Fun Times at The Study Academy’s Brain Camp

Fun Times at The Study Academy’s Brain Camp

Middle School The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

It has certainly been busy these past few days at The Study Academy and I’m here to tell you that there are only more exciting things to come this week. Never a dull moment, eh?  As I had mentioned in an earlier post, children had the option to spend two additional weeks after the end of the school year to engage in creative and educational activities at our Brain Camp. Small classes benefit student learning.

I was able to contact the head teacher of Brain Camp, Meghan Patrick, to discuss what has been going on at camp so far. I was told that In the morning the students engaged in collaborative story writing activities and practiced parts of speech with mad lib games on the smart board. This was intended to ensure that the students got their “creative juices”, so to speak, flowing for the rest of the day; however one must also recognize this was an excellent way to assist the children in expanding their diction and structure.

butterfliesThe students also have started all afternoons with collaborative drama games. This week, students gathered round in a circle in the gymnasium and acted out assigned characters or scenes on their own or with a partner chosen by their teacher. The intention behind this activity was so that students could continue to work on their communication skills, especially in non verbal areas of communication.

Students also practiced a bit of video game creation that focused on creating shorelines based on earlier lessons on Medieval times and ancient Egypt. This had been possibly the most exciting part of the day for the kids, as they put their knowledge towards a fun and tangible goal. As Brain Camp will be ending off this week, the teachers have arranged a wonderful  trip for the students to the Ontario Science centre to check out the IMAX movie, “Flight of the Butterflies”(http://www.si.edu/Imax/movie/71). As you can tell the students coming to The Study for this final week of Brain Camp are really going to be having fun right to the end!

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

A Year in Review at The Study Academy

Educational Research High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

with classes ending, its been making me think of all that’s happened through the year. I’ve tried to share them all with you each and every week. We have also discussed many of the recent and pressing issues in Education and research. I must say, it  has definitely been quite exciting each and every week.

When I first was approached to write for The Study Academy’s blog, I was shocked. The first concern that came to my mind was how could I make these posts relevant to you, the Reader. I knew it had to be about The Study Academy, but I felt there just had to be something more. It came to me one morning- Theoretical Thursdays!  In addition to Tuesday’s The Study Academy Reports, Theoretical Thursdays has come to comprise the basis for this blog.Neurfeedback training for ADHD

The posts these past few months have been diverse, but I hope they have been informative. On every Tuesday’s The Study Academy Report I tried to detail to you all the exciting happenings going on at school, both in the Highschool and Middle School sections. In some of my posts, I’ve written about the Neurofeedback training at The Study Academy lab, or the Study Academy’s small class sizes.  I also detailed to you about the exciting volunteering abroad opportunity that some of the students took in Nicaragua and the array of activities during Inspire Week. In the last remaining weeks, as things slowed down I spoke about the music classes available, the anti bullying policies at the school, the structured educational system, the theatrical performances by students, and the exciting new work happening at The Study Academy lab.

Teaching methods based on graduate research in action!Likewise , every Theoretical Thursday you, the Reader, were provided with the exciting research happening around the world and its relevance to Education and your child. You learned about the lasting effects of smaller class sizes, the self control technique of Mindfulness, the importance of divergent thinking in children, and the exciting new method of detecting autism.  In addition, I discussed the importance of music and goal setting for children, while using the most up to date and relevant research. Those who read my previous posts also learned the dangers of stereotype threat for young girls who like Math and the ways to prevent their impact, as well as how to use the structure of memory to one’s advantage so children will not forget their lessons over the break.

To say the least, we have had some very good time this year at The Study Academy, however summer is finally here, so we are going to have to say goodbye to our regular Tuesday posts, The Study Academy Report. The final The Study Academy Report will be next week . It will be detailing the last days of Brain Camp. However, it will be replaced with a new opinion section. All my readers will now get an opportunity to interact and really give your opinions about Education and Research. So, definitely don’t stop dropping by on Tuesday; instead come as you are and bring your opinions with you!

Theoretical Thursday: The Use of Standardized Testing

Theoretical Thursday: The Use of Standardized Testing

Educational Research

Hello Readers,

In today’s issue of Theoretical Thursday I would like to talk to you about a rather controversial issue that intersects all levels of education- standardized testing.

Standardized tests have been around since the late 20th century. They are designed with the intention of giving all test takers the same test conditions. The questions, conditions for administering, scoring and interpretations are consistent to a single standard which allow the assessment to be empirically documented.Students’ scores on such tests are influenced by three things: what students learn in school, what students learn outside of school, and the students’ innate and malleable intelligence. However, the school system only has control over one of these three factors, and I’m sure you can guess which.

Nevertheless, despite the consistency, efficiency and general simplicity that standardized testing can provide, there is a growing concern amongst educational professionals that the misuse and overuse of standardized tests misses out on the fundamental understanding of the student. If you will allow me to quote Bill Ayers, American elementary education theorist, that these tests “can’t measure initiative, creativity, imagination, conceptual thinking, curiosity, effort, irony, judgment, commitment, nuance, good will, ethical reflection, or a host of other valuable dispositions and attributes.” Instead, he goes on to say that the only thing they can measure are  “isolated skills, specific facts and function, content knowledge, the least interesting and least significant aspects of learning.” If you are interested in learning more about Bill Ayers and his theories please check out the following link:

http://socialistworker.org/2010/09/28/why-testing-fails-our-schools

In addition, in a standardized test there can be scoring information loss. By this I mean, the teacher can obviously see what question the student got wrong by looking at what answer he chose; however the teacher does not know how the student ever arrived at answer without asking. Who is to say it wasn’t a guess. an error, a misunderstanding or maybe even, dare I say, a differing of opinion!

The overuse and misuse of standardized testing can really develop an atmosphere in the educational institution to “teach to test”, which essentially disfavors any aspirations of higher order learning. Studying becomes a means to an end, to get a score, to get a good report, etc. While there is no problem with wanting to do well academically, the pursuit for knowledge is entirely the reason large scale educational institutions came to be in the first place! To merely learn what is to be tested means you lose out on learning many other interesting subject matters that could spark long term interests in a student.

Another concern with the misuse and overuse of standardized tests is perfectly expressed by Rhona Weinstein (http://psychology.berkeley.edu/people/rhona-s-weinstein) in her recent book “Reaching Higher: The Power of Expectations in Schooling” (Harvard University Press, 2002) : “In this testing and sorting culture, achievement differences on tests are made even more salient to children, and the gap in motivation will grow between the high and low performers.” She goes on to say that “children as young as six know where they stand academically, especially in classroom settings that make such so-called achievement differences very obvious and this means they are vulnerable to not believing in themselves from an early age.”

So you see, dear Reader, that the use of standardized testing can be quite a complicated matter. To ignore a student’s needs and interests in academics for the sake of efficiency can lead to a student feeling their opinion and even their own sense of self as less valued. It is important in a school setting, to help a child  realize their drive for learning and to foster this in the long term, however for the sake of numbers, it still must be done efficiently . For this reason, Educational research must continue to strive to find the proper measures that can truly understand all aspects of a student.

Till next time!

 

 

 

 

Keeping Their Brain Active with Brain Camp

Keeping Their Brain Active with Brain Camp

Middle School

Hello Readers,

I hope you all are enjoying the nice weather this past week, and had fun in the sun during the long weekend too! I guess this also means that the school session is quickly coming to an end, however, this doesn’t mean that your child has to sit around the twiddle their thumbs this summer- at-least not at The Study Academy!

Fun scientific experiments

Every year, for the past three summers, The Study Academy has set up an early summer  day camp for middle school students. The camp runs for two weeks, right after the completion of the regular school year and is an ideal opportunity to invigorate the mind, challenge oneself and have fun outdoors! It is called Brain Camp!

The idea for this  camp actually arose from a conversation between Bryan Levy- Young, the head of Pastoral care, and Jason Krell, the Principal.  They were having a discussion regarding the detriment of having such a prolonged summer has on student cognitive development. The idea behind Brain Camp was to do two things. Firstly, it was to break the assumption that learning occurs only when a child is immersed reading textbooks or listening to lectures. Secondly, it was also to provide a summer tune-up for the brain. Essentially Brain Camp originated as a way for students to keep mentally active during a few weeks of the summer and show them, all the while, that learning can be fun!

This year, Meaghan Patrick  will be running the camp and has quite a few exciting things in store for the children. The day is split into two parts. In the morning students will be engaging academic subjects. In the past, morning have usually been spent at The Study Academy location mastering recipes with math, or conducting scientific experiments in the classroom.

Afterwards, in the afternoon, the children get to have some fresh air, go outside to play sports and develop their team work and leadership skills. Children will work in teams for scavenger hunts, participate in delightful improv games, run around playing Ultimate frisbee and go off on exciting field trips! Some ideas for field trips are already up in the air, such as the Science Centre, Humber Arboretum, Kensington and History walks throughout Toronto.

http://www.tahaphoto.com/

http://www.tahaphoto.com/

One very exciting opportunity this summer that I simply must share with you is that Taha Muharuma of Taha Photo fame (tahaphoto.com) is going to do some lessons on photography and photo editing with the students! Isn’t that exciting?  So, children are going to learn about composition, framing and other key components of photography and will follow up with a local outing to try out their new found techniques.  The second lesson will have them take their shots and work through post-processing — applying colour corrections, filters, and other visual effects.  At the end of camp, each student will receive back a printed copy of their work that they can to you, their lovely parents!

So, don’t forget to register your child for something exciting this summer, and why not Brain Camp!

Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

Theoretical Thursday: The Positive Effects of Music on Children

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

Over the past week and a half, my posts have divulged the creative endeavors  of The Study Academy and the results of scientists on the effects of such creativity in the classroom.  In particular, I discussed the importance of creativity and innovation in fostering divergent thinking in young students (http://thestudyacademy.ca/theoretical-thursday-creativity-innovation-education/). I had also mentioned this week that music classes have been made available at The Study Academy, and therefore students are being given another opportunity to foster such thinking processes (http://thestudyacademy.ca/study-academy-report-music-classes-study-academy/). However, the importance of music goes  beyond divergent thinking.

divergent thinking, creativity and music In one study by North & colleagues (2000), research stated that music allows children to satisfy their emotional needs, both while listening and when actively involved in music making. Active participation in music classes has also been found to enhance a student’s prelinguistic communicative gestures and social development, in particular social behaviour. (Gerry et. al., 2012).

Because of such capacities of music to affect us so deeply, therapies for students with attentional difficulties  and Autism Spectrum Disorder have been proven to be quite effective. Music therapy is one type of therapy available to those with attentional difficulties and Autism Spectrum Disorder. The idea is that a certified music therapist uses music (and its capacity to affect one physically , emotionally , mentally, and socially) to help clients to improve or maintain their health. Musical interventions have been designed to mange stress, alleviate pain, enhance memory, improve communication and promote physical rehabilitation too.

SCOPEThere are in fact a few brain based reasons why music works in such beneficial ways for us. Firstly, you must understand that music has always had a core function in our brain. My goodness, from an evolutionary standpoint, music precedes even language! Even day old infants, who are still developing, can detect patterns in music. For this reason, it seem that music has some basic engrained influence over us. One of the more important reasons made available, is that we have emotional and physiologic responses to music. We can experience anything from our heart rates increasing to chills down our spine depending on the types of melodies that reach our ears. On the other hand, music also taps into our emotions, and  allows one to easily access our emotions in a beneficial and therapeutic manner. Therefore, in trained hands, music has the capacity to effectively help. In this respect, music can definitely serve as a positive instrument for students who experience challenges in the classroom.

For a student suffering from attentional difficulties , music can bolster attention and focus, while reducing their hyperactivity. It is the structure within music that can help them. The reason for this is because the rhythm within the music can allow the child to plan, anticipate and react in a structured way. With time and practice, a child with attentional difficulties  can apply their strategies they have learned from music to the classroom.

Music therapy patient needs tables music selectionsMusic therapy is useful with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder Disorder also owing to the noted sensitivity Autistic Spectrum Disorder patients have to music. Evidence of this is shown in a study found in the Pertanika Journal (2012). Over a ten month period, when weekly music therapy sessions were given to children for an hour, there were notable improvements made in inattentive behaviour, restlessness, aggression, and noisiness.

Overall research has shown that music does indeed have quite a positive effect on many children! I will leave you today with a picture summary of some of the things I have discussed today and hope that maybe the next time you listen to your Ipod, you will wonder too, what your music is doing for you.

http://www.onlinecolleges.net/2012/06/20/music-learning/

Music Classes Available at The Study Academy

Music Classes Available at The Study Academy

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

Well the students have returned from their volunteer abroad and Inspire Week came to a perfectly good end on Friday. It was a very exciting past few days for students at The Study Academy, to say the least.

However, there has been one aspect of the The Study Academy that I believe can bring excitement to a student every day- music class. What could be better than a break from the books and the opportunity to get creative? And if you recall from my previous posts, that creativity in school is a good way to further the development of divergent thinking in students. What a wonderful way to have fun and further one’s learning abilities!

At The Study Academy and in conjunction with Midtown Music School (http://www.midtownmusicschool.com/), individual lessons are provided for students during the day time. Each lesson is based on the variety of teaching methods suited to the individual needs. Students are even able to work towards gaining high school arts credits.

Music classes at The Study Academy are run by the music teacher and owner of Midtown Music School, David Stone and his highly educated staff. Students have the opportunity to learn piano, violin, viola, cello, double bass, electric bass, classical and electric guitar, jazz studies, singing/songwriting, ear training and accompaniment. A student also has the option to take any co-requisite for any Royal Conservatory exam, including every level of theory, harmony, counterpoint, analysis and history. This can help them get one step closer towards earning their high school arts credit too!

When I interviewed David Stone about the origins of Midtown Music School and its collaboration with The Study Academy, he responded that it all started when he met Bryan Levy- Young, Head of Pastoral Care, in 2011. One of his students was also a student at The Study at that time and had mentioned how Bryan had a profound effect on him. It would be one year later that David would teach the 2012/2013  school year to the array of students at The Study Academy.

While I am not a student, I have had the opportunity to learn under the guidance of David Stone’s highly recommended staff member, Joanna Champman- Smith (http://joannacs.com/home.html) and I sing the music school’s praises! (See the funny joke there? ha?)  It is never easy learning something new, but under their guidance a student really has the opportunity to achieve goals and to even go beyond them. And really, Isn’t that something every student should get the opportunity to experience?

So give your child a chance to be creative, learn differently, and explore their musical side at The Study Academy. You will not regret it.

 

Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Theoretical Thursday: Creativity, Innovation and Education

Middle School The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

And welcome to Theoretical Friday! As I mentioned yesterday, I have come down with a bit of a cough and cold, so I pushed our usual Theoretical Thursday to today.

Over this week, however, while seeing the children engage in such wonderfully creative endeavors, I began to think of the importance of innovation in Education and the need for creativity in our youth.  Whether it be by the media, researchers or even educators themselves, there has been quite a bit of talk for the need to increase new modes of thinking in students. There are some schools, such as The Study Academy, that make it their mission to provide courses and teaching methods based on creativity and innovation.

imagesBut here comes the question-Why is creativity so important that makes these individuals in educational institutions, researchers, and media argue so passionately for its integration into the Educational system? One such reason, that research has provided, has to do with the process of divergent thinking in children. What is that? Well, it is the process of breaking down concepts into their various components within our minds, and being able to see things from various perspectives. Divergent thinking can provide a deeper understanding and can foster insight in children, which benefits their overall learning development.

So, to foster a child’s divergent thinking abilities, education must go beyond simply knowledge based teaching. Indeed, to simply have a child learn in a knowledge based, single answer manner does not teach students how to analyze, synthesize and evaluate ideas in the same way divergent thinking can.

However, the Educational system as a whole, does not currently reward this way of thinking about things in children. Actually the current teaching methods can detract from the development of a child’s divergent learning capacity. In one study, used as a critical argument in Robinson’s TED talk in 2006 on creativity and education, several Kindergarten children were tested for their ability to think divergently. The initia

schools-kill-creativity

l results indicated that 98% had such a capacity, but when tested five years later, the results  dropped significantly. They dropped even more so five years after that. What happened, you may ask.

Well what I am trying to indicated, and what Robinson so strongly argued in his video (which can be found at http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_ robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html), is that a student’s capacity for divergent thinking can diminish if it is not encouraged. Do not be fooled, divergent thinking does not necessarily disappear as one ages. Not at all! Instead, results indicate that the current teaching method had “taught [divergent thinking] out of them. They’ve spent ten years at school, being taught there’s only one answer.”

While I admit it is a challenge for the Educational system to anticipate what sort of useful tools a child will need for their future, I believe a capacity for divergent thinking is a skill that is always relevant both on a personal and societal level. The ability to see many perspectives and understand another human being is important for relationships. The knowledge of how to anticipate a situation can help individual know what can be their next move. To understand the long term considerations of an action can help a society act consciously. For this reason, creativity and innovation are indeed crucial tools for learning development  in an individual as well as sustainable development within a community. Education and training need to incorporate creativity and innovation into life long learning.

That’s all for now folks, but this subject is not over just yet. I find it particularly interesting and so i will touch more on this subject matter next week on the next Theoretical Thursday. Stay tuned!

Also, if you are interested in reading more on this matter I would like to suggest the following two pieces:

McGrath, J. & Davies, D. (2012) The Future Will Not Be Multiple Choice. Published by Mind Shift. Available for download at: http://blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013/02/video-the-future-will-not-be-multiple-choice/

Stanford Breakfast Briefings – The Enterprise of the Future. Available for download at: https://breakfastbriefings.stanford.edu/briefings/enterprise-future