1842 Massachusetts Ave, Lexington MA 02420 p: (781) 860-0550 e: info@TheInteractiveLearningCenter.com
© 2008 The Interactive Learning Center

Welcome to The Interactive Learning Center website. We are a small private practice dedicated to improving learning experiences for students. We work one-on-one with each student and their family to engage the student in new ways of thinking and problem solving that are important to learning.

Difficulties with academic, social or professional learning are often due to underdeveloped cognitive skills, such as visual, sensorimotor and logical thinking. The goal of our Interactive Learning Program is to improve a studentís fundamental cognitive abilities so that learning becomes efficient and meaningful.

Our therapeutic approach emphasizes critical thinking and problem solving abilities versus the acquisition of rote strategies. Our approach to improving cognitive and learning skills is to optimize thinking by guiding students through a process of wonderment and discovery with each of the challenges we present to them. Making mistakes can be an important part of a childís path to learning. Our goal is to help the child to confidently confront new learning challenges with a belief in their own ability to think critically and solve problems.

Cognition

Cognition embodies the perceptual and intellectual abilities we need to learn about and navigate our world. The field of Cognitive Science is the study of what those skills are, how they develop over time and how they influence our thoughts and actions for meaningful life activities.

The Interactive Learning Center offers an intervention program based on insights and approaches developed through the study of cognitive science. These approaches seek to solve a studentís learning difficulties by improving fundamental cognitive skills. Improved cognitive skills lead to improvements in academic learning such as reading, writing and math as well as social learning involving relating and communicating with others.

Learning

Learning occurs through an interactive dynamic between oneself and the outside world. Learning relies on a childís cognitive abilities and the development of those abilities through his or her experiences and capacities to initiate and engage in their environment.

Efficient academic and social learning relies on a strong foundation of cognitive abilities that develop over time as we perceive and navigate our world. For example, reading relies upon visual thinking and logical reasoning to give meaning to the words. Visual thinking allows us to mentally construct images of what we are reading. Logical reasoning helps us to organize images or events in relation to one another. Efficient reading also relies on cognitive skills at the sensorimotor level. For example, children who skip lines of text, misread words, or fatigue when reading may not use their eyes efficiently. Children who have retained developmental reflexes or underdeveloped knowledge of how to orient their bodies in space may not be sufficiently coordinated. They may not yet know how to sit comfortably at a desk or hold a book steady for reading.

Development

Not all children develop cognitive skills at the same rate. However, some teaching curricula assume that children arrive in Kindergarten or First Grade having sufficiently developed their cognitive abilities. One 6 year-old child may be ready for the academic work of First Grade while another 6 year old child may not. Students are generally expected to perform in academic settings despite lacking crucial cognitive abilities.

Interactive problem solving leads to improved cognitive abilities by engaging students, wooing them towards self-discovery, creative thinking and effective solutions. The Thinking Goes To School framework (Hans Furth, Ph.D. and Harry Wachs, O.D.) provides a developmental progression of cognitive abilities that allows us to engage students at their individual and optimal levels of problem solving. Once students achieve mastery of a particular activity we provide them with more complex tasks that rely on knowledge gained from the previous level of challenge. This approach directs students towards progressively higher levels of thinking fundamental to their learning.

Cognitive Skills

Click here to view our cognitive skills matrix.

Evaluation

An initial evaluation assesses a studentís ability to problem solve with a variety of cognitive tasks. The evaluation is about 90 minutes long and is designed to identify a clientís cognitive strengths and vulnerabilities. A 30-minute conference follows the evaluation to discuss the clientís cognitive skills profile.

The primary purpose of the evaluation is to determine how good a fit our interactive learning program is for a particular client. Secondly, the cognitive skills evaluation identifies an individual's cognitive skills profile in order to create an interactive program that is specifically designed to improve his or her learning needs.

Sessions

The Interactive Learning program is intensive and requires two 50-minute sessions per week at our office as well as a home-program requiring 20 to 30 minutes of daily practice.

The Interactive Learning sessions focus on developing improved cognitive abilities in the areas of need identified during the evaluation. The therapist works directly with the client during the office sessions and assists the client, or the parents, with the details of the home component of the program.

Phone Consultation

To learn more about The Interactive Learning Program and evaluation you can schedule a phone consultation. This is a time for you to ask questions about our program and provide us with information regarding your studentís learning challenges. Phone consultations typically last 20 minutes.

To schedule a phone consultation, please contact Andra Munger at 781.860.0550 x2 and provide days and times when you can be reached for a return call.

Andra Munger, Ph.D. – Director

Andra studied psychology and education at Clark University. She holds a doctorate degree in Biomedical Science with research experience in learning and brain development. Andra received an N.I.H. grant to study the development of the nervous and immune systems at the National Institutes of Health. Andraís interest in child development led to her study at Antioch University. There, Andra received a Waldorf Teaching Certificate and taught students in Waldorf School classrooms from Kindergarten through Twelfth Grade.

In 2001, Andra collaborated with David Stevens, Ed. D. at the Cognitive Development Center of Lexington. There she worked with staff members as well as members of the Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders to implement new approaches to improving learning for students with special needs.

Brooke Tanzman, B.A. Ė Cognitive Development Therapist

Brooke has a Bachelorís degree from SUNY at Oswego and a teaching certificate for grades, N-9. Brooke earned credits towards her Masterís Degree in Special Education from the College of Saint Rose and Cambridge College. Brooke has worked in schools to support students with special needs. More recently, Brooke worked within the Cambridge Public Schools as an aide. There, she learned to use Floortime techniques to support fundamental skills of relating and communicating to improve learning for children with special needs.

Julie Hurley McIsaac, M.A. Ė Affiliate Staff

Julie earned her Masters degree in Child Development from Tufts University. After teaching as a one-to-one aide in the Tufts preschool and kindergarten classrooms, Julie transitioned to become the Intake coordinator at The Developmental Medicine Center at Childrenís Hospital, Boston. Julie joined the Cognitive Development Center of Lexington in 2004 where she worked with children to encourage creative and confident thinking. Julie is currently engaged in the DIR/Floortime certification process and is a Ph.D. candidate in the ICDL Graduate School degree program in Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Disorders.

Julie is living in Ithaca, N.Y. and working with families to support childrenís learning and development. Julie is interested in providing each child with unique opportunities for meaningful problem solving to strengthen the foundations of cognition.

Open Position: Interactive Learning Therapist

Responsibilities: The primary responsibility of the Interactive Learning Therapist is to work individually with clients in the delivery of the Interactive Learning Program. Therapists work with children and adults to develop and improve cognitive abilities. Therapists are responsible for working with and guiding their clients through the developmental stages of the program. This includes individual sessions in the office as well as advising clients and often their parents or caregivers on how to implement the home program. Other responsibilities include administrative tasks such as writing reports, reviewing records, billing and staff meetings.

Qualifications: Qualified applicants will have experience working in educational or clinical settings with children who have learning or developmental needs. A Bachelors degree is required. Knowledge of developmental psychology and cognitive development as well as experience with other developmental interventions programs, such as Floortime is a plus. Candidates need to have superior interpersonal skills and be adept at building relationships with children and adults. Strong analytic skills are needed for mastering and applying the Interactive Learning Program.

Benefits: Salary is commensurate with experience and education. Health and dental insurance benefits (company pays 80%) are offered to full-time employees. Benefits include three weeks paid-vacation and several paid U.S. holidays.

Hours: Workdays focus on the afternoons and early evenings (2pm Ė 7pm) as well as all day Saturday.

Literature

Interactive Learning and Cognition
Interactive Learning in the Classroom
The Thinking Goes To School Approach
Interactive Learning through Relating and Communicating
Engaging Thinking and Problem Solving With Your Child At Home
Books to Engage Thinking (for Younger Children)

Interactive Learning and Cognition

Damasio, A. (1999). The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York. Harcourt, Inc.

Feuerstein, R. (1980). Instrumental Enrichment: An intervention Program for Cognitive Modifiability. Baltimore: University Park Press.?Phillips, D. G. (1995). Structures of Thinking. Dubuque, IA: Kendall Hunt

Hobson, P. (2004). The Cradle of Thought: Exploring the Origins of Thinking. New York. Oxford University Press.

Thelen, E. and Smith, L.B. (1994). A Dynamic Systems Approach To The Development of Cognition and Action. Cambridge, MA. The MIT Press.

Piaget, J. (1975/1985). The Equilibration of Cognitive Structures: The Central Problem of Intellectual Development. Chicago: Chicago University Press.

Piaget, J. (1958). Growth of logical thinking. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.

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Interactive Learning in the Classroom

Kuzulin, A., Gindis, B., Ageyev, V.S. & Miller, S.M. (2003). Vygotskyís Educational Theory in Cultural Context. Cambridge, MA. Cambridge University Press.

Meltzer, L. Ed. (2007). Executive Function in Education: From Theory to Practice.

Vygotsky, L.S. (1978). Mind In Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA. Harvard University Press.

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The Thinking Goes To School Approach

Furth, H. (1981). Piaget and Knowledge: Theoretical Foundations. Chicago, IL. The University of Chicago Press.

Furth, H.G. & Wachs, H. (1975). Thinking Goes To School: Piagetís Theory in Practice. New York: Oxford University Press.

Wachs, H. (2000). Visual-Spatial Thinking. In The Interdisciplinary Council on Developmental and Learning Disorders: Clinical Practice Guidelines (pp. 517-536). Bethesda, MD: ICDL Press.

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Interactive Learning through Relating and Communicating

Greenspan, S.I., DeGangi, G. & Wieder, S. (2001). The Functional Emotional Assessment Scale (FEAS): For Infancy and Early Childhood. Bethesda, MD: ICDL Press.

Greenspan, S.I. & Shanker, S.G. (2004). The First Idea: How Symbols, Language and Intelligence Evolved From our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press.

Greenspan, S.I. & Wieder, S. (2006). Engaging Autism: Using the Floortime Approach to Help Children Relate, Communicate and Think. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Lifelong Books.

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Engaging Thinking and Problem Solving With Your Child At Home

Blythe, S.G. (2008). What Babies and Children Really Need. Gloucestershire, U.K. Hawthorn Press.

Bowden, M. (1989). Nature For the Very Young: A Handbook of Indoor & Outdoor Activities. New York. John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Britz-Crecelius, H. (1972). Children at Play: Preparations for Life. Rochester, VT. Inner Traditions International.

Payne, K..B. (1996) Games Children Play: How Games and Sport Help Children Develop. Gloucestershire, U.K. Hawthorn Press.

Soule, A.B. (2008). The Creative Family: How to Encourage Imagination and Nurture Family Connections. Boston, MA. Trumpeter

Wiseman, A. (1973). Making Things: The Hand Book of Creative Discovery. Boston, MA. Little Brown and Co.

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Books to Engage Thinking (for Younger Children)

Berger, B.H. (1994). The Jewel Heart. New York. Philomel.

Berger, B.H. (1990) Gwinna. New York. Philomel.

Berger, B.H. (1996). When The Sun Rose. New York. Philomel Books.

Kilborne, S.S. (1994). Peach and Blue. New York. Alfred A. Knopf.

Willard, N. (1983). The Nightgown of the Sullen Moon. New York. Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Wolff, A. (1985). Only The Cat Saw. New York. Dodd, Mead & Company.

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Thinking and Problem Solving Games

Game Difficulty Visual Thinking Logical Thinking Sensorimotor Thinking
Battleship Medium X X  
Blokus Medium X X  
Concentration Low X    
Countdown Medium X X  
Deflexion High X X  
Froggie Boogie Low X    
Gobblet Medium X X  
Guess Who Low   X  
Hop Scotch High     X
Jacks High     X
Jenga Medium     X
Jump Rope Low     X
Mastermind Medium X X  
Othello Medium X X  
Pentago Medium X X  
Pick Up Sticks High     X
Prickly Pile-Up Medium     X
Rush Hour Medium X X  
Secret Squares Low X    
Set Medium X X  
Set Cubed High X X  
Shape by Shape Medium X X  
Tantrix High X X  
Triominos High X X  
Twister Medium     X

Technology

We recommend computer-based learning tools for some of our clients. The following links provide information about these tools.

Lexia Cross-Trainer

Symphony Learning Software