A game-changer for students with learning challenges

Thursday 27 November 2014

Just over a year ago I attended an Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) conference titled ‘How the Brain Learns’. The conference focused on the latest research involving the brain. Both the content and my participation altered my teaching pedagogy and professional pathway.

For many years, educators were of the belief that learning difficulties were, in the main, unchangeable. Yes, we had strategies to try to compensate for these difficulties; but it was a strongly held belief among educators that students with significant learning challenges would have life-long difficulties and that there would be minimal changes to their learning potential. This was my belief as well, until the illuminating conference that led to my ‘light bulb moment’.

Understanding neuro plasticity is a game-changer for students with learning challenges. Research in this area is shattering previously held beliefs, transforming the potential for students with learning challenges in a significant way. I was excited by what I heard regarding the brain’s potential to change. Dr Bruno della Chiesa discussed neuro plasticity and how it works. He maintained that “new neural pathways can be created in the brain, circumventing the broken or dormant pathways inhibiting a particular brain function”. His mantra was: “the neurons that fire together, wire together”.Dr della Chiesa cited research using MRI studies, or brain imaging. These studies found that the brain learns all the time, even when damaged. This provided me with optimism for the future of my students whose daily life poses so many challenges.

During the conference, participants were introduced to a range of evidence-based learning tools and practices that have transformed the lives of students. One such tool was Cogmed, a highly structured, intensive, computer-based training programdeveloped at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden that focuses on developing ‘working memory’.

Working memory is the ability to keep information active in mind for a short period of time, and then use it to complete a task. The more information or complexity there is to deal with, the harder it is to remember what to do next without being distracted. Problems with attention and learning are often caused by poor working memory. Studies on the relationship between working memory and students’ school performance indicate that about 15 percent of students in any class will have deficits in working memory, which limits their capacity for learning.

It is important to note, however, that a memory difficulty does not equate with an intellectual difficulty. In addition to increasing concentration, there is evidence to show that stronger working memory skills can also improve students’ reading comprehension and mathematical ability.

The Cogmed program has been implemented in both the Junior School and the Senior School at St Catherine’s. It is planned intensively and undertaken with the aid of a member of the Education Support staff trained in Cogmed. The program includes scientifically tested exercises that require approximately 30 to 45 minutes per day over 25 training sessions: usually five days of training per week for five weeks.

At this stage, the program is still undergoing continuous studies worldwide. However, for those already undertaken, results have shown that up to 80 percent of students show an improvement in their working memory, which has benefits for their academic performance. Given the need for further research, we will be conducting our own action research, to becompleted midway through 2015, in the hope of replicating research results gathered to date.

Are there downsides to the program? The answer is yes. A computer program is subject to the vagaries of Wi-Fi connection, so there are times when the program shuts down and frustrations go up! Student motivation and parent support are essential.

Using the Cogmed program provides an opportunity to accelerate learning in combination with other classroom and curriculum programs. Over the next six months we hope to review our action research to compare the benefits and effectiveness of the program with the research results to date. We hope to collaborate with some of the 100 schools in Australia currently using the program, with the possibility of comparing results.

Cogmed is only one of a number of programs available to our Education Support students and we will continue our innovative practices of implementing evidence-based programs to enhance the learning opportunities for our students.

If you are interested in exploring Cogmed in more detail, I recommend you visit www.cogmed.com.au.

Mrs Elka Gaensler
Education Support Teacher

 

Previous Entries

Wise Words Monday 24 November 2014

As Gail Kelly retires from her position as CEO of Westpac she offers advice to young women
Read more »

21st Century Skills Thursday 20 November 2014

Senior School Art Teacher Mrs Vicki Marinelli explains how the Arts are well placed to develop and enhance the skills students need in the 21st Century
Read more »

Archived Entries

November 2014

November 2014

November 2014

10.11.2014Travel to study

November 2014

November 2014

03.11.2014Thank you so much!

October 2014

October 2014

October 2014

October 2014

October 2014

October 2014

13.10.2014Air of excitement

October 2014

09.10.2014Digital dominance

September 2014

22.09.2014The blue ribbon

September 2014

18.09.2014Teaching History

September 2014

September 2014

September 2014

08.09.2014Capacity to learn

September 2014

September 2014

August 2014

August 2014

August 2014

August 2014

18.08.2014Student Leadership

August 2014

August 2014

August 2014

August 2014

July 2014

July 2014

July 2014

July 2014

21.07.2014Cyber safety

July 2014

July 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

June 2014

09.06.2014Engaging in STEM

June 2014

June 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

22.05.2014La Vie Française

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

May 2014

01.05.2014Beauty in Numbers

April 2014

28.04.2014The Right Mindset

April 2014

April 2014

March 2014

31.03.2014The Value of Play

March 2014

27.03.2014The History Wars

March 2014

24.03.2014Skills for Life

March 2014

20.03.2014Creative Thinking

March 2014

March 2014

March 2014

07.03.2014A moment in time

March 2014

February 2014

February 2014

24.02.2014Academic Fitness

February 2014

February 2014

February 2014

14.02.2014Tween to teen

February 2014

February 2014

January 2014

December 2013

December 2013

11.12.2013For Thought

December 2013

December 2013

December 2013

04.12.2013For Thought

December 2013

November 2013

29.11.2013Taming disorder

November 2013

27.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

November 2013

November 2013

20.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

18.11.2013Testing times

November 2013

15.11.2013Spark and passion

November 2013

13.11.2013For Thought

November 2013

November 2013

November 2013

06.11.2013For Thought

October 2013

30.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

25.10.2013Softly, softly

October 2013

23.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

October 2013

16.10.2013For Thought

October 2013

October 2013

October 2013

09.10.2013For Thought

September 2013

September 2013

18.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

September 2013

September 2013

11.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

09.09.2013Leading the way

September 2013

September 2013

04.09.2013For Thought

September 2013

02.09.2013Great expectations

August 2013

August 2013

28.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

21.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

14.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

August 2013

August 2013

07.08.2013For Thought

August 2013

05.08.2013Marvellous music

August 2013

July 2013

31.07.2013For Thought

July 2013

July 2013

July 2013

24.07.2013For Thought

July 2013

22.07.2013Welcome to Term 3

July 2013

July 2013

17.07.2013For Thought

June 2013

21.06.2013By the book

June 2013

19.06.2013For Thought

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013

05.06.2013For Thought

June 2013

May 2013

May 2013

29.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

22.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

15.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

May 2013

May 2013

08.05.2013For Thought

May 2013

06.05.2013Testing times

May 2013

May 2013

01.05.2013For Thought

April 2013

April 2013

26.04.2013Being in the zone

April 2013

24.04.2013For Thought

April 2013

22.04.2013Inspiring women

April 2013

April 2013

17.04.2013For Thought

April 2013

March 2013

March 2013

27.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

March 2013

20.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

13.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

12.03.2013A busy week ahead

March 2013

March 2013

06.03.2013For Thought

March 2013

March 2013

01.03.2013Balance and care

February 2013

27.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

February 2013

20.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

February 2013

13.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

February 2013

06.02.2013For Thought

February 2013

January 2013

31.01.2013For Thought

December 2012

December 2012

December 2012

05.12.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

28.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

21.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

14.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

November 2012

08.11.2012For Thought

November 2012

October 2012

31.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

24.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

17.10.2012For Thought

October 2012

October 2012

10.10.2012For Thought

September 2012

19.09.2012For Thought

September 2012

September 2012

12.09.2012For Thought

September 2012

September 2012

05.09.2012For Thought

August 2012

31.08.2012Family Ties

August 2012

29.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

22.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

15.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

08.08.2012For Thought

August 2012

August 2012

01.08.2012For Thought

July 2012

July 2012

25.07.2012For Thought

July 2012

20.07.2012Welcome to Term 3

July 2012

19.07.2012For Thought

June 2012

20.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

June 2012

13.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

June 2012

06.06.2012For Thought

June 2012

May 2012

31.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

23.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

May 2012

09.05.2012For Thought

May 2012

May 2012

02.05.2012For Thought

April 2012

April 2012

April 2012

18.04.2012For Thought

April 2012

March 2012

March 2012

28.03.2012For Thought

March 2012

March 2012

March 2012

March 2012

06.03.2012For Thought

March 2012

March 2012

01.03.2012For Thought

February 2012

February 2012

23.02.2012For Thought

February 2012

20.02.2012The Week Ahead

February 2012

February 2012

February 2012

February 2012

01.02.2012For Thought

January 2012

January 2012

17.01.2012Happy New Year!

December 2011

December 2011

07.12.2011For Thought

December 2011

December 2011

02.12.2011Teaching Character

December 2011

November 2011

November 2011

25.11.2011Inspiration

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

16.11.2011For Thought

November 2011

November 2011

11.11.2011Privacy

November 2011

November 2011

November 2011

04.11.2011Why music matters

November 2011

02.11.2011For thought

October 2011

October 2011

26.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

October 2011

21.10.2011Math Anxiety

October 2011

19.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

October 2011

October 2011

12.10.2011For Thought

October 2011

September 2011

16.09.2011School holidays

September 2011

14.09.2011For Thought

September 2011

September 2011

September 2011

07.09.2011For Thought

September 2011

September 2011

August 2011

31.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

August 2011

August 2011

24.08.2011The value of time

August 2011

August 2011

19.08.2011Active life

August 2011

17.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

August 2011

12.08.2011One Person

August 2011

10.08.2011For Thought

August 2011

08.08.2011A Glorious Gala

August 2011

August 2011

August 2011

July 2011

July 2011

27.07.2011For Thought

July 2011

July 2011

July 2011

21.07.2011A new term

July 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

24.06.2011Language Education

June 2011

22.06.2011Time

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

15.06.2011Humankind

June 2011

14.06.2011Making plans

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

June 2011

03.06.2011For a better world

June 2011

May 2011

May 2011

May 2011

25.05.2011For Thought

May 2011

23.05.2011Foundations

May 2011

20.05.2011Homework

May 2011

18.05.2011For Thought

May 2011

16.05.2011Sleep

May 2011

May 2011

May 2011

09.05.2011Truth

May 2011

06.05.2011Leadership

May 2011

May 2011

02.05.2011The pool is ours!

April 2011

29.04.2011NAPLAN

April 2011

27.04.2011Beauty

April 2011

April 2011

06.04.2011Life lessons

April 2011

04.04.2011Celebration

April 2011

01.04.2011Courage

March 2011

30.03.2011For Thought

March 2011

March 2011

25.03.2011Growing up

March 2011

March 2011

21.03.2011A busy week

March 2011

18.03.2011Decision making

March 2011

March 2011

March 2011

11.03.2011Bricks and Mortar

March 2011

09.03.2011For Thought

March 2011

March 2011

March 2011

February 2011

28.02.2011Our Busy School

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

16.02.2011A GOOD FOUNDATION

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

February 2011

04.02.2011A new year

February 2011

02.02.2011For Thought

December 2010

December 2010

06.12.2010The Final Week

December 2010

December 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

24.11.2010For Thought

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

17.11.2010For Thought

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

November 2010

October 2010

October 2010

27.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

October 2010

October 2010

October 2010

18.10.2010VCE and VET

October 2010

October 2010

13.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

October 2010

08.10.2010Welcome to Term 4

October 2010

06.10.2010For Thought

October 2010

04.10.2010Term 4 begins

September 2010

September 2010

08.09.2010For Thought

September 2010

September 2010

September 2010

August 2010

August 2010

27.08.2010Opportunity

August 2010

25.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

18.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

11.08.2010For Thought

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

August 2010

02.08.2010Affirmations

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

July 2010

21.07.2010For Thought

July 2010

19.07.2010Three Threads

July 2010

July 2010

14.07.2010For Thought

July 2010

13.07.2010Term 3 Begins

June 2010

June 2010

23.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

June 2010

June 2010

16.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

15.06.2010Sound and Song

June 2010

June 2010

09.06.2010For Thought

June 2010

June 2010

June 2010

02.06.2010For Thought

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

26.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

May 2010

May 2010

19.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

17.05.2010A Musical May

May 2010

May 2010

12.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

10.05.2010The Week Ahead

May 2010

May 2010

05.05.2010For Thought

May 2010

03.05.2010A busy week ahead

April 2010

April 2010

28.04.2010Opportunity

April 2010

April 2010

April 2010

21.04.2010For Thought

April 2010

April 2010

April 2010

14.04.2010For Thought

April 2010

12.04.2010Time for a Change

March 2010

March 2010

25.03.2010Community Service

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

18.03.2010House System

March 2010

March 2010

16.03.2010A Mingling Group

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

March 2010

05.03.2010Our Word Managers

March 2010

March 2010

03.03.2010Intensive Swimming

March 2010

March 2010

01.03.2010Coffee Mornings

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

22.02.2010Twilight Tour

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

16.02.2010Happy Snaps

February 2010

February 2010

12.02.2010My School Website

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

February 2010

03.02.20102010 Parent Events

February 2010

02.02.2010Year 12 Camp

February 2010

01.02.2010Day One

December 2009

December 2009

December 2009

December 2009

01.12.2009A hive of activity

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

26.11.2009A Happy Lunch

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

23.11.2009Expeditions

November 2009

20.11.2009Year 10 Odyssey

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

17.11.2009Year 6 Graduation

November 2009

16.11.2009The final weeks

November 2009

13.11.2009Our Prep experts

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

November 2009

06.11.2009A Staff Award

November 2009

November 2009

October 2009

30.10.2009VCE Exams commence

October 2009

October 2009

28.10.2009New Parent Night

October 2009

27.10.2009House Swimming

October 2009

October 2009

23.10.2009A Poem

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

20.10.2009Year 8 Camp

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

14.10.2009First impressions

October 2009

13.10.2009A Busy Night!

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

October 2009

06.10.2009Building work

September 2009

11.09.2009End of Term

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

September 2009

04.09.2009Healthy Meals

September 2009

03.09.2009UN Convention

September 2009

02.09.2009Annie Jr

September 2009

01.09.2009Eisteddfod Success

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

25.08.2009Book Safari

August 2009

August 2009

21.08.2009Maths Games Day!

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

17.08.2009Athletics Update

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

August 2009

11.08.2009Rumors!

August 2009

August 2009

07.08.2009Music Recitals

August 2009

August 2009

05.08.2009Our Reunions

August 2009

August 2009

July 2009

31.07.2009Tree Planting Day

July 2009

July 2009

29.07.2009Cybersafety

July 2009

28.07.2009Gala Concert 2009

July 2009

27.07.2009Sherren Steps

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

July 2009

14.07.2009Term 3 Begins

June 2009

26.06.2009Last Day of Term

June 2009

25.06.2009Our Move to E-News

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

17.06.2009On Track Data

June 2009

16.06.2009MAD Art

June 2009

15.06.2009Annual Giving

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

10.06.2009Public Speaking

June 2009

09.06.2009Netball Finals

June 2009

June 2009

04.06.2009Passionate Parents

June 2009

June 2009

June 2009

01.06.2009Preps in Action

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

25.05.2009Sport for Thought

May 2009

May 2009

21.05.2009Down to Business

May 2009

May 2009

19.05.2009Budding Artists

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

11.05.2009A Special Delivery

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

May 2009

04.05.2009Year 12 Formal

May 2009

01.05.2009A Note of Praise

April 2009

April 2009

29.04.2009Market Preparation

April 2009

28.04.2009On a Musical Note

April 2009

27.04.2009Intensive Swimming

April 2009

April 2009

23.04.2009Our School Photo

April 2009

22.04.2009Dido and Aeneas

April 2009

21.04.2009Welcome Back!

April 2009

03.04.2009Happy Holidays

April 2009

02.04.2009Italy Study Tour

April 2009

March 2009

March 2009

30.03.2009Year 11 Formal

March 2009

March 2009

26.03.2009DAT Testing

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

17.03.2009Year 8 Highlights

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

06.03.2009Our School Opera

March 2009

March 2009

March 2009

03.03.2009Into the Swing

March 2009

02.03.2009Circus Time!

February 2009

27.02.2009Year 1 Highlights

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

24.02.2009Surf League

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

16.02.2009Class of 2008

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

11.02.2009Sustainability

February 2009

February 2009

09.02.2009Bushfires

February 2009

06.02.2009A Busy Day

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009

February 2009