Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Morphology: An Innovative Approach to Learning Vocabulary

There’s a saying that if you give a man food, you will feed him for a day, but if you teach him to farm you can feed him for a lifetime. Believe it or not, the same principle can be applied to vocabulary instruction. Teaching students to be proactive wordsmiths rather than simply passive memorizers of definitions can empower them to tackle unknown words with confidence and, often, success.

Morphology, literally translated, is the study of form. Teaching students to zero in on the different parts that make up a word’s form allows them to use more than just context clues to understand its meaning. Teaching Greek and Latin roots is certainly a part of this. But morphology takes root study a step further by encouraging students to think about words they already know.

For example, imagine students come across the word "contradict". The meaning of this word is fairly simple to derive if one knows one’s Latin roots. But students can figure out this new word by comparing it with words that are already in their vocabularies.

First, the word must be divided into two parts, contra- and –dict-. Next, students should list words they know that contain either of those parts and make a list.

For example:

contra- : contraband, contrary, contraption
(And since “contra-“ is related to “counter-“ we can add: counterproductive, counterintuitive counterfeit, counterclockwise.)

-dict- : benediction, dictionary, predict, diction, dictate, dictator, verdict.

Now for the fun part: Turn students loose to try to figure out what each word part means based on the words they already know. After some thought, it becomes clear that if counterclockwise means “the opposite of clockwise” and counterproductive means “not productive,” contra- must mean “opposite of” or “not.” (This hypothesis should be checked against the other words: A contrary person is someone who has a negative attitude, and counterfeit money is the opposite of real money, so it fits.)

Similarly, a dictionary contains words, and a prediction is something you say will happen before it happens, so dict- must be related to words or speech. Put together, it can be deduced that contradict means “opposite of + speech” or, more elegantly, “to say something that goes against someone else’s words.” This is a good time to point out that some words students may list, like contraption as an example of a word with contra-, won’t really work; while morphology is a great tool, students need to know that they may have to work around some inconsistencies. This is a great lesson to learn, because that’s the way language works!
Morphology is a fantastic approach to teaching vocabulary because it takes the emphasis off of memorization and shifts it to authentic analysis of language. It is also empowering: Instead of feeling unprepared, students will be confident in the knowledge that they can reason through unfamiliar words. The focus in this case may be on contradict, but as a bonus, students have encountered all the other words their classmates have listed. In this way, they have the opportunity to teach each other new words and think deeply about what these words mean based on their structures.

Vocabulary flashcards may be a favorite method for cramming before a vocabulary test, but to gain true, lasting word knowledge, morphology is a far better approach. For a great way to make morphology more visual, look for Rod Winters’s 2009 article “Interactive Frames for Vocabulary Growth and Word Consciousness” in The Reading Teacher.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Celebrating 300 Posts

We are taking a break today from our usual subjects of learning, research, and education law to celebrate our 300th posting. We began this blog in August, 2009 with the hope we could manage to write something of interest several times a week without running out of topics. It turns out that we had nothing to worry about -- there is so much news and information about how students learn, how our brains work, and about constantly emerging technological innovations that we have a rich selection of topics and are in no danger of running out of ideas.

What we hadn't considered when we began this blog was that it was a two-way process. Sure, we try to provide our readers with information, but we have also benefited by our writing. Each of us at The Yellin Center brings a particular perspective to the blog: our learning specialists, administrators, attorney advocate, and, of course, Dr. Yellin, have all written posts about subjects that are of particular interest to them. We all pay closer attention to the myriad of information that floods our inboxes and appears in the publications we read, constantly on the lookout for news or information that will make an interesting post. By sharing our findings around the office and thinking about how the students, families, and educators we serve will use our information, we have enriched our own body of knowledge and gained enormous satisfaction from sharing what we know with our readers.

So, as we move on to our next 100 posts, we hope you will enjoy our blog as much as we enjoy writing it for you! And the next time you visit our Manhattan offices, take a look at the hard-cover books we have created with selected posts from 2009 and 2010.

Friday, August 26, 2011

"Writing Skills" Is An Effective Plan for Improving Student Writing

When it comes to teaching students how to write, educators’ opinions are often both passionate and disparate. Proponents of the holistic method argue that writing is part of a whole language experience, which children acquire naturally. Supporters of sentence analysis, on the other hand, hold that students must understand parts of speech if they are to understand how a sentence functions.

Diana Hanbury King’s Writing Skills series falls comfortably between the two camps, acknowledging the merit of each perspective by representing both in her smart, effective plan for improving students’ writing. The Writing Skills series consists of four workbooks – Writing Skills A, 1, 2, and 3 – that focus on the process of writing*. It is recommended that students begin book A in second or third grade, but educators can pick and choose from its offerings for older students who need to strengthen their knowledge foundations. The final book in the series is intended for students in high school.

King’s research-based methods marry grammar concepts with principles of strong writing, like good organization and descriptive language. Beginning with correct sentence assembly, the lessons build on each other until students are able to compose strong essays. The books provide clear explanations in language students can understand and thoughtful skill-building drills that allow structured opportunities for creative practice. The balance and versatility of Writing Skills makes it one of the best commercially-available series of writing workbooks on the market.

*Three other books, two on writing in cursive and one on typing, are also part of the series.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Apple Apps for Students

The stock market may have you holding your breath, but there is good news for those who have already invested in iPhones and iPads: plenty of inexpensive and free apps can help students get through high school and college both more easily and more cost-effectively.

There are some great iOS (Apple's mobile operating system) apps available for students; we’ve chosen the best described in a recent post ("Back to School: 15 Essential iOS Apps for Students") by Zoe Fox on Mashable, a news site that covers digital culture, social media, and technology.

Useful for Everyone

  • Documents to Go – This app allows students to create, edit, and share Word, PowerPoint, and PDF files direction on their device. Cost: $9.99
  • Grades 2 – This app helps students avoid surprises by calculating what their grade will be, or what scores they need to earn a certain final grade. It can also calculate their GPA. As an added bonus, students will find the organizing feature with programmable deadline reminders useful. Cost: free
  • iHomework or iStudiez Pro – Track assignments, due dates, and grade, and make use of programmable alerts. Cost: iHomework - $1.99 / iStudiez Pro - $2.99
  • Penultimate – Students can use this app to take handwritten notes on their iPads using different colored pens, highlighting tools, etc. Notes can be organized in separate digital notebooks. This app is especially useful for classes like science or statistics in which students must draw diagrams. Cost: $1.99
  • Snoozerr – For those who find themselves drifting in class, this app will record lectures for later review. The time-stamped photo function lets students snap a picture of the board, then easily connect the image to a specific point in the lecture. Cost: $0.99

Best for High School Students

  • VocabPlus Lite – For great ACT/SAT prep; check out the 1,500 words on digital flashcards available here. Mastered words disappear from regular drills so students don’t waste time going back over what they already know. Cost: free

Best for College Students

  • Amazon Student – This clever app allows students to scan barcodes and compare online prices to those in the campus bookstore. Cost: free
  • Personal Finance – Many college students find themselves managing their own finances for this first time. This app will help them establish and stick to a budget, and continue to assist them after graduation with credit history, retirement savings, etc. Information is PIN secured, so no sensitive data will be lost if the device is misplaced or stolen. Cost: free
  • Papers – Ideal for research, this app digitizes papers, making printing a thing of the past. It works with 8 academic search engines, including JSTOR and Google Scholar. PDF files are particularly easy to read on an iPad. Cost: $14.99
  • Stanza – English majors will love getting access to 50,000 free classic titles without having to travel to the bookstore or spend a dime. Many contemporary titles are available, too. Cost: free

Image used under Creative Commons by Paulo Ordoveza

Monday, August 22, 2011

Insights into Math Education: Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer
Before Dan Meyer headed to Stanford in 2010 to begin work on his doctorate in math education, he found himself dumped unceremoniously into a California high school math classroom filled with the kids that no one else wanted. Fresh out of college, his lack of seniority landed him high-risk, low-functioning students who had not responded to years of math instruction; (he jokes that he had to sell a product that no one wanted to people who had to buy it anyway).

Rather than thinking about what was wrong with his students, however, Meyer took a close look at the school textbooks and the curriculum in general and concluded that there was something fundamentally wrong with way math was being taught. Unfazed by this fairly major conclusion, he took action. Using technology, insight, and his considerable intellect, he treated his students to an innovative and effective math curriculum.

One of Meyer’s primary complaints with math instruction is that it so infrequently lines up with the kind of math students will encounter in the much-discussed “real world.” In a video presentation about this conclusion, Meyer displays a typical textbook problem and highlights the numbers in it that must be crunched to get the answer. Then he asks the audience how many times in their lives they had to solve a problem and found that exactly the right amount of information was at their fingertips. Over appreciative laughter, he observes that generally we have more than we need, or else too little, and that presenting math in the manner of the average textbook is not only disingenuous, it causes kids to do math passively without really processing the information. According to Meyer, to help kids develop the skills they need to truly understand math and use it outside the classroom, teachers must help them to develop a good number sense, discriminate between good information and useless information, build pattern recognition, and accumulate a host of other skills that they won’t learn if information is presented neatly and unrealistically in their textbooks.

In his California classroom, Meyer rewrote problems, taking out information or adding numbers that were not needed. Then he turned students loose to discuss how the problem should be solved, providing missing information as they requested it or helping students to find it on their own as they realized what they needed to get to get the answer. Although his students needed a great deal of guidance at first, they showed remarkable gains in mathematical operation use and reasoning by the end of the year.

It can be difficult to watch a child struggle, but Meyer maintains that allowing kids to wrestle with a problem is one of the best ways to promote authentic, lasting learning. He prides himself on being less helpful, believing that it is the best way to teach students to help themselves. You can learn more about Dan Meyer and his insights at his informative math blog.

Photo used from

Friday, August 19, 2011

Understanding Reading Levels

Assessing a student’s reading capability is not as simple as saying that he or she reads at, above, or below grade level. Reading is a complicated business, and a student’s reading level can be equally complex. One of the most important things for a parent to keep in mind is that there is no single reading level that can encompass all of their child’s strengths and weaknesses. Reading specialists look at several different types of reading when assessing a child’s abilities:

Type of text: Narrative or Expository?
Children hear narratives – stories that feature a setting, characters, and generally predictable plot structure – long before they are able to read them. For years they listen to stories and follow along in picture books at bedtime and are therefore extremely familiar with the patterns that govern narratives by the time they start sounding out the words by themselves. All of this experience makes narratives much easier for children to understand than non-fiction expository texts. Not only is expository subject matter often less familiar, but the structure of the text is very different, in that setting, characters, and plot are absent. For this reason, most children, indeed most people, read narratives on a higher level than expository texts. It is perfectly normal and even expected that a student will read, say, a sixth grade-level narrative and a fifth grade-level expository text with equal proficiency.

Format of reading: Instructional or Independent?
When a fourth grader reads a fourth grade history textbook, her teacher provides background information before the reading, explanations during the reading, and comprehension questions after the reading. She is not expected to completely comprehend the text without the aid of her teacher because it is written at her instructional level, meaning that she needs some assistance to fully grasp it. The book she might select for free reading may be a third grade-level chapter book, which is appropriate because this time she is reading it by herself and has only her own reading skills from which to draw to understand it. Just as it is expected that children will read narrative and expository texts on different levels, it’s appropriate for a child to read independently at a higher level than she is able to read by herself.

A note about independent reading
It is critical that students read independent books that are easy for them to comprehend. Parents may be tempted to offer their children only grade-level books for free reading, but the value of free reading lies in the opportunity it affords students to practice reading skills that have been learned, not to build new ones. Developing readers need to increase fluency, vocabulary, and experience through understanding of texts. Challenging books, if read independently, will not allow them to build any of those skills; instead, they will struggle simply to understand the words and the basic story line.

Taking all of this into consideration, here are a few tips for parents:

Ask questions. If a professional tells you that your child is reading on a particular grade level, inquire about the context. (“Does Nathan read at a second grade level independently, or with instruction?” or “What is his expository reading level?”)

Expose your children to plenty of expository texts. The earlier they begin to hear and read informational texts, the more experience they will be able to gain with different text structures. Simple articles in magazines like Ranger Rick or Sports Illustrated for Kids can be great choices.

Pick a topic that is highly interesting to your child. Allow children to read books they can manage easily when they read for leisure. They may look like they aren’t being challenged, but they are improving their reading rate, adding words to their sight word banks, and absorbing the meanings and spellings of hundreds of words. And allowing children to read books that are fun and easy for them will help foster a true love of reading.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Linking the Mind and the Brain

A fascinating blog post by the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health looks at the interaction of the brain -- its structures, functions, and malfunctions -- and the mind -- the way we think, behave, and feel.

Dr. Thomas Insel notes that advances in imaging and other related techniques allow us to look beyond lesions in the brain, which cause such illnesses as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases. Researchers can now use tools such as functional MRIs, PET scans, and advanced EEGs to examine the circuitry in the brain and to study patterns of cortical function that are present in such conditions as ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder). As Dr. Insel states, "For the first time, we can study the mind via the brain."

Using the example of ADHD, Dr. Insel discusses how a condition which is generally described by its impact on behavior (hyperactivity) and cognition (attention) appears to be related to delayed cortical maturation. Likewise, research has indicated that serious depression seems to have "biomarkers" in the brain that may yield possible pathways to new treatments.

Understanding the brain functions and structures that underly conditions such as ADHD or depression is the first step to coming up with new and effective forms of treatment. It also allows for the exciting -- and as yet unrealized -- possiblity of prevention and early intervention to prevent the cognitive, social, and emotional difficulties that are the consequences of disorders of brain circuitry. We are certainly not there yet, but Dr. Insel has provided a tantalizing glimpse of the future.

Photo used courtesy of NIMH

Monday, August 15, 2011

Online Tools for History and Geography

History textbooks generally feature glossy, colorful maps that many students skim right over as they read. Although the information presented in maps is often critical for understanding historical events, kids can find maps difficult to engage with.

Tripline, on the other hand, makes maps so engaging that students will want to make a map for everything they read. Tripline is a new, free website that allows users to plot any route on a dynamic map of the world. At each stopping point plotted, mappers can add a description and upload pictures of the locale, using either their own photos or pictures taken from the internet. The presentation can be saved and shared as a slide show.

Educational implications for this fantastic tool are particularly exciting in the disciplines of language arts and history. Students can travel with Huckleberry Finn by plotting his journey along the Mississippi River, annotating his route with the events he experienced at each point and enhancing their understanding of the book by finding appropriate images for the places he visited. Tripline prompts students to connect themes and movements to their surrounding geography – it can bring the Silk Road, the exploits of Ghengis Khan, or the progression of the civil rights movement to life.

Google’s Lit Trips is similar to Tripline, but it offers access to Google Earth’s impressive maps and satellite images, allowing for the creation of even more detailed journey maps. Students have the option of viewing a scene from above or of switching to a street-level view, which allows them to “look around” the scene by panning 360 degrees; this exciting feature can make kids feel though they are actually visiting the location. As an added bonus, students can search for pre-existing maps about the books they’re currently reading that have been uploaded by other users. Viewing these maps improves students’ reading comprehension by allowing them to visualize the book’s setting and events. Taking a Lit Trip is a fantastic way to enrich a child’s literary experience! Both sites make it easy for students to delve deeper into history, literature, and the world around them, making reading a truly visceral experience.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Daniel Hennemand

Friday, August 12, 2011

Opportunities for Young Writers

The next Virginia Woolf or Robert Frost needn’t languish in obscurity until adulthood to make themselves known; thanks to the internet and a surge of interest in fiction by and for young people, opportunities for kids and teens to publish their writing abound. All of the websites and publications below are great ways to motivate kids and young adults to get writing.


Spaghetti Book Club a fun website, featuring hundreds of book reviews, is a great resource for kids looking for a good book, but it provides an even better opportunity for young writers. Anyone can submit a book review and even an accompanying illustration for others to view. Books are searchable by grade level (kindergarten through 12th grade) or by title.


Stories for Children is an Ezine written for kids ages 3-12 that publishes work by both adults and young writers. Categories include fiction, poetry, discovery, visual art, and more.


Cicada Literary Magazine, aimed at readers 14 and up, is affiliated with the outstanding Cricket Magazine Group, which publishes Babybug, for children ages 6 months to 3 years; Ladybug, for ages 3 to 6; Spider, for ages 6 to 9, and Cricket, for ages 9-14. (Check their website for a list of non-fiction magazine offerings as well.) The magazines make lively, enriching, and highly enjoyable reading for children, but Cicada is the only one that offers young writers the opportunity to submit short stories, poetry, book reviews, and visual art for publication. Alternately, authors can load work electronically onto Cicada’s “The Slam,” where other young people can laud it online and make comments. Finally, their “In the Know” webpage offers tips for writers and a list of other publications that accept submissions from teen writers.

Spine Breakers is an online magazine “for book-loving teenagers by book-loving teenagers” (editorial decisions are made by a panel of 9 British teens) is perfect for vampire or science fiction fans. Because the site is affiliated with Penguin Publishing, it has a sleek, professional appearance with content to match. Much of the featured art and written material is contributed by young people between the ages of 13 and 18, and there are lots of contests and opportunities to upload poetry, short stories, and song lyrics. A particularly appealing feature is the call for alternate endings to existing books.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Amelia Wells

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Justice Department Ruling Has Major Implications for Test Accommodations

We love it when the law works. So, we were pleased to hear about what happened last week in the lawsuit brought by Dee Jones, a law student at Vermont Law School, who had filed a federal lawsuit against the National Conference of Bar Examiners.

Ms. Jones, who managed to be admitted to law school -- and to do well -- despite blindness and a learning difficulty, needed to take and pass the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination (MPRE) to be licensed as an attorney. The test is developed under the auspices of the National Conference of Bar Examiners. However, Ms. Jones was denied the use of the test modifications and accommodations she requested, and which she had used successfully in college and law school -- a combination of Kurzweil 3000 and ZoomText software. Using these two technologies together provides simultaneous large font and audio versions of the test materials. Instead, the defendant organizations offered Jones accommodations from a menu they developed, which included a reader, or an audio recording of the test, or a Braille version of the exam.

Jones, aided by the National Federation of the Blind, sued and claimed that being limited to the accommodations that the testing organizations selected was a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). As her attorney, Daniel Goldstein, noted in an article in Vermont Today, "'s like if you were a vegetarian and someone said, 'Okay, we won't give you the roast beef. Would you like the pork or the chicken?"

Adding to the problem was the looming date of the next exam, scheduled for August 11, 2011.

On July 21st, the U.S. Justice Department filed a Statement of Interest with the court, noting, "the United States does not interpret ... the ADA to simply require reasonable accommodations to Ms. Jones, but rather to require appropriate modifications or auxiliary aids to 'best ensure' that the exam measures Ms. Jones’ knowledge of professional responsibility issues and not her visual disabilities.

Based upon the Justice Department filing, and as noted in a press release from the U.S. Attorney in Vermont, the District Court granted Ms. Jones’ motion for a preliminary injunction and agreed with the Justice Department analysis of the controlling “best ensure” standard. As a result of the ruling by the District Court, the National Conference of Bar Examiners was ordered to allow Ms. Jones to take the MPRE on August 5, 2011 using the screen reading software that Ms. Jones used throughout law school as her primary reading method. We hope she did well.

As the long term impact of this preliminary injunction becomes more clear, we will look, in a future blog, at what this means for students who require accommodations.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Wikipedia Saves Public Art.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Study Raises Concerns on Crossing Streets for Children with ADHD

new study reported in Pediatrics, the journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, looks at a potentially dangerous consequence for children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder -- the simple act of crossing the street.

The study looked at a total of 78 children, from 7-10 years of age, half of whom had been diagnosed with ADHD-Combined Type, which includes symptoms of both inattention and hyperactivity-impulsivity. The researchers compared the behaviors of the children with attention difficulties with the control group to determine if there were differences in their behavior before crossing the street and while they were actually in the act of crossing. Those children who customarily took medication for their attention issues were not taking their medication at the time they were studied.

The researchers found that while the children with attention difficulties "evaluated the crossing environment" and began to cross the street in the same way as the control group, they crossed when there were smaller gaps in traffic and had significantly less time to spare when they reached the other side of the street. The dangers of this situation in a real life situation are clear to every parent.

When the researchers looked at the possible reasons for this dangerous difference in how children with attention difficulties crossed the street, they determined that it was weakness in executive function, specifically difficulties in managing time. They discounted inattention itself, or oppositional behaviors, as the key factors impacting poor decisions as to when it was safe to cross.

While the researchers note that work needs to be done to remediate the executive deficits that are the basis for this danger, it is on parents -- through practice with their children, hand-holding where appropriate, and modeling safe crossing behaviors, to whom the task of keeping their kids safe will fall. School opens in a few weeks. Please drive carefully.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Elizabeth/Table4Five

Friday, August 5, 2011

More Friday Spelling - Spelling City: A Cool Tool

Fed up with the same tired spelling drills? A great resource for early readers and writers is Spelling City, a free website that allows students to learn and practice early spelling and decoding skills in a fun, motivating way.

After registering as a teacher, parent, or student, users can enter and save their own lists of words or work from pre-existing lists entered by other users. To use the words for practice in spelling and other literacy skills, a multitude of games are available, including the perennially popular Hangman spin-off “Hang Mouse.” The graphics and sound effects are simple but appealing, and students will enjoy the change of pace in their spelling practice.

One particularly valuable feature of the website is the "Spelling Test" option. Students can take a test in which the word will be dictated to them and presented orally in a sentence. Once they’ve completed the test, any words they’ve spelled incorrectly will be marked, with the correct spelling written next to it and a “Teach Me” option next to the error. After relearning the word, the student can choose to take another test, either with all the words or focusing only on incorrect responses. Spelling City can be used as a collaborative teaching tool as well. If a list is made public, others can search for it by name and play games with the words on it. This is particularly valuable when teachers enter words lists for their students to use, helping to bridge the gap between school and home.

Premium memberships, available for $24.99 a year, allow users access to even more features, like vocabulary tests and flashcards for the words on a user’s personal lists.

Photo used under Creative Commons by woodleywonderworks

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Home Office for Students

A recent article in The Costco Connection, the magazine distributed by the warehouse chain to its customers, suggests that families set up a "home office for homework," something we think is a terrific idea. If you think about it, homework and school are a student's job and, just like a parent who may need a dedicated home office space to do the work of his or her job at home -- full-time or outside the regular work day -- students need a dedicated space to enable them to work most efficiently.

Whether this student office is in the student's own room, or in a more public part of the home, is a decision that families need to make based on the age of the student, the space available, and a particular student's need for direct supervision and ease of distraction. But even when families decide that the kitchen table is the best place for their children to work, there should still be a dedicated area for supplies and storage for each student.

Since this is prime time for sales of school supplies and dorm equipment, it might be helpful to consider the following when you are creating a home office for your student:
  • Different students need different kinds of chairs. At our offices, our assessment rooms have both fixed and wheeled chairs, since research has shown -- and we have observed -- that moving about while working can help students who struggle with attention to focus on the task at hand.
  • For older students, who may be working for more than an hour a day, proper support for wrists and back while using a computer is important.
  • Each student should have his or her own storage area -- a file box with dividers for each subject is ideal -- for papers that need to be retained (for studying for a final exam, for example) but are not needed currently. Students should be encouraged to go through their backpacks not less than every couple of weeks to remove papers that can go into this longer term storage.
  • A large white board, perhaps with a calendar, is a helpful way to prioritize tasks and to keep track of deadlines.
  • A dedicated place for supplies -- pens, pencils, scissors, glue sticks, paper, etc.-- can be individual to each student or centralized for the entire family. Procrastinators will have fewer excuses when the supplies they need are readily available.
All but the youngest children can become involved in setting up their home office. Taking the time to prepare before school re-opens can help reduce homework battles in the fall.

Photo used under Creative Commons by Lasse Rintakumpu

Monday, August 1, 2011

Teen Brains

We've recently come across an interesting publication from the National Institute of Mental Health titled The Teen Brain: Still Under Construction. It provides a basic discussion of how the brains of children develop, and notes that the brains of young people don't take on the characteristics of adult brains until the early 20's.

Why is this so important for both parents and teens to understand? Everyone knows that teenagers can be impulsive and don't always exhibit the kind of judgment that will come with adulthood. What this booklet points out is the frightening consequences of this delayed maturity. It cites higher rates of crime and alcohol abuse among teens and notes that deadly injuries are roughly six times higher between ages 15-19 than they are for children between 10 and 14.

The key to the information in this publication is scientists' ability to scan the brain and to look at the structures of the brain at different ages. For example, brain scan studies have shown that parts of the brain that control movement mature early on, but that the areas that control impulses and planning are among the last to mature.

Although written for adults, this booklet is designed to be appealing to adolescents as well. It's a quick read and worth downloading and looking at -- and sharing with your teen and his or her still-developing brain.