July 2015

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Matt's PictureMatt Sena, M.S. , BrainWise master instructor, trainer and Board member, compiled a summary of his ten years of work using BrainWise with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) children and caregivers.   Matt worked with the aboriginal peoples of Alaska, and his reflection on teaching BrainWise discusses strategies to successfully introduce and implement BrainWise in a culturally sensitive and effective way.  Matt prepared the summary for Gary Brayton, Ph.D., who is seeking funding to teach BrainWise to FASD populations in Canada.  

Dr. Susan McAlonan, HOPE Academy’s Director of Student Services, was the catalyst behind arranging a BrainWise training for 130 faculty and staff members at the school in November, 2014.  Dr. McAlonan’s experience with BrainWise came from her previous job as Director of Student Services for Aurora Public Schools, where she saw how the program would benefit the students at HOPE.  She is excited by the feedback  from the faculty, and reports that the next school year will be even better. She said that HOPE’s research team adapted the BrainWise Knowledge Survey for their students and found high validity among the measures.  These results are forthcoming.  However, they discovered that the translated version confused Spanish speaking students, and will resolve this issue for the upcoming school year.  In-house collection of data was necessary because they were unable to partner with our academic partner, Dr. Welsh and the University of Northern Colorado, to measure executive functions.  Strict data gathering regulations require that parent permission be obtained for students to participate in university-conducted research, and getting more than 2900 HOPE students’ parents/guardians to sign release forms was too difficult for them to do.

HOPE Teachers at BrainWise Training

HOPE Teachers at BrainWise Training

BrainWise board member Dan Himelspach, JD, co-founder of  Dispute Management, Inc. and an expert litigator and mediator,  saw a grant announcement from the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), in partnership with the JAMS Foundation, to fund “unique and innovative” projects that advance conflict resolution education serving blind, deaf, and special needs populations.  Dan saw that the grant was a perfect fit for BrainWise —  the 10 Wise Ways complement skills taught in conflict resolution, and many BrainWise  instructors teach special needs students.  The “tactile brain” Karyn Singley Blair, MS,  created for her blind students is an example, and other special needs sites, including the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind, are teaching BrainWise.   We submitted a pre-proposal, and asked for funding to upgrade BrainWise online, develop a companion BrainWise mobile phone app, and add problem situations specific to special needs youth. Educational software provides an opportunity to teach BrainWise using  a blended learning approach that will not only enhance special needs students’ learning and retention, but will benefit all students.

A Tactile Brain

A Tactile Brain