Monthly Archives: February 2017

How to help organise brain development in adolescents

Helping the youths to achieve more

Helping the youths to achieve more

Brain Development and Adolescent Growth Spurts

Judy Willis MD

Neurologist/Teacher/Grad School Ed faculty/Author/Guest Blogger

As your students move through adolescence, their brains are going through a dynamic change from chaos to clarity. These developmental changes have profound implications for how you’ll be able to guide students during these transformative years.

Brain Remodeling: Chaos to Clarity

The brain first goes through a rapid maturation phase in the months before and after birth, and a second maturation phase throughout later childhood and adolescence. During this second phase of increased brain growth, the prefrontal cortex is the site of the brain’s most active reorganization and growth. Before building your understanding of what is taking place in the prefrontal cortex during its adolescent growth spurt, let’s explore what is housed in this late-developing part of the brain.

The prefrontal cortex is where the highest cognitive and emotional control networks are being constructed, especially during the school years. These networks are what neurologists call executive functions.

The networks of the executive functions direct the complex mental processes that you see emerging as students grow. Executive functions can be thought of as the skills that would make a corporate executive successful, abilities that allow them to:

  • Organize
  • Prioritize
  • Communicate effectively
  • Accurately interpret validity and value of information
  • Make long-range plans to achieve goals
  • Assess risk
  • Solve problems creatively
  • Innovate

These networks do not reach full effectiveness until early adulthood. When well nurtured by use, executive functions ultimately guide the brain’s abilities to:

  • Manage emotional stability
  • Control impulses
  • Plan
  • Respond productively to corrective feedback
  • Learn from mistakes
  • Remain resilient to setbacks
  • Reflect thoughtfully before making decisions and choices.

Early adolescence (ages 10-12) is a good time to build students’ skills of organizing and prioritizing information and time management. The opportunities you provide to guide them in using these executive functions also provide the activation to strengthen these networks when they are at peak neuroplastic responsiveness. As a result of this strengthening, your students will build more skills en route to becoming self-directed learners.

Helping Students Organize Themselves

Successful organization is needed for preparing and completing most activities related to school. The development of this executive function becomes even more critical as the responsibilities and requirements of school and extracurricular activities increase each year. Using strategies that increase student awareness of these skills and providing guided opportunities to use them will help adolescents build the brainpower that they need.

Start by promoting student awareness of their existing organizing skills. Ask questions such as:

  • How do you sort your music on playlists?
  • How do you organize your files on your computer?

Also, ask questions about familiar things that are already organized systematically, such as:

  • How is the content of this book organized into chapters?
  • What organization do you see in the periodic table of elements or in dividing plants and animals into classifications such as kingdoms, genus, and species?

Other Strategies

1. Teacher Modeling and Discussion

Model your systems of organization (filing, recording progress, how you set up the classroom, etc.). Draw students’ attention to the organizational strategies that you use during instruction.

2. Clear Instructions

Initially, when providing organizational strategies, emphasize them both verbally and in writing. Give students clear instructions for procedures, projects, or class transitions as you model organizational structure.

3. Student Modeling

Assign selected students to model the procedures that you’ve described, such as the right way and the wrong way to organize their class groups during collaborative work time.

4. Checking for Understanding

Stop between segments of complex or multi-step instructions, allowing students to organize their thoughts and ask questions. Ask students to repeat back their understanding of the instructions so that they can respond to your feedback and reorganize appropriately.

5. Gradual Release of Responsibility

Throughout the year, plan a gradual decrease in the scaffolding that you provide for student organization of time and goals. For example, back away from giving them your timeline schedule for parts of a book report or project, let them plan and write their own timelines, and revise these as you help them monitor their progress.

6. Feedback

Observe student progress and setbacks and provide feedback with opportunities for them to revise their organizational systems.

The Case for Investing in Executive Functions

As the caretaker of your students’ brains during the years of rapid prefrontal cortex development, the opportunities that you provide for them to use these critical neural networks are precious gifts. The tools and skills that you help them build will empower them to achieve their highest potential now, and will increase their satisfaction and success as they inherit the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century.

Global Personal Bloggers of Influence for 2017

When twitter came out and account holders tweeted what they ate, we all thought twitter had a short life span.  Now the media rummages through top celebrities tweets to find something sensationable to report about.  Would be employers have been know to use candidates social media postings as evidence against them.
The era of the Personal style bloggers use to get caricatured as either geeks or pretty, brainless girls who dress up for their camera-wielding boyfriends and post their results to a WordPress blog.
But wait a minute, with instagram, Facebook, linkedin and twitter integration most of these bloggers have grown quiet influential with hundred of thousands of followers. Over the past decade, these independent publishers have become a real force in the fashion industry — not just snapping up front row seats at fashion shows, but landing major campaigns and collaborations with brands, becoming regular guests on TV shows like “Today” and “America’s Next Top Model,” and turning their blogs into multimillion-dollar businesses. Some have become household names. Independent European bloggers are harder to pin down as most of them are linked to magazines.
Chiara Ferragni, Hanneli Mustaparta and Nicole Warne. Photo: Clemens Bilan/Stringer

Chiara Ferragni, Hanneli Mustaparta and Nicole Warne. Photo: Clemens Bilan/Stringer

To determine the ranking, consideraction was given to:

  • Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Pinterest followers, as well as website traffic. These numbers gave us a snapshot of how many people these bloggers are reaching every day.
  • Brand extensions. We gave props to bloggers who have used their influence to create original products.
  • It factor. We talked to industry insiders about whom advertisers are loving right now, and who is moving the most products via affiliate links.
  • Google News searches. Headline makers were rewarded for extending their reach beyond their own network.
Chiara Ferragni. Photo: Jason Merritt for Getty Images Entertainment

Chiara Ferragni. Photo: Jason Merritt for Getty Images Entertainment

1. Chiara Ferragni, The Blonde Salad 
The 27-year-old Italian, who now lives in Los Angeles, has the broadest reach of any individual fashion blogger on our list, with more than 3 million Instagram followers. She’s a global star, as popular in Europe as she is in the U.S. What’s more, links from her site drive traffic and conversions, according to many of the brands with whom she has partnered. She was also recently named to an expert panel that will help determine the shortlist.

Oh, and she graced the cover of Lucky magazine’s February issue along with fellow bloggers Nicole Warne and Zanita Whittington.

2. Aimee Song, Song of Style 
Song, 28, is a Los Angeles-based interior designer whose straightforward street-style shots have made her popular with brands and readers alike. Song also has an incredible Instagram following — 1.9 million — and has worked hard to build her YouTube audience as well, with more than 28,000 subscribers to her channel.

3. Wendy Nguyen, Wendy’s Lookbook 
Yet another L.A.-based blogger, Nguyen, 31, is best known for her YouTube channel, which currently boasts 600,000-plus subscribers. (Her 2011 video, “25 Ways to Tie a Scarf” has been viewed over 29 million times.) Nguyen’s point of view is unique in that she grew up in the foster system, and has opened up about her experiences to her readers.

Kristina Bazan. Photo: Frazer Harrison for Getty Images Entertainment

Kristina Bazan. Photo: Frazer Harrison for Getty Images Entertainment

4. Kristina Bazan, Kayture 
This Swiss-model blogger, 21, has an impressive reach on Facebook — with more than 1.1 million likes — in addition to a major presence on Instagram, Twitter, etc. Bazan is a favorite of high-end brands: she’s worked with Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss and Piaget, among others.

5. Julie Sariñana, Sincerely Jules
The 29-year-old blogger, who lives in Los Angeles, started her site in 2009 — early, compared to many of her peers. Her easy, approachable style has translated well into her own line of t-shirts, printed with often inspirational, occasionally irreverent, quotes.

6. Rumi Neely, Fashion Toast 
Neely, 31, launched Fashion Toast in 2007. Her particular style of blogging — photo-heavy posts featuring cool clothes and model poses — has greatly influenced the generation of influencers who have followed her. While Neely has collaborated with established brands in the past, she recently launched her own line. Are You Am I, a collection of slip dresses, tap pants and distinctly cut tees, is notable for its specificity. For fans who want to emulate Neely’s style — and there are plenty of them — there is nothing more perfect.

7. Nicole Warne, Gary Pepper Girl 
One of three bloggers to land Lucky‘s February 2015 cover, the Sydney-based Warne, 25, first launched Gary Pepper as a vintage e-commerce site in 2009. Warne started out blogging and modeling the clothes as a way to market the website, and by 2011, it was one of the largest online vintage retailers in Australia. However, the young entrepreneur’s side project soon became the main event, and in 2012 she shut down the e-commerce leg of Gary Pepper to focus on her blog-driven business.

Blair Eadie. Photo: Cindy Ord for Getty Images Entertainment

Blair Eadie. Photo: Cindy Ord for Getty Images Entertainment

8. Blair Eadie, Atlantic-Pacific 
The New York-based Eadie, 29, is best known for her accessible, yet educated, approach to fashion. Based in San Francisco when she launched the blog, Eadie has worked as a merchandiser for brands like Gap and Tory Burch, which means she has a professional edge when it comes to outfit posts. And brands like love working with her because she has a reputation for converting readers into shoppers.

9. Julia Engel, Gal Meets Glam 
The San Francisco-based Engel, 23, is seen as an up-and-comer in the space. She’s already amassed a large following across platforms, from Pinterest to Instagram. Appealing to the same sorts of readers who worship Lauren Conrad’s pretty aesthetic, Engel’s site is easy to navigate, with lots of opportunities to shop affiliate links.

10. Nicolette Mason 
Mason, who writes a monthly column for Marie Claire and designed her own collection for Modcloth last fall, is one of the most in-demand bloggers working right now. The 29-year-old writer played a role in the promotion and social media around Target’s new plus-size collection Ava & Viv and is also a budding TV personality, offering style advice on programs including “Today” and “Good Morning America.” Mason is notable because she uses her blog as a platform to discuss bigger social issues, including race, sexuality and body image.

11. Shea Marie: Peace, Love Shea 
The Los Angeles-based blogger and TV host, 27, has the high-fashion-meets-Southern-California look brands eat up. She’s worked with the likes of Dior, Gucci, H&M and Guess.

Bryanboy. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images Entertainment

Bryanboy. Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris for Getty Images Entertainment

12. Bryanboy 
The OG fashion blogger and best friend of Fashion Toast‘s Rumi Neely, the New York-based, Philippines-bred Bryan Grey Yambao has transformed from an online-diary keeper to a celebrity and fashion insider. While other bloggers from his era have fallen off the map, Yambao, 32, has remained relevant by branching out. Memorable projects include a collection with furrier Adrienne Landau and a hosting spot on several seasons of “America’s Next Top Model.”

13. Elin Kling
The New York-based Kling, who is Swedish, was one of the first bloggers to collaborate with a brand on a collection. (In 2011, H&Mreleased a Kling-designed line.) But her fantastic stand-alone label, Toteme, has transformed Kling, 31, from a blogger to a full-fledged designer.

14. Zanita Whittington
The Stockholm-based Aussie, 28, was one of Lucky‘s February cover stars. Along with modeling and blogging, Whittington is also serious about photography. Her site is a sort of “how to” for aspiring bloggers, with service pieces on starting a blog and building an audience.

Gabi Gregg. Photo: Ilya S. Savenok for Getty Images Entertainment

Gabi Gregg. Photo: Ilya S. Savenok for Getty Images Entertainment

15. Gabi Gregg, Gabifresh
One of three plus-size bloggers chosen to star in the campaign for Target’s new Ava & Viv collection, Gregg started her blog in 2008 when she couldn’t find an entry-level job in fashion journalism. Now 28 and based in Los Angeles, the blogger has appeared on the “Today” show, designed a sell-out swimwear collection, and partnered with brands including Misguided, Nordstrom and Laura Mercier.

16. Danielle Bernstein, We Wore What
The New York-based blogger, 23, started her site as an FIT undergrad eager to capture the style of her fellow students. It soon transformed into a personal style forum, leading to a design project with Topshop.

17.  Jessica Stein, Tuula Vintage
This Sydney-based blogger, 25, spends a good chunk of her time traveling, and sharing her adventures via Instagram. (She’s currently parked in the Maldives.) Brands like Dior Beauty partner with her for the obvious reasons: she has great taste and an enviable life.

Susanna Lau. Photo: Cindy Ord for Getty Images Entertainment

Susanna Lau. Photo: Cindy Ord for Getty Images Entertainment

18. Susanna Lau, Style Bubble
Forever the no. 1 blogger to fashion insiders, the 31-year-old Lau is now one of the industry’s leading voices. While her creative outfit posts are still appreciated, she is even more loved for her sharp opinion, contributing to publications including Elle UK and Business of Fashion, as well as posting regularly on her own site.

19. Chriselle Lim, The Chriselle Factor
With a massive YouTube following, the Los Angeles-based wardrobe stylist, 29, offers her audience plenty of tips and tricks via video. She’s worked with brands including Coach and Banana Republic.

20. Jane Aldridge, Sea of Shoes
Another blogging pioneer, the Dallas-based Aldridge started her site at age 15. Eight years later, she’s still at it, partnering with brands like Lovegold and Cartier on a regular basis.