Jul 26 2017

Trouble Talking? Californians can Borrow an iPad for Free.

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 9:58 am

In January 2017, a new program started lending iPads to people with speech disabilities. By using the installed speech applications, people who have difficulty talking or trouble being understood can speak independently or more easily. This 18-month pilot program hopes to address a long-standing problem among potential users of such assistive technology: It is difficult to prove one could benefit if the technology is not available for learning on and testing. Such proof is often needed in order to get funding from insurance or other… Read more

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Jan 28 2017

Can Sitting Harm Children?

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 4:30 pm

Classroom workstations could be improved. Children Know Better Children do not sit still easily. They have good reason not to: Prolonged sitting day after day can lead to organ damage, muscle strain and degeneration, cancer, impaired brain function, and other adverse health outcomes (nicely summarized in a 2014 Washington Post article entitled, “The health hazards of Sitting).” Although most research has been aimed at adults, children may already be suffering. A sedentary lifestyle may contribute to childhood obesity (along with diet and… Read more

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Dec 03 2016

Better Seating Means Better Focus

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 1:34 pm

I still remember some of the seats I was expected to sit in at school. The worst were metal ones, often attached to the desk so that I could not even adjust how close I sat to the work surface. They were so uncomfortable that I would alternate between leaning forward to put some of my weight on my arms on the desk, sitting back with legs crossed in various ways, putting my feet under my seat and sitting at the edge of my chair, and sitting sideways. I usually managed to do my work, take notes and listen to the teacher through all of this, but… Read more


Sep 27 2016

California Foster Care Children Over-Prescribed Psychotropic Drugs

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 11:42 am

I previously wrote about research questioning the long-term use of Ritalin for ADHD. More recently, the State of California conducted an audit of psychotropic drug prescriptions in four representative counties, including Sonoma (the county in which I myself live). Apparently, foster children are prescribed too many of these drugs and often at too high a dosage. Furthermore, proper court authorization procedures are not always followed. I first read of this at the Argus Courier’s website article from the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. For more… Read more

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Sep 12 2016

Why did the Principal of Chicago’s Top School Resign?

Category: LearningAdmin @ 11:43 am

Principal Troy LaRaviere dramatically improved the quality of a Chicago elementary school, using empirical evidence about effective school practices. In other words, he used what had worked elsewhere and it quite naturally worked in Chicago, too. Nevertheless, the school board wanted to fire him. His successful ideas conflicted with the politics of the Chicago Mayor and his appointed school board. In under five years, he took his elementary school from a ranking of No. 6 to No. 1 among neighborhood schools and from No. 16 to No. 3 for… Read more

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Jun 26 2016

Highly Recommended: Alternative Education Conference in Portland, Oregon

After five years, the Alternative Education Resource Organization (AERO) is finally bringing their annual conference back to the US West Cost at Portland, Oregon, August 3-7, 2016. Sign up right away if interested. There is not much time left. As one who attended the conference the last time it came to Portland, I can attest that it was a wonderfully moving experience. The keynote speakers will be: Yong Zhao, Presidential Chair and Director of the Institute for Global and Online Education in the College of Education, University of… Read more

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Jan 09 2016

Fractions Made Visible – and Fun

Image courtesy of Wikipedia Commons The aptly named website, “Visual Fractions,” shows fraction concepts and operations the way I teach them – from a visual basis. Although it is standard for math curricula to introduce fractions visually, most of them drop the visualization too early. Worse, when many children are just starting to grasp these concepts, they are expected to move onto the next ones before they have practiced and explored enough to feel confident and remember what they need to do. The “Visual Fractions” website not only… Read more

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Dec 16 2015

Fetal Medicine for Down Syndrome

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 10:16 am

Down syndrome, also called trisomy 21, is perhaps best known for its role in delayed intellectual development and obvious physical characteristics. Possible errors in over 200 proteins encoded for by the DNA can wreak health havoc. Medical researchers are beginning to focus on ways to fix the biochemistry, giving hope that early detection will result in actual treatment options beyond today’s stark choices of whether or not to abort the fetus and subsequent special education and medical support once the child is born. Regarding intellectual… Read more

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Sep 29 2015

Could Your Child be Colorblind?

Category: Health,LearningAdmin @ 6:06 pm

Color blindness can be problematic. One test for it is the Farnsworth-Munsell 100 Hue Test. The online version is less accurate than the eye doctor would have, since monitors and room light variations may affect the outcome. Nevertheless, it’s worth trying because it is free and a high score indicates that further testing is warranted. Let me relate a true story about a boy whom I’ll call Justin. Justin was completely confused about his math assignment, which depended upon reading graphs. His red-green color blindness made the red lines… Read more

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Sep 17 2015

New Osmo Game

Osmo®, the educational game platform that incorporates actual, hands-on pieces while giving software-based feedback and enhancements, has a new game for teaching basic math concepts and operations, called “Numbers.” As I mentioned in a previous post, Osmo uses the camera on an iPad to “see” which game pieces the player(s) have put in front of it. The creators of “Numbers” attempt to avoid math anxiety by incorporating flexibility and creativity, avoiding time limits, and building in options for collaboration and fun…. Read more

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