Posts Tagged ‘results’

Be Amazing Learning client featured on ABC News

June 17, 2011

Be Amazing Learning client Sami Merit was featured on San Francisco Bay Area ABC 7 News, as part of a story that looked at Fast ForWord use at home and at an Oakland elementary school.

Hooray Sami!

Traditional Tutoring vs. Cognitive Training

January 4, 2011

Traditional tutoring offers additional help in a particular subject area or with a particular skill. It can be an effective addition to content delivered in the classroom, especially because it can frequently be tailored to a child’s individual needs.

Be Amazing Learning is different because the programs we offer (Fast ForWord and Cogmed) address foundational cognitive skills, rather than academic content. We work on helping children learn better. By developing skills such as working memory, attention, sequencing, and brain processing rates, our programs don’t simply give kids new academic knowledge; instead, they equip kids’ brains to better access and retain content they are exposed to, whether in the classroom or with a tutor.

Additionally, training cognitive skills with Be Amazing Learning is a one-time shot: kids build their brain fitness with the programs, then move on to better academic performance. Once children have cognitive training, they stay “fit” by using their new cognitive skills. Studies have shown that the improvements in cognitive skills we can help your child achieve are both substantial and enduring. For example, a 4-year longitudinal study conducted at Dallas Independent School District that showed that students who trained with Fast ForWord programs achieved significant gains in reading, and maintained those gains relative to their peers.

For more information about how cognitive training can help your child, visit our Web site or call (800) 792-4809.

Working memory and reading comprehension

November 29, 2010

Reading comprehension is a complex task requiring the synthesis of several cognitive functions:

  • Sequencing is critical for making meaning from text (the sentence “Man bites dog” has a very different meaning from “Dog bites man”).
  • Processing speed must be developed for the brain must be able to successfully process visual and auditory stimuli associated with reading
  • Working memory must be sufficiently developed to remember the beginning of a sentence when you get to the end. Or the first sentence of a paragraph when you get to the last.

Several studies have looked at the impact of Fast ForWord, a training program designed to improve these critical cognitive skills. One that we like a lot looked at reading comprehension improvements in middle and high school students in the Dallas Independent School District. The students made a 22-month gain in age-equivalent reading scores after just 6 months of training.

A recent study, published in May 2010 in the Journal Reading and Writing (link is to abstract only) examined the impact of Cogmed Working Memory Training on reading comprehension abilities. The study also examined the relationship between working memory and reading achievement, hypothesizing that working memory problems can be a root cause of poor reading comprehension. The researchers found Cogmed training to significantly improve reading comprehension development, and working memory measures were shown to “be related with children’s word reading and reading comprehension.”

Having a brain that can efficiently process the visual and auditory inputs that take place during reading is critical for successful comprehension. Students whose brains are not processing efficiently can struggle with reading comprehension. But research shows that programs, such as Fast ForWord and Cogmed, that build efficiency in skills such as processing rates and working memory can have a positive impact on comprehension abilities.

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.

Forget the apple. How about a walk a day?

October 25, 2010

This brain stuff just gets cooler and cooler.

A recent cardiovascular health study published in Neurology shows that older adults can increase the grey matter in their brains with increased physical activity. The conclusion? “Greater amounts of walking are associated with greater gray matter volume, which is in turn associated with a reduced risk of cognitive impairment.”

Specifically, walking at least 72 blocks per week was necessary to promote increased grey matter. But beyond 72 blocks, there wasn’t a significant increase in grey matter. But the grey matter increase brought about by 72 blocks per week of walking reduced the occurrence of cognitive impairment by half.

At Be Amazing Learning, we have had great success with a number of adults seeking to improve their cognitive fitness. Older individuals may also be interested in programs from Posit Science, which leverage some of the same technology that’s behind the Fast ForWord programs to improve brain fitness in adults.

We’ve previously posted about the cognitive benefits of exercise. And it’s a hot topic: Our post referenced a NY Times article, and Scientific Learning (creators of the Fast ForWord programs) featured it in a recent blog post.

Even gifted students can improve

October 13, 2010

When the Fast ForWord programs were first introduced in the late 1990s, there was a general consensus that the programs were appropriate for students with diagnosed language and learning difficulties. The standard for “appropriateness” was typically that students should score at least one standard deviation below the norm on a standardized language battery.

When Fast ForWord was introduced into schools, students from across the learning spectrum were exposed to the program. Mainstream educated students, including many who were designated as gifted and talented, trained with the programs and saw tremendous improvement in foundational cognitive skills as well as general learning and reading abilities.

The programs target cognitive skills that are critical for effective learning. These skills don’t necessarily correlate to grade levels (for example, there’s no such thing as a second grade working memory), so kids with varying abilities across these skills and of many ages can benefit.

Scientific Learning (creators of Fast ForWord programs) just released the results of a study of gifted students who trained with the programs. The study looked at early fourth graders whose average reading grade equivalency was mid-fifth grade. After training with the Fast ForWord programs, the students grade equivalency in reading improved to mid-seventh grade. These dramatic results indicate that even gifted and talented students, who would not be identified for additional reading support, can still benefit from improved foundational cognitive skills developed by Fast ForWord.

There is more information on the study at Scientific Learning’s blog.

Be Amazing Learning is a provider of Fast ForWord programs. At Be Amazing Learning, we have helped students across the learning spectrum, including many gifted students, reach their full potential. For more information, visit our Web site at or call (800) 792-4809.

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:

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!

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.

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