50 Essential Links for the Parents of Gifted Children

23 03 2013

Every parent hopes for their child to be smart and to excel in school, but sometimes parents just don’t know what to do with a child who is especially exceptional. Keeping him or her challenged, interested, and engaged can be tough, as can dealing with an educational system that doesn’t always focus on helping out bright students. Parents of gifted children should know that they’re not alone and that there are hundreds of resources on the Web that can help every step of the way. Here are some we think stand out from the crowd, offering advice, information, support, and educational resources to help you support and encourage your child’s special abilities.

Organizations

These organizations help gifted students and their parents get the education, emotional support, and guidance they need to grow up happy and well-adjusted.

  1. National Association for Gifted Children: The National Association for Gifted Children is one of the best places for parents of gifted children to find resources, reading, help, and advice on raising an exceptional child.
  2. American Association for Gifted Children: Based out of Duke University, this organization posts news, resources, and articles of interest for parents and educators of gifted kids.
  3. IAGC: The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is just one of many state-centered organizations for gifted kids. Parents can join, find other families, and even attend special events.
  4. Gifted Child Society: The Gifted Child Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the cause of gifted children. Through their website, parents can find helpful information and learn about seminars and workshops they can attend.
  5. GPGC: The Governor’s Program for Gifted Children is a seven-week residential summer enrichment program for gifted students. Parents can learn more about the program, held at McNeese State University, from their website.
  6. SENG: SENG is short for Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted and is an organization that wants to help ensure that gifted children are understood, accepted, nurtured, and supported by their families, schools, and workplaces.
  7. Mensa for Kids: Mensa embraces younger members through this fun website, offering up monthly themes to get kids reading and learning at an advanced level.
  8. Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration: Find out more about the latest research being done into academic acceleration through this organization’s site.
  9. Center for Talented Youth: Located at Johns Hopkins, this organization engages gifted kids and their families through programs, summer classes, and even a bi-monthly magazine.

Twitter

Find quick 140-character-or-less quips and updates about working with, parenting, and helping gifted children from these excellent Twitter feeds.

  1. @teachgiftedkid: This gifted and talented teacher posts interesting articles and thoughts about working with the gifted here.
  2. @DeepWatersCoach: Lisa Lauffer works with the group Gifted Grownups & Parents of Gifted Children, offering support through her Twitter feed and beyond.
  3. @gifted_guru: Head to this feed to hear from Lisa Van Gemert, a gifted youth specialist for Mensa.
  4. @JeffcoGifted: This nonprofit group of parents, teachers, and community leaders tweets about advocacy and resources for gifted kids.
  5. @HoagiesGifted: Head to this feed to get resources and articles aplenty about gifted education and parenting.
  6. @laughingatchaos: Jen is a mom raising gifted kids. She shares her experiences, both the good and the bad, here and on her blog.

Blogs

These blogs offer excellent advice and resources to parents, teachers, or anyone working with gifted children.

  1. About.com Gifted Children: Carol Bainbridge, an expert on gifted children, maintains this blog, which is chock full of learning ideas, information, and more.
  2. Parenting Gifted Kids: Head to this blog, written by gifted educator Sarah Robbins, to learn more about how to challenge and help your gifted child.
  3. Gifted Exchange: This blog focuses on gifted kids, touching on issues of schooling, parenting, education, and more, all written by the staff at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
  4. The Prufrock Blog: Prufrock is one of the leading publishers of materials for gifted, advanced, and special needs students. On this blog, you’ll find updates on their latest releases.
  5. Unwrapping the Gifted: Head to this Education Week blog to hear from Tamara Fisher, a K-12 gifted education specialist. She gives great insights into gifted and talented education.
  6. Parents of Gifted Children Resource Group: Here, parents can find resources and make connections with other parents of gifted children.
  7. Help Me With My Gifted Child: Not sure how to help your gifted child? Look to this blog for answers, with information about gifted programs, enrollment testing, and parenting.
  8. Gifted Parenting Support: This blog is an excellent place to read more about how to parent and educate children who are gifted and talented.
  9. Gifted Guru: This blogger offers up resources, books, commentary, and more on the subject of gifted education.
  10. Gifted Education Perspectives: Follow this blog to learn more about all things gifted, from what defines it to how to best educate bright students.
  11. Creating Curriculum for Gifted Children: This blog approaches gifted kids from an educator’s perspective, but parents can also learn new ways to challenge and interest their children.
  12. Gifted Education Consultant: Sonia White, author and gifted education specialist, shares her passion for helping gifted children through this blog.
  13. Gifted Phoenix: On this blog, parents can find some insights into giftedness issues, education, and parenting, from a New Zealand perspective.
  14. Byrdseed: Focusing on creativity, accelerated learning, literature, and more, this blog offers resources and inspiration to gifted educators and parents of gifted kids.

Resources

If you’re looking for resources to help you parent, choose a school, or just support your child, these sites are great places to start.

  1. Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page: On this site, you’ll find a bit of everything, from conference listings to tips on understanding your gifted child, making it an excellent resource for any parent.
  2. Gifted Development Center: Looking for information about giftedness and how to raise a gifted child? Dr. Linda Silverman provides both on this helpful site.
  3. Gifted Child Today: This open-access journal is a great read for parents who want to learn more about how to cater to the needs of their gifted child.
  4. Gifted Child Quarterly: Another open-access journal, this journal is a bit more scholarly, publishing research done on giftedness and talent development.
  5. Summer Camps for Gifted Children: Looking for a great way to keep your child busy and learning over the summer? These summer camps could be a great choice.
  6. Exquisite Minds: Parents and teachers who work with gifted children can find resources, online games, tips, tools, and more on this social site.
  7. Royal Fireworks Press: Head to this publisher’s website to find great reads for both you and your gifted child, especially if you’re homeschooling.
  8. BrightKids: BrightKids is a discussion group for parents of gifted children and is maintained through MENSA. You can join here and get tips and advice from other parents of bright kids.
  9. Schools for the Gifted Child: Wondering where to send your gifted child? This site lists schools in six countries.
  10. KidSource Gifted and Talented: KidSource has collected a number of great resources and articles on gifted kids that can be a big help to parents.
  11. Educational Resources for Parents and Teachers of Gifted Youth: Mensa is a great place to look for help with a gifted child. Here, they offer up a collection of resources for parents and teachers that ranges from lesson places to fun activities.
  12. Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: Even if you’re not homeschooling your child, this site offers a chance to get resources and talk to parents who are also working to raise gifted children.
  13. Genius Denied: This is the website for the book Genius Denied, an expose of the ways in which the American education system often ignores its brightest students.
  14. Gifted Children’s Bill of Rights: This resource will help you learn how to stand up for your kids and make sure that his or her rights are being respected.
  15. Gifted Journey: This site is a great resource for learning about giftedness, touching on everything from bullying to IQ tests.
  16. teachfine on gifted and ed tech: This site collects resources that combine gifted education and technology, creating a great list of articles and sites that parents and kids can use to learn.

Articles

These articles will help you stay informed and educated about issues relevant to your gifted child.

  1. Gifted Students Go Dumb to Fit In: Is your child lowering his or her potential in order to fit in with peers? This article explores the stigma of being smart.
  2. Gifted Children Need Help, Too: Many teachers and parents believe that smart kids don’t need help; they’ll do well on their own. This just isn’t the case, as you’ll learn here.
  3. The Drama of the Gifted Child: Being a gifted child isn’t easy, as you’ll learn from this Psychology Today article.
  4. Hey, Teacher, Get Help Somewhere Else: Make sure your child isn’t working as a teacher’s aide in his or her classroom, a common occurrence as this article explains.
  5. Top 10 Myths in Gifted Education: Learn some of the biggest myths about teaching gifted kids from this great YouTube video.




The Visual-Spatial Learner: by Linda Kreger Silverman

21 03 2013

Many teachers try very hard to accommodate the various learning styles of their students, but this can be an overwhelming task, as some of the learning styles inventories and models are quite complicated. As a former classroom teacher myself, I know that there are a limited number of hours in the day, and even the most dedicated teacher cannot plan for all the different learning styles and intelligences of his or her students. Take heart! There?s an easier solution.

The visual-spatial learner model is based on the newest discoveries in brain research about the different functions of the hemispheres. The left hemisphere is sequential, analytical, and time-oriented. The right hemisphere perceives the whole, synthesizes, and apprehends movement in space. We only have two hemispheres, and we are doing an excellent job teaching one of them.
We need only become more aware of how to reach the other, and we will have happier students, learning more effectively. I?d like to share with you how the visual-spatial learner idea originated. Around 1980, I began to notice that some highly gifted children took the top off the IQ test with their phenomenal abilities to solve items presented to them visually or items requiring excellent abilities to visualize. These children were also adept at spatial tasks, such as orientation problems. Soon I discovered that not only were the highest scorers outperforming others on the visual-spatial tasks, but so were the lowest scorers. The main difference between the two groups was that highly gifted children also excelled at the auditory-sequential items, whereas children who were brighter than their IQ scores had marked auditory and sequential weaknesses. It was from these clinical observations and my attempt to understand both the strengths and weaknesses that the concept of the ?visual-spatial learner? was born.

Visual-spatial learners are individuals who think in pictures rather than in words. They have a different brain organization than auditory-sequential learners. They learn better visually than auditorally. They learn all-at-once, and when the light bulb goes on, the learning is permanent. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details. They are non-sequential, which means that they do not learn in the step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach. They arrive at correct solutions without taking steps, so ?show your work? may be impossible for them. They may have difficulty with easy tasks, but show amazing ability with difficult, complex tasks. They are systems thinkers who can orchestrate large amounts of information from different domains, but they often miss the details. They tend to be organizationally impaired and unconscious about time. They are often gifted creatively, technologically, mathematically or emotionally.

Parents can tell if they have one of these children by the endless amount of time they spend doing advanced puzzles, constructing with LEGOs, etc., completing mazes, counting everything, playing Tetris on the computer, playing chess, building with any materials at hand, designing scientific experiments, programming your computer, or taking everything in the house apart to see how it operates. They also are very creative, dramatic, artistic and musical.

Here are the basic distinctions between the visual-spatial and auditory-sequential learner:

AUDITORY-SEQUENTIAL

Thinks primarily in words

Has auditory strengths

Relates well to time

Is a step-by-step learner

Learns by trial and error

Progresses sequentially from easy to difficult material

Is an analytical thinker

Attends well to details

Follows oral directions

Does well at arithmetic

Learns phonics easily

Can sound out spelling words

Can write quickly and neatly

Is well-organized

Can show steps of work easily

Excels at rote memorization

Is comfortable with one right answer

May need some repetition to reinforce

Learns well from instruction

Learns in spite of emotional reactions

Develops fairly evenly

Usually maintains high grades

Learns languages in class

 

VISUAL-SPATIAL

Thinks primarily in pictures

Has visual strengths

Relates well to space

Is a whole-part learner

Learns concepts all at once

Is a good synthesizer

Sees the big picture; may miss details

Is better at math reasoning than computation

Learns whole words easily

Must visualize words to spell them

Prefers keyboarding to writing

Creates unique methods of organization

Arrives at correct solutions intuitively

Learns best by seeing relationships

Has good long-term visual memory

Learns concepts permanently; is turned off by drill and repetition

Develops own methods of problem solving

Is very sensitive to teachers? attitudes

Generates unusual solutions to problems

Develops quite asynchronously

May have very uneven grades

Masters other languages through immersion

At the

Gifted Development Center, we have been exploring the visual-spatial learner phenomenon for over 2 decades. We have developed strategies for working effectively with these children, guidance for parents on living with visual-spatial learners, and techniques to help visual-spatial students learn successfully through their strengths.
This information is now available in Upside-Down Brilliance: The Visual-Spatial Learner (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2002) and Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids: Successfully Parenting Your Visual-Spatial Child (Denver: DeLeon Publishing, 2004).Over a period of nine years, a multi-disciplinary team created the Visual-Spatial Identifier?a simple, 15-item checklist to help parents and teachers find these children. There are two forms of the Identifier: a self-rating questionnaire and an observer form, which is completed by parents or teachers. The Visual-Spatial Identifier has been translated into Spanish. With the help of two grants from the Morris S. Smith Foundation, the two instruments have been validated on 750 fourth, fifth and sixth graders. In this research, one-third of the school population emerged as strongly visual-spatial. An additional 30% showed a slight preference for the visual-spatial learning style. Only 23% were strongly auditory-sequential. This suggests that a substantial percentage of the school population would learn better using visual-spatial methods.

Please visit our websites, www.visualspatial.org and www.gifteddevelopment.com, for more information about visual-spatial learners. Or call the GiftedDevelopmentCenter (1-888-GIFTED1) or Visual-Spatial Resource (1-888-VSR-3744) to order a copy of Upside-Down Brilliance, Raising Topsy-Turvy Kids, the Visual-Spatial Identifier, or articles about visual-spatial learners. We also offer presentations for groups and phone consultations for parents.

? Copyright 1999 held by Linda Kreger Silverman. From Silverman, L.K. (2003, Winter). The visual-spatial learner: An introduction. SoundviewSchool Dolphin News, pp 6-7.

 

Guidelines for Teaching Visual-Spatial Learners (VSLs)

                                                                                                  by Linda Kreger Silverman

1. Present ideas visually on the chalkboard or on overheads. “A picture is worth a thousand words.” Use rich, visual imagery in lectures.

2. Teach the student to visualize spelling words, math problems, etc. An effective method of teaching spelling is to write the word in large, colored print and present it to the student at arm’s length, slightly above eye level. Have her close her eyes, visualize the word, then create a silly picture of the word in her mind. Then have her spell it backwards (this demonstrates visualization), then forwards, then write it once.

3. Use inductive (discovery) techniques as often as possible. This capitalizes on the visual-spatial learner’s pattern-finding strength.

4. Teach the student to translate what he or she hears into images, and record those images using webbing, mind-mapping techniques, or pictorial notes.

5. Incorporate spatial exercises, visual imagery, reading material that is rich in fantasy, and visualization activities into the curriculum. Spatial conceptualization has the ability to go beyond linear thinking because it deals more readily with immense complexities and the interrelations of systems.

6. To accommodate introverts, allow the student to observe others before attempting activities. Stretch wait time after questions and have all students write answers before discussing. Develop a signal system during class discussions that allows introverts to participate.

7. Avoid drill, repetition, and rote memorization; use more abstract conceptual approaches and fewer, more difficult problems.

8. Teach to the student’s strengths. Help the student learn to use these strengths to compensate for weaknesses. Visualization and imagination are the visual-spatial learner’s most powerful tools and should be used frequently.

9. Allow the student to use a computer for assignments, and, in some subjects, for instruction. Teach the student how to use a keyboard effectively.

10. Give untimed power tests. Students with severe processing lags can apply to take their college board examinations untimed if the disability is documented through IQ and achievement testing within three years of the exams, and if teachers have provided extended time for tests.

11. Give more weight to the content of papers than to format. These students often suffer from deficits in mechanics: spelling, punctuation, paragraphing, etc.

12. Allow the student to construct, draw or otherwise create visual representations of a concept as a substitute for some written assignments.

13. If a bright student struggles with easy, sequential tasks, see if he can handle more advanced, complex work. Acceleration is more beneficial for such a student than remediation.

14. Expose VSLs to role models of successful adults who learn in a similar manner. Many of the most celebrated physicists were visual-spatial learners. Biographical sketches of famous visual-spatial learners can be found in The Spatial Child (Dixon, 1983), In the Mind?s Eye (West, 1991), and the spatial intelligence chapter in Frames of Mind (Gardner, 1983).

  15. Be emotionally supportive of the student. Visual-spatial learners are keenly aware of their teachers’ reactions to them, and their success in overcoming their difficulties appears directly related to their perception of the teacher’s empathy.

?Copyright 1998 held by Linda Kreger Silverman. From Silverman, L.K. (1998) Personality and learning styles of gifted children. In J. VanTassel-Baska (Ed). Excellence in educating gifted & talented learners (2nd ed., pp29-65). Denver: Love.





Love-hate relationship with math, the most unpopular school subject

21 03 2013

By Associated Press

WASHINGTON – People in this country have a love-hate relationship with math, a favorite school subject for some but just a bad memory for many others, especially women. In an AP-AOL News poll as students head back to school, almost four in 10 adults surveyed said they hated math in school, a widespread disdain that complicates efforts today to catch up with Asian and European students. Twice as many people said they hated math as said that about any other subject.
Some people like Stewart Fletcher, a homemaker from Suwannee, Ga., are fairly good at math but never learned to like it.
“It was cold and calculating,” she said. “There was no gray, it was black and white.”

Still, many people — about a quarter of the population — said math was their favorite school subject, about the same number that preferred English and history, with science close behind, the poll found.
“It just came easy to me,” Donald Foltasz, a pipefitter from Hamlin, N.Y., said about math. “When you got all done, you got answers. With English you could say a lot of words that mean different things, my interpretation might be different from any of the teachers. But with math, there’s no interpretation — two plus two is four.”
Recent studies have suggested 15-year-olds in the United States lag behind those of the same age in Europe and Asia in math. Young people in many countries are stronger in the important subject of science, as well. Both subjects are critical in research, innovation and economic competitiveness.
Education experts say students should have a foundation in all core subjects — such as math, English, social studies and science — to become well-rounded citizens and skilled workers. Under the pressure of federal law, schools have put increasing focus on reading and math, the two areas in which they must make yearly progress or face possible sanctions.
The key to making children interested in math is to capture their imaginations at a young age, said Dianne Peterson, a fifth grade math teacher from Merritt Island, Fla. While she must spend part of her class time with basic tasks like multiplication tables and fractions, she tries to make it fun. “I do a lot with music with them,” Peterson said. “I’ve got some CDs that go over the facts. Some of it is rap and some of it is jazzy songs.”
Compared with students overseas, students in this country tend to be stronger in math in elementary school and move progressively behind as they get into high school. Peterson said she thinks high school teachers aren’t as inclined to nurture student’s interest in a challenging subject like math. When people are asked what subject they had taken more of in school, they were most likely to mention foreign languages — a feeling expressed more often in the cities and suburbs than in rural areas. That desire for more languages may have something to do with increasing numbers of immigrants, especially Hispanics, and foreign language is often a requirement for college.
“We are the only industrialized nation that routinely graduates students from high school with knowledge of only one language,” said Marty Abbott, director of education at the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. “I think that says a lot about how other countries routinely build a multilanguage citizenry, and we do not.”
More than half said they think children should get more education in both science and the arts.
Computers have become a major factor in elementary and especially high school education. Two-thirds in the poll said they think the use of a computer helps rather than hurts children with learning.
In fall 2003, nearly 100 percent of public schools in the United States had access to the Internet, compared with 35 percent in 1995, according to the Education Department.
“I think it can be an invaluable tool,” said James Behrens, a retired postal worker who lives near Milwaukee, Wis. “I have eight grandchildren and they’re fairly computer literate. It’s like having the world’s best library, but it can take kids and make them pretty anti-social.”
The AP-AOL News poll of 1,000 adults was conducted Aug. 9-11 by Ipsos, an international polling firm, and has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.





Why Do Kids Need Strategy More Than Math Facts?

26 01 2013

By On September 18, 2012

In historical China, children played a game that involved a rooster, a man, and a worm.
  • Man eats rooster
  • Rooster eats worm
  • Worm eats man

You may recognize this game as rock-paper-scissors, also known as Roshambo.  The origins of this game are hard to track as almost every culture has had a version of it.

It has been used to settle differences of every sort from chore duty to who gets the last piece of pizza.

But why is this game so effective?  Why is it used so widely, and with such seemingly random results?

When you play a game of Yahtzee, what slots should you be looking to fill first?  If you roll a 3,4,5 vs a 1,2,3 – which roll gives you better chances of rolling a large straight with your other 2 die?

What do these problems have to do with becoming adept in math?

Math Education Misses The Mark

Our education system has taught and thought about mathematics the wrong way for far too long. Even as homeschoolers, most of the math curriculum that is available to us barely touches the surface of the true purpose of math.

What is math really for?  Is it to memorize and cram as much into our brain so that we can pass a test that says we can “do” math?

Most people will answer that we need math to get along in our everyday lives.  But how and why do we need math in our everyday lives?

Mathematics

  • is ”the science of numbers and their operations, interrelations, combinations, generalizations, and abstractions and of space configurations and their structure, measurement, transformations, and generalizations.” (from Webster’s dictionary)
  • finds patterns and tries to understand them
  • is a tool
  • describes processes, not answers
  • solves problems

I think the last few bullet points are a great working definition of how we would see math in our lives outside of education.  Math is a tool we use to solve problems, find patterns, and describe processes.

Math is a lot more than just abstract equations in a workbook.

And instead of focusing on teaching children how to figure out how to solve complex life problems, find new patterns, and describe processes that they come across, we spend most of their formal years on “math grammar – a term my sister coined for the rote education of formulas and factors that is spoon-fed from Kindergarten up.

Mathematical Reasoning

The real important thing that is missing from most algebra textbooks is strategy – otherwise known as logical reasoning or problem solving.

And all logical reasoning is really mathematical reasoning.  Because the solutions to problems involve patterns and processes, and all patterns and processes involve numbers whether it is apparent or not.

Did I just blow your mind?

Math is foundational to the universe, to life, to walking down the street.

So why are we not teaching kids to reason mathematically?

Word problems don’t count.  They are simple puzzles that give you all the convenient information you need and they never exist in the real world.

In real life, that train going x miles per hour would never keep an exact steady rate of speed.  And neither would the car.  No textbook wants to explain human error, or the effects of friction, or wind speed in relation to velocity.

Strategy Is A First Step

So if math textbooks are way off course in getting kids to actually think mathematically (and they are), where should you start?

You could start noticing patterns and processes in your everyday lives.  When you see patterns in shape and form, that is geometry.  When you begin to try to construct a birdhouse together and need to figure out how to make everything fit, you are doing algebra and a host of other processes.

Start with the problems and patterns first.  Get your kids curious about figuring out how to solve a problem in real life.  Then you can show them the resources and tools they will need – like the formula for finding a circumference of a quadrilateral.

But I think the easiest and fastest way to teach your kids the beauty of mathematical reasoning is by introducing strategy to them through games.

After playing Yahtzee online and in our home for weeks on end, I finally started figuring out that I should try to fill the hardest and most point-awarding slots first instead of worrying about the 1′s slot- which could only give me a total of 5 points.

And while taking a course on Game Theory, I learned that rock-paper-scissors works because there is no dominant strategy.  Each choice has about the same chance as the others to win – 1:1:1.

That class may seem like some sort of hobby class you can take at a community center, but this was a class taught at Yale with master-level business and economics majors filling the room.

The information that was being taught was mind-boggling because it completely destroyed my views on math and on marketing and human choice.

It led me to believe that  we should be encouraging children to explore mathematical reasoning and strategy – and leave the rote facts for later when they want to get deeper into a field of research or work.





10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today

11 01 2013

10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today

by Craig Jarrow, the author of Time Management Ninja.

January 10, 2013

Do you need some motivation today?

Maybe a gentle nudge towards action?

Or perhaps a swift kick to get you moving?

Less Moping, More Making

When you can’t get yourself motivated, you need to breakthrough.

Sometimes, you just need to pick yourself up and get things going.

“The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” - Walt Disney

Stop moping and start making your own motivation.

Here are 10 Ways to Make Some Motivation Today:

  1. Win Early – The early bird not only gets the worm, but has a spring in its step all day long. Get something done early, and you’ll get things done all day long.
  2. Change the Game – If you aren’t winning, you may need to change the game. Change the rules, even break them. Do things differently if you want different results.
  3. Celebrate the Small Wins – Big wins aren’t going to happen every day. Learn to celebrate the small progress. It’s these little victories that add up over the long-term.
  4. Believe in Yourself – Nothing generates motivation like confidence. Believe in yourself. No one is going to be your bigger fan than you. You are stronger and better than you think. Believe it.
  5. Prepare for Your Day – Being “ready” is motivating. When you are prepared for your day, you are excited to get it going. Take some time to prepare and you’ll be ready to charge into your day.
  6. Do Something You Enjoy – To kick up your motivation, do something you enjoy. Find a task that you enjoy doing and use that to get you started.
  7. Plan Your Dreams – When today has got you down, plan for tomorrow. It’s not about living in a daydream, but putting steps in place to get you to your dreams.
  8. Do Something Physical – If you want to pump up your motivation, then hit the gym. Or simply do something physical. Go for a jog or walk. Get your body moving, and it will stay that way. Exercise is a great motivator.
  9. Take Care of Loose Ends – Sometimes you are unmotivated because you are carrying around a mental load of undone tasks. Take care of the ones that are weighing on your brain so that you can move forward in your day.
  10. Connect With Someone Positive – Positive attitudes are contagious. Connect with other positive people. Multiple positive attitudes lead to exponential motivation as a group.

Motivate Yourself Today

You don’t have to mope through your day.

When life doesn’t provide inspiration, create your own.

Just a little action can inspire you to big things.

So, make your own motivation today.

Question: How do you motivate yourself?





Why So Many Schools Remain Penitentiaries of Boredom

6 01 2013

Why So Many Schools Remain Penitentiaries of Boredom

Head of School at The Archer School for Girls in Los Angeles.

“It’s harder to change a school than it is to move a graveyard.” Or, as it’s also been said, “It’s harder to change a history course than it is to change history.” I think we can all agree that our schools should be among our most dynamic and innovative institutions; but despite the endless talk about school reform, they remain among our most ossified.

Take a look at the typical American classroom, public or independent, urban or suburban, and what you will see looks very much like the classrooms of the 19th century. Yes, slates have been replaced (in most places) with digital tools, but the structure signals the musty past: teacher as authoritative source of knowledge, student as tabula rasa. Or take the structure of the school day itself, typically divided into seven 45 minute classes. Believe it or not, that schedule derives from Victorian factories where industrialist Frederick Taylor concluded that workers were most productive when they changed stations every 45 minutes.

And it’s not just the structure of schools that is chained to the past. It’s the very content we teach and our purpose for teaching it. This has been true for at least a century, but the technological revolution has brought our schools to the precipice; the mandate could not be more obvious: evolve or suffer extinction. We are seeing more clearly than ever that school as we know it is becoming irrelevant to an entire generation. Drop out rates remain high, especially here in L.A., and far too many college students, who are ostensibly prepared, give up before the end of their freshman year. Why? Because they’re disengaged. Even among our most educationally privileged, students arrive at college already burned out and cynical about the journey ahead. If college means another four years of primarily sitting and listening to someone else lecture, we’ve lost them already.

Authentic learning at its core is about doing, creating, constructing. Ask yourself, “What do I remember as the most rewarding and inspiring experience in school?” and the answer invariably involves something you created — poetry you wrote, a computer program you designed, an art portfolio you assembled, biology research you conducted. We learn by doing. Unfortunately, it is a lot easier for a teacher to deliver information than it is to design a lesson that deeply engages the learner and asks the student to transfer and apply the skills and concepts of the course rather than simply memorizing them.

Teachers no longer need to be the “black box” in which information is stored. Instead, educators must become designers of doing. In this sense, teaching is a highly skilled craft, requiring not only explicit objectives, but a beautifully designed and irresistible learning experience that asks students think critically, solve a problem, create a product. Take for example an undergraduate course at MIT on designing a wheel chair for use in the developing world. A real world, altruistic problem is posed and students are challenged to solve it. Along the way, they must learn and employ the chemistry, geometry, geography, cultural anthropology, physics, etc. to prevail. Now that is relevance. Without doing likewise, our secondary schools will remain penitentiaries of boredom — places where our children sit stupefied and often medicated so that they can remain silent and motionless long enough for the lesson to be over.

Our schools and teaching have to be worthy of a student’s attention. I talk to students about what it means to be fully present– to “attend,” which comes from the Latin attendere, meaning to take care or take charge, to bend toward. Attending means so much more than merely showing up and yet when we utter the word in the context of school, it evokes passivity. Likewise, learning has become synonymous with collecting information or possessing the kind of knowledge that can be readily measured on a test. For those who are college bound, that means a standardized test like the S.A.T. But the true test of knowledge and understanding is applicability. Students want and deserve knowledge which they can apply to an authentic experience. Don’t get me wrong, facts and content matter. But deep and enduring learning is always about more than mnemonics, and it’s time our schools and curricula reflect this.

Yes, you need knowledge of the periodic table to do chemistry, but you don’t need to memorize it if it’s on your desktop — electronic or otherwise. What matters is the ability to do something with the elements in the periodic table.  But ask yourself, what’s easier to design: a fill in the blank test for recall or an authentic chemistry experiment that may well have a messy outcome?  This is just one of the tragedies of No Child Left Behind, or as I like to call “No Child Left Untested.”  Few experiences in life are less authentic than a standardized test. The humble times-tables were once memorized by a sort of chanted catechism; today, our youngest math students make lightning-fast calculations on an array of electronic devices which, ironically, most large-scale assessments forbid. Quick, what’s 12 x 7? It’s actually okay if you don’t remember, offhand, because you no longer have to. Isn’t that great?

Educational leaders have to have the courage to reinvent our schools for real this time. And our teachers must be teachers of children as well as teachers of their subject area. This means possessing pedagogical knowledge — the tools in the tool belt to design a lesson for the students of the present and the problems of the future. Here’s the bottom-line and the good news: the vast riches of the world’s cumulative knowledge are literally at our fingertips every day, via tablet, desktop, laptop and cell-phone. True, there is such a thing as classified information, not accessible via our search engines, and there is plenty of misinformation on the web, too (for instance, I don’t recommend that you diagnose your own appendicitis, etc.) But still, if you’re interested in what the ancient Egyptians ate for breakfast, or how to carve a duck decoy, or simply want to learn to speak Portuguese, a few persistent mouse-clicks will summon this and virtually any other form of knowledge you desire, as if you have conjured an obedient djinn from a magic lamp. It’s all there for us, and we don’t have to remember much more than our new lexicon of user-names and passwords to enter what truly is a wonderland of information impossible to imagine a generation ago.

And here’s where our schools become relevant once more: in teaching our children to evaluate and use that information in ways that are important and meaningful and to satisfy their fundamental human desire to construct solutions for the world full of engaging and pressing problems they will inherit.





What teachers really want to tell parents

3 01 2013

What teachers really want to tell parents

By Ron Clark, Special to CNN
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue September 6, 2011

Teacher Ron Clark is pictured with his students.
Teacher Ron Clark is pictured with his students.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ron Clark is an award-winning teacher who started his own academy in Atlanta
  • He wants parents to trust teachers and their advice about their students
  • Clark says some teachers hand out A grades so parents won’t bother them
  • It’s OK for kids to get in trouble sometimes; it teaches life lessons, Clark says

Editor’s note: Ron Clark, author of “The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck — 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers,” has been named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey’s pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He founded The Ron Clark Academy, which educators from around the world have visited to learn.

(CNN) — This summer, I met a principal who was recently named as the administrator of the year in her state. She was loved and adored by all, but she told me she was leaving the profession.

I screamed, “You can’t leave us,” and she quite bluntly replied, “Look, if I get an offer to lead a school system of orphans, I will be all over it, but I just can’t deal with parents anymore; they are killing us.”

Unfortunately, this sentiment seems to be becoming more and more prevalent. Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list “issues with parents” as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel. Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges.

So, what can we do to stem the tide? What do teachers really need parents to understand?

For starters, we are educators, not nannies. We are educated professionals who work with kids every day and often see your child in a different light than you do. If we give you advice, don’t fight it. Take it, and digest it in the same way you would consider advice from a doctor or lawyer. I have become used to some parents who just don’t want to hear anything negative about their child, but sometimes if you’re willing to take early warning advice to heart, it can help you head off an issue that could become much greater in the future.

Trust us. At times when I tell parents that their child has been a behavior problem, I can almost see the hairs rise on their backs. They are ready to fight and defend their child, and it is exhausting. One of my biggest pet peeves is when I tell a mom something her son did and she turns, looks at him and asks, “Is that true?” Well, of course it’s true. I just told you. And please don’t ask whether a classmate can confirm what happened or whether another teacher might have been present. It only demeans teachers and weakens the partnership between teacher and parent.

Please quit with all the excuses

The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Ron Clark

And if you really want to help your children be successful, stop making excuses for them. I was talking with a parent and her son about his summer reading assignments. He told me he hadn’t started, and I let him know I was extremely disappointed because school starts in two weeks.

His mother chimed in and told me that it had been a horrible summer for them because of family issues they’d been through in July. I said I was so sorry, but I couldn’t help but point out that the assignments were given in May. She quickly added that she was allowing her child some “fun time” during the summer before getting back to work in July and that it wasn’t his fault the work wasn’t complete.

 

Can you feel my pain?

Some parents will make excuses regardless of the situation, and they are raising children who will grow into adults who turn toward excuses and do not create a strong work ethic. If you don’t want your child to end up 25 and jobless, sitting on your couch eating potato chips, then stop making excuses for why they aren’t succeeding. Instead, focus on finding solutions.

Parents, be a partner instead of a prosecutor

And parents, you know, it’s OK for your child to get in trouble sometimes. It builds character and teaches life lessons. As teachers, we are vexed by those parents who stand in the way of those lessons; we call them helicopter parents because they want to swoop in and save their child every time something goes wrong. If we give a child a 79 on a project, then that is what the child deserves. Don’t set up a time to meet with me to negotiate extra credit for an 80. It’s a 79, regardless of whether you think it should be a B+.

This one may be hard to accept, but you shouldn’t assume that because your child makes straight A’s that he/she is getting a good education. The truth is, a lot of times it’s the bad teachers who give the easiest grades, because they know by giving good grades everyone will leave them alone. Parents will say, “My child has a great teacher! He made all A’s this year!”

Wow. Come on now. In all honesty, it’s usually the best teachers who are giving the lowest grades, because they are raising expectations. Yet, when your children receive low scores you want to complain and head to the principal’s office.

Please, take a step back and get a good look at the landscape. Before you challenge those low grades you feel the teacher has “given” your child, you might need to realize your child “earned” those grades and that the teacher you are complaining about is actually the one that is providing the best education.

And please, be a partner instead of a prosecutor. I had a child cheat on a test, and his parents threatened to call a lawyer because I was labeling him a criminal. I know that sounds crazy, but principals all across the country are telling me that more and more lawyers are accompanying parents for school meetings dealing with their children.

Teachers walking on eggshells

I feel so sorry for administrators and teachers these days whose hands are completely tied. In many ways, we live in fear of what will happen next. We walk on eggshells in a watered-down education system where teachers lack the courage to be honest and speak their minds. If they make a slight mistake, it can become a major disaster.

My mom just told me a child at a local school wrote on his face with a permanent marker. The teacher tried to get it off with a wash cloth, and it left a red mark on the side of his face. The parent called the media, and the teacher lost her job. My mom, my very own mother, said, “Can you believe that woman did that?”

I felt hit in the gut. I honestly would have probably tried to get the mark off as well. To think that we might lose our jobs over something so minor is scary. Why would anyone want to enter our profession? If our teachers continue to feel threatened and scared, you will rob our schools of our best and handcuff our efforts to recruit tomorrow’s outstanding educators.

Finally, deal with negative situations in a professional manner.

If your child said something happened in the classroom that concerns you, ask to meet with the teacher and approach the situation by saying, “I wanted to let you know something my child said took place in your class, because I know that children can exaggerate and that there are always two sides to every story. I was hoping you could shed some light for me.” If you aren’t happy with the result, then take your concerns to the principal, but above all else, never talk negatively about a teacher in front of your child. If he knows you don’t respect her, he won’t either, and that will lead to a whole host of new problems.

We know you love your children. We love them, too. We just ask — and beg of you — to trust us, support us and work with the system, not against it. We need you to have our backs, and we need you to give us the respect we deserve. Lift us up and make us feel appreciated, and we will work even harder to give your child the best education possible.

That’s a teacher’s promise, from me to you.





US Math Achievement: How Bad Is It?

27 11 2012

 Three eye-opening studies paint a sobering picture but may point to a solution

Published on November 27, 2012 by Nate Kornell, Ph.D. in Everybody Is Stupid Except You
Children from the United States do not score well on international math tests. The gap grows as students get older, suggesting that our educational system is the problem. But how little math do US students know? A fascinating recent article (Richland, Stigler, & Holyoak, 2012) paints a sobering picture. It may also suggest an avenue for improvement.

These studies examined community college students who, like the majority of community college students, placed into a remedial math class. This is an interesting group because they mostly graduated from high school, they passed their required math classes, and they decided to go to college. It is also a large group; there were 13 million community college students (as of 2009).

The most interesting thing about the new research is that students were not tested using traditional measures of mathematical ability. You can do well on many traditional tests if you have memorized enough mathematical procedures (e.g., how to compute the third angle of a triangle if you know the first two). But this test was different. The students were tested on very basic conceptual knowledge, like what addition really is. For example, a student could know the procedure for multiplying fractions without having a conceptual understanding what a fraction is—or even what multiplication is. These new studies checked to see whether students understood things like the meaning of fractions and multiplication.

 The Richland et al. (2012) article reports a string of shocking findings gleaned from two other recent articles (Givvin et al., 2011; Stigler et al., 2010). Two of the questions assessed whether or not students understand what a fraction is.

  • Students were shown a number line from -2 to 2 and asked to draw a line marking the approximate location of two numbers: -0.7 and 13/8. Percentage who answered correctly: 21%.
  • Students were asked which is greater, a/5 or a/8. Fifty percent would answer correctly if they just guessed. Percentage who answered correctly: 53%.

If you’ve been assuming high school graduates fully understand how fractions work, these results say otherwise. Some fell back on procedural knowledge, probably because that’s the only knowledge they had about fractions. For example, seeing two fractions near each other apparently triggered an urge in some students to use the cross-multiplication procedure they had memorized.

Another question looked at whether the students understood addition.

  • In an interview one student was asked if he could think of a way to check whether 462+253 = 715. He smartly subtracted 253 from 715 and came out with 462. So far so good. But when he was asked whether he could have subtracted 462 from 715 instead, he said he did not think so. He had been told in school to subtract the second number from the bigger number, not the first. It appears he was just following a memorized script.

Another set of questions checked to see whether students would take advantage of relationships between problems to find easy solutions. For example, the students were asked to solve the following set of problems:

  1. 10 ×  3 =
  2. 10 × 13 =
  3. 20 × 13 =
  4. 30 × 13 =
  5. 31 × 13 =
  6. 29 × 13 =
  7. 22 × 13 =

Once you solve the problem two, problem three becomes easier; just multiply the answer by 2. Similarly, the answer to problem five is the answer to problem four plus 13. Yet 77% of the students never took advantage of any of these relationships and simply did the multiplication for each problem. They made errors in the processes that could have been caught with a cursory inspection and some very basic conceptual knowledge. Here are one student’s answers (Givven et al., 2011):

  1. 10 ×  3 = 30
  2. 10 × 13 = 130
  3. 20 × 13 = 86
  4. 30 × 13 = 120
  5. 31 × 13 = 123
  6. 29 × 13 = 116
  7. 22 × 13 = 92

Math as rules versus math as a system

Many of these students do not fully understand how a fraction works, how addition works, or the fact that different problems can relate to each other. So the question becomes why? And what can be done?

One of the most enlightening questions the students were asked was not a math problem. They were asked (Givven et al., 2011) what it means to be good at mathematics. Here are some of their responses (quoting Richland et al., 2012):

  • “Math is just all these steps.”
  • “In math, sometimes you have to just accept that that’s the way it is and there’s no reason behind it.”
  • “I don’t think [being good at math] has anything to do with reasoning. It’s all memorization.”

In all, 77% of the students seemed to believe that math was not something that could be figured out, or that made sense. It was just a set of procedures and rules to be memorized. This is, of course, exactly the opposite of true.

Where did they get this belief? Their teachers did not believe it—in fact, the faculty members who taught these students were shocked and distressed to learn about this result.

Still, the students probably develop the belief that math is all memorization in their classrooms. The second part of Richland et al.’s (2012) article deals with improving mathematical learning. It suggests that students do not see mathematics as a logical system because their teachers do not present it that way. In particular, if the teachers did a better job of pointing out connections between mathematical concepts, the students would develop a deeper understanding of what they are learning.

International differences in instruction

The TIMSS video studies were a landmark in educational research. These studies involved videotaping and coding teacher and student behaviors in hundreds of mathematics classrooms around the world. These studies were used to identify variables that predicted success. Many of the obvious variables were not predictive, including teaching primarily by lecturing versus group work, or using abstract versus real-world problems.

When the researchers broke problem-solving activities down into procedural activities and conceptual activities, they expected to find that the higher performing countries engaged in more conceptual problem solving. They found no such difference. But then they took a second step. They coded the data based on whether the teachers made the conceptual problems easier by converting them, for the students, in to procedural problems.

Looked at this way, it became clear that the US was an outlier (as was Australia, the only other low-performing nation in the study). Teachers in the US almost always converted challenging conceptual problems into procedural problems. In doing so, they did exactly the wrong thing. According to a seminal study by Hiebert and Grouws (2007) the two features of instruction that predict good math outcomes are

  1. Being explicit about the conceptual structure, and interconnectedness, of mathematics
  2. Allowing students to struggle to understand mathematical concepts.

By converting conceptual struggle into procedural learning, US math teaches were unintentionally depriving their students of two crucial elements of effective learning.

This finding helps make sense of the community college students’ lack of conceptual understanding. They have been taught in a way that deprives them of the chance to work through the concepts they are being taught. No wonder they see math as an exercise in memorization. All too often, that is how it is presented. And given the way we test students, memorizing mathematical procedures will get you a decent grade, and for most students that’s the bottom-line.

These results are promising one way: they suggest that US students might be able to do a lot better in math if they can develop a basic conceptual understanding. It’s not like they need to be taught general relativity. The concepts are learnable. On the other hand, teaching mathematical concept is deceptively difficult. Teachers need high quality training, and more research (and funding) is needed to make that happen.





THERE ARE TEACHERS… AND THEN THERE ARE EDUCATORS.

14 09 2012

LIPSTICK IN SCHOOL

ACCORDING TO A NEWS REPORT, A CERTAIN PRIVATE CATHOLIC SCHOOL IN BRISBANE WAS RECENTLY FACED WITH A UNIQUE PROBLEM. A NUMBER OF 12-YEAR-OLD GIRLS WERE BEGINNING TO USE LIPSTICK AND WOULD PUT IT ON IN THE BATHROOM. THAT WAS FINE PROVIDED IT WAS OF A NATURAL OR NEUTRAL SKIN TONE — BUT AFTER THEY PUT ON THEIR LIPSTICK THEY WOULD PRESS THEIR LIPS TO THE MIRROR LEAVING DOZENS OF LITTLE LIP PRINTS. EVERY NIGHT THE MAINTENANCE MAN WOULD REMOVE THEM AND THE NEXT DAY THE GIRLS WOULD PUT THEM BACK.

FINALLY THE PRINCIPAL, SISTER PASCHAL, DECIDED THAT SOMETHING HAD TO BE DONE. SHE CALLED ALL THE GIRLS TO THE BATHROOM AND MET THEM THERE WITH THE MAINTENANCE MAN. SHE EXPLAINED THAT ALL THESE LIP PRINTS WERE CAUSING A MAJOR PROBLEM FOR THE CUSTODIAN WHO HAD TO CLEAN THE MIRRORS EVERY NIGHT (YOU CAN JUST IMAGINE THE YAWNS FROM THE LITTLE PRINCESSES). TO DEMONSTRATE HOW DIFFICULT IT HAD BEEN TO CLEAN THE MIRRORS, SISTER PASCHAL ASKED THE MAINTENANCE MAN TO SHOW THE GIRLS HOW MUCH EFFORT WAS REQUIRED. HE TOOK OUT A LONG-HANDLED SQUEEGEE, DIPPED IT IN THE TOILET, AND CLEANED THE MIRROR WITH IT. SINCE THEN, THERE HAVE BEEN NO LIP PRINTS ON THE MIRROR.

THERE ARE TEACHERS… AND THEN THERE ARE EDUCATORS.





50 Essential Links for the Parents of Gifted Children

8 09 2012

Every parent hopes for their child to be smart and to excel in school, but sometimes parents just don’t know what to do with a child who is especially exceptional. Keeping him or her challenged, interested, and engaged can be tough, as can dealing with an educational system that doesn’t always focus on helping out bright students. Parents of gifted children should know that they’re not alone and that there are hundreds of resources on the Web that can help every step of the way. Here are some we think stand out from the crowd, offering advice, information, support, and educational resources to help you support and encourage your child’s special abilities.

Organizations

These organizations help gifted students and their parents get the education, emotional support, and guidance they need to grow up happy and well-adjusted.

  1. National Association for Gifted Children: The National Association for Gifted Children is one of the best places for parents of gifted children to find resources, reading, help, and advice on raising an exceptional child.
  2. American Association for Gifted Children: Based out of Duke University, this organization posts news, resources, and articles of interest for parents and educators of gifted kids.
  3. IAGC: The Illinois Association for Gifted Children is just one of many state-centered organizations for gifted kids. Parents can join, find other families, and even attend special events.
  4. Gifted Child Society: The Gifted Child Society is a nonprofit organization dedicated to furthering the cause of gifted children. Through their website, parents can find helpful information and learn about seminars and workshops they can attend.
  5. GPGC: The Governor’s Program for Gifted Children is a seven-week residential summer enrichment program for gifted students. Parents can learn more about the program, held at McNeese State University, from their website.
  6. SENG: SENG is short for Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted and is an organization that wants to help ensure that gifted children are understood, accepted, nurtured, and supported by their families, schools, and workplaces.
  7. Mensa for Kids: Mensa embraces younger members through this fun website, offering up monthly themes to get kids reading and learning at an advanced level.
  8. Institute for Research and Policy on Acceleration: Find out more about the latest research being done into academic acceleration through this organization’s site.
  9. Center for Talented Youth: Located at Johns Hopkins, this organization engages gifted kids and their families through programs, summer classes, and even a bi-monthly magazine.

Twitter

Find quick 140-character-or-less quips and updates about working with, parenting, and helping gifted children from these excellent Twitter feeds.

  1. @teachgiftedkid: This gifted and talented teacher posts interesting articles and thoughts about working with the gifted here.
  2. @DeepWatersCoach: Lisa Lauffer works with the group Gifted Grownups & Parents of Gifted Children, offering support through her Twitter feed and beyond.
  3. @gifted_guru: Head to this feed to hear from Lisa Van Gemert, a gifted youth specialist for Mensa.
  4. @JeffcoGifted: This nonprofit group of parents, teachers, and community leaders tweets about advocacy and resources for gifted kids.
  5. @HoagiesGifted: Head to this feed to get resources and articles aplenty about gifted education and parenting.
  6. @laughingatchaos: Jen is a mom raising gifted kids. She shares her experiences, both the good and the bad, here and on her blog.

Blogs

These blogs offer excellent advice and resources to parents, teachers, or anyone working with gifted children.

  1. About.com Gifted Children: Carol Bainbridge, an expert on gifted children, maintains this blog, which is chock full of learning ideas, information, and more.
  2. Parenting Gifted Kids: Head to this blog, written by gifted educator Sarah Robbins, to learn more about how to challenge and help your gifted child.
  3. Gifted Exchange: This blog focuses on gifted kids, touching on issues of schooling, parenting, education, and more, all written by the staff at the Davidson Institute for Talent Development.
  4. The Prufrock Blog: Prufrock is one of the leading publishers of materials for gifted, advanced, and special needs students. On this blog, you’ll find updates on their latest releases.
  5. Unwrapping the Gifted: Head to this Education Week blog to hear from Tamara Fisher, a K-12 gifted education specialist. She gives great insights into gifted and talented education.
  6. Parents of Gifted Children Resource Group: Here, parents can find resources and make connections with other parents of gifted children.
  7. Help Me With My Gifted Child: Not sure how to help your gifted child? Look to this blog for answers, with information about gifted programs, enrollment testing, and parenting.
  8. Gifted Parenting Support: This blog is an excellent place to read more about how to parent and educate children who are gifted and talented.
  9. Gifted Guru: This blogger offers up resources, books, commentary, and more on the subject of gifted education.
  10. Gifted Education Perspectives: Follow this blog to learn more about all things gifted, from what defines it to how to best educate bright students.
  11. Creating Curriculum for Gifted Children: This blog approaches gifted kids from an educator’s perspective, but parents can also learn new ways to challenge and interest their children.
  12. Gifted Education Consultant: Sonia White, author and gifted education specialist, shares her passion for helping gifted children through this blog.
  13. Gifted Phoenix: On this blog, parents can find some insights into giftedness issues, education, and parenting, from a New Zealand perspective.
  14. Byrdseed: Focusing on creativity, accelerated learning, literature, and more, this blog offers resources and inspiration to gifted educators and parents of gifted kids.

Resources

If you’re looking for resources to help you parent, choose a school, or just support your child, these sites are great places to start.

  1. Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page: On this site, you’ll find a bit of everything, from conference listings to tips on understanding your gifted child, making it an excellent resource for any parent.
  2. Gifted Development Center: Looking for information about giftedness and how to raise a gifted child? Dr. Linda Silverman provides both on this helpful site.
  3. Gifted Child Today: This open-access journal is a great read for parents who want to learn more about how to cater to the needs of their gifted child.
  4. Gifted Child Quarterly: Another open-access journal, this journal is a bit more scholarly, publishing research done on giftedness and talent development.
  5. Summer Camps for Gifted Children: Looking for a great way to keep your child busy and learning over the summer? These summer camps could be a great choice.
  6. Exquisite Minds: Parents and teachers who work with gifted children can find resources, online games, tips, tools, and more on this social site.
  7. Royal Fireworks Press: Head to this publisher’s website to find great reads for both you and your gifted child, especially if you’re homeschooling.
  8. BrightKids: BrightKids is a discussion group for parents of gifted children and is maintained through MENSA. You can join here and get tips and advice from other parents of bright kids.
  9. Schools for the Gifted Child: Wondering where to send your gifted child? This site lists schools in six countries.
  10. KidSource Gifted and Talented: KidSource has collected a number of great resources and articles on gifted kids that can be a big help to parents.
  11. Educational Resources for Parents and Teachers of Gifted Youth: Mensa is a great place to look for help with a gifted child. Here, they offer up a collection of resources for parents and teachers that ranges from lesson places to fun activities.
  12. Gifted Homeschoolers Forum: Even if you’re not homeschooling your child, this site offers a chance to get resources and talk to parents who are also working to raise gifted children.
  13. Genius Denied: This is the website for the book Genius Denied, an expose of the ways in which the American education system often ignores its brightest students.
  14. Gifted Children’s Bill of Rights: This resource will help you learn how to stand up for your kids and make sure that his or her rights are being respected.
  15. Gifted Journey: This site is a great resource for learning about giftedness, touching on everything from bullying to IQ tests.
  16. teachfine on gifted and ed tech: This site collects resources that combine gifted education and technology, creating a great list of articles and sites that parents and kids can use to learn.

Articles

These articles will help you stay informed and educated about issues relevant to your gifted child.

  1. Gifted Students Go Dumb to Fit In: Is your child lowering his or her potential in order to fit in with peers? This article explores the stigma of being smart.
  2. Gifted Children Need Help, Too: Many teachers and parents believe that smart kids don’t need help; they’ll do well on their own. This just isn’t the case, as you’ll learn here.
  3. The Drama of the Gifted Child: Being a gifted child isn’t easy, as you’ll learn from this Psychology Today article.
  4. Hey, Teacher, Get Help Somewhere Else: Make sure your child isn’t working as a teacher’s aide in his or her classroom, a common occurrence as this article explains.
  5. Top 10 Myths in Gifted Education: Learn some of the biggest myths about teaching gifted kids from this great YouTube video.




Thinking through Problems (join the adventure by reading this new column!!)

8 09 2012

I teach Pre-algebra and Algebra students and focus on mathematical thinking. The weakness I see in many students is the inability to think through problems. They can quite often handle exercises from a book that rehearse algorithms taught in a lesson but given a unique true problem they hit a wall. My goal is to teach and inspire students to break through these walls and to use math as a metaphor of tackling life’s problems. I have entered the class with a toolbox and bring out many tools that a craftsman might use then share problem solving tools that mathematicians use. I share that thinking happens when they don’t know the answer. Only when students are placed in a situation where they cannot follow memorized algorithms will they use these tools and truly enjoy the adventure of thinking. If two people are seeking to strengthen themselves and one chooses to work out in gym and the other by hiking in a wilderness the one in the gym may get strengthened with the repetition but the other will get dirty, see more of nature, may get lost but have more stories to tell. This is the adventure of problem solving that I invite you to.

So with this in mind, I would like to present a column on thinking through problems. In this column I will present one problem a week and you, as a reader and fellow traveler and possible teacher, are free to present this problem to your students and respond with feedback of methods your students have used to solve the problem plus anecdotes of their adventure. Some will be easy and some more difficult but the aim is to discuss methods that elementary or middle school students would be able to use. Our goal is not to show off answers but to present the road on how to solve problems so that we can help students apply these tools to other problems. So let’s put on our hiking equipment and open up our toolkit and enjoy the adventure of problem solving!!

Are you ready for the first problem?

Discuss methods your students use to solve the following…
In a stationery store (these are stores not affected by earthquakes as one student piped in–ha, ha), pencils have one price and pens have another price. Two pencils and three pens cost 78 cents. But three pencils and two pens cost 72 cents. How much does one pencil cost?

You have one week to get into this conversation and share your stories before I share my experiences.





Motivating Middle School Students | Scholastic.com

20 08 2012

Motivating Middle School Students | Scholastic.com.





Common Myths About Gifted Children

18 08 2012

By Dr. Dan Peters on August 15, 2012

We’ve all seen the social caricature of a “problem” child who seems so highly intelligent in certain areas of life but just can’t seem to get it together in others. The youth who become labeled “troubled” teens because they seem pent up and frustrated with life rather than flourishing.

Unfortunately, in many cases, these youth are truly gifted beings hiding under early pigeonholing by a system that failed to recognize their unique situations early on. Understanding the “gifted” child is a key element in helping he or she lead a successful and productive life.

Here are some common MYTHS about gifted children:

  • They are a homogeneous group, all high achievers.
  • They do not need help. If they are really gifted, they can manage on their own.
  • They have fewer problems than others because their intelligence and abilities somehow exempt them from the hassles of daily life.
  • The future of a gifted student is assured: a world of opportunities lies before the student.
  • They are self-directed; they know where they are heading.
  • The social and emotional development of the gifted student is at the same level as his or her intellectual development.
  • They are nerds and social isolates.
  • The primary value of the gifted student lies in his or her brain power.
  • The gifted student’s family always prizes his or her abilities.
  • They need to serve as examples to others and they should always assume extra responsibility.
  • They make everyone else smarter.
  • They can accomplish anything they put their minds to. All they have to do is apply themselves.
  • They are naturally creative and do not need encouragement.
  • They are easy to raise and a welcome addition to any classroom.

Some TRUTHS about gifted children:

  • They are often perfectionist and idealistic. They may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth, which sometimes leads to fear of failure and interferes with achievement.
  • They may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others, resulting in guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.
  • They are asynchronous. Their chronological age, social, physical, emotional, and intellectual development may all be at different levels. For example, a 5-year-old may be able to read and comprehend a third-grade book but may not be able to write legibly.
  • Some of them are “mappers” (sequential learners), while others are “leapers” (spatial learners). Leapers may not know how they got a “right answer.” Mappers may get lost in the steps leading to the right answer.
  • They may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know more than half the curriculum before the school year begins! Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.
  • They are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, Interdisciplinary problems; for example, how to solve a shortage of community resources. Gifted students often refuse to work for grades alone.
  • They often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study- and test-taking skills. They may not be able to select one answer in a multiple-choice question because they see how all the answers might be correct.
  • Gifted students who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A.” By early adolescence they may be unwilling to try anything where they are not certain of guaranteed success.

Children who are gifted but not identified as such or supported can develop certain issues in their lives. They oftentimes feel different or alienated from others.

They grow bored in school because they already know the material being taught and tend to checkout, become inattentive or disruptive and are seen as having behavioral problems. This can lead to their giving up on school all together and a resistance to learning. They can become anxious, depressed and at high risk for underachieving, performing vastly below their ability.

Gifted children are likely to have uneven, or asynchronous development whereby their strengths are being missed and their weaknesses are being highlighted or ignored as well. Learning to understand and facilitate a gifted child’s unique path in life can sometimes make all the difference in their achievement of a fruitful life.

*Lists adapted from College Planning for Gifted Students: Choosing And Getting into the Right College by Sandra Berger





Temple Grandin Reveals Her Advice for Educating Autistic Kids

17 08 2012

Dr. Temple Grandin has unique insight into the minds of autistic children. Her approach—stay positive.

By Dr. Temple Grandin

August 15, 2012

Dr. Temple Grandin offers tips for special educators and parents with autistic children. (Photo: Rosalie Winard)

The following essay was written by Dr. Temple Grandin exclusively for TakePart.

Special educators need to look at what a child can do instead of what he/she cannot do.

There needs to be more emphasis on building up and expanding the skills a child is good at. Too often people get locked into a label such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism, and they cannot see beyond the label. Kids that get a label often have uneven skills. They may be talented in one area and have a real deficiency in another.

In my case, I was really good at art, but doing algebra made no sense. It is important to work on areas where a child is weak, but an emphasis on deficits should not get to the point where building the area of strength gets neglected.

Kids with autism often get fixated on one thing, and it is important to expand their fixations.

I heard about sad cases where a teacher forbids an elementary school child to draw pictures. If a teacher had stifled my art ability, I would have never become a designer of livestock equipment. Half the cattle in North America are handled in equipment I have designed for the meat plants. I think that this is a real accomplishment for a child that some people thought was mentally retarded.

Methods to Expand Abilities

When I was in elementary school my teachers and my mother always worked to broaden my art skills. Kids with autism often become fixated with drawing the same thing over and over. I was fixated on drawing horse heads. Drawing the head was easy, but drawing the legs accurately was more difficult. My teacher encouraged me to work on creating the entire horse. I then proceeded to make a horse sculpture from clay that included the entire horse.

In the summer we went to the beach, so I was encouraged to paint pictures of the beach. It is important to expand a skill and encourage a child to use their skill to do a variety of different work. When I painted a nice watercolor of the beach, mother rewarded me by having it framed in a professional frame with glass. Only artwork that was really high, adult quality went in glass frames.

I was appalled to learn that some schools are very rigid about forcing a child to only study materials that are designed for his/her grade level.

Kids with autism often get fixated on one thing, and it is important to expand their fixations. If the child loves race cars, then race cars can be used as subject matter for reading and math. If the child only draws pictures of NASCAR race cars, a teacher could start expanding the fixation by having him draw an Indianapolis-type car or draw sports cars that regular people can buy at car dealerships. The next step of expansion is to draw pictures of places where race tracks are located.

Never Hold a Gifted Child Back

I was appalled to learn that some schools are very rigid about forcing a child to only study materials that are designed for his/her grade level. For example, in the library, a second grader was not allowed to read books above his/her grade level. This is ridiculous. When I was in elementary school, I had difficulty learning to read in third grade, but after I learned, I was reading fifth- and sixth-grade books.

If a third grader can do more advanced math, he/she should be allowed to bring the higher level book into the classroom and work on it. Otherwise, the student will be bored stiff and become a behavior problem. To help the child with advanced math skills, to develop as a person, he/she should be encouraged to help teach other children who are having trouble with math.

Use Abilities to Do Assignments

When a child becomes an adult he/she needs to be able to use their abilities to do tasks that other people would want. Nobody would want endless identical horse head drawings. I had to learn how to draw other things that interested me a whole lot less. This is one of the reasons mother rewarded my beach painting with a real frame with glass. She knew that my skills had to be expanded.

If a child likes to write, he/she could start doing writing assignments that would interest other people. A middle schooler could be given the job of updating the program on a church website or writing for a neighborhood blog. He has to learn that racing cars is not an appropriate topic for this purpose. Learning how to use abilities to do assigned tasks is essential. I heard a sad story about an art student who got straight A’s in an elite art school, but he lost a job because he did not want to waste his time doing his employer’s stupid bird graphics.

A job requires work, and if the employer wants stupid birds, then he should draw really good stupid birds. Then he should put them in a portfolio and get a better job doing more interesting things.

 





10 Insights to Enhance the Joy of Learning

17 08 2012

by Scott Barry Kaufman

The essence of the joy of learning

Published on August 17, 2012 by Scott Barry Kaufman, Ph.D. in Beautiful Minds

#1: The joy of learning comes from the experiences of success

“A teacher should favor such teaching methods that enable the achievement of little intervening goals as a part of a greater learning process: smaller achievements function as catalysts towards greater overall goals. These small steps are important when it comes to the joy of learning.”

#2: Play provides a possibility to experience the joy of learning in the early school years

“Although a child does not consider play as a tool for learning, play itself represents important and meaningful activity. Even if play does not produce anything significant or concrete from an adult’s point of view, a child structures his/ her own environment through play. Thinking and action merge during play, and by means of play, a child takes over in terms of handling their social, cognitive and physical environment. Playing is the child’s way of seeking pleasure: why is this matter not tapped into more in teaching?”

#3: The joy of learning enjoys an environment of freedom

“Children’s free play should not be regarded only as side action that occurs when nothing important is happening and all the ‘real’ tasks are completed. Free play is relevant to a child and can be considered free, typical and valued child activity without any demands from adults or attempts to subordinate it as an instrument. A free student is inquisitive and creative.”

#4: The joy of learning does not like to hurry

“As the joy of learning is often connected with finishing a task or solving a problem, hurry does nothing to enhance the achievement of these goals. The activity itself can act as a significant source of pleasure and joy.”

#5: The joy of learning springs up in situations in which a task and can act or converge

“The balance between a learner’s abilities and the task is crucial to the joy of learning. A learner has to consider the task meaningful to him/herself because true commitment to the task does not occur without considering the task valuable. One also has to feel able to manage the task. The feeling of capability provides a learner with courage and represents the meaning of the joy of learning as daring to meet challenges.”

#6: A student naturally strives for the joy of learning

“A student wants to learn. One adds one’s energy in order to attain positive experiences and with these experiences gains positive emotions in a pleasant situation.”

#7: The joy of learning is often a common joy, too

“The company of other students and friends and a teacher’s genuine interest are premises for experiencing the joy of learning.”

#8: The joy of learning does not include listening to prolonged speeches

“A student should be at the centre of the learning situation. If a teacher alone is active and talks considerably, the student’s role is just to listen, get tired and bored with the lack of action and doing.”

#9: The joy of learning is based on a student’s abilities

“The students’ opportunities to participate in the decision-making of their own learning and to be allowed to make choices that support their learning, strengths, and success, strengthen the joy of learning.”

#10: The joy of learning is context bound

The joy of learning appears differently in every teacher’s classroom. There are many ways to establish a learning environment that enables students to experience the joy of learning… the most important thing is for every teacher to consider the joy of learning or lack of it in his/her classroom and to think of ways to provide his/her own group with opportunities to experience joy.”





Should you be in to Brainwashing?

11 08 2012

This month, we’ll focus on how to get off to a fresh start…by brainwashing others. Whether you work with adults or younger students directly, this month’s issue may change your approach forever. You’ll learn why you should be in the business of brainwashing. Here’s what the research tells us…

The Research

Brainwashing is the altering of beliefs, knowledge or attitudes in the mind of another. The first of your two questions is, “Should I do brainwashing?” The answer is an emphatic, “Yes!” Second, “Why?” Humans live their lives and take actions based on their narratives. Our own narrative is the aggregate of our daily routines, habits and predictive decisions, actions, values and conversations we engage in. Humans are remarkably true to their own “story”. At school, the story that students create and identify with is especially important.

For example, research tells us that one of the single greatest factors contributing to student achievement (ranking in the top 3) is the student’s prediction (their likely path) of how they’ll do in school (Hattie, JA, 2009). This factor tells us that a student’s belief about their academic future is critical. This speaks to their optimism and hopes as well as their belief in their own capacity to learn and grow. Some students think they’re “stuck” at their present cognitive level. This “fixed mindset” is deadly. In addition, a separate factor – the student’s attitude, is also a moderately robust predictive factor, too (Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S., 2007). Taken together, these two factors can form either a significant asset or serious liability.

Teachers may think of a student as “sharp” or “slow” and these beliefs are typically counterproductive. Labeling students as either bright or “not showing much promise” changes outcomes (Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L., 1992). Teachers tend to favor those who show “more promise” and spend less time with the less promising individuals. In fact, the research shows that NOT labeling students to begin with is better, and it’s a powerful factor in student achievement (Hattie, JA, 2009).

These actions can be a liability when teachers or parents frequently make use of ability-related labels (“You’re smart” or “You’re a little slow”), or describe students as maintaining stable academic levels of performance over periods of time. This can implicitly convey maladaptive and lowered expectations of ability to children (Heyman, GD, 2008). Our prediction of our future does, indeed, change our beliefs and actions (Chang, 2001).

The strength of these two factors suggests that you can gain enormous “return on effort” by altering them. In other words, by altering a student’s prediction and attitude about how they’ll do in your class, your chances are high that their changed attitude will change how they achieve. While struggling teachers often notice or complain about student “attitudes”, one of the things that strong teachers do is to purposefully alter student perceptions of themselves.

Practical Applications

Our second question is, “How can I effectively change the minds of others?” First, be blunt! Tell your students explicitly, in plain English that “Your brain can change!” Let them know IQ is NOT fixed. Teach them that new learning can change the brain. Show them videos on people that overcame obstacles to change themselves (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3TQopnNXBU).

Focus on things that the student can alter, such as a strategy, attitude or effort. Labels can become an asset when teachers shift their thinking to that of a variable (not fixed) asset dependent. Author of Mindset, Carol Dweck, says that the way to talk to students is critical (2006). Check out this You Tube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TTXrV0_3UjY.

She suggests that you say:

“You really studied for your English test, and your improvement shows it. You read the material over several times, outlined it, and tested yourself on it. That really worked!”

“I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.”

“It was a long, hard assignment, but you stuck to it and got it done. You stayed at your desk, kept up your concentration, and kept working. That’s great!”

“I like that you took on that challenging project for your science class. It will take a lot of work–doing the research, designing the machine, buying the parts, and building it. You’re going to learn a lot of great things.”

Starting today, you can begin to alter one of the single biggest achievement factors. You can stack the deck in your favor. You can alter what students think about themselves! You can do that by the way you talk about learning, the brain and change. It’s just as, or even more, important for the staff to know this about themselves. Ensure that every single staff (without exception) understands that the brain can change (but not if the teacher does not change). This year, let’s focus on changing brains with a HUGE attitude upgrade. A better attitude means you’ll see more student effort. That will make all of our jobs easier!

In closing, whether you teach kids, serve as an administrator or staff developer, or are a parent of your own kids, you have an obligation to influence others. But if their brain is the same, there’s no change in behavior or attitude. Changing attitudes is the kind of change that will provide the greatest return. What is your plan for positive brainwashing your students this year?


Your partner in learning,

 

Eric Jensen
CEO, Jensen Learning
Brain-Based Education


We encourage you to share our articles with others that are interested in improving education. All we ask in return is that you link our website - www.JensenLearning.com - as the source.

CITATIONS:
Blackwell, L.S., Trzesniewski, K.H., & Dweck, C.S. (2007). Implicit theories of intelligence predict achievement across an adolescent transition: A longitudinal study and an intervention. Child Development, 78. 246-263.
Chang, EC, 2001. Optimism and Pessimism. Wash. DC: American Psychological Assn.
Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Hattie, JA, 2009). Visible Learning for Teachers. Routlege: London.
Heyman, GD (2008). Talking about Success: Implications for Achievement Motivation. Journal of Appl Dev Psychol. September ; 29(5): 361-370.
Rosenthal, R. (1991). Teacher expectancy effects: A brief update 25 years after the Pygmalion experiment. Journal of Research in Education, 1, 3-12.
Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1992). Pygmalion in the classroom: Teacher expectation and pupils’ intellectual development (expanded ed.). New York: Irvington. Ross, J. L.
Rosenthal, R., & Jacobson, L. (1996). Teachers’ expectancies: Determinants of pupils’ IQ gains. Psychological Reports, 19, 115-118.





15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy

18 05 2012

Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:

1. Give up your need to always be right

There are so many of us who can’t stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It’s just not worth it. Whenever you feel the ‘urgent’ need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: “Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?” Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?

2. Give up your need for control

Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.

“By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning.” Lao Tzu

3. Give up on blame

Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don’t have, for what you feel or don’t feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.

4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk

Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don’t believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it’s negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.

“The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive.” Eckhart Tolle

5. Give up your limiting beliefs

about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!

“A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind” Elly Roselle

6. Give up complaining

Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It’s not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.

7. Give up the luxury of criticism

Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.

8. Give up your need to impress others

Stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not just to make others like you. It doesn’t work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you’re not, the moment you take off all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.

9. Give up your resistance to change

Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don’t resist it. “Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls” Joseph Campbell

10. Give up labels

Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don’t understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. “The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about.” Wayne Dyer

11. Give up on your fears

Fear is just an illusion, it doesn’t exist – you created it. It’s all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place. “The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself.” Franklin D. Roosevelt

12. Give up your excuses

Send them packing and tell them they’re fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.

13. Give up the past

I know, I know. It’s hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.

14. Give up attachment

This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it’s not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn’t mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another,  attachment comes from a place of fear, while love… well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can’t be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.

15. Give up living your life to other people’s expectations

Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people’s expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need….and eventually they forget about themselves.  You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don’t let other people’s opinions distract you from your path.





What’s going on with Mr. X?

8 05 2012

Mr. X, the Magician, (AKA Bob Bishop) has been busy performing his unique shows. Recently he has been busy performing at conventions, restaurants, parties, conferences and businesses.

He has been creating Magical Moments that leave a lasting impression!  If you are an event planner needing an illusionist or close-up magician for your conference, awards dinner or party, Mr. X is your best choice!

Take a look at my face book and get as many people as you can to Like it.

Our goal is to get 500 by May 25th!!

Look it up and see what you think.

https://www.facebook.com/MrXCorporateMagician

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Math-Magician/272971359454909

Web page is http://www.odysseylearningadventures.com/





What happens when students don’t have good executive functioning skills?

3 05 2012

Executive Function Disorders

Published on DyslexiaHelp at the University of Michigan (http://dyslexiahelp.umich.edu)

 What happens when students don’t have good executive functioning skills?

Your friend Theresa stops over. She’s not on your to-do lists or your calendar, but you let her in nonetheless and consequently spend thirty minutes talking to her which stops you from completing your reading assignment.  Before she leaves you get an instant message from another friend to stop by on your way home from school tomorrow to pick up a pair of gloves you left there yesterday.  You acknowledge back “OK” while you’re still talking to Theresa.  You ask Theresa to repeat what she said and you forget about the reading assignment that was on your calendar to do in this time frame. And what was it that your mother told you to pick up? Milk? Your clothes from your room?  Oh well, she will tell you again so it doesn’t matter. Theresa leaves and you have long forgotten about the gloves. You decide to play a video game and wait for your Mom to come home to tell you what to do next. Executive function (in this student’s case-Mom) is what gets us down to business when we’d rather just hang out.

For this student “Mom” acts as the executive function command center. She commands the actions that provide organization, remembers the details, makes sure that projects start and finish on time, helps to sequentially go from one assignment or play date to the next, and remembers the details. When this student is left on her own, life may become chaotic, assignments may be slow to start or never start at all, deadlines may be consistently pushed back or never met at all, and important details missed or overlooked.  In today’s increasingly chaotic world, executive functions are essential to smoothly function and get tasks done.

Located in the frontal lobes of the brain, executive functions (EF) typically begin to develop in early childhood as the prefrontal cortex develops, then continue through adolescence into young adulthood.  Parallel to the gradual development of EF, parents, teachers, and others in a child’s environment gradually escalate their expectations for the child to exercise an increasing measure of self-management, ranging from the simple tasks of dressing and self-care gradually to more complex responsibilities, e.g., managing multiple courses of study in high school or driving a motor vehicle. Like the student above, sometimes parents intervene so much to help their adolescents stay organized and on task that EF impairments are masked until the teen moves away from home, possibly to attend college or begin a job. Then, when she enters a situation where parental scaffolding is unavailable, she may experience much difficulty.

A collage of cognitive activities, EF encompasses the ability to design actions towards a goal, handle information flexibly, realize the ramifications of behavior, and make reasonable inferences based upon limited information. They are detailed functions of logic, strategy, planning, problem solving, and reasoning. There is no planning for the future without good EF planning skills.

Impairment of any or all of these EF skills may be present in spite of strong intellectual skills and unaffected language capacity.  They are characterized by the following skills:

  • Difficulty with planning and organization
  • Trouble identifying what needs to be done
  • Problems determining the sequence of accomplishment
  • Difficulty carrying out the steps in an orderly way
  • Difficulty beginning tasks
  • Problems maintaining attention
  • Trouble evaluating how one is doing on a task
  • Difficulty taking feedback or suggestions

 Four subtypes of EF

According to Levine (1994), there are four subtypes of EF:

  • Material-spatial disorganization: This prevents students from dealing effectively with the equipment needed to be efficient in school. This is seen in such behaviors as losing things, creating messes among belongings, and not bringing home or returning assignments in a timely way.
  • Temporal-sequential disorganization: In this case, students display confusion about time and the sequencing of tasks, such as being late, procrastinating; or having trouble allocating time, estimating how long a task will take to complete, or knowing the order of steps needed to complete a task.
  • Transitional disorganization: This involves difficulty shifting gears smoothly and results in rushing from one activity to the next, having difficulty settling down to work, or being slow in preparing to leave home for school in the mornings.
  • Prospective retrieval disorganization: This involves the inability to remember to do something that had been planned in advance, such as forgetting the deadline of a project until the night before or failing to follow through on a promise to finish a task.

Ways to help students develop EF

First and most importantly, the student needs to understand how she thinks (metacognitive processes) and gain knowledge about strategies. In doing so, she will learn that there is more than one right way to accomplish a task, be able to identify her mistakes and what to do to correct them, and how to evaluate her progress.

Time management – The ability to manage time includes the following: estimating the amount of time a task will take to complete, setting and following a schedule, completion of tasks on schedule, and the ability to modify or change the schedule as needed.

There are several options for time management – but most of all it is important to find a system that a student will use.  Time management can be broken down into four divisions:

  1. Time estimation – how long will a task take
  2. Time schedules – generating an accurate and realistic time
  3. Completion of scheduled activities – ability to execute tasks within time allotment
  4. Alterations – ability to modify schedule

Establish routines

Time management can be facilitated by establishing routines throughout the day. Routines help to establish inner time clocks and can be facilitated initially by posting lists of sequential steps. It is important that the student be involved in developing the lists and discussing the time estimation of each sequence along with possible alterations that may need to occur, for example, on weekends.

It’s helpful to teach students the acronym CLASH to do daily:

Check your calendar or planner to see what is planned. This may include checking for assignments or tests for the next day to see if there is anything special to bring from home. If working, it may include checking for upcoming tasks and deadlines. It is helpful to make a plan utilizing a checklist before beginning tasks/assignments.  This checklist should include: estimating how long each task/assignment may take, setting priorities, collecting materials, setting a timer, doing the task, collecting next materials, resetting time, and placing the completed assignments in one’s backpack/briefcase.

List the items you need for the next day the night before:

  • On a piece of paper or in your cell phone, list all the things you will need for all of your classes/work the next day.
  • Make sure you remember to bring any special forms that have to be signed by your parents or may need your attention if at work.
  • Make sure that you bring home all the books/ materials you need to look over each night.
  • Make sure that you have your notebooks, folders, or binder that you brought home with you.
  • Recharge your cell phone so it works the next day.

Always gather the materials from you checklist (refer to checklist) and put them in your book bag/briefcase:

  • Gather everything that you need the night before and put the things in your book bag/ briefcase.
  • Refer to the materials checklist to help you stay organized!
  • Don’t wait until the morning, because you may be rushed and forget to check.

Set your book bag/ briefcase and planner (cell phone) by the door.

Have a list with you of what materials you need before each class/meeting and look at this list before you go:

  • At the beginning of the day, write a list on a sticky note of what you will need for each class/meeting and stick it on the inside of your locker or on your desk.  If you have a dry-erase board on your locker or desk then use that. Use this method only if you go to your locker between each of your classes.
  • As you take the materials for each class/meeting, pull off the sticky note or erase the item from the dry-erase board.

Organizers

Students need to learn how to develop and use organizers. These external systems include calendars, to- do lists, daily logs, and checklists.  These can be in paper form or by cell phone, iPad, or other technology devices.  It may be best to initially start with both systems (paper and tech), depending on the age of the student, but in today’s world technology is often the preferable method for organizers and having two systems can be difficult to maintain.  It is important to initially assist students in developing their schedules.  They may especially need assistance in developing forethought to plan to start a task hours or sometimes even days before the task is due.  Also, developing a time estimation worksheet can help students visualize how many hours they have in a day and began to estimate how long certain tasks may take. A student with dyslexia who is aware of how many words she reads a minute may be able to estimate approximate reading times needed for longer assignments or for the time she would want to spend summarizing an article after reading it.

There are many ways that students can make use of the features available on their cell phones to benefit time management and study skills.  For example, online to-do lists such as Remember the Milk [1] can send text alerts (or IM or email) reminding students of an upcoming appointment, assignment, or project. (Unless the students have unlimited text messaging plans, it is important to discuss texting charges and how using these services can affect their cell phone bills.)

If the students’ phones are equipped with cameras (as most phones now are), they can use them to snap photos of the whiteboard/blackboard after class to make sure they don’t miss notes or an assignment. Photos may also serve as a helpful visual reminder of what needs to be done (i.e., create a photo series of packing up homework, lunch, and other typically forgotten items).

Students can use text messaging, such as Google SMS [2], to get definitions, facts, weather, and conversions sent directly to their phones. As with Google searches, if a student spells a word incorrectly, Google SMS will generally prompt with “Did you mean…?” and provide both the correct spelling and the related information.

Finally, many companies are capitalizing on powerful new cell phones and creating programs [3] for sending flashcards [4] and study materials [5] directly to your phone or iPod [6]. Students can browse flashcards created by others or create their own and study wherever they are. The use of color coding is an effective organizing strategy.  For example, a routine can be established in class (e.g., green for main idea, red for details in reading, blue for essential information in math word problems, etc.) that students can integrate into their own note-taking.

Prioritize and Be Flexible

Once events are scheduled, to-do lists established, and the time necessary to complete events are charted, the next step is to learn to prioritize. What is pressing vs. what could be moved forward to complete another day?  This skill helps to not drop tasks that may not get completed due to interruptions, such as a friend stopping over.  The ability to be flexible is an important skill to learn to manage.  Having other options for completing or rescheduling tasks if such events occur allows for preparation of the unexpected.

Attention

In Aldous Huxley’s book Island, trained myna birds fly around frequently squawking, “Here and now, here and now!”  The author wisely predicted the necessity of having reminders to pay attention, to stay in the moment. In today’s world there is much to absorb and a great deal of information to process every day. Each day calls to attention detailed facts and complex concepts, family members and friends, projects at work or at school, news items, planning meals, managing the instructions and assignments of several classes or work tasks.  It’s no wonder we are sometimes not aware of what is going on right in front of us!  Students with EF struggle to determine the most important information to pay attention to and then use that information as needed.  Developing appropriate levels of alertness for attending to a lecture, reading a text book, writing a report, or solving mathematical problems are essential and necessary skills.  Students who effectively control their alertness are able to concentrate without becoming mentally fatigued (especially when sitting still and/or listening for long periods of time) and to pay attention without feeling excessively “bored” or “tired.”

Here are some tips for increasing attention:

  • Get enough sleep at night – Getting adequate amounts of sleep enables a student to be fully awake and have the mental energy to learn and perform in school. Students who get adequate periods of true sleep fall and stay asleep at night with few, if any, problems.  Going to bed at the same time each night and establishing a bed-time routine, starting at dinner or just after dinner will assist in maintaining appropriate levels of alertness throughout the day.
  • Develop a state of alertness or readiness for action, similar to getting ready for a kickoff at a football game.  Help students do this through the acronym SET. Sit straight, Eyes on teacher, Think about words being said and place an external focus on others to listen to them.
  • Learn to develop internal attention – metacognition? How is it going? Am I on track?
  • Minimize any distractions such as outside noise, being hungry, thinking about what you need to do in the future.
  • Create a Picture and MAKE IT VISUAL!! Visual memories are more effective and are remembered longer!
    • Read the STOP signs and Read the Room
    • Space – Where is it? What are the parts to that space?
    • Time – What time is it now?  What usually happens at this time?  What is coming up?  The task/activity I am doing now, when does it need to be done by? How much time do I have?  How long will it take? What can reasonably be accomplished in this amount of time?  What is the usual sequence that I do in that amount of time? What is the pace of activity? Can I dilly-dally or do I need to rush?
    • Objects – What materials are in front of me?  What materials do I still need?  Anything I need to practice?
    • People – Who is around?  Who do I need? What are they doing?  What is their pace?  What is their mood?  What is coming up for them?
  • Using highlighters, and/or graphics can help to draw attention to important information.
  • Examine social relationships in the same way as a new learning situation. Talk aloud about what to attend to in social interactions, e.g., which are most important when forming friendships, dating relationships.
  • Take frequent breaks during the day and vary the length of work periods.  Use stretching and walking as ways to revitalize your body, getting the blood flowing more evenly throughout the body.  Use quiet time to rejuvenate mental energy.
  • Adjust seating.  Sitting in front of a classroom can facilitate attention and keep distractions from other students to a minimum.
  • Become aware of your periods of lower energy; keep a diary or a log of the times during the day when this occurs.  Plan on having a healthy energy snack in the afternoon.
  • Learn to use textbooks efficiently, for example: how to use the table of contents and the index, how to use the questions at the end of the chapter to guide reading, and how to preview text before reading a chapter (by skimming for key words, dates, and names, looking at pictures for clues to meaning, etc.).
  • Provide assistance when mental effort wanes. For example, work together with others as mental energy buddies, or provide jump-starts such as starting one or more math problems, reading the first passage of a text, etc.
  • Use special devices, e.g., calculators, word processors, or tape recorders that help stretch mental effort during periods of high output.
  • Use a word processing program to develop templates for later use, e.g., a template for getting my homework done, for solving a math word problem, for asking for help in class, etc. Learn to self-monitor your work by evaluating the quality of planning and performance throughout a task.
  • Practice making predictions while learning. For example, use prediction charts in reading to help organize predictions and maintain them for later reflection, use story starter activities in writing to contribute the rest of a story based on the beginning, use historical events in social studies to make predictions before learning the actual outcomes, or estimate answers to math problems and science experiments before doing the actual solving.
  • Self-monitoring after a task allows a student to think about the effectiveness of a strategy based on a particular outcome, for example thinking about how the amount of studying or planning relates to a high or low grade received on a test.

Memory

There are an abundance of terms used to describe memory, such as long term, short term, episodic, sensory, tactile, active, and verbal. It is important to have appropriate testing that will help to simplify and focus what type of memory difficulties a student may be experiencing. Students who experience difficulties with memory encounter extreme challenges with learning and with reading.  Sometimes what appears to be a memory problem may actually be a reduction in attention, poor planning, and other organizational challenges.

Memory can be like an office.  On the desk is immediate or active memory. This is the memory that allows a student to read an assignment and hold on to the information from one paragraph to another or to complete the multiple steps required for a math problem.   In the to do basket are short term memory items, these are items to do next, they are not in front currently, but they will need attention soon.  In the file cabinet is long term memory.  These are items that will need attention in the near future, but can be stored away for now.

To properly encode a memory, the first step is to pay attention. It is impossible to pay attention to everything so most of what is encountered every day is simply filtered out, and only a few stimuli pass into conscious awareness. What scientists aren’t sure about is whether stimuli are screened out during the sensory input stage or only after the brain processes its significance. What we do know is that paying attention to information may be the most important factor in how much of it is actually remembered.

Important information is gradually transferred from short-term memory into long-term memory. The more the information is repeated or used, the more likely it is to eventually end up in long-term memory, or to be “retained.” (That’s why studying helps people perform better on tests.) Unlike sensory and short-term memory, which are limited and decay rapidly, long-term memory can store unlimited amounts of information indefinitely.

People tend to more easily store material on subjects that they already know something about, since the information has more meaning to them and can be mentally connected to related information that is already stored in their long-term memory. That’s why someone who has an average memory may be able to remember a greater depth of information about one particular subject.

Here are some tips for increasing memory:

  • Explicitly and frequently connect reading material to a student’s lives and daily experiences.
  • Preview the highest priority points to glean from reading material, such as those likely to be discussed in class or asked about on a test.
  • Coach students to use strategies for storing information, such as mental imagery (like associating a top hat with President Lincoln), acronyms (like HOMES for the Great Lakes), acrostic elaboration (like “King Philips Court…” for Kingdom-Phylum-Class), and rhyming (like “i” before “e” except after “c”). Such strategies can be used to prompt students to retrieve information during presentations and interactions.
  • Provide extra instruction and practice regarding the multiple letter patterns (such as “k,””c,” “ck,” “ch,” “que”) that can be linked with a particular sound (like /k/).
  • Emphasize word families (like take, bake, rake, fake, etc.) to consolidate common letter patterns (such as –ake) and vary words with prefixes and suffixes (like taking, baking, raking, faking, etc.)
  • Nonsense words (such as “bik”) can bolster sound-symbol pairs in long-term memory because they have to be sounded out rather than identified as sight words; students can practice reading nonsense words or even develop their own.
  • Show students how to make a flowchart that breaks down a procedure into its component parts.
  • Ask students to explain the steps of a procedure orally and in writing.
  • Use acronyms or phrases to improve storage of procedural sequences, such as PEMDAS or “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally” for the order of operations: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Add/Subtract.
  • All students need to understand how their memory works and identify their particular profiles of memory strengths and weaknesses (metamemory).
  • Information on any topic should be presented to students in a variety of formats including spatial, linguistic and sequential. For example, if students are presented with an outline, it may be given in the traditional sequential way as well as with using a strategy called “mind mapping”. Mind mapping is a spatial/configurational format while the traditional way in which students are instructed is a linear/sequential format.
  • Students who have difficulty with short-term memory registration and/or working memory may need directions repeated to them. As they get older, they will need to write directions down to help them remember them.
  • When students have difficulty remembering what they have read, they should be taught to paraphrase (recode information) as they read and to take notes in the margins, underline, highlight and/or make notes on a Post-It. If they made notes on a Post-It, they can place the Post-It on paper and have a summary of what they have read.
  • Note taking is an activity that may help students register information in memory as well as to consolidate it. Note taking is a skill that should be taught to all students. Students with handwriting problems may have a difficult time with this task, however, and may need alternative strategies.
  • Students who have working memory problems may need to use a calculator to solve multiple step math problems. Also when completing a writing assignment, they should use a “staging” procedure that allows them to focus on one aspect of writing at a time. With this procedure, they would first generate ideas, then organize them, and finally attend to spelling and mechanical and grammatical rules. Students should also write the topic and any key ideas they have down and refer to these when writing their assignment.
  • It may be helpful for students to review material right before going to sleep at night. Research has shown that information studied this way is better remembered. Any task that is performed after reviewing and prior to sleeping interferes with consolidation of information in memory.
  • All students would benefit from self-testing. They should identify the important information, formulate test questions, and then answer them. This is also a useful exercise to perform with a study buddy.
  • When students need to remember a series of steps or events, it may be helpful for them to draw diagrams or flow charts of the steps/events.
  • Paired associations as well as most other information is remembered better when it is rehearsed using multiple sensory modalities. For example, a student who is trying to remember basic math facts would walk a number line as they were saying the math facts.
  • Many students are very adept with computers and there are a number of software programs such as “Reading Blaster” and “Math Blaster” that can help a student retain basic skills.
  • Students should be taught the necessity of “overlearning” new information. Often they practice only until they are able to perform one error-free repetition of the material.
  • Students should be required to identify the particular memory strategies that they will use for specific situations. For example, they should be asked how they plan on remembering all of the states and their capitals in the United States.

Apps for EF

Evernote [7]

Evernote – Free [7]

Remember everything! Forget writing on your hand or sticky notes. Use your iPhone or iPad to take a picture, record a note, send a PDF, or just jot a note.

Write Pad [8]

Write Pad – $9.99 [8]

Write Pad allows you a variety of options: handwriting recognition, write your note with your finger or a stylus, check spelling, executive shorthand, change of character recognition.  It is $9.99, but worth every cent for those who are not familiar with keyboarding or find type too difficult.

Notability [9]

Notability – $0.99 [10]

Notability is a note-taking app that allows you to type, insert a figure, and insert a web clip or a picture. It also allows you to record a teacher’s lecture.

Nudge [11]

Nudge – $0.99 [11]

Nudge is a quick note to remember something for tomorrow: bring pens to school, tie-dying bring in a white shirt. It is set, and until you shut it off, it nudges you.

CourseNotes [12]

CourseNotes – $4.99-$9.99 [12]

Students: CourseNotes color codes your notebooks and adds teachers. Take notes during your classes and organize them by class and subject. Review your notes later, and search through multiple classes and notes at once. Also, keep To-Do lists and track assignments by providing due dates.

iAnnotate [13]

iAnnotate – $9.99 [13]

Teachers: iAnnotate allows you to receive PDF files from your students or an article you are reading. It lets you take notes or highlight an important fact, and of course, lets you assist a student in corrections.  It is a fabulous app to keep your notes organized, with the ability to make corrections or add notes.

Websites for EF

All Kinds of Minds [14] The All Kinds of Minds website provides resources to help parents, educators, and clinicians understand why a child is struggling in school and how to help each child become a more successful learner. The Web site provides a free monthly newsletter, articles by Dr. Mel Levine and others, case studies, discussion groups, a Learning Base of strategies, and much more.

The Hallowell Center [15] This website describes the Hallowell Center for Cognitive and Emotional Health which specializes in the understanding and managing of attention deficits, worry/anxiety, and child and adult learning difficulties. The site offers informative articles and materials by Dr. Ned Hallowell.

HAPPYneuron [16] These brain games help you improve your memory and attention through award-winning, innovative and fun cognitive training exercises.

The Hello Friend/Ennis William Cosby Foundation [17] This website is dedicated to helping you learn about Ennis William Cosby, about the foundation established in his memory, and about learning and learning differences. The site offers resources and information on how parents and teachers can help individuals with learning differences. Information is also available about the new video “Ennis’ Gift: A film about learning differences.”

Family Education [18] Parents find practical guidance, grade-specific information about their children’s school experience, strategies to get involved with their children’s learning, free email newsletters, and fun and entertaining family activities.

Kids Health [19] Created by The Nemours Foundation’s Center for Children’s Health Media, Kids Health provides families with accurate, up-to-date, and jargon-free health information they can use. Kids Health has separate areas for kids, teens, and parents – each with its own design, age-appropriate content, and tone. There are literally thousands of in-depth features, articles, animations, games, and resources – all original and all developed by experts in the health of children and teens.

Misunderstood Minds [20]  PBS has created a companion Web site to the Misunderstood Minds special on learning differences. Within the site are stories from the show and information and resources for parents.

Read•Write•Think [21]  Read•Write•Think is a partnership between the International Reading Association (IRA), the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE), and the MCI Foundation to provide educators and students with access to the highest quality practices and resources in reading and language arts instruction through free, Internet-based content.

PBS Parents [22] The PBS Parents Guides address important aspects of your child’s early years such as school readiness and social and emotional development. You can also find information about your children’s favorite PBS KIDS programs: schedules for your local area, educational activities related to the programs, and explanations of educational goals.

Schwab Learning [23] is a “parent’s guide to helping kids with learning difficulties” that emphasizes useful information and practical strategies for children in kindergarten through high school. With over 350 research based articles, resources, message boards, email newsletter and more, parents will find the guidance and support they need.

References

Cherkes-Julkowski, M., Sharp, S., & Stolzenberg, J. (1997). Rethinking Attention Deficit Disorders. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Brookline Books.

Dornbush, M. P., & Pruitt, S. K. (1995). Teaching the Tiger: A Handbook for Individuals Involved in the Education of Students with Attention Deficit Disorders, Tourette syndrome or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. Duarte, California: Hope Press.

Fowler, M., Barkley, R., Reeve, R., & Zentall, S. (1992). CH.A.D.D. Educators Manual: An In-Depth Look at Attention Deficit Disorders from an Educational Perspective: A Project of the CH.A.D.D. National Education Committee. Plantation, Florida: CH.A.D.D.

Hammeken, P. A. (1995). Inclusion: 450 Strategies for Success – A practical guide for all educators who teach students with disabilities. Minnetonka, Minnesota: Peytral Publications.

Jensen, E. (1998). Teaching with the brain in mind. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Levine, M. D. (1994). Educational Care. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Educators Publishing Service.

Levine, M. D. (1998). Developmental Variation and Learning Disorders. (2 ed.). Cambridge, MA: Educators Publishing Service.

Markel, G., & Greenbaum, J. (1996). Performance Breakthroughs for Adolescents with Learning Disabilities or ADD. Champaign, IL: Research Press.

Parker, H. C. (1992). The ADD Hyperactivity Handbook for Schools: Effective Strategies for Identifying and Teaching ADD Students in Elementary and Secondary Schools. Plantation, Florida: Impact Publications.

Rief, S. F. (1993). How To Reach and Teach ADD/ADHD Children: Practical Techniques, Strategies, and Interventions for Helping Children with Attention Problems and Hyperactivity. West Nyack, New York: Center for Applied Research in Education.

Strichart, S.S., Mangrum, C.T., & Lannuzzi, P. (1998). Teaching Study Strategies to Students with Learning Disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorders, or Special Needs. (2ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

Cooper, L. A., & Lang, J. M. (1996). Imagery and visual spatial representations. In E. L. Bjork & R. A. Bjork (eds), Handbook of perception and cognition. San Diego: Academic Press.

Gaddes, W. H., & Edgell, D. (1994). Learning disabilities and brain function: A neuropsychological approach. (3rd edition). New York: Springer-Verlag.

Kail, R. & Hall, L. (2001). Distinguishing short-term memory from working memory. Memory and Cognition, 29, 1-9.

Levine, M. D. (1998). Developmental variation and learning disorders. Cambridge and Toronto: Educators Publishing Services, Inc.


Links: [1] http://www.rememberthemilk.com/ [2] http://www.google.com/mobile/sms/#p=default [3] http://www.studystack.com/ [4] http://www.studycell.com/ [5] http://mobileprep.positivemotion.com/home/index.php [6] http://www.flashmybrain.com/index.php [7] http://www.evernote.com/ [8] http://www.phatware.com/ [9] http://www.gingerlabs.com/ [10] http://www.gingerlabs.com [11] http://simpletailor.net/nudge [12] http://www.coursenotesapp.com/index.php [13] http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/iannotate-pdf/id363998953?mt=8 [14] http://www.allkindsofminds.org [15] http://www.drhallowell.com [16] http://www.happy-neuron.com/brain-games/executive-function [17] http://www.hellofriend.org [18] http://www.familyeducation.com [19] http://www.kidshealth.org/parent/ [20] http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/misunderstoodminds/index.html [21] http://www.readwritethink.org/ [22] http://www.pbs.org/parents/ [23] http://www.schwablearning.org SchwabLearning.org





16 Reasons why it’s so Important to Follow your Dreams

1 05 2012

16 Reasons Why It’s So Important To Follow Your Dreams

A Dream, a vision, a goal, a desire, these are all things most of us know we need when we are working towards success but have somewhere along the line, forgotten why it is so important we follow them through.

 

So I have created this list….. Well, lets call it a reminder of why it is so important to follow your dreams.

 

The 16 Reasons Why It Is So Important To Follow Your Dreams

 

1. The secret of living is giving, if you follow your dreams then you will have something worth sharing with others, hope, inspiration and a meaning to live, and that to me, is a great contribution.

2. Chasing your dreams will develop your courage. Courage is your fuel to achieve amazing success in life, follow your dreams and exercise courage. In sure enough time you will be unstoppable.

3. There is a reason why as kids we loved magic and dreams. Stop chasing your dreams and you will forget how it feels to live hopeful and young.

4. Great dreamers grow to be independent, learning that they can make a difference all by themselves.

5. Dreams can distract you from the negative events in life. You will weigh up what is more important, your dreams or the drama. Drama seems obsolete when you are passionate about following your dreams.

6. It gives you something to share and inspire your kids with, you have led by example that anything is possible when you put your mind to it.

7. Through accomplishing your dreams you will come to appreciate the experience of failure and know that failure is just part of success and that it wasn’t really all that bad as it was all worth it in the end.

8. Regret is a terrible thing, and a dream is powerful enough to bring you regret if you don’t take the chance to at least follow it.

9. Because you are never too old to dream. Age means nothing when we know what we want.

10. You become an interesting person, you show others you have meaning, direction and purpose.

11. The unknown of following your dreams may spark a little fear, this is okay though because a little fear is known to make you feel more alive.

12. It is fun proving the world wrong, so why would you follow the status quo?

13. The more you chase and accomplish your dreams the more the lines of the boundaries that the world puts in front of us fade, as we learn that any and everything is possible.

14. When you accomplish your dream, you are the first to see it happen. You can share your accomplishments with the rest of the world but you where there in the front row on a single chair to experience the magic that unfolded.

15. Your dreams have no limits, you are the creator of your dreams, big or small. When this is understood, you are able to design a way to favour you plan and accomplish your end goal.

16. A dream is strong enough to define you, once accomplished you prove to others they have no say in who you can and can’t be.





‘I’m a Fraud’: Gifted and talented with insecurity

29 04 2012

This article is from http://highability.org/435/gifted-and-talented-but-with-insecurity-and-low-self-esteem/

Even people with exceptional talents can feel insecure and struggle with low or unhealthy self-esteem.

Meryl Streep, for example, has said, “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing….

“You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent… Or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”

This is not an isolated feeling or an issue for only a few talented people.

Over the many years of researching creative people and reading many interviews with high ability people, I have seen quotes like Streep’s showing up often.

Actor Shia LaBeouf thinks it is a common issue:

“Most actors on most days don’t think they’re worthy. I have no idea where this insecurity comes from, but it’s a God-sized hole. If I knew, I’d fill it, and I’d be on my way.”

From post Shia LaBeouf on fame and meaning and insecurity

LaBeouf, by the way, was accepted to Yale University but declined, saying that he is “getting the kind of education you don’t get at school.”

A British newspaper article says Helen Mirren “has talked of how insecure she has felt nearly all her life.”

And she said “I still get insecure.”

[From Helen Mirren: off the wall, by Lucy Cavendish, The Telegraph telegraph.co.uk 20 Jan 2008]

Mirren also said in her memoir that she “went to a shrink once. When I was about twenty-three I was very unhappy and, yes, self-obsessed and insecure.”

From post Helen Mirren on miserable self obsession.

Hilary Swank spent her childhood in a trailer park and has said, “I was a troubled kid. I felt like an outsider. I didn’t feel like I belonged, especially in the classroom. I just wish that I would have been more secure.”

Will Smith admits, “I still doubt myself every single day. What people believe is my self-confidence is actually my reaction to fear.”

[Also quoted in post The Self-Esteem Supercharger.]

John Lennon and self esteem

John Lennon once said, “Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty.”

[Also used in my post Elaine Aron on our emotional challenges.]

Writer Larry Kane commented about his bio Lennon Revealed: “People would be surprised at how insecure John Lennon was, and his lack of self esteem.

“Throughout his life, even during the height of Beatle mania, he had poor self esteem, even though he exuded confidence.”

Self esteem is positive self-regard, a realistic acknowledgment of our talents and value as a person.

Maybe it is the primary antidote we can have to insecurity.

Authentic esteem is not the superficial efforts over recent years to make all children in school feel they are “special” – with high [often bloated] self-esteem falsely nurtured by school administrators who say things like “We don’t want anyone to feel left out, so everyone wins a spelling bee award” or “The valedictorian will be chosen by lottery.”

Many gifted and talented people feel insecure

Psychologist Roy F. Baumeister, PhD [in his article: The Lowdown on High Self-Esteem] notes that people with inflated high self-esteem “think they make better impressions, have stronger friendships and better romantic lives.. but the data don’t support their self-flattering views.”

But many gifted and talented people suffer at times from a lack of healthy self esteem.

Another example: Nobel Prize laureate poet and writer Czeslaw Milosz confessed: “From early on writing for me has been a way to overcome my real or imagined worthlessness.”

Stephanie S. Tolan – co-author of the book Guiding the Gifted Child – finds that “Many gifted adults seem to know very little about their minds and how they differ from more ‘ordinary’ minds. The result of this lack of self-knowledge is often low, sometimes cripplingly low self esteem.”

[From her article Self-Knowledge, Self-Esteem and the Gifted Adult.]

Marilyn J. Sorensen, PhD, author of the book Breaking the Chain of Low Self-Esteem, says “People with low self-esteem generally find themselves at one of the extremes of achievement, either as an overachiever or as an underachiever.

“Some take the road of continually channeling their energies into attempts to receive recognition, approval, and affirmation, and become highly successful in their careers and educational endeavors; they are driven; they are ‘overachievers.’ Others slink back in fear, never realizing their skills or talents.”

Pursuing healthy esteem

So how to counteract and change unhealthy self esteem?

A start is to honestly recognize your abilities and accomplishments, without qualifying or deflating them, as in “Oh, anyone could do that.”

Another effective approach is the cognitive therapy strategy of getting aware of demeaning statements – especially automatic thoughts – you make about yourself (or accept from others), such as “I’m no good at doing that…” – then arguing the logic, validity, merits and faults of the statement, such as: “Well, maybe I am not as skilled as whoever.. but I have been told my work is good and I can get better if I choose to work at it.”

Overcoming impostor feelings

Also related to insecurity is the reaction that a number of talented actors and other people talk about: feeling oneself to be an “impostor.”

Research into this impostor phenomenon or syndrome began with the work of psychotherapists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who found many women with notable achievements also had high levels of self-doubt which could not be equated with self-esteem, anxiety, or other traits, and seemed to involve a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize their successes.

They often had the belief they were “fooling” other people, were “faking it” or getting by from having the right contacts or just being “lucky.” Many held a belief they would be exposed as frauds or fakes.

[From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.]

Not just lack of confidence

Dr. Valerie Young has written about the topic for years, and explains “The Impostor Syndrome goes beyond lack of confidence.

“Everyone experiences bouts of self-doubt from time to time and especially when attempting something new.

“But for impostors self-doubt is chronic. You can feel self-doubt without experiencing shame at performing poorly as impostor do.

“It’s also possible to doubt your abilities without believing that you ultimately succeeded because of some sleight of hand or that you are fooling others.

“A person could have normal jitters before, say getting up to give their first speech, do well, and then draw from this experience to feel more confident about the next time.

“The impostor doesn’t think this way.

“Because no matter how well you did or how loud the applause, you always think you could have done better or that you just had a ‘good audience’ with no real bump in confidence.”

She includes a number of quotes in her book that exemplify impostor feelings and thinking, such as these:

Meryl Streep: “You think, ‘Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie?’ And I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?”

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”  Award-winning author Maya Angelou.

“Somewhere, deep inside, you don’t believe what they say. You think it’s a matter of time before you stumble and ‘they’ discover the truth.” Former CEO of Girls, Inc. Joyce Roché

“At any time I still expect that the no-talent police will come and arrest me.” Mike Myers

From book: The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It, by Dr. Valerie Young.

Our mindset

She notes that “Twenty years of well documented research by leading expert in motivation and personality psychology Carol Dweck and author of my new favorite book Mindset, confirms what I’ve been saying for years.

“Namely that for better or for worse, your perceptions of what it takes to be competent, has a powerful impact on how you measure yourself and therefore how you approach achievement itself.”

Dr. Young adds, “This kind of chronic self-doubt robs you of your successes and ultimately your own happiness and fulfillment.”

She has developed an ebook program to deal with the Impostor Syndrome titled How to Feel As Bright and Capable As Everyone Seems to Think You Are.

Beating ourselves up by comparisons with idols and icons

Creativity coach and psychologist Eric Maisel thinks “It is a poignant feature of our species that we can contemplate intellectual work that we can’t quite accomplish…

“It is also natural that we will experience emotional pain when we recognize that the work that we would love to do, whether it is physics at the highest level or constitutional law at the highest level or psychological fiction at the highest level or biological research at the highest level is, if not completely unavailable to us, just unavailable enough to make it doubtful that we can proceed and just unavailable enough to make our efforts feel like torture.”

[Photo: Elodie Ghedin, Parasitologist/Virologist and a 2011 MacArthur Fellow.]

He asks, “How many smart people end up torturing themselves to the point of institutionalization over the fact that they can’t turn out poetry as brilliant as the poetry produced by their idols, can’t solve that mathematical problem that has thwarted all the biggest brains…?

“You can torture yourself in this fashion and threaten your mental health or you can surrender to nature’s ways.”

From his post The Smart Gap – How to deal with painful shortfalls in brainpower, by Eric Maisel, Ph.D.

One of his books: Mastering Creative Anxiety: 24 Lessons for Writers, Painters, Musicians, and Actors from America’s Foremost Creativity Coach.

Also read more about his program Infinite Meaning: The Breakthrough of Noimetic Psychology Course Overview: “You can’t find the meaning of life – it never was lost! Meaning never was something to be found in a philosophy, a religion, a belief system, or a way of life. Rather, meaning is a psychological experience. And because it is a psychological experience, you can create it.”

More resources:

Self concept / self esteem articles

Related posts:

Exceptional, gifted adults without enough positive self-regard.

Being Creative and Self-critical.





The Top 10 Reasons Why You! Will Never Be Successful

19 04 2012

The Top 10 Reasons Why You! Will Never Be Successful

In an ideal world every man, woman and child would be programmed for Success, the truth of the matter is that Success is a lot harder than you think. Success takes alot of Passion, Drive, Focus, Risk Taking etc… to get there and alot of people are just not up for that kind of work.

These are 10 of the most common reasons people end up failing, not just in business, but what they want to be successful at in life also. Read on and see how you can improve on your road to Success.

1. Because You Procrastinate- Yes this is one of the more common reasons for most people to never excel in fulfilling their chosen field or business. Instead of taking advantage of every waking moment you make excuses on why you can put it off until tomorrow or put the “grunt” work off until later, which is usually the most important of your daily task. Many will complain about why they’re not successful, but continue to put unimportant events ahead of what really should be a priority to anyone trying to better their situation or build a successful business and the answer is right in front of you and the sad thing is most know it, but fail to do anything about it.

2. Because You Blame What You Lack as your Reasons for Failure- Nine times out of ten if you ask any person or entrepreneur why they have failed in finishing or accomplishing a goal their sentence will begin with Because I don’t…. Depending on what field of business they’re in many of us could guess how that sentence will end. The sad reality is that most of us lack one thing or another and many of our predecessors have overcome many obstacles and proven time and time again that where you live, your financial status, your race, location, height, and/or belief has no take on whether or not you will be successful and it is ultimately up to you.

3. Because your idea isn’t as Brilliant and Unique as you think- I know this doesn’t come as a a suprise to most of you especially if you have ever started a business or had an idea that you thought was just revolutionary or unique with no competition, but once you do a little research or decide to launch you see ten other businesses doing the same thing. As I’m sure you have heard this before, but it is obvious most need to hear it again a successful business begins with a great execution and a failure is well… lack there of. Most ideas have been thought of or tried and tested, but many failed because of their execution and how it was brought about. There are many reasons why the same businesses fail while others succeed timing has a lot to do with it, capital, the person or entrepreneur, knowledge on the subject and much more.

 

4. Because some of your Best Ideas are just Memory or Were Never Brought to Life- I definitely think this is one of the biggest reasons most are never successful. Many of our best ideas that would have spread virally or been a necessity in life were never brought past the brainstorming process or seemed like one of them unobtainable goals, because most of the time the brilliant ideas are the hardest to accomplish or will have you facing the most obstacles to see them come to life. I read an article about how almost everyday people think of at least two million dollar ideas on their way to work during a 5day workweek, but over 90% never put any of them into action pass the the thought phase and without reasonable doubt I agree.

 

5. Because you’re not patient- Many of us fall into this category and I was once a very impatient person (still am at times) when it came to seeing results with a new venture or goal I wanted to attain. I think the above title is why many of us fall victim to all of these get rich quick schemes we see in our email inbox everyday or on late night TV infomercials. In reality there is no quick-legal ways to get rich or becoming successful anything that is worth attaining will take time to acquire. Many of us abandon a business before we give it time to get over the first years slump or automatically mark it as a failure before it has time to reach its full potential.

 

6. Because there is always somebody working harder than you- This article goes back to the first reason on procrastinating and reinforces that you’re not taking advantage of every waking moment. Every moment you sleep or take off for a break or make time for anything other than the goal you want to accomplish or the business you want to be number one there is always another team of people or a person working toward the same goal. I think every time you decide to tackle an objective or start a new business that you want to succeed in that you should keep in mind…there is always be somebody putting in harder work and longer hours than you. Remember the number one spot or your accomplished goals wouldn’t feel so good if you were the only one going for it, because it wouldn’t be worth attaining.

 

7. Because you wait on Luck or Opportunity (Meal Ticket) to be given to us- In most instances opportunity is not given to you it is created and you’re lucky if you are prepared. That is why it is important to always be prepared for the unthinkable, because opportunities usually arise when you least expect it and that is why in most cases we’re not prepared and that is what we call bad luck. You can’t wait fo rANYTHING to come to you or for somebody to hand it to you. If you want financing for your business go out and get it, if you want to relocate to another city go do it, if you want to be a millionaire before 25 get to work today not tomorrow anything is attainable with hard work and being persistent no matter how small or large the obstacles to success may seem.

 

8. Because the odds are against you- In most cases people want to be successful from starting a business whether it is online or offline. The reality is over 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years and out of all businesses started 85% fail within the first five years as you can see the odds are not in your favor to succeed. Many people who have weight loss goals will most likely not meet them considering that more than 65% of the United States population is either overweight or obese and it was up more than 16% from the year before. Your chances of being a millionaire are not as bad when compared to the other odds, because the average American has a 1 in 13 chance of becoming a millionaire and more than 741,666 become new millionaires every month. Will you be next months millionaire??

 

9. Because life is too short- This reason basically takes into mind all of the above reasons for reaching success, tried and failed and taking time for granted for when opportunity is presented to you. You should take advantage of every SOUND opportunity that is presented to you, make use of every free second you have available, read up on any topic relevant to any goals you want to accomplish, make no excuses for tasks or goals not completed, and realise that you have nobody to blame, but yourself for any failures that you have or goals that you didn’t accomplish within your lifetime.

 

10. Because you will NOT make a change today- Even though this article stated in the beginning that “you will never be successful unless you make a change today” most of us will read it in its entirety and actually agree with its content, but will still go back to our same habits of procrastinating, blaming what we lack, putting together half-thought out ideas with poor execution, never bringing our greatest ideas pass the brainstorming process, being impatient and not persistent, letting someone work harder than you for that number one spot, waiting on our meal ticket, still understanding the odds are against you, but not working harder to overcome them, not taking advantage of all our time on this earth to see our dreams and goals manifest into something greater than we could ever imagine.

 

It is still in your hands whether or not you will become successful and defeat these odds. Just don’t become a victim to one of these common mistakes and reasons for not being successful within your lifetime.

Article By: Cream BMP





What Research Can Help Your Students Score Higher on the Upcoming BIG Tests?

4 04 2012

 Posted by                Eric Jensen                in                Brain-Based Learning                on                04 3rd, 2012

This month, we’ll focus on how to prepare for existing state and national tests. I’ll focus on three things that can help your students improve their chances to score up to their potential. By the way, kids never score above their potential; they’re just not going to randomly make enough lucky right answers time after time after time (in statistics, it’s called regression to the mean).

But, they often underperform for a host of reasons, even when they should perform much better. While we could focus on dozens of variables that influence standardized testing, we’ll focus on these three: 1) brain chemistry, 2) priming, and 3) episodic memory triggers. Some of these suggestions got so many rave reviews that they are reproduced from an earlier bulletin!

The Research

Ten Minutes to Better Scores

Two laboratory and two randomized field studies tested a psychological intervention designed to improve students’ scores on high-stakes exams. These simple ten-minute activities can raise test scores. One well-designed study showed that writing about testing worries prior to taking the exam boosts exam performance in the classroom.

The study authors expected that sitting for an important exam leads to worries about the situation and its consequences that undermine test performance. What the authors tested was… whether having students write down their thoughts about an upcoming test could improve test performance.

This simple intervention, a brief expressive writing assignment that occurred immediately before taking an important test, significantly improved students’ exam scores, especially for students habitually anxious about test taking. Simply writing about one’s worries before a high-stakes exam can boost test scores. It does it by more than 10% and it’s quick and free (Ramirez G, Beilock, SL., 2011).

Brain Chemistry and Testing There are three chemicals to focus on for optimal testing results: 1) dopamine (it generally facilitates informational transfer within limbic and cortical networks to promote working memory and reward-seeking behavior, says Luciana, et al. 1998), 2) noradrenaline (it generally promotes a more narrowed focus, sharper attention and improved memory. This system plays a specific role in the regulation of cognitive functions, including sustained attention, working memory, impulse control, and the planning of voluntary behavior), and 3) glucose (it provides short term energy and, in low to moderate doses, promotes enhanced memory (Krebs DL, Parent MB., 2005).

The Power of Suggestion

Can you influence testing outcomes by “prepping” their brain for success? It has long been proposed that motivational responses that were subtle could serve as priming to effect academic performance. A recent study showed that yes, it can be done and they can show you how to do it. “You can prep the brain several ways. One is by showing them the letter “A” in advance.” (I’ll tell you “how” in a moment.) The other one of our two “prepping” studies is to give peppermints to all kids for your final review, then use them again at the time of the big test. (Barker, et al. 2003). This raises attentional levels and provides glucose.

Location of the Test Itself

I have always advocated that we ensure that students taking the test take it in the room in which they studied for it. That’s the power of episodic or content memory. But, there’s more to it. Stress is an issue, too. Stress impaired memory when assessed in the unfamiliar context, but not when assessed in the learning context (Schwabe L., and Wolf OT, 2009). In short, if your students can’t be in the test-givers room to learn the material, at least bring them into the testing room and do a review there days before the event.

Practical Applications

Let’s “flesh out” each of the studies listed above. The first category is about enhancing brain chemicals. This is fairly easy to do.

Dopamine can be strengthened by 1) voluntary gross motor repetitive movements, like marching, relays, playing a game. It is enhanced by strong positive feelings like reunions and celebrations. Most of all, it’s enhanced by looking forward to something very good.

Norepinephrine is enhanced by 1) risk, like a student speaking in front of his/her peers, 2) urgency, like serious deadlines for compelling tasks, and 3) excitement, like theater, competition, comedy, the arts.

Glucose is enhanced by 1) food sources: complex carbs are best, but almost any source can do in a pinch, 2) physical activity: glucose is stored in the liver in the form of glycogen and released in the form of glucose, and 3) any time we are experiencing emotions.

The study that I mentioned earlier used peppermint odor during simple skill practice, performance, memorization, and alphabetization. Participants completed the protocol twice–once with peppermint odor present and once without. Analysis indicated significant differences in the gross speed, net speed, and accuracy on the task, with odor associated with improved performance. The study results suggest peppermint odor may promote a general arousal of attention, so participants stay focused on their task and increase performance.

The Power of Suggestion

You can influence testing outcomes by “prepping” their brain for success with a positive suggestion. Sound like Star Trek “Vulcan” Mind Control? Or, is it more like “Obi Wan Kenobe”? It’s neither. It has long been proposed that motivational responses that were subtle could serve as priming to affect academic performance. The research study I mentioned above was conducted at a large research university in the USA. Here is what they started with:

23 undergraduates participated in Group 1 (were conducted in classroom settings) 32 graduate students in Group 2 (were conducted in classroom settings) 76 undergraduates in Group 3 (were conducted in laboratory setting)

The “mind games” manipulation came in the form of a “Test Bank ID code” (completely phony) on the cover of a test. The ID Code was needed because participants were prompted to view and write it on each page of their test. The letters used were “A” (the positive priming for group 1), “F” (the negative priming for group 2) and “J” (the neutral, control group 3). Students who got the “A” on their ID Code outperformed BOTH the “F” on the code and the “J” control group. Students are vulnerable to evaluative letters presented before a task, these results support years of research highlighting the significant role that our nonconscious processes play in achievement settings.

Location of the Test Itself

Stress before retention testing impairs memory, whereas memory performance is enhanced when the learning context is reinstated at retrieval. As a general rule, low-moderate stress is best for encoding and for retrieving, it is best to match the encoding stress level. I have always advocated that we ensure that students taking the test take it in the room in which they studied for it. That’s the power of episodic or content memory.

But there’s more to it. Stress is an issue, too.

The study examined whether the negative impact of stress before memory retrieval can be attenuated when memory is tested in the same environmental context as that in which learning took place. These results suggest that the detrimental effects of stress on memory retrieval can be abolished when a distinct learning context is reinstated at test.

Stress impaired the student’s memory when assessed in the unfamiliar context, but not when assessed in the learning context (Schwabe L., and Wolf OT., 2009). In short, if your students can’t be in the test-givers room to learn the material, at least, bring them into the testing room and do a review there days before the event.

Combine for Positive Synergy

Remember, the science is solid when you consider each strategy separately. But combined, these strategies may help you get to the next level. As Chef Emeril would say they could give you “BAM!” power.

BONUS: Here’s what to do after the interim tests (but before the big “Standards Tests”). We know that reflection and meta thinking can be powerful. Debbie Barber, a sixth grade teacher at Ackerman Middle School in Canby, Oregon says, “My kids have a chance to improve their scores by doing a test autopsy. They correct their mistakes and then write a half page reflection on why they did so poorly and what they should have done differently. They earn a half point for each corrected answer. Not only do the parents love it, the test scores have improved and the students are really taking ownership of their work!”

This is the potential of smarter, targeted teaching. But you have to commit to the process and ensure that it gets done. Don’t let anyone say, “I’ve heard of all that!” Get your staff on board and start making miracles. Is this awesome or not?

Let’s cut to the chase: everything you do in your classroom is likely to have SOME effect on the brain. Brain-based education says, “Be purposeful about it.” Now, go have some fun and make another miracle happen!

Research:

  • Barker S, Grayhem P, Koon J, Perkins J, Whalen A, Raudenbush B. Improved performance on clerical tasks associated with administration of peppermint odor. Percept Mot Skills. 2003 Dec;97(3 Pt 1):1007-10.
  • Arnsten AF. Through the looking glass: differential noradrenergic modulation of prefrontal cortical function. Neural Plast. 2000;7:133–46. [PubMed]
  • Ciani KD, Sheldon KM. (2010) A versus F: the effects of implicit letter priming on cognitive performance. Br J Educ Psychol. Mar;80(Pt 1):99-119.
  • Fulkerson, F. E.; and G. Martin. 1981. Effects of exam frequency on student performance, evaluations of instructor, and test anxiety. Teaching of Psychology; April, 8(2): 90-93.
  • Krebs DL, Parent MB. (2005) The enhancing effects of hippocampal infusions of glucose are not restricted to spatial working memory. Neurobiol Learn Mem. Mar;83(2):168-72.
  • Luciana, M., Collins, PF and RA Depue (1998) Opposing roles for dopamine and serotonin in the modulation of human spatial working memory function Cerebral Cortex Volume 8, Number 3, Pp. 218-226.
  • Schwabe, L, Wolf OT. (2009) The context counts: congruent learning and testing environments prevent memory retrieval impairment following stress. Cogn Affect Behav Neurosci. Sep;9(3):229-36.
  • Ramirez G, Beilock, SL. Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom. Science. 2011 Jan 14;331(6014):211-3.




Mr. X Corporate Magician Facebook Page

30 03 2012

Bob Bishop has been busy with magic shows for conventions and corporations.  Take a look and you will see him at the Edufest Gifted conference in Idaho, the Council for Exceptional Children conference, the Festival of Trees and World Special Olympics fundraiser banquet.

http://www.facebook.com/MrXCorporateMagician

If you are a meeting or event planner and need an illusionist or close-up magician for your conference, awards dinner or party, Mr. X is your best choice! Bob Bishop is a motivational speaker, magician, amusionist and educator. Thousands of audiences and groups have experienced the creative magic of Bob. He has performed in New Jersey, Detroit, Pasadena, Taiwan and Idaho. You may have seen him p…erforming in many restaurants in Boise, at the 2009, 2010 and 2011 Idaho’s Festival of Trees and Breakfast with Santa, or performing with Henry Winkler at the World Special Olympics fund raiser banquet.
“Bob’s performance served to bring the conference to a fun climax because the audience saw the speakers having fun; their topics highlighted and were amazed at the illusions and roaring with laughter at the humor.”
Contact him for availability for your next function.

http://www.facebook.com/MrXCorporateMagician

www.odysseylearningadventures.com

 





More Fun with Shakespeare! (Sillyquies)

5 03 2012

To run, or not to run   by   Billy F.

To run,or not to run: that is the question,

Whether’tis colder in the feet to suffer

Theice and snow of my yard

Or totake steps against the cold of my yard

And byopposing end it? To run: to fall

Nomore and, by a fall to say, we end

Thecold and the thousand natural cuts

Thatfeet are heir to ’tis a consummation

Devoutlyto be wish’d to walk, to fall

To layperchance to cold, ay there’s the problem

For inthe fall of death what toe fungus might infect?

Whenwe have shuffled off these cold feet

Must we give pause? To ice

For who would bear the cold and ice of my yard

The oppresses fall and the runners win

To solve or not to solve by  Madison

To solve or not to solve: that is the question

whether ’tis nobler to do the right mathematics

or the slings and arrows of logic and reasoning

or to take the arms of algebra or calculus

and by opposing solve the?

To solve, to determine, to determine; and by determine we end

the confusion is heir to, ’tis a consummation

devoutly to be wished.

To solve, to determine, to determine: pechance a drean to buy a mathematics book:

ay, there’s the answer

Soliloquy by Zack M.

To learn, or not to learn: that is the question,

Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer,

The slings and arrows of outrageous urges to slack,

Or to take arms against a sea of challenges,

And by opposing, end them? To learn: to slack,

No more; and, by concentrating to say: we end,

The heart-ache and the thousand natural challenges,

That mind is heir to, a consummation,

Devoutly to be wish’d. To learn: to slack,

To slack: a chance to sleep,

For in that sleep what dreams may come,

When we have shuffled all this mortal slacking.

Soliloquy by Wylie H.

To pull or not to pull

To pull or not to pull, that is the question:

Whether ‘tis better for us  to  pull

The lever of the tractor beam

Or to grab one amongst a sea of cows

And by grabbing pull it to the saucer;

No more; for, the cow may be hurt

By the tugging of the hand and the thousand natural shakes

That hands are heir to, ‘tis a happy cow

Devoutly to be wished. To pull, to strain;

To strain, perchance to injure: ay there’s a question;

For in the pain of strain why not use the tractor beam?

To Take a Cookie or not to Take a Cookie  by Sebastian D.

To take a cookie or not to take a cookie: that is the question

Whether‘tis nobler in the mouth to suffer

The wrath of disgraceful parents,

Or beararms against the wrath of trouble

And byhiding end it? To get a beating, to cry;

No more;and by a beating, we mean an end

The stomachache and the thousand angry yells

That earsare heir to, ‘tis consumption

Devoutly to eat. To ache, to eat;

To eat: perchanced to munch: ay, there’s the chocolate chip

For in that stomach ache of death, dreams may come

 To Breathe, or Not to Breathe  by  V. Miller

To Breathe or Not to Breathe: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler of the mind to suffer

oxygen deprivation from the lungs,

Or to take arms against cigarette smoke,

And by opposing, end it? To breathe: to be free;

No more; and, by a held breath, to say we end

The lung-ache and the thousand unnatural products

That cigarettes comprise, ‘tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d. To breathe, to be free;

To be free: perchance to dream: aye, there’s the stench

For in the freedom of breathing, what cancers may come

When we have taken the breath,

Must give us pause. There’s the respect

That shortens our life.

Lilje’s Soliloquy  by  Lily B.

Tochange font, or not to change font: that is the question:

Whether‘tis nobler to stay to Times New Roman

Tobrave the typos and glitches of outrageous boredom,

Orto take arms against the sea of requirements,

Andby opposing such, end such? To not type, to write;

Nomore; and by not typing to say we end

The finger-acheand the million natural sores

Thatknuckles are heir to, ‘tis a final word

Sincerelyto be typed. To not type, to write;

Tonot type, and if to find another cure to boredom, ay, there’s the trouble;

Forin not typing what new remedies may come

Whenwe have started to write by hand,

Mustgive our hands rest. Respect thy hands

Thatmakes chaos in a long essay.

A Hamlet Parody  by  Lindsey H.

To write, or not to write: that is the question:

Whether‘tis nobler in the pen to suffer

Thepain of writing to your grandmother,

Orto battle the potent pen on paper,

Andby opposing end it? To scribble: to scrawl;

Nomore; and, by a scrawl to say we careless

Theagonizing torture and the thousand penetrating nags

That afflict us, ‘tis a culmination

Sincerely to be dreamt. To scribble, to scrawl;

To scrawl: conceivably to vividness: ay, there’s the blankness;

Forin that moment of torture what bedtimes may arise

When we have drained out this dreaded ink

Musterupt in triumph. There’s the respect

 

Messy Room Soliloquy    by  Ryan Q.

To clean or not to clean: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis wiser in the mind to tire the toil and boredom of pointless boredom,

Or to not clean the mess in the room,

And by ignoring the mess, leave it?

To play: to ignore; not clean;

And by ignoring the mess we end the toil and thousand scattered objects that I’m meant to clean,

‘Tis a required task to do.

To play, to ignore; to ignore: perchance to play:

Ah, there’s the problem; for when we have ignored this messy room,

We have time to play,

But I’ll clean the room anyway

 





Humor with Shakespeare

2 03 2012

This week I asked my students to create a parody of Hamlet’s fourth soliloquy.

Here is the original…

To be, or not to be

To be, or not to be: that is the question:
Whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them? To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come

Have fun reading these great humorous renditions of Shakespeare……………

To Pick or Not to Pick Soliloquy

by Ciera J.

To pick, or not to pick: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the nose to bleed

From the edge and thickness of the human finger

Or take arms against a nose full of mucus

And by using a tissue, end it? To mine for gold;

No more; and, by mine to say we empty

The muck and the thousand natural globs

The nose is heir to, ‘tis a constipation

Of the nose to be picked. To not to pick, to pick;

To pick: perchance to empty the nose: ay, there’s the pick;

For in that emptying of the nose what gold you may find

When we have picked this mortal snot,

Must give us jewels.

Hamlet Soliloquy

by Avery F.

To fart or not to fart; that is the question

Whether it is nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of public humiliation

Or to take arms against a sea of constipation

And by opposing end a flawless reputation? To fart, to release

No more; and, by a fart to say we end,

The abdominal pain and the thousand natural diseases

That the body is heir to.

Devoutly to be wished; to fart, to release.

Ay, there’s the rub.

For in the fart of truth what stench may escape?

When I have shuffled out this precious wind

To Cross or Not to Cross

by Evan R.

To cross or not to cross: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the body to suffer the pain of car bumpers and wheels of outrageous,burden

or to sprint across the road of troubles,

And by running end it? To run: to walk;

No more; and,by a walk to say we end,

The heartache of a thousand steel cars

That flesh is heir to. ‘tis a running

Devoutly tobe wish’d. To run: to walk;

Perchance to fall: ay, there’s the scratch

For in that walk of death what falls may come.

 To run, or not to run

by Billy F.

To run, or not to run: that is the question,

Whether ’tis colder in the feet to suffer

The ice and snow of my yard

Or to take steps against the cold of my yard

And by opposing end it? To run: to fall

No more and, by a fall to say, we end

The cold and the thousand natural cuts

That feet are heir to ’tis a consummation

Devoutly to be wish’d to walk, to fall

To lay perchance to cold, ay there’s the problem

For in the fall of death what toe fungus might infect?

When we have shuffled off these cold feet

Must we give pause? To ice

For who would bear the cold and ice of my yard

The oppresses fall and the runners win

To Move Or Not To Move

by Sophia W.

To move or not to move: that is the question:

Whether ‘tis better for the light to leave

The warmth and coziness of blanketed beds,

Or to take arms against the shining lights,

And by turning them off? To move: to freeze;

No warmth; and, by a light to say we end

The peaceful night and the thousand naturaldreams

That sleep is heir to, ‘tis a disruption

Here to be turned off. To move, to freeze;

To freeze: wake in a day: ay, there’s the rub;

For in that awakening of light, what day may come

To Text, or Not To Text

By Kaleb P.

To text, or not to text, that is the question:

Whether ‘tis nobler in the school to suffer

The yelling at you of the teacher for not,

Or to take arms against the sea of zeros,

And by opposing end them? To text, to fail;

Much more, and by a text we do fail;

Receive and loathe the thousand natural F’s

That mind is heir to, ‘tis a horrible halt

Gladly to be thought of,

To text, surely fail; Oh, there’s the F.

For in that text of dumb,

What words may come!

ToLick, or Not to Lick?

Tristan M.

To lick, or not to lick: thatis the question,

Whether ‘tis nastier on the tongue to lick

The floors and walls of your mother’s bathroom,

Or to take arms against the sea of bacteria,

And thus by disinfecting, end them? To die: to taste;

Mouth wash; and by a taste to say we enjoyed

The stomach-ache and the thousand natural tastes

That the tongue is heir to,‘tis a consumation

Devoutly to be eaten. To die,to taste;

To taste perchance to lick: ay,there’s the rum;

For in that taste of death what gags may come

When we have wiped off this nasty slime,

Must give us a taste. There’sthe respite

That makes regurgitation of solong bile;

For who would bear the licks and tastes of time,

The licker’s wrong, the vile man’sconsumly,

The pangs of stomach ulcers,the licks delay,

The sauce of office, and the spurns

That patient volatile of disgusting takes,

When he himself might his gorge take

With a solitary bottle? Who would hurdles tear,

To grunt and sweat under a tremendous burden,

But that the taste of bile after disgorge,

The despised tongue from whose born

No traveler enjoys, tastes at will,

And makes us bear those spills we have

Than fly to utters that we know not of?

Thus contents make sissies of us all;

And thus the native hug of germs revolution

Is sickened o’er the pale cast of soap,

And enterprises of great pitchand throw up

With this retard his effortsturn awry,

And lose the face of election.Coughed you now!

My fair Toothbrush! Nymph, in thy scrubbing

Be all my toothache sremembered.





Developing Good Study Habits Really Works

28 02 2012

      Effective study habits really do work.

Published on February 27, 2012 by Art Markman, Ph.D. in Ulterior Motives
Knowledge is the essence of smart thinking. No matter how much raw intelligenceyou have, you are not going to succeed at solving complex problems without knowing a lot. That’s why we spend the first 20 (or more) years of our lives in school.

Robert Bjork and fellow PT blogger Nate Kornell have explored some of the study habits of college students in a 2007 paper in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review. Research on memory provides a number of important suggestions about the most effective ways to study. One of the most important tips is that students should study by testing themselves rather than just reading over the material. It is also important to study over a period of days rather waiting until the last minute to study. Kornell and Bjork’s studies suggest that only about 2/3 of college students routinely quiz themselves, and a majority of students study only one time for upcoming exams.

 Of course, guidelines from memory research come from studies in idealized circumstances.  Researchers bring participants (many of whom are college students) into a lab and ask them to learn material. Perhaps the recommendations drawn from these studies are not that helpful for real students dealing with real courses.

To address this question, Marissa Hartwig and John Dunlosky related the study habits of college students to their grade point average (GPA) in a 2012 paper in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review.  They asked students about a number of study behaviors. They also had students report their current GPA.

The students with the highest GPA were more likely to study by testing themselves than the students with lower GPAs. What is the most effective way to test yourself, though? It turns out that most students report using flashcards, and the use of flashcards does not predict a student’s grades. However, flash cards usually allow people to learn basic aspects of a domain like key vocabulary. Really understanding something new requires practice with explaining it. So, self-testing needs to involve deeper questions than the ones that are usually written on flash cards.

All college students tend to focus their study on upcoming assignments. That is no surprise, because college is a busy time. The most successful students, though, also schedule time to study for classes even before the exam is coming up. The students who make a schedule and stick with it tend to get better grades than those who just work on whatever is coming up.

Finally, the time of day that students study also matters. College students are notorious night owls. Indeed, few students reported studying in the morning, or even in the afternoon.  Most students study in the evening and late at night. One of the interesting results of this research, though, is that the students who study late at night tend to get worse grades than those who study in the evening.

It is always nice when studies of real-world behavior mesh with recommendations from basic research. In the case of studying, though, it seems particularly important to ensure that basic research influences behavior. People invest several years and thousands of dollars in a college education. That education has an enormous effect on their future productivity. Cognitive science can ensure that students maximize the value of that experience.





Articulate: Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision

1 02 2012

“A word to the wise is not sufficient if it doesn’t make sense”
James Thurber

“The limits of my language are the limits of my mind. All I know is what I have words for.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

“The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and lightning bug.”
Mark Twain

“We sometimes get all the information, but we refuse to get the message.”
Cullen Hightower

“All my life I wanted to be somebody. But I see now I should have been more specific.”
Jane Wagner

“True eloquence consists of saying all that should be said, and that only.”
Francois de La Rochefoucald

“To communicate, put your words in order; give them a purpose; use them to persuade, to instruct, to discover, to seduce.”
William Safire

. . . everything that can be said can be said clearly.”
Ludwig Wittgenstein

“Be careful of your thoughts; they may become words at any moment.”
Ira Gassen

“It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it

 and resolve all doubt.”
Abraham Lincoln

“The words you choose to say something are just as important as the decision to speak.”
Anonymous

“If you just communicate you can get by. But if you skillfully communicate, you can work miracles.”
Jim Rohn, Speaker and Author

“Wise men talk because they have something to say, fools talk because they have to say something.”
Plato

“Before speaking, consider the interpretation of your words as well as their intent.”
Andrew Alden





The Importance of Passion by Sophia Wieber 6 Grade

24 01 2012

“Once you do something you love, you never have work again,” Willie Hill. Your passion is not a burden or any work. It is something you choose to do because you want to, not because of a manacle disallowing you to follow your dream. A boy in high school can choose a class he has a passion for. He will be rapt, attentive and have dexterity of the subject. When he has a job, it would not be work because it is his passion. It will be manifest that he chose a career because he loved it, not because it was easy. He will work efficiently like a child playing a favorite game, because to him, this is the climax to the game of life. If you have a passion, you will succeed in that part of life.





How do I find my passion? by Ryan Q 5th grade

24 01 2012

To find my passion, I experiment and take observations. Experimenting with different subjects is a common practice I do, and I take mental notes and observe anything that could lead to my passion. One little detail that slips past an eye, one little slip, could lose the most intriguing passion I have ever known. I always have my eyes open, my ears listening, and even my nose smelling to catch a passion. These powerful senses are ready to catch those tiny slips, for one missed word on a sign could lose a passion.

I observe to see if something is missing in my life, or if one subject is to empty, or bland. I always finish signs I read the best I can, to discover a possible passion. A passion is influential on a person’s life, and I always am trying to find the most influential one, the one that speaks loudest to me. “Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart to give yourself to it,” Buddha.





How Have I Practiced Resilience in a gifted class? Nate Lanza 5th grade

24 01 2012

Resilience is a great trait to have. If you can bounce back, life will be like an eternal trampoline, so when you fall off the high wire, you will simply bounce back. Early in life, you will fail commonly. However, this can be good. Failing builds resilience. The more you fail, the more resilience you will have. When I first came into a full-time GATE classroom, I started too fail miserably. But I learned from my mistakes.Now, I am getting high grades, all due to resilience. I constructed mytrampoline.

Some people use the material provided by failure to build a concrete landing area instead of a trampoline. Some people act perfectionist,fearing failure so much that they don’t try new things. They walk onto the highwire with all the support they can get, intent on not falling at all. However, ifthey let their support do all the work, they will eventually fall, withcatastrophic results. You need resilience. When I fail, I use it to build my trampoline, an example I hope other people follow.





How do I find my passion? Nate Lanza 5th grade

24 01 2012

Finding a true passion is a very difficult task. It’s like trying to steer a massive airplane through a zero visibility storm during a meteor shower. At the start of life, you have no idea what you like, in the way a storm can provide zero visibility. The meteors are the challenges of life, hurling at you as you search for your passion. “I wonder. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.”-Richard Feynman. There are many unanswered things out there that you can wonder about. Wondering leads to passion, for at the heart of passion is wonder. That is how I find mypassion.





How Do I Find My Passion? by Lily Brucker 6th grade

24 01 2012

There are many methods of problem solving, but among these is trial and error. Usually brushed aside by less time consuming methods, this can actually be helpful in life. When finding a passion, trial and error is probably more effective than any other mathematical method. Trying many activities, looking up numerous occupations, shines a flashlight in the cave of possibilities. And with that flashlight we find the vein of gold embedded in rock, our passion, waiting to be mined out.





How Would Life be if I had a Passion? By Venec Miller

23 01 2012

Once, there was a boy,

One who wanted a dream.

He tried sports, he tried music,

But then he rode a train.

 Oh the fun they were!

The ones who said, “choo! choo!”

The ones who saved him from the cold,

 That made his lips turn blue.

He knew they were his dream,

He knew they were his life.

He was awed at their beauty,

They could never cause him strife!

He said to himself, years later,

Memory causing him pain,

Three words that described his life:

I Like Trains!

The trains are a metaphor,

Of all that I may like,

Out of all the grand things I can be in life!





Opening Wings by Lindsay Habig 5th grade

23 01 2012

If one was to understand by creating, they would be the smartest person in the universe. They could read words that had never been written. They could sculpt the impossible and believe in the far away lands. They could climb the highest mountain or dive into the deepest sea. If only memorization would be thrown to the mice and grouse that lived in the damp ally. Then, everybody could be this person. Every soul in the world has grown wings, but many souls don’t know how to fly. This person does. Forget the memorizing and reciting. It strips away the questions of the minds and allows blankness to take its place. Many people fall into this trap, but the talented ones, the ones who realize the use of their wings, they are able to fly out. No matter the profession, everyone still has wings, slowly unfolding, just waiting to fly.





The Magnificent Black Widow by Lindsey Habig 5th grade

23 01 2012

“A deadly spider,” as some would say,

But their stunning orb webs blow your mind away!

The female, a black venomous spider indeed,

However the tan males are in lack of that need.

Upon the female abdomen you’d acquire a surprise,

As a colorful hourglass would meet your eyes!

A combined eight types of silk would definitely appeal,

But only the stretchy one will catch the best meal.

The female alone would dine at this feast,

For just after mating, she swallows the fatherly beast!

Latroxin is injected through a powerful bite,

Although with medical care, everything is all right.

This magnificent spider doesn’t need your gracious affair,

It can fend for itself in the cool night air.





The Importance of Passion by Billy Feehan 6th grade

23 01 2012

Life is like climbing a mountain or walking across a plain.

With no passion it’s dull and boring but passion adds motion to the still photo of life.

Climbing a mountain is amazing with the view,

walking across a plain is amazing with the vast sky and the endless stars.

Nothing great the world has been accomplished with out passion.

Be passionate about what you do and enjoy doing it





Brain-Based Praise that Motivates

17 01 2012

In schools, self-esteem boosting is losing favor to rigor, finer-tuned praise

Washington Post

By , Published: January 15

For decades, the prevailing wisdom in education was that high self-esteem would lead to high achievement. The theory led to an avalanche of daily affirmations, awards ceremonies and attendance certificates — but few, if any, academic gains.

Now, an increasing number of teachers are weaning themselves from what some call empty praise. Drawing on psychology and brain research, these educators aim to articulate a more precise, and scientific, vocabulary for praise that will push children to work through mistakes and take on more challenging assignments. Consider teacher Shar Hellie’s new approach in Montgomery County.

To get students through the shaky first steps of Spanish grammar, Hellie spent many years trying to boost their confidence. If someone couldn’t answer a question easily, she would coach him, whisper the first few words, then follow up with a booming “¡Muy bien!”

But on a January morning at Rocky Hill Middle School in Clarksburg, the smiling grandmother gave nothing away. One seventh-grade boy returned to the overhead projector three times to rewrite a sentence, hesitating each time, while his classmates squirmed in silence.

“You like that?” Hellie asked when he settled on an answer. He nodded. Finally, she beamed and praised the progress he was making — in his cerebral cortex.

“You have a whole different set of neurons popping up there!” she told him.

A growing body of research over three decades shows that easy, unearned praise does not help students but instead interferes with significant learning opportunities. As schools ratchet up academic standards for all students, new buzzwords are “persistence,” “risk-taking” and “resilience” — each implying more sweat and strain than fuzzy, warm feelings.

“We used to think we could hand children self-esteem on a platter,” Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck said. “That has backfired.”

Dweck’s studies, embraced in Montgomery schools and elsewhere, have found that praising children for intelligence — “You’re so clever!” — also backfires. In study after study, children rewarded for being smart become more likely to shy away from hard assignments that might tarnish their star reputations.

But children praised for trying hard or taking risks tend to enjoy challenges and find greater success. Children also perform better in the long term when they believe that their intellect is not a birthright but something that grows and develops as they learn new things.

Brain imaging shows how this is true, how connections between nerve cells in the cortex multiply and grow stronger as people learn and practice new skills. This bit of science has proved to be motivating to struggling students because it gives them a sense of control over their success.

It’s also helpful for students on an accelerated track, the ones often told how “smart” they are, who are vulnerable to coasting or easily frustrated when they don’t succeed.

That’s how teachers at Rocky Hill Middle started talking about “neuroplasticity” and “dendritic branching” during training sessions. They also started the school year by giving all 1,100 students a mini-course in brain development.

“This is the most important thing you are going to learn this year,” Hellie said she told her students before playing a YouTube video that explains how brains grow. “It has to do with the way you are going to live the rest of your life — whether you will continue to learn, be curious, have an active, growing brain or whether you are going to sit and let things happen to you.”

An online curriculum called Brainology developed by Dweck and another researcher in 2009 has been used in 300 schools. Joshua P. Starr, the new Montgomery schools superintendent, selected Dweck’s book, “Mindset,” for the inaugural session of a book club he created to introduce his education philosophy.

Dweck’s work builds on other research about motivation and the malleability of intelligence that has stirred significant changes in curriculum, teacher training and gifted instruction in many school districts.

In Fairfax County, for example, students are no longer labeled “gifted” but considered on a spectrum of “novice” to “expert” in each subject — the kind of language that is seeping into teacher praise, said Carol Horn, coordinator of advanced academic programs for Fairfax schools.

Education experts have long warned about the dark side of praise.

Alfie Kohn, author of the book “Punished by Rewards,” has said most praise, even for effort, encourages children to be “praise junkies” dependent on outside feedback rather than cultivating their own judgment and motivation to learn.

Michelle A. Rhee, the former D.C. schools chancellor, often recounts a story about how her daughters’ many soccer trophies are warping their sense of their athletic abilities. Her daughters “suck at soccer,” she said in a radio interview for Marketplace last January.

“We’ve become so obsessed with making kids feel good about themselves that we’ve lost sight of building the skills they need to actually be good at things,” Rhee said.

Underlying the praise backlash is a hard seed of anxiety — a sense that American students are not working hard enough to compete with students from overseas for future jobs.

In an oft-cited 2006 study by the Brown Center on Education Policy at the Brookings Institution, U.S. eighth-graders had only a middling performance on an international math exam, but they registered high levels of confidence. They were more likely than higher performing students from other countries, such as Singapore and South Korea, to report that they “usually do well in mathematics.”

Praise should be relevant to objective standards, said Chester E. Finn Jr., president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, an education think tank. Whether it’s given to make children feel good or because “at least they tried,” it’s not helpful if students are still “50 yards from proficient,” he said.

“Winning or losing also matters in the real world,” Finn said. “You either beat the enemy or you don’t. You either get the gold medal or you get the silver.”

Dweck said it is important to be clear with children about what proficient or gold-medal performance looks like so they know what to strive for. (Unhelpful: “You were robbed! Those judges must be blind!”)

But she stresses the importance of using praise to encourage risk-taking and learning from failure in the classroom, experiences that make way for invention, creativity and resilience.

“Does the teacher say: ‘Who’s having a fantastic struggle? Show me your struggle.’ That is something that should be rewarded,” she said. “Does the teacher make it clear that the fastest answer isn’t always the best answer? [That] a mistake-free paper isn’t always the best paper?”

Changing the language of praise can be difficult for adults who grew up thinking that an “A for effort” was a consolation prize.

During his book club, Starr recounted how his 3-year-old son recently discovered that the word “brown” starts with B.

“My wife says, ‘You are so smart,’ ” he recalled. When he discouraged her from praising his intelligence, Starr said, “she looked at me like I was crazy.”

Typically, young children don’t second-guess praise. But teenagers understand when feedback is useful and authentic. “Great job!” doesn’t tell them what was great about what they did, experts say.

“They know that everything they do isn’t ‘Magnificent!’ ” Hellie said.

And so her class is becoming accustomed to awkward silence.

The same January morning, another seventh-grade boy struggled to figure out what was wrong with this sentence: Un chico soy inteligente.

One classmate started to answer, but Hellie stopped her. Another classmate volunteered, in newly acquired vocabulary, why the boy needed to persist on his own. “He’s trying to connect pathways in his brain or whatever,” she said.

Finally, the boy understood.

“Soy un chico inteligente,” he said.

“What does it mean?” the teacher asked.

“I am an intelligent boy?”

The class broke into applause.

 





Free at Last (Reflections on Martin Luther King) by Venec Miller 6th grade

16 01 2012

“Free at last, Free at last!”

Martin Luther King Junior’s words rang out like a song jay, echoing through people’s minds, Negros and whites alike, for many years after. They rang like steel on steel, a battle call. They had the poetic flow of Poe, Frost, and many others. They showed the complexity of a wise old man, and the youthful enthusiasm of a young man living his passion.

King pointed out the harsh heat of hatred in Birmingham, Alabama, and Detroit. At the same time, however, he sowed and watered the seeds of the United States of America, the real one, not just the U.S.A. He filled the citizens with hope, and shook a stable social system from its nice concrete casing. He riveted not only the United States, but also the whole world.

These words gave thousands, millions, even billions of people hope. These words permanently changed the history of the world. These words make up one of the most influential speeches of the world.





A Musical Blessing for Teachers

5 01 2012

May you always strike a major chord with your students and the teachers in your life.

May your teaching orchestrate the lives of others and set the tone to sharpen the love of learning.

May you be the key for adding a crescendo to learning and motivation to your students.

May you never miss a beat!

May your lessons never fall flat!

May you make a noteworthy mark in the lives of your students.

May you cause many musical moments in the lives of everyone you meet!

“Music is a language that kindles the human spirit, sharpens the mind, fuels the body and fills the heart.” (Eric Jensen).

Bob Bishop





Myths and Truths about Gifted Children

5 01 2012

Myths about gifted children

  • Gifted students are a homogeneous group, all high achievers.
  • Gifted students do not need help. If they are really gifted, they can manage on their own.
  • Gifted students have fewer problems than others because their intelligence and abilities somehow exempt them from the hassles of daily life.
  • The future of a gifted student is assured: a world of opportunities lies before the student.
  • Gifted students are self-directed; they know where they are heading.
  • The social and emotional development of the gifted student is at the same level as his or her intellectual development.
  • Gifted students are nerds and social isolates.
  • The primary value of the gifted student lies in his or her brain power.
  • The gifted student’s family always prizes his or her abilities.
  • Gifted students need to serve as examples to others and they should always assume extra responsibility.
  • Gifted students make everyone else smarter.
  • Gifted students can accomplish anything they put their minds to. All they have to do is apply themselves.
  • Gifted students are naturally creative and do not need encouragement.

Gifted children are easy to raise and a welcome addition to any classroom.

 

Truths about gifted children

  • Gifted students are often perfectionistic and idealistic. They may equate achievement and grades with self-esteem and self-worth, which sometimes leads to fear of failure and interferes with achievement.
  • Gifted students may experience heightened sensitivity to their own expectations and those of others, resulting in guilt over achievements or grades perceived to be low.
  • Gifted students are asynchronous. Their chronological age, social, physical, emotional, and intellectual development may all be at different levels. For example, a 5-year-old may be able to read and comprehend a third-grade book but may not be able to write legibly.
  • Some gifted children are “mappers” (sequential learners), while others are “leapers” (spatial learners). Leapers may not know how they got a “right answer.” Mappers may get lost in the steps leading to the right answer.
  • Gifted students may be so far ahead of their chronological age mates that they know more than half the curriculum before the school year begins! Their boredom can result in low achievement and grades.
  • Gifted children are problem solvers. They benefit from working on open-ended, interdisciplinary problems; for example, how to solve a shortage of community resources. Gifted students often refuse to work for grades alone.
  • Gifted students often think abstractly and with such complexity that they may need help with concrete study- and test-taking skills. They may not be able to select one answer in a multiple choice question because they see how all the answers might be correct.
  • Gifted students who do well in school may define success as getting an “A” and failure as any grade less than an “A.” By early adolescence they may be unwilling to try anything where they are not certain of guaranteed success.

Adapted from College Planning for Gifted Students, 2nd edition, by Sandra Berger.





Quotes to Motivate: Passionate-Ignite Your Enthusiasm

3 01 2012

The most beautiful experience in the world is the experience of the mysterious. He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed.”                                              Albert Einstein

“Practice being excited.”
Bill Foster

“Nothing great in the world has been accomplished without passion.”
George Hegel

“Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.”                                Buddha

“I would rather live in a world where my life is surrounded by mystery than live in a world so small that my mind could comprehend it.”
Harry Emerson Fosdick

“You only lose energy when life becomes dull in your mind. Your mind gets bored and therefore tired of doing nothing . . . . Get interested in something! Get absolutely enthralled in something! Get out of yourself! Be somebody! Do something . . The more you lose yourself in something bigger than yourself, the more energy you will have.”
Norman Vincent Peale

“People do their best work when they are passionately engaged in what they are  doing”                                                                                Erie S. Raymond

“There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment.”
Norman Vincent Peale

“Wonder rather than doubt is the root of knowledge.”
Abraham Joshua Heschel

“Once you do something you love, you never have to work again.”
Willie Hill, student

“Follow your bliss. Find where it is and don’t be afraid to follow it.”
Joseph Campbell

“All thinking begins with wondering”
Socrates

“I would sooner live in a cottage and wonder at everything than live in a castle and wonder at nothing!”                                                                                                                                                Joan Winmill Brown

“We should be taught not to wait for inspiration to start a thing. Action always generates inspiration. Inspiration seldom generates action.”
Frank Tibolt, Author

“I want to be excited, thrilled, and ecstatic about all sorts of things as long as I live.”
Win Couchman, Writer and Speaker

“One thing life has taught me: If you are interested, you never have to look for new interests. They come to you. When you are genuinely interested in one thing, it will always lead to something else.”
Eleanor Roosevelt

“Wonder is what sets us apart from other life forms. No other species wonders about the meaning of existence or the complexity of the universe or themselves.”
Herbert W. Boyer

I think that nothing awakens us to the reality of life so much as a true passion.                                                  Vincent Van Gogh

I wonder. I wonder why I wonder. I wonder why I wonder why I wonder.                                                     Richard Feynman





It’s about Time (Creativity for 2012)

1 01 2012

It’s about Time

by Robert Bishop (based on an idea by Joel Barker)

Here is a story for those who have more than a passing interest in time.

About 400 years ago there was a battle over time.  You see, it was around the 1600′s when the first pocket watch was introduced.  Now people had time on their hands. But there were many who thought clocks were meant to be in towers, not in trousers. Perhaps it was because the first model was the size and shape of a lemon.  For the stylish gentleman this meant the convenience of knowing the precise time but did create a rather unsightly bulge in his trousers.

As time passed, it became the fashion to spend time designing thinner watches.  Watch designers worked around the clock and even put in overtime in this race against time to create the thinnest watch.  By the 1700′s the French and British compressed the timepiece to 1 ½ inches thick. One hundred years later they squeezed the mechanism to ¾ of an inch.  By 1850 manufacturers bottomed out at ¾ of an inch.  You could say they were pressed for time.  Surprisingly this is still the thickness of most watches today.

As thinness reached its limit, the watch industry started to rotate the crank turning the gears of price and performance; lower price, more accuracy, lower price, more accuracy.  But, like clockwork, a new battle was about to begin.  It was only a matter of time when the pendulum would swing to a new battlefront.

Allow me to explain. Before WWII the Swiss owned 90% of the watch market.  And even up to 1968 they still enveloped most of the world market share.  But time was running out for the Swiss. In ten years their corner on the market plummeted to almost nothing and they even had to release most of their workers.  This was the original time release formula of downsizing.  What happened?  What time bomb hit the Swiss?  They themselves were enveloped and wrapped up in their old way of thinking. You might say that they were stitched in time.

A new nation soon dominated the watch making industry.  In the past this nation was unknown for watches.  But now Japan led the watch industry.  How could the Swiss,who controlled watch making for the entire 20th century, known for excellence and innovation, experience such a timely demise?  Were they just killing time?  What was the key to the failure of the Swiss and the success of Japan?

The answer was profoundly simple.  The Swiss were put back to ground zero by a paradigm shift — a paradigm gear shift. Many of you are wearing this paradigm shift on your wrist right now if you took time to put them on.  The quartz movement watch is totally electronic using only one moving part. It is one thousand times more accurate, more versatile and even thinner than the mechanical watch.

Who made time to invent this wonderful idea of using Quartz crystals for time keeping? Some of you already know the answer. The Quartz crystal watch was invented by the Swiss themselves in Neuchatel at their research laboratories. But when the researchers presented this idea to their manufacturers they were closed to the idea.  Their minds were locked. How did the              engineers feel about this rejection?

I bet it really ticked them off.

I bet they really wanted to clean their clock.

They may have heard the manufacturers say these timeless killer phrases:

“It doesn’t have any gears to mesh with what we havealways done,”

“We don’t have time for this,”

“This won’t wind up anywhere,”

“What a waste of time,”

“It just doesn’t tick.”

So confident were they, so locked in their mental box– in their “parabox.” They didn’t protect their idea.

They were not watching out for the possible time change.

They must have been “half past” out.

Texas instruments of America and Seiko of Japan took one look and the rest was history.

You see, they made the time.

For them it was good time management, perfect timing.

Time was definitely on their side.

They were having the time of their lives.

They were on a Roll……ex.

But for the Swiss . . . they had no time share in this.

And now they were living on borrowed time.

Things were winding down.

Soon their time would be up.

Yes, they were out of time.

They couldn’t beat the clock.

They took a licking, and kept on ticking.

They virtually disappeared from the marketplace.  They were locked in their old way of thinking — in a box, in a time capsule.  They refused to set their clocks to one of the biggest changes in the history of timekeeping. They were trying to make time stand still.  But you can’t turn back the clock when times change.  The rules had changed.  Not even the best watchmakers of the world could stop time.  They couldn’t call time out to progress.

There is a message here for all of us for all time that will help us remember the moral of this timely parable . . . that will help us be more clockwise. Don’t let old timeworn paradigms imprison your ideas in a box like serving time in a prison cage!! We need to break through the walls to create new ideas and not be behind the times. Only then can we spring open the doors to the future and get outside of the paradigm box!!!





What have you learned??

1 01 2012

Dear parents and teachers,

As we reflect on 2011 and look ahead to 2012, let’s consider if we are instilling a desire in our students a desire for life-long learning.  It was Garrison Keillor who said “Nothing you do for childern is ever wasted.  They seem not to notice us, hovering, averting our eyes, and they seldom offer thanks, but what we do for them is never wasted.”  Here is something to reflect on in these opening days of 2012.

Please add what you have learned last year…………………….

I’ve Learned………….

I’ve learned that no matter what happens, or how bad it seems today, life does go on, and it will be better tomorrow.

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, & tangled Christmas tree lights.

I’ve learned that regardless of your relationship with your parents, you’ll miss them when they’re gone from your life.

I’ve learned that making a “living” is not the same thing as making a “life.”

I’ve learned that life sometimes gives you a second chance.

I’ve learned that you shouldn’t go through life with a catcher’s mitt on both hands. You need to be able to throw something back.

I’ve learned that if you pursue happiness, it will elude you. But if you focus on your family, your friends, the needs of others,

your work and doing the very best you can, happiness will find you.

I’ve learned that whenever I decide something with an open heart, I usually make the right decision.

I’ve learned that even when I have pains, I don’t have to be one.

I’ve learned that every day you should reach out and touch someone. People love that human touch – holding hands, a warm hug, or

just a friendly pat on the back.

I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.

Please add what you have learned last year…………………….





The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

24 12 2011

Scientific American Mind - November 28, 2007

Hint: Don’t tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on effort—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life

By Carol S. Dweck

A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son’s confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.

Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 30 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.

The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.

Praising children’s innate abilities, as Jonathan’s parents did, reinforces this mind-set, which can also prevent young athletes or people in the workforce and even marriages from living up to their potential. On the other hand, our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on effort rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.

The Opportunity of Defeat
I first began to investigate the underpinnings of human motivation—and how people persevere after setbacks—as a psychology graduate student at Yale University in the 1960s. Animal experiments by psychologists Martin Seligman, Steven Maier and Richard Solomon of the University of Pennsylvania had shown that after repeated failures, most animals conclude that a situation is hopeless and beyond their control. After such an experience, the researchers found, an animal often remains passive even when it can affect change—a state they called learned helplessness.

People can learn to be helpless, too, but not everyone reacts to setbacks this way. I wondered: Why do some students give up when they encounter difficulty, whereas others who are no more skilled continue to strive and learn? One answer, I soon discovered, lay in people’s beliefs about why they had failed.

In particular, attributing poor performance to a lack of ability depresses motivation more than does the belief that lack of effort is to blame. In 1972, when I taught a group of elementary and middle school children who displayed helpless behavior in school that a lack of effort (rather than lack of ability) led to their mistakes on math problems, the kids learned to keep trying when the problems got tough. They also solved many of the problems even in the face of difficulty. Another group of helpless children who were simply rewarded for their success on easy problems did not improve their ability to solve hard math problems. These experiments were an early indication that a focus on effort can help resolve helplessness and engender success.

Subsequent studies revealed that the most persistent students do not ruminate about their own failure much at all but instead think of mistakes as problems to be solved. At theUniversityofIllinoisin the 1970s I, along with my then graduate student Carol Diener, asked 60 fifth graders to think out loud while they solved very difficult pattern-recognition problems. Some students reacted defensively to mistakes, denigrating their skills with comments such as “I never did have a good rememory,” and their problem-solving strategies deteriorated.

Others, meanwhile, focused on fixing errors and honing their skills. One advised himself: “I should slow down and try to figure this out.” Two schoolchildren were particularly inspiring. One, in the wake of difficulty, pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips and said, “I love a challenge!” The other, also confronting the hard problems, looked up at the experimenter and approvingly declared, “I was hoping this would be informative!” Predictably, the students with this attitude outperformed their cohorts in these studies.

Two Views of Intelligence
Several years later I developed a broader theory of what separates the two general classes of learners—helpless versus mastery-oriented. I realized that these different types of students not only explain their failures differently, but they also hold different “theories” of intelligence. The helpless ones believe that intelligence is a fixed trait: you have only a certain amount, and that’s that. I call this a “fixed mind-set.” Mistakes crack their self-confidence because they attribute errors to a lack of ability, which they feel powerless to change. They avoid challenges because challenges make mistakes more likely and looking smart less so. Like Jonathan, such children shun effort in the belief that having to work hard means they are dumb.

The mastery-oriented children, on the other hand, think intelligence is malleable and can be developed through education and hard work. They want to learn above all else. After all, if you believe that you can expand your intellectual skills, you want to do just that. Because slipups stem from a lack of effort, not ability, they can be remedied by more effort. Challenges are energizing rather than intimidating; they offer opportunities to learn. Students with such a growth mind-set, we predicted, were destined for greater academic success and were quite likely to outperform their counterparts.

We validated these expectations in a study published in early 2007. Psychologists Lisa Blackwell of Columbia University and Kali H. Trzes­niewski of Stanford University and I monitored 373 students for two years during the transition to junior high school, when the work gets more difficult and the grading more stringent, to determine how their mind-sets might affect their math grades. At the beginning of seventh grade, we assessed the students’ mind-sets by asking them to agree or disagree with statements such as “Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can’t really change.” We then assessed their beliefs about other aspects of learning and looked to see what happened to their grades.

As we had predicted, the students with a growth mind-set felt that learning was a more important goal in school than getting good grades. In addition, they held hard work in high regard, believing that the more you labored at something, the better you would become at it. They understood that even geniuses have to work hard for their great accomplishments. Confronted by a setback such as a disappointing test grade, students with a growth mind-set said they would study harder or try a different strategy for mastering the material.

The students who held a fixed mind-set, however, were concerned about looking smart with little regard for learning. They had negative views of effort, believing that having to work hard at something was a sign of low ability. They thought that a person with talent or intelligence did not need to work hard to do well. Attributing a bad grade to their own lack of ability, those with a fixed mind-set said that they would study less in the future, try never to take that subject again and consider cheating on future tests.

Such divergent outlooks had a dramatic impact on performance. At the start of junior high, the math achievement test scores of the students with a growth mind-set were comparable to those of students who displayed a fixed mind-set. But as the work became more difficult, the students with a growth mind-set showed greater persistence. As a result, their math grades overtook those of the other students by the end of the first semester—and the gap between the two groups continued to widen during the two years we followed them.

Along withColumbiapsychologist Heidi Grant, I found a similar relation between mind-set and achievement in a 2003 study of 128Columbiafreshman premed students who were enrolled in a challenging general chemistry course. Although all the students cared about grades, the ones who earned the best grades were those who placed a high premium on learning rather than on showing that they were smart in chemistry. The focus on learning strategies, effort and persistence paid off for these students.

Confronting Deficiencies
A belief in fixed intelligence also makes people less willing to admit to errors or to confront and remedy their deficiencies in school, at work and in their social relationships. In a study published in 1999 of 168 freshmen entering the University of Hong Kong, where all instruction and coursework are in English, three Hong Kong colleagues and I found that students with a growth mind-set who scored poorly on their English proficiency exam were far more inclined to take a remedial English course than were low-scoring students with a fixed mind-set. The students with a stagnant view of intelligence were presumably unwilling to admit to their deficit and thus passed up the opportunity to correct it.

A fixed mind-set can similarly hamper communication and progress in the workplace by leading managers and employees to discourage or ignore constructive criticism and advice. Research by psychologists Peter Heslin and Don VandeWalle of Southern Methodist University and Gary Latham of theUniversityofTorontoshows that managers who have a fixed mind-set are less likely to seek or welcome feedback from their employees than are managers with a growth mind-set. Presumably, managers with a growth mind-set see themselves as works-in-progress and understand that they need feedback to improve, whereas bosses with a fixed mind-set are more likely to see criticism as reflecting their underlying level of competence. Assuming that other people are not capable of changing either, executives with a fixed mind-set are also less likely to mentor their underlings. But after Heslin, VandeWalle and Latham gave managers a tutorial on the value and principles of the growth mind-set, supervisors became more willing to coach their employees and gave more useful advice.

Mind-set can affect the quality and longevity of personal relationships as well, through people’s willingness—or unwillingness—to deal with difficulties. Those with a fixed mind-set are less likely than those with a growth mind-set to broach problems in their relationships and to try to solve them, according to a 2006 study I conducted with psychologist Lara Kammrath ofWilfridLaurierUniversityinOntario. After all, if you think that human personality traits are more or less fixed, relationship repair seems largely futile. Individuals who believe people can change and grow, however, are more confident that confronting concerns in their relationships will lead to resolutions.

Proper Praise
How do we transmit a growth mind-set to our children? One way is by telling stories about achievements that result from hard work. For instance, talking about math geniuses who were more or less born that way puts students in a fixed mind-set, but descriptions of great mathematicians who fell in love with math and developed amazing skills engenders a growth mind-set, our studies have shown. People also communicate mind-sets through praise. Although many, if not most, parents believe that they should build up a child by telling him  or her how brilliant and talented he or she is, our research suggests that this is misguided.

In studies involving several hundred fifth graders published in 1998, for example,Columbiapsychologist Claudia M. Mueller and I gave children questions from a nonverbal IQ test. After the first 10 problems, on which most children did fairly well, we praised them. We praised some of them for their intelligence: “Wow … that’s a really good score. You must be smart at this.” We commended others for their effort: “Wow … that’s a really good score. You must have worked really hard.”

We found that intelligence praise encouraged a fixed mind-set more often than did pats on the back for effort. Those congratulated for their intelligence, for example, shied away from a challenging assignment—they wanted an easy one instead—far more often than the kids applauded for their effort. (Most of those lauded for their hard work wanted the difficult problem set from which they would learn.) When we gave everyone hard problems anyway, those praised for being smart became discouraged, doubting their ability. And their scores, even on an easier problem set we gave them afterward, declined as compared with their previous results on equivalent problems. In contrast, students praised for their effort did not lose confidence when faced with the harder questions, and their performance improved markedly on the easier problems that followed.

Making Up Your Mind-set
In addition to encouraging a growth mind-set through praise for effort, parents and teachers can help children by providing explicit instruction regarding the mind as a learning machine. Blackwell, Trzesniewski and I recently designed an eight-session workshop for 91 students whose math grades were declining in their first year of junior high. Forty-eight of the students received instruction in study skills only, whereas the others attended a combination of study skills sessions and classes in which they learned about the growth mind-set and how to apply it to schoolwork.

In the growth mind-set classes, students read and discussed an article entitled “You Can Grow Your Brain.” They were taught that the brain is like a muscle that gets stronger with use and that learning prompts neurons in the brain to grow new connections. From such instruction, many students began to see themselves as agents of their own brain development. Students who had been disruptive or bored sat still and took note. One particularly unruly boy looked up during the discussion and said, “You mean I don’t have to be dumb?”

As the semester progressed, the math grades of the kids who learned only study skills continued to decline, whereas those of the students given the growth-mind-set training stopped falling and began to bounce back to their former levels. Despite being unaware that there were two types of instruction, teachers reported noticing significant motivational changes in 27 percent of the children in the growth mind-set workshop as compared with only 9 percent of students in the control group. One teacher wrote: “Your workshop has already had an effect. L [our unruly male student], who never puts in any extra effort and often doesn’t turn in homework on time, actually stayed up late to finish an assignment early so I could review it and give him a chance to revise it. He earned a B+. (He had been getting Cs and lower.)”

Other researchers have replicated our results. Psychologists Catherine Good, then at Columbia, and Joshua Aronson and Michael Inzlicht of New York University reported in 2003 that a growth mind-set workshop raised the math and English achievement test scores of seventh graders. In a 2002 study Aronson, Good (then a graduate student at theUniversityofTexasatAustin) and their colleagues found that college students began to enjoy their schoolwork more, value it more highly and get better grades as a result of training that fostered a growth mind-set.

We have now encapsulated such instruction in an interactive computer program called “Brain­ology,” which should be more widely available by mid-2008. Its six modules teach students about the brain—what it does and how to make it work better. In a virtual brain lab, users can click on brain regions to determine their functions or on nerve endings to see how connections form when people learn. Users can also advise virtual students with problems as a way of practicing how to handle schoolwork difficulties; additionally, users keep an online journal of their study practices.

New York Cityseventh graders who tested a pilot version of Brainology told us that the program had changed their view of learning and how to promote it. One wrote: “My favorite thing from Brainology is the neurons part where when u [sic] learn something there are connections and they keep growing. I always picture them when I’m in school.” A teacher said of the students who used the program: “They offer to practice, study, take notes, or pay attention to ensure that connections will be made.”

Teaching children such information is not just a ploy to get them to study. People do differ in intelligence, talent and ability. And yet research is converging on the conclusion that great accomplishment, and even what we call genius, is typically the result of years of passion and dedication and not something that flows naturally from a gift. Mozart, Edison, Curie, Darwin and Cézanne were not simply born with talent; they cultivated it through tremendous and sustained effort. Similarly, hard work and discipline contribute much more to school achievement than IQ does.

Such lessons apply to almost every human endeavor. For instance, many young athletes value talent more than hard work and have consequently become unteachable. Similarly, many people accomplish little in their jobs without constant praise and encouragement to maintain their motivation. If we foster a growth mind-set in our homes and schools, however, we will give our children the tools to succeed in their pursuits and to become responsible employees and citizens.

 





Love and Logic Parents not Micro-managers

24 12 2011

“The more a child’s life is micro-managed, the more susceptible he/she becomes to peer pressure.”

Some parents actually train their kids to listen to peer pressure. The process is simply a matter of teaching kids to listen to a voice outside their own heads during the early years when their brains are still operating in a very concrete way.

Granted, there are times when we must take charge and tell kids exactly what to do and when to do it. However, when this becomes a pattern it gradually convinces children that the most important voice is the one that comes from others.

Many parent lock in this belief by responding to bad decisions with, “See you should have listened to me.”

Once their brain starts to develop abstract thinking, kids say, I’m growing up.  I can think for myself.”  Sadly their brain has been trained to listen to the outside voice, and I bet you’ve already guessed where that voice is going to come from: their peers.

(Ben Carson in a commencement speech said..“But, when I got to high school, I ran into the worst thing a young person can run into. It’s called peers, negative peers. P-E-E-R-S. That stands for People who Encourage Errors, Rudeness and Stupidity.”)

So when you hear a parent say that their kid has changed now that he is a teen, you can think, “Maybe not.  He just listens to a different voice now.”

from  Parenting Teens with Love & Logic: Preparing Adolescents for Responsible Adulthood by Foster Cline and Jim Fay.





Opening Wings (a 5th grade view of creative education) by Lindsay Habig 5th grade

20 12 2011

If one was to understand by creating, they would be the smartest person in the universe.

They could read words that had never been written.

They could sculpt the impossible and believe in the far away lands.

They could climb the highest mountain or dive into the deepest sea.

If only memorization would be thrown to the mice and grouse that lived in the damp alley,then everybody could be this person. Every soul in the world has grown wings, but many souls don’t know how to fly. This person does.

Forget the memorizing and reciting. It strips away the questions of the minds and allows blankness to take its place. Many people fall into this trap, but the talented ones, the ones who realize the use of their wings, they are able to fly out.

No matter the profession, everyone still has wings, slowly unfolding, just waiting to fly.





Creativity Is a Habit by Robert J. Sternberg

14 12 2011

THE FOLLOWING ARTICLE APPREARED IN EDUCATION WEEK ON February 22, 2006.

The increasingly massive and far-reaching use of conventional standardized tests is one of the most effective, if unintentional, vehicles this country has created for suppressing creativity.

Creativity is a habit. The problem is that schools sometimes treat it as a bad habit. And the world of conventional standardized tests we have invented does just that. Try being creative on a standardized test, and you will get slapped down just as soon as you get your score. That will teach you not to do it again.

It may sound paradoxical that creativity-a novel response-is a habit, a routine response. But creative people are creative largely not by any particular inborn trait, but because of an attitude toward their work and even toward life: They habitually respond to problems in fresh and novel ways, rather than allowing themselves to respond in conventional and sometimes automatic ways.

Like any habit, creativity can either be encouraged or discouraged. The main things that promote the habit are (a) opportunities to engage in it, (b) encouragement when people avail themselves of these opportunities, and (c) rewards when people respond to such encouragement and think and behave creatively. You need all three. Take away the opportunities, encouragement, or rewards, and you will take away the creativity. In this respect, creativity is no different from any other habit, good or bad.

Suppose, for example, you want to encourage good eating habits. You can do so by (a) providing opportunities for students to eat well in school and at home, (b) encouraging students to avail themselves of these opportunities, and then (c) praising young people who use the opportunities to eat well. Or suppose you want to discourage smoking. You can do so by (a) taking away opportunities for engaging in it (by prohibiting smoking in various places, or by making the price of cigarettes so high people scarcely can afford to buy them), (b) discouraging smoking (advertisements showing how smoking kills), and (c) rewarding people who do not smoke (with praise, or even preferred rates for health- and life-insurance policies).

This may sound too simple. It’s not. Creative people routinely approach problems in novel ways. Creative people habitually: look for ways to see problems that other people don’t look for; take risks that other people are afraid to take; have the courage to defy the crowd and to stand up for their own beliefs; believe in their own ability to be creative; seek to overcome obstacles and challenges to their views that other people give in to; and are willing to work hard to achieve creative solutions.

Educational practices that may seem to promote learning may inadvertently suppress creativity, for the same reasons that environmental circumstances can suppress any habit. These practices often take away the opportunities for, encouragement of, and rewards for creativity. The increasingly massive and far-reaching use of conventional standardized tests is one of the most effective, if unintentional, vehicles this country has created for suppressing creativity. I say “conventional” because the problem is not with standardized tests, per se, but rather with the kinds of tests we use. And teacher-made tests can be just as much of a problem.

Conventional standardized tests encourage a certain kind of learning and thinking-the kind of learning and thinking for which there is a right answer and many wrong answers. To create a multiple-choice or short-answer test, you need a right answer and many wrong ones. Problems that do not fit into the right answer-wrong answer format do not lend themselves to multiple-choice and short-answer testing. Put another way, problems that require divergent thinking are inadvertently devalued by the use of standardized tests.

This is not to say knowledge is unimportant. On the contrary, we cannot think creatively with knowledge unless we have the knowledge with which to think creatively. Knowledge is a necessary, but in no way sufficient, condition for creativity. The problem is that schooling often stops short of encouraging creativity. Teachers and parents are often content if students have the knowledge.

Examples of ways to encourage creative thinking are legion. If students are studying American history, they might take the opportunity to think creatively about how we can learn from the mistakes of the past to do better in the future. Or they can think creatively about what would have happened, had a certain historical event not come to pass, such as the Allies’ defeat of the Nazis in World War II. But there is no one “right” answer to such questions, so they are not likely to appear on a conventional standardized test. In science, students can design experiments, but here again, such activities do not fit neatly into a multiple-choice format.

In literature, alternative endings to stories can be imagined, or what the stories would be like if they took place in a different era. In mathematics, students can invent and think with novel number systems. In foreign languages, they can invent dialogues with people from other cultures. But the emphasis in most tests is on the display of knowledge, often inert knowledge that may sit in students? heads, yet be inaccessible for actual use.

Essay tests might seem to provide a solution to such problems, but as they are typically used, they don’t. Increasingly, essay tests can be and are scored by machine. Often, human raters of essays provide ratings that correlate more highly with machine grading than with the grading of other humans. Why? Because they are scored against one or more implicit prototypes, or models of what a ?correct? answer should be. The more the essay conforms to one or more prototypes, the higher the grade. Machines can detect conformity to prototypes better than humans, so essay graders of the kind being used today succeed in a limited form of essay evaluation. Thus, the essay tests that students are being given often do not encourage creativity-rather, they discourage creativity in favor of model answers that conform to one or more prototypes.

Oddly enough, then, the very “accountability” movement that is being promoted as fostering solid education is, in at least one crucial respect, doing the opposite: It is discouraging creativity at the expense of conformity. The problem is the very narrow definition of accountability involved. But proponents of this notion of accountability often make it sound as though those who oppose them oppose any accountability, whereas they in fact may oppose only the narrow form of accountability conventional tests generate. The tests are not “bad” or “wrong,” per se, just limited in what they assess. But they are treated as though they assess broader ranges of skills than they actually do.

Why is creativity even important? It is important because the world is changing at a far greater pace than it ever has before, and people need constantly to cope with new and unusual kinds of tasks and situations. Learning in this era must be lifelong, and people constantly need to be thinking in new ways. The problems we confront, whether in our families, communities, or nations, are novel and difficult, and we need to think creatively and divergently to solve these problems. The technologies, social customs, and tools available to us in our lives are replaced almost as quickly as they are introduced. We need to think creatively to thrive, and, at times, even to survive.

But this often is not how we are teaching children to think-quite the contrary. So we may end up with “walking encyclopedias” who show all the creativity of an encyclopedia. In a recent best seller, a man decided to become the smartest person in the world by reading an encyclopedia cover to cover. The fact that the book sold so well is a testament to how skewed our conception has become of what it means to be smart. Someone could memorize that or any other encyclopedia, but not be able to solve even the smallest novel problem in his or her life.

Encouraging the creativity habit does not mean forsaking evaluation. Essays, projects, and performances can be evaluated for creativity in terms of how novel they are (originality), how good they are (quality), and how appropriate they are to the assignment that was given. Research by Teresa Amabile at the Harvard Business School, as well as by my own group at the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise, currently at Yale and soon moving to Tufts, shows that raters can be trained to assess creative thinking reliably and validly.

If we want to encourage creativity, we need to promote the creativity habit. That means we have to stop treating it as a bad habit. We have to resist efforts to promote a conception of accountability that encourages children to accumulate inert knowledge, with which they learn to think neither creatively nor critically. Rather, we should promote the kind of accountability in which students must show they have mastered subject matter, but also can think analytically, creatively, and practically with it.

Robert J. Sternberg, a psychologist, is the dean of the school of arts and sciences at Tufts University, in Medford, Mass. He also directs the Center for the Psychology of Abilities, Competencies, and Expertise, now located at Yale University, but soon to move to Tufts.





How Can I Practice Metacognition Skills in School? by Dillon Towner 5th grade

14 12 2011

Metacognition is important in school and in life.

Without it you would be stumbling through the river of time, never thinking, never realizing what your actions might cause.

With metacognition you realize what you are doing, what you are thinking, what influence you have on others.

You can brighten someone’s day by being kind, or empathizing with them.

“If you don’t daydream and kind of plan things out in your imagination you never get there. You have to start some place.”

This is a quote by Robert Duvall that is important for learning and for life.





How can you dare to dream? by Ciera Johnson 6th grade

14 12 2011

A boring life.  Most people fear it.

To avoid that kind of life, you can set goals, keep a journal, and practice persistence. By setting goals you can push yourself to your best possible effort, and so you can obtain the best of the best of your time here on Earth. By keeping a journal, you can write down your thoughts, feelings, and dreams. Without it you could become lost in thought, and not start fresh every day. You do not want to reuse bathtub water every time you need a bath, so you drain it when you are done, and refill it when the time comes.

Finally, by practicing persistence you can follow up on your dreams and not let anyone say that they are impossible, or that you will not follow up on them. As a result, you can avoid a boring and dull life by dreaming big.

As Rachel Carson once declared, “I won’t be labeled as average.”

By setting goals, keeping a journal, and practicing persistence. You do not have to be an ordinary person anymore, but a new generation of being extraordinary.








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