Sticky Nuggs: The Staple of Billy Jack’s

Traditions are an important part of the college experience. For many JMU students, a Thursday night would not be complete without a trip to Billy Jack’s for a box of their iconic “sticky nuggs”. For the seven years that the Jack Brown’s sister-store has been in business, the Thursday sticky nuggs deal has remained on … Continue reading Sticky Nuggs: The Staple of Billy Jack’s

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Helping Children Cope After a Tornado

Our neighbors in Guilford County and Rockingham County are recovering from significant tornado damage that also impacted several of their schools.  We wanted to share some resources that may be useful for counselors, teachers, parents, family members and others who provide support to children following a natural disaster.

This information from the National Association of School Psychologists provides a number of resources, including a printable fact sheet and information on helping students who may experience relocation as the result of a natural disaster. You can also find a Tip Sheet available in Spanish here.  There’s even a section specific to tornadoes:

“Tornadoes. Like earthquakes, tornadoes can bring mass destruction in a matter of minutes, and individuals typically have little time to prepare. Confusion and frustration often follow. Similar to a hurricane, people experience sensations during tornadoes that may generate coping challenges, and it can be difficult to cope with the sights and smells of destruction. Given the capricious nature of tornadoes, survivor guilt has been observed to be an especially common coping challenge. For instance, some children may express guilt that they still have a house to live in while their friend next door does not.”

Here is an infographic on how you can help:

Helping Children - Floods

You can also find information here for parents, kids and educators from the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA.  This website includes lesson plans to help our students be informed and prepared before a possible weather-related disaster occurs.

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The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone May Reduce Your Cognitive Functioning

The findings from this recent research on how smartphones impact our thinking are both fascinating and alarming.  Researchers at three large universities collaborated on this project to measure how well people can finish tasks when their smartphones are nearby.  Their study included 548 participants (with an average age of 21) who were asked to complete tasks to measure working memory (i.e., the ability to hold on to and process information) and fluid intelligence (i.e., the ability to solve new or unfamiliar problems).  Participants were assigned to one of three groups, depending on cell phone location: desk, pocket/bag, or other room.  All participants were asked to make sure their phones were completely silent during the testing.

After the testing was complete, the participants were asked how much they believed their smartphones affected their performance.  85.6% of the participants reported that their smartphones “neither helped nor hurt [their] performance.”  However, the results of the testing revealed a different story:

Both working memory capacity and fluid reasoning were improved for the group who left their smartphones in another room.  The researchers found that “the mere presence of one’s smartphone may reduce available cognitive capacity and impair cognitive functioning, even when consumers are successful at remaining focused on the task at hand.” 

Given that End of Grade (EOG) Tests and End of Course (EOC) tests are just a few weeks away, this research really resonated with us.  The researchers noted that, “As educational institutions increasingly embrace “connected classrooms,” the presence of students’ mobile devices in educational environments may undermine both learning and test performance—particularly when these devices are present but not in use.”

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