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Friday, December 31, 2010

Put Thinking to the Test! A Great Book!

Here is a book that builds on comprehension strategies to move to thinking strategies for general test taking.  It is worth your while to take a look at the text.  It is pertinent to the assessment challenges we are facing.
                                                       Preview the book online!Preview the book online!

"Just as comprehension strategies have helped millions of students learn to read like proficient readers, they can also help students think like effective test-takers. The authors show how students can use background knowledge, mental images, synthesizing, monitoring, inferring, questioning, and determining of importance to understand the genre of tests and to think through the problems they are given. Instead of engaging in artificial and disconnected activities to cram for upcoming tests, students learn skills and strategies that will serve them throughout their school careers and beyond."

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What engages the brain?

Following is a post from ASCD.  It provides a base line for us to reflect on our classroom practices and understandings on brain research.  Enjoy:)

What is true thinking and how can a student's environment nurture this important brain process? Cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham discusses engaging the student brain in his book "Why Don't Students Like School?" Willingham's classroom strategies for brain-friendly student engagement are highlighted in a recent ASCD blog post. Read on

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Learning Styles

An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are


                within one or more cultural settings. 
During the 21st century our medical research lead us as a culture to focus on a new understanding of the brain - physiologically.  In other words, we now had to take a hard look at truths revealed through science about how learning occurs.  Howard Gardner's work was pivotal in this area when he identified 7 intelligences (8 now) and scrutinized how this information should impact our classrooms.  His perspective was based on a global view of cultures - rather than a national one.  This lead to the identification of several essential truths about learning.

Here is a summary of the U.S. implementation, taken from Education World.

"When asked how educators should implement the theory of multiple intelligences, Gardner says, '(I)t's very important that a teacher take individual differences among kids very seriously … The bottom line is a deep interest in children and how their minds are different from one another, and in helping them use their minds well.'
An awareness of multiple-intelligence theory has stimulated teachers to find more ways of helping all students in their classes. Some schools do this by adapting curriculum. In "Variations on a Theme: How Teachers Interpret MI Theory," (Educational Leadership, September 1997), Linda Campbell describes five approaches to curriculum change:
  • Lesson design. Some schools focus on lesson design. This might involve team teaching ("teachers focusing on their own intelligence strengths"), using all or several of the intelligences in their lessons, or asking student opinions about the best way to teach and learn certain topics.
  • Interdisciplinary units. Secondary schools often include interdisciplinary units.
  • Student projects. Students can learn to "initiate and manage complex projects" when they are creating student projects.
  • Assessments. Assessments are devised which allow students to show what they have learned. Sometimes this takes the form of allowing each student to devise the way he or she will be assessed, while meeting the teacher's criteria for quality.
  • Apprenticeships. Apprenticeships can allow students to "gain mastery of a valued skill gradually, with effort and discipline over time." Gardner feels that apprenticeships "…should take up about one-third of a student's schooling experience."
With an understanding of Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences, teachers, school administrators, and parents can better understand the learners in their midst. They can allow students to safely explore and learn in many ways, and they can help students direct their own learning. Adults can help students understand and appreciate their strengths, and identify real-world activities that will stimulate more learning."

Author: Anne Guigon

One of the challenges we need as educators to address is a balance of opportunities for all children to learnThis is often difficult for two reasons:
  1. we teach the way we learn or have been taught
  2. we don't know what type of intelligence we possess and don't recognize the students' learning styles as separate from ourselves.
Here is a link - Multiple Intelligences - that will allow you to take a quick online assessment that will identify your learning style.  I suggest you take a few minutes to log in and complete the survey and then reflect on the mode of learning you teach to in your classroom.

Could it be students fail because they can not process and comprehend the information/process we teach them due to their learning styles?

I a time of assessment, assessment, assessment, this is a question that needs to be asked.

For further information on Howard Gardner go to: Concept to Classroom