Archive for April, 2010

Auditory Processing Disorder Takes a Toll on Learning

April 28, 2010

From Tuesday’s New York Times:

“It definitely affected his whole world,” she said of her son. “Not just learning. It cuts them off from society, from interactions.”

The “she” is Rosie O’Donnell, whose son, Blake, was diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder. The Times article details her family’s journey from frustrated first grader, through an APD diagnosis, to comprehensive home, school and clinic-based interventions and support.

Given its focus on Rosie O’Donnell, the article reads a little more like People magazine than most items we link to here. But there are some explanations of the challenges of auditory processing that will resonate with parents whose kids are struggling with APD.

Be Amazing Learning is a certified provider of Fast ForWord programs, which can be effective interventions for kids struggling with Auditory Processing Disorder. For more information about these programs, as well as a link to a study of children with APD who showed improvement in phonemic decoding and sight-word reading abilities after training with Fast ForWord, visit our Web site:

Make it an Amazing Summer!

April 6, 2010

Summer is the perfect time to build brain fitness and academic readiness with Be Amazing Learning!

  • Away from the academic challenges of the school year, children have the mental energy to focus on our programs’ rigorous exercises
  • Customizable daily and weekly schedules can work around summer camp and vacation plans.

Stop the brain drain this summer with these special summer offers from Be Amazing Learning and be ready for academic success next fall!

Summer Reading and Math Package

Combine Fast ForWord, Reading Assistant and FASTT Math from Be Amazing Learning to build foundational cognitive skills, literacy, and math fluency. Your child will return to school in the fall with improved brain processing efficiency, working memory and attention skills, plus be ready to tackle higher-order math.

Purchase 4 months of programs from Be Amazing Learning by June 1 at our already discounted price of $1500 and we’ll include 4 months of FASTT Math at no additional cost. That’s $2800 of academic skills training for just $1500!

Call us today at (800) 792-4809 to take advantage of this special summer offer!

Fast ForWord Boot Camp

Remember how short summer felt when you were a kid? One minute you’re celebrating the 4th of July, the next minute it’s Labor Day and time to go back to school.

Take advantage of the brief intensity of summer with Fast ForWord Summer Boot Camp from Be Amazing Learning. Purchase this package by July 1 and get 10 weeks of Fast ForWord programs for just $1000. That’s a savings of 20% off of our regular monthly price. Add 10 weeks of FASTT Math for just $200 more.

Call us today at (800) 792-4809 to get started!

Be Amazing Learning now offers Reading Assistant to develop reading fluency

April 6, 2010

Be Amazing Learning now offers Reading Assistant from Scientific Learning. Brought to you by the same people who developed the highly effective Fast ForWord programs, Reading Assistant is a scientifically-based intervention  that combines advanced speech verification technology with the latest reading science to help students strengthen their reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension.

Using research-validated speech verification technology, Reading Assistant “listens” to a student as he or she reads aloud. Monitoring for signs of difficulty, the program intervenes with assistance when the student is challenged by a word. Students re-read passages several times to build automaticity, and are assessed to determine their level of comprehension by skill.

Reading Assistant

Reading material in Reading Assistant contains highly-illustrated selections grouped in topical clusters, many with a science or social studies theme. This organization helps students build a body of knowledge and also read common vocabulary in different contexts. The content is divided into four grade bands:

  • K-3: Contains selections that relate to young reader’s interests and experiences while building world knowledge and vocabulary. Drawn from authentic contemporary, classic, and multicultural literature, the selections include a variety of genre, from rhymes and predictable fiction to nonfiction.
  • Grades 4-5: Contains selections that relate to the independence and broadening interests of upper elementary students. Drawn from authentic contemporary, classic, and multicultural literature, clusters include a variety of genre—fiction, historical fiction, jokes, poetry, folktales, and biography—and range in reading level from Grade 1 to Grade 5.
  • Grades 6-8: Contains selections that relate to middle schoolers’ interests as well as topics from science, social studies, and literature standards. Drawn from authentic contemporary, classic, and multicultural literature, clusters include a variety of genre—fiction, personal narratives, jokes, poetry, eyewitness accounts and journals, expository nonfiction, and biography—and range in reading level from Grade 2 to Grade 5.
  • Grades 9-12: Contains selections that relate to adolescents’ interests as well as topics from science, social studies, and literature standards. Drawn from authentic contemporary, classic, and multicultural literature, clusters include a variety of genre—fiction, personal narratives, jokes, poetry, eyewitness accounts and journals, expository nonfiction, and biography—and range in reading level from Grade 3 to Grade 12.

As with the Fast ForWord programs, Be Amazing Learning continuously monitors student progress, customizes instruction, and helps motivate students. Our detailed reports pinpoint student learning needs with in-depth analysis of comprehension skills and strategies as well as level of thinking.

Reading Assistant is appropriate for students who have completed programs in the Fast ForWord Language or Fast ForWord Literacy series, or who simply need help developing fluency. It can be run concurrently with programs from the Fast ForWord Reading series.

Call today for more information about how to incorporate Reading Assistant into your summer!

Building Math Fluency

April 6, 2010

In its report “Foundations for Success” (2008), the National Math Panel emphasized the importance of developing automatic recall of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts in order to adequately prepare for algebra and beyond.

FASTT MathTo help students develop this math fact fluency, Be Amazing Learning is excited to add the FASTT Math program to our stable of programs. FASTT Math uses the research-validated FASTT system (Fluency and Automaticity through Systematic Teaching with Technology) to help students develop fluency with basic math facts.

Each student undergoes a brief assessment to uncover fluency gaps and to establish a baseline of fluency. Then, FASTT Math automatically differentiates instruction in customized, 10-minute daily sessions.

FASTT Math ensures that all students, regardless of their fluency level, build the long-lasting fluency they will need to tackle higher-order math.

At 10 minutes per day, FASTT Math is a great add-on to the Fast ForWord programs. Call us today at (800) 792-4809 for more information about how to incorporate FASTT Math into your summer!

Approximate Number Sense

April 5, 2010

We focus a lot on literacy here at Be Amazing Learning, but at our core, we’re about the brain and how to make it operate most efficiently. So anything about the brain is going to pique our interest. This week, it’s the concept of an approximate number system.

Our approximate number system our instinctive ability to represent numbers. It’s what we use to find the shortest check-out line at the grocery store. And, as the New York Times reported, it’s:

an ancient and intuitive sense that we are born with and that we share with many other animals. Rats, pigeons, monkeys, babies — all can tell more from fewer, abundant from stingy. An approximate number sense is essential to brute survival: how else can a bird find the best patch of berries, or two baboons know better than to pick a fight with a gang of six?

Our approximate number sense is different from the ability to “do” math (or, as the Times says, “the ability to manipulate representations of numbers and explore the quantitative texture of our world”). “Doing” math is a uniquely human and very recent skill:

People have been at it only for the last few millennia, it’s not universal to all cultures, and it takes years of education to master.

However, research indicates a strong correlation between the innate approximate number sense and our learned ability to do math. In a 2008 study in the journal Nature, Justin Halberda and Lisa Feigenson of Johns Hopkins University and Michele Mazzocco of the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore devised a test of approximate number sense.

Comparing the acuity scores with other test results that Dr. Mazzocco had collected from the students over the past 10 years, the researchers found a robust correlation between dot-spotting prowess at age 14 and strong performance on a raft of standardized math tests from kindergarten onward. “We can’t draw causal arrows one way or another,” Dr. Feigenson said, “but your evolutionarily endowed sense of approximation is related to how good you are at formal math.”

The researchers don’t know yet how the two number systems interact:

Brain imaging studies have traced the approximate number sense to a specific neural structure called the intraparietal sulcus, which also helps assess features like an object’s magnitude and distance. Symbolic math, by contrast, operates along a more widely distributed circuitry, activating many of the prefrontal regions of the brain that we associate with being human. Somewhere, local and global must be hooked up to a party line.

Want to test your approximate number sense? The Times has an interactive screening similar to the test of acuity used in the Nature study.

(Hat tip to Scientific Learning’s Brain Gain email series for this topic.)

Laughing in Every Language

April 1, 2010

Happy April Fool’s Day!

But seriously folks…

Apparently, if you want to do research on laughter, you have to call it “positive emotional response.” According to Jaak Panksepp, a Bowling Green University psychology professor, “There’s no funding in fun research.”

But there is progress being made in understanding laughter, which scientists consider a social response, rather than simply a reaction to a joke.

You may laugh at a prank on April Fools’ Day. But surprisingly, only 10 to 15 percent of laughter is the result of someone making a joke, said Baltimore neuroscientist Robert Provine, who has studied laughter for decades.

“Laughter above all else is a social thing,” Provine said. “The requirement for laughter is another person.”

Laughing is primal, our first way of communicating. Apes laugh. So do dogs and rats. Babies laugh long before they speak. No one teaches you how to laugh. You just do. And often you laugh involuntarily, in a specific rhythm and in certain spots in conversation.

Over the years, Provine, a professor with the University of Maryland Baltimore County, has boiled laughter down to its basics.

“All language groups laugh `ha-ha-ha’ basically the same way,” he said. “Whether you speak Mandarin, French or English, everyone will understand laughter. … There’s a pattern generator in our brain that produces this sound.”

Each “ha” is about one-15th of a second, repeated every fifth of a second, he said. Laugh faster or slower than that and it sounds more like panting or something else.

We’re sort of fascinated by this issue of timing and duration in laughter. We blogged last year about why it’s so difficult to remember jokes (referencing a NY Times article that also cited Dr. Provine’s research), and one of the reasons is that jokes “live or die by nuance, precision and timing.” It doesn’t seem to be a stretch to see how imprecise or delayed temporal processing can lead to awkward social situations because kids miss the funny part. After all, nobody wants to have people pant at their jokes…

But enough of this serious science stuff. It’s April Fool’s Day! So on with the pranks – hopefully they will produce a “positive emotional response”!

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