Monday, April 27, 2009

From the Week of April 26th

START THE WEEK OFF RIGHT by laughing at a smart kid, albeit a fictional one. In Monday's Frazz, Caulfield discovers how students fit into the vendor/customer relationship where school is involved. Is he the customer? Noooo... Read it.

IF YOU VALUE WRIGHTSLAW ADVICE, be advised that the apparently inexhaustible Wrights now have a blog where they answer questions about and comment on a variety of school legal issues pertaining to educators and parents. Find the blog.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. David Rabiner's April issue is now posted online. In it, Rabiner reports on a study evaluating the effectiveness of Cogmed's working memory training program. Find it. (To sign up to receive his newsletter in your inbox, go here.)

CREATIVE KIDS MAGAZINE, from Prufrock Press, publishers of materials related to giftedness, is looking for new advisory board members aged 8 to 14 and creative, proactive, and outgoing, according to the publication's website. The magazine is also looking for submissions of art, poems, stories, and games.
Find out more.

GIFTED WITH WORDS. A couple 11-year-old boys bested older competitors to win the National School Scrabble Championship last weekend, taking away $10,000. Read an account. We didn't even know there was a National Scrabble Championship, much less a National Scrabble Association. But if you go to the Association's website, you can see the play-by-play commentary of the entire competition.

AD/HD, MEDS, GRADES. An article in the May issue of Pediatrics reports that
researchers have found that children with AD/HD who took medication scored higher in math and reading than unmedicated peers with AD/HD. However, these gains were not great enough to eliminate the test-score gap between children with AD/HD and those without the disorder. The results, according to the authors, suggest the need for active parent and teacher involvement plus tutoring. Read the AAP News brief. Read expanded reportage of the study.

WRITTEN-LANGUAGE DISORDER VERSUS READING DISORDER. Also in the May issue of Pediatrics is a description of a study indicating that written-language disorder (WLD) is at least as frequent as reading disorder. The article notes that, compared to RDs, research into WLD is meager. You can read a capsule of this article here, but apparently no other content from this article has been released "into the wild" yet, so you'll have to borrow your pediatrician's copy of Pediatrics to read the article. [UPDATE, 5/1: Go here for more information about the study.]

UPDATE: DUMPING THE "GIFTED" LABEL. An article published Wednesday provides an update on a pilot program in Maryland to eliminate the label "gifted and talented." According to the article, reviews are positive. In the program, highly-able students still get accelerated instruction; in fact, at one school all of the students were receiving some form of acceleration. Read the article.

EVERYONE IN THE 2e COMMUNITY knows about Henry "Fonz" Winkler's background and his advocacy for children with learning challenges; he's a prolific presenter. Winkler fans may read a recent interview with him here.

THE REAL RAIN MAN, Kim Peek, has written a book with that title, and he spoke this week at a CEC-sponsored event in New Jersey. Kim Peek's final comments at the event, according to an article covering the event: "You don't have to be handicapped to be different. We're all different... None of us are the same in a lot of ways." Read the article.

SEE OUR DELICIOUS.COM POSTS for pointers to recent articles on additional topics concerning child development, giftedness, LDs, parenting, and education. For example, from this week, find articles on: sleep duration and AD/HD symptoms; a case before the U.S. Supreme Court on whether a school district must pay private school tuition for an LD child; and a neuroimaging study of the reading process, with implications for helping dyslexics. Go to 2e Newsletter's bookmarks at Delicious.com, a social bookmarking site.

MORE NEWS during the week...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

From the Week of April 19th

THE MANAGED CHILD. An article in the Montreal Gazette describes the pressures on today's children, their sense of entitlement, and their place on a pedestal. Also covered are changes and contrasts with previous generations in terms of such issues as media, structure of life, and expectations. Along with the observations and some of the implied parenting advice (too late for us), we liked the terms we found: "affluenza" for the sense that happiness is linked to material possessions; "severely gifted" for a child thought to be (rightly or wrongly) exceptionally smart of talented; "trophy child"; and others. Read the article.

THE NEXT DSM. If you're interested in getting a preview of the next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, check out an article at Clinical Psychiatry News. Some of the participants in building the next edition reportedly say that the DSM-V will place "a greater emphasis on the disability and functioning associated with psychiatric illness." This and other changes are supposed to make it easier to take into account co-morbidities (and those of you involved with twice-exceptional kids know how many are really 3e or 4e) and the "NOS" (not otherwise specified) dilemma. Publication is still three years off, but you can read the preview here.

2e IN LIFE, ART. The movie "The Soloist" is about a homeless, extremely talented musician who also may have schizophrenia. The talented British director of the film, according to an interview in the Houston Chronicle, is dyslexic and directs films with complex story lines. The director, Joe Wright, says his dyslexia, which was undiagnosed for most of his school career, leads him to "think about things in different ways and create different connections." He says he thinks "in moments of film." ["I am a clown," says the main character in Heinrich Boll's book The Clown, "and I collect moments." Sequitur? Non?] Read the article (and find how Wright's reaction to a friend's psychotic breakdown led Wright to deny the label of "mental illness" in favor of "personalities and perspectives of realities.")

LD AND GENDER. Science Daily reported on a study uncovering nine genes that apparently cause learning disabilities when the genes are "knocked out." These genes are all on the X chromosome, of which males have one and females two. LDs are more common in males, and researchers speculate that an X-chromosome genetic mutation has more impact on males. The research should affect future diagnosis, genetic counseling, and treatment development. Read the article.

GIFTED LEARNERS is the topic of what is probably the longest interview by Michael Shaughnessy (of Ednews.org) that we've ever seen. The interview, with authors Joanne Foster and Dona Matthews, covers a new edition of their book on gifted education; why and how
parents should be involved in their gifted child's education; and gifted girls. The interviewees also offer opinions on such topics as labeling (of programs versus the kids), acceleration and enrichment, and how to best serve borderline-gifted kids. Find the interview.

AD/HD AND COLLEGE. In its "Education Life" section on Sunday, the 19th, The New York Times offered tips and advice for families who will be sending an AD/HD child off to college in the fall. The article suggests that medications may have to be adjusted to adapt to a longer study day, that away-at-college students will lose family support, and that colleges should be chosen with support services in mind. The article also notes that college is often the time when undiagnosed AD/HD comes to light. Read the article.

WE MIGHT HAVE MISSED THIS item in March -- an article in the Dana Foundation's BrainWork newsletter on the effect of AD/HD stimulant medications on the brain. According to the article, apparently those drugs do not adversely affect the development of the cortex, which undergoes "thinning" during adolescence. Instead, the drugs may normalize the brain's development. Researchers speculate that stimulants encourage the use of areas of the brain related to attention, which in turn makes the maturation process seem similar to that in "normal" children -- a "use it or lose it" proposition that involves the brain's plasticity. If you've got a gifted and AD/HD kid who's resisting meds, show'em this article.

Monday, April 13, 2009

From the Week of April 12th

MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES is the topic of a collection of videos and articles on the Edutopia site, some of the material very recent (i.e, this month). If you're an aficionado of this approach to learning and teaching for high-ability kids, check it out.

SHOULDA KNOWN THE WRITER WAS DAN BARRY when we got partway into an article in The New York Times on April 15th. Once you start one of his articles, you usually finish, and this article about Tiffany Clay, an academically and musically gifted high school senior in Ohio, was no exception. The young lady in question, according to the article, "Should be going to a top college, on scholarship. Should be, but won't be..." The reason: she supports herself by working 35 hours a week on roller skates at a Sonic drive-in, gets months' worth of free meals there for being employee of the month, pays for her own apartment, but doesn't know what role music will continue to play in her life after high school. Read the article and be depressed. [Or be encouraged. By late afternoon on the 15th, the following note appeared in the online "Comments" section for the article:
The "This Land" column that appeared on April 15th prompted an outpouring of support for both Tiffany Clay and the Newark High School Sinfonia. For those who want to help in some way, here is the e-mail address for Susan Larson, the school's music director, and the addresses for two funds being established to help this young lady and her school.... Find the addresses.]

THE USE OF IQ. The London
Financial Times profiled the woman who has the world's highest recorded IQ, Marilyn vos Savant, who writes the "Ask Marilyn" column in Parade Magazine. The article recounts how, in the mid-1980s, publicity of her IQ score of 228 changed her life. The article also covers "detractors" of Savant, critics who feel she should be doing more in life than writing a Q&A column, and gives background information on intelligence testing in general. If nothing else, this article brings perspective to the issues that may attach to profound giftedness. Read it.

TWITTER GOES GIFTED. Joel McIntosh of Prufrock Press has apparently broken the Twitter barrier for the gifted world. In a recent email, he explains how members of the gifted community might be able to use the technology to communicate, advocate, and participate. He also offers access to his own tweets. Find out more, and if you think Twitter can apply to the 2e community as well, let us know.

ADVICE FOR GT EDUCATORS. A new blog by the organization Ingeniousus offers tips for GT professionals. The first posts cover "four B's" of partnering with parents: be empathetic, be open and available, be wildly creative, and be consistent. Find the blog.

GIFTED IN NEW JERSEY? The site of the New Jersey Parents' Interactive Network for Gifted Education (NJPING) might be of interest to you. The goal: local networking to "change the state of education for all gifted children." Go to the site.

Monday, April 6, 2009

From the Week of April 5th

TEACHING SOCIAL SKILLS TO ASPIES is what a UCLA class accomplished in a study reported in Science Daily. Thirty-three teens attended 12 weekly 90-minutes sessions and, compared to a control group, demonstrated improved knowledge of rules of social etiquette, more frequent hosted get-togethers, and a significantly better quality of friendships. Read the article.

MULTIPLE INTELLIGENCES IN "SMARTSVILLE." Edutopia's April issue carries an article about a charter school in Georgia where the concept of multiple intelligences is the core of the educational philosophy. Classroom activities and simulated real-world tasks (in a post office, a bank, a culinary arts institute, or a "Museum of Smart") "allow students to explore and express the multiple ways of being smart," according to the article. Indeed, labels such as "word smart," "body smart," and "nature smart" are in constant use. Read more.

SENSORY-FRIENDLY MOVIE THEATERS. Ever had a sensitive kid, maybe autistic or Aspie, go to pieces during a stimulus-heavy movie? A listserv brought to our attention a program called "Sensory Friendly Films," by AMC. In some of its theaters, chain will offer screenings in which the sound is not as loud as usual and the lighting is not reduced completely. Children will also be able to move about or be vocal while they watch the movies. The arrangement is co-sponsored by the Autism Society of America. Find out more.

CONVERSATIONS WITH MENSA, interviews made available online by the Mensa Education and Resource Foundation, offers "Taking Control of ADD," information about the condition and how to manage it. Listen.

EDUCATION AND EATING DISORDERS. In her blog, Deborah Ruf muses on how our education system may lead to eating disorders in bright young women. The problem: lack of challenge in the early years. "When we treat all children the same during their school years," says Ruf, "we cannot possibly serve all of them well." Find the blog.

EDUTOPIAN RESOURCES. Edutopia has published an article called "Virtual Libraries Are Teaching Treasures," sampling some of the resources available online through libraries. The article describes what's available for voracious learners and teachers through the Library of Congress and the New York Public library. Find out more.

GIFTED AND ANXIOUS. Prufrock Press, a publisher of books and materials for the gifted, has posted a podcast called "Anxiety-Free Kids: Helping Children with Anxiety Disorders." In the podcast, publisher Joel McIntosh interviews Dr. Bonnie Zucker, a clinical psychologist specializing in anxieties and phobias. Length: 38 minutes. Hear it.

WANT TO DEMONSTRATE your feelings about the restrictions for the Amazon electronic book that keep it from using its text-to-speech function for some copyrighted works? Be outside the Authors Guild headquarters at 31 East 32nd Street in New York City on April 7th at 12 noon. Find out more at the site of the Reading Rights Coalition. Many gifted kids depend on text-to-speech functions to help them overcome reading difficulties. [FOLLOW-UP, 4/10. An article in Publisher's Weekly said that 200 demonstrators showed up with signs and chants ("Two, four, six, eight, the Authors Guild Discriminates!") to protest the Kindle restrictions. Read it.]

THE SENSORY PLAYGROUND. CEC SmartBriefs pointed us to an article about a "sensory yard" at a Louisiana school. The yard allows special-needs students to attend to their sensory needs on a large scale by feeling textures, climbing, or using a balance beam or tunnel. The yard, says the article, helps kids relax, work through anxieties, and focus when they return to the classroom. Read the article.

MORE ITEMS as the week passes...