Youth Development

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BrainWise instructors have a wide array of popular games that offer exciting ways to help students and clients practice using The 10 Wise Ways.  At a BrainWise site in Denver, high school students are used to reinforce BrainWise at a nearby elementary school.  In order to make the learning more fun, the high school students played BrainWise Jeopardy with 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders who had been taught BrainWise in their classrooms.

For this project, with the help of the BrainWise instructors, the mentors created their own materials and inserted customized BrainWise questions into the Jeopardy format.

First, they identified five topics for the headings.  Because the game was part of an after school program, they included a fitness heading – “GET PHYSICAL”.    Other headings were “JUST GETTING STARTED,” KNOW YOUR BRAINWISE,” FACT OR OPINION,” AND “COMMUNICATION.”

Then the high school mentors divided the elementary school students into two teams of fifteen students each.  Each team picked a student to represent their team on different questions. The chosen students selected a heading, picked a question, and used others on the team for support.  Each heading had questions under four monetary categories ranging from $100 to $400 and the instructors inserted increasingly difficult questions behind each of the monetary signs.  It was an exciting and fun way to reinforce what they had learned.

BrainWise Jeopardy is a powerful teaching tool.  The headings and statements can be changed, and can be created to be as easy or as difficult as needed.  Competitions between classes can be held, with winning teams answering more difficult questions.  Templates for a wide range of games can be found on the Internet or teachers can create their own.  Either way, students have fun while learning to make decisions using the wise ways.

Please let us know how you use games to teach BrainWise, and we will share them on www.brainwise-plc.org.

 

Prefrontal Cortex HighlightBefore starting a private practice, veteran BrainWise instructor Pat Austin, LCSW, taught the program to high school students with special needs. The students attended a public high school, but their classes were held in a contained classroom. They shared the hallways, lunchroom and other facilities with the general student population. David, the son of schizophrenic parents, had been in Ms. Austin’s class for years. She often wondered how much he was able to retain, and she found out after David had an incident in the hallway when he thought flying clocks were coming to steal his brain. Frightened, he started shouting about the clocks. His classmate guided him through the crowded hallway to Mrs. Austin’s office, where David fell on the floor in fetal position, hitting his forehead with his fist and saying, “I need to find the green, I need to find the green.” When she said she did not know what he meant, his classmate said, “Yes you do! He wants to find his wizard brain!” In class, students colored the prefrontal cortex/wizard brain green, and David wanted to use his Wizard Brain to get rid of the flying clocks. Mrs. Austin called his therapist. Like his parents, David was diagnosed with schizophrenia and put on medication.

Dr Li

chinese girls

Xiaoliang Li, M.D., translated the BrainWise curriculum to Mandarin in 2000, and today is teaching  the 10 Wise Ways as part of a tobacco prevention/cessation program for youth funded by the Bloomberg Foundation.   Dr. Li uses Wechat, a mobile text and communications service popular in China.  She will be using WeChat  to connect  with BrainWise.  Prior to founding Pioneers in Health, Dr. Li was a professor of public health at Kunming Medical College, where she trained instructors and taught BrainWise in Kunming and rural areas to youth and adults, including girls targeted by sex traffickers.  She presented her work at a Chinese Women’s Leadership Conference in Hong Kong.

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jennifer dealJennifer Deal is a research scientist and author of What Millennials Want from Work. Research collected by her for the Center for Creative Leadership contradicts popular opinion that categorizes young people as entitled, arrogant and unwilling to learn. She reports the good news that young people recognize their deficits and identify areas where they need to improve, including:

Her suggestions for closing the performance gap are two-fold: students need to take responsibility to work on work skills inside and outside the classroom, and schools need to provide students with the tools and support they need to achieve proficiency in the workplace. BrainWise instructors recognize that a more specific answer would be to teach students the 10 Wise Ways and have them apply them to a wide range of workplace problems. Employers agree that improvement in these areas, as well as others, are needed. (www.forbes.com/sites/susanadams/2014/11/12.)
BrainWise instructors recognize that individuals who master the 10 Wise Ways know how to perform and be successful not only at work, but outside work as well. BrainWise helps close the gaps identified by both millennials and employers.

rsz_sachs The late Oliver Sacks, M.D., a neurologist and well-known author (The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Awakenings, and Hallucinations) used stories to explain human behaviors and medical issues.  Story telling is a powerful way to present information, and BrainWise instructors have many stories to tell.  Please submit your own stories, and we will share them with other instructors.  We also will send you an autographed copy of How to be BrainWise for your story

I taught BrainWise to students the school identified as high risks for staying in school.  Gangs were a serious problem in the community, and I invited some former students who were now in high school, to talk with my class.  The news had reported the recent murder of a man who had been shot and killed because he parked his car in a space that his assailant and friends had claimed belonged to them.  Shouting erupted, and the assailant and his friends attacked him and shot him.  I was shocked when one of my former students told the class that the shooter and his friends were his former “homies.”  He said that he would have been with them if he had not learned BrainWise, how to get off his emotions elevator, and to think about the consequences of his choices. He told the class, “They are in jail, and I am in school and going to graduate.”  Brenda B., Middle School Teacher and BrainWise Instructor

David is a special needs student who had been in my BrainWise class for three years and now was aging out of high school.  I often wondered if he had learned anything at all. At the end of the school year, he and Ed, a classmate, were in a student-filled hall when David had a psychotic episode – he saw flying clocks coming to steal his brain.  He was terrified, and started hitting is head and shouting.  The other students made comments and got out of his way as Ed led him to my office. David fell to the floor in a fetal position, hitting his forehead, saying he needed to find the green. I told him that I did not know what “the green” was, and Ed replied:  “Yes you do!  He wants to find his Wizard Brain.”  I realized that David connected “the green” with his prefrontal cortex.  In class, he had learned that that was the thinking part of the brain. On a picture of the brain, we called the prefrontal cortex the Wizard Brain and colored it green.  David as trying to use his Wizard Brain to help him get rid of the clocks!   I stabilized David, called his parents, and contacted his doctor and social worker.  David was hospitalized and put on meds.  His parents were schizophrenics, and David was, too.  Pat A., High School Counselor and BrainWise Instructor

Tricia Jones, Ph.D., President, Faculty Senate, Professor, Department of Strategic Communication, Temple University, and Board Member, the Association of Conflict Resolution (ACR), invited the BrainWise organization to submit a grant for the 2015 ACR/JAMS Funding Cycle.  The focus of the grant was a project that supported the development, implementation and/or assessment of conflict education serving special needs youth populations.  BrainWise responded with  a 175-page document that proposed teaching BrainWise enhanced with the BrainWise online course infused with conflict problems faced by youth with special needs  (i.e., youth with intellectual disabilities, social emotional/emotional disabilities, learning disabilities, hearing and/or visually impaired, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injuries, autism spectrum disorders, and other disabilities).

The turn-around time for the grant  was short, and heartfelt thanks go out to BrainWise board members  Matt Sena, M.S. (help writing the grant), Dan Himelspach, J.D. (finding the grant), and Don Eberle, J.D.  (editing and organizing the grant).  Master BrainWise teacher, Karyn Singley Blair, School Psychologist at Aurora Central High School, teaches BrainWise to “exceptional students,” including special needs.  Karyn was thrilled to be part of the grant and wrote a letter saying her classroom would be a teaching site.  Similarly, Susan McAlonan, Ph.D., Director of Student Services at HOPE Online Academy, volunteered special needs students attending HOPE, an innovative blended learning school, as another project site.

Dr. Jones and the ACR Board will notify grant recipients in November.   This is an exciting opportunity to showcase BrainWise as a conflict resolution intervention, publicize the program’s use with students who have special needs, and get the BrainWise online program up and running.

The ACR/JAMS grant provides an opportunity to highlight school psychologist Karyn Singley Blair and the 15 years she has spent

POSTER PRESENTED AT “THE CREATIVE BRAIN CONFERENCE” WASHINGTON, D.C.

POSTER PRESENTED AT “THE
CREATIVE BRAIN CONFERENCE” WASHINGTON, D.C.

teaching BrainWise to high school students at Aurora Central High School in Colorado, including those with who are blind, hearing impaired, having autism, emotional disabilities, executive functioning difficulties, cognitive impairment and other emotional and physical limitations.  She teaches BrainWise because it gives her tools to help her students deal with the challenges they face daily, and worked with the teacher who developed the Wizard Brain/Lizard Brain in yarn with Braille descriptors to teach BrainWise to blind students.

The educational team at Wesley Spectrum Highland Services School in Pittsburgh, PA have been teaching BrainWise to children and youth with special needs for over seven years.   Gary Swanson, M.D., medical director of the inpatient/outpatient facility, says that BrainWise is easy to teach and helps children, youth, parents and staff understand “that behavioral and emotional problems are not all due to chemical imbalances or ADHD, but rather the results of developmental connection problems that can be addressed both through therapy and medications.”

Teachers notice that today’s students are in greater need of psychological support, and say  they find that teaching the 10 Wise Ways helps students understand  how to take responsibility for their behaviors, identify support sources and how to contact them, and recognize why problems happened and how to prevent or manage them.

Deaf and blind teenagers partying

Deaf and blind teenagers partying

BrainWise Board Member Dan Himelspach, J.D., is co-founder of Dispute Management, Inc.  When he learned that the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), in partnership with the JAMS Foundation, had announced a 2015 request for initial proposals, he encouraged BrainWise to submit one.  ACL/JAMS asked for projects that “advance the development, implementation, and/or assessment of conflict resolutions education servicing special needs youth populations.”  The 10 Wise Ways have been taught to this target population for years, and the skills help students manage inappropriate behavior, including conflict and bullying.  The good news is that BrainWise was invited to submit a full proposal, due in October.  Our project will request funds to pilot a blended learning approach with special needs teens.  They will be taught BrainWise face-to-face, and will use educational software and a companion mobile phone app to reinforce the concepts.  The problem examples will include specific conflict situations faced by deaf, blind and special needs students, as well as the typical problems everyone faces.

At the Light Board

At the Light Board

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