Monday, July 20, 2009

From the Week of July 19th

TECHNOLOGY IN INSTRUCTION. In the July/August issue of 2e Newsletter, we featured the use of technology in educating twice-exceptional students. The New York Times, on July 22nd, reported on "The School of One," a summer school pilot program in a New York middle school in which students use laptops to work their way through a math program that consist of online quizzes, games, and worksheets. The students' progress on any given day determines the next day's curriculum. The superintendent of New York schools says that the program tailors lessons to student strengths, weaknesses, and interests. Read more.

NATURE VERSUS NURTURE -- A NEW PERSPECTIVE. Science Daily reports on a newly published research from the University of Iowa that calls for burying the "nature versus nurture" debate in favor of a systemic, multi-causal perspective. The research team rejects the idea of genetic expression as a one-way, deterministic mechanism. Instead (from the article):
"The UI team believes genes are expressed at every point in development and are affected all along the way by a gamut of environmental factors -- everything from proteins and chemicals to the socioeconomic status of a family. These ideas are unified by a perspective called developmental systems theory." Find the article.

DISABILITY AWARENESS. Easter Seals has released Friends Who Care, a disability awareness curriculum to help presumably "normal" children understand what it's like to have a disability involving vision, hearing, AD/HD, autism, and others limiting factors. Find out more.

ASK AN ASPIE to anticipate another person's state of mind -- and the Aspie may be able to respond correctly to the prompt, even though many with the condition don't spontaneously "read" the mental state of others -- that's the message in a short piece in Scientific American. Read it.

POLYCYCLIC AROMATIC HYDROCARBONS -- BAD FOR IQ. A study reported in Science Daily links environmental pollutants by that name (also called PAHs) to lower IQ test scores in children who are exposed to high levels of those pollutants prenatally. Exposure led to a difference of 4.31 points on full-scale IQ scores and 4.67 points on verbal IQ scores, as compared to less-exposed children. PAHs come from burning coal, oil, and other organic substances (including tobacco). Chalk it up as another one of those things that affect us beyond our control. Read the article.

ADVOCATING FOR THAT 2e CHILD. Wrightslaw, in its newsletter Special Ed Advocate, is offering a refresher course in effective advocacy. Find the first lesson -- along with a link to an advocacy resource directory -- in this week's edition.

Science Daily reported on research converging to "create foundations for a new science of learning," according to the article. The research, from the University of Washington's Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences, notes that infants "learn the sounds and words of their language by picking up probabilistic information as they listen," that they are calculating statistically. But the researchers also emphasize the social aspect, noting that babies need other people to learn, not just a TV screen. That said, the article also covers the role of technology in learning. Read the Science Daily article. (To read more on the research, find the June 17th edition of the journal Science.)

MONTGOMERY COUNTY PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Washington Post columnist Jay Matthews reviews the book Leading for Equity: The Pursuit of Excellence in Montgomery County Public Schools. While the book emphasizes process and can seem academic, implies Matthews, he urges those interested in education to take a look. To encourage such a look, Matthews offers some lessons titles from a key chapter, titles that might entice those with a stake in 2e education. One sample lesson title: "Implementing a strategy of common, rigorous standards with differentiated resources and instruction can create excellence and equity for all students." Does that sound like what a 2e kid needs? Readers of 2e Newsletter know that MCPS has a reputation for serving 2e kids well; this book about the schools and its leaders may offer reasons why that's so. Find Matthews' article.

MORE NEWS AND RESOURCES as the week goes on.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

From the Week of July 12th

A FINAL POST FOR THE WEEK. Do you like to influence which teacher your gifted or 2e child has in school? Or do you leave that up to the school? The alternatives are the subject of a USA Today article, with opinions served up on both sides, including one from the non-intervening mother of a gifted girl. Read the article.

ASPIE IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW. CEC SmartBriefs pointed us to an article describing the arrest of an eight-year-old Aspie girl at school. When the girl allegedly "spit on and inappropriately touched two instructors," school personnel evidently called police, who handcuffed the child and took her to the county juvenile lockup, according to the article. The school's contention: police backup was in the girl's "safety plan." And the parents? They contend lots of things in the half-million-dollar tort claim they filed against the school district. Read about them. NOTE: This is not the first time we've heard of police action against a grade school Aspie. We tend to believe that if teachers and staff had a better understanding of Asperger Syndrome, this type of [editorial, sorry] ridiculous and traumatizing situation could be avoided.

WE WERE WONDERING if the entire week would go by without coming across anything interesting or relevant to pass on about giftedness and twice-exceptionalities, but then an issue of the LD Online Newsletter arrived in our mailbox...

CONSIDERING A SPECIALIST TO EVALUATE FOR LDS? LD Online offers tips for engaging a specialist, questions to ask yourself, and questions to ask the specialist. The article also provides links to other, related articles on the LD Online site. Find this article from 2007.

THE RELUCTANT WRITER is the topic of another article highlighted in the current LD Online Newsletter, this article from 2002. We all know that lots of 2e kids hate writing. The article covers the subskills of writing, approaching it as a process with subtasks such as planning and organizing, writing, proofing, editing, and preparing a final draft. Find the article.

THE STATE OF LEARNING DISABILITIES. Finally, the issue of LD Online Newsletter pointed out that the NCLD has issued "The State of Learning Disabilities 2009" report. According to the newsletter, the report "provides benchmark data on the number of people in the U.S. with LD and how they are faring in schools, universities, and workplaces." Find it.

MORE ITEMS (HOPEFULLY) as the week goes on...

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

From the Week of July 5th

"HE JUST NEEDS TO WORK HARDER." It's not dyslexia. That's what a mother in Florida kept hearing as her bright young son went through his first years of school. Finally she arranged private testing that revealed the indicators of dyslexia, and she began tutoring her son in reading, improving his abilities, improving his grades, and improving his scores on state standardized reading tests to their highest level. Mom is now a certified dyslexia tutor and dyslexia testing specialist, according to her column in the Lakeland (Florida) Ledger. Her son has presumably stopped proclaiming that school is stupid and that he is stupid. Read the article.

NATIONAL PARENTING GIFTED CHILDREN WEEK is coming up -- the week of July 19-25, as a matter for fact. Find out more at SENG or at NAGC. Both sites suggest ways you can use the designation to increase awareness of gifted children and their education -- ways like, say, mentioning the week on your blog. :)

UNWRAPPING THE GIFTED, Tamara Fisher's blog, contains a lengthy post from July 8th in which Fisher addresses the issue of twice exceptionality and then interviews a long-time gifted friend who has mild cerebral palsy. Find it. (Fisher also mentions 2e Newsletter as a resource, along with eight other links.)

NOTHING TO DO WITH 2e but still interesting. An article in Science Daily describes how neuroscientists have located where fear is stored in the brain -- in lab rats, anyway. Turns out that a form of brain imaging indicates that "
the basolateral nucleus in the region of the brain called the of amygdala [is] the place where fear conditioning is encoded." Read the article.

BOOKS FOR KIDS was the topic of a recent
New York Times column by Nicolas Kristof, where he offered his list of best children's books ever. He followed up on his blog with recommendations from "some real experts on children's literature" -- his kids -- who provided more recommendations. But then Kristof invited readers to submit their recommendations. He apparently has a bibliophilic following -- as we write this posting, over 2,500 readers had responded with their favorites. Find the recommendations.

THE IDEA FAIRNESS RESTORATION ACT will, according to Wrightslaw, help parents recover expert witness fees in due process hearings and litigation. Wrightslaw urges those potentially affected by this legislation to call their representative on July 9th, tomorrow. More information for the activists and advocates in the 2e community.

NEUROEDUCATION -- a combination of neuroscience, psychology, and education -- is moving "close to prime time as researchers gain a more sophisticated understanding of how young minds develop and learn," says an article at the Dana Foundation site. Findings from the field are influencing how classes are organized and taught. The article notes that research into specific conditions, such as dyslexia, can lead to insights that help everyone learn. The article includes examples of recent applications of "neuroeducation." Find the article.

ARE GIFTED CHILDREN BORN OR MADE? That's the question addressed by a brief article on Voice of America's website. The article focuses on talented musicians. Find it.

FREE GIFTED/TALENTED EDUCATION SEMINARS. The University of California at Irvine offers free, web-based seminars on a variety of GATE topics, including relating to gifted youngsters, differentiation, the parent/teacher connection, and IQ testing. Go here to read a press release. Find the seminars here.