Tuesday, November 11, 2008

From the Week of November 9th

MAYBE IT'S NOT THE KIDS -- IT'S US. Harvard professor and author Jerome Kagan, writing for the Dana Foundation's Cerebrum, suggests that the increase in the diagnosis of childhood disorders such as AD/HD stems as much from social conditions as from biology. Among those social conditions (which have changed over the past several hundred years): changing definitions of pathology and an over-reliance on parental input for a diagnosis; emphasis on schooling as a requirement for success, an emphasis which causes stress in parents should a child show difficulty with school; and just a change in the way we live. For example, in the 17th century, says Kagan, children were likely "not required to maintain attention on an intellectual task for five of six hours a day." Kagan discusses what he evidently feels are over-diagnoses of AD/HD, bipolar disorder, and autism. This is a "big picture" article that might provide perspective to parents, educators, and clinicians who are "down in the weeds" worrying about and dealing with children's behaviors; we highly recommend it to those who deal with twice-exceptional kids. Read it.

OR -- MAYBE PREGNANCY CAUSES MENTAL DISORDERS. Seriously. An article in November 11th's New York Times outlines a new theory that parents' genes -- and competition between them in the developing embryo -- influence the development of mental disorders. It's a big theory, one that posts autism and schizophrenia on opposite ends of a spectrum of disorders. Experts in the field say, according to the article, that the theory has "demonstrated the power of thinking outside the gene." Read the article.

NO EXCUSES for not meeting the needs of gifted students. On her blog "Unwrapping the Gifted," Tamara Fisher debunks 10 common excuses for not giving gifted students what they need -- excuses such as,
“If only that gifted student would bother doing his assigned work, I might consider giving him something different to do.” Read what Fisher has to say about excuses like this.

TEACHER'S RESOURCE. Edutopia has made some of its videos available through Apple's iTunesU. For example, a series of short videos on social-emotional learning is available for free download at iTunesU. So is a series titled "Integrated Studies," presenting ways teachers and students can work together in making curricular connections around a theme or topic. While you're at it, the Lucas Foundation is still soliciting founding memberships for Edutopia; find out more at Edutopia's site. (Note: you'll need iTunes installed on your computer for the video links in this item to work.)

ET (EXCELLENT TEACHER) PHONE HOME. LD Online's feature article for November is called "The Teacher's Role in Home/School Communications: Everybody Wins." It provides tips for teachers in communicating with parents. And parents? Some of the tips apply to you too. Read it.

SCHOLARSHIPS FOR DEBATERS. Now Debate This, a national educational debate and $250,000 scholarship contest for high school students, launched its 2009 program this week in partnership with the National Forensic League Speech and Debate Honor Society. The 2009 topic and focus of the second year is: "How can America achieve energy independence through the lessons of history?" More information.

SORRY, WE NEED TO SAY THIS. ScienceDaily, one of our news feeds, passed on a study today about watching television. Here's the net-out: unhappy people watch more TV. The question: is it cause and effect or something else?

EDWEEK CHAT. This week: "What Does RTI Mean in the Classroom." Transcript is here. Free registration may be required.

DO YOU KNOW ABOUT MIRROR NEURONS? If you raise or teach an Aspie, or anyone with poor social interactions, perhaps you should. Read a Society for Neuroscience article here.

GOOGLE 1. We love Google almost as much as we love Costco. Teachers and homeshooling parents can now use a Google Earth feature to tour a simulation of ancient Rome. What's more, innovative teachers can participate in a contest of lesson plans based on this virtual visit. Info here. You've got to have Google Earth installed to take advantage.

GOOGLE 2. A "vast" collection of public domain children's literature (from International Children's Digital Library) is to be scanned, digitized, and available on Google. We couldn't verify this on the Google site, but stay tuned.

HE SENT IT TO US, BUT YOU CAN'T HAVE IT YET. Each month, David Rabiner sends out "Attention Research Update," and each month we tell you what's in it. But unless you're a subscriber to his newsletter, you have to wait
to access it until weeks later when he posts the newsletter. That said, the November edition is about an electronic method for diagnosing AD/HD. The method: Quantitative EEGs, which may detect distinctive brain activity in those with AD/HD. The results: QEEGs can provide a biological marker for AD/HD and complement comprehensive diagnostic examinations for AD/HD. The study review will be here -- eventually.

NAGC CONTINUES FOR CAROLYN K -- IN MALAYSIA. Carolyn K, the webmistress of the Hoagies' Gifted site who is apparently intent on building a website with more pages than any other in the world, was at the U.S. NAGC conference in Tampa, Florida, a couple weeks ago. This week she followed that up with a visit to NAGC of Malaysia, where she presented a keynote address. She is blogging about her travels and visit, and you can read all about them here.

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