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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Are gifted students receiving equitable treatment in public schools?

I recall my second year as a classroom teacher. I was ill-prepared for teaching "Miguel" who was a very precocious math student and voracious reader. My teacher training for gifted education consisted of one chapter in my special education class. Looking back now, he was the reason I spent the next seven years learning about giftedness. It wasn't only that I wasn't trained to meet his unique needs, it was that no one in my school, leadership included had formal gifted training. It was difficult to get an answer and guidance.

During my first and subsequent years as a classroom teacher I received excellent support for my students with special needs. There were compensatory education teachers, special education teachers, para professionals, funding, training, resources, legislation guiding the students' rights, and a cyclical system in place to formatively assess learning plans. I learned so much about how to work efficiently, productively to accommodate specific learning needs. Why is this not in place for gifted students? What can we do to ensure equity for students who are identified gifted or are exceptional learners

Friday, January 13, 2012

Brain Food!

Yes, that's right. There are foods that increase and improve the functions of our brain. Not surprising, they're mostly the foods that are good for our heart. Remember, what's good for the heart is good for the brain. But above all, research indicates that caloric intake is more important than the specific types of foods.   A good rule of thumb is that reducing your calorie intake (to healthy levels) increases your life span.

Many of the foods we eat, but know are terrible for our health are not good for the brain. Eliminate foods with hydrogenated oils, partially-hydrogenated, trans fats and of course fast foods. These foods may taste good but do nothing for our health.

So what is good for our brains? Yup, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes. The food with the most benefits seems to be green leafy vegetables. They slow the cognitive decline in people. Tests show that older folks who consume more than two servings of veggies in a day performed similarly on cognitive tests as people five years younger.

Genetics play an important role in brain health, but diet and exercise increase our ability to function and help slow cognitive decline.

-An interesting tidbit for students and teachers-chewing gum before a test improves performance....not during, but right before. The chewing motion increases blood flow to the region, thereby increasing oxygen.