Thursday, August 28, 2008

From the Week of August 24th

THE BIOLOGICAL BASIS OF BRILLIANCE. We subscribe to and enjoy Scientific American Mind, which sometimes makes articles from the print edition available online and sometimes not. So when we got around to reading the August/September issue and found a good article about the brain and intellect titled "High-Aptitude Minds," the first thing we wondered was whether it would be available online -- and it is, right here. The article covers the association of intelligence with brain size (total volume and the size of certain parts of the brain); the contributions of different areas of the brain; how hard certain areas of the brain work in gifted versus normal children; and the potential effects of practice on brain anatomy. An associated article in the same issue stresses the importance of proper attention to and coaching of gifted children in order for them to perform to their potential.

BACK TO SCHOOL OVERLOAD. The barrage of articles and press releases coming our way with the words "back to school" in them has been somewhat overwhelming, but among the product pitches and self-serving announcements we found one from physicians at Northwestern Memorial Hospital (Chicago) emphasizing five sensible and simple tips:
  1. Go to bed early and get up early. Make a transition to the school schedule.
  2. Eat properly, including a healthy breakfast.
  3. Get active with at least one hour of moderate-intensity exercise each day.
  4. (For parents) Recognize signs of stress such as irritability, impulsive behavior, frequent nightmares, recurring headaches or stomachaches, or a consistent lack of desire to go to school.
  5. Be up to date with health exams and vaccines (okay, maybe the release is a tiny bit self-serving).
Read the press release.

ARIZONA 2e RESOURCE. Two Arizona parents have established a website called "Arizona Twice Exceptional," a collection of resources for Arizona families. The parents, Kelly and Gary Rostan, state on their site that in 2009 they hope to open a local alternative school for twice-exceptional children. Their comprehensive list of resources should actually be very useful for 2e families worldwide. Resource topics with links include:
  • Twice exceptional
  • Books on neurologic learning differences
  • Sensory processing disorder
  • 2e homeschooling
  • Social/emotional
  • Talent development
  • Experts available for consultation
  • Publications
  • Organizations
  • Legal
We were honored that Kelley Rostan starts off her "Top 3 Picks" with 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. (Okay, so she listed them in alphabetic order -- Hoagies Gifted is second and the Uniquely Gifted site is third.) Check out the Rostan's site.

RESOURCE. Edutopia distributed its electronic August/September issue this week. The magazine focuses not so much on giftedness or LDs so much on what it is we need to do to improve the overall educational process now and in the future. The current issue features articles on ten predictions for the future of public education; on how "smart and targeted use of technology can provide customized and affordable education that allows students to learn in their preferred style and at their own pace"; one titled "Greenbacks for Grades"; and more.

HOME-AND-SCHOOL COMMUNICATION. No families need good communication with school more than families with underachieving kids, underachievement that often stems from dual exceptionalities. Pearson, a vendor of IT applications and services for schools, released this week the results of a survey the company commissioned on school-to-home communication. Some of the responses may help parents and educators benchmark their own communication habits. From the survey report:
  • About 70 percent of the K-12 parents surveyed wanted to receive academic or progress information weekly or monthly rather than at report card time.
  • When asked how often they'd like updates on their children's performance, 12 percent of parents wanted it daily and 57 percent wanted it weekly.
  • Parents responded that their school's primary methods for communication are mail (16 percent), email (25 percent), newsletter (20 percent), parent-teacher conferences (26 percent) and phone (13 percent).
  • Of the parents surveyed, 42 percent of their children (not the parents) currently have online access to grades, attendance, and teacher comments.
  • Of the parents, 38 percent currently have online access to their child's performance information.
Perhaps it will be systems from companies such as Pearson that will enable parents of high-ability but learning-challenged children to receive timely, detailed information on grades, homework status, progress reporting, and upcoming assignments. As any parent of a 2e child would agree, using such a system would be much preferable to painfully pulling that same information out of the student or out of his/her backpack. Hopefully educators will find such systems worth the effort to help not only 2e students but all pupils. The report should be available soon at www.pearsonschoolsystems.com/survey.

PARENTING FOR HIGH POTENTIAL. The June issue (okay, so we're getting to it a little late) of this publication from the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) contains an article titled "The Perils of Parenting -- Top 10 Things Not to Say to Your Gifted Child." Read what the author, a teacher and a parent of gifted children, says about these thoughts that have slipped out of all of our mouths at one time or another.