Professional Development: Blog

The Science of Learning

November 29, 2016
5 Steps to ERASE Discord in Your Home

Our children bring us joy for many reasons. We can’t help but love them. It doesn’t hurt that they have tiny fingers and toes and that they say and do the silliest things. An acquaintance of mine recently posted on Facebook an interaction between her husband and daughter. During a trip to the grocery store, the husband perused the shopping cart and listed aloud the items. Among them were Pop Tarts, Tostitos, and Lucky Charms. “Are we missing anything?” he asked his daughter. She quickly responded, “Our dignity.” She’s six. We are constant witnesses to our children’s actions and words, so we know just how wise and brilliant they can be. But sometimes the immaturity they exhibit is more annoying than endearing. They are throwing tantrums because they aren’t allowed to eat glue or because we won’t allow them to play video games into the wee hours of the night. In response to the noise of our children’s minor frustrations, we adapt, adjust, and learn to cope, all the while making our best attempt to teach them that it is their responsibility not to become monsters in the world. However, when our kids fail to follow simple directions, it’s enough to drive us mad, and we might not always respond in ways conducive to promoting positive change in the home. How to get your child to follow directions (without a meltdown!) You may be relieved to know there are steps you can take as a parent to assist your children with following directions. Especially if your child struggles with his/her attention, language, or memory, this task may seem incredibly daunting. But if you are interested in improving the quality of your life—and possibly the quality of your relationship with your child—remembering the acronym ERASE just might do the trick. You have the […]

August 28, 2012
21st Century Learning: Preparing Students Today

Today, we live in a world dominated by technology. Our interactions with the world and with one another are mediated by computers, tablets and smart phones. The answer to practically any question you might have, at any moment, is a few keystrokes and fractions of a second away. In the same way that print changed how humans perceive information, now technology has once again flipped the world on its head. “We should seriously consider the claim that we are now undergoing one of the most significant technological revolutions for education since the progression from oral to print and book based teaching.” -Dr. Douglas Kellner, UCLA, New Media and New Literacies: Reconstructing Education for the New Millennium Preparing students for today’s world demands that education be delivered in a vastly different manner than what we see today in U.S. schools. In this world where information creation and discovery are taking place faster than we can bring that information to our classrooms, true 21st century learning must involve more than information literacy alone. Certainly, the traditional “3 Rs” – a shorthand way to talk about traditional content areas like reading, writing and arithmetic – play a core role in the 21st century classroom. (For the sake of argument, let’s have the 3 Rs include other traditional content domains like social studies and history.) But in this new world, those “content domains” become avenues for imparting a whole array of 21st century skills – skills that will allow students to function, learn and adapt throughout life in this post-modern world. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills(P21), one of a number of organizations advocating for a revamped educational system, says that for our young people to be able to compete in the global economy, they need more than the 3 Rs; a new “4 […]

September 13, 2011
The Great Homework Debate: Is Homework Helpful or Harmful to Students?

Sometimes, I feel as if I have been doing homework my entire life.  As a child growing up, I moved from worksheets, dioramas and book reports to essays, major projects and term papers.  When I began teaching, I had lessons to prepare and my students’ homework became my homework for grading.  (And, on occasion, it was quite obvious that I was putting a bit more effort into MY homework than they put into theirs!)  As my children reached school age, “Mom’s rules” on homework included:  homework comes first, don’t wait until the last minute on a project, etc.  But somehow their homework still bled over into my life… So, how important is this icon of education?  Is homework helpful or harmful?  Is it something that, as many students claim, just eats up their time and energy for no real purpose?  Do we, as educators, need new practices that move away from homework or are we simply afraid to change, stuck on those famous eight words, “But, we’ve never done it that way before…”? In support of the view of homework as helpful, many educators stress that specifically aligning homework to the learning task is part of the strategy for building understanding.  The website Focus on Effectiveness cites several studies showing that in elementary school, homework helps build learning and study habits (Cooper, 1989; Cooper, Lindsay, Nye, & Greathouse, 1998; Gorges & Elliot, 1999).  Also noted is the point that 30 minutes of daily homework in high school can increase a student’s GPA up to half a point (Keith 1992).  Many students need time and experience to develop the study habits that support learning, and homework can provide that as well as the ability to cope with mistakes and difficulty (Bempechat, 2004).  Those teachers who take the time to add instructive […]

July 20, 2011
Scientific Learning to Host Brain Summit in Conjunction with Building Learning Communities Conference in Boston

Dr. William Jenkins and Sherrelle Walker will present one-day summit on how brain fitness can help students improve one to two years in reading levels in eight to 12 weeks 7/20/11 Media Contact: Jessica LindlSenior Vice President, Marketing and Product ManagementScientific Learning Corporation(510) [email protected] Investor Contact: Bob FellerChief Financial OfficerScientific Learning Corporation(510) [email protected] Oakland, Calif. — July 20, 2011 — Scientific Learning Corp. (NASDAQ:SCIL), makers of the Fast ForWord® and Reading Assistant™ family of products, will host a New Science of Learning Brain Summit at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers on July 26. The Brain Summit is being held in coordination with the Building Learning Communities (BLC) Conference, sponsored by November Learning. The BLC conference, which is designed to have an immediate and long range impact on improving teaching and learning, will be held at the same hotel in downtown Boston with pre-conference sessions July 24-26 and main conference sessions July 27-29. At the Brain Summit, Scientific Learning’s founder and chief scientific officer, Dr. William Jenkins, and chief education officer, Sherrelle Walker, will discuss how current neuroscience research is contributing to viable, innovative and impactful solutions for improving academic performance. They will describe the importance of brain fitness in education and explain how students can exercise their brains to overcome literacy challenges and improve their capacity to learn. Participants will learn how schools can accelerate learning for students of diverse ages and ability levels by combining good teaching, good content, and exercises that stimulate the brain to build brain fitness in the areas of English language arts and reading. In the Boston area, school districts such as Everett Public Schools, an urban district located a few miles north of Boston, are realizing positive results by helping students build brain fitness with the Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant programs from Scientific Learning. After participating in the programs in 2009-10, elementary and […]

February 10, 2011
Why Your Brain Loves Chocolate

As mid-February rolls around, two subjects, hand in hand, start winding their way into our societal consciousness. Like it or not, you probably have two items “on the brain” these days: love and chocolate. Now, I sincerely hope you have an affinity for love. Likewise, probability indicates that you most likely have an affinity for chocolate. But what is it about chocolate that has all of us running to the store on Valentine’s Day to procure those shiny red boxes for our loved ones? Consider the sensations that love creates in the brain. When we are in love, what do we feel? What are the elemental feelings and emotions that a true, heart-felt loving relationship create?  Think about the sensations associated with a budding romantic bond; being with that other person creates feelings of well-being and centeredness. We feel stimulated and awake in their presence, aware of their every word and move. We feel pleasure just being in the same room with them. Now, consider chocolate. As it turns out, there are an extensive number of compounds in chocolate – about 380 – a number of which can have profound effects on our brain chemistry and contribute to these same feelings and sensations that accompany courtship and love. Imagine that you have just received that delightful box from your loved one. You lift off the flimsy, red cardboard top, slip off that sheet of paper, and within you find a dozen small brown paper cups, each gently holding one of these delicious trifles. You pick the darkest one in the box and pop it in your mouth. Then what happens? As you chew, savor and swallow, your body begins to digest and metabolize those 300+ compounds. Here are a few of them and their effects: Tryptophan and serotonin: They create […]

February 4, 2010
Are "Smart" Kids Born Smart?

Did you ever know someone that others referred to as a “brain”? It is a term most commonly used in a school environment referring to a top student. Often the “brain” did not seem to have to work hard at school; he or she was viewed as naturally intelligent, knowledgeable in many subjects, liked by teachers and admired by fellow students. Did you ever wonder how that person got that way? Most likely you thought, as did most experts in psychology, the field that assesses intelligence, that he or she was just “born” smart.  Until very recently, intelligence was viewed as a fixed innate capacity, a genetic gift from mom and dad that more or less propelled a child on their way to success in school then ultimately success in life. But it turns out, that intelligence is not as fixed as was previously thought nor is it preset by a person’s genetic inheritance.  There are many variables that affect intelligence as it is measured by tests, measured in school, and measured in life.   Neuroscience: nature vs nurture Current neuroscience research suggests that most newborn infants are born with the potential to achieve in many cognitive areas. There will be some genetic predispositions, but the child’s brain is extraordinarily malleable and “teachable”. One could say that the job of the infant brain is to figure out, from what is going on around him or her, what skills and sensory abilities it will be important to master. Once the basics are established the child’s brain will set out on a path to become an expert in those areas.  By stimulating their child in certain ways, parents set the stage for the infant brain to begin a developmental trajectory that will influence what the child becomes “smart” at – science, math, […]

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