January 17, 2014
From the Brain Bulletin

"A novel is a direct impression of life." ~ Henry James
Good point.
Reading fiction, it turns out, is a great way to develop your social brain.
Research shows that reading novels, for example, shapes our brains and molds our social skills.
A study by Keith Oatley and Raymond Mar found that reading fiction improves your ability to connect with others. The study demonstrated that people who read fiction perform better on tests of empathy. This result held up even when they controlled for the variable that empathetic people might naturally choose to read fiction. The study found that the more fiction a person read, the stronger the ability to make mental models of others.
Another study in 2010 found that small children who are exposed to lots of fiction material possessed a stronger ability to read the brain states of others.
In 2009, in another study, Oatley found that adults who read novels improved their socials skills, including emotional stability, agreeableness, conscientiousness, openness to experience, and extroversion.
Why does this happen?
It seems that reading fiction allows you to 'live in other people's brains'. The result is a stronger theory of mind. That is, the ability to take the perspective of another, to understand that person's mental model, to see issues and ideas in terms of other people's experiences.
Think about these practical benefits:
- better relationships.
- improved leadership skills.
- increased collaboration skills.
- greater emotional intelligence = greater income (P. Salovey, Yale)
- excellent, inexpensive entertainment.
- a greater understanding of human character.
- when you put the book down, you are better prepared for the world.
Remember - your brain is wired to see what is essential, not what is real. Reading fiction intervenes in your cognitive processes. It can even change your personality.
FMRI scans show the brain responding to fiction as if the reader were feeling and acting just like the characters.
For more on this, check out  The Amazing Discovery of Mirror Neurons
Scientific American Magazine recommends these 9 novels to sharpen your mind:

1.The Sorrows of Young Werther - Johann von Goethe

2. Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
3. The Scarlett Letter - Nathaniel Hawthorne
4. Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
5. Middlemarch  - George Eliot
6. Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
7. Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
8. Beloved - Toni Morrison
9. Disgrace - J.M. Coetzee
I used to feel slightly guilty when reading a novel. Thinking I should be reading something 'real'. Not any more......


David Suzuki on Climate Change

October 17, 2013
Check out this video by Dr. David Suzuki for an easy explanation of how climate change has come and what we can do about it.

David Suzuki - Global Report on Climate Change 2013 from VoVo Productions on Vimeo.

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Parents Support Reading at Home (Chinese)

October 17, 2013


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Parents Support Reading at Home

October 17, 2013
This is from the Lord Byng Secondary School website to help ELL students.
The information is good for all English language learners.

Ways to Support Reading in The Home
1. Read with your son/daughter on a regular basis. A minimum of once a week, or better, two times a
week. You can read in your own language or in English.

2. Discuss together what you have read. Parent tells son/daughter what he/she has read. Son/daughter
shares what they understood from the story. THIS IS NOT A LESSON in which the ...
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TED Talk on China's future

July 6, 2013
This is a super talk on TED.  There is no transcript or translation yet, but it is very powerful!!

"Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there's more than one way to run a successful modern nation. A venture capitalist and political scientist, Eric X Li argues that the universality claim of Western democratic systems is going to be "morally challenge...
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Tim makes SMOOTHIES!

March 7, 2013

Tim (7 years old in Grade 2) and Lori cook together often for English class. 
He wrote up his creation of SMOOTHIES to share with you.

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Creative student gets an A in Social Studies

March 7, 2013
My creative student created a board game for Social Studies.

He had to have 15 questions about a Canadian First Nations group and made 20.  He had to design a board to play on and used the rivers of BC to be the paths to play with a short cut to the end. He had to write the game rules clearly so that his friends would enjoy the game, be engaged and want to play. 

He created items for the board that were thoughtful and cute and his friends and the teacher gave him an A for his effort and ...
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Harvard Students Cheat! Is it really the best?

February 3, 2013
To all my students:
Everyone has an idea of Harvard being the 'best of the best', but is it really? Just getting into an elite school does not mean everyone is an excellent student.  Cheating is not 'cool', whether copying on a test or plagiarizing on a paper. 
Ethics are of paramount importance wherever students learn.  Morals define us.

Dozens of Harvard students forced to leave over cheating
CBC News    Feb 2, 2013

A cheating scandal has forced dozens of students to withdraw from Harvard Univ...
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How important is studying creative arts? Very!

January 28, 2013

Top 10 skills children learn from the arts

(by Katherine Frey/The Washington Post)

You don’t find school reformers talking much about how we need to train more teachers in the arts, given the current obsession with science, math, technology and engineering (STEM), but here’s a list of skills that young people learn from studying the arts. They serve as a reminder that the arts — while important to study for their intrinsic valu...

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Stress and Pressure of Modern Childhood

December 19, 2012
In their book, Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, Drs Kathy Hirsh-Pasek and Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, experts in child development, discuss childhood stress in our society and how children are pressured to 'learn' and prohibited from playing.  This, of course, leads to issues of anxiety and distress when goals are not met to others' satisfaction and valuable and critical lessons learned through play are skipped.

Everyone wants his or her child to be an academic success, ahead of all other chil...
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About Me

Lori in I got my Bachelor of Education degree in the USA but was born and raised in Canada. Working in Asia and with immigrant adults and children for 22 years has given me insights into the difficulties they face in a new country and school system. I like to help adults adjust to and explore the rich and diverse opportunities in Canada while also supporting them in their challenge of parenting in a new culture. I love to help children learn English, develop skills, and gain confidence to succeed in school and life.


“Don't aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one's personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one's surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it” ― Viktor E. Frankl, Man's Search for Meaning A lack of planning on your part does not constitute and emergency on my part. "Most people don't plan to fail; they fail to plan." ~~John L. Beckley

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