Ending the School Year – Pt 1

May 21, 2007 at 6:15 pm (all, blogging, children, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, Middle School, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts)

Finally…The end of the year is almost here. It seems that for many students (and teachers as well), the only desired lessons are those taking place in a swimming pool. But there are certain steps you can take now to prevent the end of the year from meaning the end of learning. Think in terms of: play, plan, and complete.

First, don’t be afraid to play! Everyone is ready for a break, so it will take more energy for you to keep your classroom under control during lectures and for students to stay focused. Integrate more “fun” into your lessons to give the learning process a change of pace. For example, instead of having a quiz, test your students knowledge in a “quiz show” format. Split the children into two or three teams to compete against each other for points. They receive points by answering the questions correctly. You don’t even need to come up with the questions. Students do an excellent job of covering a subject matter if you ask them each to submit three questions on the topic they just learned. Some of the pressure is taken off of you, and your students, while your goals are still being accomplished. Here are some additional ideas:

  • Give your class a fresh perspective; teach your class outdoors, in the library, or even in a school bus.
  • Bring in guest speakers.
  • Parents are a valuable resource; let them talk to your class.
  • Introduce new media to your class 
  • Be your own guest speaker by dressing up as someone else.
  • Have your children teach the class.

Second, remember to plan ahead for the deconstruction of your room. Everything you have put up in your room this year probably needs to be taken down. You don’t need to wait for the students to be out of the building before some of your work can begin. In fact, your students are a great resource to you. For as much disdain as they show for doing their assignments, they will show even more enthusiasm for helping you with your housekeeping and organizational tasks. One of the first things to come off your walls can be student work. This will also save pupils from having three armfuls of items to lug home on the last day of school. After that, bulletin boards outside of the classroom can come down. When removing decorations that will be used in future years (can you safely say that any of them won’t be?), the key is to organize. The last thing you want to do is haphazardly throw everything in a box that will be ignored for years and eventually thrown away because you don’t want to go through it all. The time spent to put letters and borders in a folder sufficiently labeled will be invaluable when you want to find your pre made bulletin board in later years. Here are some more ideas:

  • Drop any committees whose meetings you continually dread.
  • Look around for ideas for next year. If you think of great ideas, make a list and put it on top of one of your boxes.
  • Don’t forget about uncompleted committee work.
  • Set a date to start coming up with ideas for next fall.
  • Actually dedicate a time to plan, even if that means setting aside the first half hour of each day. This will greatly reduce stress.

It is inevitable that the school year will come to a close. However that does not mean everything will be complete on its own. Bringing a sense of closure for yourself as well as your pupils at the end of the year is important. This is when students begin to count down the minutes till their last day, and teachers wonder how on earth they will be able to get everything accomplished. But don’t panic. If you get the planning done, a lot of the completion will follow. Be realistic; realize that your students can easily go into information overload (or, rather, attention-span underload) as the summer nears. And for the things you don’t get done beforehand, give your full attention to after school is out. Even with the students gone, there are numerous other distractions. Try not to get sidetracked with garrulous teachers who have already finished. And save the files and folders to clean out until you come back in the fall. Your energy level will be up, and your spirits will be high. A lot of satisfactory closure comes from the little touches, like these ideas:

  • Write a thank you note to the staff and post it in the teacher’s lounge.
  • Don’t forget those who have especially helped out this year. Show your gratitude with a nice note or small gift.
  • Give out awards of accomplishment for having successfully completed the year.
  • Meet with your closer staff friends after the close of the school year to allow everyone to unwind on informal grounds.
  • Make a list of things you feel good about accomplishing this year.
  • Remember to say goodbye to those who are leaving and hello to those who may be new to the school.

You know the end of the year is coming; there’s no excuse for letting it sneak up on you. With some playing and planning, this period will come with ease.

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Memory

April 30, 2007 at 6:01 pm (all, books, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, life, Middle School, music, news, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, technology, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized, writing)

Memory improvement and research related to the science of memory

Fahey, John AAlthough the art of mem

Memory improvement and research related to the science of memory

Fahey, John A

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The purpose of this article is to propose proven methods to enhance memory, thus learning, for both students and teachers. Some of these methods to improve learning were discovered as far back as 400 B.C., while others are in the process of being developed.

In a time of high-stakes testing and accountability, educators must use research-based skills, tools and techniques to assist students learn content and remember the information. Learning the content is a function of numerous educational practices that assist memory. This article focuses on memory. Without the ability to remember the content we have not learned it, according to the standards-based tests. We need to learn how we best remember and how we can improve this skill.

Memory: A Definition

What is Memory? Memory is a glorious and admirable gift of nature by which we recall past things, we embrace present things, and we contemplate future things through their similarity to past things. Boncompagno, 1891 (Yates, 1966. p. 58)

Introduction and Purpose

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The new millennium should produce exciting, innovative ways to access and expand memory. Scientists have located multiple loci in the brain for memory storage and neurochemical research has provided invaluable information on the chemistry of neuron activity. Recent use of music and exercise are demonstrating exciting and effective ways to increase memory. All of these discoveries and the potential instructional strategies are important for educators to incorporate into their pedagogical repertoire.

This article is about memory improvement, and some of the recent research implications related to the science of memory.A proposal to use music, movement and objects or articles as metaphors to assist students to remember will be offered in order to add practical application to understanding.

Historical Perspective of Memory

From the concept of natural memory to ancient views of artificial memory, people have examined this art and devised numerous mechanisms to assist their efforts. Certain techniques and patterns were established early in the studies of memory. In the late thirteenth century, Lull distinguished between types of memory (Yates, 1966). Lull presented two types of artificial memory; the first employs medicines and plasters, and the second relates to frequent repetition of information “like an ox chewing the cud.” (Yates, 1966, p. 192). The importance of repetition has been understood since 400 B.C. (Noll & Turkington, 1994). The concept that “the brain strengthens learning through repetition,” so long as it is not boring, supports efforts to improve memory (Jensen, 2000, p.78), however, there are numerous significant research findings that take memory strategies to levels beyond the “cud” metaphor.

The Multiple “R”s of Memory-Record, Rehearse, Retain, Reconstruct, Retrieval

For a person to remember he, or she, needs to proceed through a pattern of actions that enable a word, idea, concept or skill to become embedded into long-term storage. Long-term memory storage is enhanced by association, repetition, reconstruction or through vivid feelings.

Preparation for standardized tests at key gateways in educational evaluation requires the ability to memorize information and to recognize it at the appropriate times. Content knowledge is required before the learner can move to the more complex levels of educational taxonomy. In this pattern the multiple “R”s of memory might be helpful.

The use of “R” words employs a mnemonic device (all begin with an “R”) to assist recognition. They are examined as follows: (see chart on following page).

Avenues of Understanding

Recent investigations of brain-based research on memory suggest types of memory lanes (Sprenger, 1999), the importance of attention and receptor modification (Jensen, 1998) and the action of messenger proteins in the recall processes (Milner, 1999). Each discovery illuminates an important feature in the science of memory.

Sprenger’s (1999) memory lanes analogy provides the avenues associated with learning information within a variety of contexts. From the semantic, episodic, procedural, automatic and emotional lanes, individuals have a variety of neural pathways to search for information. Information is stored in context and this context provides a cue in the recognition process. Sprenger aptly states, “Locating memories may be impossible if we aren’t looking in the right place.” (p. 45). These avenues, supported by Caine and Caine’s locale memory (1994) relate to storage of information in a context. Embedding knowledge in context assists in memory and recall. For example, this phenomenon can be natural or assisted through the use of mnemonic devices such as the multiple “R”s of memory discussed earlier. The mnemonic device of using loci in a room for memorizing information dates back to 500 BC (Yates, 1966).

Food for Thought

New discoveries related to the brain have enhanced our perspectives and provided better science for examining memory. From research on neurochemistry to positron emission tomography (PET) scans, we have a better understanding of the brain and how it works. Important findings related to the fluidity of information storage (neural plasticity), the importance of protein in long-term memory, the need for calcium, choline and acetycholine in aiding the chemical processes of memory, (Jensen, 1998) and the importance of water in the entire memory learning process (Fahey, 2000) have provided food for thought. This research, applied with complementary studies on memory mechanisms, provides optimal learning tools for educators and their students.

In the area of activity-induced changes at the synaptic level in the brain, Milner (1999) provides a conceptual framework for the complex processes of neurological changes we call learning. Milner’s research provides insight into neurochemical activities of the synthesized proteins necessary for storing (learning) and changing receptor sites to configure the ability to recall information (retrieving). Initial storage of information requires changes in the receptor proteins and the messenger proteins in the brain. These receptor sites synapses “retain a chemical tag that allows the new protein to find them,” (p. 83). Through repeated activation this process strengthens the synapses and recall is facilitated. This seems to encourage protein in the diet for optimal brain function.

There is much research to support the importance of protein in the diet (Wurtman, 1998, Conners, 1989, Jensen, 1998). In correspondence with Steven Rose, author and brain scientist for almost thirty years, Rose cautions scientists and educators to be judicious about many of the recent findings. In the 1960s, scientists researched the neurochemical functions of the brain to find the “memory molecule.” Protein and RNA were claimed to be the magic chemistry of memory (Gurowitz, 1969). In 2000 Rose writes

because all foodstuffs are broken down into their component molecules during digestion there is no special need for protein per se what is required are the essential amino acids which are components of protein, and are then used as the building blocks to synthesize the proteins that the brain – and other tissues – need. Ditto for sugars. Vitamins are important because they are molecules that the body can’t synthesize from simpler components and therefore become essential parts of the diet. (Personal communication with Rose, May 25, 2000).

Review of literature on the brain and learning consistently supports the biological need for the amino acids that come from proteins, calcium that can be found in dairy products or other sources and vitamins that come through nourishment. Our brain, like the rest of our body, needs specific chemicals to function.

Imagery in the Learning Process

Exhaustive examination of imagery and related mnemonic processes (McDaniel & Pressley, 1987) provides a sense of memory efficiency that contributes to the ancient concept of artificial memory. Review of literature addresses the issues of student-generated images vs. teacher-generated images, as well as the use of bizarre images vs. the use of vivid images. In this body of research it was determined that bizarre was no better than plausible. Most findings concluded that vivid images were important in association and recall (McDaniel & Pressley). Much research on teacher vs. student-generated images demonstrated that in early years teacher-derived images are more helpful and as students become more experienced, student generated images are helpful (McDaniel & Pressley). From this perspective, we are proposing a means of mnemonic memory metaphors.

From Mnemonics to Metaphors

Mnemonic devices such as the loci, link, peg, and phonetic key word systems have been used successfully for years in assisting students to form associations in the process of learning. These devices provide imagery, rhymes and organizational patterns that are used in a variety of learning contexts.

A real object or a model of the object provides the learner with a plausible visual and at times, kinetic hook in the association process. Years of teaching with toys and real objects to demonstrate scientific laws and principles, one of the authors has found that these articles provide students with visual images, metaphors for memory and kinetic experiences that are encoded in a context that is registered and retrieved more readily. This aspect of multi-sensory stimuli assists students in creating vivid images for association and recall. The use of objects as metaphors for processes, concepts and knowledge assists students as they make connections to their world, forms images that will be recalled, and provides another sensory input for the intended learning. Examples of this practice are numerous and teachers do this every day.

The method of using objects as learning metaphors also supports the research on emotion and memory. Milner (1999) discussed the effect of emotion on remembering an event. Intensity of emotion may assist recall for years at a time or forgetting in minutes (Milner, 1999, p. 124). As good teachers know, the varied use of emotion in explaining and teaching assists students in creating hooks for memory and recall. Students may remember the location, specific words and concepts as presented in class if they are emotionally engaged in the process.

Music and Exercise to Enhance Memory

De Los Santos (2000) has proven that certain classical music compositions accompanied by physical exercises to stimulate the whole brain enhance memory, and thus learning. He conducted a study in Texas with a “pilot school” of 402 elementary school students using pre- and post-tests, and teachers’ observations. This empirical study used a “control school” with similar demographics as the “pilot school.”

In one semester the “pilot school” first and second grade students improved student performance in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills by 11 to 23 percent more than the “Control School” students. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the “pilot school” improved their Texas Assessment of Academic Skills scores in reading, writing, and arithmetic by 9 to 16 percent more than the “control school” students using the music and exercise program only one semester. These are some of the exciting memory enhancement innovations of the new millennium.

Conditions to Remember

With more than 25,000 scientists rediscovering the brain everyday, we may be able to make better connections between the research and the application of the brain-based findings in classrooms. Educators must examine these conditions and ensure they build schools and communities that meet more optimal conditions for learning. Conditions that may assist memory include:

* Repetition in learning – not boring, exciting

* Emotional attachment during learning

* Proper neurochemistry through diet and vitamins

* Mnemonic devices for better association and recall

* High challenge-low threat (Caine & Caine, 1994)

* Hands-on, active, visual, kinetic, metaphoric instruction

* Context and connection to ensure embedding knowledge

* Frequent assessment with non-threatening feedback to ensure mastery

* Certain classical music compositions

* Exercises that stimulate the brain

There is so much more to memory than this. Brain-based research may be a key to understanding the making of memories and the application in education. As educators, we need to add our experiences to this body of research. We need to be critical consumers of the research and create conditions for success. We play the games of memory everyday in our classes. We teach with mnemonics. We played “Jeopardy” in schools for years. We now play “Who wants to be a millionaire?” in school. We know the melodies, the lyrics, and respond to the music. We know that movement assists connections. We know what conditions work. We know how we learn. We remember!

ory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The purpose of this article is to propose proven methods to enhance memory, thus learning, for both students and teachers. Some of these methods to improve learning were discovered as far back as 400 B.C., while others are in the process of being developed.

In a time of high-stakes testing and accountability, educators must use research-based skills, tools and techniques to assist students learn content and remember the information. Learning the content is a function of numerous educational practices that assist memory. This article focuses on memory. Without the ability to remember the content we have not learned it, according to the standards-based tests. We need to learn how we best remember and how we can improve this skill.

Memory: A Definition

What is Memory? Memory is a glorious and admirable gift of nature by which we recall past things, we embrace present things, and we contemplate future things through their similarity to past things. Boncompagno, 1891 (Yates, 1966. p. 58)

Introduction and Purpose

Although the art of memory has been explored for centuries, recent research in the “Decade of the Brain,” has provided a plethora of information that may accelerate our ability to understand, apply and access how we learn and remember. The new millennium should produce exciting, innovative ways to access and expand memory. Scientists have located multiple loci in the brain for memory storage and neurochemical research has provided invaluable information on the chemistry of neuron activity. Recent use of music and exercise are demonstrating exciting and effective ways to increase memory. All of these discoveries and the potential instructional strategies are important for educators to incorporate into their pedagogical repertoire.

This article is about memory improvement, and some of the recent research implications related to the science of memory.A proposal to use music, movement and objects or articles as metaphors to assist students to remember will be offered in order to add practical application to understanding.

Historical Perspective of Memory

From the concept of natural memory to ancient views of artificial memory, people have examined this art and devised numerous mechanisms to assist their efforts. Certain techniques and patterns were established early in the studies of memory. In the late thirteenth century, Lull distinguished between types of memory (Yates, 1966). Lull presented two types of artificial memory; the first employs medicines and plasters, and the second relates to frequent repetition of information “like an ox chewing the cud.” (Yates, 1966, p. 192). The importance of repetition has been understood since 400 B.C. (Noll & Turkington, 1994). The concept that “the brain strengthens learning through repetition,” so long as it is not boring, supports efforts to improve memory (Jensen, 2000, p.78), however, there are numerous significant research findings that take memory strategies to levels beyond the “cud” metaphor.

The Multiple “R”s of Memory-Record, Rehearse, Retain, Reconstruct, Retrieval

For a person to remember he, or she, needs to proceed through a pattern of actions that enable a word, idea, concept or skill to become embedded into long-term storage. Long-term memory storage is enhanced by association, repetition, reconstruction or through vivid feelings.

Preparation for standardized tests at key gateways in educational evaluation requires the ability to memorize information and to recognize it at the appropriate times. Content knowledge is required before the learner can move to the more complex levels of educational taxonomy. In this pattern the multiple “R”s of memory might be helpful.

The use of “R” words employs a mnemonic device (all begin with an “R”) to assist recognition. They are examined as follows: (see chart on following page).

Avenues of Understanding

Recent investigations of brain-based research on memory suggest types of memory lanes (Sprenger, 1999), the importance of attention and receptor modification (Jensen, 1998) and the action of messenger proteins in the recall processes (Milner, 1999). Each discovery illuminates an important feature in the science of memory.

Sprenger’s (1999) memory lanes analogy provides the avenues associated with learning information within a variety of contexts. From the semantic, episodic, procedural, automatic and emotional lanes, individuals have a variety of neural pathways to search for information. Information is stored in context and this context provides a cue in the recognition process. Sprenger aptly states, “Locating memories may be impossible if we aren’t looking in the right place.” (p. 45). These avenues, supported by Caine and Caine’s locale memory (1994) relate to storage of information in a context. Embedding knowledge in context assists in memory and recall. For example, this phenomenon can be natural or assisted through the use of mnemonic devices such as the multiple “R”s of memory discussed earlier. The mnemonic device of using loci in a room for memorizing information dates back to 500 BC (Yates, 1966).

Food for Thought

New discoveries related to the brain have enhanced our perspectives and provided better science for examining memory. From research on neurochemistry to positron emission tomography (PET) scans, we have a better understanding of the brain and how it works. Important findings related to the fluidity of information storage (neural plasticity), the importance of protein in long-term memory, the need for calcium, choline and acetycholine in aiding the chemical processes of memory, (Jensen, 1998) and the importance of water in the entire memory learning process (Fahey, 2000) have provided food for thought. This research, applied with complementary studies on memory mechanisms, provides optimal learning tools for educators and their students.

In the area of activity-induced changes at the synaptic level in the brain, Milner (1999) provides a conceptual framework for the complex processes of neurological changes we call learning. Milner’s research provides insight into neurochemical activities of the synthesized proteins necessary for storing (learning) and changing receptor sites to configure the ability to recall information (retrieving). Initial storage of information requires changes in the receptor proteins and the messenger proteins in the brain. These receptor sites synapses “retain a chemical tag that allows the new protein to find them,” (p. 83). Through repeated activation this process strengthens the synapses and recall is facilitated. This seems to encourage protein in the diet for optimal brain function.

There is much research to support the importance of protein in the diet (Wurtman, 1998, Conners, 1989, Jensen, 1998). In correspondence with Steven Rose, author and brain scientist for almost thirty years, Rose cautions scientists and educators to be judicious about many of the recent findings. In the 1960s, scientists researched the neurochemical functions of the brain to find the “memory molecule.” Protein and RNA were claimed to be the magic chemistry of memory (Gurowitz, 1969). In 2000 Rose writes

because all foodstuffs are broken down into their component molecules during digestion there is no special need for protein per se what is required are the essential amino acids which are components of protein, and are then used as the building blocks to synthesize the proteins that the brain – and other tissues – need. Ditto for sugars. Vitamins are important because they are molecules that the body can’t synthesize from simpler components and therefore become essential parts of the diet. (Personal communication with Rose, May 25, 2000).

Review of literature on the brain and learning consistently supports the biological need for the amino acids that come from proteins, calcium that can be found in dairy products or other sources and vitamins that come through nourishment. Our brain, like the rest of our body, needs specific chemicals to function.

Imagery in the Learning Process

Exhaustive examination of imagery and related mnemonic processes (McDaniel & Pressley, 1987) provides a sense of memory efficiency that contributes to the ancient concept of artificial memory. Review of literature addresses the issues of student-generated images vs. teacher-generated images, as well as the use of bizarre images vs. the use of vivid images. In this body of research it was determined that bizarre was no better than plausible. Most findings concluded that vivid images were important in association and recall (McDaniel & Pressley). Much research on teacher vs. student-generated images demonstrated that in early years teacher-derived images are more helpful and as students become more experienced, student generated images are helpful (McDaniel & Pressley). From this perspective, we are proposing a means of mnemonic memory metaphors.

From Mnemonics to Metaphors

Mnemonic devices such as the loci, link, peg, and phonetic key word systems have been used successfully for years in assisting students to form associations in the process of learning. These devices provide imagery, rhymes and organizational patterns that are used in a variety of learning contexts.

A real object or a model of the object provides the learner with a plausible visual and at times, kinetic hook in the association process. Years of teaching with toys and real objects to demonstrate scientific laws and principles, one of the authors has found that these articles provide students with visual images, metaphors for memory and kinetic experiences that are encoded in a context that is registered and retrieved more readily. This aspect of multi-sensory stimuli assists students in creating vivid images for association and recall. The use of objects as metaphors for processes, concepts and knowledge assists students as they make connections to their world, forms images that will be recalled, and provides another sensory input for the intended learning. Examples of this practice are numerous and teachers do this every day.

The method of using objects as learning metaphors also supports the research on emotion and memory. Milner (1999) discussed the effect of emotion on remembering an event. Intensity of emotion may assist recall for years at a time or forgetting in minutes (Milner, 1999, p. 124). As good teachers know, the varied use of emotion in explaining and teaching assists students in creating hooks for memory and recall. Students may remember the location, specific words and concepts as presented in class if they are emotionally engaged in the process.

Music and Exercise to Enhance Memory

De Los Santos (2000) has proven that certain classical music compositions accompanied by physical exercises to stimulate the whole brain enhance memory, and thus learning. He conducted a study in Texas with a “pilot school” of 402 elementary school students using pre- and post-tests, and teachers’ observations. This empirical study used a “control school” with similar demographics as the “pilot school.”

In one semester the “pilot school” first and second grade students improved student performance in the Iowa Test of Basic Skills by 11 to 23 percent more than the “Control School” students. Third, fourth, and fifth grade students in the “pilot school” improved their Texas Assessment of Academic Skills scores in reading, writing, and arithmetic by 9 to 16 percent more than the “control school” students using the music and exercise program only one semester. These are some of the exciting memory enhancement innovations of the new millennium.

Conditions to Remember

With more than 25,000 scientists rediscovering the brain everyday, we may be able to make better connections between the research and the application of the brain-based findings in classrooms. Educators must examine these conditions and ensure they build schools and communities that meet more optimal conditions for learning. Conditions that may assist memory include:

* Repetition in learning – not boring, exciting

* Emotional attachment during learning

* Proper neurochemistry through diet and vitamins

* Mnemonic devices for better association and recall

* High challenge-low threat (Caine & Caine, 1994)

* Hands-on, active, visual, kinetic, metaphoric instruction

* Context and connection to ensure embedding knowledge

* Frequent assessment with non-threatening feedback to ensure mastery

* Certain classical music compositions

* Exercises that stimulate the brain

There is so much more to memory than this. Brain-based research may be a key to understanding the making of memories and the application in education. As educators, we need to add our experiences to this body of research. We need to be critical consumers of the research and create conditions for success. We play the games of memory everyday in our classes. We teach with mnemonics. We played “Jeopardy” in schools for years. We now play “Who wants to be a millionaire?” in school. We know the melodies, the lyrics, and respond to the music. We know that movement assists connections. We know what conditions work. We know how we learn. We remember!

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Brain Research and Adolescents

April 24, 2007 at 6:45 pm (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts)

September 2002 • Volume 34 • Number 1 • Pages 57-61

What Research Says
Lucinda M. Wilson & Hadley Wilson Horch

Implications of Brain Research for Teaching Young Adolescents
Research in the field of neuroscience has exploded in the past decade. During that time, educators have become fascinated with the implications of connecting knowledge of how the brain works with teaching and learning in the classroom. Conclusions as to how the brain works are based either on basic research conducted on rodents or the use of Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) on patients who have some anomaly. While these methods are very different from educational research, educators can benefit by what neuroscience is discovering about the functioning of the brain. Two areas of current interest for middle level educators are brain maturation during the adolescent years and possible gender differences in how adolescents learn.

How the brain works
The central nervous system is made up of two major classes of cells, neurons and glia. Though glial cells outnumber neurons and have roles critical to proper brain function, neurons have been the major focus of most neuroscience research. Neuronal cells have special properties that allow them to receive and send information, encoded as patterns of electrical and chemical activity, within the brain. Special projections of neurons, called dendrites, receive signals from many other cells, integrate these signals over time and pass this information on to a specialized output process, the axon. Properties of the axonal membrane allow this information to be encoded in an electrical signal called an action potential that propagates down the length of the axon. Axons in turn make contact with the dendrites of many other neurons, thus beginning this process over in a new cell.

The point of contact between dendrites and axons is highly specialized and is known as a synapse. Synapses are of great interest to neurobiologists since it is at this point that information can be modulated before it is passed on to the dendrites of the next cell. Synaptic modulation is thought to be the basis for several complex properties of the brain such as learning and memory. Once an action potential reaches a synapse, it results in the release of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These transmitters cross the small space between axon and dendrite, bind to special receptors on the dendritic side of the synapse, and create electrical potentials in the dendrites.

Because synapses are central to the process of communication in the brain, neuroscientists have naturally investigated many of their characteristics including how they form in young, developing brains. In fact, the number of synapses is taken as a measure of the complexity of neuronal circuitry. Research in monkeys has shown that the synapse number increases as they mature. Surprisingly, this work has also shown a subsequent and dramatic decline in synapse number during puberty (Bourgeois, & Rakic, 1993). Complementary research has found that young animals raised in “enriched” environments develop abnormally complex neurons with a higher than normal density of synapses (Jones, Klintsova, Kilman, Sireyaag, & Greenough, 1997; Volkmar & Greenough, 1972). Though neuroscientists do not have a full understanding of why this occurs, the general conclusion is that adolescent brains go through a period of circuit refinement, pruning unused connections and strengthening more heavily used synapses. For example, if an animal were to grow up in a visually rich, but silent environment, neuroscientists would expect to find a high level of complexity in the circuits of visual areas of the brain while the auditory areas of the brain would have simple or even abnormally reduced circuit complexity.

This growth spurt just before puberty and then the pruning of unused connections in human adolescence is most predominant in the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain critical to information synthesis. Two other areas, the hippocampus and the amygdala, also increase in volume as children develop. Interestingly, hippocampal volume increases with age for females while amygdala volume increases with age for males (Giedd, et. al., 1996, p. 243). In contrast, many other areas of the brain, such as the temporal lobe, appear relatively stable in volume throughout late childhood and adolescence. Thus, the prefrontal cortex appears to be the last region of the brain to mature (Casey, Giedd, & Thomas, 2000), undergoing major changes throughout puberty—a finding with significant implications for classroom practice.

The prefrontal cortex is the area of the brain controlling planning, working memory, organization, and mood modulation. This area of the brain is not mature until about 18 years of age (Spinks, 2002). This finding may come as no surprise to middle level educators, but apparently it did to neuroscientists. The scientific hypothesis is that this growth and then pruning is an important stage of brain development that can influence learners for the rest of their lives (Casey et al, 2000; De Bellis, et al, 2001). The saying “use it or lose it” applies to brain growth during early adolescence. Giedd warned that “if a teen is doing music, sports or academics, those are the connections that will be hard wired. If they’re lying on the couch or playing video games or MTV, those are the cells and connections that are going to survive” (Spinks, 2002, p. 2). Both parents and educators have an obligation to enrich adolescents’ environment and to strengthen those connections that will be in teens’ best interests later in life.

Many educators have tackled this new research and have posited strategies and methods they believe enhance learning and memory. Wolfe (2001) who has written extensively on brain research and methodology cautioned educators that “rarely does neuroscience prove that a particular classroom strategy works, but the information coming from the neurosciences certainly can provide a more informed basis for the decisions we make in our schools” (p. 11). Educators who write about brain-based instruction (Beamon, 1997; Brandt, 1998; Caine & Caine, 1994; Jensen, 1998; Sousa, 2001; Tileston, 2000; Wolfe, 2001) have provided educators with a wealth of information on how the brain works, how certain strategies can get and hold attention during instruction, and methods for improving memory storage.

Implications for the classroom
If the activity in the prefrontal cortex is where memory, attention, and inhibition are altered as a result of synaptic pruning, certain strategies and methods seem feasible to apply to classroom instruction. Inhibition here means that the brain actually uses inhibition to eliminate distracters when it does want to pay attention. Paying attention by screening outside distractions then leads to better memory storage. Neuropsychologists agree that the way to hold attention in young adolescents is through sensorimotor experience (Davis, 2001; Kolb, 2000; Wilson, 2001). Teachers need to engage the senses and emotions to gain students’ attention for learning, not just for the moment, but also for interest throughout an entire unit of study. Music, smell, touch, and emotion can focus students on learning. Another approach combined with sensorimotor engagement is that of inquiry or problem-based learning (Kwon & Lawson, 2000; Montgomery & Whiting, 2000), which teachers can use by encouraging students to ask questions that interest them after initially engaging in the problem of the unit. Using essential questions to frame the unit, incorporating the senses and emotions to focus the learning, and then facilitating students in finding multiple ways to solve problems can focus adolescent learning while building complex neuron connections within the brain.

Classroom activities that are most compatible with attention and memory are

Designing project-based units of study where students ask critical questions and then develop their own projects to find the answers, such as interviewing people who have experienced the Great Depression or the Holocaust.

Using simulations to involve students in understanding various points of view or discussing complex ethical issues.

Playing music that links memory to specific learning tasks. Rhythmic patterns are effective memory tools for learning, and music is a great medium for facilitating young adolescents to make sensorimotor connections.

Having students write reflectively every day to reiterate and consolidate learning.

Posing visual and word problems or puzzles to challenge thinking so that students learn that there are many ways to solve a problem or puzzle. This type of thinking strengthens the neural connections and gives students more confidence in their abilities to tackle problems.

Using physical challenges to solve problems and build collaboration. Low ropes courses and other physical/mental problem solving involve the mind and body in learning and team building.

Involving students in real-life apprenticeships. Students shadow workers in various jobs or learn skills in a short internship that either connects to an area of study or helps them understand one of the problems they have posed themselves and are interested in finding answers.

Using peer collaboration or cooperative learning helps broaden students’ understanding of issues and promotes group problem solving.

Developing integrated curriculum that encourages students to raise issues and concerns and then weaves those thematically into all disciplines.
These recommended practices (Beamon, 1997; Brandt, 1998; Caine & Caine, 1994; Jensen, 1998; Sousa, 2001; Tileston; 2000; Wolfe, 2001) have been implemented in middle school classrooms for many years as ways to connect the curriculum with the personal experiences of young adolescents. Relevance has always made intuitive sense to teachers; an awareness that relevance also has a practical and logical connection to the process by which the brain makes meaning supports the use of such practices.

Gender, competition, and stress
Studies on the differential effects of stress on the brain for adolescent males and females (Nishio, Kasuga, Ushijima, & Harada, 2001; Shors, Chua & Falduto, 2001; Wood & Shors, 1998) may have important implications for middle level classroom instruction. Exposure to stress seems to have opposite effects on males and females. Testing on rodents has demonstrated that in females, stress inhibits learning, yet it actually facilitates learning in males (Wood & Shors, 1998). Many teachers set their classrooms up to use competition as an incentive for learning. For males, if this competition creates stress, the implication is that they would be more receptive to the learning. For females in puberty, that same stress may produce a negative response to the learning experience. Timed math games, for instance, may produce the desired effect on boys, but inhibit learning in girls. In addition, prolonged stress apparently can produce long-term negative responses (Shors, Chua & Falduto, 2001) and lead to structural changes in neurons in the hippocampus that may facilitate learning in males but inhibit it in females

Simply knowing the different responses to stress should cause educators to rethink the way they structure the classroom environment. For all students a physically and emotionally safe environment is essential (Brandt, 1998; Jensen, 1998; Wolfe, 2001). Free from belittling and humiliation, students should find it acceptable to make mistakes or take risks in the classroom. Teachers should not judge students by their mistakes, but by their successes.

Stress can be used with those who seem to thrive on it—and this may not always be males vs. females—by choosing them to participate in any competitive events the teacher may structure. Certainly competitive games can be fun in the classroom and knowing that they also facilitate learning justifies their use. But the teacher should also be careful that she does not overuse these strategies so that the females in the class become discouraged or freeze up when the competition is threatening their ability to learn.

Conclusion

Adolescence is an important time to provide students with rich and complex experiences. It is imperative for middle level educators to continue to learn about brain research and the implications this emerging body of information may have for classroom instruction. What educators have learned from neuroscience is that the adolescent brain is still developing, sensorimotor stimulation creates stronger synaptic connections, and stress during learning may aid males and inhibit females. Educators can use these findings to create powerful, varied instruction in a safe, stimulating, and exciting classroom.

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References
Beamon, G. W. (1997). Sparking the thinking of students, ages 10-14: Strategies for teachers. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Bourgeois, J., & Rakic, P. (1993). Changes of synaptic density in the primary visual cortex of the macaque monkey from fetal to adult stage. Journal of Neuroscience, 13(7), 2801-2820.

Brandt, R. (1998). Powerful learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Caine, R. N., & Caine, G. (1994). Making connections: Teaching and the human brain. Menlo Park, CA: Innovative Learning Publications.

Casey, B. J., Giedd, J. N., & Thomas, K. M. (2000). Structural and functional brain development and its relation to cognitive development. Biological Psychology, 54, 241-257.

Davis, G. (2001). There is no four-object limit on attention. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 24(1), 120.

De Bellis, M. D., Keshavan, M. S., Beers, S. R., Hall, J., Frustaci, K., Masalehdan, A. Noll, J., & Boring, A. M. (2001). Sex differences in brain maturation during childhood and adolescence. Cerebral Cortex, 11(6), 552-557.

Giedd, J. N., Vaituzis, A. C., Hamburger, S. D., Lange, N. Rajapakse, J. C., Kayssen, D. Vauss, Y. C., & Rapoport, J. L. (1996). Quantitative MRI of the temporal lobe, amygdala and hippocampus in normal human development: ages 4-18 years. Journal of Comparative Neurology, 366(2), 223-230.

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

Jones, T. A., Klintsova, A. Y., Kilman, V. L. Sireyaag, A. M., & Greenough, W. T. (1997). Induction of multiple synapses by experience in the visual cortex of adult rats. Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 68(1), 13-20.

Kolb, B. (2000). Experience and the developing brain. Education Canada, 39(4) 24-26.

Kwon, Y., & Lawson, A. E. (2000). Linking brain growth with the development of scientific reasoning ability and conceptual change during adolescence. Journal of Research in Science Teaching 37(1), 44-62.

Montgomery, L., & Whiting, D. (2000). Teachers under construction—incorporating principles of engaged and brain based learning into a constructivist “technology in education” program. Society for Information Technology & Technology Education International Conference: Proceedings of SITE 2000 (11th, San Diego, CA, February 8-12), 1-3.

Nishio H., Kasuga S., Ushijima M., & Harada Y. (2001). Prenatal stress and postnatal development of neonatal rats sex-dependent effects on emotional behavior and learning ability of neonatal rats. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 19(1), 37-45.

Shors T. J., Chua C., & Falduto J., (2001). Sex differences and opposite effects of stress on dendritic spine density in the male versus female hippocampus. Journal of Neuroscience, 21(16), 6292-6297.

Sousa, D. (2001). How the brain learns: A classroom teacher’s guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Spinks, S. (2002). Adolescent brains are works in progress: Here’s why. Retrieved June 4, 2002, from http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline
/shows/teenbrain/work/adolescsent.html

Tileston, D. W. (2000). 10 best teaching practices: How brain research, learning styles, and standards define teaching competencies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

Volkmar, F. R., & Greenough, W. T. (1972). Rearing complexity affects branching of dendrites in the visual cortex of the rat. Science, 176, 1445-1447.

Wilson, M. (2001). The case for sensorimotor coding in working memory. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 8(1), 57.

Wolfe, P. (2001). Brain matters: Translating research into classroom practice. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wood, G. E., & Shors, T. J. (1998). Stress facilitates classical conditioning in males, but impairs classical conditioning in females through activational effects of ovarian hormones. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 95(7), 4066.

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Lucinda M. Wilson is an assistant professor of education, Butler University, Indianapolis, Indiana. E-mail: imwilson@butler.edu

Hadley Wilson Horch is an assistant professor of biology and neuroscience, Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine. E-mail: hhorch@bowdoin.edu

Judith L. Irvin is a professor of education at Florida State University, Tallahassee. E-mail: irvin@coe.fsu.edu

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Teaching Adolescents

April 24, 2007 at 6:28 am (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, humor, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, writing)

Teaching adolescents
What and why?

Teachers’ views on the teaching of adolescents vary enormously. Some love it, and would not choose to teach any other age range. Probably almost as many, however, find it difficult, often more difficult the older the adolescent students become. The first important point to make, however, is that it is difficult, if not impossible, to generalize about ‘adolescence’. There is enormous variation in the nature of the adolescent period from individual to individual, and from culture to culture. In some cultures, children seem to remain ‘children’ longer; in others they appear to grow up very quickly. Some adolescents find the movement from being ‘a child’ to being ‘an adult’ a very troublesome one, whilst others do not experience any particular problems. What is clear is that during the period of adolescence, an individual’s sense of who they are may often go through many transformations. Bodily changes as well as rapid changes in opinions, tastes, habits and relations between the sexes may combine to give the impression that it is not one person that we are dealing with, but several!

Parents and teachers of adolescents often report that the period can place great strain on their relationships. Adolescents may be seeking independence and this may conflict with the views of the parents/teachers. As the time may be a period of great change for the adolescent, they may often seem restless – unsure if they are doing what they want to do or should be doing. They may also be anxious about the future: ‘What is to become of me?’, ‘What next?’, ‘Will I cope?’, ‘What will happen if …?’ All of these things may require great patience from everyone concerned.

Practical ideas

Given that the period of adolescence is so changeable, it is difficult to offer clear advice about how to best handle the teaching of adolescents. There are, however, some general points which teachers have shared with us and which we have found useful.

Be patient. Things may take longer to achieve in the classroom than you anticipate. The students may seem tired or unwilling. Very often this is because of factors completely outside the classroom.

Be flexible. Conflicts can be avoided if the teacher is prepared to be flexible about when and how things are done. This may be a matter of tolerating classroom behavior that you don’t approve of, for example. However, you have to also make clear the limits of what you are prepared to accept.

Be sensitive. Teachers often report that adolescent students are frequently moody – they can be happy and bright one day and deflated the next day. As a teacher, it is important for you to keep note of these changes and, where necessary, talk to the student to see if they are having problems.

Allow choice and student decisions. It may also be useful if you can be flexible about what the students do. If you can provide them with choice and allow room for their personal interests, you are likely to find it much easier working with them. You can also involve them in decisions about what you will do in the lessons and ask them to plan activities, choose texts, music and so on.

Show respect. The students must have a clear sense of respect for you as the teacher, but equally you must have a sense of respect for them – recognizing, for example, that their opinions, tastes in clothes, music, etc. are equally valid. That said, your role is as an educator, so it should remain your responsibility to encourage students to question what they are saying or doing, and to ensure that limits are set and maintained for the benefit of everyone.

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How to Pump Up Your Lesson Plans!!!

April 16, 2007 at 7:09 pm (all, blogging, children, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, Middle School, principals, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts)

How to Pump Up Your Lesson Plans by Coleen Armstrong

Keeping things from growing too boring or banal requires large amounts of creativity, but you’ll be surprised at how rapidly those juices begin flowing. A fresh approach to two or three lessons soon multiplies into 20 or 30––and before you know it, the word “inspired” applies to all presentations.

• Remember, the whole world is your classroom. Every book you read, every play or party you attend, every PBS special you watch, every person you meet should offer an opportunity. Get into the habit of asking yourself, “How can I use this in class?” Perhaps that college professor you met at Starbucks would be willing to address your fifth graders about global warming. That World War II vet living next door could talk about his eight months on a submarine.

• Don’t hide your passion. If anything connected with the Tudor dynasty makes your blood rush, then go with it. Speak often and fondly of “My boy Henry.” Find ways to interject his name or something he did into virtually any discussion. Ignore the groans; no enthusiasm is ever wasted. Your acceptance of your own little fanaticisms will allow the kids to grow more comfortable with their own.

• Intertwine your subject matter. Political topics should always contain references to history; otherwise, what’s the point? Literature is filled with psychological implications; why else would those characters behave as they do? What does animal behavior teach us about humans; are we all natural predators? You get the idea.

• Dramatize. Costumes and props are essential, even with high school students. Let your students participate too. Your recreation of a Lincoln-Douglas debate can include a pair of stovepipe hats. (Use construction paper.)

• Tell stories. In 1918 the Bolsheviks ordered a ragtag firing squad to assassinate the last Tsar of Russia–-along with his wife and family, which included five children. What led up to this incident, including the Tsarina’s pathological fixation on Rasputin the mad monk, along with the brutal clubs and dull bayonets used to finish the job, makes a more riveting tale than anything you’ll see in today’s news. History, science, and government are all filled with enough raw material to keep your audiences rapt and wide awake every Friday afternoon.

• End each class period with a teaser. Begin with “Wait till you hear…” Then when your class begs for the spoiler, smile and shrug, saying, “You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out.” Once this becomes your trademark, you can have a bit of fun with it: “Wait till you hear my proposal for ending school detentions!”

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Characteristics of Adolescents

April 16, 2007 at 7:04 pm (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized)

Sometimes it is difficult for us to remember what being an adolescent was like.  Today’s tip is a reminder of the characteristics of adolescents.  The more you understand them, the greater the likelihood of dealing with them in a sane, positive manner!  If you keep these characteristics in mind while designing your instruction, you can provide an atmosphere conducive to learning for all of your students.

Characteristics of Young AdolescentsYouth between the ages of 10 to 15 are characterized by their diversity as they move through the puberty growth cycle at varying times and rates. Yet as a group they reflect important developmental characteristics that have major implications for those agencies that seek to serve them.

In the area of Intellectual Development, young adolescents:

bullet Display a wide range of individual intellectual development
bullet Are in a transition period from concrete thinking to abstract thinking
bullet Are intensely curious and have a wide range of intellectual pursuits, few of which are sustained
bullet Prefer active over passive learning experiences
bullet Prefer interaction with peers during learning activities
bullet Respond positively to opportunities to participate in real life situations
bullet Are often preoccupied with self
bullet Have a strong need for approval and may be easily discouraged
bullet Develop an increasingly better understanding of personal abilities
bullet Are inquisitive about adults, often challenging their authority, and always observing them
bullet May show disinterest in conventional academic subjects but are intellectually curious about the world and themselves
bullet Are developing a capacity to understand higher levels of humor

In the area of Moral Development, young adolescents:

bullet Are generally idealistic, desiring to make the world a better place and to become socially useful
bullet Are in transition from moral reasoning which focuses on “what’s in it for me” to that which considers the feelings and rights of others
bullet Often show compassion for those who are downtrodden or suffering and have special concern for animals and the environmental problems that our world faces
bullet Are moving from acceptance of adult moral judgments to development of their own personal values; nevertheless, they tend to embrace values consonant with those of their parents
bullet Rely on parents and significant adults for advice when facing major decisions
bullet Increasingly assess moral matters in shades of grey as opposed to viewing them in black and white terms characteristic of younger children
bullet At times are quick to see flaws in others but slow to acknowledge their own faults
bullet Owing to their lack of experience are often impatient with the pace of change, underestimating the difficulties in making desired social changes
bullet Are capable of and value direct experience in participatory democracy
bullet Greatly need and are influenced by adult role models who will listen to them and affirm their moral consciousness and actions as being trustworthy role models
bullet Are increasingly aware of and concerned about inconsistencies between values exhibited by adults and the conditions they see in society

In the area of Physical Development, young adolescents:

bullet Experience rapid, irregular physical growth
bullet Undergo bodily changes that may cause awkward, uncoordinated movements
bullet Have varying maturity rates, with girls tending to mature one and one-half to two years earlier than boys
bullet May be at a disadvantage because of varied rates of maturity that may require the understanding of caring adults
bullet Experience restlessness and fatigue due to hormonal changes
bullet Need daily physical activity because of increased energy
bullet Develop sexual awareness that increases as secondary sex characteristics begin to appear
bullet Are concerned with bodily changes that accompany sexual maturation and changes resulting in an increase in nose size, protruding ears, long arms, and awkward posture
bullet Have preference for junk foods but need good nutrition
bullet Often lack physical fitness, with poor levels of endurance, strength, and flexibility
bullet Are physically vulnerable because they may adopt poor health habits or engage in risky experimentation with drugs and sex

In the area of Emotional/Psychological Development, young adolescents:

bullet Experience mood swings often with peaks of intensity and unpredictability
bullet Need to release energy, often resulting in sudden, apparently meaningless outbursts of activity
bullet Seek to become increasingly independent, searching for adult identity and acceptance
bullet Are increasingly concerned about peer acceptance
bullet Tend to be self-conscious, lacking in self-esteem, and highly sensitive to personal criticism
bullet Exhibit intense concern about physical growth and maturity as profound physical changes occur
bullet Increasingly behave in ways associated with their sex as sex role identification strengthens
bullet Are concerned with many major societal issues as personal value systems develop
bullet Believe that personal problems, feelings, and experiences are unique to themselves
bullet Are psychologically vulnerable, because at no other stage in development are they more likely to encounter so many differences between themselves and others.

In the area of Social Development, young adolescents:

bullet Have a strong need to belong to a group, with peer approval becoming more important as adult approval decreases in importance
bullet In their search for self, model behavior after older, esteemed students or non-parent adults
bullet May exhibit immature behavior because their social skills frequently lag behind their mental and physical maturity
bullet Experiment with new slang and behaviors as they search for a social position within their group, often discarding these “new identities” at a later date
bullet Must adjust to the social acceptance of early maturing girls and the athletic successes of early maturing boys, especially if they themselves are maturing at a slower rate
bullet Are dependent on parental beliefs and values but seek to make their own decisions
bullet Are often intimidated and frightened by their first middle level school experience because of the large numbers of students and teachers and the size of the building
bullet Desire recognition for their efforts and achievements
bullet Like fads, especially those shunned by adults
bullet Often overreact to ridicule, embarrassment, and rejection
bullet Are socially vulnerable because, as they develop their beliefs, attitudes, and values, the influence of media and negative experiences with adults and peers may compromise their ideals and values

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Accommodations for Students with LD

April 10, 2007 at 3:55 pm (all, blogging, children, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized)

What are accommodations?

Accommodations are alterations in the way tasks are presented that allow children with learning disabilities to complete the same assignments as other students. Accommodations do not alter the content of assignments, give students an unfair advantage or in the case of assessments, change what a test measures. They do make it possible for students with LD to show what they know without being impeded by their disability.

How does a child receive accommodations?

Once a child has been formally identified with a learning disability, the child or parent may request accommodations for that child’s specific needs. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act states that a child’s IEP (Individualized Education Program) team which both parent and child are a part of – must decide which accommodations are appropriate for him or her. Any appropriate accommodations should be written into a student’s IEP.

Here are some examples of possible accommodations for an IEP team to consider, broken into six categories:

Presentation:

Provide on audio tape
Provide in large print
Reduce number of items per page or line
Provide a designated reader
Present instructions orally

Response:

Allow for verbal responses

Allow for answers to be dictated to a scribe
Allow the use of a tape recorder to capture responses
Permit responses to be given via computer
Permit answers to be recorded directly into test booklet

Timing:

Allow frequent breaks
Extend allotted time for a test

Setting:

Provide preferential seating
Provide special lighting or acoustics
Provide a space with minimal distractions
Administer a test in small group setting
Administer a test in private room or alternative test site

Test Scheduling

Administer a test in several timed sessions or over several days
Allow subtests to be taken in a different order
Administer a test at a specific time of day

Other

Provide special test preparation
Provide on-task/focusing prompts
Provide any reasonable accommodation that a student needs that does not fit under the existing categories

Should accommodations have an impact on how assignments are graded?

School assignments and tests completed with accommodations should be graded the same way as those completed without accommodations. After all, accommodations are meant to ‘level the playing field’, provide equal and ready access to the task at hand, and not meant to provide an undue advantage to the user.

What if accommodations don’t seem to be helping?

Selecting and monitoring the effectiveness of accommodations should be an ongoing process, and changes (with involvement of students, parents and educators) should be made as often as needed. The key is to be sure that chosen accommodations address students’ specific areas of need and facilitate the demonstration of skill and knowledge.

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Teacher/Parent Tools

April 6, 2007 at 5:39 pm (all, blogging, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, ESOL, High School, history, kids, life, Middle School, Parents, personal, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, Thornebrooke, thoughts, Uncategorized)

Are you looking for forms to help manage your classroom and day-to-day tasks?  If so, then check out http://www.teachertools.org/index.html.  This site has tons of downloadable forms for:

  • discipline
  • lesson plans
  • grade sheets
  • attendance
  • wish lists
  • tardies
  • material check-out
  • student recognition
  • and more!

Check it out today

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Women’s History Month Resources

March 3, 2007 at 2:23 pm (all, books, children, culture, Education, Educational Leadership, Elementary, High School, history, kids, life, Middle School, movies, music, news, Parents, personal, politics, principals, reading, school, school administration, teachers, technology, thoughts, Uncategorized, women)

March is Women’s History Month. Check out these sites for more information and resources.


http://womenshistory.about.com/

http://www.infoplease.com/spot/womenshistory1.html
http://www.gale.com/free_resources/whm/

http://www.free.ed.gov/subjects.cfm?subject_id=26&res_feature_request=1

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