Saturday, October 31, 2009

Benefits from Video Games?

WE BASH VIDEO GAMES, sometimes, but an article in the Boston Globe describes research about the positive side of the games. From the article: "Most games involve a huge number of mental tasks, and playing can boost any one of them. Fast-paced, action-packed video games have been shown, in separate studies, to boost visual acuity, spatial perception, and the ability to pick out objects in a scene. Complex, strategy-based games can improve other cognitive skills, including working memory and reasoning." The article also notes that video games are just a medium, and, as such, neither inherently good nor bad. Find the article.

THE EIDES ON VIDEO GAMES. Drs. Brock and Fernette Eide, in their Neurolearning blog, note that action-based video games can improve contrast sensitivity in players -- the ability to discern close shades of gray. The ability to train this sensitivity may help kids with lazy eye, or older adults who are losing their night vision. The Eides also weigh in with their opinion on "Anti-learning Style" proponents such as Daniel Willingham, the subject of two recent items in this blog. Find the Eide's blog.

NAGC'S ANNUAL CONFERENCE is November 5th through 8th. We will have a presence at the conference, and we look forward to meeting friends of 2e Newsletter. Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

October 28, 2009 -- An Event, Resources, and "Dysrationalia"

GIFTED ONLINE CONFERENCE PRESENTATION. On November 11, 6pm to 8pm, Judy Galbraith will present a webinar through Our Gifted and Talented Online Conferences, OGTOC. Galbraith is the founder of Free Spirit Publishing, which caters to gifted young people. The topic: recognizing and meeting the social and emotional needs of the gifted. A donation is requested. More information about the webinar. More information about Judy Galbraith.

PARENT GUIDE TO RTI -- that's what Wrightlaw's Special Ed Advocate is offering in the current edition of the newsletter. If you have a child who learns differently, chances are you should know about Response to Intervention. Find the newsletter.

ATTENTION RESEARCH UPDATE. David Rabiner's latest newsletter is now posted on his site, and in it he reviews a study in which he was involved, one that evaluated the effectiveness of computerized interventions in attention training. The study compared Computerized Attention Training and Computer-Assisted Instruction. The results showed mild improvement in classroom attention immediately following the training, no long-term benefits, and limited effects on academic achievement. Read the report.

HEAD TO THE LIBRARY and check out the November issue of Scientific American Mind for a couple of good articles, neither of which is currently available on the publication's website. One article is called "What Does a Smart Brain Look Like?" and it addresses how the brain's structure influences intelligence and abilities. Seems that an individual pattern of gray and white matter affects specific cognitive skills. For example, more gray matter in a particular brain area might boost spatial intelligence; in another area, it might boost the ability to retain factual information. Males and females have different architectures of these specific areas. The tissues in these specific brain areas may, according to the article, "predict a person's unique pattern of cognitive strengths and weaknesses across a range of mental abilities." Neuroimaging could conceivably help tailor learning programs based on students' individual brain characteristics... The second article in this issue of Mind is about rational and irrational thought, "The Thinking that IQ Tests Miss." The author uses the term "dysrationalia" for the condition of having "the inability to think and behave rationally despite having adequate intelligence." (Sounds familiar.)

Saturday, October 24, 2009

October 24, 2009 -- Baby Media, Reader Reaction, and More

BABY MEDIA. Seems that the Disney Company, which acquired Baby Einstein, a producer of electronic media for infants, is now offering refunds to purchasers of "Baby Einstein" videos marketed as "educational." The offer comes after pressure from public advocates and public health attorneys who threatened a class-action lawsuit. The advocate, Susan Linn, notes in The New York Times article about the matter that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under 2 not watch video. So if you don't think your Baby Einstein videos truly benefited your young, high-ability child, here's your chance to get your money back. Read the article.

IT'S NATIONAL DYSLEXIA AWARENESS MONTH, and the executive director of The Bodine School, in Germantown, Tennesee, seeks to heighten awareness of the condition in an article in the Commercial Appeal of Memphis. In the article, brought to our attention by CEC's SmartBrief, the director points out some of the features of dyslexia that differentiate it from an LD, and stresses how early intervention -- by first grade or earlier -- can allow dyslexic children to read normally. Read the article.

READER REACTION TO DANIEL WILLINGSHAM, who disbelieves different learning styles. (See our September blog posts.) Nancy Mathias took issue with Mr. Willingsham's views that "There just doesn’t seem to be much evidence that kids learn in fundamentally different ways. This is not to say," continued Willingsham, "that all kids are the same, or that all kids should be taught the same way." Ms. Mathias says: "If the idea behind learning styles is to get teachers to approach teaching in multiple ways, then Mr. Williangsham's views actually agree with the outcomes of teaching to different learning styles. What I find fascinating is I have a 2e kid who could do algebra in his head (he is a visual-spatial kid who thinks in 3d and is currently studying mechanical engineering/robotics in college), yet had difficulty showing step by step on paper how to solve problems. The teacher's solution was for him to do many algebra problems (written) because the more you do, the more you learn (this wasn't at a public school but a school for the gifted!). It was generally the drill-to-kill method of teaching. In this case, my n=1 study would indicate that teaching to any one style doesn't work. By the way, I call teaching one way 'vanilla'; it may smell good while you use it, but if you use too much it becomes bitter..." Well said.

FROM BRAIN IN THE NEWS. The Dana Foundation's print newsletter from October contained articles that might be of interest to parents and educators of high-ability children with LDs. Some of the articles were reprints of other media stories from September dealing with TBI, which we've been harping on a lot recently. Another article, reprinted from the Washington Post, is a Post staff writer's personal account of how long walks and running helped her deal with severe depression. "One day [in adolescence], particularly agitated, I fled my house and began walking toward a nearby mountain. I walked for a long while that first day, discovering some old dirt tram roads that seemed to snake all over the mountain. When I got home I was excited about my discovery--and happy. My mother was curious about how far I'd walked, so we got in the car and tracked it. I had walked 27 miles, and it did more for my emotional state than all the therapy and pills." The writer credits walking and, later, running with saving her life. Read the article.

MISSED IN THE ACTION. We missed an October 4th article in The New York Times titled "Understanding the Anxious Mind." In it, you can read how researchers have come to believe that some babies are born wired to be anxious, reacting strongly to unfamiliar stimuli, and that "strongly reactive babies are more likely to grow up to be anxious." These results are fostered by at least four major longitudinal studies, beginning in babyhood and following hundreds of young people. The article features a study by psychologist Jerome Kagan. Read it (be advised that it's long), and know that the article generated lots of reader comments.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

October 22, 2009

PERIPATETIC MOONEY. If you enjoy reading about the tireless Jonathan Mooney's presentations to groups across the country, here's another one for you. Find the reportage in The Daily News Online from Washington state.

IF YOU LOVE TO HATE NCLB, an opinion piece in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune will raise your blood pressure. The article reiterates the lack of support in NCLB for gifted students and makes the case that the achievement gap "is being narrowed by the wholesale neglect of our gifted students." Read more.

TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURY has gotten lots of press lately; today, for example, The New York Times wrote about the devastating effects of TBI not only on professional football players but on contact-sport competitors at all levels. Michael Shaughnessey of recently interviewed the producer of a set of DVDs on the topic, one of which is entitled "Traumatic Brain Injury in Young Children." If TBI is an issue of concern at your house or on your playground, you might want to check out the interview.

YOUR GIFTED, AD/HD CHILD, THE CRIMINAL? HealthDay reports on a study that indicates that children with AD/HD are more likely than other children to engage in criminal activity as adults. You probably don't want to read about this, but if you do, go here.

WRIGHTSLAW provides a second batch of information about tests and evaluations useful to parents of children with LDs. This issue of the Special Ed Advocate focuses on psychological and educational achievement test scores. Read it.

TOO COOL NOT TO SHARE. This news item has nothing to do with giftedness or education or child development. Science Daily reported on a study indicating that "Young men who voted for Republican John McCain or Libertarian candidate Robert Barr in the 2008 presidential election suffered an immediate drop in testosterone when the election results were announced." The effect didn't apply to young men who voted for Obama. The conclusion? "Voters are physiologically affected by having their candidate win or lose an election." Read more and ponder.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 18, 2009

LD AWARENESS MONTH is October in the US and Canada, points out the LD Online Newsletter. Find out more.

CHINESE DYSLEXIA IS DIFFERENT than dyslexia in English speakers, contend two researchers at the University of Hong Kong. The researchers explain English dyslexia as a "phonological disorder" only, a problem mapping speech sounds onto letters. Chinese dyslexia, they say, combines a visuospatial deficit and a phonological disorder. The difference is related to the characteristics of the two languages. Read more.

VIDEO GAMES AND ATTENTION. Science Daily reported on a study showing that video game experience has a negative impact on the player's "proactive attention," which is defined as "gearing up" or planning moves in games. It contrasts with "reactive attention," which is "just in time" attention manifested in reaction to events such as dealing with a monster that suddenly appears in one's path. The researchers say their findings are in line with other studies showing a relation between frequent gaming and AD/HD. However, the report goes on to say, "This negative relationship between action games and proactive attention can be contrasted with the beneficial effects of these games on other aspects of visual processing." Find the report.

THE DUKE GIFTED LETTER, Fall edition, has been emailed, and one article in it is "Overexcitabilities and the Gifted Child," which describes overexcitabilities and offers ways to support a gifted child with overexcitabilities. Find it. Also in the issue, an article about praise and gifted children -- benefits and pitfalls.

KIDS' SCIENCE CHALLENGE is an NSF-funded competition, now in its second year, for students in grades 3 through 6. According to "Science Friday," a program on NPR, "Teams this year will focus on topics including bio-inspired designs, sports that would be suitable for play on Mars, and forensic science." You can find out more and listen to the program at NPR.

THE ONLINE BARGAIN BASEMENT is the title of a webinar to be presented by Gifted Online Conferences and featuring Carolyn K, webmistress of Hoagies' Gifted Education Page. Here's what the Gifted Online Conferences page says about the webinar: "The online bargain basement with classes, curriculum units and enrichment materials for all grades K-12, all totally accessed on the Internet for free. Curriculum libraries, containing units from English to Social Studies, Science to Math, even the Arts, all organized and including the instructional
standards met for each grade level. Interactive enrichment materials supplement any subject, and free textbooks and classroom materials round out the Bargain Basement offerings."
Register ($10) or find out more.

WONDERING ABOUT KINDLE and whether it will play a part in your gifted student's learning? Some of the 200-plus college students using the devices tell what they think about Amazon's e-reader. Read their reactions.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

October 13, 2009 -- Of Pulitzers and Nobel Prizes

Today's media brought two great stories about high-achievers who achieved despite -- or because of -- conditions that many of our 2e children face, dyslexia and Asperger's. Those stories are capsulized in the first two items below.

DYSLEXIC LAUREATE. We mentioned last Friday that the newly-awarded Nobel laureate in medicine was dyslexic. In today's New York Times is a delightful interview with the laureate, Dr. Carol Greider of Johns Hopkins University. Of her childhood, she remembered "I had a lot of trouble in school and was put into remedial classes. I thought that I was stupid." She recounts her reaction to winning the Nobel Prize, how she became involved in science, and gets in a few digs at gender issues among scientists. Read the interview.

THE NPR LISTENER IN OUR HOUSE heard Fresh Air's Terry Gross interview Professor Tim Page this morning. Page had been music critic at The New York Times and, later, at the Washington Post, where he won the Pulitzer for his work. Gross interviewed Page about his new memoir Parallel Play: Life as an Outsider, which is about how having Asperger's affected his life and his relationship with music. Like some parents of 2e children, Page got his own label when an offspring was diagnosed with Asperger's. Find Fresh Air.

ONLINE EDUCATION FOR THE GIFTED. Stanford University runs "the best high school you've never heard of," according to ABC News, and "is playing a key role in what may be the wave of the future when it comes to educating gifted high school students." Read more.

NEED TO KNOW ABOUT READING TESTS to help or advocate for your twice-exceptional child? Check out this week's edition of the Wrightslaw Special Ed Advocate for articles on the different types of tests, what they measure, and what a reading evaluation should include. Find it.

DSM-V. The next edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is due out in 2012. At the Dana Foundation website, those with a stake in labels and treatment for their high-ability kids with conditions such as AD/HD, dyslexia, Aspergers, etc, can find out from two articles what, in general, they might expect in the future. One article urges the publishers to "bring both more certainty and flexibility to psychiatric diagnosis"; the other urges a focus on the causes of diseases and disease processes. Find the articles.

Monday, October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009

YOUTUBE RESOURCES ON 2e. Dr. Jerald Grobman, a psychiatrist and member of the professional advisory committee for the organization SENG (Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted), takes on anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and underachievement in gifted young people -- all in 7 minutes. You can hear Dr. Grobman and see what we assume are his PowerPoint slides on the topic at YouTube. Go there. (So far, 66 views and no ratings -- share your opinion.) Also at the site: "What does Dyslexia Look Like in a Gifted Child" and "Dyslexia in Gifted Children," both posted by the Drs. Eide. Thanks to these experts for providing these resources for the parents and educators of 2e children.

DANGER IN THE SCHOOLS. According to The New York Times, student Zachary Christie is facing 45 days in the reform school of Christina School District, in Delaware. Seems that Christie, age 6, was excited about the camping utensil he received from Cub Scouts and took it to school to use at lunch. (The utensil is a combination fork, spoon, and -- unfortunately for Christie -- knife.) So young Christie falls into the "zero tolerance" rules still in effect at many schools. But maybe he'll become the poster child for the inflexibility of t hose rules. Forty-five days in reform school at age 6? And we doubt there's a Cub Scout den there. (An NFL football player recently received just 30 days in jail for DUI manslaughter.) Read more about Zachary's plight.

COMING UP: THE NACG CONFERENCE. It's in St. Louis at the beginning of November, but there's an alternative to attending in person. This year, Joel McIntosh's Prufrock Press is sponsoring a "virtual convention" at a fraction of the cost of regular registration. Find out more. Way to go, Joel.

MORE ON NAGC. 2e Newsletter will be represented at NAGC's confeence, so if you'll be attending we look forward to seeing you.

Friday, October 9, 2009

October 9, 2009

LD RESOURCE. We just ran across a website by The Help Group, a non-profit organization serving children with Asperger's, LDs, AD/HD, and other conditions. On the group's site is a cache of information guides and articles with titles such as "AD/HD as Executive Function Impairments" and "Are There Subtypes of Developmental Dyslexia." The group also posts presentations from its annual Summit and offers forums and training programs. Find out more.

IS IT AUTISM or is it something else? This weekend, October 9-10, a documentary, "Autistic-Like: Graham's Story," is being screened in over 90 cities. The documentary tells the story of a boy originally diagnosed as autistic who turned out to have sensory processing issues, not autism. The screenings are co-sponsored by the Sensory Processing Disorder Foundation. Find out more.

AUTISM INCIDENCE. The journal Pediatrics published an article estimating the incidence of autism at 110 per 10,000, or 1 in 91 American children. Boys were four times more likely to have ASD. Find the abstract. Or, read more in The New York Times.

NOBEL LAUREATE, DYSLEXIC. One of the researchers who just was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine is dyslexic, according to an article posted at Read it.

MEMORY ENHANCEMENT. We know that memories are solidified during sleep. German researchers have developed a nasal spray to enhance the brain's retention of emotional and procedural memories. The key: a molecule from the body's immune system. Find out more.

MORE BRAIN TRICKS. According to Science Daily, researchers have made people move in slow motion by boosting one type of brain wave -- well, 10 percent slower, anyway. Maybe there's a commercial product here for parents and educators to use on hyperactive kids. (Dream on.) Read more.

IEPs AND 504s. Wrightslaw's Special Ed Advocate addresses those topics this week. If you need to know more about them -- or the differences between them -- go to the newsletter.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

FOLLOWUP TO "IRRITATED MASSACHUSETTS PARENTS." A few posts ago, we pointed to a news item describing the sorry state of gifted education in Massachusetts. One of our readers saw the post and replied that the lack of services for 2e students was the reason why she and her family moved out of the state a year ago. She promptly wrote a letter to the editor of the Boston Globe, which we pass along to you: "I just read 'Room to Grow' (9/20/09), and became filled with emotion once again. In 4/08, I left a phone message at the Department of Education inquiring why Massachusetts didn't fund programs for the gifted. My call was returned a year later on my cell phone, which I answered in my new state of Colorado. The caller claimed that my message just came across her desk. We left Massachusetts in 9/08 because my son, gifted with learning issues, could not get an appropriate education in the state. So much for the federal mandate that every child receive a free and appropriate education! I never received a response from a letter I sent to Mr. Young, then superintendent of the Newton Public Schools, in the spring of 2008, explaining why we were leaving Massachusetts. It is my sincere hope that this article has some positive impact on the group of students in the state’s public schools who aren’t getting the services they deserve." We trust the family is being served well in Colorado.

ACCELERATION FOR GIFTED. Tamara Fisher's most recent "Unwrapping the Gifted" posting deals with acceleration for gifted students. She says, "
Despite the overwhelming evidence of acceleration's positive effects for kids who are ready for it, many schools still shy away from providing these kids with what they need educationally" -- and she points to that evidence. She also lists 18 [!!] methods of acceleration. See if one of them is appropriate for that gifted child you know. Read the blog.

COLLEGE WITH LDs. An article in The New York Times reported on a conference focused on questions for "
high school counselors trying to guide students with disabilities — including dyslexia, ADHD and Asperger Syndrome — toward supportive colleges where they might thrive." The article, also says the conference yielded plenty of useful material for parents as well. Find the article.

RESEARCH AND EDUCATION. Edutopia published an article on putting child-development findings into practice in the classroom. Example mentioned: how experiencing a piece of information in multiple ways increases retention; or how confidence affects academic achievement. It sounds, however, that turning research into practice can still be a challenge. Read the article.