Welcome Back, CEC, & IMBES

Welcome Back, CEC, & IMBES

Educational Research High School Middle School The Study Academy Report

Greetings! Welcome back! I hope your summer was everything you’d ever hoped it would be and more.

First off, please let me introduce myself: My name is Ariana. I enjoy long walks on the beach, sunsets, and filing OSRs. In other words, I am the new School Administrator, and I am pleased to handle all of your administrative needs. I have also assumed the role of Blog Master, so here we go:

Once again, welcome back! We’re glad to see so many new and returning faces, and we’re excited about everything that this year has in store. Already, we’ve had our high school trip to the Canadian Ecology Centre, Parent Welcome Meeting, taken student card photos, had our first assembly and fire drill of the year (which everyone aced), and will soon begin our extracurricular clubs and activities. We’re powering through and loving every second of it. On to thing two!

Various balls on the groundDuring the first week back, we had our start-of-year high school trip to the Canadian Ecology Centre (CEC). For those of you who don’t know, the CEC is a non-profit environmental science education and research facility. They share the landscape with Samuel de Champlain Park, as well as the goal of “conserving and protecting our natural environment.” Their aim is to “[facilitate] informed choices [for all of their visitors] – presenting a better understanding of the conservation and development issues related to the environment and [associated] sectors. The CEC is also home to the Canadian Institute of Forestry”, and from September 6th to 9th, they housed our high school students. During that week, Grades 9 – 12 got to engage in some awesome activities, including: Team building and other group exercises, swimming, canoeing, drumming, astronomy, night vision and campfire construction, wilderness survival, stream and aquatic study, Creatures of the Night and Living Discovery Lab, orienteering and introduction to GPS, and intro to GIS. It was a packed week, but the group had a great time and learned some important information about our environment, and themselves, in the process. Trips like this are a great way to supplement classroom learning, facilitate teamwork, and present an opportunity for students to participate in outdoor education, but they also provide a practical understanding of nature and the environment, situating it in a context that then becomes more relatable and, thus, more actionable. We are dedicated, through these experiences, to the growth of our students both in the classroom and beyond; at present and into the indefinite future.

Lastly, we are very pleased to announce that our very own Jason Krell, Patrick Dolecki, and Anderson Todd have been accepted to present their research at the International Mind, Brain, & Education Society’s (IMBES) 2016 conference here in Toronto! IMBES’ mission is to “facilitate cross-cultural collaboration in biology, education, and the cognitive and developmental sciences.” They aim to “improve the state of knowledge in, and dialogue between, education, biology, and the developmental and cognitive sciences; create and develop resources for scientists, practitioners, public policy makers, and the public; and create and identify useful information, research directions, and promising educational practices. [They] invite researchers and practitioners at all levels of education to explore the questions and proposed solutions that emerge at the intersection of mind, brain, and education.” This year’s conference featured keynotes from Dr. Clancy Blair, on The Development of Self-Regulation in Early Childhood; Dr. Tania Lombrozo, on The Good, The Bad, and the Beautiful (evidence for broad/simple explanation preference in children and adults); Dr. Marla Sokolowski, on Gene-Environment Interplay in Individual Differences in Behaviour; Dr. Janet Werker, on Perceptual Foundations of Language Acquisition; and Dr. Pasi Sahlberg, on About the Facts and the Myths about Education in Finland: Mind, brain, and smart education policies.

Neurofeedback schematic diagramKrell, Dolecki, & Todd (2016)’s poster, Executive Functions Through Attention, covered their research on the effects of neurofeedback training (NT) on attention and executive functioning (e.g., self-regulation, cognitive flexibility, reasoning, problem-solving, planning) in Gr. 5 – 8 students. NT teaches individuals to self-regulate by providing direct feedback on temporal and spatial patterns in brain activity. Using EEG measurement, it rewards individuals for attending effectively, encouraging them to attend further. In their presentation, they noted the changing landscape of education, with increasingly personalized learning, expanded accessibility, and new desired learning outcomes centred on adaptive competencies. Despite this, as well as the promising evidence of its effectiveness for individuals with and without ADHD, educational research on NT is presently scarce. This motivated them to examine the relationship between the use of this specific technology and student attention/executive functioning. After acquiring the appropriate assent and consent, data was gathered from semi-weekly, 30-minute training sessions, and performance was assessed by parents and teachers. Results support that both teachers and parents observed decreases in the relative occurrence of inattentive behaviours over the course of the NT sessions. This supports the hypothesis that NT can be effectively used in a classroom setting to supplement student learning and existing growth, and improve attention, planning, and organizational skills. In short, we’ve not seen the end of NT at The Study Academy, and we’re excited to see what else we can do with it moving forward.

That’s all for now! Stay tuned for more exciting news and events.

Theatre at Berkeley Street

Theatre at Berkeley Street

High School

Hello Readers,

20130320-Berkeley-Street-Theatre-305-Photo_by_Corbin_Smith

Landscape view of the stage at Berkeley Street Theatre

Welcome back to yet another Study Academy report!  Allow me to start this post by asking you, dear Reader, when was the last time you indulged in a bit of theatre? No, I’m not talking about seeing the latest Hollywood blockbuster at your local Cineplex. I’m asking, when was the last time you saw actors on stage? Well, if I were to ask our High School students the answer may surprise you!

On Wednesday April 16th, students travelled to the Berkeley Street Theatre to watch a new production of Belleville for their Integrated Arts Class. The play was written by Amy Herzog and directed by Jason Byrne, and tells the story of two happily married Americans living in Paris. But wait, there’s more! In an Hitchcockian plot twist, the female protagonist returns home one day to see her husband in a way that forever changes the dynamics of their relationship! This suspenseful play kept our students on the edge of their seats. So you see, dear Reader, how enjoyable a little bit of theatre can be? It can also be a wonderful educational opportunity.

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Allan Hawco as Zack and Christine Horne as Abby in Toronto’s production of Belleville

In fact, when I spoke to Robert Webster (lead teacher for Integrated Arts), he told me how field trips like these benefit students: “It’s great experiential learning and an opportunity for them to see possibilities for young people to explore their passions and interests in the Arts, and what kind of work and level of commitment it takes to get into that field.”

Now students have the opportunity to exercise what they have learned in their Theatre unit to write a critical performance piece just like a professional theatre reviewer! They will be evaluating the play based on its writing, directing, acting, staging, music, sound, and even lighting. What a great opportunity to demonstrate the critical analysis skills they have been developing in class!

So, dear Reader, what will you be doing this weekend to expand your mind? How about you indulge in a bit of theatre. Perhaps, Belleville?

 

 

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!

Almost Summer Time!

Almost Summer Time!

High School Middle School

Hello Readers,

Summer break is nearly here, but I’m sure you already knew that since you (or your children/students) have been counting down the days on the calendar! As the days get warmer and the end of the year draws near, it will be a challenge to keep children interested in learning. However, the last few weeks of school are an intense time. As I walked around The Study Academy, I saw both the Middle School and Highschool children finishing up on their projects and papers that are to be handed in. Some of them were furiously studying for those final tests and exams too!

Middle school at Centre Island I’m here to tell you that all their effots will be rewarded. Both the Highschool and Middle school classes will be celebrating the end of classes on the final day of class. Last week the Middle school was rewarded for all their hard work with a visit to Centre Island. The students got the opportunity to laugh and have fun while sharing their exciting plans for the Summer. The Highschool students will be following suit by visiting Wonderland this week on Thursday after the completion of the final exams.

Some of the students will in fact be taking additional school to further their studies. To those few, I figuratively tip my hat off to your dedication and thirst for knowledge. Others are going on adventures around the globe to learn about new cultures, histories and people. Finally, some are staying home with their families or going to local camps where they will deepen their bonds of friendship.

Whatever these students ultimately decide to do, I wish to all the students at The Study Academy a summer full of joy, friendship and at-least a little bit of learning in between.

 

Theoretical Thursday: Enriching Benefits of Drama Education

Theoretical Thursday: Enriching Benefits of Drama Education

Educational Research High School

Hello Readers,

I hope you booked some time off work either Monday or Tuesday next week to see the Highschool students’ performance! If not, then hop to it ladies and gentleman because you have the great opportunity of seeing the enriching benefits of Drama education. Speaking of which, in today’s post I hope to demonstrate the benefits of Drama education in a child’s development.

What I have found through a meta analysis of research is that Drama Education can have a highly positive impact on a student’s physical, emotional, cognitive and social development. Being on stage and acting as whole, requires a great amount of movement! With practice it has been shown to improve flexibility, coordination, balance and control. These physical activities can also reduce the pain of physical stress that would otherwise negatively impact a child’s physical development. Not bad, eh? Well, I’m not done yet, so keep reading, my fellow Readers.

http://www.meaningcentered.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Figure3.jpg

http://www.meaningcentered.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Figure3.jpg

Emotionally, a child also benefits from being engaged in Dramatic education. For instance, acting roles from different time periods, situations and cultures promotes tolerance of other people’s feelings, as well as a a deeper understanding of child’s own emotions. It will encourage self understanding as well as self confidence in a child’s own ideas and abilities which can be applied apply to all aspects of their lives.

There has indeed also been experimental results on benefits of theatre on a child’s cognitive development as well. Studies have indicated that children who were involved in theatre show higher levels in concentration & self discipline, problem solving as well as memory. There are various reasons for this, but I will keep it short and sweet.  While rehearsing and performing, memory is strengthened no differently than like a muscle. it also requires a good deal amount of focus attention & self control, both of which help students, especially those who experience attentional difficulties.

Probably the most obvious benefit theatre has is to a child’s social development. A child involved with theatre develops both their cooperative as well as communicative skills. Verbal and non verbal expression, as well as, listening and observation skills are key skills when rehearsing or performing. This also requires cooperation while negotiating ideas and boundaries. In addition, children can experience an increase in social awareness beyond their self. In this way, Drama can teach a child of the world and help them put things into perspective.

I know that I have written quite a bit today, so I would like to provide you with a link for point form note son the many benefits of a drama education. You can find it at the following link:

http://www.dramaed.net/benefits.pdf

In addition, if you are a teacher and would like to learn more on how to integrate drama into your classroom, may I suggest you check out the wonderful magazine article from Canada’s educational magazine:

http://www.cea-ace.ca/education-canada/article/dramatic-ways-engage-every-student

 So, taking into consideration all the benefits Drama can provide a child, don’t you think it’s about time to get your child on stage? Tell me what you think, Readers!
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

 

Theoretical Thursday: Well Being and Volunteering Abroad

Theoretical Thursday: Well Being and Volunteering Abroad

The Study Academy Report

Hello Readers,

I have very exciting news regarding The Study Academy’s highschool! This week starting from Saturday the 13th, the students will go off on an experience of a lifetime! The students of The Study Academy are going off to Nicaragua to volunteer their time. Indeed volunteering abroad is and will be such a great opportunity for these select students. By volunteering, we learn how to help others, and in doing so learn about ourselves. Also, volunteering allows you to explore (new) career interests, build your resume, and gain marketable skills for the working world. However, as it is theoretical thursday, I think it is only fair to disclose what scientific  has to say about volunteering. A map of nicaragua

A recent report put together by the Corporation for National and Community Service (http://www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr.pdf) has showed that a decent 30 scientifically-controlled studies collectively found that volunteering leads to improved mental and physical health. In particular those who volunteered experienced higher functional ability, greater longevity and improved self esteem.

In particular for youth, research has shown that volunteering is an incredibly important activity for dealing with what some consider a very challenging life period. The action to help others and going beyond their own basic obligations, can help improve a youth’s life transition. This is formally known as life course theory and it argues that volunteering can help teenagers develop positive self identities during a time where they  are transitioning in their life physically, emotionally and socially. It also explains how by placing them in intimate situation with larger more diverse group of people that youth can gain new perspectives that foster healthy psychological well being.

With that being said, we wish only the best for the students as they travel to Nicaragua, and genuinely hope that this will be a great memory for them at their time at The Study Academy.