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Trying something new!

yflxxunc54nr8agnhyl6yzl72ejkfbmt4t8yenimkbxeejxnn4zjnz2ss5ku7cxt-300x176We are trying a new program with our 4th-9th grade students called BrainWare Safari. It is computer software that uses video game style activities to help students with attention, memory, and other struggles that many of our Pathway students deal with. I have witnessed this program at work and tried it myself, and I must say, some of the games are difficult! An article in eSchool News gives more information:

May 16th, 2012

Press Release: BrainWare Safari Closes Cognitive Gaps for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities

Read more by eSchool News

BrainWare Safari Closes Cognitive Gaps for Students with Specific Learning Disabilities

Study Shows Improvement in Executive Functions, Attention and Working Memory

CHICAGO, IL (May 15, 2012) – Groundbreaking research has demonstrated that a comprehensive, integrated cognitive skills training program can raise the cognitive functioning of students with specific learning disabilities (SLD) to parity with normally developing students. The results were presented in May at the Learning and the Brain Conference in Arlington, VA and in a Neuroscience in Education Webinar.

Students in the study who used BrainWare Safari for 12 weeks improved their cognitive functioning by 2.8 years compared to 2 months for a control group. Their overall cognitive proficiency increased from 64% to 89%, where 90% is the expected proficiency for a normally developing student. The control group improved just 1 point in cognitive proficiency, from 63% to 64%.

SLD is a disorder in one or more basic psychological processes. While students with SLD often have deficits in cognitive processes, such as executive functions, verbal and visual working memory, and processing speed, support fojjr students with SLD has typically focused on accommodating rather than remediating their deficits. This new research shows, for the first time, the effective remediation of key underlying psychological processes for students with SLD.

“Previous research has suggested that students with SLD must develop their underlying cognitive skills in order to benefit from interventions,” said Dr. Sarah Avtzon, the study’s leader and an Assistant Professor and Director of Early Childhood Development at Daemen College. “These results show not only that we can help students develop these critical skills but the cognitive improvements translate into dramatic gains in reading and math performance.”

The SLD students in the study who used BrainWare Safari improved their reading ability by 0.8 grade equivalent (GE) in 12 weeks, compared to 0.1 GE for the control group. Math performance improved by a full grade equivalent for the study group, compared to 0.2 GE for the control group.

Concludes Dr. Avtzon, “By targeting the underlying processing skills most directly linked with academic performance, we can close the achievement gap between students with SLD and typically developing peers.”

About BrainWare Safari

Chicago-based Learning Enhancement Corporation is the developer of award-winning BrainWare Safari, software that uses motivating video-game technology to develop 41 cognitive skills comprehensively and in an integrated manner. For further information, visit www.MyBrainWare.com.

Contact:

Betsy Hill

BHill@learningenhancement.com

312-239-2677

Sounds promising, doesn’t it? We are hopeful that this program will be successful in supporting all the other amazing types of learning that happens at Pathway. Let me give you a little glimpse into the BrainWare experience: A student will log into BrainWare and they become a jungle animal character. This character begins as a baby, but grows to be a child, then teenager, and adult animal as the student progresses in the game’s levels. The opening activity screen looks something like this:

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The activities that are available for the students to choose have levels within them that increase in difficulty. Some of the activities incorporate familiar tasks like tic-tac-toe, while others, like one called Whispering Waterfall, challenge students with multi-step directions.

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In the activity, students will read the directions to understand their current level. The first level of this game (Whispering Waterfall) asks the player to listen to three letters be read aloud (the picture shown is level 4, which incorporates both letters and numbers). Next, the player will tap the computer mouse to the beat heard in headphones five times. Then, the player will type in the three letters he initially heard. This game obviously supports memory skills and much more!
If you are a parent of a Pathway student in grades 4-9, ask about BrainWare! Your student may even want to play at home! As tempting as it may be to play some of the games, please don’t as it will affect your child’s records. We’re looking forward to seeing results!

The First Day of School

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back in school for over a week now! Here is a recap of a little of Pathway’s happenings on September 5, 2012:

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We are celebrating Pathway’s 10th year anniversary this year. Susie Wenger, the founder of Pathway, walked us through the past 10 years. The kids loved to see pictures of past campuses and students!

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Mrs. Green’s students created time capsules to keep hidden away all year long until the last week, when they open them up to discover what their likes/dislikes were, what they looked like, and how tall they were at the start of the year! Of course, Mrs. Green had to join the fun!

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In technology class, 4th through 9th graders brainstormed the things they are good at, as well as what things they think they are “experts” on. Next, the students listed the people in their lives they they look up to. It is extremely important for our faculty to get to know the students deeply so we can help them achieve their goals.

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Learning your multiplication facts can be a daunting, boring task for children. Our goal is to make these obstacles fun by creating new ways to learn that engage multiple learning styles. The first weeks of school are full of assessments to ensure that we are meeting each child where they are. Testing does not always have to entail a pencil and piece of paper either!

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All students were challenged to come up with goals or dreams for the year, in honor of Pathway’s 10th anniversary. We wrote them down on paper balloons and placed them all together as we left the building after our first day! If you’d like to see what students came up with, they are on a bulletin board in the hallway on the right side of hall when you come upstairs.

So much more is happening! I know that God is going to work mightily this year. Be on the lookout for next week’s post about our key verse, Psalm 36:5.

Homework doesn’t have to be a bad word!

Our Pathway students haven’t taken the big dive into homework yet this year, but it’s coming! Our staff spoke at Stowell Learning Center, not too long ago, about how to make this struggle with your child(ren) easier, and maybe even productive and enjoyable! Read more about 3 things to reinforce to make things run more smoothly at home when those assignments start rolling in at http://www.learningdisability.com/articles/winhomeworkbattle.htm.

Pathway teachers are hoping not to see the following happen this year:

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Let’s laugh about it now, but really – we can conquer the homework difficulties before they become a reality! The Pathway staff is rooting for you. We want our students to be successful at school and at home.

-Mrs. Green

Lunchtime…

Over my years of teaching at Pathway, I have seen so many different “eaters” each day, when my students pull out their snacks or lunches. Some are picky, some eat the same thing every day. Many have aversions to certain foods, and some will not touch a fruit or a vegetable. I have talked to some parents who are concerned about getting their child to eat anything at school, because the child’s food preferences are not easily transported. Pathway’s commitment to a sugar-free campus can also throw a wrench in some of the easier options for lunches: pre-packaged foods often contain a lot of sugar. I want to attempt to provide some ideas. While Pathway does not necessarily endorse the following website as a whole, it does provide a plethora of options when it comes to packing children’s lunches, being creative and making healthy food more fun, disguising commonly unwanted food (vegetables, anyone?), and opening up our minds to trying new things. Ready for it? Here it is: this link will take you to a search I have done on the website (www.100daysofrealfood.com) regarding the topic, “school lunches”.

School Lunches

The following link will take you to a post the author of the blog did on how to choose what to pack, with tons of great pictures!

Ideas

Following are some pictures from the website that may peak your interest and make you want to look into some of the ideas more!

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I personally want to pack myself apple sandwiches this year! Don’t these items look so fun and inviting?

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Using something like these smoothie pop molds could provide a lot of variety, and freedom from extra sugar.

Pathway parents: Remember that Pathway is a sugar free campus! I encourage you to talk to the staff or other parents if you need ideas or encouragement – kids can be challenging when it comes to getting them to eat the things they may “think” they don’t like. Maybe a reasonable goal for the start of the year is to just try it!

See you in a few short days,

Mrs. Green (Lead Elementary Teacher)

Pathway Parents: join the club!

I did some reading in honor of our helpful Pathway PTF – Parent Teacher Fellowship. New parents, and returning parents, please do not hesitate to join their team. They are a group of great parents, seeking to support Pathway School and to enrich the lives of students and staff alike! Hopefully this article will continue to convince you! The PTF is meeting for coffee on the first day of school – see the information in the News and Events area of our website.

Some highlights of the article I feel are worthy of mentioning here:

  • Schools that have heavy parent involvement can be more vibrant.
  • There are one-time volunteer requests, as well as ongoing responsibilities – so don’t be worried about the time commitment!
  • Your involvement in your child’s school shows your child the school’s value.
  • Being more familiar with the school and the other parents makes your child’s experience at school more of a family affair.

Read on for more!

ji09_parentpower_largeWhat School Parent Groups Do

PTOs and PTAs are often known for their fundraising, but they do a lot more.

by Sharron Kahn Luttrell

With a new school year starting, you’re probably flooded with flyers and forms, school lunch menus, supply lists, and announcements. As you sort through the stacks of paper deciding what to keep and what to toss, chances are you’ll come across a letter inviting you to join your school parent-teacher group. Hold onto that one. That letter is a keeper.

The Role of Parent Groups

For many people, the first introduction to their school parent group is through a product fundraiser catalog. And while it’s true that a mission for many PTOs and PTAs is to bring money into the school to pay for extras like playground equipment and cultural arts programs, parent groups contribute much more. They support teachers and staff, enrich the educational experiences of students, and improve schools. Through their efforts, these parent groups turn what could be a mere collection of individuals into a strong and supportive school community.

Parent groups work closely with the principal and teachers to learn what will make their schools better, then they find ways to help make those improvements. Sometimes the solution is straightforward and can be solved with cash. For example, the PTO might spring for a new set of risers so the chorus kids in the back row can see the director (and just as important, their parents can see them from the audience).

Other times, the PTO will tackle more complex problems. Schools that struggle with low parent involvement because of language differences, for example, have asked their PTOs to help create a climate where everyone feels welcome. Parent groups have responded to the call in a variety of creative ways: They’ve translated flyers and other materials from English; invited parents to join one another for social breakfasts at the school; sponsored information nights that address the specific concerns of minority families; even provided mentoring and spoken translation services. Through their efforts, PTOs have lowered language and cultural barriers to make it clear that their schools need all parents, not just a few.

Getting Parents Connected

Among the most important roles of a parent group is to draw mothers and fathers into the school. Parent involvement is vital for the success of children as well as for those who teach them. Studies consistently show that students whose parents are involved with their education tend to do better academically. They’re more likely to earn their high school diplomas and go on to higher education. Schools with heavy parent involvement are vibrant places where teachers and staff feel supported and students benefit from the attention of so many caring adults.

Yet many parents are afraid that if they go to a PTO meeting or help out at an event, they’ll be pulled into a bottomless hole of volunteering. If you’ve avoided your school’s parent group for this reason, keep in mind that you don’t have to agree to every request that comes your way. Figure out beforehand how much time you’d like to give, what skills and talents you have to offer, and which sorts of activities most interest you. Many parent groups send home a list of volunteer opportunities toward the beginning of the year or post volunteer assignments on their websites. Work with your PTO leaders to find a way to be involved that feels manageable to you.

For example, you might sign up for a one-shot assignment, such as running the cash register at the school’s annual book fair. Or you may prefer to take on a task that you can do in the evenings—updating the PTO website, for example. More important than how you get involved is that you get involved with your child’s school. The payback is enormous. You’ll get to know your fellow parents, you’ll learn what’s happening at the school, and you’ll have a hand in making it a stronger and more exciting place to learn. Plus, when you become an active member of the school community, your child learns that education is worth his time and attention. And that message is a keeper.


You Make a Difference

Volunteering at school is a great way to show your child that school is an important part of your family’s life. So is helping with math homework or reading a book together. In fact, any way you demonstrate to your child that you value education can make a difference. When you do, research shows there are some real benefits.

Higher grades.

Kids whose parents are involved in their education get better grades and have higher test scores. And the more parents are involved, the more their children seem to benefit.

Better behavior.

Children develop better social skills and show improved behavior at school. Studies have shown that kids are less likely to skip school, are less disruptive in class, and are more likely to do their homework when their parents are involved.

Improved education.

Research shows that parent involvement can help improve the quality of schools, raise teacher morale, and boost a school’s reputation. Involved parents gain the respect of teachers; as a result, teachers have higher expectations of their children.

Increased confidence.

When students feel supported at home and school, they develop more positive attitudes, have more self-confidence, and place a higher priority on doing well. Children of involved parents are more likely to feel included and respected.

Parents benefit, too.

When parents get involved, they become more comfortable in the school building, gain confidence in their parenting skills, and feel more capable of helping their children learn. They’re also more likely to continue their own education.

Healthy Media Habits

I found a great article on www.kidshealth.org about establishing great guidelines for how much “plugged in” time your children should have. Here are a few nuggets I took away from it:

kidsmedia1-300x199Regarding TV:

  1. Limit the amount of hours watched. You can do this by making board games, puzzles, books, etc. readily available in the SAME area that the TV is located in.
  2. Teach your children that television is a privilege – not a right.
  3. Don’t eat or do homework while watching.
  4. Choose a day (or two!) during the week to ban TV entirely. Plan family and/or outdoor activities on this day to deviate from it’s absence.
  5. Plan which shows will be watched and limit viewing to only those shows – no channel surfing!
  6. Find out what other families have set up in regard to monitoring television!

kidsvideogames-300x187Regarding video/computer games:

  1. Pay attention to the ratings given to individual games – you can even try them out before you let your kids play.
  2. Talk with your child about how the game affects them – especially if you notice a difference after he/she plays it!

kidscomputersRegarding internet safety:

  • Educate yourself on how to use the computer’s parental controls and make sure your child is protected anywhere they may use a computer.
  • Avoid allowing computers in a child’s bedroom.
  • Teach healthy computer etiquette (never sharing personal information or revealing location)
  • Bookmark your child’s favorite sites. This will eliminate the need for your child to surf the web and will reduce accidental exposure to inappropriate content.

If you want to read the article in it’s entirety, click on the link below:

Healthy Habits for TV, Video Games, and the Internet

Beginning chores as a start to the school year…

School will be starting soon, and parents around the country are feeling the crunch as they purchase supplies, establish earlier bedtimes, shop for clothing, and prepare their children for the more taxing schedules they must begin. This article offered a great suggestion that might help kids get back into a routine: chores! Maybe your family has established chores that continue throughout the summer, or maybe you are looking for suggestions to start something like this. I think you will find this article helpful and inspiring!

How to Help Get Your Kids Ready to Go Back to School

(from www.livelifeshopsmart.com)

Change may be good, but it’s not necessarily easy. Trying to ease your family back into a routine after a laid-back and carefree summer can be a challenge for both kids and parents alike. Moving from days that consisted of going to the pool or beach, movie watching & friends to homework, new teachers & classes, extracurricular activities and more homework is quite difficult. One thing I have found to be very helpful in easing my kids back into a routine are Chore Charts. Not only do they help establish a daily routine at home they also give your child a sense of personal responsibility which, filters over into the classroom.

Providing consistency will help keep children on track and organized. I have pulled together a list of what I think are some great ideas for Chore Charts that will have your kids back into the school routine in no time. Keep in mind that depending on your children, and the areas in which they struggle, some of these will need to be tweaked to better fit them and your family’s lifestyle.

This chore chart (above photo) centers around one large magnetic chore board and individual, personalized magnetic boards for each child. Each chore is broken down and listed on a magnet. You can choose to have a monetary value attached to it or not. Once a child performs that chore, they move that magnet onto their personalized board to track progress. This gives kids a clear understanding of what needs to be done and recognizes when they have done it. This chore chart is genius!

Alternative Ideas to a Chore Chart

  1. Write chores on small pieces of paper and fold them up into a jar. Let your kids pick from the jar and see which chore they randomly get. It adds some excitement and surprise into the mix.
  2. Turn on music! Designate a certain time and day of the week for chores and play loud fun music. Dance, sing and clean all together.
  3. Create individual clipboards for each child that outlines the tasks they need to complete to prepare to leave the house in the morning and a separate list that outlines the weekly chores they must complete. If they follow the clipboard and mark off each item, then you clip a dollar bill to the clipboard. You can also create personalized “coupons” that they can redeem for a reward of their choice, some ideas are a movie night, new toy, ice cream trip, sleepover with friends, etc.
  4. Time it! Bring out your child’s competitive side and see if they can complete their chores before the timer goes off. According to Empowering Parents, this makes it more exciting and stimulating for the child. And while your child won’t lose anything if he or she doesn’t get it done, you can reward them with something if they do. That kind of reward system is always preferable to one in which the kid loses something, because it’s more motivational and less punitive. You’re giving your child an incentive to do better.

Age-Appropriate Chores/Tasks

2-3 year olds:
  • Pick up toys and books
  • Take laundry to the laundry room
  • Help feed pets
  • Help wipe up messes
  • Dust with socks on their hands
  • Pile books and magazines
4-5 year olds:
  • Clear and set the table
  • Dust
  • Water flowers
  • Bring in mail or newspaper
  • Help cook and prepare food
  • Carry and put away groceries
6-8 year olds:
  • Take care of pets
  • Vacuum and mop
  • Take out trash
  • Help make and pack lunch
  • Fold and put away laundry
9 years and older:
  • Help wash the car
  • Learn to wash dishes
  • Help prepare simple meals
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Rake leaves
  • Operate the washer and dryer

*Editorial Credit: Family Sponge

**If you’d like to purchase a chore chart you can here.

Brain-Based Learning

This is a really interesting article that talks about things you can do to potentially help your children gain more strength in weaker subject areas. Let’s practice using BOTH sides of our brains! Parents, adults – these suggestions can be fun to do right alongside the kids!

-Mrs. Green


A Brain-based Learning Strategy that Works:

10 Ways to Improve Reading, Writing, and Just about Anything Else

(for kids and for you too)

by Dr. MaryJo Wagner

Summary: Discover different ways to cross the midline and why this is important for reading comprehension, handwriting, and even as a test taking strategy.


For those of us old enough to have grandkids, we were taught in one way. And certainly not in a way that took into account what we know today about brain-based learning or using the whole brain.

Teachers emphasized rote memorization and copying. Later listening to lectures and taking notes. Some of us did pretty well with that method. Especially those of us who are left-brain dominant. We even went on to college.

Others, often very smart children, didn’t do so well. Their brains simply worked in a different way. Maybe they were right-brain dominant. Maybe they learned more efficiently using kinesthetic skills.

Researchers have recently discovered that whole-brain learning or brain-based learning is not only a more efficient way of learning but helps more kids learn.

One the many features of brain-based learning involves using both the right side and the left side of the brain. Although none of our kids is just left brain or just right brain, most of them have a dominance. Few of us use both sides of our brain equally.

For example, if Susie’s really good in math, she’s probably left-brain dominant. Or maybe Johnny’s an artist extraordinaire. He’s probably right-brain dominant. Nothing wrong with Susie or Johnny’s brain dominance, but wouldn’t it be great if Johnny did better in math? Or Susie was able to develop some artistic skills?

These kids will benefit from brain-based learning. They’ll improve in those skills they were lacking. They’ll be able to use both sides of the brain.

Learning to read and write requires using both sides of the brain. In fact learning just about anything well, thinking clearly, and even problem solving involves using the right and left hemispheres of the front part of the brain.

How do you accomplish this? Easy? Just move across the center mid-line of your body. Every time you move your right arm to your left side or your left arm to your right side, you’re crossing the mid-line and improving learning, thinking, and problem solving. And you’re demonstrating brain-based learning.

Works for you. Works for kids.

  1. Give yourself a big hug.
  2. If you’re right handed, put the phone on the left side of your desk. Use your right hand to reach for it.
  3. Dance the hula. Or play with a hula hoop.
  4. Take a Brain Boosters TeleChat. Check it out at www.brainboostersforyourkids.com Or a Brain Gym class. www.BrainGymClasses.com
  5. Learn square dancing. (Actually most dancing crosses the mid-line. The best of all is doing the Twist—O.K, if you weren’t around in the 1950s, you’ll have to ask somebody to show you how.)
  6. Rake some leaves, making sure you’re raking off to the side instead of straight in front of you.
  7. Play a board game. (Use your right hand to move your piece when it’s in the left corner; your left hand to move your piece when it’s in the right corner.)
  8. Practice using your non-dominant hand to reach for things on the opposite side of your body. Even writing and drawing with your non-dominant hand helps. (You’ll get better with practice.)
  9. Do Yoga and Tai Chi. Lots of moves cross the mid-line.
  10. Cross your ankles and arms in front or in back when you’re doing jumping jacks. Kids can usually do this. If you can’t, try it in the swimming pool. Just crossing your arms while doing jumping jacks is a start.

Brain-based learning really isn’t all that complicated. Lots of everyday kinds of activities get the whole brain active. Sitting around watching TV, however, isn’t one of them! You’ve go to move.

MaryJo Wagner, Ph.D.

The Learning Doctor

“Helping You Help Kids Learn”

Sign up for the Brain Boosters newsletter to help your kids learn faster and easier and at www.BrainBoostersForYourKids.com