Sunday, December 7, 2008

From the Week of December 7th

SUNDAY FRAZZ. Caulfield explores the limits of child giftedness in today's comic strip. Read it.

THE PATHOLOGIZATION OF TEASING. This week's Sunday Magazine section in the New York Times carried an article about teasing and how it's
frowned upon, since it's often confused with bullying. The writer notes the pervasiveness of teasing in the animal world (humans included) and hypothesizes that "in rejecting teasing, we may be losing something vital and necessary to our identity as the most playful of species." The author, a professor of psychology at UC/Berkeley, explains the "language" of teasing, its benefits in communication and in facilitating group cohesion, and even the "romance" of teasing. And while most of the article is about teasing in young people, the author notes that "married couples with a rich vocabulary of teasing nicknames and formulaic insults are happier and better satisfied." Read the article.

SOCIOECONOMICS AND BRAIN INEQUITY. A press release from the University of California/Berkeley says its researchers have used EEGs to determine
that normal 9- and 10-year-olds differing only in socioeconomic status have detectable differences in the response of their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that is critical for problem solving and creativity. The release quotes one of the researchers: "Kids from lower socioeconomic levels show brain physiology patterns similar to someone who actually had damage in the frontal lobe as an adult. We found that kids are more likely to have a low response if they have low socioeconomic status, though not everyone who is poor has low frontal lobe response." Read it.

LD TALK: Family-School Partnerships and RTI. The talk is on December 9th from 1 to 2 pm, ET, and features Amy Reschly, who will, according to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, "answer your questions about creating positive, engaged relationships that center around supporting student learning, sharing of data and decision making, interventions, and collaborative problem-solving." Find out more.

SAFE AT SCHOOL? How about from toxic air and chemicals? USA Today has launched a project that ranks the nation's schools in terms of whether they're in "toxic hot spots." Go to the site to check your child's school, your old school, or to find the least and most toxic schools in the United States. The site even tells which chemicals are most responsible for toxicity outside the school and lists the local polluters responsible; the proximity of polluters and schools are shown on local maps. (If you want to see some scary results, enter "Cicero, Illinois" in the "find your school" search tool.) Now: If only there were a similar tool to tell us how the educational atmosphere in each of the nation's schools suited twice-exceptional students --
stimulating and healthy, or toxic and deadly.

IDEA CHANGES. The US Department of Education this month released changes to the regulations in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The changes involve the right of parents to withdraw consent for special education services; the right of states to determine whether non-lawyers can represent parents in due-process hearings; and the amount of time school districts have to fix compliance problems with IDEA. Read an Education Week article. Want to read the regs for yourself? Go to this website, address courtesy of special ed attorney Matt Cohen. As of Tuesday, you may also find information on these changes at the Wrightslaw website.

WEEK TO WEEK. In last week's post we mentioned Joel McIntosh's new podcast series at Prufrock Press. It's always hard to call number one the "first in a series," but Joel followed up this week with a second podcast, "A Parent's Brief Introduction to Various Learning Opportunities for Gifted Children," a discussion with Carol Fertig, author of Raising a Gifted Child. [Hmmm, could be a Prufrock book, do you think?] Regardless, the podcast from this publisher of materials for those who raise and teach gifted children is right here!

INTEGRATING THE ARTS into the curriculum. That, we say smugly, was the featured topic in the November/December issue of 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter. If our articles started you thinking about the topic, you now have the opportunity to contribute to Edutopia magazine. Their "Wisdom of Crowds" question for the next issue is "How are you integrating the arts into the other subjects in your curriculum"? Edutopia says to send your 25- to 100-word response to by December 17, including your name, title, affiliation, and location. You may also find out about the "Wisdom of Crowds" at the organization's website.

GIFTEDNESS -- FIXED OR EVOLVING? We've covered this debate before, but columnist/blogger Tarmara Fisher has posted her analysis of the recent EdWeek Chat on the nature of giftedness. The protagonists and chat panelists, authors of a new book on giftedness and whether it's innate or developed, serve as a foil for Fisher's commentary. Read it.

ALTERNATIVE COLLEGE TEXTS FOR THOSE WITH A READING LD. A soon-to-launch service called the AccessText Network will provide college students with alternate, presumably spoken, versions of textbooks. Here's how the organization describes itself on its website: "
The AccessText Network is a membership exchange network that will facilitate and support the nationwide delivery of alternative files for students with diagnosed print-related disabilities. AccessText will serve as the national nucleus for post-secondary distribution of approved alternative textbook file exchanges, training, and technical support." According to the site, you can register now for the AccessText Network beta membership. Membership registrations will be processed in January 2009 for the February 2009 beta launch. Support is provided by a group of publishers. Go to the site.

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