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Revealing Minds: Assessing to Understand and Support Struggling Learners

Craig Pohlman, Mel Levine (Foreword by)
ISBN: 978-0-7879-8790-9
352 pages
August 2007, Jossey-Bass
Revealing Minds: Assessing to Understand and Support Struggling Learners (0787987905) cover image
Revealing Minds is a practical, hands-on guide to assessing learning problems, based on the approach of All Kinds of Minds, the groundbreaking nonprofit institute co-founded by Mel Levine. Whereas most assessments of struggling learners focus on what is "broken" within a student and needs to be fixed, All Kinds of Minds has adopted a more positive and comprehensive approach to the process. Rather than labeling children or categorizing them into certain pre-defined groups, their optimistic and helpful path creates a complete picture (or "profile") of each student, outlining the child’s assets along with any weaknesses, and identifying specific breakdown points that lead to problems at school.

The process of assessment should be able to answer a question such as, "Why is my son struggling with reading?" with a better answer than, "Because he has a reading disability." Revealing Minds shows how to discover hidden factors—such as language functioning, memory ability, or attention control—that are impeding a student’s learning. It goes beyond labels and categories to help readers understand what's really going on with their students and create useful learning plans.

Providing scores of real-life examples, definitions of key terms, helpful diagrams, tables, and sample assessments, Pohlman offers a useful roadmap for educators, psychologists, and other professionals to implement the All Kinds of Minds approach in their own assessments.

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Foreword.

Preface.

Acknowledgments.

The Author.

About Revealing Minds.

About All Kinds of Minds.

1 Assessing to Understand.

The Case for Phenomenology.

Profiles as Tools for Understanding Students.

Answering the Question Why? (and Why That Matters).

Identifying Assets (and Why They Matter).

Neurodevelopmental Variation as Normal Variation.

Why the Focus on Assessment.

The Approach of This Book.

My Perspective and Background.

Assessment Is Both Complex and Simple.

2 The Need for a Framework.

The Prepared Mind.

The Pitfalls of Being Atheoretical.

Conceptual Correctness.

Theoretical Frameworks for Understanding Learning.

A Neurodevelopmental Framework.

Other Factors That May Impede Learning.

Selecting a Framework: A Choice for the Professional.

3 The Art of Task-Analysis.

Two Types of Reasoning.

Analysis of Academic Skills.

Analysis of Assessment Tasks.

Constructing Learning Plans.

Task-Analysis as an Assessment Tool.

4 Making Linkages.

Functions Versus Skills.

Linkages.

Why Linkages Matter.

Major Linkages Between Skill Deficits and Neurodevelopmental Functions.

5 Assessing from Multiple Angles.

Assessment and Testing.

Multi-Method Assessment.

Qualitative and Quantitative Findings.

Dynamic and Standardized Techniques.

Limit Testing.

What History Can Reveal.

Assets and Affinities.

The Case for Teamwork.

Assessment as a Process.

Comparing and Contrasting Angles.

6 A Better Use of the Discrepancy Concept.

Clinical Contrasts.

Academic Task to Academic Task.

Neurodevelopmental Task to Neurodevelopmental Task.

Neurodevelopmental Task to Academic Task.

Clinical Branching Logic.

Contrasts in History Reports.

A Tool for Better Understanding.

7 Searching for Recurring Themes.

Making the Case.

Examples of Recurring Themes.

Potential Hazards in the Search for Recurring Themes.

Tactics for Organizing Findings.

Change in Course.

8 Assessing Attention.

The Construct of Attention.

Some Important Distinctions.

General Assessment Considerations.

Tasks Designed to Assess Aspects of Attention.

Task-Analysis for Attention.

Attention Signs and Symptoms.

Secondary Attention Deficits.

9 Assessing Memory.

The Construct of Memory.

Some Important Distinctions.

General Assessment Considerations.

Tasks Designed to Assess Types of Memory.

Task-Analysis for Memory.

Memory Signs and Symptoms.

10 Assessing Language.

The Construct of Language.

Some Important Distinctions.

General Assessment Considerations.

Tasks Designed to Assess Components of Language.

Task-Analysis for Language.

Language Signs and Symptoms.

11 Other Neurodevelopmental Factors to Consider.

Spatial Ordering.

Temporal-Sequential Ordering.

Neuromotor Function.

Conceptualization.

Reasoning and Logic.

Creativity.

Social Cognition.

Cross-Construct Phenomena.

Degree of Context.

Other Factors That Can Affect Learning.

Organization.

Turning the Corner.

12 Telling the Story.

Importance of Demystification.

Guidelines for Written Reports.

Communicating Outside the Box.

13 Understanding to Assess.

Having New Eyes.

Making the Case.

The Virtues of Splitting.

Framing the Work.

Preparing the Mind.

Passionate Curiosity.

Talking the Talk and Walking the Walk.

References.

Glossary of Terms.

Appendix A: Supporting Research for a Neurodevelopmental Framework.

Appendix B: Assessment Task-Analysis Guide.

Appendix C: Index of Potential Findings.

Appendix D: Tests and Batteries for Neurodevelopmental Assessment.

Appendix E: Learning Plan Resources.

Index.

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Craig Pohlman, Ph.D., NCSP, is a licensed psychologist at All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit institute helping struggling learners improve their success in school and in life. He has conducted and supervised thousands of assessments of students from kindergarten through college.
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  • Strong Market Demand: There are more than 6 million children receiving special education in U.S. schools, and this number is on the rise. Educators and parents are clamoring for new approaches to understanding learning problems that will help these kids succeed.
  • Affiliation with Mel Levine's All Kinds of Minds: This book is based on the philosophy and framework of All Kinds of Minds, the popular, cutting-edge institute headed by Dr. Mel Levine, best-selling author of A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness, and Ready or Not, Here Life Comes. All Kinds of Minds has trained more than 30,000 teachers on using their approach to assessing learning differences.
  • Unique Approach: Offers a groundbreaking method to diagnosing learning problems based on the All Kinds of Minds approach, which stresses the importance of identifying a student’s assets and uncovering specific breakdown points that lead to problems at school, rather than labeling the student or assigning him to a general diagnostic category. 
  • Practical, Hands-on Guide: Includes scores of real-life examples, sidebar definitions of key terms, diagrams, sample assessments, and other useful tools to help readers easily implement the All Kinds of Minds approach in their own student assessments.
  • Strong Author: Pohlman is a rising star in the field of learning disorders. A protégé of renowned pediatrician Mel Levine, he has trained thousands on special needs assessment and presents frequently at conferences and workshops.
  • Foreword by Mel Levine: Mel Levine has written the foreword to the book.
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“Any clinician, advocate, parent, or educator who wants to truly understand and help children who struggle in school should read this book and will want to return to it often.”

—Paul B. Yellin, M.D., FAAP, Director, Yellin Center for Student Success and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine

 

“Pohlman provides us with a cogent, step-by-step guide to conducting assessments.”

—Katherine Balisterri Howard, M.A., NCSP, school psychologist, Old Trail School, Bath, Ohio

 

“Draws the essential connections between theory and practice that can enable every teacher to be ‘smart’ about assessing student learning—not just of those who struggle, but all students.”

—Peter Gow, Director of College Counseling and Special Programs, Beaver Country Day School

 

“Delivers a wealth of insights for understanding students who struggle with learning.”

—Douglas Bouman, Director, Psychological Services, CLC Network, Grand Rapids, Michigan

 

“This book is unique in presenting a clearly defined, respectful, and practical approach to assessing learning differences in children.”

—Elizabeth Briere, M.D., FAAP, Executive Director, Center for Student Success

 

 

“An innovative and circumspect approach to making assessments more informative.”

—Russell Hoffman, Psy.D., school psychologist and private practitioner, Bronx, New York

 

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“Any clinician, advocate, parent, or educator who wants to truly understand and help children who struggle in school should read this book and will want to return to it often.” —Paul B. Yellin, M.D., FAAP, Director, Yellin Center for Student Success and Associate Professor of Pediatrics, New York University School of Medicine

“Pohlman provides us with a cogent, step-by-step guide to conducting assessments.” —Katherine Balisterri Howard, M.A., NCSP, school psychologist, Old Trail School, Bath, Ohio

“Draws the essential connections between theory and practice that can enable every teacher to be ‘smart’ about assessing student learning—not just of those who struggle, but all students.” —Peter Gow, Director of College Counseling and Special Programs, Beaver Country Day School

“Delivers a wealth of insights for understanding students who struggle with learning.” —Douglas Bouman, Director, Psychological Services, CLC Network, Grand Rapids, Michigan

“This book is unique in presenting a clearly defined, respectful, and practical approach to assessing learning differences in children.” —Elizabeth Briere, M.D., FAAP, Executive Director, Center for Student Success

“An innovative and circumspect approach to making assessments more informative.” —Russell Hoffman, Psy.D., school psychologist and private practitioner, Bronx, New York

 

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