Friday, March 18, 2011

It’s A Miracle- We’re Back!!!

After a long hiatus, I’m bringing the LD Podcast back!

I’ve gotten a bunch of great and supportive emails from folks, letting me know they miss the show. And now that my book is finished, it’s time to dust off the microphones and hit Reboot!

While I can definitely say some tech problems helped delay our comeback, including an upgrade to Windows 7 and incompatible drivers essentially meaning I had to transfer all my files and gear over to my Mac, we’re back in the saddle again!

During the time off, the boys are further along in school, and I was asked by Jossey Bass to write a book. Together with Jenifer Fox, we’ve written The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists, a book that helps teachers figure out ho to help differentiate instruction and personalize learning for all kids in the classroom. In addition to the book, we’ve put together a website on differentiation over at, and we’d love to have you check it out!

This show willgive you the update on what’s been happening, and we’ll have my interview with Anne Ford and her great new book, A Special Mother, next week!

Thanks again for all your support and sorry for the extended holiday. If I’ve learned anything, it’s to never overlook your community.

Feel free to also connect with me on social networks- @ldpodcast on Twitter, and Whitney Hoffman on Facebook!

Click here to download the show, or find us over at iTunes!

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Dale Brown, Part III

Apparently, there was some problem with the order of the shows and the feed, so I am reposting this episode, Dale Brown, Part III. Sorry for the shows being out of order. I blame the summer.

Click here to listen to Dale Brown, Part III

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Dr. Richard Selznick- the Shut Down Learner

The next few shows will feature an interview I did with Richard Selznick PhD. Dr. Selznick is a psychologist and head of the Cooper University Learning Center in New Jersey, and has written a great new book entitled "The Shut-Down Learner". The Shut-Down Learner deals with the middle-school/early highschool aged kids who begin to turn off from school. They start to feel beaten down by the system, and are no longer fully engaged by school. As a result, these kids can easily become behavior problems or potential drop-outs, as they cease to find school worth their time and effort.

In the first part of our interview, we discuss how parents first come to see someone like Dr. Selznick. We discuss how much Moms tend to be the person who first thinks help is needed, and the Wheel of Professionals who each see the child through their own lens and perspective, but only the people at the hub of the wheel can see the whole child. We also discuss what a shut-down learner looks like, and that it's often an accumulation of many years of tension, anxiety and failures that tend to catch up with a child as they progress through school. Dr. Selznick sees lots of families in distress because of the constant battles about homework and school issues, with the underlying tension being caused by a child's learning disability and misunderstanding the cause of the problems.

Click here to listen to Dr Richard Selznick- the Shut Down Learner, Part I

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Dale Brown- growing up LD Part II

Dale Brown is the former director of LD Online, and helped found the self-help movement for people with learning disabilities.

In this show, we talk about how important it is for people to be able to tell others about their learning issues, both to seek help, and to help other people understand where they struggle, so people don't make false assumptions about what people may be doing to compensate for their own processing issues. We talk about trying to help people find ways to help themselves, and how to use these successes to help others.

We also talk about contextual learning, and how hard it is to judge how hard other people are working- and how hard these criticisms can be for kids.

Next time, we'll finish up with our interview with Dale, talking about LD Online, changes in the LD community, and how we need to start supporting the resources we can take for granted, because without support, they will start to disappear.

Click here to listen to Part II, Dale Brown

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dale Brown- Self Help for Learning Disabilities

When Dale Brown was young, she struggled in school. This was long before the term learning disabilities became common. She did what she could to get along, but she often found the way her mind worked and the way she perceived things got in the way.

In this three part series, Dale will tell us what it was like for her, to grow up with learning disabilities long before they were as widely recognized and understood; Starting the self help movement for people with learning disabilities, and working as the director for LD Online, the largest LD website online.

Click here to listen to Part 1, Dale Brown- Growing up LD

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Kevin Carroll- Rules of the Red Rubber Ball Part 2- Fail Better

In the second part of our conversation with Kevin Carroll, we talk about the concept of "fail better". Part of the important aspect of play is that it lets you experiment and riff in a safe environment, where failing and retrying, tinkering, and treating things as your lab is well tolerated. In contrast, work environments tend to be much more high risk, and making mistakes are something full of shame- it's what makes people try to cover up errors, rather than own them, understand them, and do something different next time.

Great companies that focus on design and innovation like IDEO (known for the ipod, swiffer, and other great products) they start with Understanding the problem or situation at hand, followed by detailed Observation, Brainstorming and prototyping solutions. We have to remember this same process can work for organizing our kitchens; talking to our kids about getting a homework center that works with them rather than against them, or any other problem at hand. Innovation comes from creativity and being willing to take risks and as Kevin states, being willing to Fail Better than ever before.

Click here to listen or download Show 110- Kevin Carroll, Katalyst- Fail Better

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Show # 109 Kevin Carroll- Katalyst- The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

Welcome Back!

We took a bit of a haitus, in part due to construction going on at my house (recording would have sounded like I was living in traffic) and a brief trip overseas I took with my husband.

The good news is that I am back, rested, and have a ton of wonderful interviews to bring you in relatively rapid succession!

First up is our two part interview with Kevin Carroll. Kevin has written a new book, The Red Rubber Ball at Work, where he looks at what Dr. Stuart Brown would call play histories of successful adults. Surprisingly, much of what kids enjoyed and made them happy as kids finds its way into their work. And apparently, LEGO has some sort of magic, but listen to hear more!

In the first half of the interview, Kevin and I talk of his growing up outside of Philadelphia, and how a red rubber playground ball saved his life. Kevin's had a remarkable life so far, and serves as a real inspiration. His book, The Rules of the Red Rubber Ball is one of my favorite gift books- the books I pass on to people I care about, and people who need it's message of finding your own red rubber ball- that special thing, and then how to use it to build success in your life.

While our previous show was all about the importance of play, this show is about connecting the dots- and brings home the idea on many levels that our childhood and how we learn to create, what makes us excited, helps shape who we are and informs what we do as adults.

At the end of today's show, we also have two minutes of out-takes, talking about the National Museum of Play in Rochester, New York, a place I often take my kids when we're visiting my mom. The Strong Museum/National Museum of Play also publishes an academic journal about the importance of play, that educators really should take a look at, if they have not already.

Click here to listen to Show #109, Kevin Carroll, Rules of the Red Rubber Ball

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Show #108 Dr. Stuart Brown Part II- Success, Practice, and Grandparents

In today's show, I talk a little bit about the importance of working memory, and then we hear the second part of the interview with Dr. Stuart Brown, as we finish our discussion about the importance of play and imagination in developing critical thinking and social skills.

I've also recently reworked my Guide for getting Good Grades into a PDF, available here for download.

The picture to the right is from our recent trip to the newly renovated Smithsonian Museum of American History, where they have a fantastic exhibit on science, invention and play. We have to remember that so much of an adult's later success can depend on what interests they developed in childhood. Our children, even if they struggle in some aspect of school, have many talents and areas where they are special. We need to find these, but moreover, give our children the opportunity to find these things on their own- to try, to experiment, to fail and to try again on their own.

That's what we can all learn from play, aside from the true joy it brings to our lives.

Click here to listen to Show #108- Dr. Stuart Brown- The Importance of Play

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- National Institute for Play

Dr. Stuart Brown is a physician and psychiatrist who has been studying the importance of play for many years, and is the founder of The National Institute for Play. He's written a wonderful new book, entitled "Play: How it Shapes The Brain, opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul" which should be on every parent and teacher's book shelf.
Over the course of his clinical career, he interviewed thousands of people to capture their play profiles. His cataloging of their profiles demonstrated the active presence of play in the accomplishments of the very successful and also identified negative consequences that inevitably accumulate in a play-deprived life.

The National Institute for Play includes a catalog of information and research on play in humans and animals; play profiles, and more. You can find out more by going to the website by clicking here. Dr. Brown and his work has been featured in articles in the New York Times (The 3 R's, a Fourth is Crucial too- Recess) and numerous other publications. Dr. Brown founded the Institute back in 1989, and was surprised that much of the play-related research he reviewed was fragmented and lacked quantitative confirmation of factors readily observed clinically. A science and evidence-based way of understanding and suggesting how to improve play hygeine was and still is lacking. He turned to animal play research to gain insights into human play.

With the support of the National Geographic Society and Jane Goodall, he observed animal play in the wild. He became acquainted with the premier animal play experts in the world, and began to see play as a long evolved behavior important for the well being and survival of animals. He subsequently came to understand that humans are uniquely designed by nature to enjoy and participate in play throughout life.

Many of our kids, even in affluent homes, are often deprived of the free play and free time they need to develop skills in critical thinking they will need later in life. Play is fun, but it's also a very serious subject for good emotional and social development in kids, and I think it's one of the things we can often forget about when we try to help improve our kids who struggle in school. We may think extra work is the answer, but extra play might help even more.

In the first part of our interview, we talk about how play is important for kid's development; in the second part, we discuss how Grandparents and play; how important hands on learning is for kids, and how this seemingly "wasteful" activity may be where most of their most important learning comes from. I know you'll really enjoy Dr. Stuart Brown- his new book helped me think about play and how we incorporate it in our lives in a whole new way.

Click here to listen to Show #107- Dr. Stuart Brown- The Importance of Play

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