Monday, January 26, 2009

For the Week of January 25th

SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN MIND arrived yesterday, always a welcome event here. Two articles in this issue might be of interest. One article describes how brain-imaging experiments show that self-consciousness in teenagers might be affected by changes in brain anatomy. A particular part of the brain is more active in teens than adults, hypothetically because the teens are in the process of developing "a more socially constructed sense of self." As the brain matures, activity in that part of the brain decreases, possibly because the young adults are then better at self-reflection. Another article is about play: how "free, imaginative play is crucial for normal social, emotional, and cognitive development," and the serious consequences of not playing when young.

HANG UP BEFORE CROSSING. A New York Times article notes research indicating that preteens, street-crossing, and cell-phone talking can be a bad mix. In a simulation, children on the phone had a 43 percent higher risk of a virtual accident. Read it.

THE GIFTED EXCHANGE, a blog by Laura Vanderkam about gifted children, schooling, parenting, and other topics, features Carolyn K, webmistress of Hoagies' Gifted Education Page, the massive online resource on the topic of giftedness and twice-exceptionality. Find out what Carolyn K has experienced in the 12 years she's been doing the website; read the blog.

KNOW A BRIGHT SCIENCE STUDENT? The 2009 Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge is a competition for those in grades 5 through 8.
According to the sponsors, entrants are invited to create a short video about a specific scientific concept relating to innovative solutions for everyday life; four particular everyday problems are offered as starting points. Find more information. (For more contests and awards, see Hoagies'.)

UNBALANCED CHILDHOOD. Science Daily reports on a study from Tel Aviv University linking anxiety disorders with balance problems. The researchers say that the link can be assessed at an early age, giving hope that the issue can be alleviated. The researchers, according to the article, imply that the connection is two-way; physical treatment for balance problems can alleviate anxiety in children. Read the article.

TOO COOL NOT TO MENTION. Science Daily also reported this cool fact: babies just two or three days old can detect music's beat. It's called "beat induction," and it's a uniquely human trait, according to the article. Rock on!

ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL EDUCATION. A clever article in Education Week uses an interesting canine analogy for education performance standards: "
If someone tried to set up a national program to teach every dog to do everything that various breeds are able to do, the Humane Society and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals would have them in court in a New York minute. But when authorities mandate one-size-fits-all performance standards for kids, and the standards aren't met, it's the kids and teachers, not the standards, that get blamed." The author, a retired teacher and professor, offers six suggestions for improving the educational system. Read the article.

WRIGHTSLAW is 10 years old this year, notes the current edition of Special Ed Advocate, and in this week's issue you can read the top 10 articles, topics, cases, and blog posts of 2008 -- along with some truly amazing usage statistics for their website. Read it.

POPULARITY AND GENETICS. It might be true, according to newly published findings. Our place in the social network is supposedly influenced at least in part by our genes. Maybe this finding will offer perspective to some kids and consolation to others. Read the Science Daily report.

THIS WEEK'S EDWEEK CHAT is "Working with Students with Autism," and scheduled for Wednesday at 4pm EST. Act fast to submit questions. Find out more.

TEACHERS' RESOURCE REVISITED. We mentioned Teacher Tube in our monthly briefing awhile ago, but saw an update today; it now has over 200,000 regular users and 54,000 videos. The site is for teachers to share videos and model lessons. According to an article in today's Dallas News, some teachers are now "rock stars." Read the article.

FLORIDA SMART KIDS ARE SHORTCHANGED. That's the contention of an article in the St. Petersburg Times. Many of Florida's brightest kids, says the article, are bored in school. The writer reached his conclusion while interviewing some of those gifted kids at a "Future Cities" competition to design "the coolest cities," and puts his assertions in the context of NCLB and Florida achievement test scores. Read the article.

AD/HD MEDS AND HALLUCINATIONS? That's right -- Reuters reported today that US government researchers have found that common meds for treating AD/HD may, in some patients, cause hallucinations, psychosis, and mania. While the number of children experiencing these side effects in clinical trials has been small, there were no such events in children taking placebos. Find the article.

VIDEO GAMES -- ONE MORE TIME. A new study, according to Science Daily, indicates that when college students play more video games, the quality of their social relationships goes down. Not answered is the question of whether kids who already have social problems tend to play more video games in the first place -- so don't bet on causality here. Read it.

SURE, YOU WANTED KIDS AND NOT A DOG. And you're paying for it. The UK Telegraph says that the cost of raising a child from birth to age 21 is now £194,000 (US$272,000 based on today's exchange rate), and as much as £323,000 (US$452,000) if parents opt for private schools. And raising gifted or twice-exceptional kids? Don't even try to calculate...

MORE ITEMS as the week goes on...

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