Welcome to the May 2016 edition of The Learning Brain.

Attention, memory, spelling, maths, reading and oppositional defiant disorder.

This month’s Learning Brain newsletter covers all these and more.

You can also read a new interpretation of NAPLAN data. It reveals how wide the learning gap can be for students in the same school year - up to 7 years from bottom to top. Yet another example of why teaching is such a challenging profession.

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PS: For more information about the Educating with Neuroscience Conference in August, see What’s On.

PPS: And check out What’s New for Dr Steve Miller’s explanation of the new technology that helps students get more out of their study sessions by allowing them to monitor their own attention

Latest Research

Brain ‘Growth Chart’ May Help Identify Attention Problems Early

brain_growth_chart.pngNew research from the University of Michigan Medical School suggests that it might be possible to create a growth chart of brain networks that could identify early signs of attention difficulties and, potentially, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

While it’s far too soon to start offering such charting to families, future development of the technique could mean better chances for children to get a firm diagnosis of ADHD sooner. It could also help track whether their ADHD treatment is improving their attention functioning, which can help them in school and life. Read more.

What goes wrong in the brain when someone can't spell?

brain_lesions.pngBy studying stroke victims who have lost the ability to spell, researchers have pinpointed the parts of the brain that control how we write words.

In the latest issue of the journal Brain, Johns Hopkins University neuroscientists link basic spelling difficulties for the first time with damage to seemingly unrelated regions of the brain, shedding new light on the mechanics of language and memory. Learn more.

What’s New?

Dr_Steve_Miller.pngNervanix Attention Software Boosts High Value Learning: Dr Steve Miller

Imagine if you had a piece of wearable technology that could "listen to your brain". And use what it hears to help you track your concentration while you study.

This might sound a bit like science fiction. But it's actually available now with the Clarity software and headset from the Nervanix Corporation.

Find out how this new technology can enhance learning for all students involved in high value learning.


The Learning Capacity Podcast

Learning Capacity Podcast

NAPLAN: Alarming Achievement Gaps says Grattan Institute's Dr Pete Goss

For many educators and parents, Australia's NAPLAN is controversial. But whatever your opinion of NAPLAN, the data does provide information about student achievement.

According to the Grattan Institute’s new model of interpreting NAPLAN data there is a widening achievement gap in Australian schools.

For example there is a spread of achievement of up to 7 years between students in year 9. This has been described as alarming. Listen to the Podcast.


Why we Mix up the Names of People in our Family

It’s happened to many of us: While looking right at someone you know very well, you open your mouth and blurt out the wrong name. The name you blurt isn’t just any old name, though, according to research that finds “misnaming” follows predictable patterns. Find out more.

Free Download

Maths Skills Booster – May Worksheets

Thanks again for sending through your Maths Skills Booster feedback, it is very encouraging.  Here are a few of the comments we received last month:

  • Maths_brain-7.jpgResearched material that has a sequence proven to improve maths skills for our students.
  • It helps my autistic daughter learn maths in a better way.
  • Structured activity that allows our children to monitor their improvement. 
  • Consistency of approach - we've had a break for my son while doing Fast ForWord and will be starting my daughter.

Ready for your new set of Maths Skills Booster Worksheets? You can download the May worksheets here.

Did you miss out on the original Maths Skills Booster? You can get it here.

kindness.png16 Inspirational Quotes from Children's Literature

A collection of illustrated quotes from children's literature, providing both an educational & inspirational experience.Download the infographic.

Book of the Month

Learning_to_love_Math.jpg6 Maths Myths & 6 Ways You Can Build a Positive Math Attitude

For many students, maths is no fun. And it may not have been a pleasant experience at school for their parents either.

Do you have students or a child who doesn’t like maths?

According to Dr Judy Willis, author of “Learning to Love Maths”, there are ways you can help make maths fun for your child. And you don’t need to be a maths “wiz” to help your son or daughter.


App of the Month


MindShift is an app designed by the Anxiety Disorders Association of British Columbia to help teens and young adults cope with anxiety.

It can help you learn how to relax, develop more helpful ways of thinking, and identify active steps that will help you take charge of anxiety.

It includes strategies to deal with everyday anxiety, as well as specific tools to tackle perfectionism, social and performance anxiety, worry, panic and conflict. Learn more.

Looking for a Solution for your Child’s Learning Difficulties?

Improving reading with Fast ForWord

Veteran educator, Jacqueline Egli, Executive Director of Bridges Academy, a well known not for profit, private school in USA was interviewed recently on the Fox News channel.

She spoke about how Bridges Academy is using neuroscience-based technology to improve reading for students in the school.

“For many of my students in my early days as an educator it might take me three, four, five years to make 6 months of solid improvement, ”she said.

Now her students with reading or learning difficulties use the Fast ForWord program.

Egli says Fast ForWord can improve a child’s reading level by multiple grades in 6 - 8 weeks of training, and MRI scans before & after training show an increase in brain activity in kids with dyslexia. Read more.


What’s On?

LearnFast Presents
Educating with Neuroscience Conference 2016


Join other school principals and education leaders

Melbourne, Friday August 26th

Find out how educational neuroscience is:

  • Providing teachers with new tools
  • Improving learning outcomes for students
  • Changing how schools boost learning across all subject areas.

Hear two panels of experts answer educators questions.

Panel One: Strategic Education Questions
Includes Dr Steve Miller (Neuroscientist) and Simon Brooks (Cultures of Thinking).

Panel Two: Educators who use Neuroscience
Includes a head of school, a school IT manager and a learning support specialist with multi-national experience.

Register your interest now