Archive for the ‘Educational Resources’ Category

Katie Cyphers has the opportunity to dine with Dr. Larry Silver

Wednesday, March 2nd, 2011 by Regina

Brainjogging's Katie Cyphers with Dr. Larry Silver, a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C. and Past-President of LDA.

As you may have noticed, Katie Cyphers has been missing in action for the last week! Not to fear, she has been busy gathering information and immersing herself in the latest research on learning disabilities at the Learning Disabilities Association of America National Conference. This year’s conference was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Jacksonville, Florida.

During the conference, Katie had the pleasure of dining with Dr. Larry Silver. Dr. Silver is the author of more than 150 publications, including The Misunderstood Child: Understanding and Coping with Your Child’s Learning Disabilities. He is a clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. Dr. Silver is extremely active with the Learning Disabilities Association of America and is a Past-President of this organization. He has received several awards for his contributions to the study and treatment of learning disabilities, including the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry’s Berman Lifetime Achievement Award. Dr. Silver has also received LDA’s highest award for outstanding leadership in the field of learning disabilities. He serves on the Professional Advisory Board for LDA.

What an amazing experience to spend time with one of the leading researchers in the field of learning disabilities! Dr. Silver was friends with Dr. Samuel Kirk, the father of learning disabilities.  If you have not done so already, we encourage you to join the Learning Disabilities Association of America. Together, we can help reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations.

Parents beware: even Nintendo is warning young users against its upcoming Nintendo 3DS

Monday, February 14th, 2011 by admin

By Nintendo’s own admission, its new Nintendo 3DS, a handheld gaming system with 3D capabilities, may cause problems for children under the age of six.  The company issued a statement on its Japanese website.  The 3DS’s 3D gaming feature may stunt the growth of children’s eyes.  More and more research is suggesting that learning disabilities are centered in the eye.  A product that further debilitates children’s eyes is, therefore, undesirable.While Nintendo’s warning applies specifically to children under the age of six, Brainjogging has noticed even in older students that any video games derail their academic progress and alter their eye movement patterns; the effects are even more apparent when the video game was 3D.

In an attempt to placate parents, Nintendo included the ability to turn off the 3D capabilities of its new 3DS.  Additionally, parents can set passwords to regulate children’s interaction with the 3D function.  Nintendo goes so far as to ask all gamers using the 3DS to take breaks from the game as frequently as every hour or 30 minutes.

It is discouraging that Nintendo would market the 3DS to children when it is aware of so many risks associated with the product.  Nintendo’s admission of its product’s dangers should warn parents away from the product.  The 3DS will hit markets in Japan in February and in the United States in March.  Parents, be wary of this product; by its maker’s admission, it is not beneficial for children, particularly those under the age of six.  Even adults are asked to take periodic breaks from the system.  If an adult’s fully-developed brain can handle the 3DS for only 30 minutes to an hour, imagine the havoc it could wreak on a child’s still-developing mind.

Television maker Samsung issues warnings about its 3D products

Friday, February 11th, 2011 by admin

[Brainjogging believes that many children are sensitive to digitized media.  This sensitivity is most closely observable in children with autism.  Brainjogging’s students do not play video games and parents, particularly of children with autism, are warned against allowing their children to watch 3D movies or television programs.  The following message has been taken directly from Samsung’s web site message regarding its 3D products.  CNN’s SciTechBlog recently featured Samsung’s warning.]

Samsung’s web site message can be found here in its entirety.  The following are some of the warnings “highlights”:

* Some viewers may experience an epileptic seizure or stroke when exposed to certain flashing images or lights contained in certain television pictures or video games. If you or any of your family has a history of epilepsy or stroke, please consult with a medical specialist before using the 3D function.

* If you experience any of the following symptoms, immediately stop watching 3D pictures and consult a medical specialist: (1) altered vision; (2) lightheadedness; (3) dizziness; (4) involuntary movements such as eye or muscle twitching; (5) confusion; (6) nausea; (7) loss of awareness; (8) convulsions; (9) cramps; and/or (10) disorientation. Parents should monitor and ask their children about the above symptoms as children and teenagers may be more likely to experience these symptoms than adults.

* Viewing in 3D mode may also cause motion sickness, perceptual after effects, disorientation, eye strain, and decreased postural stability. It is recommended that users take frequent breaks to lessen the likelihood of these effects. If you have any of the above symptoms, immediately discontinue use of this device and do not resume until the symptoms have subsided.

* Watching TV while sitting too close to the screen for an extended period of time may damage your eyesight. The ideal viewing distance should be at least three times the height of the TV screen. It is recommended that the viewer’s eyes are level with the screen.

* Watching TV while wearing 3D Active Glasses for an extended period of time may cause headaches or fatigue. If you experience a headache, fatigue or dizziness, stop watching TV and rest.

* Viewing in 3D mode may cause disorientation for some viewers. DO NOT place your television near open stairwells, cables, balconies or other objects that may cause you to injure yourself.

Take care of your children’s developing minds. If they exhibit atypical behavior directly after or even within a few hours of watching digitized media on a 3D product, discontinue use and contact a medical consultant.

Rhesus monkeys provide insight about childhood anxiety

Thursday, February 10th, 2011 by admin

Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health recently focused their intellectual efforts anxiety and brain activity in an attempt to discern which areas of the brain are relevant to developing childhood anxiety.  Ned  H. Kalin and his colleagues revealed that “increased brain activity in the amygdale and anterior hippocampus could predict anxious temperaments in young primates” (Science Daily).

Kalin stated, “Children with anxious temperaments suffer from extreme shyness, persistent worry and increased bodily responses to stress. […] These children are at increased risk of developing anxiety, depression and associated substance abuse disorders.”

Kalin’s past research substantiated that “anxious young monkeys are similar to children who are temperamentally anxious.”  In this study, researchers attempted to assess the extent to which genetic and environmental factors affect activity in anxiety-related brain regions.  Using a sample group of 238 young rhesus monkeys, researchers conducted postiron emission tomography (PET) scans; in humans, PET scans are used to “understand regional brain function by measuring the brain’s use of glucose.”

The study’s findings included the following:

“Young rhesus monkeys from a large related family showed a clear pattern of inherited anxious temperament;

Monkeys with anxious temperaments had higher activity in the central nucleus of the amygdale and the anterior campus; additionally, researchers could predict an individual’s degree of anxious temperament by its brain activity;

Genes and environmental factors affected activity in the amygdale and hippocampus in different ways, providing a brain-based understanding of how nature and nurture might interact to determine an individual’s vulnerability to developing common psychiatric disorders.”

Most surprising, however, was that “activity in the anterior hippocampus was more heritable than in the amygdale.”  This suggests that familial risk markers for anxiety could be “identified by understanding alterations in specific genes that influence hippocampal function.”  The study’s findings suggest that perhaps environmental factors can be modified in order “to prevent children from developing full-blown anxiety.”

The study substantiates, as many others have, that reaching children at an early age is crucial to successful intervention.  Brainjogging is one highly successful tool for successful intervention for anxious children or those at risk for developing anxiety.  Brainjogging increases children’s focus and decreases their anxiety. Parents and teachers generally notice an uptick in the moods of children with depressive tendencies and a settling of children with hyperactivity.

Cyber-bullying: student harassment capitalizes on social media

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 by admin

A recent study conducted by the Research Fellow Tove Flack at the Centre for Behavioural Research (SAF) at the University of Stavanger looked into the extent to which cyber-bullying occurs and the mechanisms behind reducing cyber-bullying’s impact.  A 2008 Tenelnor survey in Norway found that “two out of three children have experienced bullying via the Internet or mobile phones” (Science Daily).  Twice as many girls as boys report having been bullied digitally, and bullied children cite social networking cites, such as Facebook, and SMS and instant messaging as the most widely-used bullying channels.  Children with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to bullies, especially because their disabilities often set them apart, to some degree, from peers.  Often, students with learning disabilities are not well-equipped, either cognitively or socially, to deflect bullies’ comments and actions.  Parents must become aware of the problem in order to protect their children.

Flack’s research has focused heavily on hidden bullying.  Bullying, she explains, “means experiencing harassment on a regular basis over time.”  Cyber-bullying is a “hidden” outlet for bullying, as it often occurs outside parents’ or other responsible parties’ sphere of influence.  Cyber-bullying occurs through image and text.  Children may learn that unflattering photographs have been disseminated, or unkind characterizations sent to myriad peers.  Once images and texts have been released online, they are impossible to recover.Flack contends, “When friends sit together, it may seem easy and non-committal to send off an anonymous message with a disrespectful message to another person … [but] children and young people are normally not aware of how strongly it will affect the receiver.”

Children’s lack of understanding about the irrevocable nature of disseminating unfavorable information online does not make the practice tolerable; it heightens the necessity for intervention by parents, teachers and administrators.  Cyber-bullying is an extension of an existing problem; cyber-bullying is rarely limited to media but rather often another means of isolating and belittling a child that is a target at school and in other situations.  Quite frequently, cyber-bullying means that a bullied child does not have any type of safe space; school isn’t safe and neither is the phone or Internet.  Social media, SMS and instant messages themselves are not the core problem, but rather a means of perpetuating the long-existent bullying issue.  Flack believes that “schools have a great responsibility to contribute to prevention, detection and the stopping of bullying [by] taking up the netiquette rules at an early stage and inform about the dangers.”

Facebook is enormously popular at the moment.  Children and parents alike log onto their accounts and enjoy Facebook’s many social networking functions; the chat and wall functions are particularly important to bullies.  These are places in which bullies can directly harass their intended targets.  Some children go so far as to initiate major “blocking campaigns” so many children within a group “block” a bullied individual’s profile, thereby effectively cutting that part out of the social network.

Technology should not be feared; it should be used respectfully.  It is vital that students be able to harness technology’s capabilities.  It is particularly vital that students with learning disabilities be introduced to the technological innovations available to them.  Many technological innovations, including Dragon Naturally Speaking, audiobooks and the myriad resources provided by Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic, are immensely helpful to children with learning disabilities.  Parents should both facilitate their children’s understanding of these resources, and the Internet’s capabilities, while simultaneously being sensitive to the potential of cyber-bullying.

Helping students create efficient visual aids

Friday, January 7th, 2011 by admin

Brainjogging’s Wednesday post (found here) discussed recent research regarding practice tests and their effectiveness in improving cognition.  Kent State University researchers Dr. Katherine Rawson, associate professor in Kent State’s Department of Psychology, and Mary Pyc, a former Kent State graduate student recently published an article on the extent to which practice tests help individuals develop efficient encoding strategies for information (Science Daily).  More simply put, Rawson’s and Pyc’s research quantifies the extent to which taking practice tests, especially ones that compel test-takers to recall information from memory, can increase the likelihood of enhancing one’s memory and successfully recalling information at a later date.

Rawson and Pyc looked into the effectiveness of “mediators,” or keywords, that help test-takers recall information.  Brainjogging often invokes mediators to facilitate successful retention of information. The following is an example of the way one student and instructor recently developed visual equivalents of mediators for the student’s vocabulary unit.

The first word in the student’s vocabulary unit was “acme,” which is a noun that means “the highest point.”  Acme can refer to a physical high point, like the peak of a mountain, or a metaphorical high point, like receiving a promotion.

First, the student and instructor developed a visual picture for the physical definition of “acme.” This was initially inhibited by the student’s existing correlation between “acme” and the explosive devices often found in cartoons:

The instructor asked the student to incorporate his existing understanding of “acme” into his illustration.  He created the following visual aid:

The student was able to create a visual that incorporated both his existing understanding of “acme” and the actual definition of the word.  Unfortunately, the illustration of a mountain with fireworks being shot off from its peak illuminated only the physical meaning of “acme.”  The word can also refer to the high point in someone’s career, day, etc.  The instructor asked the student about the acme of his fall semester.  The student received an “A” on a World History exam for which he and the instructor had heavily prepared by creating visual aids like these and generating several subject-specific word lists.  The student modified his illustration as follows:

Become a better test taker with Brainjogging

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011 by admin

Teachers give their students tests in order to evaluate the students’ understanding of the presented material, but Kent State University researchers Dr. Katherine Rawson and Mary Pyc studied whether or not taking tests might also boost retention.  Rawson and Pyc believe test taking does, in fact, facilitate enhanced retention and retrieval of information (Science Daily).Rawson states, “Taking practice tests – particularly ones that involve attempting to recall something from memory – can drastically increase the likelihood that you’ll be able to remember that information again later.”

Rawson and Pyc published the article “Why Testing Improves Memory: Mediator Effectiveness Hypothesis,” which indicates that one of the many reasons that testing enhances one’s memory is that testing promotes the development of more effective encoding strategies.  Brainjogging often encourages students to develop encoding strategies, especially for vocabulary words.

Rawson’s illustration is as follows:

“Suppose you were trying to learn foreign language vocabulary.  In our research, we typically use Swahili-English word pairs, such as ‘wingu – cloud.’ To learn this item, you could just repeat it over adn over to yourself each time you studied it, but it turns ou that’s not a particularly effective strategy for committing something to memory.  A more effective strategy is to develop a keyword that connects the foreign language word with the English word.  ‘Wingu’ sounds like ‘wing,’ birds have wings and fly in the ‘clouds.'”

Rawson admits that this encoding method is as good as the keywords, also called “mediators,” one develops, but good keywords lead to significant retention.  Brainjogging often takes vocabulary words and, rather than connecting them to other words, illustrates the words or comes up with short stories to help students remember words’ meaning.  The more involved the student in creating this picture or story, the more likely he or she is to remember the picture’s relationship to the appropriate word.  Again, these pictures and stories are only as good as one makes them, but their ability to increase children’s understanding and retention of words is exciting in that it facilitates learning.   Perhaps more significantly, these strategies are enormously helpful for students with learning disabilities, especially ones with visual strengths.

Rawson and Pyc showed that “practice tests lead learners to develop better keywords.”  Students tend to develop more effective mediators for information on which they know they will be tested, rather than those they are merely studying for the sake of reviewing information.

Why Supplemental Educational Services matter

Thursday, December 16th, 2010 by admin

Brainjogging is one of Muscogee County, Georgia’s Supplemental Educational Services (SES) providers for the 2010-2011 school year.  SES services are open to students that receive free or reduced lunch and whose schools did not make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) during the previous school year.  All students at schools that have not made AYP during the previous two school years are eligible for SES.

SES was created to provide additional support to students that need it most.  The overt reasons for SES do not include those discussed in an article from The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, which cites long-term crime, alcohol use disorders (AUDs) and risky sex behaviors as prevalent issues plaguing disadvantaged adolescents, but the prevention of development of negative behaviors and the curbing or cessation of current behaviors absolutely plays into the psychology of many students eligible for SES.  These are students that are not performing on grade level; they are at high risk for developing risky behaviors.

The study cited in The Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry “examined the influence of delinquency behaviors in late childhood development among over 800 youth from low- compared to middle-income backgrounds, age 10 to age 24″ (Science Daily).  Subjects were asked to complete “self-report assessments that included questions about delinquent involvement, alcohol use and sexual activity in late childhood; delinquency and alcohol use in adolescence; and crime, AUDs and risky sex in early adulthood.”

Children from low-income backgrounds were twice as likely to report early sex onset (by age 11) and more likely to report early delinquency (by age 10).  Those from middle-income backgrounds were 1.5 times more likely to report early alcohol use (by age 10).  Those that showed “early and frequent involvement with risky sex, delinquency and alcohol use beginning in late childhood and extending throughout adolescence showed an increase in long-term crime, AUDs and risky sex behaviors in young adulthood.”

SES is more than academic assistance; SES is a way out for some children.  The students receiving SES with whom Brainjogging works are building their academic base and their self-confidence.  They are learning about their intrinsic value and the power of self-motivation.

ASD, proprioception and poor handwriting – what is the link?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 by admin

[This post is a followup of yesterday’s post, entitled “ASD and handwriting problems.” Please click here to read “ASD and handwriting problems.”]

Another study conducted by the KKI and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, published in Nature Neuroscience and recently documented on this blog (click here for the relevant post) suggested that children with ASD “learn new actions differently than do typically developing children” (Science Daily).  Dr. Mostofsky, of the KKI, concluded that “children with autism relied much more on their own internal sense of body position (proprioception), rather than visual information coming from the external world to learn new patterns of movement” (Science Daily).

It seems that the handwriting deficits demonstrated by children with ASD may persist into teen years and adulthood because handwriting skills were initially developed by relying on proprioception rather than visual cues.  This would explain the atypical letter formation characteristic of individuals on the spectrum.  Dr. Mostofsky’s study suggested that targeting visuo-motor skills in children with autism would enhance and perhaps encourage greater reliance on visual cues.Brainjogging encourages reliance on visual cues!  Brainjogging targets the eyes and focuses on enhancing visuo-motor skills.  Perhaps Brainjogging’s targeted visuo-motor intervention will correct neurological abnormalities that encourage proprioception, which seems to lead to poor handwriting.  If corrected in childhood, these neurological abnormalities may be eliminated or at least reduced so that older individuals show greater reliance on visual cues, which may very well lead to their forming more typical letters.

Brainjogging’s associate in Charlotte, North Carolina

Monday, November 1st, 2010 by admin

To the Learning Disability Community of Charlotte, North Carolina,

We have great news for you!  We know the need in your area, and we are committed to making a difference in your students’ lives.  Camp Academia, INC. now has an associate in Charlotte, North Carolina,Mrs. Laura Lynne Frazier.  Mrs. Frazier received her teaching degree from Milligan College, a private liberal arts college in Johnson City, Tennessee in 1988.  Mrs. Frazier has a BA in English and Elementary Education.

She has three children, Ian, Collin and Erika, all of whom have been Brainjoggers at some point.  Mrs. Frazier has directed children’s choirs, worked in Admissions departments at Indiana University and The University of Rochester and began working with Shirley Pennebaker many years ago.  She and her husband have both been instructors with Camp Academia, INC. in the past.  Thus began her tenure with Brainjogging.

Mrs. Frazier and her family moved to Charlotte in 2001. In 2004, she entered the Charlotte Mecklenburg School system as a substitute for several elementary schools and AG middle school. Mrs. Frazier is currently a third grade teacher in Charlotte.

Laura Lynne Frazier is excited to serve Charlotte, North Carolina's learning disability community.

Mrs. Frazier attended Brainjogging’s teacher training in June 2010, where she was introduced to the neuroscience behind Brainjogging.  Mrs. Frazier also learned how to treat learning disabilities utilizing Brainjogging.  She left with an understanding of the myriad ways in which Brainjogging enables students with learning disabilities to be successful learners.
Mrs. Frazier is excited about the opportunity to help her current and future students who need Brainjogging to succeed!

Thank you for your time, Charlotte.  We look forward to a great relationship – we are going to CHANGE YOUR STUDENTS!