Parents Education Network e-Newsletter January 2009

In this issue:


Happy New Year to all our members and friends! Our Annual Fund Appeal of 2008 is making excellent progress, but we still need your help to reach our target of $45,000 by January 15!

Please check out the events coming up in the next month, including two teacher-training workshops and two Speaker Series events. You can read more about the teacher training with Judy Willis in the TEN section.

We have included here an appeal for LD stories to be sent to the incoming administration. A staff member at Presidio Hill School contributed a report on a SAFE Voices presentation at the school, and we have provided another excerpt from the SAFE Voices book, Read This When You Can, which is still available through our website.

We also have a report on our most recent Speaker Series event, and a review of a new book by Daniel Pink on why right-brain people will rule the future - good news for us and our kids!

Annual Fund Appeal 2008

We have raised 94% of our total goal of $45,000.
We still need your help to reach our target! 

You can make a difference.

Kids with learning and attention difficulties struggle in school.

Hear their stories:

Click here to see more...

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Upcoming Events

Friday January 23, 2009

TEACHER TRAINING. Neuro-logical Strategies to Increase Student Engagement, Motivation, and Memory. Neurologist and classroom teacher Judy Willis, M.D., M.Ed., will present to the Teachers' Education Network. All educators welcome! This all-day professional workshop will describe the teaching strategies that reduce stressors and build positive motivation, engagement, and joyful learning. CEUs available. 9am - 3pm. Star Academy, San Rafael.

See the TEN article below or Register now!

Saturday January 24, 2009

SPEAKER SERIES. How Your Child Learns Best: Brain-Friendly Strategies You Can Use to Ignite Your Child’s Learning and Increase School Success. Dr. Judy Willis will describe how the latest brain research, and the strategies she uses in her classroom, offer parents activities to not only help kids learn from schoolwork, but also how to capitalize on the way the brain learns in order to enhance and enrich their child’s education – a necessity in today’s “teach to the test world”. 9 - 11am. The Bay School, San Francisco.

Register now!

Friday January 30, 2009

FOREIGN LANGUAGE WORKSHOP. Multisensory Structured Language: Teaching Foreign Language to Students with Learning Differences. The Teachers' Education Network presents Karen Miller, a pioneer in the field of teaching foreign language to students with learning disabilities. All foreign language teachers and learning specialists are encouraged to attend. 8am - 2:45pm. Our Lady of Mercy School, Daly City.

Very few places left - register now!

Thursday February 5, 2009

SPEAKER SERIES. Early Identification of Speech & Language Concerns. Kathryn Pengilly and Tiphanie Kaufmann will present information regarding identification of speech and language issues in elementary school aged children. 9 - 11 am. The Exploratorium, San Francisco.

Register now!

Thursday February 5, 2009

TEN at Recess: Brain-Based Professional Development... with a Twist. FREE! Teacher-to-teacher discussions on topics in brain research and classroom practice in a relaxed setting, with food and drinks provided. Please register online to help us plan this event. Recess Urban Recreation, San Francisco. 6 - 8 pm.

Register now!

Saturday April 25, 2009

Our Annual Conference 2009, The LD Revolution: Shifting the Conversation will take place at AT&T Park Giants Stadium. This is a conference by students, for students (parents and educators are invited too!), featuring student panels and student-centered workshops. Jonathan Mooney and David Flink, co-founders of Project Eye-to-Eye will facilitate and speak throughout the day. Attendance is FREE for kids and $50 for adults.

Registration is now open - click here!

Download the latest flyer and help spread the word!

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Tell Your Stories

We have received this message at PEN and think it is a great idea for influencing educational culture under the incoming administration:

Please take a few minutes to tell your story of struggles and challenges you have experienced, even if you are not sure how/when the new Administration can 'fix' things. It is important to be heard as we move forward, because the Administration will have so many priorities on the agenda to address in the days ahead.

I encourage you to share your views and stories with the Presidential Transition Team. Tell your own stories about how children and parents have been impacted by special education and IDEA, or share your views about how children with disabilities would benefit from stronger laws, regulations, and policies, at any level.

Click here to share your stories and ideas.

If you are submitting a story, please also forward a copy to PEN as we would love to build a collection of these.

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Teachers' Education Network

TEN Teacher Training Workshop - Friday January 23, 2009:

Neuro-logical Strategies to Increase Student Engagement, Motivation, and Memory

By Mitch Bostian, TEN co-founder

If you had graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Williams College (as the first woman graduate in that institution's history), earned your medical degree from UCLA, completed both a medical and neurology residency (including chief residency) and spent fifteen years as a practicing neurologist, what challenges could possibly be left?  In Judy Willis' case, the surprising answer -- teaching elementary- and middle-school students -- brought about a career change that has benefited scores of students and teachers.

Judy's medical background, teaching experience, and lively intellect have led her to explore the ways that neurology and neurological research can be applied to good classroom teaching practices.  She has authored three books on the subject, with a fourth in the works, and has recently completed her first book on the learning and the brain for parents and caregivers.  Additionally, Judy is a dynamic and effective presenter, and on Friday, January 23, TEN and PEN are delighted to offer Bay Area educators a chance to learn first-hand how neurological understanding can make teaching, and learning, more accessible to all students.

Designed by teachers, for teachers, the workshop will be rooted in the day-to-day realities of classrooms everywhere.  Judy is able to help teachers connect the concepts she introduces to real challenges they are facing in the classroom or in curriculum design - small-group "time-outs," quick feedback mechanisms, practical exercises, and clear, memorable visuals will all ensure that attendees will go home with new ideas and specific strategies for applying them right away.

See Judy Willis' article, ' R.A.D Inquiry, Neuroscience, and Brain-based Learning ' for more background on her prespective.

Register for this event now!

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SAFE Voices

SAFE Voices Panel Presentation

The following was contributed by Susan Andrews, interim director of Presidio Hill School, regarding a SAFE Voices panel that presented to the staff at PHS.

On Tuesday, a group of three high school students, two of whom attended Presidio Hill, presented to a full faculty and staff meeting their perspectives on how they succeed while working with learning differences. I think many of us were almost teary, so impressed we were with their enlightening candor and advice. They spoke about how they learned to reject their feelings of being "stupid," to accept accommodations on tests, to resist the lack of knowledge of many teachers in their lives who didn't, or don't still, understand their classroom needs and accommodations. They were so knowledgeable and able to talk about their learning styles and those magic moments when they realized why they had a harder time than other kids in their class. All three were clearly very bright and articulate individuals, and it was truly a thrill to be able to listen to them and ask them questions about their experience. ALL schools ha ve students with learning differences in their classrooms, and ALL teachers must continue to work on understanding their learning styles and how to accommodate their needs. This is only one aspect of our keen appreciation for diversity we must seek to hone. It made me proud to know that these students reflect the knowledge about themselves and the self-confidence to speak up that PHS values so highly.

The SAFE Voices book, Read This When You Can, is still available for purchase on our website!

We have yet another excerpt for you this month: Sarah Maloney's "Behind the Bleachers" (PDF). You can hear Sarah reading this piece in our Annual Fund video.

Last month we linked to SAFE member Nika Summers' "Freak in the Seat," (PDF) which can also be heard in the video. Previously we excerpted Trevor Gunn's "Living in a Different World" (PDF) and Dash Seerley Gowland's "Dash's Advice to Help Students, Parents and Teachers" (PDF). And if you missed it first time, check out a review of the book (PDF) from the September newsletter. Then go buy it!

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Recent Events

Dr. Bassi at the Exploratorium

On December 12, 2008 Dr. Virginia Bassi spoke to around 100 PEN members on The Social and Emotional Challenges for Teens with LD: How to Assist Them on Their Journey.

After sharing valuable life strategies for LD teens and their parents, Dr. Bassi provided a space for parents to share their stories and facilitated an enthusiastic discussion and exchange of advice. Many thanks to Dr. Bassi and all who participated!

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Book Review

Click image to purchase

A Whole New Mind:
Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future

by Daniel H. Pink

Review by Sandy Otellini, PEN Vice-President

A Whole New Mind brings welcome news for parents of and children with learning and attention difficulties who struggle in a world that emphasizes and rewards left brain strengths – logic, sequence, literalness and analysis. These are the areas that present a particular challenge to such children. Pink argues that today’s successful workers will need to equally rely on and develop right brain strengths – synthesis, emotional expression, context and big picture analysis. For many children with learning and attention difficulties, these are areas of strength.

Pink provides a good summary of the latest brain research in discussing and contrasting the functions of the right and left side of the brain. Here is a summary of those contrasts:

• The left brain’s strength is recognizing sequential events while the right brain’s strength is the ability to interpret things simultaneously.
• The left brain specializes in text while the right brain specializes in context.
• The left brain analyzes the details while the right brain synthesizes the big picture.

Pink compellingly lays the groundwork for his premise that the Information Age of the past couple of decades, built on the superiority of left-brain skills, is now giving over to the Conceptual Age, in which a holistic or whole-brained approach will be essential. Pink argues that left brain aptitudes – the sorts of things measured by the SAT – are still necessary but they’re no longer sufficient. Instead, the right brain aptitudes so often disdained and dismissed – artistry, empathy, taking the long view, pursuing the transcendent – will increasingly determine who soars and who stumbles. Three important trends are evidence of this shift.. First, rote tasks and some complex technical jobs are being outsourced to an eager market of highly trained workers overseas, workers who will work for one-third or less of the wage that his/her counterpart in developed nations would earn. For example, technical call centers, financial analyses, data processing are some of the jobs that have been outsourced to India and other developing countries.

Second, computers can perform nearly all left-brained tasks. When facts become so widely available and instantly accessible, each one becomes less valuable. What begins to matter more is the ability to place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact. Forging relationships rather than executing transactions, tackling novel challenges instead of solving routine problems, and synthesizing the big picture rather than analyzing a single component. Finally, consumers in developed countries, faced with an overabundance of products to choose from, are now looking for products that are not just economical and functional, but also aesthetically pleasing. Just look at the popularity of Apple products which command a higher price. Pink argues that the culmination of these three trends will require workers who are able to use their whole brain, and can toggle between left and right brain strengths.

Pink provides scientific analysis of the human brain and a historical guide to the world of commerce, which lead logically and systematically (a left-brain skill!) to his premise that right-brained and holistic skills will mark the difference between success and failure in the business world today and in the foreseeable future. Pink also includes a “portfolio” of tools, including extensive reading lists, exercises, and activities, to help predominately left-brained professionals begin to develop each of the six right-brain skills identified as being crucial in the Conceptual Age,

The science of right-brain vs. left-brain is not new. What is groundbreaking in A Whole New Mind is the melding of that information with the trends in today’s global economy, and the resulting revolutionary idea that successful future workers need to “flex” the right sides of their brains and to manage with a whole-brained approach.

Daniel H. Pink is the bestselling author of Free Agent Nation. His articles on work, business, and technology appear in many publications, including the New York Ties, Harvard Business Review, Slate, Fast Company, and Wired, where he is a contributing editor.

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  • There are many upcoming events from other organizations to check out on our website.

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PEN e-Newsletter January 2009

Design & code: Paul Assen / Graphics: Lisa Nowell / Photography: Mike Gunn