Tuesday, December 16, 2008

From the Week of December 14th

THE GIFTED LABEL is going away in the Montgomery County, Maryland, public school system, according to the Washington Post. Part of the problem: a high number of "gifted" students overall, and a disparity based on race in terms of who has received the gifted label. The article notes that while the school system has a well-regarded gifted program, dropping the label is an attempt to "get away from this idea of putting kids in boxes," according to a school official quoted by the Post. Read the article.

CAROLYN K'S WORLD TRAVELS. We mentioned previously that the
webmistress of Hoagies' Gifted website was speaking at a gifted conference in Malaysia. On December 14th, the Malaysia Star published an account of an address by Kottmeyer in which she spoke to "facts and myths" about gifted children. Among the myths: gifted children are always a joy to teach. Read the article.

NAGC'S PHP -- that's Parenting for High Potential, a member publication of the National Association for Gifted Children, just out in its December edition. In it are several articles on advocating for gifted students. One of them, "Advocating for Our Future," offers tips for parents in participating at various levels of advocacy (district, state, national), and is available at the NAGC website. Unfortunately, the other advocacy articles, plus an article by SENG Executive Director Amy Price on her experiences with her twice-exceptional son, are not available online as nearly as we can tell. Better bug an NAGC member to share his or her PHP.

THE NEWLY NOMINATED U.S. SECRETARY OF EDUCATION, and what the choice might mean for the nation's schools, is the topic of this week's (Wednesday's) EdWeek chat, held from 11 a.m. until noon Eastern time. More information. If you hurry, you can still submit your questions.

ATTENTION AND A NEW DRUG. A study by UC Davis researchers reports the discovery of a new mechanism of attention in the human brain. Researchers use a drug, modafinil, and fMRIs to investigate the role of part of the brain stem, the locus ceruleus (LC), in shifts from distraction to attention. Modafinil
modifies the state of the LC, shifting volunteers into a more attentive state in which they showed enhanced coordinated brain activity and performance on a test of attention control. "Now that we know how it works, we can develop better cognitive enhancers that can treat more people suffering from a wider variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, like AD/HD, autism and schizophrenia," said the lead researcher. Read the press release.


WRIGHTSLAW FOR DECEMBER 16TH. This week's edition of Special Ed Advocate offers advice on the topic of just what kind of child qualifies for special education services and a FAPE under IDEA. The net-out, according to the newsletter: "To be eligible for a free, appropriate public education (FAPE) under the IDEA, the child must have a disability and must need special education and related services." Read more.

DSM IN REVISION. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is under revision as contributing doctors debate issues relevant to gifted and twice-exceptional children (among other mental health issues affecting humankind). For example, according to the New York Times on December 18th, "sensory processing disorder" is being advocated by some for recognition as a disorder. Pediatric bipolar disorder is under consideration as a distinct diagnosis, says the article, and Asperger's Syndrome may be merged with high-functioning autism. There's still lots of work to be done, but you can read the article here.

THE STATE OF EDUCATION. Washington Post Columnist Jay Mathews, whose writings we respect, gave EdNews.org interviewer Michael Shaugnessey his (Mathew's not Shaugnessey's) views on the education issues of 2008 and the prospective impact of recent political events on education for 2009. Read the interview.

TEACHER RESOURCE. Education Week lists grants available to educators and students at its site. This week, there are 11 grants marked as "new." Examples: A $5000 MetLife grant to recognize a teacher for outstanding leadership in bridging the school and community; a Thacher Scholars Awards for secondary school students (grades 9-12) demonstrating the best use of geospatial technologies or data to study Earth; and a $5000 Amgen Foundation award for science teaching excellence in K-12. Go for the gold, gifted and 2e educators!

BRAIN RESOURCE. An organization called SharpBrains, with a site at SharpBrains.com, bills itself as a "market research & advisory company fully focused on providing high-quality information and guidance to navigate the brain fitness and cognitive health market." We're not sure how they really make their money, but the site offers interesting interviews, newsletters, news, and other resources in the area of brain health. One example, a PDF on debunking myths in the nascent brain fitness industry, offers 11 in-depth interviews, some of which may be of interest to parents, educators, and clinicians who work with attention-challenged young people. Interviews in this PDF include "Cognitive Training for AD/HD" (David Rabiner); and "Working Memory Training and Schools of the Future" (Dr. Arthur Lavin). Looks like you have to sign up for the monthly newsletter to get this particular document; you can find out about it here, but there's plenty of other material immediately available on the site.


2e ACHIEVERS. Courtesy of LD Online's Newsline, we have three stories to pass along about twice-exceptional people who have achieved greatly in various fields. One achiever is a high school junior with dyslexia and an auditory processing disorder who has built himself quite a resume of academic achievement and community service; read about it in the Allentown, New Jersey, Examiner. The second achiever is the AD/HD founder of JetBlue, who this week launched his fourth airline, this one in Brazil; CNNMoney/Fortune wrote up his story. Finally, Newsline pointed us to to a story in the UK Guardian about Peter Street, who overcame a rather unusual childhood, dyscalculia, and a disabling spinal injury to become a poet, grant recipient, and BBC writer-in-residence. (This is after being a gravedigger, exhumer, slaughterhouse worker, baker, gardener, hotel porter and tree surgeon, according to the Guardian). Read the article.

MORE NEWS AND RESOURCES as the week goes on.

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