Sunday, July 27, 2008

From the Week of July 20th

ACHIEVER, RETIRING. Charles Schwab is retiring from the discount brokerage that bears his name, according to Reuters. What makes Schwab of special interest to the 2e community, of course, is that he is dyslexic and struggled through English classes (while excelling in economics). Reuters quotes Schwab: "But I've always felt that I had very strong conceptual capabilities. I could imagine things much faster than some other people who were stuck thinking sequentially. That helped me in solving complicated business problems. I could visualize how things would look at the end of the tunnel." For a long time, Schwab also funded SchwabLearning, a website devoted to helping children with LDs; that site is now administered by GreatSchools.net.

GIFTED WITH VISION PROCESSING PROBLEMS. On a blog called "Working Out the Quinques," blogger "bensrib" described her personal experience with her high-ability kids, two of whom had vision-related issues. The post is from July 24th; she says she likes to remind people that when children say they hate reading, there's a reason.

KNOW AN ANXIOUS KID? Read a New York Times article describing how a psychiatrist handled two cases in his Child Anxiety Disorders Clinic, one case with a high-achieving girl and one with an AD/HD young man who had trouble with abstract thinking.

PRECOCIOUS. The New York Times has a Monday feature called "Metropoliltan Diary," in which readers describe experiences in that city. On July 21, the third entry described two six-year-old boys directing a spray of water into a bucket...
Jeremy (Observing the water swirling around the bucket): “Is that a whirlpool or a vortex?”
Max: “I think it’s a maelstrom.”

FOR YOUNG VIDEOGRAPHERS. Kids 7 to 13 may submit documentary videos of a summer event in their hometowns to a video contest sponsored by "Meet Me at the Corner, Virtual Field Trips for Kids." First prize: $250. Deadline: August 31. Find out more.

FROM THE DANA FOUNDATION. The Dana Foundation publishes a print newsletter called Brain Work, The Neuroscience Newsletter. Articles in the July/August issue included one describing how senses "cohabit" in the visual cortex; one on "cognitive enhancement" drugs; and another contending that the newborn brain may be wired for speech, citing experiments on newborns that show activity in the speech areas of the brain and the ability to respond (internally) to speech in their native language. Articles from the newsletter are also available online.

GIFTED ACHIEVER, RIP. On July 25, a gifted and inspiring Carnegie-Mellon educator and computer scientist named Randy Pausch died at 47, according to news reports. He had devised ways to make learning computer programming fun, and drew large crowds at his lectures. His university called him "a computer scientist with the heart of a performer." When in 2007 he discovered he had just months to live because of pancreatic cancer, he vidotaped a lecture titled "Really Achieving Your Childhood Dreams," which, thanks to the Internet, has been viewed by tens of millions of people. Read the news reports; see the video on YouTube.

From the Week of July 13th

PUBLISHER PUBLISHED. An article on twice-exceptionalities by Linda Neumann, co-publisher of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, was featured in the Summer, 2008, issue of S.I. Focus, a magazine dedicated to "improving sensory integration." Find out more about S.I. Focus here.

SAY IT AIN'T SO. New Zealand consultant on gifted education Rosemary Cathcart was quoted by the Australian newspaper
The Age as saying that many teachers fear teaching very bright students because they (the teachers) feel ill-equipped to deal with them. Cathcart noted that most undergraduate education curricula do not include gifted education. The article also noted that an Australian government inquiry in 2001 found that many gifted children were underachieving, bored, or suffering psychological distress. Read it.

EDUCATION RESOURCE. The Stanford University school of education will make scholarly works from its faculty available to the public online and free of charge, according to Education Week. Expect a site by early fall with a database of articles. More information.

RESTRAINT IN SCHOOLS. The Aspie personality and classroom order often conflict. In an article on restraint, isolation, and similar practices,
The New York Times recounted the story of a young man with Asperger's who eventually didn't want to go to school because "he thought the school was trying to kill him" by the way teachers restrained him during outbursts. Read more about what happens when schools use these practices on kids with Asperger's, AD/HD, and other problems -- and what happens sometimes when schools don't use the practices. It's not a cut-and-dried issue.

PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS AND OUR KIDS. Skeptical about the drug industry's influence on the diagnosis and medication of mental illness in U.S. children? Read an article in the San Francisco Chronicle from July 13th -- and be prepared to cringe.

PRIMER: EXECUTIVE FUNCTION DISORDER. The mid-month edition of LD Online pointed us to a previously-published but still valuable primer on executive function disorder. Find it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

From the Week of July 6th

SIX-WORD MEMOIRS, FROM TEACHERS. Teacher Magazine, using a Teacher Leaders Network discussion group, trendily solicited six-word memoirs from teachers. Some of the results:
Life on the bell curve's edge.
Connecting academic concepts to life applications.
Teaching middle school. Lost my mind?
They asked. I listened. We learned.
Read more. (Teachers of 2e kids -- submit your six-word memoirs to us at info@2eNewsletter.com or post them here.)

NATIONAL PARENTING GIFTED CHILDREN WEEK has come and gone, but you can read about how it got started and James T. Webb's observations on parenting gifted kids at EdNews.org's site. By the way, the organization SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), founded by Webb, holds its annual conference starting later this week (Friday the 18th) in Salt Lake City. More information here.

ABOUT ANXIETY. Gifted and twice-exceptional kids often suffer anxiety from a variety of causes -- perfectionism, feeling as if they don't fit in with others, and so forth. Anxiety in these kids happens to be one of the featured topics in the July/August of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter, out the week of July 13th, but you can get an overall primer on anxiety in children from a New York Times article published on July 11th.

READING RESOURCE. We at 2e Newsletter are firm believers in using children's books for bonding, bibliotherapy, or just a good time; that's why each of our issues contains a review by Professor Bob Seney of a book likely to engage or instruct your gifted or 2e child. The energetic creators of "Just One More Book," a website and set of podcasts, recently sent us an email tipping us off to their efforts. They've put out over 400 podcasts about, as they say, "the children's books we love and why we love them." Also featured:
weekly interviews with authors, illustrators and experts and enthusiasts in the areas of children’s literature and literacy as well as listener-submiited audio reviews. Readers of 2e Newsletter will find familiar authors there, for example Henry Winkler, co-author of the Hank Zipzer series. Check it out.

LEAVING GIFTED AND TALENTED BEHIND -- ANOTHER OPINION. The Des Moines Register wrote about a Drake University professor who is concerned that educational programs for gifted and talented students in Iowa are being hurt by federal efforts to boost progress in lower-achieving students. The professor has analyzed state funding for gifted programs across the country and found decreases in some states -- one of them, sadly, our home state of Illinois, which has eliminated the $19 million that used to be spent yearly on gifted and talented education, according to the professor. Read the article.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

From the Week of June 29th

This was a relatively slow week for news and resources related to giftedness, LDs, and their intersection. However, we found a few interesting tidbits.

SUMMER READING. First, the Summer issue of the Duke Gifted Letter is out. The feature story is called "Excellence versus Equity: Political Forces in the Education of Gifted Students." The story delves into a topic we pointed to in an earlier posting, and contains an interesting table of events in education history such as the closing of one-room schools, labeling each as "equity" or "excellence." Other stories in this issue cover national and state guidelines for teaching gifted children; and high school reform's
effect on gifted students.

RESOURCE FOR EDUCATORS. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development has an "Educators Guild Post" that covers a variety of topics, including twice-exceptionality. Find the archive page here.

RESOURCE FOR KIDS. This resource is a website called FreshBrain that describes itself as "a social networking site...for students age 13 to 18 who want to unleash all their best ideas with the assistance of the latest technology tools. The Web site gives teens the opportunity to work with friends, other students and advisors to build technology-based activities that are interesting and meaningful to them in a productive and safe environment." Currently, the "What's Inside" page lists activities in the areas of eco/green, software development, graphic design, music, gaming, video/movies, and the web. The site sounds like something bright teens can benefit from, but we've not used or investigated the site to any degree; perhaps blog readers who have experience with the site can share feedback by posting on this blog.

BRAIN CANDY? If, as part of raising, educating, or counseling high-ability kids with learning issues, you find yourself a "brain buff," you might be interested in these blogs on the brain collected by Scientific American Mind: www.scienceblogs.com/cognitivedaily; www.mindhacks.com; www.spring.org.uk; www.scienceblogs.com/cortex; www.channeln.blogspot.com; and Mind Matters at the magazine's own website. (While you're at the website, check out the free (as opposed to "pay for") article on mirror neurons and what they mean for autism, among other things.