Less Stress May Mean Less Fat

Posted on January 01, 2012

Students from rural areas have lower college enrollment rates than their urban peers, cialis 40mg but once rural students get to college, they’re more likely to graduate.

Patton Springs (Texas) enrolls about 100 students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and about 80 percent are from low-income families. It’s the only school in its 396-square-mile West Texas district, and the nearest Walmart is 70 miles away. Despite its isolation, the school is excelling. It’s received the highest rating Texas school districts can receive for its student achievement for the past 14 years, and its graduation rate is 100 percent.

Superintendent Larry McClenny said the school pushes students to achieve, and one of the ways it does that is through dual-credit courses. Students can graduate from high school with 30 hours of college credit. Both of McClenny’s children had that many hours when they finished, and both finished college in three years. “It saves parents a lot of money to be able to get in numerous hours in high school,” he said. One of the reasons this small school has been able to offer so many dual-credit courses is because many of its faculty members are qualified to teach at the high school and college levels. In Texas, being qualified to do that means having a master’s degree and 18 graduate level hours in the subject they’re teaching.

McClenny sees a direct correlation between the number of credits earned and the likelihood of students receiving a post-secondary education. The school pays for dual-credit courses through a combination of state funds, student activity fees (the school canceled its senior trips and uses that money toward these classes), and parents’ payments.

Some of the program’s key supports include an adopt-a-student program, in which students who need additional instruction are identified early, ACT prep classes every other year, and financial aid nights to help students fill out college forms. The Texas Virtual School Network also has enabled the school to offer classes it couldn’t otherwise, such as physics and Spanish.

Some of the biggest challenges have been figuring out ways to support students as they transition to college, the state’s graduation requirements bias toward students earning four-year college credits rather than a career and technology education, and convincing families of the value in technical training during such a difficult economy, McClenny said.

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Author: Diette Courrege,


Cognitive Support Technologies


“…Cognitive support refers to the assistive aspects of technology that enhance the mental capabilities and avoid the limitations of users.” (Wogalter and Mayhorn)


Usually, healing when you enter a transition period in a classroom full of students with significant cognitive disabilities, multiple disabilities or autistic students there is a lot of movement, noise and organizing taking place. Students are trying to find out what materials they need, where to get them and moving around the room in general. It takes time to get the students settled down and focused for instruction. This is not the case in Barabara Hegland’s class at Hartvigsen School in the Granite School District. In contrast, as the transition period begins the students know right where to go to get their materials, they pick them up and go straight to their seats to begin instruction. The instruction is on iPads! During an observation it was noted that within five minutes all students had focused attention on their assignments. After twenty-five minutes, the class was still engaged with 100% concentration on instruction.

This is an impressive educational outcome of cognitive support technology (CST). The concept of cognitive support technology helps build independence for individuals with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. It also encompasses and is useful for the students with Traumatic Brain Injury and Multiple Disabilities. Research has shown that very young children can benefit from having access to a variety of assistive technology devices as well. Assistive technology uses any tool or device that a student with a disability needs to do a task that he or she could not otherwise do without it or any tool the student needs to do a task more easily, faster, or in a better way. They can be “low-tech” devices like pencil grips, or “high-tech” devices such as a computer. Utilizing assistive technology has become an accepted practice in special education.

Research-based interventions such as making decisions within a task sequence, following a schedule, using the internet, computer skills and assistive devices show that students have fewer external prompts, fewer errors, more tasks successfully completed and more complex tasks are evident. Students using cognitive support technology can stay on task while at school, stay on a schedule and in secondary students will also aide them in staying on task on the job.


The Effects of Technology in the Classroom

(These tips are from Janice Hill, Teacher of a self-contained Significant Cognitive Disabilities Classroom , Weber School District. She notes that all of these technologies have come out within the last ten years.)

In my classroom technology has given us …

• Many ways and options for students who are non-verbal to communicate.

• Alternative pencils so that students who cannot hold or control a pencil can have writing experiences.

• Engaging alternative ways to learn new skills. (There’s an App for that!)

• Provided access to reading, math, social studies, and science to those who are Significantly Cognitively Disabled. For some it has leveled the playing field just a little more with their typical peers.

• New and innovative ways to teach communication and social skills through social stories and video modeling.

My Favorite Devices or Technology

• iPad! I have never found another piece of technology as engaging and versatile as the iPad and the wealth of apps available for use. The possibilities seem somewhat endless.

• Boardmaker – Thank you Mayer Johnson for taking away my days of coloring, cutting and pasting!

• Springboard Lite and/or Vantage.

• Smartboard – There are so many uses within a classroom for this piece of technology. Again like the iPad, it is very engaging for the students.

• Ablenet’s switches – My favorite is the Step by Step.


Looking at how to start thinking about using cognitive support technology for our students the following guiding questions are suggested:

• Are you considering the environmental impact of the technology, e.g. arrangement in the classroom, support available to both the student and the staff, materials and equipment, access issues, attitudes and expectations of staff, family and others.

• What specific tasks occur in the student’s natural environments that enable progress toward mastery of the IEP goals and objectives?

• What specific tasks are required for active involvement related to communication, instruction, participation and productivity?









There are five top strategies suggested for successful assistive technology implementation in the schools. They are:

• Develop an Assistive Technology (AT) Committee.

o Do this within your school and/district/ or LEA.

o Facilitated committee meeting by an AT Coordinator.

o Share latest tools and programs.

o Share tips from workshops.

o Determine AT tip of the month.

o Focus on a topic of the month.

• Establish an AT point person in each building.

o This may be the same point person assigned to the committee.

o Attend trainings as possible and bring back knowledge.

• Create an AT Toolbox for each school.

o Start small with some low-tech and some mid-tech materials.

o Toolbox may include things such as: timers, Motivators, pencil grips, small white boards, non-slip placemats, Bingo markers, calculators with extra large numbers, HandiTak to hold things down, communication systems, simple switches, etc.

o Provide a variety of programs available (Try for grants to get money) .

o Some program suggestions might be: SOLO, CLOZ Pro, and Boardmaker Plus.

o Information on Free Downloads like: Word Talk, Readplease, My Studybar.

o Begin a library of additional programs and tools .

o You may want to have AAC tooklkits as well.

• Develop District Assistive Technology Handbook

o Establish an AT flowchart within the LEA or school.

o Make a set of expectations for each teacher.

o Make decisions about how to collect data.

o It is all about a team approach and coaching.

• Provide or be involved with on-going professional development




Here is a testimonial to the importance and success teachers are finding with cognitive support technologies.

Marilyn Sanderson, Teacher in the Uintah School District reports that she has a boy in her classroom who throws pencils at class individuals among other challenging behaviors. He basically does not do his work because of his major behavior problems. He is non-verbal and very bright. He is also autistic. He will work without behaviors when he knows he will get the use of the iPad for 15 minutes at the end of his math and/or reading session. There has been great progress with him since using the iPad and programs that catch his attention. The class is very happy and so am I!


Becoming familiar and comfortable with all of these cognitive support technologies will take an effort, some planning, and concerted teaming with others. Reach out to other teachers and do something. Don’t get left behind in offering the excellent learning opportunities that assistive technology brings to a classroom.

AuthorChristine Timothy, Specialist, Utah State Office of Education




ATSTAR Knowability Services, www.atstar.org .

Bowser, Gayle; Fonner, Kelly; Marfilius, Scott, “Making Memory: Using Technology for Memory and Cognitive Supports”, 2012.

Downing, June E., Including Students with Severe and Multiple Disabilities in Typical Classrooms, Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co., 2008.

Key, Kelly; Kean, Kerry, “Top Five Strategies for Successful AT Implementation in the Schools”, Barrington 220 Community Unit School District, 2012.

Wogalter, M. S.; Mayhorn, C. B. (2005), “Providing cognitive support with technology-based warning systems”. Ergonomics, 48, 522-533.

Less Stress May Mean Less Fat

Researchers are finding that stress is a key factor in obesity, there particularly childhood obesity — leading them to observe that social safety-net programs may be keeping families fed and healthy. (Hemera Technologies)

Obesity has generally been explained as the interaction of three factors: diet, exercise and genetics. Researchers, though, have begun to look at another element — particularly as it relates to childhood obesity — and their findings have implications for government-run social safety-net programs that the politicians wrangling over them likely never considered.

“What we see is that at least in clinical studies using rats, if you induce stress in a rat, it causes them to have high levels of cortisol, which then leads to have higher levels of obesity,” said Craig Gundersen, a professor of agricultural and consumer economics at the University of Illinois. “So we thought, well, maybe something similar is happening in humans — if people are under stress, they may be more likely to be overweight.”

“We don’t really understand the mechanism, but we do know that children in stressful situations are more likely to be obese,” he said. “The overwhelming determinant of whether or not somebody is obese is genetics. Study after study has shown that exercise and diet make a small difference, but the major factor is genetics. Nobody disputes that.

Author: Emily Badger,

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