they must be okay.” I believe that this is a misunderstanding. In general, these smarter people will tend to approve methods that might be okay for highly intelligent children but will be doom for the slower ones. 

 Meanwhile, the less facile, less verbal kids do not learn to read. They cannot evolve past sight- words; and they are not able to explain to anyone what has happened to them. They spend their lives in an unnecessary twilight. So who will speak for them? I am trying to. We should all try to.

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Outsourcing Your Business

An online business consists of many essential components: website design, product creation, payment processing, sales letter, affiliate programs and so on. How about coupling that with sales and advert tracking?

When a lot of Internet marketers start out with their small home based businesses, they have totally no idea that their businesses could grow into "something that huge". One-man eBay stores grow into full-fledged online shops run by a team of dedicated salespersons, logistics and customer support personnel. At the end, you can never manage every little aspect of your business when it grows to a certain extent, and that is when outsourcing comes in handy.

However, care must be taken to choose the right people to outsource your tasks and equal detail must be paid attention to provide the best working environment for greatest productivity. The tasks you should outsource to people are those mundane and repetitive jobs like answering emails, managing inventory and sales figures and so on. This ensures that while you hand some of your responsibilities to other people, they have the least chances of screwing up because the jobs they are handed are easy and straightforward. In contrast, never let others make decisions that will greatly affect your business if you do not want to risk losing your business overnight.

While you have to hire people on wages for some jobs such as book keeping, some jobs can also be accomplished by outsourcing to freelancers. For example, you can get ghostwriters to write good content for your website and you can get freelance designers to spice up your merchant site. You do not need to hire these people on a regular wage because once their job is done, they do not have much follow up work to do for your business. A good resource for freelancers would be www.elance.com and www.rentacoder.com, where freelancers and buyers have transactions on a per job basis.

When your business reaches a certain extent, you will start to find it hard to keep track of everything and this means time to outsource. Think of it this way: you may lose a little money to hire other people to do some of your daily tasks, but you earn more money from the increased productivity.

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The Importance of Selling

Not so long ago, when the computer was first mass-produced for sel ing to the public, a lot of industry experts predicted that nobody will want a box that does nothing besides handling data and hogging up the entire garage. They were obviously wrong – nearly every household will have at least one computer in the US, and most even have two or three desktops!

This little bit of history tells us that no matter how good your product is, you cannot earn even a penny from it if you have a lousy salesperson. Likewise, no matter how good your product is, you cannot sell even one copy of it with a weak sales letter. Hence, it is vital to have a compelling sales letter that will pul the prospect right into it and see clearly the benefits that are presented against the very reasonable price you are charging.

A good sales letter will first catch the attention of the reader by resonating with the reader's needs and desires. That's why you often see headlines such as “Have you ever felt...” or “Does ... sound familiar”? They work because they empathize with the reader's needs, problems or desires. The Internet is like a very busy freeway and everyone's in a rush. Only a strong headline like that in big, bold letters will stop your target audience dead in their tracks to read through your sales letter.

Once you've obtained your reader's attention, you want to spend the first few paragraphs on tel ing your story – how you have gone through what your reader probably has gone through, the agony of the whole experience, etc. Once you get your reader thinking “he's one of us”, you would be perceived as an understanding individual offering a solution and not an anonymous marketer looking to sel his product. Next, you have to elaborate on the benefits of the product you are selling. 

List them all on a piece of scrap paper until you have quite a long list; then write your sales letter from there. In your sales letter, highlight the benefits in point form and elaborate on each benefit. Be sure to point out how your product helps the reader instead of pointing out the features of the product. For example, instead of saying “this gizmo cures headaches”, say “this gizmo can relieve your headaches”. Make it relevant to the reader. 

Then, write a paragraph or two on how the reader's life could be changed if the problem he is facing can be totally solved with your product. It is important to use very descriptive words so that the reader can fall into the story more easily.

Last of all, make a strong call for action! Your final objective is to make your readers buy your product, so it is important to make a final, strong call for action, be it “click the Buy button”, “Download It Now!” and so on. Do not make the mistake of forgetting such an important step after coaxing your reader through the lengthy paragraphs.
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