Saturday, April 30, 2011

Too Cool Not to Share

ON THE EDUCATION SYSTEM. We found one of our favorite "Calvin and Hobbes" strips recently, and it still makes us laugh. The 4-panel strip:
  1. Calvin at the front of classroom, holding up a small box: "Today for show and tell, I've brought a tiny marvel of nature: a single snowflake." 
  2. He continues: "I think we might all learn a lesson from how this utterly unique and exquisite crystal..." 
  3. Looking into the box with his (former) snowflake: "...turns into a boring molecule of water, just like every other one, when you bring it into the classroom." 
  4. Turning and walking away, tossing the box over  his shoulder: "And now, while the analogy sinks in, I'll be leaving you drips and going outside." Teacher word balloon: "CALVIN!"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e Newsletter

THE DANA FOUNDATION, purveyors of much information of interest to readers concerned with issues of giftedness, neuroscience, and mental heath, has posted two new items:
  •  An opinion piece on what the new DSM-5 should look like, especially in terms of perceived weaknesses in the current classification scheme. The author, for example, points to problems with the "not otherwise specified" category, and suggests that "dimensional" diagnosis (as opposed to finding x number of symptoms for two weeks) might be useful. He also wants a way for the DSM to take into account the single genetic underpinnings of multiple conditions. Find the article
  • A report on a symposium on memory, which included some presentations on working memory and AD/HD. Find the article.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE has posted its April study review, this one on diet and AD/HD. From Rabiner's review: "...nearly two-thirds of a representative sample of young children with ADHD showed a substantial reduction in ADHD symptoms when placed on the 'few foods' diet.  In fact, the authors conclude their study by suggesting that "...dietary intervention should be considered in all children with ADHD, provided parents are willing to follow a diagnostic restricted elimination diet for a 5-week period, and provided expert supervision is available." Find the review.
WRIGHTSLAW's current edition of Special Ed Advocate offers advice to parents on participating as a member of a child's IEP team. Read more.
KIDS WITH AD/HD might use drugs and alcohol more often, according to a couple of recent studies. Find more at Time.com.
BRAINWAVE "FINGERPRINTS." A researcher recorded brainwaves during two nights for a group of children, then repeated the study two years later. A computer analysis was able to match the kids with their brainwaves. The research hopes the work will lead to biomarkers for depression and schizophrenia. Read more.
BEACON COLLEGE, bills itself as "the nation's only four-year accredited institution that offers highly specialized and proven educational programs for students diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, gifted but learning disabled, aspergers and other language-based learning disabilities." The college has received a grant to hire a life transition coach to help students enter the workplace. Find out more.
GREAT POTENTIAL PRESS, publishers of materials for the gifted, was mentioned in a Wall Street Journal advice column recently. The columnist recommended GPP's A Parent's Guide to Gifted Children as well as Living with Intensity. Find the column. Separately, Jim Webb and Janet Gore were honored in February for their continued commitment to gifted children, their families, and educators. Read more.
RESOURCES. We just discovered two troves of resources that might be of interest to those in the 2e community. One is from the Australian Gifted Support Center; it offers a database of research on gifted education; from that same page you may also choose "Useful references" and "Internet links." The second site is at the Neag Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development at the University of Connecticut; find the resources there.

AND FINALLY, THIS. It could be that even when we're awake, parts of our brains are really asleep, leading to poor performance. Read more

Monday, April 25, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

LANG SCHOOL UPDATE. The Lang School for twice-exceptional children in New York City has issued its first newsletter chronicling recent happenings. If you're a fan of the school or just curious about what goes on in a school for 2e kids, check it out.
BRIDGE FOR KIDS. Seems that the card game of bridge is enjoying a resurgence among younger players. According to The New York Times, "Chess is still the game of choice among educators, but bridge is catching on at a growing number of schools, community leagues and recreational centers across the nation, many of which see the card game as offering similar mental benefits to those of chess, but with a social component." In New York City, a school for GT kids teaches bridge to third graders. Some the resurgence evidently stems from efforts by bridge players Bill Gates and Warren Buffett to promote the game. Read more.
COMMON CORE STANDARDS. Education wonks might be interested in still another item from New York City, this one on a school that's experimenting with common core curriculum standards, which go into effect in at least 42 states in 2014. To see what teachers and students might be doing in the new curriculum, read the article.
BRAIN RESEARCH. If you think you might have a serious interest in reading articles with titles such as "Functional Connectivity of the Amygdala in Young Women with Borderline Personality Disorder," you'll be pleased to know that  a new publication debuts in May. The journal is called Brain Connectivity,  and you can preview articles from the premier issue at the publisher's website. You may subscribe to journal's online version for US$420, or get a print version thrown in for another $55 per year. Institutions: be prepared to cough up $1695. (ls 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter undercharging??)
AND FINALLY, THIS. An upcoming game mod for "Half-Life 2" is titled "School Shooter: North American Tour 2012." It's a first-person shooter game modeled on the Columbine shootings, with the player in the role of the shooters in that tragedy. An article in Education Week just alerted us to it, but evidently the upcoming release has been generating controversy for several weeks. Find out more by Googling the game.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

"BLAMING PARENTS: What I've learned and unlearned as a child psychiatrist" is the title of an article on a Scientific American blog. But the article starts with what the psychiatrist learned in the ER with her severely ill infant son, and her recognition of the way she sometimes dispensed "parent blame" in her own practice. She recounts old, supposed parent-related causes for schizophrenia and autism, reminds us of how much is not known about childhood disorders, and covers the complexity of the old nature/nurture split. Read about the doctor's conclusions for when to blame parents... and when not to.
APPLYING THE VIDEO GAME MODEL TO EDUCATION. Neurologist-turned-educator Judy Willis explains how video games can provide a model for "best teaching strategies." She covers the brain's dopamine-based reward system, the concept of individualized achievable challenge, and other concepts to build her case. Read her article at Edutopia
"AUTISM NOW" ON PBS. If you're interested in learning more about the current PBS NewsHour series "Autism Now," you may find it at the site of the Diane Rehm Show.
TEACHER RESOURCE. Microsoft sponsors a  U.S. Innovative Education Forum, and the application period is now open. Submit a project that demonstrates "the innovative use of technology in ways that reflect the themes for 2011: Engaging students, inspiring creativity, and preparing for the future." Projects must include Microsoft technology. Chosen educators attend the forum for free, as nearly as we can tell. Find out more.
BRAIN CLUTTER is a term associated with conditions such as AD/HD, Tourettes' OCD, and schizophrenia. A new study has identified a group of neurons that seem to be important in filtering non-essential information. Find out more.
PREDICTING LEARNING. Researchers have used neuro-imaging to use the "flexibility" of the brain's regions to predict how well someone will learn, at least in the short term. "Allegiances" between brain regions change over time, so in theory determining when the brain is flexible should tell whether learning will be better or worse on a particular day. Read more.
THE BENEFITS OF MUSIC LESSONS. Musical training as a child can lead to higher scores on tests of cognitive skills, even decades later, according to a new study. "The high-level musicians who had studied the longest performed the best on the cognitive tests, followed by the low-level musicians and non-musicians, revealing a trend relating to years of musical practice. The high-level musicians had statistically significant higher scores than the non-musicians on cognitive tests relating to visuospatial memory, naming objects and cognitive flexibility, or the brain's ability to adapt to new information." Read more.
AND FINALLY, THIS.  Find out how marketers are using online games as a path to young consumers. One example: "Create a Comic," created by General Mills to supposedly sell Honey Nut Cheerios to young players. According to The New York Times, "General Mills and other food companies are rewriting the rules for reaching children in the Internet age. These companies, often selling sugar cereals and junk food, are using multimedia games, online quizzes and cellphone apps to build deep ties with young consumers." Read more.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

EDNEWS.ORG. Michael Shaughnessy interviews a man who couldn't learn in school, was the "problem kid" and endured all kinds of senseless (to us) punishment and discipline. Functionally illiterate at age 29, he discovered in a happenstance encounter with a college professor that he was dyslexic. The saddest part: only one teacher from K-12 realized his intelligence; others treated him in ways not good for his self-esteem. Read the interview.

STRAIGHT-A DYSLEXIC. In contrast to the previous item, a young woman diagnosed with dyslexia in third grade has been named one of CEC's "Yes I Can" award winners for her straight-A average. Even she, however, encountered early teachers who "assumed I was stupid," according to the young woman. Read more about her.

CLEARANCE SALE. Prufrock Press is offering heavy discounts on 33 items from its inventory, including items such as:
  • "The Challenges of Educating the Gifted in Rural Area," originally $12.95 and now $.99
  • "Early Gifts: Recognizing and Nurturing Children's Talents," originally $24.95 and now $.99
  • A number of titles on autism
  • Various posters for teachers,  for example one illustrating the quote "Earth laughs in flowers," originally $7.95 and now $.99.
Find the sale.

CAN A SCHOOL BE NEGLIGENT by not identifying a student's learning disabilities? That's the question that has made it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court as a result of a lawsuit by a family against a Compton, California, school district. In spite of a couneslor's recommendation that the girl be evaluated for learning disabilities, the school did nothing, promoting the girl instead. Several previous administrative and legal decisions have sided with the family. Read more.

INFO ON NORTHWESTERN U PROGRAM. Northwestern University offers certificate and master's degree programs in advanced gifted education. This Thursday the school is offering a one-hour "virtual information session" about those programs. Find out more here or at the university website.

GIFTED ED UNDER ATTACK IN N.C. Up until now, North Carolina has funded and mandated efforts to identify and serve gifted students, but now the legislature is, in educational terms, messing with the arrangement. Find out more.

THE GUT AND THE BRAIN. Scientific American reports on findings that microflora in the gut can influence the biochemistry and development of the brain, especially during certain developmental stages. At least part of the influence comes from gut bacteria affecting the expression of up to 40 genes in the brain, in effect turning the genes on or off. Read more.

AND FINALLY, THIS. The 10 semifinalists have been announced in the Fifth Annual Bubble Wrap Competition for Young Innovators. In this, one of our favorite competitions for young people, students in grades 6-8 are encouraged to find innovative uses for Bubble Wrap. This year, projects include a floating, self-watering garden; a water carrier; a sleep-walk preventer; and seven more. Find out more.

Monday, April 18, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e Newsletter

In the absence of any real, substantive news today on giftedness, LDs, parenting, education, or child development, we offer lighter fare. Hopefully, more substance tomorrow.
FROM OUR PAST, a kid with a need to know.
DS2.5, responding to a request from his mother: Why?
MOTHER: Just in case.
DS: Don't give me that "just in case" stuff.
AUDITORY PROCESSING ANOMALY. Paul Simon once wrote, "A man hears what he wants to hear/And disregards the rest." Go to the homepage of the comic "Baby Blues" and check out the April 4th offering for their version of Simon's line. 
AND FINALLY, THIS. A company called Story People has a knack for generating brief, often poignant, little passages that can hit home, accompanied by a graphic interpretation. Some deal with parenting, like today's.

Friday, April 15, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

ASPIES IN COLLEGE. NPR aired a story on how some colleges are helping students with Asperger's survive and thrive. Colorado State University, for example, has a program called "Opportunities for Post-secondary Success" that involves mentoring and other services. Find the story.
ON TV: LD GOING TO COLLEGE. ABC interviewed an educator who provided advice on steps to take when heading for college with an LD. No transcript, but embedded video is at this site.
EXERCISE BALLS AS CLASSROOM SEATS. Some schools have good results allowing students to sit on exercise balls to increase attention, fitness, and even handwriting. Read more about the experiences of some schools and educators.
HOW GENIUS WORKS is the title of a "culture special report" in Atlantic. Various creative minds -- TC Boyle, Paul Simon, Frank Gehry, Grant Achatz, and more -- explain the how and the process of creation. Find it.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Anyone who's argued with a toddler has likely tried to figure out techniques to shorten the discussion process. A charming video of a father negotiating with his son brought back to us memories of such negotiations. Watch it and laugh

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

CUSTOMIZED SCHOOLING is the title of a new book on education reform that looks at “how providers might use new tools to deliver or customize services that do not conform to conventional [school] policies or structures," according to its publisher, Harvard Education Press. EdNews.org's Michael Shaughnessey interviews one of the book's authors, who provides examples of what customized services and educational products can mean. The author makes the point several times that such an approach would focus on individual educational needs, and that it would help students with LDs. Find the interview.
WRIGHTSLAW pointed out to us a survey for parents in conjunction with the reauthorization of IDEA sometime in the next few years. According to Wrightslaw, the survey seeks to answer the question, "Are parents treated as equal partners in planning their children's education?" If you have had experience with IDEA or special ed for that gifted kid you raise, find out more about the survey.
ALLERGIES AND DEPRESSION may be linked. If your child has severe seasonal allergies, find out more about the linkages and effects.
FOOD DYES, PART III... or maybe VII, we lose track. If you're interested in reading yet another article on the relationship of food dyes to hyperactivity, the Los Angeles Times published one on April 11 that addressed questions such as "what's the evidence?" and "do food dyes have other risks?" and "how much food dye are we eating?" Find it
GIFTED LEFT BEHIND IN WYOMING. An article in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle notes how the state lags others in the percentage of kids identified as gifted, and how half of the state's districts identify no students as gifted. Read more about what Wyoming does -- and doesn't do -- for its gifted students.
AND FINALLY, THIS. What do we really need to teach kids in school? "Dilbert" cartoonist Scott Adams suggests entrepreneurship, based on some of his life experiences, and offers sample lessons based on same:
  • Combine skills
  • Fail forward
  • Find the action
  • Attract luck
  • And more...
Adams' thesis is that it's the "B" students who should be taught entrepreneurship, rather than the "A" students; he says, "The kids in [the] brainy group are the future professors, scientists, thinkers and engineers who will propel civilization forward." But we think all students could use lessons of the type he proposes. Let us know what you think. Find the article, called "How to Get a Real Education." 

Monday, April 11, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

2e AND AP. A mother at the 2e Newsletter Network at Ning.com is looking for input from others on "successful scaffolding for a 2e student taking AP classes."  If you have experience in this area, consider sharing at the "Forum" section of the online 2e Newsletter Network. Free registration is required at http://2enewsletter.ning.com/?xgi=5fRjVktrpoYhb5, but you may use a screen name rather than your real name.
BULLYING AND THE BRAIN. Being bullied can actually alter the molecular chemistry of the body, according to a recent study. According to one of the researchers, "We found that chronic social stress affects neuroendocrine systems that are paramount for adaptive mammalian social behaviors such as courtship, pair-bonding and parental behaviors. Changes in components of these systems have been implicated in human disorders, such as social phobias, depression, schizophrenia and autism." Read more.
MRI-ASSISTED NEURO-FEEDBACK. Researchers have discovered that providing real-time, fMRI-based feedback to subjects engaged in a task allowed them to better control their thoughts and perform the assigned task. The study results may have implications for improving everyday life, says the writeup, and also for the clinical treatment of conditions such as depression, anxiety, and OCD. Find out more.
IF MOM'S HAPPY, KID'S HAPPY. A British study of over 40,000 UK households has found that children's satisfaction with their lives is closely linked to the mother's happiness. Researchers found that "the happiest children are those living with two parents... with no younger siblings, who do not argue with their parents regularly, who eat at least three evening meals per week with their family and whose mother is happy in her own relationship." Got that, June? Got that, Beav? Read more.
RESILIENT KIDS. A final study reported recently may explain why some kids are more socially resilient. The study involved kids with "problem parents," those less available than "regular" parents. Kids with a specific gene variant were more likely than their siblings without the variant to have better relationships with those problem parents. Read about the study.
AND FINALLY, THIS. Are you a political liberal? You might have a larger anterior cingulate cortex than that political conservative you know or married, who, in turn, might have a larger amygdala than you do. No kidding -- we read it on the Internet, so we know it's true. Actually, says a report on the study, "Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat." Okay, if you don't believe us, read it for yourself.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

FOOD DYES AND HYPERACTIVE BEHAVIOR. In light of the recent U.S. Food and Drug Administration decision not to issue warnings about possible behavioral effects from artificial food dyes, 2e Newsletter created a poll on the issue. The results as of yesterday: 75% of those responding believe that such dyes can cause hyperactive behavior in some children; 12% think not; 12%, no opinion; 1% were evidently lost to rounding. Not huge numbers of respondents, but definitely different opinions in the 2e community versus the FDA. (Our next poll: should the FDA issue warnings about being lost to rounding?)

Thursday, April 7, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

AUSTRALIA: QUIRKY KIDS CLUB. A woman in Canberra, Australia, is forming a "Quirky Kids Club" to provide support and social opportunities for twice-exceptional children and their families. She chose the name "to project a positive image of being uniquely different, and to put a happy, fun spin on it, so that it would enhance the kid's self image of being different and help build self-confidence and a strong sense of identity. It is also meant to suggest the fun, social aspect of the club, which is what, above all else, it is intended to be." At this stage, she says, she is inviting membership of 2e children and families from anywhere in Australia, but for the time being meetings will be only in Canberra. Find out more by emailing Tracey, the group's founder. 
ASK DR. JUDY, a series of webinars from ASCD, presents Judy Willis on April 13 addressing how to strengthen the brain's executive functions. Find out more
PEDIATRIC PODCASTS FROM IU. The Indiana University School of Medicine offers more than a dozen free podcasts relating to children's health. Among the topics: obesity and diet; eating; teens and technology; and teen driver smoking. Find the podcasts
THE WEINFELD GROUP is offering a series of low-cost workshops in 2011 that might be of interest to Washington, DC, area parents. Among the topics: Finding your way through the IEP and 504 maze; resilience and stress management; and understanding the relationship between AD/HD and executive functioning. Find out more
STUDY ON OCD AND GENETICS. A team of Massachusetts researchers is looking for subjects to participate in a study of the role of genetics in OCD. Subjects sought are 8 years and older with a diagnosis of OCD, plus the parents of that child. While the study is based in Massachusetts, collaborating sites in other areas of the country will perform testing on families in those areas. Find out more
GIFTED DEVELOPMENT CENTER. The Center's April newsletter is out, with news, an insight by Linda Silverman on why gifted kids may refuse at times to do schoolwork, and requests for input on topics such as the greatest challenge of being gifted. Find the newsletter
SCREENING FOR DYSLEXIA. Lexercise.com, a commercial site offering language therapy services, provides on its site a free online screening tool for dyslexia. For children 6 and older, the test takes 5-10 minutes. Find the site
CTD BLOG. Northwestern University's Center for Talent Development has a blog with a feature called "Ask Paula." In a recent post, Paula provided resources for parents looking for help for gifted kids who have, variously, handwriting issues, writing issues, dyslexia, and AD/HD. Find out what she recommends. (Hint: One resource is 2e Newsletter; thanks, Paula.)
AND FINALLY, THIS. We thought maybe you didn't have enough to worry about with that twice-exceptional child, so here's more:
  1. Secondhand smoke may cause symptoms of AD/HD and depression, according to a new study.  
  2. Hookah bars are now popular with young adults, and they offer health risks; find out more
  3. Teen substance abuse is on the rise, after a decade of decline; find out more
Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

GOOGLE SCIENCE FAIR. We've mentioned this new, online competition before, but want to pass on a pointer to an article with more details about the fair. The article discusses the differences between in-person and online fairs and also speculates on what's at stake for Google -- but if you're thinking about encouraging a teenager to enter this fair, find out more.
ABDOMINAL MIGRAINE? A child with belly pain may be experiencing an abdominal migraine, according to a new study. Reuters points out that the label is a common diagnosis in Europe and the UK, but not in the United States. According to the article, the condition affects about two percent of kids. Read more.
ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. The March issue is now posted, and in it David Rabiner reviews an approach to helping "inflexible and explosive children" who are prone to outbursts and meltdowns. The approach was tested in a study that showed ODD kids and their families benefited long-term from a particular approach conceived by Dr. Ross Greene called collaborative problem solving. Find the issue.
SENG WEBINAR. SENG has announced an April 26th webinar titled "Stress, Anxiety, and Gifted: Coping with Everyday Life." Presented by Michele Kane, the webinar "examines the sources of stress as well as explores specific strategies designed to minimize stress and develop self-awareness." Find out more about the 1.5-hour, $40 event at the SENG site
TREATMENTS FOR AUTISM. If you've been considering any of a variety of autism treatments, check out an article about the effectiveness of such treatments, based on studies reported in Pediatrics. 
ANXIETY seems to plague lots of gifted and twice-exceptional children. If your child is one of them, an article at PsychCentral lays out various forms of anxiety, the ages at which they typically occur, and when you the adult should worry about the child's worries. Find the article.
WOODWORKING FOR KIDS is the topic of a a recent article in The New York Times. Benefits to the kids of participating in woodworking projects -- pride of accomplishment, satisfaction from solving problems, and being engaged. The article profiles a woodworking program or two and lists a few programs across the country. Read it.
DEEP BRAIN STIMULATION is used for severe cases of depression, OCD, and Tourette's, as well as for adult conditions such as Parkinson's disease. The current print issue of Brain in the News from the Dana Foundation contained two articles on the topic, one of which was reprinted from the Associated Press and the other from The New York Times.
AND FINALLY, THIS, about physical safety for your college student in Texas. CBS in West Texas reported last week on Texas Senate Bill 354, which would allow those over 21 who have a license for a concealed handgun to carry their weapons on Texas college campuses. The bill has been approved by a committee and is apparently ready to be voted on by the Senate. CBS notes polls indicating that "67 percent of Texans are against guns on campus." Read more.

Friday, April 1, 2011

From the Publishers of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

GAP YEAR GUIDEBOOK. Got a gifted or 2e kid thinking about taking a year off before college? The Davidson Institute has just published a 20-page guidebook called "Considering Your Options: A Guidebook for Investigating Gap Year Opportunities." Find a copy here.
LETTER REVERSAL. A new study shows that most people automatically interpret words written backward in the first instant of perception. Researchers say that letter reversal in young children "is the direct result of the mirror rotation property of the visual system." Most people learn to inhibit the reversal; some with dyslexia and dysgraphia cannot. Read more.    
AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH. In honor of Autism Awareness Month (April), the Los Angeles Times reports on the best and worst places to  live for people with autism. Find the good and the not-so-good
MINNETONKA GIFTED PROGRAM. Read about a Minnesota program to encourage highly gifted students aged 8-11.
EDUCATOR RESOURCE? Skype just launched "Skype in the Classroom," a dedicated teacher network allowing teachers to:
  • Collaborate on projects with other teachers, classes or subject matter experts
  • Connect with other teachers based on ages taught, location, or subjects of interest
  • Discover new inspiration [their words, not ours] through resources such as videos, links, and tips.
We haven't used this resource, but it seems like it could be a way for teachers of the gifted or twice-exceptional to communicate and collaborate. Find out more.
AND FINALLY, THIS. A University of Rhode Island researcher who specializes in medicinal plant research has found more than 20 compounds in maple syrup from Canada that have been linked to human health According to the University press release, several of the anti-oxidant compounds newly identified in maple syrup are also reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties. And who funded the research? It looks as if at least part of the funding came from the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. Read the press release.  
HAVE A GOOD WEEKEND!