Thursday, December 23, 2010
Sunday, December 19, 2010
Since this book seemed aimed at the psychology of the mind and proficient learning, I intended to use some of the concepts I learned from this book, and introduce these concepts into my psychology class this spring. Since psychology is centered around the mind, brain and memory, it is important on my part to instruct this particular class with proficient "working" memory content. I hope to take the principles I learned in this book, to allow students to enjoy their short and long term cognitive skills.
The section suggests we use procedures to apply cognitive skills to teaching such as 1. space in our working memory 2. factual knowledge and 3. procedural knowledge. In addition, a teacher in their first five years are considered very good, after the 5 year period we become flat and as we progress up to the 20 yr mark we are no better than a 10 yr teacher in mindset.
To become stronger minded professionals we need to practice, practice, practice for improvement and obtain as much positive and constructive feedback as possible. The section suggests ways towards getting feedback
Step 1; Identify another teacher to work with
Step 2: tape yourself and watch tapes alone
Step 3: With your partner, watch tapes of other teachers (be supportive and concrete about what you have observed.
Step 4: With partner, watch and comment on each others topics
Step 5: Bring it back to the classroom and follow up.
To conclude the more we practice and rely on feedback we must in addition we must improve self-management.
1. Keep a teaching diary
2. Start a discussion group with fellow teachers
3. Observe other teachers
In turn we need to look at what aspects of our teaching work well for students, and what areas need improvement. Improvement requires more than just experience, it requires conscious effort and feedback.
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Getting teachers to utilize different or various teaching methods is the best way to accomplish this, more teachers need to get away from the "drill it" methods.
My thoughts on this book were that I enjoyed it. Seems like I had to hurry through it at times but it was an easy read. I found parts of it a bit repetitive but all in all it contained some great information on that should help out our students in the classroom. I have already recommended the book to one member of our staff.
Tuesday, December 14, 2010
I chose this book because after many years of teaching and many years of seeing many changes I thought I had a little idea of why students don’t like school. My ideas and the authors were miles apart – we are not surprised I know. My thought was students don’t like school because in the world around them. They are constantly surrounded by technology, video games, and a fast moving environment to keep their attention. Let’s see some of the ideas of Willingham.
I found the ideas of the author to be very interesting and they made a lot of sense. I have decided to summarize some of the parts of the book that I found to be of most interest to me. In chapter one, one of the facts that stood out to me was that the brain is not designed for thinking, it is designed to save you from having to think. Thinking is slow and unreliable, but it has been found that people enjoy mental work if they are successful. That reminds me of how we teach, to move a child forward we find where they are and challenge them appropriately with work that is not too hard and not to easy. It said that teachers should encourage students to think and to give them work that is not to difficult. If success is always just out of reach, school will not be a place they want to be. I also found the statement, “successful thinking relies on four factors: information from the environment, facts in long-term memory, procedures in long-term memory and the space in working memory. If any one of these factors is inadequate, thinking fails.”
As teachers, it seems that we are all about getting students to “think.”
I also was intrigued with the question, Is Drilling Worth It? Part of a comment made by Alfred North Whitehead is, “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” Through the use of practice we help make mental processes more automatic. To be smart about practice our author tells us the practice must be spread out over time and activities. We need to come up with many creative ways to practice skills and the basic skills will continue to be practiced while students work on more advanced skills.
Not only do students need to be considered in the question of practice, but also educators. According to Willingham, “Teaching, like any complex cognitive skill, must be practiced to be improved.” The program Willingham laid out is something I would be very interested in taking part in. His steps are: videotape teaching so it can be thought deeply about and so what happened can be remembered. Teachers need to see classroom dynamics because experts see the world differently than novices – they see deep structure not surface structure because they have deep experience in their field. To recognize dynamics of your classroom you must see others. Background knowledge is important for both students and teachers. For the teacher the background knowledge is not just subject matter knowledge, but knowledge of students and how they interact with you, each other, and with the material that is taught. We also learned that human intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work. Teachers need to show students through example that hard work does pay off.
“Thus, to ensure that your students follow you, you must keep them interested; to ensure their interest, you must anticipate their reactions, and to anticipate their reactions, you must know them.” “Know your students.”
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Part of the chapter deals in what makes an intelligent person is it genetics vs. experience. One test that they completed said genetics had everything to with intelligence and that a persons environment made very little change in a persons standing.
The chapter went on to explain how as educators we could help slow learners in the classroom:
1. Praise a students effort not their ability.
2. Tell them how hard work pays off.
3. Treat failure as a natural part of learning.
4. Don't take study skills for granted.
5. Catching up is the long term goal.
6. Show students that you have confidence in them.
Monday, November 29, 2010
(once the page loads, click on the play button to hear my Voki talk)
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Friday, November 12, 2010
Real Scientists, Mathematicians, and Historians are experts. None of these people thought like experts in the beginning, in truth, according to Willingham, no one thinks like a scientist, mathematician, or historian without a great deal of practice. Compared to novices, experts are much better suited to single out important details, produce solutions, and transfer their knowledge to similar domains. This includes the expert teacher who often seems to have eyes in the back of their head. Compared to the novice teacher the expert can quickly come up with
explanations of a concept and alternatives and they do it more quickly.
Experts do not have trouble seeing deeply into a situation, they see deeply and do not have to focus on the surface. Experts see the deep structure of a problem. That is why they can transfer from a former problem to a new problem and their judgements are sensible.
According to Willingham, experts save room in working memory through acquiring extensive, functional background knowledge, and by making mental procedures automatic. They do this by talking to themselves. Experts can draw implications from their self talk. Experts do not just narrate what they are doing, but they test their own understanding and talk through the implications of possible solutions.
Getting students to think like experts does take extensive practice. To be an expert one must put in the hours. Willingham thinks it is difficult to become an expert in any field in less then 10 years. Once you arrive a person must continue to practice to keep the status of an expert.
Implications for the Classroom
Experts are not just better thinkers in the field of their choice, but experts actually think in ways that are qualitatively different. After reading this, I know that as teachers we cannot realistically get our students to think like experts, but we can get them to understand what they are studying whether it is science, math, or history. We should try to draw a distinction between knowledge understanding and knowledge creation. Experts create and a realistic goal for our students. This would be knowledge comprehension according to Willingham. A student will not develop his own scientific theory, but he can develop an understanding of the existing theory.
The thing we must remember is as Ralph Waldo Emmerson put it, "Every artist was at first an amateur." That I believe would be true in all aspects of learning. We all have to be given an opportunity to start somewhere and to practice until an expert is born!
Chapter 7 How Should I Adjust My Teaching for Different Types of Learners?
The cognitive principle that guides this chapter is: "Children are more alike than different in terms of how they think or learn."
We know of course that students are different. One student's strength may help remedy a weakness and another idea is that teachers may take advantage of students' different way of learning and see it as how he learns best and how the material was taught. Making too many changes seems like a lot of work and is it really worth it? Cognitive abilities and styles are different in a few important ways. Abilities are how we deal with content and styles are how we prefer to think and learn. We think more ability is better than less ability, but one style is not considered better than the other.
The concept of visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning is not new to us as educators. It is said that each person has a preferred way to learn - visually, auditorially or kinesthetically. Not only are learning styles different, but students differ from one to the other. It is the hope of Willingham that educators will use the differences in students to improve instruction. One method is based on differences in cognition style - that is all well and good, but no one has described a set of styles for which there is good evidence. The second way to take advantage of differences among students according to Willingham is rooted in the differences in ability.
Willingham states that he is not saying that teachers should not differentiate instruction. Is is something we should do, but scientists can offer no help.
Learning styles theories don't help us much when applied to students, but Willingham says, they are helpful when applied to content.
We need to remember that all students have value and every child is unique, whether they are intelligent in the way of mental ability or they bring pleasure to those around them.
In conclusion, I am looking forward to reading the next chapter to see why it is never smart to tell a student that she's smart. Willingham says that doing so makes her less smart.
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
My second point is that sometimes students see some subjects or themes as a foreign item because they previously did not know anything about it and they cannot relate to their reading comprehension. Therefore, students will need more time to assimilate and think on what they are reading.
In my opinion, in order for us as teachers to come out with a theme that is meaningful and interesting to students we should find out more about their background and knowledge before we begin a new lesson.
Monday, November 8, 2010
Chapters four and five explain why students struggle understanding abstract ideas and how practice can help.
According the Willingham, the goal of education is to teach students how to transfer knowledge to the world outside the classroom. To do this, students must understand abstract ideas. However, the mind prefers concrete ideas, so students need many concrete examples. Learners look at new information and compare it to old information, and since most of what students know is concrete, concrete examples help students make sense of the abstract.
One way to make comparisons is through analogies. Analogies help students relate the unknown to the known. However, it's not the quantity of the comparisons that help students understand abstractions, it's the quality. The comparisons have to be familiar to the student, and most of what students know is concrete -- hence the need for concrete examples to understand abstract ideas. As Willingham said on page 92, "Every new idea must build on ideas that the student already knows."
In chapter four Willingham contrasted shallow knowledge with deep knowledge and surface structure of problems with deep structure. With shallow knowledge students have some understanding of the material but their understanding is limited. They may see the parts but not the whole, and they may be focusing only on the simple surface structure of a problem. Students with deep knowledge can apply their knowledge in many different contexts and see the whole problem and how that problem changes when one part is altered. Students with deep knowledge understand abstractions and transfer that knowledge to new problems because they recognize that analogy between different problems.
Willingham stressed the importance of emphasizing deep structure in problems. Teachers can do this through the types of assignments and assessments they create and through daily questioning in the classroom. However, Willingham also assured his readers, "Shallow knowledge is much better than no knowledge at all, and shallow knowledge is a natural step on the way to deeper knowledge."
In chapter five Willingham explained how a store of factual knowledge and regular practice help students learn by clearing up space in their working memories. Practice that is spaced out over time help mental processes become automatic so the working memory can focus on more complex processes. Practice also helps with transfer and long-term memory.
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Sunday, October 31, 2010
I chose this picture because it reflects the content of the book “WhyDon’t Students like School”.
I feel that sometimes students see teachers as a foreign item and may think that we are not connected to them . We are the weird thing!
I also think that students can have the same feeling about school and especially, some subjects which they don't have any knowledge about what so ever.
The school is the "Foreign Field"
Monday, October 25, 2010
Saturday, October 23, 2010
Thursday, October 21, 2010
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Section One--Due October 28, Connie Carson
Section Two--Due November 4, Maria Carmen King
Section Three--Due November 11, Nancy Mertens
Section Four--Due November 18, Patricia Parks
Section Five--Due December 2, Jeff Rieckman
Section Six--Due December 9, Clint Nelson