Tuesday, September 30, 2008

From the Week of September 28th

FROM WRIGHTSLAW this week -- more on IEPs for parents. The feature article in Special Ed Advocate is called "Play Hearts, Not Poker," in which the author suggests that a "hearts" card strategy is more productive than a poker strategy when it comes to participating in IEP meetings. The article also contains eight tips for better IEP meetings. Read the article.

EDUCATORS' RESOURCE. Teacher Magazine offers an online resource, the Teacher Professional Development Sourcebook: Different Students, Different Approaches. Included in the sourcebook is an interview with Carol Ann Tomlinson on differentiated instruction, a topic always of interest to those who raise and teach gifted and/or LD children; an article on curriculum compacting, which allows advanced students to learn at their own level; and another article on making reading assignments as enriching as possible to all levels of students. Find it.

THE WISDOM OF CROWDS. Edutopia magazine's question for readers for the next issue is: What is the most critical skill students should master to succeed? Got an opinion? Send a 25- to 100-word response to sage@edutopia.org by October 17th. Want to see previous questions and reader responses? Go here. See the current issue here.

GET RID OF THAT OPPOSITION-DEFIANT DISORDER KID. Parents in Nebraska are using a new "safe haven"
state law to abandon older children at hospitals. According to the New York Times, the family situations include unmanageable children with behavior problems but also at least one case in which a single father gave up nine of his 10 children, saying he could no longer cope. Nebraska's safe haven law protects not just infants, but children up to 19. Read the article.

AD/HD THEATER. Minneapolis' Mixed Blood Theater is currently showing "Distracted," a play centered around AD/HD in a family. Here's what the theater says about the play: "This controversial comedy (bombarded by video and sound) asks whether genetics, living in a world of sensory overload, vaccinations, diet, and the environment, cause or contribute to ADD and ADHD. Are kids too readily diagnosed and overly medicated? And is it OK to laugh when discussing one of society’s greatest present-day barriers?" Read an article about the play or go to the theater's home page. If you live in the Minneapolis area, note that the play runs through October 19.

WISC WEBINAR. The organization Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) is organizing a webinar for parents, educators, and health professionals titled "Interpretation of the WISC-IV: What Every Parent of a Gifted Child Should Know." The presenter is Paul Beljan, a highly credentialed child neuropsychologist who frequently speaks at conferences such as NAGC's and has contributed to 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. The 90-minute event takes place at 7 pm Eastern Standard Time on Saturday, October 18th. The fee is $40. Go here for registration (but no information).
Find out more from SENG by emailing office@sengifted.org or calling 845.797.5054.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

From the Week of September 21

SCHOOLS BENEFITING GT/LD CHILDREN. The Toronto Globe and Mail this week ran an article about Arrowsmith School, founded in Toronto but now with affiliates across Canada and the US. The school caters to students like a bright little boy who "could play chess at age four and assemble things [from] IKEA" but couldn't identify letters at age six. The school uses neuroscience-based techniques to correct cognitive deficits, says the article. After attending Arrowsmith for awhile, most students return to the regular classroom. In spite of the high cost, $19,000 a year, some families move to be near an Arrowsmith school. Read the article.

STRUCTURE THERAPY FOR AD/HD. The New York Times reported on an eight-week summer camp for AD/HD kids that uses as strict, highly structured, behavioral model. The camp, according to the article, awards and subtracts points for behavior, and has found that a combination of meds and the behavioral treatment seems to get the best results and can help students return successfully to school in the fall. To read more, including behavior vignettes familiar to any parent or teacher of AD/HD children, go here.

LEARNING FROM MISTAKES? A study which may support the results obtained by the AD/HD behavior mod program mentioned in the previous item contends that younger children learn better from positive feedback but older children (12 and 13, as well as adults) are more strongly affected by negative feedback. The study also used fMRI to identify the areas of the brain affected by the different kinds of feedback. Read about the study.

AD/HD IN COLLEGE. NPR published three pieces recently dealing with AD/HD and college. One piece profiled a bright young woman with AD/HD, detailing her trials in K-12, the devices and techniques she used to compensate, and how she's doing in college. Another piece offered "10 Tips for College Students with Disabilities," and the third consists of tips for prepping kids with LDs for college.

CHECKING OUT COLLEGES. A tool that might help 2e students get a feel for particular campuses is online at www.unigo.com. The site, according to the New York Times, depends on student contributions in the form of text and video to provide a picture of schools. The advantages of the site: timeliness, the volume of information, and the visual information available. Check it out.

STAND-UP DESKS FOR FIDGETY STUDENTS. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that elementary school teachers in Wisconsin and Minnesota are experimenting with stand-up workstations in the classroom so that students can move while working. According to the article, AD/HD kids are among the ones who benefit most from the desks. The article also mentions the use of "stability balls" as a replacement for chairs. Read the article.

WRIGHTSLAW. The September 23rd edition offered readers links to "top five" favorites from Special Ed Advocate on topics such as legal rights, education, LDs, and advocacy. Links included were to the:
  • Top 5 topics and articles from Special Ed Advocate in the past six months
  • The top 5 blog posts
  • Five free downloadable publications
  • Five free newsletters
Find the links.

THIS WEEK'S EDWEEK.ORG LIVE CHAT, on Friday the 26th, covered online learning and teaching. A transcript is available after the completion of the chat.

NCLD's LD TALK is conducted monthly as an Internet text-based discussion where participants submit questions in advance. September's topic was Universal Design for Learning, which focuses on ways to successfully present information and elicit
knowledge learned. Find the transcript here.

Friday, September 19, 2008

For the Week of September 14th

BRIGHT YOUNG MINDS. Two separate news releases marked the recognition of dozens of young Americans for their academic achievements. The Davidson Institute for Talent Development will honor 20 students with scholarships for contributions to science, technology, mathematics, music, literature, and philosophy. What kind of contributions? One student designed a computer model to aid physicians in patient diagnosis; another improved the mathematics of digital signal representations in portable devices. The ceremony occurs next Wednesday on Capitol Hill. Find out more. The second recognition is by the Society for Science and the Public, which on September 17th named 30 middle school scientists as finalists in its science competition. The Society's final competition and awards will also occur in Washington, DC. Read about it.

DON'T OVERLOOK GIFTED STUDENTS. That's the title of an opinion piece by Del Siegle, president of the National Association for Gifted Children. Siegle uses the recent Fordham Institute report as a starting point and goes on to suggest ways to address the needs of the gifted in a systematic manner. His single most important reform: ensuring that "all teachers have at least some background in methods and strategies to address the learning needs of gifted students..." Read it.

EDWEEK ONLINE CHAT. This week's online chat from Education Week was a discussion of research on adolescents with behavioral disorders. The chat features lots of questions from teachers, counselors, and others, answered by Richard White and Lee Kern. The transcript is available here.

NEUROTICISM PREDICTS ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION. That's what psychology professor Michelle Craske thinks, based on her research with over 600 students. She finds that neuroticism -- the tendency to experience negative emotions such as fear, anxiety, guilt, shame, sadness, or anger -- is a powerful predictor of both anxiety and depression. She also has a hypothetical mechanism by which neuroticism confers risk. Read the report.

YOUTUBE FOR YOUNG SCIENTISTS. Got a budding gifted scientist? A site called TestToob is an online community where young people can collaborate on science. Young scientists can post videos of their science experiments and view others' videos. More features are planned soon. Find the site.

GIFTED AND AD/HD? For young people (and adults, too), the Attention Deficit Disorder Association offers frequent evening teleclasses on topics such as organization, medications, sleep issues, and preparing your AD/HD child for college. The classes are accessible by telephone or online, and are available as a member benefit to those who belong to the association. See the schedule of classes here.

WHAT MAKES AN ENGAGING TEACHER? Find out in the "Lesson Plans" blog on the New York Times site, where a self-described "young, dynamic teacher" in a public school describes some of the things he does that keep students engaged, even on late afternoons and weekends. Want to find out what keeps students from becoming engaged? Read a Teacher Magazine article where a student offers tips for teachers.

2e NEWSLETTER OUT SOON. We're putting together the September/October issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. In it, subscribers will find out why Professor Bob Seney thinks so highly of the kid's book The Mysterious Benedict Society. Our lead article features language disorders in gifted children. And readers will come to understand from Dierdre Lovecky why assessing a gifted
child with AD/HD is different than assessing a gifted child without AD/HD. There's more, of course -- and it'll be out within a week or so. Not yet a subscriber? Go here to find out more or download sample copies.

Friday, September 12, 2008

From the Week of September 7th

ASPIE, HIGH SCHOOL DROPOUT, PhD. One of our 2e Newsletter subscribers sent along a pointer to an interesting interview published awhile back -- the story of Dawn Prince-Hughes, Aspie, formerly homeless and addicted, and now a professor and author of Songs of the Gorilla Nation: My Journey Through Autism. Prince-Hughes described a difficult childhood -- how over-stimulation made clothes uncomfortable so that she'd run around outside pretending she was a primate, sans clothes; how she was reading the philosopher Kant in seventh grade; and how, when she announced at age 16 to her small Montana town that she was gay, it became time to leave home. Also in the interview: her views on Asperger's and how her work with gorillas taught her to be a human being. Hear or read the interview, titled "Gorilla Therapy." [Thanks Barb, for the tip.]

2e AND IN PRIVATE SCHOOL. Many families with 2e children have tried private schools as a way to get their kids the opportunities and accommodations they needed -- button-down, well-endowed schools with high-powered executives on the board of directors, or laid-back Waldorf schools where music and art may be more important than science and math. Any parent or teacher who's ever been associated with a private school will enjoy a mock "registration form" for the fictional Elm Street School, published in the New York Times.

THE BILINGUAL BRAIN. The September issue of Brain Briefings from the Society for Neuroscience points out that speaking more than one language may have cognitive benefits. The newsletter noted that kids fluent in two languages, particularly from early childhood, have an enhanced ability to concentrate, both as children and as adults. As adults, bilingual kids also apparently have denser gray matter in their brains. A side benefit: delayed onset of age-related dementia. Read it here.

INTUITIVE LEARNERS. Got a smart kid who just "sees" the answer to math or science problems? Caulfield in the Frazz cartoon strip is apparently one such kid, and doesn't care to show his work to his teacher Mrs. Olsen -- with a poor outcome. Read it.

SPECIAL ED RESOURCE. Monahan & Cohen, a law firm in Chicago, publishes an e-newsletter called Special Education News. The most recent edition contains articles on "Early Warning Signs of Problems at School," extensive coverage of changes in Indiana special education law, and Illinois legislative updates. Also in the newsletter: information about publications, services, and presentations by firm members on the topic of special education law. If you live in Illinois or Indiana, this firm might be a potential resource. Find the newsletter here.

BRAINSTORM FOR CASH. When my sons were younger, we once brainstormed prospective uses for those plastic shells that enclose portable toilets -- as shelters for rural kids waiting for the school bus, temporary ticket booth structures, ice-fishing shelters, and lots more (and more creative) uses which are unfortunately lost to aging neurons. Your son, daughter, or creative student can win a trip to New York City or a savings bond by creating an invention that incorporates the use of Bubble Wrap brand cushioning by thinking "outside the bubble," as the competition site says. Among past winners: Bubble Wrap wallpaper to stimulate and engage autistic kids; Bubble Wrap kites; and an adjustable wrist cushion to prevent/alleviate carpal tunnel syndrome. Competition deadline: early November.

FAPE NUTS? This week's edition of Special Ed Advocate from Wrightslaw is all about the Free, Appropriate Public Education (FAPE) promised to US parents by IDEA 2004. If you find yourself fighting to get what you think is a FAPE for your child, check Special Ed Advocate to find out what the limits are. For example, the Wrights suggest removing the words "best" and "maximize" from your vocabulary as you negotiate. Read it.

100 HOMESCHOOLING RESOURCES. If you're educating your 2e child at home, check out this list of resources at SmartTeaching.org -- tools for organizing; tools for teaching and learning language arts, math, science, and other topics; Google tools; educational software; search engines ranging from age-appropriate to academic; and blogs on the topic of homeschooling.

Friday, September 5, 2008

For the Week of August 31st

FOR BRAINY BRAIN FREAKS. We haven't mentioned this resource for awhile -- Eric Chudler's Neuroscience for Kids Newsletter. Each month, Chudler, a faculty member at the University of Washington, e-mails a new edition to subscribers, covering topics such as what's new at the the Neuroscience for Kids website, brain trivia, a site of the month, and pointers to various recent news items on neuroscience. In the current issue, September's, Chudler explains how school buses came to be yellow -- and how scientific evidence now supports the wisdom of that choice. Current issue not yet posted; see last month's issue here.

EDUCATION REFORM. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, has released a 35-page booklet called "A Parent's Guide to Education Reform." The bulk of the booklet deals with school choice as a solution; part of the organization's website is also devoted to that issue. Find the booklet here.

ANTIPSYCHOTICS IN KIDS. Science Daily previewed research results on the benefits and risks of antipsychotic medicines in children, along with their impact on individual well-being, social, educational, and/or vocational functioning, and "disease burden." The net-out, in the words of the preview:

  • Early intervention with an effective and well-tolerated antipsychotic provides symptomatologic improvement in some mental disorders in children and adolescents that may modify the actual course of the disease associated with these disorders.
  • Children and adolescents seem to have a higher risk than adults for experiencing adverse events such as extrapyramidal symptoms, prolactin elevation, sedation, weight gain, and metabolic effects when taking antipsychotics.
  • Patients and their families should be included in a careful risk-benefit assessment before prescribing any specific antipsychotic.
If you have a gifted child using antipsychotics as treatment for a conduct disorder, Tourette's, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or tics, you might be interested in this document.

BEHAVIOR AND EMOTIONAL DISORDERS IN TEENS is a topic that concerns any loving parent and probably every teacher of middle school and high school. Parents and teachers know that learning challenges can lead to such disorders in high-ability children, and that the disorders can alienate students from adults or classmates. The results can be a high drop-out rate. Education Week reported this week that a consortium of seven universities have received funding for a National Research and Development Center on Serious Behavioral Disorder at the Secondary Level. The article describes some of the interventions to be evaluated for addressing the problem. Read it.

ADDRESSING BARRIERS TO LEARNING. That's the goal of the ENEWS newsletter from the School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools at UCLA. Their September issue is just out, 11 pages of pointers to articles, publications, links, and other resources. While we don't ever recall seeing twice-exceptionality explicitly addressed in the newsletter, some of the content might be of interest to the intended audience, "those concerned with enhancing policies, programs, and practices related to addressing barriers to student learning and to promoting mental health in schools." For example, the September edition asks for readers' takes on the issue of enhancing school/family/community collaboration to help at-risk children; points to a variety of professional articles on topics in children's mental and physical health, articles with titles such as "How do school connectedness and attachment to parents interrrelate in predicting adolescent depressive symptoms?"; and recognizes a variety of articles on policy, system, law, ethics, finance and statistics. Find the newsletter here, along with archives of past issues.

WRIGHTSLAW. The September 3rd edition of Special Ed Advocate provides back-to-school tips, including ways to create high expectations, build resilience, and defeat the first-day jitters.

MORE ADVOCACY RESOURCES. Rich Weinfeld and Michelle Davis, directors of the Special Needs Advocacy Training Institute in Maryland and authors of Special Needs Advocacy Resource Book, are offering a four-session workshop beginning in October for parents, graduate students, educators, and other professionals with an interest in advocacy and special education law. Find out more.