Friday, December 6, 2013

News, Resources from 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter

EDUCATION "STARS." The Economist reports that Finland, long the education star on Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests, has slipped, and that Asian countries now dominate the top of the list, at least in math (or, as they say in the UK, "maths"). The Economist notes questions about the shift in rankings -- perhaps the psychological cost to intensely prepared Asian students, and about the methodology itself. However, the magazine says that the lesson is simple: "Successful countries focus fiercely on the quality of teaching and eschew zigzag changes of direction or philosophy. Teachers and families share a determination to help the young succeed." Read more. Separately, an American teacher now teaching in Finland comments on the differences in the educational systems and in the kids themselves, and how what he has seen and encountered there has challenged some of his guiding principles. Find the article at Education Week Teacher.

READING FOR PLEASURE. Scholastic has published a book about the pleasures and benefits for adolescents of "marginalized" literature such as vampire stories, horror, fantasy, romance, and dystopian fiction. According to Scholastic, the authors "argue that pleasure should play a more central role in school-based reading instruction and in work done outside of schools to promote literacy and reading. They explore ways to make the various kinds of pleasure they identify more central to the work of school, and also how to build on and extend reading pleasure to meet existing curricular goals and expectations." A portion of the book, Reading Unbound, is available at Scholastic.

JOEL MCINTOSH of Prufrock Press, in a blog posting, addresses his company's position on Common Core Standards and how they apply to gifted education. Prufrock is in the midst of "aligning" its publications to those standards to help educators know where and how its materials will support CCSS. He addresses what he sees as the conflation of high-stakes testing and CCSS, and tackles four what he calls myths about CCSS. CCSS will affect the education of the gifted and twice exceptional, so you might be interested in what McIntosh has to say; find the blog.

BRAIN RESOURCE. Each month, the Dana Foundation publishes the newsletter Brain in the News. You can subscribe to a paper edition that arrives in the mail, or you can -- as we just discovered -- find it at the Dana site. The November issue points to articles that include one called "Solving the Brain," about brain research; one on depression and circadian rhythm; and one that we'd actually referred to in this blog titled "Not All Reading Disabilities Are Dyslexia." Find Brain in the News.

AND FINALLY, THIS -- on the value of dads to their offspring. According to an article at Science Daily, the absence of a father during critical growth periods leads to impaired social and behavioral abilities in adults (in mice, at least). It is the first study to link father absenteeism with social attributes and to correlate these with physical changes in the brain. Find it.

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