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+ 25 Fun Activities for Library Visits

From MamaScouts.blogspot.com

 MamaScouts spend many afternoons at neighborhood libraries. At some point, they say, things switched from going to find particular books, to just hanging out. For hours. Reading, exploring, asking questions, sharing, talking…. even some writing.

Here is MamaScouts’s quick list of fun things you can do at the library, other than just check out books.  Any of these ideas would be a great boredom buster. Just tell your kid you have an adventure in min and embrace the mission! You will have a great time!


 1. Look at microfilm from your birthday, or a hundred years ago, or when grandma was born.

 2. Look for the biggest book in the library. Take your picture with it.

 3. Browse the travel section, find a place you want to visit, make some plans.

 4. Go to the cookbook area, choose a recipe, go the store, get the ingredients and cook it that day.

 5. Everyone find a poem, read it out loud and then copy it into your journal.

6. Choose a random CD, listen to it all the way through.

 7. Kind Bomb: write happy, friendly, welcoming notes and slip them in random books to be found by other children.

 8. Scan the books of quotes. Find a good one and write it outside on the sidewalk with  chalk.

 9. Bring paper and colored pencils. Draw from the easy I-Can-Draw-Books for an hour.

 10. Take a present to the librarians.

 11. Leave a thoughtful review on a post-it note in a book you really loved.

 12. Find out what services your library offers. Ellison machine? Study prints? Study rooms?

 13. Occupy! Have a meeting, writer’s group, books club, homeschool co op, adventure planning committee at the library.

 14. Make photocopies of your hand, funny book titles, weird images….

 15. Make a list of suggested books and media for your library to buy. Make the library YOUR library.

 16. Arrange a library tour.

 17. Browse books on the flora and fauna of your area. Learn to identify something new.

18. Check out the corresponding children’s or adult section to your favorite area (reptiles, art, mystery…)

 19. Ask about the special collections.

 20. Read a biography from the children’s sections on someone you know very little about.

 21. Find a baby name book, make a list of funny name combinations, choose a new name for the day.

 22. Hunt for authors with your same last name.

 23. Look in the reference section. What is the weirdest reference book you can find?

 24. Buy old magazines, cut them up and make happy posters, rehang in the library.

 25. Make sure each kid has their own library card and bag. Do not fuss about late fees. Ever.

~Source:  http://www.mamascouts.blogspot.com

Orton Gillingham Tutoring in Columbus OH: Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


+ Council for Learning Disabilities Conference in October

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The 33rd International Conference on Learning Disabilities will be held in Austin Texas on October 27-28, 2011.

Presented by The Council for Learning Disabilities, the theme is:

 Evidence-based Practices: How researchers develop evidence-based interventions, and how practitioners implement evidence-based interventions.

The conference will provide attendees with an excellent opportunity to learn and network in one of the nation’s most exciting cities.

Those in higher education want information about the latest research in this field, as well as methods and statistics used in that research — this is the place.

Practitioners will find in-depth sessions on how to teach students with learning disabilities how to read, write, and compute.

Administrators interested in policy or how to implement RTI in their schools and districts will be able to see the latest developments.

For more information visit http://cldinternational.org/Conference/Conference2011.asp  

  • Location: Austin Convention Center
  • Dates: October 27-28, 2011
  • Hotel: Special rates available at the Hilton Austin

More info visit website at http://www.cldinternational.org  or email Monica Lambert at lambertma@appstate.com or 828-262-7173.

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021 or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Write Your Feelings Before a Test and Do Well

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Sara Reardon, in Science Now, writes about a study at the University of Chicago which shows that students who spend just ten minutes writing about their worries before a test score higher than those who write about nothing or about something else.

Research by psychologists Gerardo Ramirez and Sian Beilock, published today in the journal Science, faced student subjects with  extremely stressful test situations. 

First, the students took a math exam covering material they had never before seen. 

They then had to take a second test, in which they would receive money if they passed.  At this point, they were also told that they had a partner who had already done well, and who would be let down if they failed.  

And — they would be videotaped while taking the test so that their teachers and friends could watch.  

Some students were asked to write about their emotions before they took the second test.  Others were told to sit quietly. 

Students who aired their anxieties showed an average 5% improvement on the second test. 

The others, who had not written about their feelings, “broke under pressure,” writes Reardon.  Their scores dropped by 12%.

Researchers found that it wasn’t just the distraction of writing that helped.  When students were told to write about, for example,  a past experience or about what they thought might be on the test, they also did worse than those who addressed their feelings.

Says researcher Beilock, who is the author of Choke, a book on performance anxiety, “Research has shown that a test is not indicative of a student’s ability.  If we know the science behind test anxiety, we can adapt a short, punchy intervention to help students perform at their potential.”

About this study she says “Writing about their worries allows the students to reexamine the testing situation and reappraise it.  This frees memory resources and increases the ability to focus.”

Researchers admit that it might seem counterproductive to force worriers to focus on their fears.  But they say that it is well documented that when trauma victims and depression patients express emotions on paper, benefits are demonstrated. 

Education and psychology professor Geoff Cohen of Stanford University (who was not involved in the research) feels the cathartic effect of writing about your emotions is exemplified by blues music.  “Putting your thoughts and feelings down has been shown to increase emotional and even physical well-being.”

The data inspired researchers at Chicago to “take the technique to the field.”   Ninth-grade students taking final exams that could affect their college admissions became their subjects this time. 

As in the previous study, students who wrote about their feelings before the test performed significantly better than those who wrote about another topic.

In addition, students who had previously reported the most test anxiety showed the most improvement.

Art Markman is a psychology researcher at the University of Texas, Austin, and is editor of the journal Cognitive Science.  He says, “The exciting thing is how this study bridges the gap between the lab and the world.  To manipulate performance in a controlled lab experiment and then bring it into a natural environment is an important advance.”

Beilock’s group plans to study whether or not expressive writing improves the scores of students from certain stigmatized groups — women who are expected to do less well in math, for example.

“It’s an easy intervention and doesn’t take away from classroom time.”

source: Sara Reardon’s 1/13/11 article at  http://www.news.sciencemag.org

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ “Gap Year” Motivates Students: Research

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An article in Education Week, by Sarah D Sparks, reports that research has found that Australian students were more likely to take a gap year if they had low academic performance in high school.

But former “gappers” reported significantly higher motivation in college — in the form of “adaptive behavior,”  for example, planning, task management, and persistence, compared with students who had not taken that year off.

 University of Sidney researcher, Andrew J Martin, says

Findings from the two studies suggest that participation in a gap year may be one means of addressing the motivational difficulties that might have been present at school.

Statistics from the US Department of Education  show that, across the United States just 7.6 percent of 2003-4 graduates delayed their entry to college for a year.  Of those, 84 percent reported working; 29 percent traveled or pursued other interests. 

Unlike the Australian study, US students who delayed entry to college were less likely to complete a degree.  Aurora D’Amico, a researcher for the American study, says, however, that this report does not formally break out results for gap-year participants.

But anecdotally, there is some evidence to suggest the idea of a gap year may be catching on in the US.  Says Reid Goldstein, who organizes panel discussions on gap-year options in Arlington Virginia,

I think more parents every year are starting to come to terms with the notion that life for themselves and their kid isn’t going to end if the kid isn’t in a college freshman class two months after high school.

The schools have figured out that the number of seniors going to college is their success metric but… they don’t follow those kids to college.  They don’t see those kids binge drinking or dropping out or doing any of those things that show they are in the wrong place at that time. 

Linda H Connelly, who counsels high-schoolers at New Trier Township High School agrees.

We found we were counseling everybody to [go to] college, and we were finding a lot of these students were just not ready to go on.  The parents wanted them out of the house, and we wanted to give students another option.

 Connelly’s department started a “gap fair” five years ago.  It began with six programs and a handful of families.  This year, 30 programs are offered to more than 400 people from across Chicago. 

The programs have proved helpful to motivate both students who aren’t yet mature enough for college — and burned-out overachievers.

The president of the Princeton, NJ Center for Interim Programs, Holly Bull, feels that taking gap time can save a lot of floundering around.  “Changing majors, changing schools… it gets very pricey to be confused in college.”

Many elite colleges, including Princeton, Harvard and Yale, encourage deferments for gap years.  Princeton has 100 students annually performing a year of service work abroad.

Karl Haigler and Rae Nelson are co-authors of the 2005 book “The Gap Year Advantage.”  They conducted a study of 280 recent gap-year alumni.

Haigler says the results echo the findings from the Australian study.  They plan to release a forthcoming book titled (tentatively) “The Gap Year, American Style.” 

Haigler and Nelson found that students reported their top two reasons for taking a gap year were burnout and wanting to “find out more about themselves.”

Nine out of 10 of those students returned to college within a year.  Sixty percent reported that the time off had either inspired or confirmed their choice of career or academic major.

sole source: article by Sarah D Sparks in Education Week, September 15, 2010.  http://www.edweek.org

tutoring in Columbus OH:  Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Effective Study Strategies: New Research

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We think we know about good study strategies.  Study in one special place.  Keep it uncluttered.  Be sure it’s quiet.  Stick to a schedule. Set goals.  Don’t bribe.  Pay attention to learning (and teaching) styles.

But according to Benedict Carey’s article in the NY Times, no one really knows if our advice is true.  There has only been very sketchy research  on these matters.

In recent years, however, cognitive scientists have shown that a few simple techniques can improve what a student learns and retains.  And this applies not only to a k-12, college or post-grad student, but also to a retiree who wants to learn Mandarin Chinese.

Some of the information directly contradicts much of the common wisdom.

  • Alternating rooms improves attention– when the outside context is varied, the information becomes enriched; students are forced to make multiple associations “and this slows down forgetting” (Robert A Bjork of the University of California) 
  • “Learning styles” appear to be irrelevant — “the lack of credible evidence …is both striking and disturbing” (Journal Psychological Science in the Public Interest“)
  • Ditto, “teaching styles” — “We have yet to identify the common threads between teachers who create a constructive learning atmosphere” (Daniel T Willingham, University of Virginia
  • Alternate types of material studied in one sitting — seems to leave a deeper impression on the brain. Musicians and athletes have known this for years.  “With mixed practice, each problem is different from the last one, which means kids must learn how to choose the appropriate procedure” (Doug Rohrer and Kelli Taylor, University of South Florida)
  • Intensive “immersion” in one thing doesn’t pay off — researchers found that students exposed to many different styles of painting were later better able to distinguish the styles of unknown painters.  “[T]he brain is picking up deeper patterns… what’s similar and what’s different…” (Dr Nate Kornell, Williams College)

One researcher likened cramming to speed-packing a cheap suitcase: it holds its load for a while, but soon everything falls out.

Says Henry L Roediger III, of Washington University in St Louis

With many students, it’s not like they can’t remember the material [when they move to an advanced class].  It’s like they’ve never seen it before.

So pack the neural suitcase carefully and gradually, writes Carey, and it will hold its contents far longer.  Study an hour tonight, an hour on the weekend, another session in a week. 

According to dozens of studies, this spacing improves later recall without requiring you to put in extra study overall.

“Forgetting is the Friend of Learning”

No one seems to know why.  Perhaps the brain, revisiting the material later, has to relearn some of what it absorbed before.  This very process may be self-reinforcing.

Says Dr Kornell

The idea is that forgetting is the friend of learning.  When you forget something, it allows you to relearn,and do so effectively, the next time you learn it.

Testing Itself As a Powerful Learning Tool

Cognitive scientists are now seeing testing — and practice tests and quizzes — as a powerful tool of learning.  They say testing is more than merely assessment. 

The process of retrieving an idea is not like pulling a book from a shelf.  It seems to fundamentally alter the way information is subsequently stored.

And that makes it far more accessible in the future.

Dr. Roediger uses the Heisenberg uncertainty principle as an analogy, which says that the act of measuring a property alters that property

“Testing not only measures knowledge, but changes it,” he says.  Happily, in the direction of more certainty.

Tests are often hard, and here is the paradox.  It is just this difficulty that makes them such effective study tools, according to researchers.  The harder it is to remember something, the harder it is to forget.

Carey says that there are, of course, other factors at play: motivation, perhaps, and the desire to impress people. 

But now students have some study strategies that  are based on evidence, and not simple theorizing or “schoolyard folk-wisdom.”  

sole source: Benedict Carey’s article in the NY Times on 9/7/2010.  http://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?_r=1&ref=benedict_carey 

tutoring in columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards  614-579-6021  or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ Babies Disinterest in Faces Possible Risk for Autism

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Shari Roan’s blog at the L A Times notes research published in the Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology.

Researchers from the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore and the University of Delaware have observed 25  6-month-old infants who were siblings of children with autism.  (Siblings are at much higher risk of developing the disease.)

These infants were compared with 25 infants from families with no history of autism.

The infants were observed performing a task that measures their ability to learn, and their level of social engagement with a  caregiver.

Researchers found that infants in the low-risk group were more likely to have normal social gazing: they looked at their caregivers, pointed to toys and became excited as they played.

The high-risk siblings, though, spent less time looking at caregivers and more time focused on the toy.

The two groups did not differ in how well they learned the game being played with the caregiver.

Authors are A N Bhat, J C Galloway and R J Landa

Landa says the study provides more evidence for early diagnosis, and that the lack of interest in people’s faces is “a subtle difference that could be easily overlooked by both parents and some professionals.

for access to the complete journal article : http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1469-7610.2010.02262.x/abstract.  For Roan’s 9/2 LA Times blog post, find it at  http://www.latimes.com .

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com

+ IQ is Malleable: Intelligence and How to Get It

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Nicholas Kristof writes in the NY Times that although poor people have significantly lower IQ’s than rich people, it is not wholly a function of genetics.

If intelligence were simply encoded in our genes, that would lead to depressing conclusions: neither schooling nor antipoverty programs could accomplish much.

But evidence is growing that this is not true.  Kristof cites the work of Richard Nisbitt, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan.

Nisbett has just demolished this view in a superb new book, “Intelligence and How to Get it.” 

And Nisbitt also provides suggestions for transforming your  little ones into geniuses: praise effort more than achievement, teach delayed gratification, limit reprimands and use praise to stimulate curiosity.

Nisbitt focuses on how to raise America’s collective IQ.   That’s important because IQ doesn’t measure pure intellect (they’re not certain exactly what it does measure).  The fact is, differences matter, and a higher IQ correlates too greater success in life.

Some background:  intelligence does seem to be highly inherited in middle-class household.  The findings of the separated identical twin studies showed that they were remarkably similar in IQ.  

But there were very few impoverished families in those studies.

Eric Turkheimer of the University of Virginia has conducted further research demonstrating that in poor and chaotic households, IQ is minimally the result of genetics — because everybody is held back.

“Bad environments supress children’s IQ’s,” says Turkheimer.

One gauge of that: when poor children are adopted into upper-middle-class households, their IQs rise by 12 to 18 points, depending on the study. 

A French study showed that children from poor households adopted into upper-middle-class homes averaged an IQ of 107 by one test and 111 by another. 

Their siblings who were not adopted averaged 95 on both tests.  

Another indication of malleablity: IQ has risen sharply over time.  The average IQ of a person in 1917 would amount to only 73 on today’s IQ measurements.  Half the population of 1917 would be considered mentally slow by today’s measurements, says Nisbitt.

Correlating closely to higher IQs is good schooling.  An indication of school’s importance: children’s IQs drop or stagnate over the summer months when they are on vacation (particularly those kids whose parents don’t push them to read or attend summer programs).

Professor Nisbitt strongly recommends intensive early childhood education, which has been proven to raise IQ and improve long-term outcomes.

The Milwaukee Project is an example.  It took African-American children considered at risk for mental retardation and assigned them randomly either to a control group that received no help or to a group that enjoyed intensive day care and education from 6 months of age until they entered first grade.

By age 5, the children in the program averaged an IQ of 110, compared with 83 for the control group kids.  And even in adolescence, years later, those children were still 10 points higher in IQ.

Nisbitt notes that schools in the Knowledge Is Power Program (known as KIPP) have tested exceptionally well; he favors experiements to see if they can be scaled up.

Another proven intervention: when junior-high-school students are told that IQ is expandable, and that their intelligence is something they can help shape, they have worked harder and gotten better grades. (This seems to be particularly true of girls and math — girls assume they are genetically disadvantaged at numbers; when they don’t have that excuse, they excel.)

Says Nisbitt

Some of the things that work are very cheap.  Convincing high-school kids that intelligence is under their control — you could argue that that should be in the junior high curriculum right now.

What is the implication of this new research?   The economic stimulus package should also be an intellectual-stimulus program, writes Kristof.

sole source:Nichols D Kristof’s article in the NY Times on 4/17?/09.  www.nytimes.com   “Intelligence and How to Get It: Why Schools and Culture Count,” by Richard E Nisbitt is published by WW Norton, 2009.  ISBN 0393065057; 9780393065053;  304 pages.  $26.95

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards   614-579-6021   or email  aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com