Sunday, January 4, 2009

From the Week of January 4th, 2009

"BEST VALUE" COLLEGES. Sending that gifted/talented or twice-exceptional kid to college soon? USA Today and the Princeton Review have released their list of 2009 "Best Value Colleges." The best value in private schools: Swarthmore. The best value in public schools: University of Virginia. Read the USA Today coverage.

IDEA 2004 AND ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY. T.H.E. Journal points out that a single-word change to IDEA 2004 has made many more K-12 students eligible for assistive technology. The change: whether the student "requires" A.T. or "needs" it. Read the article, and thanks to LD Online for the pointer.

SMART KIDS WITH LD is soliciting nominations for its "Smart Kids with Learning Disabilities Youth Achievement Award," a $1000 recognition for a student 19 or younger "who has demonstrated initiative, talent and determination resulting in a notable accomplishment in any field - including art, music, science, math, athletics or community service." The deadline is January 31st. Find out more.

DAVIDSON INSTITUTE MAKES THE NEWS. The Boston Globe carried a story on January 8th about a gifted 12-year-old Massachusetts inventor who has: won $10,000 for his design of a dome-shaped shelter for a "trash-to-treasure" contest; won prizes for his poetry; and founded a nonprofit organization. The young man and his family have evidently been involved with the Institute for a number of years. The Institute provides encouragement and support for highly gifted young people. Read the article. Find out more about the Davidson Institute for Talent Development (DITD).

THE EDGIES ARE BACK! Each year, the Edge Foundation asks dozens of prominent thinkers to respond to a provocative question. This year's question is, "What will change everything?" The Edgies have, as a group, very varied backgrounds and professions, and as a result some (but not very many) of the responses are relevant to giftedness, child development, or neuroscience. One perennial Edgie is Alison Gopnik, a UC/Berkeley psycholgist who a year or two ago wrote a response about infants that included some charmng quotes. (About infantile awareness and experiencing the world, she wrote: "
I think that, for babies, every day is first love in Paris. Every wobbly step is skydiving, every game of hide and seek is Einstein in 1905.") This year, she writes about "Never-ending Childhood." (And remember, this is in response to "What will change everything?") Also included is Howard Gardner of Harvard ("multiple intelligences" and surely familiar to the 2e Newsletter audience). Gardner's response is titled "Cracking Open the Lockbox of Talent," and he posits that the combination of genetics, neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and the psychology of motivation may change everything by allowing us to understand genius. Other responses you might enjoy:
The respondents also include a 17-year-old MIT student and Alan Alda, whose response is among the most pessimistic that we read. Is that what being a funny guy does to you?

TEACHING SOCIAL SKILLS to those with high-functioning autism is the topic of an article in the Baltimore Sun. In a 16-week program, "
two psychologists provide intensive behavior therapy that teaches children how to read visual cues, understand emotions and take an interest in others," according to the article. The program combines classroom therapy with field trips, teaching children to describe their emotions; recognize consequences of their behavior; and how to make eye contact, among other skills. Read the article.

GOT A SMART KID WHO FRITTERS AWAY TIME and daydreams during testing? Try offering pre-chewed pencils, which supposedly are less likely to wind up in your student's mouth, precipitating daydreaming. According to the UK Daily Telegraph, the firm offering the pencils, Concentrate, also offers other products to help children at school, especially in reducing distractions in class. Read the article. Find the product website.

MCPS AND THE GIFTED LABEL. We noted in this blog (see the post from the week of December 14th) and our monthly email briefing the article a few weeks ago in the Washington Post entitled "Montgomery Erasing Gifted Label." The Montgomery County, Maryland, Public School Board has issued a clarifying statement to allay the fears that the County would no longer identify students as GT. In fact, according to the statement, MCPS has a pilot program in place at two elementary schools that provides GT services without labeling students. Whether this practice extends county-wide will apparently depend on stakeholder input and future board policy decisions. Read the statement.

INVENTING WITH BUBBLE WRAP. We mentioned this contest a while ago --
for young inventors in grades 5 through 8 to demonstrate their creativity and ingenuity by designing an invention that incorporates the use of Bubble Wrap(R) brand cushioning. Now the company has announced three finalists
. Their inventions: a chart that helps stroke survivors gauge their recovering strength and helps guide their rehabilitation progress; a swing for children with movement disorders that provides adjustable back and neck support using different amounts of Bubble Wrap(R) brand cushioning; and an interchangeable flash card system to help make learning fun for children. Read more.

RULES FROM WRIGHTSLAW. Pete Wright discloses in this week's Special Ed Advocate four rules he used in bringing up his kids. Too strict? You be the judge. Find the rules and find out how his kids turned out.

MORE HOMESCHOOLERS. USA Today reported today that there are now 1.5 million homeschooled kids in this country, up 74 percent in 10 years. Read more about the survey.

A PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR "EXCEPTIONALLY GIFTED"? That's what the Minnetonka, Minnesota school district proposes. Find out more about the plan and the district's "High Potential Services Department."

SERVICE ANIMALS we've covered in 2e Newsletter include dogs for kids with Asperger's, but the New York Times, in Sunday's Magazine, describes how a blind woman uses a miniature horse as a guide; how a man struggling with psychosis and rage uses a parrot to calm him down when he starts to get out of control; and how a woman with anxiety problems (agoraphobia, panic attacks) is able to go out in public because of her macaque monkey who also helps her shop and will "give five" to passers-by. The article also covers reactions to and limits on "unusual" service animals.
Read the article.

PRESSURE ON ASIAN STUDENTS TO ACHIEVE? An article in the San Jose Mercury News relays the supposed "Asian grade scale":
A = Average; B = Bad; C = Catastrophe; D = Disowned; F = Forever Forgotten.
The article probes the issue of high expectations on Asian-American students at Mission High in the San Jose, California, area, the consequences of those expectations in terms of stress, burnout, depression -- and cheating. Also covered: how the school is reacting. Read the article.

MORE ITEMS as the week goes on.

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