Posts Tagged ‘feedback’

High Schooler Reading at 2nd Grade Level Goes to College After Fast ForWord

November 18, 2010

Articles about educational programs in scientific journals are generally concerned with significant, measurable and repeatable effects on a large pool of subjects. They’re focused on improvements in scores on standardized assessments or, increasingly, physical changes in the brain that can be established by before and after imaging using fMRI.

The measured results of Fast ForWord training are impressive. From the initial university research that led to the development of the programs to the over 1 million students around the world who have now used Fast ForWord programs, students have and continue to make significant gains in critical learning skills after short, intense training with Fast ForWord programs. For details, check out Scientific Learning’s databases of measured user results.

But sometimes it’s the anecdotal results that can be most compelling. Take, for example, this recently publicized story of a high school student who went from struggling reader to scholarship football player after using Fast ForWord:

When Kenny Hilliard reached high school, he was a gifted football player; he was not a gifted student. He was reading at the level of a second grader and struggled in all of his academic courses. School district officials in St. Mary Parish, Louisiana, originally put him on a GED track, hoping he could earn a general high school equivalency diploma instead of a traditional diploma. But today, Kenny is looking forward to not only graduating from Patterson High School with the traditional diploma, but also to attending LSU on a football scholarship.

“What changed is that Kenny did a computer program called Fast ForWord,” said Patterson High School Principal, Rachael Wilson. “He is such a talented football player, and his talents can carry him far, but recruiters are looking for kids who have talent and good grades. The first two questions recruiters ask me are ‘What kind of kid is he?’ and ‘What kind of grades does he make?’ Thanks to the progress Kenny made in Fast ForWord, he does not need to rely on athletic talent alone.”

“Before Kenny did Fast ForWord, I was worried sick that he would drop out of school,” said Brenda Hilliard, Kenny’s mother. “I knew something was different when he began reading on his own. I’d find him reading sports magazines. I knew then, that he was actually understanding what he was reading. Now he’s going to college. I am so proud of him.”

Aside from the fact that we generally cheer for the Pac-10 over the SEC here at Be Amazing Learning, this is pretty cool stuff.

The importance of self-confidence

November 30, 2009
A self-confident Be Amazing learner celebrates a new high score.

A self-confident Be Amazing learner celebrates a new high score. More right answers leads to more confidence and a lifelong love of learning.

Posit Science, which develops programs for adults based on some of the same neuroscience research on which Fast ForWord is based, is celebrating the holidays with the “12 Benefits of Brain Fitness.”

Number 4 is our favorite so far: Self Confidence

Brain research has taught us a lot about how we can help students develop critical cognitive skills such as attention, processing rates, and memory. And we know that developing these skills can improve kids’ reading abilities and give them a lifelong love of learning. But consider the critical importance of self-confidence in this equation. A student whose brain is processing more efficiently can:

  • Pay better attention in class. They’re more likely to understand the teacher’s question and give the right answer. More right answers means more confidence.
  • Better engage with peers, whether in a classroom setting or on the playground. Timing is a critical component of language comprehension: even the smallest delay turns the funny punchline of a joke into an awkward exchange. More positive interactions with peers means more confidence in social situations.

And self confidence builds on itself. More confident students become the risk takers who experiment with tougher books, challenge hypotheses, and think critically.

So while Be Amazing Learning helps students develop the foundational cognitive skills that allow them to become better readers, it might just be the self-confidence that students get from their success with programs like Fast ForWord that is the true lasting gift.

“Now I have to pry the book out of his hands!”

June 7, 2009

“How do you know it’s going to work?” is a question we get asked a lot about the efficacy of the Fast ForWord programs we provide. Of course we can’t predict the impact the programs will have on an individual child, but we always point to study after study (after study after study), from initial university lab trials to national field trials, to countless studies performed in private clinics and public school districts worldwide that show that most kids make significant gains in language and reading skills (as measured by standardized assessments) after running the programs.

But whether the programs are effective for most kids doesn’t really matter when what you’re worried about is YOUR kid. Which is why we really dig stories like this one that we just received from the mother of a boy who is about 6 weeks into Fast ForWord Language:

So last night he was reading the second Harry Potter, which is frankly above his reading level, but he’s insisted on trying it again and is really progressing in it.  He walks in at 9pm (30 min past his bedtime, but it’s officially summer vacation) and says, thumbing through the pages left in chapter 6, “Can I read one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight?  Can I read eight more pages before I go to bed?”  I informed him that he could read until 10:00 pm and then he was to go to sleep even if he hadn’t completed the chapter.  So my husband was in the adjacent room listening to him read and was impressed by how smoothly it was going.  At 10:00 I walked in and he was just closing his book.  When I asked how far he’d gotten he proudly re-opened the book to show me his bookmark resting squarely over Chapter 7.  Heretofore, reading 4 pages in an hour was nigh unto impossible for that kid!   And he’d have rather opened a vein than read 4 pages at a sitting!  Now I have to pry the book out of his hands! I’m completely stunned and thrilled!

Test results are important. But reading all of chapter 6 of the second Harry Potter in a single sitting is really what it’s all about.

Thoughts from a Be Amazing mom

January 26, 2009

Parenting ain’t easy. And when something comes hard for your child, it can be frustrating and gut-wrenching. One mom, whose five year old is currently making his way through Fast ForWord Language, shared the following:

My husband and I have been around the block a few times to doctors and therapist with our son, who just turned 5 on December 26.  Countless hours have been spent with therapist after therapist, but we have never seen him progress as much as he has with FF.  We started the FF program three days before Thanksgiving, at which time we were pulling teeth to get a 3 to 4 word sentance out of him.  When he did say things, the word order was so wrong.  Today, he is spitting out 7-10 word sentances left and right.  Now believe me, he is still behind on speech and language skills compaired to his peers, but we are making progress…we are communicating now.  And it feels WONDERFUL!  Three months ago, we knew there was no way he would be ready to start Kindergarten in July.  His teachers now tell me that he is ready.

Now, if only Scientific Learning would invent something to make my three year old take a nap and get my six year old dressed in the morning…

Building a better basketball player?

January 7, 2009

A student we are working with recently wrapped up his 6th week with Fast ForWord Language. His mom reported on his progress:

1.  His memory has improved.  Given 4-5 sentence short story, he is able to answer questions about the story without too much frustration recalling what was read.  
2.  He is motivated to improve himself when working with the different exercises.  He has better understanding what he needs to do and he feels proud when he gets a higher score.
3.  He has acquired more awareness with his surroundings.  He is a bit more involved and more interactive in his play with siblings and his desire to communicate is increased.  Yeah-hey!!!
4.  Last night was his first basketball practice and Dad said that he was very attentive listening to the coach for directions.  Last year, he was very distracted and mainly focused on the lines, rails and the lights in the room.

You know, test scores and quantitative improvements are important. But if we can improve basketball skills, we might really be on to something here!

UPDATE: The same student just finished Fast ForWord Language. Mom says:

He was indeed very proud to finish the program and can’t wait to learn more.  His self confidence is definitely lifted.  He uttered phrases such as: “This is easy to me, Mom.” “I can do it myself.” and “I don’t need help.”  These phrases are music to my ears.

Again, we cannot thank you enough.

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