Implementing Interventions for Kids with Learning and Attention Disorders with Masha Jones [IEP 038]
Much of the data and studies conducted to understand how children with learning and attention disorders best learn in school are in dire need of updating. They are outdated and do not provide a comprehensive understanding of how children learn. That’s why we invited our guest today, Masha Jones, to join us. Masha is a Ph.D. student at UC Irvine’s School of Education. She researches executive functioning and motivation in individuals with learning and attention disorders, primarily by developing and evaluating cognitive and metacognitive interventions.
Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.
What We Discuss in This Episode:
- Despite developing robust analysis and results from a study of children with ADHD, there are no real ways to share this information with the people who need to hear it
- What the 10 Year Research Gap is
- What “divergent thinking” is and why it’s important
- Research shows that kids with ADHD have higher rates of depression and suicide
- Just because the system is bad, it’s still worth trying to change it and fix it
- How Masha proposes to improve the way data and study results are presented to the right people
- The importance of teaching or presenting information to children in various forms
- What Waldorf education is and how it develops the whole child
If you work with children with special needs or you’re the parent of a child with special needs (in the 10-15 yr old age range) and would like to participate in a 2 hour study, you can receive a $40 Target gift card. Find out more by contacting Masha.
Thank you for listening!
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Full Show Transcript
Vickie Brett: Welcome to The Inclusive Education Project. I’m Vickie Brett.
Amanda Selogie: I’m Amanda Selogie. We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission to change the conversation about education, civil rights and modern activism.
Vickie Brett: Each week, we’re going to explore new topics, which are going to educate and empower others.
Amanda Selogie: And give them a platform to enact change in education and level the playing field. Welcome back, Projectors.
Vickie Brett: You’re making it stick.
Amanda Selogie: I thought I was going to get more of a reaction from you.
Vickie Brett: No, you’re making it stick. We’ve been using it. You were the one that was complaining about it. Now you want me to complain about it?
Amanda Selogie: I just feel like we need a way to welcome everybody. I guess it just stuck because we don’t have a better …
Vickie Brett: Does it need to be better though? I don’t think that it needs to be better. [crosstalk 00:00:57]
Amanda Selogie: I mean I guess we’ve never had anyone tell us that it’s annoying.
Vickie Brett: Haven’t we though? No, I’m just kidding.
Amanda Selogie: Just me. Anyway, how was your week?
Vickie Brett: It was good. What are you asking me about my week for? I see you every day.
Amanda Selogie: I know, but our listeners don’t see us every day.
Vickie Brett: It was good. It’s summer. We’re at the end of June. Things have calmed down in terms of being out of the office. This is a time for Amanda and I to catch up on the due process request complaints that we have to write. It’s not that we’re not busy. It’s just we’re in the office more.
Amanda Selogie: A different kind of busy, which is nice. We can catch up on sleep maybe a little bit. Catch up on workouts. Catch up on TV shows. I’ve been hooked to American Ninja Warrior ever since you hooked me onto it. What was it? A couple years ago?
Vickie Brett: I feel like it was. Yeah, a while ago. Maury and I used to watch the Japanese version of Ninja Warrior. Not American Ninja Warrior.
Amanda Selogie: Yes. They definitely don’t call it American Ninja Warrior over there.
Vickie Brett: Not in Japan. Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: Isn’t it called something completely different?
Vickie Brett: No, it’s called Ninja Warrior.
Amanda Selogie: Oh, it’s just Ninja Warrior?
Vickie Brett: Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: Oh, okay. Anyway, I was watching it. They always have the stories of people competing. A lot of times it’s very compelling and sometimes it’s sad. Sometimes it’s very inspirational. It was really interesting because we always talk about our #AbilitiesFirst. It was really exciting to see someone kind of use it. Not exactly, but kind of. It was a guy who had to have his leg amputated from below the knee. I guess he was doing UFC boxing and then he got into an accident and this happened. He had to make a decision of let it be an excuse for him or move forward. It pushed him further.
He talks about how he doesn’t see himself as having a disability or being disabled at all. He doesn’t like that. He said, “I’ve got plenty of other things. I can do everything that I used to do.” He said, “It’s just pushed me harder just to work harder.” He says he doesn’t like to be known as someone who has a disability. He just says, “This is a hurdle that I have, just like everybody has hurdles. I focus on what I can do and my abilities. I can do just about anything.” It was great to see someone other than us … Not that there aren’t other people saying it, but it was really cool to see.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. He uses a prosthetic leg. That’s what you were telling me before.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: It’s one of those things where he had natural born instincts and abilities. The equity that Amanda and I are always talking about. Yes, we always say equality and things like that, but I think most of the time what we mean is the equity of a situation. He had the basic foundations and the prosthetic leg helps him achieve those, but it doesn’t mean that he’s just automatically going to be better than everybody because he has a prosthetic leg. He still has to put in the work. Like you said, it’s just like anything. It’s just another part … Like being left-handed or being red-headed. Obviously you’re born with those abilities, but if I really wanted to be right-handed, I guess I could. They forced kids to be right-handed, anyway.
Amanda Selogie: I know they do.
Vickie Brett: Which messed up a lot of kids. That’s interesting because I don’t know if you’ve heard the new Kanye West album. I know. I have mixed feelings about it too, but his beats are dope. He recently opened up about being diagnosed with a medical condition. That’s what he had said in news reports and things like that. “Oh, I wasn’t formally diagnosed until I was 39.” Obviously he had been struggling with something, but in one of his songs, “Yikes,” he actually makes a reference. He goes, “That’s my bipolar stuff. What? That’s my superpower. Ain’t no disability. I’m a superhero. I’m a superhero.” I don’t know.
I thought that that was interesting that he even pointed that out in a lyric, give or take whatever you want to say about Kanye. People speaking out, especially about mental health issues, are important. Not that that detracts or takes away from anything that you were saying, but this is what we deal with. There’s a spectrum of disabilities or abilities and I think that’s why we have the podcast and why we try to change that conversation.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. I don’t think both ideas are mutually exclusive by any means because we definitely love to say abilities first. We want to focus on people’s abilities and what makes them great. We shouldn’t see the disability in that sense. We really want to end the stigma, but on the other hand, one of the things I always say … I loved working with children who are living with Down syndrome because the things that they bring to the world, just their mentality and the things that they can do, it’s so different from other kids in a way that I see that part of them.
Yeah. Okay. We call Down syndrome a disability, but when I see Down syndrome or I hear Down syndrome, I think about those positive attributes that are just amazing and inspirational. That’s where it’s like that’s a superpower. Just like kids living with autism, we see a lot of times they may get hyper-focused on things that may make it challenging in school oftentimes, but then what that can deliver them in their hobbies that can end up being their … Pretty much how a lot of technology is built is because people are hyper-focused on one individual aspect. That is a superpower because not all of us … We could try as hard as we want to be great at science or technology, but our brains … If our brains aren’t wired that way, everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, I guess.
Vickie Brett: I think for us, learning about different disabilities and having the fidelity of data and research is why we wanted to have our guests on today. Masha Jones. Masha. It’s like Marsha without the R, right?
Masha Jones: That’s right.
Vickie Brett: You are a researcher at the University of California Irvine.
Masha Jones: Yes.
Vickie Brett: What does that mean?
Masha Jones: Excellent question. I work at UC Irvine and I develop and implement and evaluate interventions for kids with learning and attention disorders. That’s primarily what I do. I also serve as a consultant for professionals in the special education and mental health fields who want to improve their services by using grant writing, evaluation and research, so they’re better able to serve their clients and serve more clients. The reason I’m really committed to that is because of what I consider the biggest problem in research. I don’t know if we want to go down that road, but it’s really isolated and isolating.
I don’t know if you’ve ever talked to someone who does research. My guess is no because here’s what happens. Okay, so I did a study. It was an intervention for kids with ADHD. I found out the results. The results were that the intervention was kind of helpful, but probably not that helpful that you might want to put money into. But guess who we told people about that intervention?
Vickie Brett: Who you told people about?
Masha Jones: Yeah. Who did we talk to afterwards to tell them about these findings?
Vickie Brett: Maybe school districts.
Masha Jones: Oh, no.
Vickie Brett: No? No one?
Masha Jones: What you do is you go to an academic conference and you tell a bunch of academic nerds. They get all excited about the data analysis. They’re like, “Oh, look at that. You used hierarchical linear modeling? That’s cool. [inaudible 00:08:21] analysis? That’s the hot new thing.”
Amanda Selogie: They’re more into the way the data was collected rather than what comes from it.
Masha Jones: Yes. Like, “Oh, what was exactly the control group? How did you manipulate this and that? Maybe if you looked at it this way.” Actually, there’s really no easy way for us. This is just because the way it’s set up is so terrible in my opinion. There’s no easy way for us to communicate with the real stakeholders. That’s something that I’m really passionate about and part of why I wanted to be here today, because I’m working on a new project that I’m really excited about and I think it’s really aligned with what you all were just talking about. I don’t want to wait 20 years to tell people.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. The kids of today can’t wait for …
Masha Jones: We do call it a 10-year research gap is the term. It’s called the 10-year research gap for the reason I just explained, that there’s no good mechanism in place for sharing what you learn. In some cases, it’s as long as 20 years before something we know in research is actually in the hands of the people who can do something with that. I know you had Cathy Johnson recently talking about that. That was something where I had found that citation from her from 1998.
Amanda Selogie: Wow.
Vickie Brett: Wow.
Masha Jones: What year is it? 2018? That’s 20 years. She was telling me that there’s professionals who still aren’t doing what we have known to be best practices in research for literally 20 years. That is unconscionable in my opinion.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. No, it’s crazy. I have talked about before how in undergrad, I did some studying into education systems in other countries and how just the way they do it differently. I had presented at an education conference in Hawaii when I was in law school about federalized education systems. Specifically No Child Left Behind. I had so many people from other countries that were just fascinated about the information, which is told about how all these people come to our education conferences from all over the world. They take our research and they run with it. We just sit on it.
Masha Jones: Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: What’s the new project?
Amanda Selogie: Oh, yes. Tell us.
Masha Jones: I’ve been thinking about how to tell you this. I want to put you guys on the spot with a game. Okay. Just off the top of your heads, what comes to mind when I ask you this question?
Vickie Brett: Okay.
Masha Jones: What is red and says stop but isn’t a stop sign? Nothing, right? Just kidding. No, this is good. This is what I was hoping would happen. I’m hoping you were going to say, “I got nothing.”
Vickie Brett: Yeah.
Masha Jones: Okay. That is a kind of problem that we call a divergent thinking problem. Divergent thinking is your ability to think outside the box. This is a really important aspect of creativity. When I talk about creativity, I don’t mean drawing pretty pictures.
Vickie Brett: No, no.
Masha Jones: I mean that’s part of it, but I mean scientific thinking or creative reasoning or coming up with new ideas. New solutions to problems. It’s a really important skill. Divergent thinking is part of it. The reason why that’s really tough for you guys I’m going to guess is because you have high executive functioning.
Vickie Brett: Yes.
Masha Jones: If you have really high executive functioning, it’s actually difficult to inhibit things that aren’t the typically correct answer or things that are just so primed for us. The obvious answer is stop sign, but I said it’s not a stop sign. Now all you can think of is a stop sign. You’re like, “Oh my god. What is it if it’s not a stop sign?”
Vickie Brett: Right.
Masha Jones: Okay, because you have this high executive functioning. I asked the same question to my friend who is in her 20s. She’s a brilliant young lady with ADHD. She’s getting her PhD in cognitive sciences.
Vickie Brett: Oh, very cool. Yeah.
Masha Jones: Ladies and gentlemen, she suffered with ADHD as a child, but she is killing it out there. Okay. Anyway, I asked her and I had to bring this piece of paper with me because it’s a list of her answers.
Vickie Brett: Wow.
Amanda Selogie: Oh my gosh.
Masha Jones: Okay. Her first answer. I kid you not, the first thing out of her mouth with no hesitation was, “A sweaty editor.” This editor is reading your writing and he’s getting flustered and annoyed because your writing is so bad that he’s like, “Ugh, stop it.” He’s turned all red. Literally her first answer.
Vickie Brett: Okay.
Masha Jones: Okay. Next one she says, “A button on a tape player.”
Vickie Brett: Yes. That one works. That one is good.
Masha Jones: The crosswalk sign when it turns red and starts talking. It’s red. It’s got that red hand and it says, “Stop. Do not cross.” I know you’re a runner. Do you Strava? Do you have Strava?
Amanda Selogie: No, I don’t.
Masha Jones: Okay.
Vickie Brett: My husband uses that for cycling. Yeah.
Masha Jones: Love Strava. It’s great. It’s an app for recording your workouts. It tracks you with GPS and it’s awesome. She says, “Strava when you’re running and you want to hit stop.”
Vickie Brett: Right.
Masha Jones: It’s actually orange. Then she came back and was like, “Well, I know that’s actually orange,” but she wasn’t inhibited by that. She wasn’t inhibited by that. Okay. Tests like the SAT and the GRE, when you reach the end of a section and it says, “Stop.”
Vickie Brett: That’s a stop sign in my head. It’s not like a street stop sign, but it’s a stop sign. [crosstalk 00:12:53]
Amanda Selogie: I think I just wouldn’t remember that it was red.
Masha Jones: Yeah. My mind wouldn’t have gone to the SAT. [crosstalk 00:12:59] It’s not like it was yesterday that she took the thing. She’s been in graduate school for three or four years. It’s not like she took that test yesterday.
Vickie Brett: Wow. Yeah.
Masha Jones: Okay. Alarm clock. That one I wasn’t totally convinced on, but maybe she has an alarm clock with a … Or maybe on your phone. I don’t know if the stop thing is red. Maybe on the iPhone. It is, huh?
Vickie Brett: Yeah.
Masha Jones: Then this is my favorite. She sent me a picture on her phone of her bicycle pump. The bicycle pump is red. One of the words on the logo is ‘sport.’ She took a picture of it and she said, “My bike pump is red. If you were to rearrange the letters in the word ‘sport,’ I think you could get to stop.”
Vickie Brett: Right. Okay.
Masha Jones: I just thought that was a really great example of how … You guys were talking about this before, about thinking about what are the strengths of people who are struggling with something that we usually think about first. If you have ADHD, it’s actually really likely that because of the slow executive functioning that we typically see, you’re going to be really highly creative and have high divergent thinking. I just think that’s so cool and so important to know. I think it’s a valued skill in our workforce.
Vickie Brett: Well, so many people with a diagnosis of ADHD, once they get through the traditional type of school setting if their parents didn’t put them in a private school setting have gone on to do amazing things. I can’t even think off the top of my head all the different people that have ADHD or find a creative outlet or use their talents for something different than what you and I would traditionally think. Some of them are doctors and Nobel Peace Prize winners.
Masha Jones: 100%.
Vickie Brett: It was just something that as a child they had to get through.
Amanda Selogie: I’ve seen this before, where middle school, high school, they have one class where maybe it’s such a hands on science class and they’ve got a fabulous teacher and that’s just something that they’re very interested in. Maybe they do excellent. The team will be talking about how they’re so distractable and they have all this trouble. Then the science teacher will come in and be like, “I don’t see that problem at all.” It’s like, “Okay, well …” A lot of times, we see that being dismissed as, “Well, it’s a preferred activity. Let’s not think too long about it.” It’s almost like an anomaly in a sense.
When we’re considering what supports are going to help the student in the classes they’re struggling with, I often don’t see them going to that teacher and saying, “Well, what is it about this class? What is it about your teaching style that makes the difference?” I think that is something that needs to be tapped into more because I think they’re just like, “He’s doing well, so we don’t have to think about that.” Right? But we probably should because that’s showing that there’s something in that learning environment that’s so different.
Masha Jones: Yeah. I think it’s really important to focus on the strengths in addition to the weaknesses, like you talked about before. One of the reasons for that is that we do see in the literature that kids who have learning disabilities or attention disorders, things like that, they actually have much higher rates of depression, of suicide. Like you said before, if they can get through this really tough time, they’re going to do really great things, but we’ve got to get them through. We don’t want them to have this totally damaging experience in school.
My dream would be for me to show with some good evidence that this is the case and then to get that knowledge into the hands of professionals who can say, “Look. Here’s what this kid is great at. Here’s their strength. Here’s what he can harness.” I think it may not be a surprise that I said that kids with ADHD are creative. This is something that’s said here and there, but there hasn’t really been good evidence to demonstrate that that’s true. I think that’s important, not just because it’s my profession to do research and I want to validate myself, but I talked to a principal a while back. I was trying to convince him, “Hey, let me come to your school and collect this data.”
Vickie Brett: Yeah. Good luck.
Masha Jones: I know. Always my goal. Hey, if anyone is listening, let me come.
Vickie Brett: Yeah.
Masha Jones: I was explaining to him the basic idea. We were talking about dyslexia, not ADHD. In my opinion or based on my theory that this should hold up too for kids with learning disabilities because they also tend to have that lower executive functioning. I was talking to this principal of the school that specializes in serving kids with reading disabilities for the most part. I told him my idea and he goes, “You know what? These are nice kids, but they’re just not very good at reading.”
Vickie Brett: He said that?
Masha Jones: He said that.
Vickie Brett: How old was he?
Masha Jones: Older. I don’t know.
Vickie Brett: Even before you had said that, I was thinking about this older teacher at an IEP meeting, where we were talking about dyslexia. She’s just like, “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I’ve never had a child with dyslexia in my classroom.” I was like, “You have.”
Masha Jones: You’re wrong.
Vickie Brett: You have, but you just … It’s that mentality, right? Not thinking that, “Okay, there could be a learning difference.” Sometimes we’ll say learning differences because a lot of times, parents of children with dyslexia, which is a spectrum in and of itself and ADHD don’t like the stigma of a disability or this. It’s a learning difference. You can learn. It’s just you have to learn it in a different way. For a principal like that of a school … Was it a private school or a public school?
Masha Jones: It was a private school.
Vickie Brett: Oh, okay. It was a private school. To have that mentality, it’s just like, “What?” How did you even react? You were just like, “What?”
Masha Jones: I was shocked in the moment. I was like, “Well, can I take your card?” I didn’t really know what to do.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. It’s just so shocking.
Masha Jones: Yeah, but my point is if I had some evidence behind it, I could be like, “Look. Here’s the affect size.”
Vickie Brett: Yeah. In this day and age, even if you had evidence, I don’t know that it would … Just like you had said-
Masha Jones: For certain people, yes.
Vickie Brett: Best practices for 20 years. No. I think in school districts, you get used to doing things a certain way. Even though you’re an up and comer in a district, you get into this fraternity sorority, where it’s just like, “No, we’ve done this this way and this is the only way to do it.”
Amanda Selogie: So frustrating.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. There’s maybe one or two school districts out there where we have directors that are like, “You know what? That’s how you do things sometimes. Then sometimes you’ve got to think outside the box.” If you’re not willing to think outside the box or have that leadership component, it doesn’t matter what research you have. It doesn’t matter that you can prove it and it’s been working for 30 years in another country. The USA has been doing it this way. Then that’s the only … It’s been reading, writing and arithmetic. Right? That’s what they saw in the 50s and that’s what we still see.
Masha Jones: Honestly, I never hear the word ‘arithmetic’ except for when I listen to your podcast.
Vickie Brett: Well, it’s because we hear it all the time.
Masha Jones: Yeah.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, it’s crazy. It shouldn’t be so-
Masha Jones: We used to call it math.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah.
Vickie Brett: Right. That’s why we started the podcast is to change the conversation. Have guests like yourself and Cathy and even Sarah that we had last week that are challenging the norm and being able to speak about it in a way that people … You’re lifting that stigma. Nobody likes to talk about mental health. We had had the gals from the eating disorder. It was not a comfortable conversation to have, but it was nice to know that there are people out there that are helping, that are doing their own research in a way of taking the data and saying, “No, they have to live in our facility for at least three months before they could even think about going back to school if they’re this severe,” and things like that.
Us just trying to connect things. To have you on where you’re discussing the different types of research that you’ve found and then obviously the different types of people that you’re talking to and who you want to put it in the hands of, that for us is encouraging.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. Especially because we talk about how … Like Vickie said, to some, this is the way it is and it’s been that way. People have had that mentality. We hear all the time from people, “Well it’s so bad. What are you going to do about it?” It’s almost that giving up mentality that because it’s so bad, there’s no way for us to change it. So let’s just give up and not even try. We obviously do not believe that. The more people that we can get … I think getting that research and you being in such a unique position, where you’re also educating future educators too is the perfect person to give that information to.
Give them those tools, that information before they even get … As we call it, brainwashed by the system. I think that’s really important because I think that we’ve found that the way that students are being taught to be teachers and taught to be school psychologists is we need to get in on that ground floor. Of course, we’re still going to have some administrators that have been there forever and are still going to be very pushy in their own way. They’re going to be very stubborn to keep going, but eventually, those people are going to retire.
If we can get a new generation of people coming in, then eventually, we can start to make that change. Clearly, this needs to be changed too, but this is a way to change the system within the system, I guess.
Masha Jones: Yeah. I don’t want to totally problematize teachers or administrators. No one goes into education because they hate kids, but I think it’s important to help them get the information. That’s what I was talking about earlier with that 10, 20-year gap. I think that’s a problem. That grumpy old man is a big inspiration for me actually every time I’m doing this. I’m doing it for him. I’m also doing it for the parents. I think that sometimes the parents hear this too. “Oh, well your kid … Yeah, but they’re so creative. Johnny is so creative.” I imagine that … I don’t imagine. I know from talking to some parents that for a lot of them, they feel like that’s a platitude. Like, “Okay, but I want my kid to have help.”
Vickie Brett: Here’s your participation ribbon.
Masha Jones: Yeah. I don’t know that they believe it. I want to help them believe it, if that makes sense.
Amanda Selogie: I think a lot of parents probably hear the creative comment, similar to how most parents hear, “He’s such a sweet boy. We love having him in our class,” but then it follows with, “He’s not making progress or not able to do these things.” It’s almost like, “Okay. You’re giving me a backhanded compliment almost.”
Masha Jones: It’s like if you go on a date and I’m like, “How is the guy?” You’re like, “Well, he was really nice.”
Amanda Selogie: Yes. Like, okay. You have to say something nice. You have some kind of standard compliment. That’s the problem because maybe they truly are very creative in the sense that you’re talking about. It may be dismissed very easily or the teachers, they know that about the kid, but they don’t know what to do with it. I think that’s the second component. Figuring out where these kids’ strengths lie, but then what do you do from there?
Masha Jones: Totally.
Vickie Brett: Then is that what your research would be based on is part one, this is the issue, and then part two, here’s the solution to that issue?
Masha Jones: Yeah. I was just nodding. Of course, that’s not helpful.
Vickie Brett: I was like, “Okay. I’m on the right track.”
Masha Jones: Yeah. I would call it study one. You’re talking about study 17, but yes. It’s very slow. The first study is feasibility. It’s showing that this is here. There are some studies that have been done by some colleagues of mine that have looked at college students with ADHD that do show this. What I’m really interested in looking at is in younger kids. Not just is it there, but what’s the mechanism to explain it. It’s possible that these are the kinds of things we think about. What are the confounds? Maybe kids have been told that they’re creative, so their parents have enrolled them in creativity type classes or something. There’s all these different ways that you could be creative.
What I’m looking at is measuring cognitive functioning and measuring various aspects of creativity in a broad sample that’s including kids with and without learning attention disorders and typically developing kids and looking for a couple of things. Looking for group differences. Let’s say I’m comparing kids with dyslexia and kids with ADHD to kids who have neither of those things, right? The first step would be is there a main difference between those two groups? Is one of them more creative than the other?
I was talking to another colleague at UCI who said to me, “Well Masha, you’re going to do this study. You’re going to get an average creativity score for the kids with ADHD and an average creativity score for the kids who don’t. What are you going to tell people if they’re the same or if the kids with ADHD actually have a lower score? What are you going to do with that information?” I was like, “Oh, shoot. Good point,” which pushed me to think about this one a little bit harder. Another way to think about this question is if you’re a parent and your child is really creative and you say, “Oh my goodness. My Nicholas. He’s just so creative,” what they’re not saying is that Nicholas is more creative than Karina.
Vickie Brett: Right.
Masha Jones: What she’s saying is of all the things that Nicholas can do, he’s really good at coming up with novel ideas. He’s really great at this and that. I’m just getting into the nerd data analysis stuff. We can also look within group at if I measure all these things that you’re good at or not good at, we can find a pattern of strengths and weaknesses, although I’m still hoping for question one to be true because based on the theory of the executive functioning and that little anecdote that I just shared with you before about the stop sign exercise, I think we will find that main group difference. We’re looking at both.
Then to answer your question about what’s next is then I want to look at developing interventions for teachers to use with kids that can help them bring out that creativity and use it in various places and help them to see that as a strength instead of only focusing on the weaknesses.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. When we had Sarah on last week, she had done a presentation regarding the different ways that we learn. Right? The example that she had given us at the print station that I was present at was that there’s a picture on just her little presentation on the projector. It was the little clementines. She was like, “Let’s do a word bank.” It was all the things that you could think of. Then she had actual clementines on our tables. It’s like, “Of course our word bank for all the different textures, the taste, the smell of the clementine …” It was 30 words versus five words that we could figure out just looking at it from a textbook.
I like to hear that it’s not just interventions … Just the way of teaching because I think oftentimes, teachers have a way of teaching and it’s like, “Oh, I have to accommodate for just this one kid,” whereas most of the time, it’s like, “No. If you’re reading it out loud two times, it’s not just benefiting that one kid that has it as an accommodation in his IEP. It’s probably helping like 10 other kids because of the way that they learn.”
For me, I know other countries teach differently and they do use more of that sensory model. I think that’s where the push really needs to be. A lot of these teachers are learning it, but then they get to their district and it’s just like, “Here are some books. Figure it out.” Then they’re stuck to going back to the reading, writing, arithmetic model.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah, or they learn a strategy in one form. They learn how to use the sensory multiple modalities with reading a novel, but then they learn that from someone who did it that tend to work, but they didn’t understand exactly the components of it. For them to generalize it to everything that they do, then they see it as, “Well, this is so much work for me to completely redo the way I teach. I went through school to learn how to teach and now you’re telling me I’m doing it wrong.” No, it’s just that there’s different ways to do it.
Masha Jones: Well, it might help if they had higher divergent thinking. Don’t you think? You just gave me that wonderful clementine example. If I was a teacher, I’d bring some clementines to school tomorrow, but then what would I do the next day? Shoot.
Amanda Selogie: Yes. No, exactly.
Masha Jones: That kind of creativity is really important.
Vickie Brett: It’s the real world application of it because you don’t see things in a book when you go on field trips or to the farm or whatever. That’s why Montessori schools do things crazily differently or they have an animal farm or they have-
Masha Jones: Well, have you guys heard of Waldorf?
Amanda Selogie: I have. I had a client that wanted to go into a Waldorf school, so I learned about it. My mom was a Waldorf teacher, so I’m all about the weird-
Vickie Brett: Interesting. Okay.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. I don’t even know what’s going on in these public schools. People tell me. I had to code some video for some research project, where it was a video of a classroom and I was so bored.
Vickie Brett: Right.
Amanda Selogie: Tell our listeners a little bit about Waldorf schools.
Masha Jones: Okay. I did it for so long. I was in the school, but I wish I had a stronger understanding of the theory behind it to explain to everybody. It’s basically a whole child approach. They’re really focused on developing the whole child. It’s a really rich sensory environment. It’s just structured so differently. For example, everyone starts learning two languages in first grade. German and Spanish.
Vickie Brett: Oh, wow.
Masha Jones: I took German and Spanish starting from first grade. In Kindergarten, I think we sang songs and did poems in other languages and stuff too. You’re building these strong language skills. Everything is really based on telling stories. A lot of oral language, a lot of language comprehension first before decoding actually. This is flipping the typical model a little bit.
Vickie Brett: 100%.
Masha Jones: They don’t focus on decoding at all until … Or at least not in any explicit way until first grade. They’ll tell a story at circle time and tell the same story the next day. You have to retell the story. It’s just this really rich language comprehension piece that you’re developing. Then these skills come slowly. I don’t think I really knew how to read until third grade, but I could read you a chapter book in third grade because you’re developing how to live into a story and how to do reading comprehension and stuff. I could go all day. I love reading comprehension.
Amanda Selogie: Yeah. I think from my recollection too, I remember when I first heard about it. I’ve heard some critiques of these methods, but I think it’s more the way that it’s implemented. Not necessarily the idea behind it. I remember when I was a child development major learning about the theory of multiple intelligences and just looking at all the different intelligences and the spectrum that everyone has on each of these. Whenever we say the reading, writing and arithmetic, it’s because we think as a society that those are the intelligences, but Howard Gardner told us that there are so many more. We need to be looking at all of these spectrums and using the way that a kid’s mind and how they’re developing each of these.
I think that’s a component that I think in some of these alternative schooling methodologies is utilizing and not just using the three that work well with reading, writing and arithmetic. Have you heard of [inaudible 00:31:10] charter?
Masha Jones: I haven’t.
Amanda Selogie: It’s a charter school in the valley. I worked there when I was in college. I was an aid and I worked with a little boy who was living with Down syndrome. That’s how I fell in love with just this whole world. I don’t know the exact term that they use, but it was a thematic approach. Every month, the entire school had a theme. Every component of learning, from math to art to reading to science to spelling to everything, had to do something with that theme. It was building upon each other and building upon a subject matter that was more engaging for the kids. It was using a lot of these concepts.
There was one where it was a theme of … I don’t want to say it was gardening, but maybe it was food development or something like that. They actually had a garden, but they didn’t have the garden just to learn how to garden. They use science and math and how to grow and how plants actually-
Masha Jones: Yeah. It’s science, actually.
Amanda Selogie: Yes.
Vickie Brett: Well, it’s that real world application. I think it’ll be really interesting as you get into your study a little bit more … Maybe we could have you back and give us some updates.
Masha Jones: Yeah, totally.
Vickie Brett: If it’s allowable in research.
Masha Jones: Oh, for sure.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. We could talk about this all day. The different types of theories. We’re so interested in the work that you do and we’re so happy that we met you and that you were able to come on today. If people want to reach out to you, is there a way that they can … Maybe they want to be part of this study somehow. How can they reach out to you?
Masha Jones: Yeah. Let me do a quick plug. If you work with kids or if you’re a parent of a kid with special needs and you want to participate in the study, we do offer a $40 gift card to Target for participants.
Vickie Brett: Yes.
Masha Jones: You can come to UCI to do that or we’ll come to your local public library. You can reach me probably email is easiest. M.firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find my website, masharjones.com. Those are probably the two easiest ways to find me. M.email@example.com.
Amanda Selogie: Are you looking for any particular age?
Masha Jones: Oh, excellent question. I should have said that. Yes, 7 through 14 is our age range. I’m sorry. That’s wrong. That’s a different study that I didn’t talk about today, but maybe next time.
Vickie Brett: Yeah.
Masha Jones: It’s 10 through 18. A little bit older. If you’ve got a high schooler that’s bored and wants easy money, it’s a two-hour study. It only takes two hours and you get $40. I challenge your kids to find a better pay rate.
Vickie Brett: Yeah. At this point, yeah, exactly.
Masha Jones: Yeah. Then on my website, you can find out more about the kids of research that I’m doing there as well.
Vickie Brett: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for your time. Yeah, we’ll definitely have you back on.
Masha Jones: Thank you so much for having me.
Vickie Brett: All right, everybody. Have a great week.
Masha Jones: Bye.