Saturday, January 30, 2010

PBS ENCOURAGES INNOVATIVE TEACHERS. Through March 12th, innovative teachers may enter a PBS Teachers contest. If you are a teacher and making a difference, check out the site for prizes and rules. If you know an innovative teacher -- hopefully one who has made a difference with your gifted child -- you might want to encourage that teacher to enter the contest.

SCIENCE COMPETITION FOR K5-8. Discovery Education and 3M have announced their 2010 Young Scientist Challenge. For the competition, middle school students residing in the United States are asked to create a one- to two-minute video communicating the science behind a possible solution for one of a list of safety and security issues that are present in everyday life. Deadline is May 27th. Find out more.

KNOW A GIFTED TEENAGE WRITER? That person might be interested in inkpop.com, an interactive writing platform for teens. Here's how the website describes itself: "inkpop is an online community that connects rising stars in teen lit with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals. Our social networking forum spotlights aspiring authors and the readers who provide the positive springboard for feedback. inkpop members play a critical role in deciding who will land a publishing contract with HarperCollins." The site includes access to popular projects, blogs, and personal profiles by the writers. Find it.

UNWRAPPING THE GIFTED. Tamarra Fisher blogs about gifted webinars coming up, including events from NAGC, SENG, the University of California, Belin-Bank, and the Center for Talented Youth. Read the blog.

NEW EDUCATION BLOG. Education Week has launched a new blog called "Teacher in a Strange Land." In one of her first posts, "Stuff I Used to Think," Nancy Flanagan, a 30-year teacher and one-time Michigan Teacher of the Year, provides a somewhat jaded view on educational issues such as FAPE, the teacher's role, equity, and the mission of public schooling. Find out if your views mesh with hers.

EDUTOPIA VIDEOS ON iTUNES U. We've mentioned iTunes U as a source for educational material. Edutopia is now offering free downloadable video content through the site. Some of the topics include social and emotional learning, case studies of particular schools, and teacher training. Find out more.

AID FOR DYSLEXIC READERS. A professor of digital design has developed a toolkit to to help educators more effectively assist children with dyslexia, The online tool employs sight, sound, and physical movement to increase the reading and retention abilities of children aged 9 to 11 who have dyslexia, according to ScienceDaily. The researcher says, "I want to deemphasize the 26 letters of the alphabet and emphasize the 44 common sounds of the English language. I do so by helping educators employ children's senses, from the visual to the kinesthetic." Find out more.

PROBLEMS FOR THE MIXED-HANDED. Research reported in the journal Pediatrics indicates that children who are mixed-handed, or ambidextrous, are more likely to have mental health, language and scholastic problems in childhood than right- or left-handed children. About 1 in 100 people are mixed-handed. Among the risks: twice the incidence of AD/HD. Read more.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

NOT MUCH NEWS so far this week...

SPECIAL ED ADVOCATE addresses dysgraphia in its newly-distributed issue. Included: a piece on understanding dysgraphia and what it might mean for your high-ability child's problems with spelling, handwriting, or written expression; getting help for dysgraphia; and how, as a child, Pete Wright of Wrightslaw was labeled as borderline mentally retarded and emotionally disturbed because of his problems with reading and writing. Find the newsletter.

A MENTOR FOR YOUR GIFTED CHILD. The Davidson Institute has several resources on its site about mentoring your high-ability, highly-motivated child. One is an article titled "Tips for Parents"; you can also find a PDF guidebook on mentorships; and there's a pointer to a site for a Girls E-Mentoring program.

REQUIRED FOR SUCCESS: IQ OR WORKING MEMORY? An article at SharpBrains.com describes a study indicating that working memory is required for school success, no matter what the IQ. According to the article, "..working memory at the start of formal education is a more powerful predictor of subsequent academic success than IQ in the early years." Find the article.

Friday, January 22, 2010

DOES YOUR SCHOOL SUPPORT YOUR CHILD? The University of Michigan polled parents across the U.S. to see what parents thought of the way their children's public schools provided children with support for behavioral, emotional, or family problems. In the poll results, thirty-seven percent of parents gave primary schools an A for supporting for children with issues ranging from AD/HDHD to depression to bullying. Parents were less satisfied with behavioral/emotional support than with educational services. Find the report.

MEDIA USE AND GRADES. A Kaiser Family Foundation study shows that young people are now engaged with media almost 8 hours a day. About grades and media use, the Foundation news release says, "
While the study cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, there are differences between heavy and light media users in this regard. About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users. These differences may or may not be influenced by their media use patterns." Find more information.

REMEDIATING READING BUT ATTRACTING THE GIFTED. Jay Mathews of the Washington Post published a letter from a teacher who describes how she "disguised" her remedial reading class. Some students with reading problems had to come to her resource room, an adjunct of the media center; for others, it was voluntary. The teacher writes, "
I found that the kids released from regular class most often were the really bright and those with great difficulties. And they worked well together." Mathews calls her venture "a free-form gifted non-program." Read the letter.

GOT A KID IN AN AP COURSE? The Post's Jay Mathews shares a secret: you can request an Advanced Placement Grade Report for your high school, a report showing student scores on spring AP exams. So what? According to Mathews, "The reports take you beyond the school course guide. They suggest which courses might be best for you and your family members. They are puzzles that, for the first time, everyone has a chance to solve." Read more.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SOMETHING ELSE FOR PARENTS TO WORRY ABOUT. Parents of all kids, including gifted kids, have all sorts of things to worry about as their offspring grow up. The New York Times on January 19th added a new worry to the list with a story about a seven-year-old who suffered a stroke. The author of the article is the boy's father, presumably a Times writer. Of his son right after the stroke, he wrote: "Two days before, he had been a happy, athletic second grader, a beautiful boy who loved playing baseball and basketball in the park. Now he couldn't walk; he had to struggle to remember the color of a barn." Read about the family's harrowing ordeal.

CHILDHOOD STRESS. Spanish researchers have compiled a 25-point list of daily situations which are stressors to children. According to ScienceDaily, some of the most influential factors are worries about physical appearance, too many activities, or being alone. Read more.

WEBINAR ON GIFTED KIDS AND SPORTS. Our Gifted and Talented Online Conferences is offering an early-February webinar titled "Cartesian Splits and Chinese Splits: Gifted Kids and Sports," to be presented by Steve Balzac. Find more information.

EVALUATING WRITTEN EXPRESSION. If you raise or teach a gifted child who has problems with written expression, you might be interested in the the Wrightslaw Special Ed Advocate from the week of January 17th. It covers what evaluations should cover, myths and misconceptions about written language testing, common tests, and additional information about evaluating written expression. Find Special Ed Advocate.

GIFTED IN FRANCE. If you happen to be an English-speaking person residing in the environs of Paris, France, who has concerns or information needs that bring you to this blog, then check out "Gifted in France," billed as a support group for English-speaking parents of gifted children in Paris. Currently on the site is notice of a speaking event sponsored by the group titled "Gifted Third Culture Children." Find the blog.

GOOD BOOKS FOR KIDS. The American Library Association has announced its literary award winners for 2010 -- the Newberry Medal, Caldecott Medal, Printz Award, and many others. To see if any of these books might be of interest to your gifted young person on any age, check the site. (And wait to see if 2e Newsletter's columnist Bob Seney makes any pronouncements over the winners in future newsletter issues.)

INTERACTIVE SCIENCE EDUCATIONAL GAME. A press release alerted us to a new website from PBS Kids Go! The site features a multi-level game called "Lifeboat to Mars" where players work to rebuild a virtual ecosystem in outer space, supposedly learning standards-based biology concepts. The game is set in the year 2041 on a supply ship to Mars. Check out the game.

Friday, January 15, 2010

THE NEW ISSUE OF THE DUKE GIFTED LETTER IS OUT, and it contains articles dealing with the myths of giftedness; advocating for gifted kids; advanced placement classes; and "proficiency" and gifted students. Find the issue.

THE CURRENT ISSUE OF 2e NEWSLETTER has been posted at www.2eNewsletter.com. Subscribers may find the complete content in the subscriber-only area; non-subscribers may read select articles and columns here, including the concluding article in the "Mythology of Learning" series and columns by Bob Seney (on books for 2e kids) and Dr. Sylvia Rimm (advice for parents of gifted and 2e kids).

THE FACE OF DYSLEXIA, this year, anyway, is a 17-year-old student at Miami University of Ohio, Jessica Byington. The award is given by the International Dyslexia Association to a student who refuses to be hindered by dyslexia. In the case of Byington, she went from finding words to be meaningless symbols in first grade to -- after lots of tutoring and work -- being able to read at the 12th-grade level when she was in grade 4. Find out more.

BIOFEEDBACK IN AD/HD. UK researchers have shown that EEG biofeedback can help impulse control in children with AD/HD. The children played a computer game while wearing a helmet that used EEG to track attention; if attention wavered, the game would stop. One researcher said, "Mind-controlled educational computer games technology is the only intervention shown to reduce the core symptoms of ADHD, historically medication may have been prescribed for the child." Read more.

DIAGNOSING AD/HD. Up until now, diagnosing AD/HD had depended on behavior observation; there has been no physical evidence. However, a study from the UC Davis MIND Institute indicates that two brain areas fail to connect when children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder attempt a task that measures attention. The disconnect was found by measuring electrical brain rhythms. Read more.

NEW DRUG FOR AD/HD. Current Psychiatry Online reports on a recently-approved extended release drug for AD/HD, Guanfacine. Those of you interested in the technical details -- such as the fact that Guanfacine extended release (GXR) is a selective α-2 adrenergic agonist that enhances noradrenergic pathways through selective direct receptor action in the prefrontal cortex -- may go here. The brand name is Intuniv; the manufacturer is Shire.

IDEA ADVOCATES, UNITE -- and go to the site of the Council for Exceptional Children to see how you can influence Congress in terms of funding IDEA.

BLOGGING ABOUT BOYS. Jennifer Fine, a freelance writer and homeschooling mom, recently brought up the topic of "twice exceptional" on her blog. She also offers a survey for those who homeschool boys. Find the blog.

CRAZY LIKE US. We recently heard Ethan Watters, author of Crazy Like Us, interviewed on NPR. His book is subtitled "The Globalization of the American Psyche." Watters contends that we have exported the way we look at mental health, and in doing so we change symptoms and disease prevalence in other societies and cultures. He addresses the question, how does culture affect mental illness? On YouTube, you can see a three-minute, publisher-sponsored video of Watters talking about the book; watch it. (One good line, "We are homogenizing the way the world goes mad.")

ANOTHER REASON TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT BEING A PARENT. Science Daily reports on a new Brigham Young University study which found that parenthood is associated with lower blood pressure, particularly so among women. A researcher cautions making hasty decisions based on the study results, however, saying, "This doesn't mean the more kids you have, the better your blood pressure. The findings are simply tied to parenthood, no matter the number of children or employment status." Read the report.

Monday, January 11, 2010

EDUCATION, GIFTEDNESS, AD/HD, AND CORTICES. The noted Doctors Eide comment on a recent research report on "cognition without control," control being the function of the prefrontal cortex, which theorizes about why our prefrontal cortices develop somewhat late. The Eides take the interpretation a step further, noting that children who are gifted or have AD/HD typically have later-developing prefrontal cortices. The Eides reflect on the application of the theory to the timing of stimulants for AD/HD, and to education. Find the Eide blog.

EDUCATOR RESOURCE. The National Autism Center has published a manual for educators called Evidence-Based Practice and Autism in the Schools. The Center says that "The manual outlines relevant topics, including the current state of research findings, professional judgment and data-based clinical decision making, values and preferences of families, and capacity building." The 245-page manual is available for purchase or as a free dowload. Find out more.

WHY GOOD KIDS SOMETIMES ACT CRUELLY is the title of a recent NPR show hosted by Diane Rehm. NPR says about the show: "
A psychologist and a school principal explain the importance of the pre-teen years in heading off mean behavior. They offer strategies for kids, parents and teachers to deal with teasing, bullying and other bad behaviors."
If this is a problem in your home or classroom, check out this program.

THE RAINMAN OF FLATBUSH. The New York Times profiled George Kramer, a developmentally disabled man who has worked in a Brooklyn hardware store for 58 years. George has remarkable abilities of memory, date calculation, and location. Of the thousands of parts in the hardware store, the article says:
"George can identify each nut and bolt and screw on sight... and he knows where, exactly, in the store it is kept. He can tell you its cost. And he can tell you the name — and often the phone number — of the company that made it." Read more about George and his life.

ACHIEVING IN SPITE OF AN LD, a shaky home environment, and an "at-risk" label -- it all makes for another good story from The New York Times. A year after deciding to change his attitude, Nazaury Delgado, a high school senior in the Bronx, showed some of his Photoshop-created images to his art teacher. HIs teacher showed the works to colleagues, and, according to the article, "as the teachers looked at the images, they realized that Mr. Delgado should be applying to the top art schools in the nation." Find out what happened, and be sure to check out photos of the artist and his work.

CHALLENGING BRIGHT STUDENTS. Sunday the 10th was trifecta day for The New York Times. Their third winner covered high schools that offer dual enrollment courses "as a way to challenge their brightest students and ward off senioritis once college applications are done." Students can get college courses for a fraction of their usual cost, bypass high-pressure AP programs, and smooth the transition to college. Read the article.

THE ASPERGER'S DIFFERENCE. Personnel from The Center for Spectrum Services in Kingston, New York, produced a film by that name addressing the challenges and gifts of teens with Asperger's, showing the film for the first time recently and offering a DVD version of the piece. The piece centers on interviews with three Aspie teens. Read more. See a trailer for the film.


ASIA/PACIFIC GIFTED CONFERENCE. Jo Freitag's Gifted Resources Newsletter pointed us to information about the 11th Asia Pacific Conference on Giftedness, to be held July 29th to August 1st in Sydney, Australia. Wish we could be there, but we're betting that our readers in Australia and New Zealand will find this of interest. Find out more. Also from Freitag's newsletter, news of an event in Glen Waverly, Australia, titled "Success in Teaching Twice-Exceptional Children." Find out more at Freitag's website.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

First Posting of 2010

WE THOUGHT WE WERE IN A NEWS DROUGHT during the first week of 2010, that perhaps we'd used up all of the news on twice-exceptionalities, child development, and gifted education in the last weeks of 2009. But, thankfully, not so. First, though, two non-news items.

REACTION TO "BAD RAP ON LEARNING STYLES." One of our readers, a clinical psychologist with a research degree (Ph.D.) who describes herself as a "
fairly educated individual who has spent many years on the inside of the research bubble arguing over and interpreting this kind of research," had this to say about the item we posted on December 19th: "I would interpret this article to suggest that the evidence for or against learning styles is inconclusive because the many studies reviewed lacked equivalent methodologies. This often happens when a meta-analytic study is done... There may indeed be such a thing as learning styles but the current research methods we use have not been able to clearly identify it. Like the authors, I would recommend more research that uses standardized protocols, which can be done. Reading this review from the standpoint of a parent and general consumer, I would be led to conclude that there is no such thing as learning styles, and that would be sad, because I have been able to provide better help to both my son and daughter with their schooling with the info I've gleaned on learning styles." Thanks, Janet.

THE JANUARY/FEBRUARY ISSUE OF 2e NEWSLETTER is on its way to subscribers. The 25-page issue focuses on what we can do for 2e children in the area of strategies to promote learning. Also included: Part 2 of Marlo Payne Thurman's article "Too Tired: Energy and Wellness in 2e Children." The Bridges Academy "Mythology of Learning" series concludes with a piece on ways to encourage organization in 2e children. Dr. Sylvia Rimm addresses stuttering in a bright young person, and Bob Seney enthusiastically reviews The Unfinished Angel. Columns and the Bridges article will be posted on the public area of www.2eNewsletter.com within a week. Subscribers to the newsletter will then be able to find all content from this issue in the subscriber-only area.

SPEAKING OF RESEARCH, as we did in our first item, the Belin-Blank Center has announced this year's Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development, to be held on the University of Iowa campus on May 16-18. The Center describes the event as "internationally renowned for being one of the premiere scholarly conferences where the latest in gifted education research is presented." Find out more.

WHEN THE SECOND "e" IS EMIGRATION.
The New York Times ran an engaging story about a gifted young man at Princeton who had escaped the poverty and drug violence of Columbia, received his American schooling in a "gritty factory town," achieved valedictory honors, and was admitted to Princeton, where he continued to achieve in and out of the classroom. The problem: his green card was fake, and Princeton was asking to see his documents in response to a federal government requirement. How does the story end? You'll have to read the article.

AD/HD MEETS fMRI. Researchers at the University of Texas are using functional magnetic resonance imaging to examine brain activity of people with AD/HD, both on and off the drug Concerta. Evidently the researchers are still looking for additional subjects, so if you're in the San Antonio area and interested, check out the article.

AUTISM IN THE NEWS. Two news releases report on autism research. From the first: "
Researchers at UC Davis have identified 10 locations in California where the incidence of autism is higher than surrounding areas in the same region. Most of the areas, or clusters, are in locations where parents have higher-than-average levels of educational attainment. Because children with more educated parents are more likely to be diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder, one need look no further for a cause, the authors say. The other clusters are located close to major autism treatment centers." Find it. The second release describes an Israeli researcher's definition of "a new, integrated interpretation of Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which makes it easier to understand both the commonalities and differences between ASD and other conditions." You can read the release here, but it looks as if you'll have to find the December issue of The Neuroscientist to get the details. Separately, President Obama's nomination to a seat on the National Council on Disability, a 22-year-old, outspoken Aspie, is thought by some to be "not quite autistic enough," according to a news article. Find out more.

UC DAVIS MIND INSTITUTE. The University of California at Davis, as we found when we went to the site to check out one of the press releases above, is home to the M.I.N.D. Institute, self-described as "a collaborative international research center, committed to the awareness, understanding, prevention, care and cure of neurodevelopmental disorders." On its site, the Institute offers a resource center with pointers to resources in a number of areas of interest to those who raise, teach, and counsel twice-exceptional children. Find it.