Wednesday, June 25, 2008

For the Week of June 15th

STACKING UP. A story in the Los Angeles Times described a venture capitalist and his mission to find out "what schools in other countries were doing that American schools weren't, and why the United States performed so miserably on international student comparisons." The result: a documentary called "Two Million Minutes" comparing high-achieving students from India, China, and America. Read about it.

NEURO-EDUCATION. Carnegie Mellon Researchers have found that specialized workouts for the brain can improve cognitive skills, for example in poor readers. Through the exercises, activation increased in previously underactivating areas -- for example in the region responsible for decoding the sounds of written language and assembling them into words and phrases. If you know a bright kid with poor reading skills, check out the article.

AUTISTICS: WIRED DIFFERENTLY. A University of Washington research team has found that the brains of people on the autism spectrum respond differently to faces than other people. To be specific,
"autistic participants who had the largest social impairment showed the lowest level of connectivity between the right fusiform face area and the left amygdala and increased connectivity between the right fusiform face area and the right inferior frontal gyrus." [Got that?] Researchers added: "This study shows that the brains of people with autism are not working as cohesively as those of people without autism when they are looking at faces and processing information about them." Read it.

THE ROBIN HOOD EFFECT IN EDUCATION? That's the term the New York Times used in reporting on a study of recent gains by low-achieving students versus high-achieving students. The study apparently shows that federal test scores for the bottom 10 percent of achievers rose more than those in the top 10 percent from 2000 to 2007. The story is somewhat provocative in nature, implying questions about NCLB, equity for low-achievers, and excellence for high-achievers. But as one person interviewed for the article said, we don't have to choose between equity and excellence. Find the article here. Find the actual report here.

2e ACHIEVER. An 18-year-old young man with Asperger's, seemingly obsessed with becoming his high school's valedictorian, achieved his goal, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. In the article the young man talked frankly about his social and academic challenges and accomplishments. He plans to attend Carnegie Mellon on a Presidential Scholarship. Read the article.

THIS IS YOUR BRAIN ON DRUGS. Are you raising or teaching a gifted kid with AD/HD? Want to know about non-drug options? Check a New York Times article on the subject. Worried about the inappropriate use of methylphenidate (found in
Ritalin, Concerta, Metadate CD, Methylin ER, Ritalin LA, Ritalin-SR. Focalin, Daytrana)? See this study from the National Institute of Drug Abuse. And be careful out there.

That's enough for this week. Thanks for reading.



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