Saturday, February 27, 2010

HELP EXPLAINING MATH. An online column from The New York Times might be of help to parents attempting to help their bright children with math. Steven Strogatz says of his column, "I’ll be writing about the elements of mathematics, from pre-school to grad school, for anyone out there who’d like to have a second chance at the subject -- but this time from an adult perspective. It’s not intended to be remedial. The goal is to give you a better feeling for what math is all about and why it’s so enthralling to those who get it." Find the columns here.

LEARNING STYLES, ONE MORE TIME -- and probably not the last. In a thoughtful article in Teacher Magazine, a psychological scientist and husband of a classroom teacher provides his take on the controversy between those who insist that learning styles exist and those who deny it, and tries to explain how basic cognitive science can apply to teaching. Read it.

ALL KINDS OF MINDS is an organization that has focused on turning research into educational practices to meet the needs of all students. The organization has announced its list of "Schools of Distinction" that "exemplify how schools can build expertise in learning in order to develop individual intellects, talents, and creativity through innovative teaching; implement a wide range of creative learning concepts that take into consideration students' strengths, affinities and challenges; and help solve problems through addressing student learning issues." Find the list.

MAYBE NOT VACCINES, BUT TOXINS, along with genetics, are the cause of autism, writes Nicolas Kristof. He describes current scientific thinking on the topic, and provides some practical advice on what to avoid -- such as phthalate-containing personal care products. He worries about sensationalizing the risk -- as happened with vaccines -- but says, "On the other hand, in the case of great health dangers of modern times — mercury, lead, tobacco, asbestos — journalists were too slow to blow the whistle. In public health, we in the press have more often been lap dogs than watchdogs." Read the column.

THE CLUSTER GROUPING HANDBOOK is the topic of an interview by Michael Shaughnessy with authors Susan Winebrenner and Dina Brulles. The interview covers how the book can help gifted students, the inclusion in the book of professional development plans and a CD of tools such as interactive lesson plans, and how to "sell" cluster grouping. Find the interview. (2e Newsletter's May, 2009, issue included an article by Brulles and Winebrenner on cluster grouping. Subscribers may read that in the subscriber-only area of the 2e Newsletter website.)

LD RESOURCES. On Feburary 26th, The New York Times published two articles dealing the learning disabilities. One article deals with ways to make sure a child is getting the educational help needed, for example by knowing rights granted under IDEA. The second article offers resources for parents of students with LDs.

EDUTOPIA's current online issue features parent participation at school -- what it can accomplish and how to encourage it.

THE G-FACTOR might not reside in a specific area of the brain, but rather in a network of regions across the brain, according to a study reported in ScienceDaily. One of the reasearchers says, "...the particular regions and connections we found are quite in line with an existing theory about intelligence called the 'parieto-frontal integration theory.' It says that general intelligence depends on the brain's ability to integrate -- to pull together -- several different kinds of processing, such as working memory." If you're into the nuts and bolts -- the neurons and synapses -- of intelligence, read the article.

MONTHLY BRIEFING. Many of the items posted here make it into the free monthly email briefing from 2e Newsletter. Readers who want to make sure they don't miss the content from blog postings may sign up to receive the briefing here.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SCHOLARSHIP OPPORTUNITY. The application period for Jack Kent Cooke Foundation Young Scholars is now open, according to the organization. The program is for high-achieving 7th-graders whose families have financial need. Find out more.

TESTING FOR GIFTEDNESS. An article in the Daily Kos titled "Testing Gone Wild" describes testing (and the testing industry) as it applies to very young children in New York City whose parents want the "gifted" label. Evidently gifted slots in public schools are quite coveted. Read the article.

BABY BLUES AND HOMESCHOOLING. Beginning on Monday, February 8th, the comic strip Baby Blues deals with homeschooling. Seems the kids want it but the parents don't. Read the first in the series.

GIFTED EDUCATION PRESS. The Spring edition of this electronic newsletter is now out, featuring articles on screening and identifying gifted children, depression and the gifted child, and more. Find it.

WHEN YOU SUSPECT AN LD. The first paragraph of an article in last Sunday's New York Times goes like this: "The first sign may be that your bright child is having trouble reading, or organizing school assignments, or concentrating on homework. Your child may be frustrated with school, and you may find yourself frustrated with what looks like a lack of effort. And a teacher may also notice that something is amiss." From there, the article offers advice about assessment, communication with the school, and other issues that parents of 2e children should know about. Read the article.

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL MEETS TEMPLE GRANDIN. In the aftermath of the debut of the movie about her life, Temple Grandin was interviewed by an WSJ editor about her reaction to the movie, autism, and her life in general. She also offered advice for raising an autistic or Aspie child. Find the article.

MEDS AND KIDS. Everyone has an opinion about the appropriateness of meds for kids. According to The New York Times, author Judith Warner captured a book contract six years ago to "explore and document the over-medication of American youth." The result: a book titled We've Got Issues, in which she concludes that few parents take a psychiatric diagnosis lightly or rush to drug a child -- and that most child psychiatrists don't, either. She now believes "that many children’s lives are essentially saved by medication, particularly when it’s combined with evidence-based forms of therapy.” Read the book review.

LEARNING STYLES. Mary-Dean Barringer, head of All Kinds of Minds, comments in Education Week about the waste of talent and money from not understanding, identifying, and addressing variations in learning. She attaches dollar figures to her contentions, pegging educational "waste" of this sort as perhaps $100 billion a year. Read her comments.

DSM AND AD/HD. We've posted about potential changes to the Asperger's diagnosis in the forthcoming DSM-V. Now, an article in ADDITUDE tells us that there are changes proposed to the diagnosis criteria for AD/HD. Among them: doing away with the AD/HD subtypes; changing the age of onset; and requiring fewer symptoms for a diagnosis of adult AD/HD. Read more.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

FROM WRIGHTSLAW. The February 16th edition of Special Ed Advocate explains what a parent needs to know to advocate for a child and where to get training; also included, a list of resources on the topic. If you feel you should better advocate for that gifted or 2e child, check out the newsletter. Also: An announcement that Wrightslaw is now on Facebook. Find it. (They already have almost 3,000 fans -- and growing rapidly as we compose this post.)

GIFTED AND LEFT BEHIND -- that's the contention of two prominent gifted advocates in an article addressing the resources devoted to gifted education in the state of Maryland. Helaine Zinaman and Nancy Green call for increased funding for gifted education and mandated gifted education programs in the state. They write, "The continued, systemic neglect of this entire group of students will ultimately result in long-term negative consequences for the students, our communities and our nation." Read the article.

ON EMPATHY. It's always nice to see a bright young person who can also be empathetic. Health columnist Jane Brody discusses the trait -- and how to instill it -- in a recent column.

CHANGES IN GIFTED EDUCATION FUNDING have been proposed in the United States budget for 2011. The Javits Program may be consolidated with other programs, which does not make the NAGC happy; read their press release. You may read more about the Department of Education's 2011 budget here. And a National Examiner article notes that the federal government allocates .02% of the education budget to gifted education.

NEW BOOK FROM THE EIDES. You can't read it yet, 'coz it won't be out until 2011 -- but you can anticipate until then the publication of The Dyslexic Advantage, about the remarkable capabilities of dyslexics. An item at Dr. Lynn Hellerstein's site tipped us off. In the meantime, you may join an Eide Ning group, also called "Dyslexic Advantage"; the site includes discussions and lots of resources.

ON THIS BLOG, don't forget to scroll down and look to your right to find events of interest to the gifted and 2e community, plus blogs you might find of interest.

Monday, February 15, 2010

ON FEBRUARY 16TH DIANE REHM AND GUESTS address the possible reclassification of Asperger's into autism spectrum disorders, eliminating it as a separate DSM diagnosis. Guests on her morning NPR show will include a professor of child psychiatry at Yale, a science reporter for The New York Times, and an autism researcher who is also part of the DSM revision working group. If this topic is of interest to you, find out more. Show archives are available post-broadcast.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

WE FEEL COMPELLED to periodically remind readers that the Davidson Institute offers many resources for those who raise and teach highly gifted students. One resource is the Educators Guild, part of the Davidson site, with an online community, free consulting services, and a variety of publications. Davidson Young Scholars provides free services for profoundly gifted students under 18. The Institute also offer scholarships (for Davidson Fellows), a free Davidson Academy, and a summer institute. Find out more.

DANCING IN DUCK TAPE. We love this concept, partly because it showcases creativity, hard work, and money in the form of scholarships. Duck Tape brand duct tape offers a yearly "Stuck at Prom" Scholarship Contest in which high school students compete by creating prom outfits made of -- what else -- duct tape. The rewards include recognition at the contest website as well as scholarships. This year's contest begins March 1st. Find out more and see examples of outfits from prior years.

JAY MATTHEWS DOESN'T SAY if he believes in learning styles or not, but he discusses the controversy over a recent study claiming that learning styles have not been the subject of rigorous enough research. (We've covered this issue in previous posts.) Matthews' conclusion: "If the [study] authors are right, the real quandary is we have lost a precious excuse for our own incompetence. Prepare the tax form? Fix that light switch? Well, you know, dear, I was never taught in the proper way to do that." Read the column.

IT'S THAT TIME OF YEAR for brain research. The Dana Foundation has published The 2010 Progress Report on Brain Research. According to the Foundation, the 2010 report features in-depth articles on the genetics of psychiatric disorders, deep brain stimulation, Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, memory, and neuroprotection, as well as a roundup chapter on other areas of advancement. The report is available in PDF format. Find it.

WHAT'S NEW AT HOAGIES. Carolyn K has posted a page of "lighter note" material. If you haven't been there recently, Hoagies' Gifted Education Page is another place to check frequently for information and resources.

THE "PERCY JACKSON" BACKSTORY. 2e Newsletter columnist Bob Seney has reviewed the Percy Jackson book series, in which the young Greek hero has AD/HD and dyslexia. In an article in the UK Guardian, read how the series' author modeled the hero after his son -- and what comes next for fans of the books.

DON'T FORGET that we bookmark articles that might not make it into this blog (or our monthly briefing) at http://delicious.com/2eNewsletter. For instance, today we bookmarked three articles we guessed wouldn't appeal to that many blog readers, but which readers with an interest in particular areas (anxiety, AD/HD, and autistic hypersensitivity) might find useful. So go there once in awhile. If you find it useful -- or not -- let us know.

DON'T KNOW ABOUT 2e NEWSLETTER but want to find out more? Download sample issues at our website to see what we're all about.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

NEW IN NEUROSCIENCE. If you're interested in neuroscience in general because of its contributions to what we know about gifted and twice-exceptional children, you might be interested in an interview in The New York Times with Princeton researcher Samuel Wang. In the interview, Wang describes the progress in the science over the past 25 years and disputes a couple brain myths. (He also describes how a visit to the vet's office led him to a goldmine of MRI data on dog brains -- without the HIPPA restrictions.) Find the article.

GENIUS: NATURE OR NURTURE? An article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette examines both sides of the "cause" of genius, interviewing a few MacArthur Foundation "genius grant" recipients in the process. Most of those interviewed seemed to emphasize guidance and hard work; others, the combination of inborn talent and the environment. Read it.

CHANGING TUNE. The Boston Globe tells the story of a talented young music student/pianist at Berklee College. Diagnosed at age 3 as PDD, he made his parents' lives "a waking nightmare," according to the article. But by age 7 he showed signs of being a musical savant. He underwent therapies and dietary adjustments. Sometimes, playing professionally as a teen, he'd have emotional meltdowns backstage. His trio's bassist, also a professor at Berklee, says, “As Matt’s evolved onstage, his social life has grown too. He’s learned how to talk onstage to the point that he’s almost a ham now.’’ Read more about the growth of this young man.

A NEW DSM. The diagnosis of the young man in the previous item might have a new label after the DSM-V comes out in 2013. Asperger's Syndrome might become part of the ASD. In another example, a diagnosis would be added to avoid labeling children as bipolar, which often leads to lots of meds. Read more about the changes. Check out (and even comment on) proposed revisions to the DSM. Read a ScienceDaily piece on the topic. And read an opinion piece by a father of an Aspie child; the father says, "We no longer need Asperger’s disorder to reduce stigma. And my daughter does not need the term Asperger’s to bolster her self-esteem."

HIGH SENSITIVITY/REACTIVITY. From a ScienceDaily writeup of a new study: "Children who are especially reactive to stress are more vulnerable to adversity and have more behavior and health problems than their peers. But a new longitudinal study suggests that highly reactive children are also more likely to do well when they're raised in supportive environments." Read more.

LONGITUDINAL CHILD STUDY. An obituary informed us of a study of children conducted from 1968 onward, beginning when the kids were age 3 and ending at age 32. Psychology professor Jack Block and co-researchers found indications that disruptive behavior in children could be the cause as well as consequence of parental divorce. Another finding related to personality traits at age 3 that seemed to predict political orientation at age 23. Read the obit.

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND. We always enjoy receiving the current issue of this magazine, and used to enjoy sharing links to current articles -- before the magazine restricted who can see what on its site. So while you can't yet read online a current article on exercises to help address sensory-processing deficits, you can read many other items of interest -- for example, a recent article on chemical exposure and AD/DH; more on proposed DSM changes (if you're not already tired of the topic from an earlier item in this post); or a piece on how our brains may be wired for "categorization." So go to the site once in awhile to see what kinds of interesting items you find for your family, your life, or your work.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Colorado Gifted/2e School Hiring

Colorado Springs, CO - The Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning (AACL) seeks highly qualified, caring, and professional personnel who are committed to supporting the unique vision and mission of AACL. AACL seeks individuals from among the most qualified, who want to make a difference in educating all children, and who want to specialize in gifted education. Job descriptions for Academy Director, faculty and staff positions and an online, printable application have been posted at http://www.academyacl.org/jobs/employ.html. The Academy Director (AD) position will be filled first. The deadline for applying for the AD position is February 10th.

AACL is a new K-8 charter school scheduled to open in Colorado Springs District 11 for the 2010-2011 school year. AACL is designed to meet the needs of gifted, advanced, creative, twice-exceptional, and typical learners who want to excel with a non-traditional, innovative, and open-enrollment program. For more information, interested applicants should review the website link, http://www.academyacl.org/jobs/employ.html, or may email AACL at

Friday, February 5, 2010

TEMPLE GRANDIN BIOPIC. An HBO movie about autistic achiever Temple Grandin airs for the first time this Saturday night. Grandin frequently speaks at conferences where twice-exceptionality is a topic. Her "real" job is animal behavioralist and livestock consultant. The New York Times says this about the movie: "Hers is a tale that could be easily be played up for drama, intrigue and weepy reconciliations, but this narrative is loyal to Ms. Grandin’s credo: emotions are secondary to tangible results. And the result is a movie that is funny, instructive and also intangibly charming." Read the Times article. Hear a recent NPR interview with Grandin.

AP FAILURE RATES. USA Today notes that even while the number of students taking Advanced Placement exams is rising, the rate of failure among those taking the exams is also rising. In some states, more than 50 percent of AP test-takers fail. Read more. Jay Matthews, education writer for the Washington Post, also commented on the problem.

VISION, DYSLEXIA, AND LEARNING is the subject of a recent article at LD Online. The article notes a joint statement between the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Council on Children with Disabilities, and the American Academy of Ophthalmology on visual problems and dyslexia, along with possible treatments. Read the LD Online piece; read the full statement.

TEACHING THE GIFTED is a topic of an article from the San Diego News Network. The article offers strategies that can positively affect learning in high-ability young people. Read it.

EDUTOPIA EVOLVES. The organization Edutopia, here-to-fore the publisher of a print magazine of the same name, has announced it will no longer publish the print edition, instead using the Internet "to deliver deeper, more relevant stories, especially with video, about innovation in teaching and learning. New community and content-sharing tools make it possible for educators to find and exchange tips and solutions with each other whenever they wish." Find out more.

CEC COMMENTS ON THE NEW EDUCATION BUDGET. The Council for Exceptional Children offers its opinions on a couple things the federal government is proposing that involve IDEA and the Javits act, and the Council is not happy. Read why.

TIDBITS. ScienceDaily offers three news items for those of you with an interest in certain exceptionalities in that gifted child you raise or teach. One article describes how children with AD/HD may have differences in the brain's reward system. Another article covers a study on similarities between symptoms of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder and AD/HD. And a third study links excessive Internet use to depression, although the population in question uses the Internet so much that the article uses the word "addicts" to describe them.

AD/HD VERSUS GIFTEDNESS. Mom and blogger Kelly Burns recently posted a long piece offering information and advice to parents in regard to giftedness being misdiagnosed as AD/HD. One of her main suggestions: find a qualified psychologist for an assessment. Read the blog.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

REFORMING EDUCATION. An opinion piece in Monday's New York Times contained the following language: "Our current educational approach — and the testing that is driving it — is completely at odds with what scientists understand about how children develop during the elementary school years and has led to a curriculum that is strangling children and teachers alike." To read the suggestions for ways to reform the typical school day, go here.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. Got a gifted kid with AD/HD and sleep problems? Check out the most-recently posted issue of Attention Research Update
, in which David Rabiner reviews a study comparing sleep disturbances in non-medicated children with AD/HD to "controls." The basic conclusion: AD/HD children who are non-medicated are more sleep-impaired than other children. Read more.

"FRONT OF THE CLASS," a Hallmark movie inspired by Brad Cohen, the award-winning teacher who has Tourette Syndrome, is re-airing on CBS on Friday, February 5th, according to a good friend of 2e Newsletter. She urges all of us to "check your local listings." More information here.

TOO MUCH PRAISE for that high-ability kid? A UK commentator recently wrote this: "American authors Ashley Merryman and Po Bronson have sparked fierce debate in child psychology circles with their book NurtureShock, which suggests, among other things, that too much "positive reinforcement" can stunt a child's development." We've mentioned in past postings the negative effect praise can have; read the commentary.

THE RISE OF NEUROSCIENCE. You certainly read the word "neuroscience" frequently in this blog. The discipline has had a tremendous effect on the amount of information available to us as we raise, teach, and counsel our gifted and twice-exceptional kids. If it seems as if the discipline came from nowhere, well, maybe it has. An article at io9.com shows "how neuroscience went from a hodgepodge of unconnected scientific disciplines to a unified science that's one of the most important today, in just under 10 years." The best part is a creative graphic showing the interrelationship of disciplines contributing to neuroscience. See the article.