Wednesday, December 29, 2010
The cognitive principle: Children do differ in intelligence, but intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work. (pg. 170) As teachers and administrators in public schools, it is imperative to model good work ethic, show how to gain knowledge by sharing experiences, allow/plan for classroom experiences, have good focused classroom discussions, teach study skills early and be persistence in expecting good effort in the classroom and most importantly praise the effort.
We can be successful with our students by praising work ethic, effort in the learning, adding to discussions, sharing experiences and explaining that we learn by our own successes and failures.
In my resource room, after reading this section, I tried the more praising of effort than quality/quantity of work and the amount of good work achieved was impressive. My students and I discussed the idea of learning by our mistakes and using our successes to do more and to be better students of life. It really worked!! My students worked harder than I have seen in the past two years and when they did make mistakes I saw less pouting and more questioning and redoing and less complaining because of poor grades. At the same time, the older students have been caught by their general education teachers using better study skills, questioning more and asking for help more in the classroom. By praising their effort, their quality of work and effort have improved.
This section was powerful for me as a special education teacher. To see growth is important and to keep it is hard to do. With this section, it has changed my way of praising and I am seeing success with my tougher/older students.
I found this book to be a positive experience. It was good to be refreshed in good practical strategies that can be used with all students and in any grade level. I really enjoyed this book and Willingham’s ideas, strategies and the research to support them.
Monday, December 20, 2010
Section 1 – The cognitive principle is: People are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking. (pg.3)
Thinking is slow, effortful and uncertain, but despite this fact, we actually like to think. Teachers need to make the conditions “right” for the curiosity to thrive or the students will lose interest and quit thinking. The “right conditions” are a fine balance of how much mental work it will take to solve the problem. If it is too much or too little, we stop working on the problem.
Applying this knowledge in my classroom means that I need to be sure that the problems to be solved are attainable without great mental effort, but yet some. I need to respect my student’s cognitive limits and provide the background knowledge they will need in order to help solve problems. I also should keep a diary of how the lesson went in order to improve the next time I present it.
Section 2 – The cognitive principle is: Factual knowledge must precede skill. (pg. 25)
Trying to teach students skills such as analysis or synthesis in the absence of factual knowledge is impossible. (pg.25) One of the main points that stood out to me in this section was the amount of information you retain depends on what you already have, so if a person has more factual knowledge in long-term memory, it makes it easier to acquire still more factual knowledge. (pg.44)
Factual knowledge makes cognitive processes work better, so we must help children learn background knowledge. (pg. 47)
Applying this knowledge in my classroom means that I need to be sure that all of my students have the adequate background knowledge they need in order to succeed and apply the knowledge to higher levels of thinking. In order to give my students background knowledge, I need to expose them to new vocabulary and ideas through books, magazines, newspapers and real life experiences. I also need to help them connect all this information by chunking the information, so they remember it better.
Section 3 – The cognitive principle is: We understand new things in the context of things we already know, and most of what we know is concrete. (pg.88)
In order to understand new ideas, we need to relate them to old ideas (things we already know.) A useful way to do this is through analogies. Analogies help us to connect what we know to what we do not know.
Applying this is my class should include: providing examples and ask students to compare them; thus relating old ideas to new ideas. Also, I need to make deep knowledge the emphasis of lessons through my questions. By asking deeper questions, this sends a message to students that a deeper understanding is expected and just knowing the facts is not enough. At the same time, I need to make my expectations for deeper knowledge realistic.
Section 4 – The cognitive principle is: Cognition early in training is fundamentally different than cognition late in training. (pg. 127)
Basically this section says that an experts mind thinks differently than novices do. Experts not only have a lot of information in their memory, but it is organized differently from the information in a novice’s long-term memory. Experts don’t have trouble understanding abstract ideas, because they see the deep structure of problems. (pg. 133)
Another important point made in this chapter was that we can’t expect to be experts until we put in at least ten years in our field. (pg.139)
Applying this in the classroom is to expect our students to comprehend information but not to expect them to create it. Drawing a distinction between knowledge understanding and knowledge creation is…….experts create, novices understand. (pg. 141)
Section 5 – The cognitive principle: Children do differ in intelligence, but intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work. (pg. 170)
Americans view intelligence as a fixed attribute, whereas China and Japan view it as malleable. (pg. 170)
As teachers, we must model the belief that intelligence is malleable. We can do this by how we administer praise and in how we talk to students about their successes and failures.
I can apply this knowledge in my classroom by
· Praising effort, not ability
· Telling my students that hard work pays off
· Treating failure as a natural part of learning
· Teaching students how to study
· Being realistic about what it will take for my lower students to catch up
· Showing students that I have confidence in them
Section 6 – The cognitive principle: Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.
Willingham states that everything he has said about the students’ minds applies to ours as well. (pg.189) He also explains the difference between experience and practice. Experience means you are simply engaged in the activity and practice means you are trying to improve your performance. (pg.192) I like the way he defines these processes, it helps me to visualize what the difference is and that practice is consciously trying to improve, whereas experience is improving through years of teaching.
How do I apply this to myself:
Team up with another teacher to work with. Tape yourself and watch the tapes of other teachers and then, with your partner, reflect on these lessons noting what went well and what could be improved on.
Other suggestions were: keeping a diary, starting a discussion group and observing students in other areas of their life.
Willingham offers some great advice for teachers and how we can be more effective with our students. To sum up this book in one small paragraph is difficult, but I really like what Willingham says in the conclusion of the book. He states that, “Teaching is the act of persuasion.” (pg.208) Thus to ensure that my students follow me, I must keep them interested; to ensure their interest, I must anticipate their reactions; and to anticipate their reactions, I must know my students. It is all about knowing your students and I believe that we all know our students very well. (pg. 209)
Sunday, December 19, 2010
•Section 1 (Why Don’t Students Like School?): Children enter our classrooms as eager, curious students. Students want to learn. So when and why do students become bored and avoid thinking? According to Willingham, it is when the educator fails to make the content interesting. Willingham also stated that students stop thinking when the problem is too hard. Not every student is at the same level at the same time. This is why it so important to differentiate instruction within the classroom and allow students to problem solve in a way that works for them.
•Section 2 (How Can I Teach Students the Skills They Need When Standardized Tests Require Only Facts?): Willingham stated that "we must ensure that students acquire background knowledge parallel with practicing critical thinking skills" (p.29). It is through this background knowledge that students can apply information in order to learn new information and to problem solve. Without background knowledge, students struggle in school (p. 37). This is why we must expose children to a variety of real world experiences. We can utilize things like interactive maps, online videos, speeches, music, photos, etc. to allow underprivileged kids to take a virtual tour of things from around the world. We can use technology to help expose students to things that they would not have access to at home.
•Section 3 (Why Is It So Hard for Students to Understand Abstract Ideas): There are three things that we must do in order to move students to a deep knowledge of abstract concepts, we must focus on three main strategies: We need to give our students a variety of experiences and examples from which to explore and compare (p. 102); Pose a variety of questions both in oral discussion and assignments/activities (p. 103); Give students time and opportunity to practice. Deep knowledge and understanding takes time (p. 104).
•Section 4 (What’s the Secret to Getting Students to Think Like Real Scientists, Mathematicians, and Historians?): Can and should students be taught to think like experts? Do differences in learning styles and multiple intelligences really exist? We need to do what works with the student. We should still differentiate the type of teaching we do based on what works best to teach particular content. Differentiating our teaching also helps keep students from getting bored!
•Section 5 (How Can I Help Slow Learners?): Because some of our students are fast to learn new concepts and some students struggle with almost every new concept, Willingham's list of classroom implications was very important. I feel these suggestions are very important to how teachers interact with all students in their classrooms (both fast and slow learners).
•Section 6 (What About My Mind?): Willingham stated that "data show that teachers improve during their first five years in the field, as measured by student learning. After five years, however, the curve gets flat, and a teacher with twenty years of experience is (on average) no better or worse than a teacher with ten" (p. 192). As educators, we obviously need to put in effort (practice) to improve. Willingham stated that there is a difference between experience and practice. "Experience means you are simply engaged in the activity. Practice means you are trying to improve your performance" (p. 192).
For me, I feel that Chapter 9 was especially important because Willingham demonstrated how all of his strategies apply to me and my thinking/teaching? "Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved. Teaching is indeed a cognitive skill, and everything I said about students' minds applies to yours (p. 189). The goals that we have for our students should be the same goals that we, as adults, have in our own lives/jobs. Just like our students, we need to continuously work to improve. It is easy to 'do what we always have done.' In order to show improvement in our teaching and not become stagnant, we must work at it...just like our students.
Willingham's suggestions for improvement are ones that I have heard in other classes that I've taken on cognitively guided coaching. These classes have also focused on the importance of peer coaching and feedback. It is not easy to seek out feedback from peers. However, it is possibly the most important thing we can do to improve our teaching. The feedback is not meant to criticize, but to be supportive and constructive. In the last few years, I have had the opportunity to both receive and offer peer feedback. These experiences have helped me think about my teaching in ways that I don't get to on a regular day.
This book has been very interesting to read and has provided me with many useful strategies to use when working with my students. I thought that Willingham's final quote was most powerful: “Education makes better minds, and knowledge of the mind can make better education" (p. 213). If we all think like this, imagine what we can do!
Thursday, December 16, 2010
"our genetic inheritance does impact our intelligence, but it seems to do so mostly through environment". We find this very true in the Kindergarten classroom. When these kids come to class, it is very evident the student's experiences in specific areas. The way a child holds a pencil, handles a book, colors, cuts, manners, listening skills, behavior, and oral expression are all observed. Even though these kids come with varying degrees of expertise. These children's "intelligences can be changed".
As the book says, it would be nice if all children were equal in all areas. We know in reality, this does not happen. Especially at the early childhood level there are definite gaps of varying degrees at all developmental stages. The age range of early five years old to six year olds have been the age ranges in the classroom. They all have specific strengths and all have specific weaknesses in developmental areas. We know that the gap of these learners will not be closed between the strongest student and the weakest student, but we as teachers, and the students themselves work to close the gap.
In experiences with these gaps I have found something to be true in the last two years with my class. Some of my most "lower intelligent" people have been the most driven students that I have taught. As the book has talked about, some of the smarter children have been presented with challenging material. Since things have become so easy for these students, when presented with challenging material they shut down. They do not want to fail. With some "coaching" and praising for their efforts, they work through this. Some of the slower kids have had the drive, the want to suceed and do what they see their peers doing. They are not afraid to fail. With much praising and coaching they seem to blossom from seeds into flowers. They flourish through their many trials that make them successful.
Thursday, December 9, 2010
Willingham goes on to stress the importance of practice. He talks about driving and having plenty of experience driving but not practicing to improve his driving skills. Teachers need practice too. Data shows that teachers improve during their first five years and then are no better or worse after twenty years of experience than a teacher with ten years of experience.
Willingham than discusses a method for getting and giving feedback. He says to find another teacher you can work with and then tape yourself and watch the tapes by yourself. Then with your partner watch other teacher’s tapes and then watch each other’s tapes. Finally bring back to the classroom what you have learned. Willingham suggests keeping a diary, having a discussion group and even observing students in other settings.
In conclusion, Willingham reviewed the cognitive principles and stated the purpose of Why Don’t Students Like School? His final statement “Education makes better minds, and knowledge of the mind can make better education.”
Saturday, November 27, 2010
How Can I Help Slow Learners
This whole book has been a very interesting read, but this chapter was motivating because we all have students like this (slow learners). According to Daniel Willingham, “Americans view intelligence as a fixed attribute………but, in China, Japan, and other Eastern countries, intelligence is more often viewed as malleable. If students fail a test or don’t understand a concept, it’s not that they’re stupid-they just haven’t worked hard enough yet……..intelligence is under their control.” (pg. 169)
The cognitive principle that guides this chapter is:
“Children do differ in intelligence, but intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work.” (pg.170)
It is argued that intelligence comes from either genetics (all nature) or from experience (all nurture).
Most researchers seemed to have believed that the range of intelligence was set mostly by genetics,…but during the 1980’s they discovered that over the last half century IQ scores have shown quite substantial gains……huge increases in IQ scores. This was observed in dozens of countries, including the United States. (pg. 176) Upon being investigated, the studies showed that there is strong evidence that the environment has a powerful impact on intelligence, because geneticists agree that the gene pool could not change rapidly enough to account for the change in IQ. The effect is called the “Flynn Effect,” named after James Flynn, who first described it. (pg. 176-177)
Implications for the Classroom
How does this affect our students and our teaching? “If intelligence were all a matter of one’s genetic inheritance, then there wouldn’t be much point in trying to make kids smarter.” (pg. 179)
Daniel Willingham lists several things teachers can do to help our students: (pgs. 183-187)
1. Praise Effort, Not Ability – You want to encourage your students to think of their intelligence as under their control, and especially that they can develop their intelligence through hard work. Therefore, you should praise process, rather than ability.
2. Tell Them that Hard Work Pays Off – Praising process rather than ability sends the unspoken message that intelligence is under the student’s control.
3. Treat Failure as a Natural Part of Learning – Try to create a classroom atmosphere in which failure is neither embarrassing nor wholly negative. Failure means you’re about to learn something. Model this attitude for your students. When you fail, let them see you take a positive, learning attitude.
4. Don’t Take Study Skills for Granted – All students must learn new skills as homework becomes more demanding-skills of self-discipline, time management, and resourcefulness. Don’t take for granted that your slower students have these skills, even if they should have acquired them in previous grades.
5. Catching Up Is the Long-Term Goal- It is important to be realistic about what it will take for students to catch up. If your slower students know less than your brighter students, they can’t simply work at the same pace as the bright students; doing only that, they will continue to fall behind! It may be smart to set interim goals that are achievable and concrete.
6. Show Students that You Have Confidence in Them – Ask 10 people you know, Who was the most important teacher in your life?....most people will always respond with an emotional response such as, “She made me believe in myself…..or She taught me to love knowledge.” In addition, people always say that their important teacher set high standards and believed that the student could meet those standards.
Listed as a footnote at the end of the chapter, Daniel states, “This is not to say that students don’t have learning disabilities. Some do. My conclusions in this chapter do not apply to these students.” (pg. 187)
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Another part of this reading was how experts and novices differ. They both have different "mental toolboxes". Experts in training know as much as experts. The experts reasonings are easier to access because of all of the experiences they have in their "toolbox". Experts can be very abstract in their thinking to accomodate every experience they encounter. Novices focus on the surface feature and don't have as many experiences to draw from. An example of this in the book is when a child does something wrong a novice teacher may deal with this problem from the concrete way of what the behavior was. An expert teacher may draw from their prior experiences and there may be more to the problem than just the behavior.
How does this apply to the students
*practice things until they are automaticity
*thinks of assignments as functional for students instead of surface level
*students need to put in hours of experience in order to be experts in academic fields
*students need to transfer knowledge from their prior experiences to different related fields of study
*students have different learning styles but have the same abilities. (gave example of two different football players both having high abilities but way different playing styles)
*each child varies in cognitive learning styles (complex/concrete/abstract etc)
*treat students differently based on your experiences you have had with a student. Kids react differently (some you need to be very calm with, others react to very strict voices etc.)
*if students are lacking in one cognitive area, use a strength in another area to help them with their weak area.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Chapter 2: How Can I teach students the skills they need when standardized tests require only facts?
Concern about fact learning has intensified in the last ten years as the new emphasis on accountability in education has brought an increase in the use of standardized tests. (p. 26) It is also true (though less often appreciated) that trying to teach students skills such as analysis or synthesis in the absence of factual knowledge is impossible. (p. 26) I find these two quotes interesting as that is how I feel as an educator being pulled in two different directions when in fact it is one direction most teachers are trying to take their students and that is through the stages of higher levels of thinking by building a solid foundation so the student can explore/investigate more of the unknown independently.
The very process that teachers care about the most—critical thinking process such as reasoning and problem solving—are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory (not just found in the environment). (p.28) This factual knowledge can be built by real life experiences and opportunities before most students enter the classroom. When students have a foundation of knowledge before entering the classroom; school and learning as gaining more knowledge is easier for them.
All kids need real word experiences to build upon. Teachers can give experiences by reading books, watching videos, use of interactive web 2.0 tools with the computer. Trying to tie together separate pieces of information from the environment is called chunking.(p.34) I learned that background knowledge allows chunking, which makes more room in working memory, which makes it easier to relate ideas, and therefore to comprehend more material which enriches vocabulary, bridge gaps of the unknown and can help guide the interpretations of non-sense sentences.
People who can really help teachers and student are the school librarians; who are a vital part of schools as they can lead students to books at their level and in their interests. We need student to read on their level for enjoyment but also to increase their own reading vocabulary and skills, books too easy don’t increase vocabulary and books too hard are not understandable and become frustrating.
Trying to level the playing field is a teacher’s greatest challenge. There are no shortcuts and no alternatives to trying to increase the factual knowledge that the child has not picked up at home. (p.50) Knowledge can be learned incidentally; teachers use this opportunity all day long to add facts or to question more about what is begin taught. As well as, early intervention is the key to higher order learning; if a student is falling behind catch the student and begin an intervention to keep them on level if possible or they will always be behind their classmates.
As any teacher knows, just drilling would do far more harm by making students miserable and by encouraging the belief that school is a place of boredom and drudgery, not excitement and discovery. (p. 51)
Sunday, October 31, 2010
Debbie O'Doan, Lit Circle Facilitator
SUPER SUMMARY Pages 1-25
By Patricia Fisher (from group 14)
The author suggests that people do not enjoy thinking unless they feel they can solve the problem presented. If they feel the problem is too hard for them to solve, they become bored and will not work on it. Consequently students stop listening to teachers and disengage when they don’t understand the concept the teacher is encouraging them to think about. So a teacher’s job is to make thinking enjoyable.
According to Willingham (2009),“People are naturally curious, but we are not naturally good thinkers; unless the cognitive conditions are right, we will avoid thinking.” (p. 3). Willingham asserts that by combining adequate knowledge of a subject with a student’s innate curiosity, that student will find solving a problem in class to be an enjoyable experience and achieve the success necessary to engage in the learning process. As teachers, we need to make sure our students have the background information necessary to make problem solving enjoyable.
The author suggests that teachers engage the students’ interest in a subject by asking a question at the start of a lesson. If the students have adequate knowledge of a subject they will want to think about the question and try to answer it. This essential question should be something the students have an interest in since thinking is rearranging information already present in long-term memory and combining it with information from the environment in such a way that a problem can be solved.
This presents some challenges in the classroom. A problem cannot be too hard or too easy; it has to be just right. As teachers try new lesson plans they must keep a journal and note what works and what doesn’t to challenge students and achieve optimum engagement in learning. Since not all students are in the same place lessons must be tailored to each student’s ability. In order for a student to critically analyze information they need to have the facts necessary to accomplish the task.
Friday, October 22, 2010
This image reveals how the students feel about school from being bored, engaged to frustrated. Some students don't like school because it may be too challenging, they can't relate to the material and how it would apply in real life. Some students don't want to think and be challenged while others thrive on such experiences and take on the challenges.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Section One--Due October 28, Carol Birgen
Section Two--Due November 4, Carolyn Karlin-Storms
Section Three--Due November 11, Michelle Larson
Section Four--Due November 18, Melanie Morehart
Section Five--Due December 2, Amy Paulson
Section Six--Due December 9, Jolene Vavra