Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

July 13, 2020
Five SEL Skills That Struggling Secondary Students Need (And How Elements I Builds Them)

Here are five social-emotional learning skills that are particularly important for adolescent learners, along with how Elements I develops these SEL skills and reading skills simultaneously.

September 18, 2019
4 Little-Known Facts about Poverty and the Brain (And What Educators Can Do about Them)

A little girl wearing too-small sandals and no coat on a freezing January morning. A boy sick from eating nothing but potato chips and Kool-Aid. An eight-year-old raising himself and sleeping at night with 3 younger siblings. These are children of vulnerable populations that Linda Ann H. McCall recalls teaching at a Title 1 school, or federally assisted low-income school, in urban America. In her 2018 article in National Youth-At-Risk Journal, McCall recounts what teachers across the country witness every day: the challenges that students from low-socioeconomic (SES) families bring with them to school. Dr. McCall reflects, “I was reminded over and over of Abraham Maslow’s classic Hierarchy of Needs when I asked myself ‘how could I expect a child to focus on the concepts of long division and sentence structure, for example, if he or she was being abused and/or feeling hungry, afraid, and/or unloved?’ (p. 41-42). What worked? What worked in Dr. McCall’s classroom, and what many other educators at Title 1 schools are increasingly implementing, is brain-based teaching and learning. Dr. McCall argues that brain-based learning is especially important for teaching children impacted by poverty. What do Title 1 educators need to know about the impact of poverty on the brain? More importantly, how should school leaders apply brain-based learning to teaching? Keep reading to learn 4 little-known facts about poverty and the brain. What is brain-based learning? All learning happens in the brain, so isn’t all learning “brain-based learning”? In a way, yes. But “brain-based learning” means the application of brain science to teaching—what happens when neuroscience meets education. As Great Schools Partnership defines brain-based learning, the practice builds on “scientific research about how the brain learns, including… how students learn differently as they age, grow, and mature.” Brain-based learning is crucial for children from low-SES […]

August 15, 2019
"My Life Is Forever Changed"

A Note from a Fast ForWord Graduate We love when this happens. The other week, we received a lovely email from a Fast ForWord alum. A young woman named Rachel W. told us, "I know my life has been forever changed by this wonderful company." Read her full letter below! Thank you for sharing your story with us, Rachel. We are honored to be part of it. Best of luck completing your Master’s degree in social work, and we hope you stay in touch!   July 3, 2019 Hello Richard Cheng, My name is Rachel W. and I am writing to you today to thank Scientific Learning for existing. You have no idea how many lives have been changed by Scientific Learning. I know my life has been forever changed by this wonderful company. I say this with confidence because I know I would not be where I am today without it or without the support from my speech and language pathologist. A little bit about me and my background: At the age of 8 I was diagnosed with Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). I was not socially or cognitively functioning at the appropriate age level. I could not understand what people around me were saying. I had a very difficult time following directions as well as staying engaged in school and in social settings. I was struggling to keep up with my peers academically, cognitively, and socially. After I was officially diagnosed, my parents took me to see a speech and language pathologist where my life was transformed. She bought/downloaded Fast ForWard and challenged me to never give up on the program (even when it got challenging and frustrating for me). The games and levels I completed developed new pathways in my brain which allowed me to eventually function at […]

July 11, 2019
Differentiation: Achieving Success in a Mixed-Ability Classroom

Aladdin and The Lion King are in theaters again, but don’t be fooled: things have changed a lot since the 90s. The last two decades have seen a significant change in the student population of America’s K-12 schools. Today’s classrooms are increasingly diverse in cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, between 2000 and 2015, the percentage of students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools who were White decreased from 61 to 49 percent while the percentage of students of color increased substantially, making it the first time in American history that minority students became the new majority in the student population. The percentage of English Language Learners (ELLs) and students with learning disabilities in schools have risen significantly as well. Diversity is wonderful! But when one part of a system changes, the other parts have to change too. How can educators reach every student in the class when students have varying learning styles, levels of ability, and background knowledge? A growing body of research points to differentiation—a method of instructing—as one potential solution. A study by Dr. Lynn McQuarrie et. al demonstrated positive results for the full implementation of differentiated instruction in mixed-ability classrooms over a three-year period, with students that had learning disabilities benefitting the most from differentiated support. Furthermore, Carol Tieso’s study found that differentiated instruction significantly improved student performance in mathematics, especially for gifted students. So, what exactly is differentiation then? What differentiation means Differentiation expert Carol Ann Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as “tailoring instruction to meet individual needs.” By including a variety of teaching techniques, educators instruct a diverse group of students with different abilities in the same classroom. The goal is to make sure that all students master key concepts while striking a balance between comfortability […]

October 25, 2018
A College Senior Mailed Us a Letter

Click the image to read the original letter we received recently from a young man named Caleb.  Thank you, Caleb, for sharing your story! May you be an inspiration to others.  From 2.2 GPA to 3.5 GPA My name is Caleb, and I have passed all the levels for Fast ForWord. I'm a college senior at BYU-Idaho. I want to share my story and express my gratitude. Your diligent efforts with your software program improved my life. In July of 2017, I completed the worst semester of my academic career. I earned a 2.2 GPA and it was, by far, the worst GPA I've ever had in my life. I was discouraged, confused, and frustrated with myself. I'm an accounting major and found that junior year accounting is difficult! Probably the most frustrating thing was that I put in the time to learn the material and earn the grade I desired. I was spending 10-12 hours on campus daily, but I did the worst I've ever done. This was probably the lowest point in my life. My brother's unexpected success story In July of 2016, my mother found an academic counselor for my little brother to see, who was 16 at the time. My brother is a very smart person, but struggled with school ever since Kindergarten, specifically with reading, writing, and spelling. He was diagnosed with visual and auditory processing (lrlen Syndrome) disorders and motor problems. Immediately, the academic counselor worked with him. He started doing the Fast ForWord exercises. In eight months' time, my brother went from a 3rd grade to a 6th grade reading level. Amazing progress! Today, my brother is doing even better. He just earned his first 4.0 for the quarter!  Not only did he improve academically, but he has more confidence in himself and his social skills have improved. My turn […]

August 9, 2017
Why Silent Reading Doesn’t Work for Struggling Readers

Reading fluency is understanding what you read, reading at a natural pace, and reading with expression. How will your students, or your child, become more fluent this year?  It’s tempting to think that reading more is the key. It turns out that silent reading does not build reading fluency in struggling readers. According to the National Reading Panel, “there is insufficient support from empirical research to suggest that independent, silent reading can be used to help students improve their fluency”. Knowing this, if the student isn’t proficient in reading, should they continue “reading” a not-right selection in the hope of becoming a better reader? I liken this to me learning how to paint. I have recently started to go to local painting outings. With some coaching/instruction, I am starting to understand the basic techniques. The instructor goes around to everyone to make sure they are doing what is asked of them. The instructor breaks each step down, section by section, and then checks back in with everyone as we progress. Shouldn’t we do the same with our students — making sure they are reading proficiently, every step of the way, similar to how my painting instructor goes to each student to make sure our technique will get us the end result that we want? If I stayed quiet and fumbled through my painting, would I get better in terms of technique and form? This is similar to having a student stay quiet when they are struggling with reading the text at hand. This being said, silent reading does have an important place in students’ lives. Once a student is a fluent reader, they should continue reading anything and everything that is available to them at their just-right level.  Here are the best practices for building reading fluency for those who struggle with reading: […]

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 […]

April 20, 2011
Students Exceed State Average on TAKS after Fast ForWord, Maintain Gains

Since the 2004-2005 school year, the Dallas Independent School District has used the Fast ForWord products in many of their high schools. This multi-year study followed more than 500 high school students from 20 schools over the years of their Fast ForWord participation.   This study shows impressive longitudinal results on the TAKS which is The Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills which is administered annually throughout Texas and is closely aligned with the state curricular standards.   A longitudinal study is a type of study that follows the same subjects over time. Students started with the Fast ForWord Middle & High School product, now known as the Fast ForWord Literacy product. Many went on to use the Fast ForWord Language to Reading and Fast ForWord to Reading products. On average, students spent 60 days using the products during a 5 ½ month period.  The scores of Fast ForWord participants moved in step with the state average until the students started to use Fast ForWord products.  During the year of Fast ForWord product use, the participants experienced accelerated learning that separated their performance from that of their peers.  Even up to two years after they finished using the products, the Fast ForWord participants maintained their improvements. The TAKS gains made during the study were statistically larger for the Dallas Fast ForWord participants than the gains made by their statewide peers.

Achieve 1-2 years of reading gains in just 40-60 hours with brain-based learning.
HomeProgramRESULTSESSALogin
BLOGWEBINARSCLASSROOM RESOURCES
Copyright © 2019 Scientific Learning Corporation. All rights reserved.
linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram