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The Science of Learning

July 26, 2017
Our Top 5 Most Popular Webinars: Watch Now!

We compiled our list of the top 5 webinars! Are you looking for opportunities to get professional development credit over the summer? Our webinars might be the perfect way for you to get the credit you need while learning from leading education experts on how to better support your hardest to reach students. You can even watch our webinars on your smartphone—making it easy for you to get PD credit hours even when you’re away from home this summer! Our top 5 webinars are... #5 Underperforming Student Success Strategies In this fast-moving, idea-packed webinar, you will learn from best-selling author, Dr. Eric Jensen, about the best brain-based learning strategies. Discover the emotional, social and cognitive tools that can eliminate 95% of underperformance issues. You have to know where (and how) to invest your time and energy. Learn the single best tool to solve academic and cognitive issues and you’ll start seeing daily academic successes. View Webinar #4 Dyslexia Research and Remediation View this webinar to learn about the latest research on the processing weaknesses and early indicators in dyslexia. Most importantly, find out how to use this information to help your students. See a demonstration of the evidence-based Fast ForWord software. View Webinar #3 Effects of Poverty on School Success Several new studies have shown that students from families below the poverty line are at the greatest risk for academic failure. Research reveals that low family income has a bigger impact on academics than ethnicity or English language proficiency. Join Dr. Martha Burns as she reviews the newest research and provides research on how the Fast ForWord intervention has been found to have a significant impact on academic achievement in children of poverty. View Webinar #2 How to Rewire the Brains of Struggling Readers While home environment, access to books, and social and economic […]

July 12, 2017
Meet Liza: A Clinician Determined to Help Students with Autism

 I sat down with Liza to hear her perspective on why Fast ForWord works so well for children on the autism spectrum, even if the child is not yet verbal.  Liza started by sharing a story about a young adult named Cory, whom she's known for many years, and who happened to also be at the center the day of the interviews!  What types of children do you work with here at your clinic? Most of the kids who are on the program here are on the spectrum. Some are completely non-verbal and others are on the higher end of the spectrum. They can express to us that their brains feel like scrambled eggs. We help give them a good, solid foundation with Fast ForWord. Tell me about your student, Cory.  Cory came to us right when we opened our original [speech and language] site. His mom is a fabulous special education teacher. I've known Cory since his mom was pregnant with him. After he was born, he was later diagnosed on the autism spectrum. He very quickly gained information from his mom because of her expertise, but there was that one piece missing. He has explained it to me that sometimes his brain felt like a scrambled egg. We had him start using Fast ForWord and the rest is history. How long have you been working with Cory? What does he want to do next? This young man has gone on to high school and graduated. He has done a very good job and is now coming back to volunteer at our center because he wants to give back. That is full circle for us. It’s been a 10-year journey with him.  We have so many success stories like him! You and I could sit here literally for a week if we went through all […]

June 28, 2017
Implicit vs. Explicit Instruction: Which is Better for Word Learning?

Does traditional or exploratory learning work better? As educators, we are constantly faced with the question of how we can best present material so that it is optimally “learnable” for the different students we are trying to reach. There is considerable evidence both for and against self-directed and exploratory learning, so there is a great opportunity for neuroscience to examine the ground-level differences between these and more traditional methods of instruction and how the brain reacts to each. One of those differences is the subject of current investigation: the divide between explicit and implicit instruction. By explicit instruction, we mean teaching where the instructor clearly outlines what the learning goals are for the student, and offers clear, unambiguous explanations of the skills and information structures they are presenting. By implicit instruction, we refer to teaching where the instructor does not outline such goals or make such explanations overtly, but rather simply presents the information or problem to the student and allows the student to make their own conclusions and create their own conceptual structures and assimilate the information in the way that makes the most sense to them. Which is more effective? One study out of Vanderbilt University recently looked at this question as it applies to word learning. In this study, principal investigator Laurie Cutting and her team examined 34 adult readers, from 21 to 36 years of age. The subjects were taught pseudowords—words that are similar to real words but that have no meaning, such as “skoat” or “chote.” Then, through both explicit and implicit instruction, subjects were taught meanings for these words. (In the study, both of these pseudowords were associated with the picture of a dog.) The goal was to gain a clearer understanding of how people with different skills and capabilities processed short-term instruction, how […]

June 13, 2017
Why Prosody Matters: The Importance of Reading Aloud with Expression

Reading aloud with expression is a foundational reading skill students should be developing between grades 1 - 5. It is pretty easy to recognize when someone skillfully reads aloud in an expressive manner. However, to effectively teach or assess this skill, a closer examination of its features, development, and relationship to other reading skills is needed. What is Prosody? Prosody, the defining feature of expressive reading, comprises all of the variables of timing, phrasing, emphasis, and intonation that speakers use to help convey aspects of meaning and to make their speech lively. One of the challenges of oral reading is adding back the prosodic cues that are largely absent from written language. Why is Prosody Important? Researchers have found strong links between oral reading prosody and general reading achievement. For example, after comparing students’ reading prosody in first and second grades with their reading comprehension at the end of third grade, Miller and Schwanenflugel (2008) concluded that, “early acquisition of an adult-like intonation contour predicted better comprehension.” Another study, which included more than 1,750 fourth graders participating in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), found a strong correlation between prosody and overall reading achievement (Daane, Campbell, Grigg, Goodman, & Oranje, 2005). How Does Prosody Impact Reading Comprehension? In the context of oral reading, prosody can reflect linguistic features, such as sentence structure, as well as text features, such as punctuation. Skilled readers pick up on these features, and respond to them when reading aloud, as when they pause briefly at relevant commas, pause slightly longer at sentence boundaries, raise their pitch at the end of yes-no questions, and lower their pitch at the end of declarative sentences. While punctuation provides some cues to prosody, young readers can be misled by it. For instance, they may pause at every comma, […]

May 30, 2017
5 Tips for Parents of Struggling Readers [Summer Edition!]

Every year, parents and educators work hard to help their children and students learn as much as possible, squeezing in all the high-value knowledge they can. But come the end of the school year, a solid percentage of that learning — anywhere from 6 to 12 weeks — is lost during summer vacation. This is especially true for children with learning challenges. Here are 5 tips for helping struggling readers get ahead this summer. 1. Read, Read, Read…But Don't Do It Alone It makes sense that if you read more, you'll be better at reading, right? Not so fast. If your child is struggling with decoding, fluency, and/or comprehension, it turns out that silent reading may not be helping at all. Research shows that independent, silent reading does not increase proficiency for struggling readers, but "guided oral reading" — reading with an expert reader by your side — does.  This summer, make sure your child gets help when a word or passage is too difficult (which is exactly what Reading Assistant technology does), so that time spent practicing moves reading skills ahead. Also, take turns reading a story to each other. Talk about the story, model what you're thinking, and ask open-ended questions, e.g., "I think Betty is feeling hurt that her friends are leaving her out. If I were her, I would find new friends. What would you do?" 2. Get Back to Music Decades ago, families gathered in the evening to play music together. How things have changed! Still, summer is a great time to break out the instruments. Music is good for the brain, so if piano practice has gone by the wayside during the year, or if you like to play the guitar and sing, summer is a great time to bring your child in on that activity, or to […]

May 16, 2017
A Rewarding Journey: Summer Learning with Auditory Processing Disorder

Manuel and Carol have twin sons who were born eight weeks early and weighing only two pounds. After spending seven weeks in NICU, they came home together but were late to begin talking. 18 years later, the boys are about to graduate from high school. Manuel and Carol were kind enough to share their sons’ journey using Fast ForWord with us. See more of Manuel and Carol's story on YouTube > Tell us about your twin sons' history. Manuel: We noticed there seemed to be some sort of a language delay around the age of two and a half to three. They developed a twin language. That was the way they communicated with themselves. Obviously, it wasn't consistent with normal child development, because we do have an older child, so we've had a little bit of experience on how it should go. We started having them examined, took them into a neurologist and various doctors, and they were diagnosed with central auditory processing disorder, which is, for those who don't understand, it's how we process sounds, or what things are said to us. Most learning comes that way. How did you find out about Fast ForWord? Manuel: We found different tutoring programs that would help them. Wings Speech & Language Center has done a great job. We've known Liza (Herrera) since before she opened this center. She knows the boys' history very well. When she identified Fast ForWord as a potential program for them, we were very excited. We did our research and discovered that potentially it could help them. They've done it pretty much every year since the age of six or seven. How did you make sure your twins didn't lose progress over the summer? Manuel: Three months [in the summer] is a long time not to have any […]

May 2, 2017
Listen Up! 5 Tips to Improve Students' Attention Span

Paying attention  Sounds easy to some of us. But is it really? Consider the various objects and applications vying for your attention right now. Email updates, texts, app notifications, voicemails -- each of these distractions in one pocket-sized device. Factor in your numerous daily tasks, social commitments, and family matters, and it's no wonder the average attention span continues to decline. And many of these distractions begin long before adulthood. I recently read that humans have a shorter attention span than goldfish. Intriguing, right? Goldfish apparently have an attention span of 9 seconds; humans 8 seconds. In 2000, before the advent of the internet, humans had an attention span of 12 seconds.  What is behind this change of attention in our lives? Of course, the advent of the internet and our smartphones. Who knew 20 years ago that we would all be carrying around our phones the way we do? They have become necessities.  Children and Smartphones   Smartphones are becoming part of childhood.  Consider these statistics: Children are now catching onto the smartphone revolution. Over half of children under the age of 12 have one.  21% of children under the age of 8 use smartphones — more than 1 in 5. The average age for a child to get a smartphone is now 12.  Smartphone/internet addiction could be surpassing drug addiction for young adults. More research is being done on this topic and I am certain we will see more in the years to come. How do you think this impacts your students every day as they come to school, in a world that was very different from the one their parents grew up in 20, 30, or 40 years ago?  Imagine how they feel when they come to school and now have to turn off the phones and other electronic devices and pay attention for 40, 50, 60 […]

April 18, 2017
Just the Beginning: How Fast ForWord Helped Monicia's Son with Autism
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