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Broke brain? Here’s the work-around June 19, 2007

Posted by Dr. Rohn Kessler in 9-5-4, aging, brain, brain injury, challenged, cognitive decline, concentration, dementia, distractibility, fitness, humor, ld, learning disability, memory, memory loss, mTBI, neuroscience, news.
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Research has shown that we can increase our ability to solve problems. Expand your way of looking at the problem by decreasing the restrictions so you can see it a new way.

Here is how.

Look from a different angle such as how would you see someone else dealing with the issue. Change the structure of your thinking.

For example suppose you were to consider how a man can marry ten women in one month? If you see him as a man this is a challenge but if you see him as a minister, rabbi. priest or imam who performed marriage ceremonies it all makes sense!

Life is like this too. Sometimes a solution is right there on the inside when you see things a different way.

The flexible can be bent but are difficult to break. We can see this by comparing a young branch to an old twig. Flexibility can be learned and practiced. Just do it!

Pay attention to error feedback—ours and other folks. It is OK to ask “How did I get this to work for me? and “What gave me the clue to solve the issue?”

For the memory or spatially impaired this means writing down what did not work and doing it another way next time. When you hit the jackpot and figure it out write down what worked. If you hate writing or typing, say it into any recording device.

–Dr. Amy Price


Mental Obesity June 6, 2007

Posted by edukfun in add, add parents, adhd, alternative treatment, art, aspergers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, brain drain, camp, children, cognitive decline, concentration, education, exercise, fitness, health, ld, learning disability, memory, obesity, parenting, parents, school, social skills, sports, summer, underachieve, video games.
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Think of your brain like your body.  What do you feed it each day?  A brain diet high in video games and low in cognitive demands will lead to mental obesity!

The NY Times is reporting that new web sites aimed at children, especially girls, are on the rise. These sites allow kids to chat, Instant Message, Accessorize their cartoon avatars, dress up dolls and play video games.  Sounds like fun, so what’s the problem?

The problem is that your brain is like a muscle–use it or lose it.  Spending an hour or two playing high stimulus, low cognition games (or watching equivalent TV programs, or reading equivalent comic books) is fine IF IT IS PART OF A WELL-BALANCED BRAIN DIET.

What makes a well-balanced brain diet?

Introducing the Brain-Food Pyramid:

  • 1-2 Hours of High-Stimulus, Low-Cognition activities: video games, TV, passive music, chatting with friends, internet surfing.
  • 1-2 Hours of  High-Cognition Activities: reading above grade level, write an essay, playing a musical instrument, peak-performance athletics, planning a big project.
  • 1-2 Hours of Physical Activity: walking, jogging, swimming, unstructured playing, sports, bicycling, etc.
  • 1-2 Hours of Socializing: hanging out with friends and family.
  • 7-10 hours of sleep!

“Kids these days” are packing on 4-14 hours PER DAY of high stimulus activities that require next to zero thinking.  They’re ignoring the other aspects of life, sacrificing social skills and physical health (including sleep) in order to get their next “fix” of almost-free brain stimulus.

Your brain needs exercise every day in order to stay in shape.  Don’t let Barbie take that away!

Good luck,

Allen Dobkin

Gimme a break! How to get kids to work more, waste less. May 31, 2007

Posted by edukfun in add, add parents, adhd, aspergers, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, attention training, challenged, children, concentration, discipline, education, exercise, fitness, focus, homework, ld, learning disability, parenting, parents, school, stress, teacher.
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ROWE, ROWE, ROWE your boat…at work but not at school. ROWE stands for Results Only Work Environment. Long story short: let people work how they want, when they want. Only measure the results. Performance and morale improve.

There workers can come in at four or leave at noon, or head for the movies in the middle of the day, or not even show up at all. It’s the work that matters, not the method. And, not incidentally, both output and job satisfaction have jumped wherever ROWE is tried.

Full article here.

How can we use Results-Only to get our kids to perform?

The bottom line for teachers and parents is that they need to get cooperation from 1-150 kids on tasks that, lets be honest, often aren’t interesting to them. If the child has ADD or a Learning Disability, the challenge is even greater.

Are our schools results oriented?

With few exceptions, in my opinion, No. This does vary from school to school and teacher to teacher, but overall I think that the atmosphere in America’s classrooms (big generalization here) is one in which students are evaluated on a mixed curriculum of education and discipline. In other words, the student’s grade is determined by both his or her mastery of the material and by how well he or she fits into the stereotypical pigeon-hole of a “good student”.

It is not enough for a student to learn the curriculum. He or she must also meet the teacher’s expectations of behavior and discipline or their grades will suffer. Which means that their collegiate futures are at risk. Which means their behavior in and around the classroom will in part determine their future.

Why is this bad? In my opinion, it is appropriate to evaluate behaviors, rule-following, conscientiousness and sociability. However, this evaluation needs to be made separate from an academic evaluation. Not merely out of fairness but because a student’s behavior does not reflect his or her mastery of the material. If the student has mastered the curriculum, and demonstrates that mastery on assessments, then his or her grade should reflect that mastery.

Further, teachers evaluate behavior based on their biased backgrounds. Students with different backgrounds are unfairly penalized. Since most teachers are middle-class, poor students suffer.

What do I mean? I mean that the student should not be penalized because he or she did not complete a non-assessment assignment (busy-work) or was disruptive in the classroom, or had a poor attendance record. Notice that each of these items are strongly correlated with poverty and a low socio-economic status. They also fit the profile of kids with Learning Disabilities.

In my opinion, when teachers mix assessment grades with behavior grades, they are doing these kids a major disservice. I am especially thinking of my LD students. These kids’ futures are already at risk. If they are graduating on a regular diploma, and most are, then they need every point they can get on their GPA. When I go into an Individualized Education Planning (IEP) meeting for a student, and I see that his assessment grades are A’s, B’s and C’s but his report card is full of C’s, D’s and F’s I conclude that the student’s needs are not being met. Isn’t it obvious? He can ace the exam, but has seven zeros for homework assignments…he’s learned the material. Even more, he did it without doing the homework. For him, the homework was really just busy work.

The goal of our schools should not be to pump out mass-produced cookie-cutter worker.

Corporate America is realizing that if you let good people make choices about how and when to work, everybody wins. Lets take that lesson home and into the classroom. Recognize that people have different learning styles and preferences and that the goal of our schools should not be to pump out mass-produced cookie-cutter workers.

Teachers: create multiple routes to success. Keep behavior and academic evaluations separate.

Parents: realize that your kid needs breaks. LD and ADD kids need LOTS of breaks. Split their homework session in two. Have a physical activity planned for in between.

One last quick story: a student of mine often comes in completely brain-fried. You know, that horrible feeling that you can’t even spell your own name right…for no reason! Once I realize we are up against the wall we go for a ten-minute walk and talk about video games. This lifts the mind-fog and learning can begin again.

Good luck!

Allen Dobkin