Sunday, October 14, 2012

brain scans MAY predict reading skills

Thanks to my PLN (Professional Leaning Network) on Twitter, I sometimes start my day with inspiring stories.  Other days, when I read headlines like this, I think about them all day!

The headline: Brain scans may predict kids’ reading skills

Notice: in my headline, I used uppercase letters for the word MAY.

The researchers scanned children's brains and then they took standardized tests to gauge their cognitive, language, and reading skills.  In each case, children with above-average reading skills had f nerve bundles that were initially low, but increased over time. Children with lower reading skills had declines over time.  THEN, the Yeatman, a doctoral candidate at Stanford noted "By the time kids reach elementary school, we’re not great at finding ways of helping them catch up.”
FIRST, this is NOT "hot" news but rather a repeat of studies done 10 years ago. The famous and frequently quoted Shaywitzes, doctors from Yale, have devoted their careers to the challenge of identifying and helping kids with specific and profound reading difficulties.  They talk about their research findings and propose retraining solutions that use phonetics and meaning to retrain the brain.
There has ALSO been lots of other medical-based studies such as this one that have show people can become   capable readers using different neural pathways.  They conclude that there are two systems for reading: a typical one for most readers and another system that is more effective for the dyslexic thinker. They conclude a meaning based approach is best.
Reading articles like this in the morning can get me thinking all day.  I want to write a and tell parents and teachers that they should not give up on kids just because they are "behind" in reading.  Teachers who identify strengths and support weaknesses can teach every single child how to read.  Some may read more slowly that others and some may have many more miscues because that is how their brain works; however, every single one of us have parts of our brains that do not work as well as others.  We can all learn to compensate for our weaknesses. 
However, remember Doctor Ferreri says this: Teachers, not programs, teach kids.  Teachers, who differentiate can teach all kids. Teachers, who differentiate can find ways to help all kids catch up.

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