Tag Archive for 'other sources'

Could digital devices make attention worse?

Ever wondered if using digital devices is harmful to kids?

For those who just popped into this century, it is obvious that the education press is ripe with discussion of digital devices in classrooms. For the rest of us, the number of stories about the promise of tablets, games, and all their brothers, sisters, and cousins has just grown greater every year.

All this growth of technology has led people to voice reservations about technology in education, including education for students with learning disabilities. Some people probably needlessly fret that digital devices might deter children from learning to read and write (as noted at # 10 in “10 Big Concerns about Tablets in the Classroom”), and common complaints are that the devices are inherently distracting, that multi-tasking will reduce productivity, and that students will use them to do things other than assigned tasks (e.g., messaging each other). Probably most of these are overstated.

In fact, psychologist (and friend of LD Blog) Dan Willingham published an opinion piece in the New York (NY, US) Times entitled “Smartphones Don’t Make Us Dumb” that debunked the idea that devices disrupt attention, if not promoting inattention.

AS much as we love our digital devices, many of us have an uneasy sense that they are destroying our attention spans. We skitter from app to app, seldom alighting for long. Our ability to concentrate is shot, right?

Research shows that our intuition is wrong.

You should read Dan’s entire column (see link at the title), however, to get his full take on these ideas. You’ll have to concentrate, of course. (Also, watch for his forthcoming book, Raising Kids Who Read. I bet it’s going to be a good one.)

Ensley on LD

In a post on her blog that was also carried by the Huffington Post, Karem Ensley discussed “3 Things You Should Know About Learning Disabilities.” I don’t want to steal her content (better that one read it in its original form), but suffice it to say that she focused on foundational points (e.g., having LD does not mean one is dumb) and avoided falling into popular traps (e.g., she addressed “learning differently” without going for learning styles).

ResearchILD conference 2014

The annual conference of the Research Institute for Learning and Development (ResearchILD) will be held 14 and 15 March 2014. The theme of the conference for this year is “Myths and Realities in Education: Executive Function, Attention, and Learning Differences.”

Ably led for many years by Lynn Meltzer and held at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, the conference features an extensive series of sessions. Go to the ResearchILD Website to learn more or simply download a PDF copy of the brochure.

Testing genetic causes of dyslexia

Although at least four genes have been identified as possible markers for dyslexia, scientists have encountered considerable difficulty in coming to consensus about identifying a culprit as a contributing cause for the perplexing reading disorder. As noted previously here on LD Blog, DCDC2 (1 November 2005) and DYX1C1 (1 August 2008; 19 November 2009), among others, have been cited as possible loci for disruptions. But problems emerge when seeking to connect studies that point toward these candidate genes and studies showing the individuals with the problems. The associations between genes and problems appear in some language populations, but perhaps not in others, making one wonder about the clarity of the relationships.

Seeking a means of examining the relationships at a more abstract level, a group of European researchers collected data from a sample of individuals with dyslexia that represented people from eight different countries (Austria, France, Germany, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, and the United Kingdom). Using this diverse language sample, they reasoned, would allow them to search the the connections between genes and dyslexia at a more abstract level than when testing with a sample of people speaking just one or two languages.
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Public awareness series on PBS Rundown

Over on The Rundown, a blog affiliated with the US PBS show The Newshour, Jason Kane has an entry focused on Learning Disabilities as a prelude to segments to appear on the TV news show. In collaboration with our friend Sheldon Horowitz of the National Center on Learning Disabilities, Mr. Kane describes “Five Misconceptions About Learning Disabilities.” Check it out and that watch the segments.

Bignity launched

Jaime Openden and her colleagues have launched Bignity a new Web resource for the disability community. There are podcasts, news entries, and other sorts of materials for one to review. The authors cover many different topics. Check on it!

RFB&D becomes Learning Ally

RFB&D, which was originally known to many of us as “Recording for the Blind” before it became “Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic” and then (more simply) “RFB&D,” has renamed itself “Learning Ally” and affixed a ™ to that. Keep up with the latest from LearningAlly™.

A little sugar with your behavior?

Just as I did on EBD Blog, I’m encouraging folks to read Dan Willingham’s blog entry for the Washington Post regarding the persistent myth that sugar causes children to act hyper. Jump right on over to Dan’s post to read his full deflation of this popular balloon, then you can go back and catch my antique take down on the same topic at “Sugar High?

LD opinion survey: good news, bad news

For the fourth time, the Roper Public Affairs &’ Corporate Communications group has reported a survey of US opinion about Learning Disabilities to the Tremaine Foundation. Although the report is entitled “Measuring Progress in Public & Parental Understanding of Learning Disabilities,” it also includes data about the views of the general public, teachers, and school administrators. It’s worth reading the entire document, but here are a few notes to whet the appetite.
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Is inclusion right for your child?

Over on LD Experience, Kathryn Burke posted an editorial recounting some of her experiences as a parent of children with Learning Disabilities who must weigh placement alternatives. She describes an encounter with another parent who disagreed with her decision to place her elder son in a specialized school.

A parent from my son’s school, who had not heard about the lecture from me, came to greet me and ask if I could put her name on the “special education distribution list.” Another woman overheard our discussion and asked about the list, how it had started, and if she could join. I told her that I had assembled the email list from the names of individuals who had been present at events organized by the Parent Council at my son’s school, of which I was a member of the executive. I explained that the school was a specialized site within the public system for students with learning disabilities. Upon hearing this, the woman looked at me with a level of disgust as if I had grown horns, and loudly said, “I will have absolutely nothing to do with people who believe that children with disabilities should be segregated!”

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