Brain Fitness and the Literacy Challenge Ana Bishop, ELL Consultant Scientific Learning
What clueslet us know students will struggle to learn?
Clues • Needs to have oral instructions repeated • Unable to retell a story in the appropriate order • Uses words like “thingy,” “stuff,” “you know” • Daydreams in class • Rarely uses or understands humor • Performs poorly in noisy environment
Clues • Rarely initiates conversation • Other students demonstrate impatience when it is this student’s turn to speak • Has difficulty understanding the focus of group activities • Tries so hard, but their grades disappoint him/her • Parent says works long hours on homework
Brain Facts True or False?
True or False • The average adult brain weighs 10 pounds and uses 40% of the body’s oxygen. • Abused children have smaller brains. • Reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development, yet only 10% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by parents. • Baby talk decreases vocabulary for infants. • A child’s ability to learn can increase by 75% or more, depending on whether he or she grows up in a stimulating environment.
True or False • Both challenge and feedback are required for brain growth. • The brain needs 8 – 12 glasses of water a day for optimal functioning. • The brain is hard wired” – what you were born with is what you have until you die. • Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. • Although the brain accounts for only 2% of the whole body’s mass, it uses 20% of all oxygen we breathe.
True or False • At birth, we have an equal potential to learn any language. • People who are functionally bilingual can delay the onset of dementia over 4 years longer than monolinguals can. • Speech and language problems are caused by learning 2 languages at the same time. • Those who learn a second language at an early age rely on the same critical patch of brain tissue when speaking either tongue.
1. The average adult brain weighs 10 pounds and uses 40% of the body’s oxygen. True or False? FALSE - The average adult human brain weighs three pounds and uses 20% of the body’s oxygen.
2. Abused children have smaller brains. True or False? TRUE- Abused children have smaller brains. Parts of the brain of a severely abused and neglected child can be substantially smaller than that of a healthy child.
3. Reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development, yet only 10% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by parents. True or False? FALSE - Reading Aloud Stimulates Child Development - Reading aloud to children helps stimulate brain development, yet only 50% of infants and toddlers are routinely read to by parents. (Aren’t we glad it isn’t 10%-- wouldn’t it be great if it were 100%?)
4. Baby talk decreases vocabulary for infants. True or False? FALSE - Baby talk increases vocabulary for infants. A study showed that when mothers frequently spoke to their infants, their children learned about 300 more words by age two than did children whose mothers rarely spoke to them.
5. A child’s ability to learn can increase by 75% or more, depending on whether he or she grows up in a stimulating environment. True or False? FALSE - Stimulating Environment Affects Learning. A child’s ability to learn can increase or decrease by 25 % or more, depending on whether he or she grows up in a stimulating environment.
6. Both challenge and feedback are required for brain growth. True or False? TRUE - Research suggests that two things are necessary for brain growth through enrichment: 1. The subject must be challenged and 2. The subject must receive feedback. Novelty may be included in the challenge but is not always necessary– however, timely feedback is necessary for learning to take place. (Jensen, 2005).
True or False? 7. The brain needs 8 – 12 glasses of water a day for optimal functioning. TRUE - The brain needs 8 – 12 glasses of water a day for optimal functioning. The brain consists of 78% water and it needs to keep hydrated. Dehydration is a common problem in school classrooms leading to lethargy and impaired learning. DRINK MORE WATER! (Hannaford, 1995)
True or False? 8. The brain is hard wired” – what you were born with is what you have until you die. FALSE - The reason we can learn new habits and skills that are not innate is that the brain is “plastic” throughout life. Neuroplasticity is a characteristic of the brain that allows it to be shaped by experience. (Merzenich, et. al.)
9. Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. True or False? TRUE - The Brain Uses 20% of Blood –Approximately 20% of the blood flowing from the heart is pumped to the brain. The brain needs constant blood flow in order to keep up with the heavy metabolic demands of the neurons. Brain imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) rely on this relationship between neural activity and blood flow to produce images of deduced brain activity.
10. Although the brain accounts for only 2% of the whole body’s mass, it uses 20% of all oxygen we breathe. True or False? TRUE - Although the brain accounts for only 2% of the whole body’s mass, it uses 20% of all the oxygen we breathe. A continuous supply of oxygen is necessary for survival.
11. At birth, we have an equal potential to learn any language. True or False? TRUE - By age 6 months we start honing in on the phonemes we use most, and exposure to multiple languages allows the human brain to process and understand however many a child is exposed to.
12. People who are functionally bilingual can delay the onset of dementia over 4 years longer than monolinguals can. True or False? • TRUE - People who are fully bilingual and speak both languages every day for most of their lives can delay the onset of dementia by up to four years compared with those who only know one language…the extra effort involved in using more than one language appeared to boost blood supply to the brain and ensure nerve connections remained healthy. Ellen Bialystok, Fergus I.M. Craik and Morris Freedman, Bilingualism as a protection against the onset of symptoms of dementia, Neuropsychologia, Volume 45, Issue 2, 2007, Pages 459-464.
13. Speech and language problems are caused by learning 2 languages at the same time. True or False? FALSE - If a child has a speech or language problem, it will show up in both languages. However, these problems are not caused by learning two languages.(ASHA) A Dartmouth research team has determined that children exposed to two languages early in life …"will essentially grow as if there were two monolinguals housed in one brain, and this will occur without any of the dreaded 'language contamination' often attributed to early bilingual exposure." Dartmouth News - Researchers: No harm in learning two languages - 11/04/02
14. Those who learn a second language at an early age rely on the same critical patch of brain tissue when speaking either tongue. True or False? TRUE - Unlike people who become bilingual after childhood, those who learn a second language at an early age rely on the same critical patch of brain tissue when speaking either tongue, according to a new study. Adult learners of language apparently recruit nearby groups of brain cells, suggest neuroscientist Joy Hirsch of Memorial Sloan- Kettering Cancer Center in New York and her colleagues.
The Herman Grid Count the black dots between the squares below.
The Herman Grid • It’s an impossible task. Each time you move your eyes and focus, you see that the dots in the center of your receptive field are all actually white. The surrounding ones just appear to be black. • So why do you see black dots? The visual system processes edges of objects so they are enhanced. Seeing edges is very important for the brain’s ability to understand and define an image. This sometimes leads to visual “artifacts” away from the center of the receptive field, such as the black dots in the Hermann grid.
Language • At birth, we have an equal potential to learn any language. • By 6 months, we begin to build the phonemes specific to our native language based on experience.
Experiences are Crucial for Development Experience plays the largest role in defining the brain’s wiring across the lifespan. Example: The “Nun Study” – people with a more active “cognitive lifestyle” had later and less severe incidence for cognitive disease (e.g., Alz). • Linguistic ability (complex ideas, syntax) • Positive emotions conveyed in writing
Research (Hart and Risley, 1995)
Can you read this? • Cdnuolt • blveiee • aulaclty • rdanieg • wouthit
Now read the following… I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid. Aoccdrnig to the rscheearch taem at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Such a cdonition is arppoiately cllaed Typoglycemia :)- Amzanig huh? Yaeh and yuo awlyas thought slpeling was ipmorantt.
Language Literacy Continuum Perceptual weakness Weak phonological representations Oral language weakness Reading, writing, spelling problems Learning and academic problems Struggling students Dr. Paula Tallal, Director; Center for Molecular & Behavioral Neuroscience, Rutgers University
Children with language impairmentcan’t sequence 2 tones at rapid presentation rates Tone Duration = 75 msecTone 1 = 100 Hz, Tone 2 = 300 Hz Tallal & Piercy (1973) Nature.
Second Language Learning • Affects the way the brain is organized for language • Differs depending upon when the second language is learned • After the critical period requires the same developmental criteria as the first language
Struggling Students 1. How early in the school year do you know which students are struggling with the classroom curriculum? a) Days b) Weeks c) Months d) end of school year 2. Which of the following is the most common clue from students that tell you they are falling behind during classroom instruction? a) Behavioral problems b) Incorrect Answers c) “Zoned Out” d) other 3. What percentage of kindergarten students--who will later be reading below grade level at the end of 3rd grade--can be successfully identified through assessment? a) 10% b) 25% c) 50% d) 75% e) 90%
Brain Fitness: Word List Challenge Now write down as many words as you can recall. You have one minute. pill epic rose kind moose weathervane natural photo soap sip mistake unlikely statue district direct Click to begin
How Fit is Your Brain? • Average 20 year old recalls 7 words • Average 80 year old recalls 4 words
Illustration: Brain Processing (read the color)
Illustration: Brain Processing (say the color)
Dallas ISD, TX • Barbara Manns High School is an alternative high school in the Dallas Independent School District. Many of the students, who were 16 – 21 years old, initially lacked the basic reading skills needed to participate in the curriculum. The student body was predominantly Hispanic and African American with many students working or raising children concurrently. • Following Fast ForWord participation, students at Barbara Manns High School demonstrated significant improvements in reading ability. • On average, students improved two and one-half grade levels in reading performance after using the Fast ForWord Middle & High School product.
Improved Language Ability Clin. Eval. Of Lang. Fund.
Thank You Additional Questions and Comments