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The Learning Success Blog

Peter Barnes

Peter Barnes has diverse background and experience that ranges from adult education & training in a human resources context, through learning & business innovation, to the leadership of large organisations. He has also worked in finance journalism, accountancy, and digital marketing.

Peter has been involved with the LearnFast Group since 2003, when he joined his wife, Devon, to help her manage the growth in the numbers of schools and individuals using LearnFast’s educational software programs to address language and literacy challenges for learners of all ages.

Peter is a passionate snow skier and has a wide range of interests – from mirror neurons, to American politics (and many others!). Peter has a vision for improving the education of future generations through the innovative and creative use of emerging technologies.

Recent Posts

How to Improve Your Child’s Social Skills

Posted by Peter Barnes on November 19, 2021 at 11:44 AM

Peter Barnes

Are you concerned your child's social skills may not be up to scratch?

Here you will find some strategies, tips and activities to help your children improve their social skills. You will also learn where to look for online programs and professional help. And if you want to dive deeper into the topic, there are some links to resources from around the world.

But first, what are social skills anyway, and why should you care about them?

Social skills include behaviours and emotional competencies

Social skills include a range of behavioural and emotional competencies such as:

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Topics: Social Skills, Social & Emotional Learning

Elements - Newest Addition to the Fast ForWord Literacy Program for Secondary Readers

Posted by Peter Barnes on October 15, 2021 at 9:48 AM

Peter Barnes

Elements is a new addition to the   Fast ForWord Literacy program  for secondary readers. The four exercises in Elements I and the five exercises in Elements II are designed to deliver the rewards, instant feedback, and socially safe learning environment that adolescent learners need to stay motivated and become college and career ready learners and readers.

This new release also represents a further advancement in our delivery of   Mastery-Based Learning, enabling adolescent learners to achieve mastery of new skills on their own individual learning path, using a combination of instruction, persistent practice, and continuous assessment.

Explore the exercise samples below to see how Elements has been designed to promote key aspects of mastery-based learning:
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Topics: Fast ForWord, Reading Difficulties, Fast ForWord123, Artificial Intelligence

Build English Fast for Students Learning English as a Second Language

Posted by Peter Barnes on September 28, 2021 at 11:40 AM

Peter Barnes

Why do ESLs struggle with reading?

Students with limited or no English speaker proficiency need instruction in recognising and distinguishing the sounds of English as compared or contrasted with sounds in their native language.

To be most effective, instruction for ESLs in oral language knowledge, skills, and abilities must be explicit, intensive, and extensive.

Oral proficiency in English (including oral vocabulary, grammar, and listening comprehension) is critical for ESLs to develop proficiency in text-level English reading comprehension.

Read More

Topics: English Language Learners, Fast ForWord123

Accelerate Learning: Fast ForWord's New Reading Comprehension Program

Posted by Peter Barnes on August 6, 2021 at 1:14 PM

Peter Barnes

If you’d like your child or students to be a better reader then Fast ForWord Reading Comprehension program could help.

The exercises work on the underlying skills of Working Memory, Attention,Processing and Sequencing this helps all learning becomes easier.

What to expect from Reading Comprehension

  • A concentrated focus on reading comprehension and the sub-skills that build it, from fluent decoding and grammar skills, to comprehension strategies 
  • Practice in reading for understanding with a wide range of texts, including fiction, expository prose, tables, instructions, diagrams, and flowcharts—the kinds of texts that students encounter when reading to learn across the subject areas
  • A new look and feel, with graphics age-appropriate for secondary learners and motivational features to keep students engaged and learning
  • Improved adaptivity and responsiveness, so that individual students get the content they need at the right level of challenge
  • Just-in-time supports, to help students work more independently and stay motivated
  • A safe learning environment, where students can take chances without fear of judgment by their peers
  • The same research-driven design and content that have made Fast ForWord a reliable, evidence-based solution for over 20 years.
Read More

Learn New Skills Faster by Taking Short Breaks

Posted by Peter Barnes on June 11, 2021 at 1:22 PM

Peter Barnes

It is fairly well understood that a good night’s sleep helps us learn better.

Now scientists have discovered people who take short breaks while learning a new skill make more gains than after a night's sleep.

In a Study at the USA National Institutes of Health 33 right-handed volunteers were shown a five-digit code "41234" on a screen and asked to type it out with their left hands as many times as possible for 10 seconds and then take a 10 second break. Subjects were asked to repeat this cycle of alternating practice and rest sessions a total of 35 times.

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Topics: Latest Research, Memory, Learning

Why Would You Send Your Child to Boarding School, If You Could?

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 31, 2021 at 10:24 AM

Peter Barnes

Only a very small percentage of the worldwide student population attends a boarding school.

I spent the last four years of secondary school as a “boarding student” because my family lived in country Queensland, and there was no high school nearby.  

Living away from family, sleeping in the dormitory with 30 other kids, and eating what I and my fellow students deemed totally unsatisfactory food was, in retrospect, not too bad. Not too good either, especially in my senior year when the school started to feel a little like a detention centre.

I imagine the quality of the accommodation and food has improved in the decades since I was a boarding school student. At least I hope so!

Nowadays some city parents choose to send their son or daughter to board at a school in the same city because they can afford to do so. 

Would you send your child to a boarding school if you could? What do you know about boarding schools?

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Topics: School

New Insights About the Autistic Brain Confirm Fast ForWord Helps

Posted by Peter Barnes on March 2, 2021 at 11:28 AM

Peter Barnes

People with autism may simultaneously have too much connectivity in some parts of their brain and poor connectivity in other parts, according to new research from Carnegie Mellon University, USA, published in Nature Neuroscience in January 2015.

The research compared brain scans from a group of people diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and brain scans of a control group with normally developing brains.  The resting brains of the control group looked very similar to each other whereas the scans of the brains in the autistic group were all different. They showed unique patterns of connectivity, different patterns of excess or poor connectivity in each brain.

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Topics: Autism

Building Student Learning Capacity - The Missing Link in Education

Posted by Peter Barnes on August 6, 2020 at 10:43 AM

Peter Barnes

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if all the students you teach would pay attention and more easily “get” what you are teaching them?

That’s impossible, you might say. Perhaps it is, but it’s not impossible to improve the attention and ability to learn for every one of your students. Listen to this podcast “Student Learning Capacity – The Missing Link in Education” to find out how.

Welcome to the concept of being able to change the learning capacity of students

How often do some of your students:

  • Find it hard to pay attention to your teaching?

  • Struggle to remember what you taught?

  • Seem to be unable to keep up with the pace of your instructions or the classroom discussions?

How much more could you enjoy teaching if these were less of an issue?

Read More

Topics: Learning Capacity, Arrowsmith program, For Principals

8 months language & literacy gains in 2 months: gold standard research study

Posted by Peter Barnes on May 22, 2020 at 3:21 PM

Peter Barnes

Can you get your struggling students to achieve 4 times the reading growth you would normally expect from 2 months of teaching?

One group of primary and early high school students did last year.

Read how in the article below, reproduced from The Science of Learning Blog.

Read More

Topics: Learning Capacity Success Stories, Fast ForWord123

Coroni Village: How 4 Kids are Coping Differently with School-at-Home

Posted by Peter Barnes on April 9, 2020 at 11:49 AM

Peter Barnes

Coroni Village.  That’s what my 5 year old granddaughter calls the world outside her family’s Sydney apartment, where they have been confined since the COVID-19 shutdown started.

I have no idea how she came up with that expression. No doubt it has to do with the number of times she has heard about Coronavirus. Both she and her older sister are doing school-at-home. So are their two cousins. 

“School-at-home” is a better description than “home schooling” for the situation most students are in now, with their schools shut or their parents deciding to keep them at home. That’s because “home schooling” is a deliberate choice by parents who take on the role of teachers. The “school-at-home” parents did not make that choice.

The vast majority of parents managing “school-at-home” are not teachers. They have no teaching expertise and are feeling uncomfortable being thrust into this role, even with the best remote learning support and resources from their kids’ schools. Plus, many parents are doing their regular work at home as well.

That sounds pretty tough – for the parents and the kids.

Read More

Topics: School, Learning, Teaching

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