Roundup X

Binging on soda and sweets for as little as six weeks may make you stupid, according to a recent UCLA study. Researchers found that a diet steadily high in fructose slows the brain, hampering memory and learning – but that omega-3 fatty acids can counteract the disruption. The Journal of Physiology reports that a high-fructose diet alters your brain’s ability to learn and remember information. This study is the first to uncover how much sugar influences the brain.

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After much research, I have found that the most reasonably-priced, sleep-away camp option nationwide, for ages 9 to 17, is 4H camps. You don’t need to be active in 4-H and you can choose your location, anywhere in the country. They tend to cost around $125 to $300 a week (residential).

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While the results are controversial, US News & World Report has turned their ranking attention to high schools and posted the top high schools in America. No one made the list in our neck of the woods. You can read the whole list at usnews.com/education/best-high-schools.

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Very early interactive musical training benefits children even before they can walk and talk, according to a new study by McMaster University. Babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more, communicate better and show earlier and more sophisticated brain responses to music. Two music educators got a grant from the Grammy Foundation in 2008 to study groups of babies and their parents after six months in one of two types of weekly music instruction. Babies from the interactive classes showed better early communication skills, smiled more, were easier to soothe and showed less distress when things were unfamiliar or didn’t go their way.

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The number of male teachers in America is down every year. Only 2.3 percent of pre-school and kindergarten teachers are male; in elementary and middle school classrooms it is 18.3 percent; and in high school classrooms it is 42 percent (according to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2011). These numbers are down from 2007, a fact attributed to the poor economy and pressure to be the family breadwinner.

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A recent study about careers and employment reported in the Wall Street Journal found that 37 percent of recent grads wished they had been more careful in selecting their major or had chosen a different major; 29 percent wish they had done more internships; 24 percent would have started looking for work much sooner while still in college; and 20 percent would have taken more classes to prepare for a career. Food for thought!

 

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I have heard of more and more schools ditching their electronic newsletters in favor of communicating via a school Facebook page. If you have ever been in charge of a school newsletter, you’ll understand the allure. My guess is, give us five years and that will be the case here in Sonoma.

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US News & World Report has some good ideas for preventing summer learning loss in teens. Use these last weeks of school to get suggestions from your child’s teacher. Ask, “What do you suggest my student be doing over the summer? Are there online resources that you can recommend, or are there free or affordable activities … that my student should do over the summer?” • Help your teen find a job: Virtually every single work experience involves reading or reading comprehension. Parents and high school students should be open to internships and volunteer opportunities, too. • Choose fun learning activities: Help your teen to find learning opportunities that relate to their interests. If the teen likes children and sports, for example, he or she could become a camp counselor or even a coach – fun jobs that build skills in communication and organization.

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At my local high school, Sonoma Valley High, 96 students out of 375 are heading to a four-year college next fall (2012). Of those, two-thirds are girls and one-third are boys, exactly on par with the national average today. This is not great news for the future of young men in America.

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The book “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking,” by Susan Cain, centers around the belief that today’s crowded and high stimulation classrooms are a nightmare for quiet kids. Cain cites new research that suggests shy students should not be pressured to be outgoing and that all students would benefit from more time to reflect. Since the world sometimes views introverts as inferior, teachers frequently try to turn introverts into extroverts. The book explains the important difference between introversion and shyness (the latter includes anxiety that can be outgrown). Introverted children have a hard time thriving in large and conventional classroom settings and the book proposes some solutions.

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If you are headed on vacation this summer, stop by any college campus in or on your way to your destination with your children, no matter what their age. It is never too early to give them a sense of what college is like. The point isn’t that they will decide to go to the University of Hawaii or Georgetown or U.C. Santa Barbara, just that seeing any college will help them get a sense of their preferences: big, small, urban, rural, etc. You can book a tour in 30 seconds online and they are always free.

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According to the June issue of Psychology Today, “Initiative is developed in adolescence, through mastery experiences and through supportive relationships that teenagers form with adults. These experiences and relationships account for more than 75 percent of life success – more than IQ and genes combined.” The author, Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D., makes the points that adolescents should choose projects or activities because it gives them internal rewards (creativity, dignity, autonomy, or making a difference in other people’s lives). As teens choose activities, those activities should take place in environments that contain rules and challenges that are inherent in the real world. Also, she stresses that adolescents must learn to sustain activities over time, despite the challenges.

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If you have a student ages 16 to 26 who is interested in studying abroad at some point, I recommend an incredible list of 65 different organizations that provide study abroad grants and scholarships. Read the entire list here:www.gooverseas.com/study-abroad/study-abroad-grants-and-scholarships. This website also has great general information on living and studying overseas.

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Some parents prefer a kindergarten experience that is more academic, others feel strongly that kindergarten should be play based and centered on socialization. A local teacher sent me a link to a very interesting TEDx video about the history of kindergarten and how the standards have changed. The speaker is a very dynamic young man who has taught kindergarten for the past 15 years in Santa Monica and he is not a big fan of the worksheets now pressed upon most 5-year-olds in kindergarten programs. www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ye78F4Mnbk

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Are you a teacher or interested in becoming one? Teach.com covers the who, what, where, when and how of being a teacher, including anecdotal and empirical data about what types of people choose to teach and a comprehensive explanation of the responsibilities that are expected of teachers as well as logistical questions regarding certification and testing, and the differing standards between states are listed in order to help teachers find their way.

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I am midway through “The Homework Trap: How To Save The Sanity of Parent’s Students and Teachers” by Dr. Kenneth Goldberg. The book discusses homework issues from the student’s point of view. Goldberg talks about the “homework-trapped child” and why some children, regardless of how bright they are, cannot complete their homework assignments. His recommendations are thought provoking but controversial as they would entail a major shift in thinking by teachers and schools as they center around homework time restrictions and requirements.

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Very early interactive musical training benefits children even before they can walk and talk, according to a new study by McMaster University. Babies who participate in interactive music classes with their parents smile more and communicate better, according to this recent study.

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To that end, high school musicians will soon be able to take a class from the famed Juilliard music conservatory.Julliard is spearheading a series of online K-12 courses that will be available (at a price) to students and school districts starting this fall. The online courses are meant to complement classroom teachers and not replace them. Learn more at: tinyurl.com/8xbdamm.

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A new study published by Science Magazine found that subjects do their most creative thinking in a blue room.They suggest that this is because blue is relaxing and a relaxed state of mind is crucial for creative thinking. Subjects in red rooms exhibited superior accuracy and attention to detail.

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According to the Times Higher Education World University rankings, the top five new-ish universities worldwide are (in order): Pohang University of Science and Technology in South Korea; Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne in Switzerland; the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; the University of California, Irvine; and Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in South Korea.

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Increasing the spacing between characters and words in a text improves the speed and quality of dyslexic childrens’ reading. As a parent of a dyslexic child, I was interested to read about this study that found that this basic change results in 20 percent faster reading on average with half as many errors. This may hold true for students who are slower readers in general. The research was conducted at the Laboratoire de Psychologie Cognitive in France. There is a new free app called DYS that can test your child’s success with various text spacing.

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One response

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