Why giving kids a roadmap to their brain can make learning easier — from edsurge.com by Megan Nellis

Excerpts:

Learning, Down to a Science
Metacognition. Neuroplasticity. Retrieval Practice. Amygdala. These aren’t the normal words you’d expect to hear in a 15-year-old rural South African’s vocabulary. Here, though, it’s common talk. And why shouldn’t it be? Over the years, we’ve found youth are innately hungry to learn about the inner workings of their mind—where, why and how learning, thinking and decision-making happens. So, we teach them cognitive science.

Over the next three years, we teach students about the software and hardware of the brain. From Carol Dweck’s online Brainology curriculum, they learn about growth mindset, memory and mnemonics, the neural infrastructure of the brain. They learn how stress impacts learning and about neuroplasticity—or how the brain learns. From David Eagleman and Dan Siegel, they learn about the changing landscape of the adolescent brain and how novelty, emotionality and peer relationships aid in learning.

Pulling from books such as Make It Stick and How We Learn, we pointedly teach students about the science behind retrieval practice, metacognition and other strategies. We expressly use them in our classes so students see and experience the direct impact, and we also dedicate a whole class in our program for students to practice applying these strategies toward their own academic learning from school.

 

 

 

Choice: The key to reaching every student — from flr.flglobal.org by Terra Graves

Excerpt:

Who doesn’t like to have a choice?  This seems like a no-brainer to me. Whenever teachers can give their students choices in their learning process, everyone wins. When we have options, we tend to have more ownership of that experience. It also provides us with a sense of control, which most students do not experience in school. In her article on facultyfocus.com, Elizabeth Betsy Lasley EdD writes, “When students are asked to interpret, construct, and demonstrate their concepts or ideas regarding specific course concepts from a selection of product or performance options, content retention, commitment, motivation, and creativity increase.” Flipped Learning environments are ripe for offering choices to students in how they consume content and how they express their learning outcomes. Giving students choice allows us to reach every student, every day because it honors their individuality. Cassie Shoemaker explains it simply in her article Let it go: Giving students choices, “When teachers give students choices as to how they will show what they have learned, students become better problems solvers, more creative, and more engaged.” Problem-solving: It’s not just for math! Students NEED to have opportunities to make decisions in school to learn to make decisions in life. If we continue to spoonfeed and micromanage our students, they won’t learn to figure things out on their own.  Teachers by nature tend to be control freaks (including me). However, when we allow our students to try/fail/try again, we support their growth and confidence.

 

 

 

You’re already harnessing the science of learning (you just don’t know it) — from edsurge.com by Pooja Agarwal

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Now, a decade later, I see the same clicker-like trend: tools like Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizizz and Plickers are wildly popular due to the increased student engagement and motivation they can provide. Meanwhile, these tech tools continue to incorporate powerful strategies for learning, which are discussed less often. Consider, for example, four of the most robust research-based strategies from the science of learning:

  1. Retrieval practice
  2. Spaced practice
  3. Interleaving
  4. Feedback

Sound familiar? It’s because approaches that encourage students to use what they know, revisit it over time, mix it up and learn about their own learning are core elements in many current edtech tools. Kahoot and Quizlet, for example, provide numerous retrieval formats, reminders, shuffle options and instant feedback. A century of scientific researchdemonstrates that these features don’t simply increase engagement—they also improve learning, higher order thinking and transfer of knowledge.

 

 


From DSC:
Pastors should ask this type of question as well: “What did we talk about the last time we met?” — then give the congregation a minute to write down what they can remember.


 

 

Also from Pooja Agarwal and RetrievalPractice.org

For teachers, here’s what we share in a minute or less about retrieval practice:

And when it comes to students, the first thing we share are Retrieval Warm Ups. These quick, fun questions engage students in class discussion and start a conversation about how retrieval is something we do every day. Try one of these with a teacher to start a conversation about retrieval practice, too!

 

 

What teaching that lifts all students could look like — from kqed.org by Kristina Rizga

An initial comment from DSC:
I recently ran across this article. Although it’s from 12/24/15, it has some really solid points and strategies in it. Definitely worth a read if you are a teacher or even a parent with school age kids.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

…his comments in class about the substance of her ideas, his feedback on her writing, the enthusiasm in his voice when he discussed her thinking. Over the course of a year, that proof solidified into a confidence that couldn’t be easily shaken anymore. It was that pride in her intellect that gave her the fortitude and resilience to cut through many racial stereotypes and negative myths as she made her way through high school and then Boston University.

For McKamey, the most important value driving her teaching and coaching is her conviction that being a good teacher means hearing, seeing, and succeeding with all students—regardless of how far a student is from the teacher’s preconceived notions of what it means to be ready to learn. When teachers are driven by a belief that all of their students can learn, they are able to respond to the complexity of their students’ needs and to adjust if something is not working for a particular individual or group of students.

 

 

The best way to improve teaching and reduce the achievement gaps, McKamey argues, is to allow teachers to act as school-based researchers and leaders, justifying classroom reforms based on the broad range of performance markers of their students: daily grades, the quality of student work and the rate of its production, engagement, effort, attendance, and student comments. That means planning units together and then spending a lot of time analyzing the iterative work the students produce. This process teaches educators to recognize that there are no standard individuals, and there are as many learning trajectories as there are people. 

 

 

 

Keeping Joy in the Classroom — from teachervision.com by Lisa Koplik
How do we keep joy in our classrooms — for both students and teachers?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Teaching today is nothing like it was in the past. Gone are the days of loose curriculum, infrequent observations by your principal, and learning cursive; we now have structured lessons, unannounced walkthroughs by both the principal and the superintendent, and a lack of downtime.

How do we keep joy in our classrooms — for the kids and also for us? Take a look at some tips for continuing to make teaching and learning fun.

4. Allow for Choice
As much as you can, give the kids choices. While this isn’t always possible, there are ways to promote student choice. If your school has an intervention time, or a “What I Need” (WIN) block, create a menu of student options. Recently, my WIN time menu has included Greek myths, multiplication practice, a persuasive essay piece, informational task cards, and multi-step word problems in math. These activities are considered Must-Do, and if they finish all Must-Dos, they can move on to optional choices. Another great way to allow for choice is by using Seesaw, a website that allows for students to represent their learning in a variety of ways. I have used Seesaw during assessments to allow students the choice of typing, voice recording, or writing by hand. They definitely enjoy filming themselves talking!

 

 

From DSC:
Seeing as all of us are now into lifelong learning, it’s to all of our benefits to make learning fun and enjoyable. In fact, I wish that were more a part of our formative assessments…not just how did our students score on this or that standardized test. The skills that are needed in the future are hard to cram into a standardized test; skills such as creativity, entrepreneurship, tenacity/grit, patience, teamwork and collaboration, being innovative, being able to quickly adapt to change, etc.

Sometimes the problem is that it takes too much time to provide a solid level of choice. I get that. But with some tools/services — as in the case where Lisa mentioned her use of Seesaw — there are some options that aren’t so labor-intensive for the teachers.

I have it that if someone has had an extended period of painful or bad learning experiences, chances are that they won’t want to “go back to school” — in whatever form that additional training/education might look like. But if they enjoyed their learning experiences, it becomes much easier for consistent, lifelong learning to get baked into our daily/weekly habits and into our lives.

 

 

 

 

 

As Pedagogy Changes, Learning Spaces Are Transforming Too — from thejournal.com by Dennis Pierce
The American architect Louis Sullivan coined the phrase “form follows function,” and this is true of classrooms as well.

Excerpt:

In Johnson’s classroom at H.D. Isenberg Elementary School in Salisbury, NC, students can choose from a variety of seating options. There are tables for students to collaborate in groups of four, as well as bar-style seating on taller stools and even a few couches where they can sit comfortably while they work or read independently. The school provided the tables, and Johnson supplied the rest of the furniture himself.

To teach his students about citizenship, Johnson operates his classroom like a community. “I call it the Johnsonville Learning Community,” he said.

His fourth- and fifth-grade students can earn currency by coming to class each day and successfully completing assignments, and they also hold various classroom jobs. “The students who keep the classroom clean are part of our janitorial service,” he explained. “The student who brings things to the office is our delivery service.” Students use part of their currency to pay “rent” each month, and that entitles them to sit where they want.

Johnson’s school system is a 1-to-1 district, and every student is given an iPad to take home. Much of his instruction is project-based, with students working in small groups on tasks using curriculum from sources such as Defined STEM. In one recent project, his students used 3D modeling software on their iPads to create a multi-touch book about the human body systems.

 

 

Johnson’s classroom is an example of how changes in both the design of the learning space and the teaching that takes place there have combined to making learning much more engaging and effective for students.

A growing body of research suggests that the design of a learning space can have a significant effect on student success. For instance, a study by researchers at the University of Salford in England found that classroom design can have a 25 percent impact, either positive or negative, on student achievement over the course of an academic year — with factors such as color, complexity, flexibility, lighting and student choice having the most influence.

 

 

From DSC:
I saw the word CHOICE (or some variant of it) mentioned several times in this article. That’s a helpful step in developing the kind of mindset that our students will need in the future. Making choices, thinking on their feet, being able to adapt and pivot, NOT looking to be spoon fed by anyone — because that’s likely not going to happen once they graduate.

 

 

 

 

 

When redesigning learning spaces, let the type of learning experiences you want to foster be your guide, Jakes advised. “Focus on experiences, not things,” he said. “This is not about furniture; it’s about the learning. What experiences do I want to create for students? Then, what design would support that?”

David Jakes

 

 

 

From DSC:
I appreciated hearing the perspectives from Bruce Dixon and Will Richardson this morning, as I listed to a webinar that they recently offered. A few key takeaways for me from that webinar — and with a document that they shared — were:

  • The world has fundamentally changed. (Bruce and Will also mentioned the new pace of change; i.e., that it’s much faster.)
  • We need to have more urgency about the need to reimagine school, not to try to improve the existing model.
  • “Because of the advent of the Web and the technologies we use to access it, learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”
  • There is a newfound capacity to take full control of one’s own learning; self-determined learning should be at the center of students’ and teachers’ work; co-constructed curriculum
  • And today, at a moment when learners of all ages have never had more agency over their own learning, schools must unlearn centuries old mindsets and practices and relearn them in ways that truly will serve every child living in the modern, connected world.
  • Will and Bruce believe that every educator — and district for that matter — should articulate their own “principles of learning”
  • Beliefs about how kids learn (powerfully and deeply) need to be articulated and consistently communicated and lived out
  • Everything we do as educators, administrators, etc. tells a story. What stories are we telling? (For example, what does the signage around your school building say? Is it about compliance? Is is about a love of learning? Wonder? What does the 20′ jumbo tron say about priorities? Etc.)
  • Bruce and Will covered a “story audit” and how to do one

 

“Learning is, in a phrase, leaving the (school) building.”

Richardson & Dixon

 

 

Also see:

 

 

 

These educators have decades worth of experience. They are pulse-checking their environments. They want to see students thrive both now and into the future. For these reasons, at least for me, their perspectives are highly worth reflecting upon.

 

 

 

From DSC:
Readers of this Learning Ecosystems blog will recognize the following graphic:

 

 

I have long believed that each of us needs to draw from the relevant streams of content that are constantly flowing by us — and also that we should be contributing content to those streams as well. Such content can come from blogs, websites, Twitter, LinkedIn, podcasts, YouTube channels, Google Alerts, periodicals, and via other means.

I’m a big fan of blogging and using RSS feeds along with feed aggregators such as Feedly. I also find that Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Alerts to be excellent means of tapping into — and contributing to — these streams of content. (See Jane Hart’s compilations to tap into other tools/means of learning as well.)

This perspective is echoed in the following article at the Harvard Business Review:

  • Help Employees Create Knowledge — Not Just Share It — from hbr.org by John Hagel III and John Seely Brown
    Excerpt:
    Without diminishing the value of knowledge sharing, we would suggest that the most valuable form of learning today is actually creating new knowledge. Organizations are increasingly being confronted with new and unexpected situations that go beyond the textbooks and operating manuals and require leaders to improvise on the spot, coming up with new approaches that haven’t been tried before. In the process, they develop new knowledge about what works and what doesn’t work in specific situations. We believe the old, “scalable efficiency” approach to knowledge needs to be replaced with a new, more nimble kind of “scalable learning.” To foster the latter, managers should understand five essential distinctions…

 

We need to be constantly challenging our assumptions and beliefs about what is required to achieve impact because, as the world changes, what used to work in the past may no longer work. 

— Hagel and Brown

 

So whether you are working or studying within the world of higher education, or whether you are in the corporate world, or working in a governmental office, or whether you are a student in K-12, you need to be drawing from — and contributing your voice/knowledge to — streams of content.

In fact, in my mind, that’s what Training/L&D Departments should shift their focus to, as employees are already self-motivated to build their own learning ecosystems. And in the world of higher education, that’s why I work to help students in my courses build their own online-based footprints, while encouraging them to draw from — contribute to — these streams of content. As more people are becoming freelancers and consultants, it makes even more sense to do this.

 

 

But when we recognize that the environment around us is rapidly changing, skills have a shorter and shorter half-life. While skills are still necessary for success, the focus should shift to cultivating the underlying capabilities that can accelerate learning so that new skills can be more rapidly acquired. These capabilities include curiosity, critical thinking, willingness to take risk, imagination, creativity, and social and emotional intelligence. If we can develop those learning capabilities, we should be able to rapidly evolve our skill sets in ways that keep us ahead of the game.

— Hagel and Brown

 

 

 

The woman who thinks time has rendered Western education obsolete — from unlimited.world with thanks to Maree Conway for her tweet on this

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

For years, Finland has loitered in the upper echelons of global literacy and numeracy tables, leading politicians from other Western nations to see its education system as a model of inspiration. Why, then, is the Finnish government submitting it to a radical overhaul?

Dr. Marjo Kyllonen is the Education Manager for Helsinki. Having devised the blueprint for the future of Finland’s school system, she is playing a pivotal role in driving these changes through. She is doing so because she sees the structure and aims of current education systems in the West as increasingly irrelevant and obsolete, relics of an Industrial Age that we started to leave behind a long time ago. She argues that we need to rethink our entire relationship to education to equip future generations with the tools they need to face the challenges to come –challenges such as climate collapse, automated workforces, urbanisation and social division. The key to her blueprint is an emphasis on collaborative, holistic, “phenomenon” teaching – a routine that is less beholden to traditional subject-based learning and instead teaches pupils to work together to deal with problems they will face in their everyday lives, including those they encounter online and in the digital world.

Other:

  • If schools were invented today, what would they be like?
  • Instead of studying different subjects in isolation, learning should be anchored to real-life phenomena, things that kids see around them, so they see the connection between what they’re learning and real life. The traditional way of teaching isolated subjects with a teacher as the sole oracle of knowledge is widening the gap between the lives kids are living today and what they do at school.
  • So we have to think, what skills will people need in 60 years? Life is not split into subjects, so why is learning? What is more crucial for future society is cross-disciplinary thinking; all the experts say that the big problems of tomorrow won’t be solved if you only have one approach.

 

From DSC:
Whether one agrees with Marjo or not, her assertions are very thought provoking.  I really enjoyed reading this piece.

 

 

Education Technology And Artificial Intelligence: How Education Chatbots [could] Revolutionize Personalized Learning — from parentherald.com by Kristine Walker

From DSC:
I inserted a [could] in the title, as I don’t think we’re there yet. That said, I don’t see chatbots, personal assistants, and the use of AI going away any time soon. This should be on our radars from here on out.  Chatbots could easily be assigned some heavy lifting duties within K-20 education as well as in the corporate world; but even then, we’ll still need excellent teachers, professors, and trainers/subject matter experts out there. I don’t see anyone being replaced at this point.

Excerpt:

As the equity gap in American education continues, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates has been urging educators, investors and tech companies to be more open in investing time and money in artificial intelligence-driven education technology programs. The reason? Gates believed that these AI-based EdTech platforms could personalize and revolutionize school learning experience while eliminating the equity gap.

 

Also see:

Are ‘Motivation Bots’ Part of the Future of Education? — from educationworld.com

 

motivation-bots-aug-2016

 

The Motivation, Revision and Announcement bots each perform respective functions that are intended to help students master exams.

The Motivation bot, for instance, “keeps students motivated with reminders, social support, and other means,” while the Revision bot “helps students to best understand ways to improve their work” and the Announcement bot “tells students how much studying they need to do based on the amount of time available.”

 

 

 

 

Somewhat related:

Deep Learning Is Still A No-Show In Gartner 2016 Hype Cycle For Emerging Technologies — from .forbes.com by Gil Press

Excerpt:

Machine learning is best defined as the transition from feeding the computer with programs containing specific instructions in the forms of step-by-step rules or algorithms to feeding the computer with algorithms that can “learn” from data and can make inferences “on their own.” The computer is “trained” by data which is labeled or classified based on previous outcomes, and its software algorithms “learn” how to predict the classification of new data that is not labeled or classified. For example, after a period of training in which the computer is presented with spam and non-spam email messages, a good machine learning program will successfully identify, (i.e., predict,) which email message is spam and which is not without human intervention. In addition to spam filtering, machine learning has been applied successfully to problems such as hand-writing recognition, machine translation, fraud detection, and product recommendations.

 

 

 

 

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