It’s been a pretty eventful summer around the Holden house… or actually not very eventful, given the current state of some of my bones. Been learning a lot lately. Didn’t have to wait for school to start to do that.

Best lesson: Always listen to mama.

Second best lesson: Never let a motorcycle smoosh your leg.

Third best lesson: if your leg DOES get smooshed, make some cartoons.

Study First to Use Brain Scans to Forecast Early Reading Difficulties

Read the full article Study First to Use Brain Scans to Forecast Early Reading Difficulties at NeuroscienceNews.com.

UC San Francisco researchers have used brain scans to predict how young children learn to read, giving clinicians a possible tool to spot children with dyslexia and other reading difficulties before they experience reading challenges.

The research is in Psychological Science. (full access paywall)

Research: “White Matter Morphometric Changes Uniquely Predict Children’s Reading Acquisition” by Chelsea A. Myers, Maaike Vandermosten, Emily A. Farris, Roeland Hancock, Paul Gimenez, Jessica M. Black, Brandi Casto, Miroslav Drahos, Mandeep Tumber, Robert L. Hendren, Charles Hulme, and Fumiko Hoeft in Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/0956797614544511

Image: The researchers found that the developmental course of the children’s white matter volume predicted the kindergarteners’ abilities to read. This image is for illustrative purposes only and is not connected to the research. Credit cuidado infantil.

Why We Don’t Truly Embrace Failure

Success is messy, as is learning.  Although I love this picture, the one thing that needs to be pointed out is that on both sides of the drawing, the endpoint of the arrow is pointing in the same direction.  Towards a better way in the end.  Yet in many educational institutions, their “line” would not look like either.  It would simply be a plateau where we have done the same things over and over again; no better no worse.  We all know what a “flat line” means in the medical profession.  Schools can’t mirror that or we might face the same outcome.

I love video games

As a child, I grew up fully participating in a competitive education system where any sort of sit-back moment was considered almost criminal or a sign of failure. Games these days come to me more as an articulation of amazing art, stories and different practices of media, and I try to enjoy the time I spend to play and appreciate the artistry. But I fail because the notion that playing games, as well as other sorts of entertainment, is a waste of time is instilled in me so deep to my bones. So, to this date, gaming is something that switches on the guilty side of my brain, and no matter how much fun I’d be having, there would be a growing mound of guilt that I have hard time resolving afterwards.

I proudly own a Nintendo 3DS. It’s a great luxury to reward myself for hardwork. Even still, I fail to spend enough time to play any game really due to the feeling of guilt. Recently, I was trying to play the game in a foreign language, hoping it would help me feel less guilty. While it worked greatly as a guilt-breaker, now I was unable to really enjoy the game because my Japanese or French simply weren’t good enough. I wished that Nintendo had a dictionary system like smart phones and Amazon Kindle do, where each word can be tapped/interacted to prompt the meaning of the word.

I wished, and it clicked in my head. I should make a game like that! If I carried it out successfully, it would probably end up like an interactive storybook with an integrated dictionary. But, if the stories were to be branched out through to different locations and characters that exist within the universe, it will be much like an exploration game where players could learn and train new languages. Then, each ‘questline’ could have different tags and categorical names, e.g. absolute beginners, conversations helpful for tourists, etc.

I think it’s a great idea and it gives whatever website/game I plan on making a hope for self-satisfaction that I’d normally lack from such experiences. So now, I’m studying into what kind of user interface would bring out the best in both experiences of gaming and learning. A great find indeed!

Self-confidence is great, but not at the expense of considering others. A survey of high-school students that has been repeated for the past 60 years presents a startling picture. In 1950, 12 percent of students agreed with the statement, “I am a very important person.” By 1990 that had risen to 80 percent. Other scholars have found that student scores on an index of empathy have been going down over the same period. Moreover, recent research in cognitive science suggests that media overload (often implicated in iCreativity) may reduce compassion, empathy, moral reasoning, and tolerance. For many young people, if they cannot insert themselves into an experience—capture it in what some observers call “life-catching”—and share it online with friends, then it is not worth the effort.

anonymous said:

Hey, I'm curious about your paperless learning process because I want to do the same. I am tired of lugging around books and notebooks everywhere I go lol plus the advantage of saving money. I've got a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1, and I'm finding it hard to transition from years of solely paper-based learning (I usually need to write & re-write to understand things better) to going completely paperless.

I definitely had the same problem when I transitioned. What I have found useful is mimicking the paper-and-pen process digitally. That means using software like Notability on my iPad to write out notes that I need or to draw out concepts and workflows. You can invest in a stylus if you like, but I have fared well using free styluses found at interest group fairs, etc. Flashcards were replaced by Anki.

I can’t quite advise you on what apps are useful on the Android platform. I’m squarely in the iTunes App store ecosystem. I believe note taking software is bundled into Samsung’s tablets from the get-go, so you should be fine on that front. Any Android users have suggestions? 

September 16 :

International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer - Promotes and raises awareness about the importance to preserve the ozone layer and the environmental damage that will come with its deterioration.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that when I do have a specific reason to ask everyone to set aside their devices (“lids down,” in the parlance of my department), it’s as if someone has let fresh air into the room. The conversation brightens, and more recently, there is a sense of relief from many of the students. Multi-tasking is cognitively exhausting — when we do it by choice, being asked to stop can come as a welcome change. So this year, I moved from recommending setting aside laptops and phones to requiring it, adding this to the class rules: “Stay focused. (No devices in class, unless the assignment requires it).” Here’s why I finally switched from “allowed unless by request” to “banned unless required.”
Fun English Words: Pine


  1. Verb, to desire greatly/painfully; covet

Origin: Latin,

  • Noun, poena, poenae - punishment

This word traces its roots all the way back to the Latin word poena, which translates as “penalty or punishment.” Later in Latin, it became pena, then, in Old English, it became the verb pinian and eventually pinen. Its definition - to cause pain or to torture - remained largely unchanged until this most recent iteration of the word.

Teach me about love
you, the unloved one,
show me the shape
the feelings have
cause I have seen none!
Walk me through that field
that stretches on
your cuts, your bones
your crumbled heart,
I want to see it all.

Teach me about truth
you, the deceived one,
show me how to read
the false words
cause I have read none!
Take me to the cradle
where lies start their life,
I want to be deceived
while hearing the truth,
I want to close my eyes.

Teach me about freedom
you, the prisoned one,
show me the sky is blue
after a cold night
cause I forgot that sight.
Make me believe
in the softness of clouds;
Show me that we can fly
without the wings,
and I will jump tonight!