Tag Archives: S1

Medina’s 12 Brain Rules

Taken from his book Brain Rules.  All content is Copyright © 2008 by John Medina.  You may also want to check out http://www.brainrules.net [although at this current moment it is down for me]

 

Brain Rule #1: Exercise boosts brain power (Medina, 2008)

· Our brains were built for walking—12 miles a day!

· To improve your thinking skills, move.

· Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.

· Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer’s by 60 percent.

Brain Rule #2: The human brain evolved, too. (Medina, 2008)

· We don’t have one brain in our heads, we have three. We started with a “lizard brain” to keep us breathing, then added a brain like a cat’s, and then topped those with a thin layer of Jell-O known as the cortex—the third, and powerful, “human” brain.

· We took over the Earth by adapting to change itself, after we were forced from the trees to the savannah when climate swings disrupted our food supply.

· Going from four legs to two to walk on the savannah freed up energy to develop a complex brain.

· Symbolic reasoning is a uniquely human talent. It may have arisen from our need to understand one another’s intentions and motivations, allowing us to coordinate within a group.

Rule #3: Every brain is wired differently (Medina, 2008)

· What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like—it literally rewires it.

· The various regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people.

· No two people’s brains store the same information in the same way in the same place.

· We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which don’t show up on IQ tests.

Rule #4: People don’t pay attention to boring things. (Medina, 2008)

· The brain’s attentional “spotlight” can focus on only one thing at a time: no multitasking.

· We are better at seeing patters and abstracting the meaning of an event than we are at recording detail.

· Emotional arousal helps the brain learn.

· Audiences check out after 10 minutes, but you can keep grabbing them back by telling narratives or creating events rich in emotion

Rule #5: Repeat to remember. (Medina, 2008)

· The brain has many types of memory systems. One type follows four stages of processing: encoding, storing, retrieving and forgetting.

· Information coming into your brain is immediately split into fragments that are sent to different regions of the cortex for storage.

· Most of the events that predict whether something learned also will be remembered occur in the first few seconds of learning. The more elaborately we encode a memory during its initial moments, the stronger it will be.

· You can improve your chances of remembering something if you reproduce the environment in which you first put it into your brain.

Rule #6: Remember to repeat. (Medina, 2008)

· Most memories disappear within minutes, but those that survive the fragile period strengthen with time.

· Long-term memories are formed in a two-way conversation between the hippocampus and the cortex, until the hippocampus breaks the connection and the memory is fixed in the cortex—which can take years.

· Our brains give us only an approximate view of reality, because they mix new knowledge with past memories and store them together as one.

· The way to make long-term memory more reliable is to incorporate new information gradually and then repeat it in timed intervals.

Rule #7: Sleep well, think well. (Medina, 2008)

· The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.

· The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you are asleep—perhaps replaying what you learned that day.

· People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.

· Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.

Rule #8: Stressed brains don’t learn the same way. (Medina, 2008)

· Your body’s defense system—the release of adrenaline and cortisol—is built for an immediate response to a serious but passing danger; such as a saber-toothed tiger. Chronic stress, such as hostility at home, dangerously deregulates a system built only to deal with short-term responses.

· Under chronic stress, adrenaline creates scars in your blood vessels that can cause a heart attack or stroke, and cortisol damages the cells of the hippocampus, crippling your ability to learn and remember.

· Individually, the worst kind of stress is the feeling that you have no control over the problem—you are helpless.

· Emotional stress has huge impacts across society, on children’s ability to learn in school and on employees’ productivity at work.

Rule #9: Stimulate more of the senses at the same time. (Medina, 2008)

· We absorb information about an event through our senses, translate it into electrical signals (some for sight, others from sound, etc.) disperse those signals to separate parts of the brain, then reconstruct what happened, eventually perceiving the event as a whole.

· The brain seems to rely partly on past experience in deciding how to combine these signals, so two people can perceive the same event very differently.

· Our senses evolved to work together—vision influencing hearing, for example—which means that we learn best if we stimulate several senses at once.

· Smells have an unusual power to bring back memories, maybe because smell signals bypass the thalamus and head straight to their destinations, which include that supervisor of emotions known as the amygdala.

Rule #10: Vision trumps all other senses. (Medina, 2008)

· Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain’s resources.

· What we see is only what our brain tells us we see and it’s not 100 percent accurate.

· The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex process these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.

· We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.

Rule #11: Male and Female brains are different. (Medina, 2008)

· The X chromosome that males have one of and females have two of—though on acts as a backup—is a cognitive “hot spot”, carrying an unusually large percentage of genes involved in brain manufacture.

· Women are genetically more complex, because the active X chromosomes in their cells are a mix of Mom’s and Dad’s. Men’s X chromosomes all come from Mom, and their Y chromosome carries less than 100 genes, compared with about 1,500 for the X chromosome.

· Men’s and women’s brains are different structurally and biochemically—men have bigger amygdala and produce serotonin faster, for example—but we don’t know if those differences have significance.

· Men and women respond differently to acute stress: Women activate the left hemisphere’s amygdala and remember the emotional details. Men use the right amygdala and get the gist.

Rule #12: We are powerful natural explorers.  (Medina, 2008)

· Babies are the model of how we learn—not by passive reaction to the environment but by active testing through observation, hypothesis, experiment and conclusion.

· Specific parts of the brain allow this scientific approach. The right prefrontal cortex looks for errors in our hypothesis (“The saber-toothed tiger is not harmless.”), and an adjoining region tells us to change behavior (“Run!”).

· We can recognize and imitate behavior because of “mirror neurons” scattered across the brain.

· Some part of our adult brains stay as malleable as a baby’s, so we can create neurons and learn new things throughout our lives.

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Awards People Win in Education

Organization Award Year Winner
Association of Educational Publishers Top Nonfiction 2005 Littky, D. (2005).  The Big Picture:  Education is Everyone’s Business
Association of Educational Publishers Previous AEP Award Winners All Years Supporting English Language Learners In Math Class: A Multimedia Professional Learning Resource

Harold W. McGraw Jr Prize in Education All Years Dennis Littky (2003)
George Lucas Educational Foundation
(Edutopia)
Daring Dozen 2006 Zach Bjornson-Hooper
Jason Kamras
Carol Flexer
Jonathan Kozol
Mitchell Resnick
Brad Jupp
Barbara Rountree
Dennis Littky
Elliot Washor
Dean Kamen
Joy Hakim
Wendy Kopp
George Lucas Educational Foundation
(Edutopia)
Daring Dozen 2007 Richard G. Barniuk
Edward Burns
Ninive Clements Calegari
Mary Keller
Mark Leon
Claudette Morton
Luma Mufleh
John W. Rogers Jr.
Arthur Rolnick
Derrell Simpson
David Sobel
Laurie M. Tisch
George Lucas Educational Foundation
(Edutopia)
Daring Dozen 2008 Dennis Harper
Nidya Baez
Charles Best
Maxine Greene
Van Jones
Michelle Rhee
Edwin Gragert
Roger Weissberg
Sakhalin Finnie
Pablo Munoz
Barbara Morgan
Douglas Christensen
George Lucas Educational Foundation
(Edutopia)
Daring Dozen 2009  
Fast Company Fast 50 (Innovators) 2005
(for the prior year)
 
MacArthur Fellows    
National Medal of Science      
Council of Great City Schools / Pearson Education Curriculum Leadership Award    

Supporting English Language Learners In Math Class: A Multimedia Professional Learning Resource

John Mighton and his JUMP Program

also posted on my bportfolio

https://weisenfeldj.wordpress.com/2011/05/02/john-mighton-and-his-jump-program/

I’ve been doing some research lately on John Mighton and his JUMP Math program.

David Ornstein wrote an article on JUMP in the New York Times. Mighton, the founder of the program, has written a curriculum for grades 1-8 in which he has broken down key mathematics algorithms into steps that ensure more mastery and learning.

Mighton states "Before children can read, they must acquire an extraordinary number of visual, auditory and cognitive skills. But children can master a great deal of mathematics simply by counting on their fingers (something we have evolved to excel at)." For example, the JUMP method teaches multiplication by repeated addition on fingers. As students get proficient with this, they can learn division and are soon passing standardardized tests on fractions with ease.

Mighton argues that all children can succeed. This has been supported by some preliminary studies and by the success of the program in some schools that have been early adopters of JUMP. The results have shocked some teachers who are not used to giving out all A’s to their *whole* class. This has been observed in classes with children of diverse abilities and SES. Mighton makes particulary strong claims that his curriculum can help even those who have long given up on mathematics, i.e. adults.

The part that I thought particularly relevant to our EDU6132 discussions was the cognitive justification that Mighton makes for his methods. By using micro-steps to teach algorithms and processes and by not moving on until everyone in the class has successfully achieved competency, he argues that the cognitive overload is decreased which fosters more learning. This intense scaffolding of the procedures to be learned ensures student success, which increases confidence. By building upon a chain of successes, all students are able to achieve at higher levels.

For more information, i.e. free download of teacher workbooks, see http://www.jumpmath.org

References

Mighton, J. (2004). The myth of ability: Nurturing mathematical talent in every child. Walker & Company.

Ornstein, D. (2011, April 11). A Better Way to Teach Math. The New York Times. Retrieved online April 30, 2011 from

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/04/18/a-better-way-to-teach-math/

What Works Clearinghouse Has Issued A Quick Review

The U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciens has issued a Quick Review entitled “Achievement Effects of Elementary School Math Curricula on First and Second Graders.  Check it out here:

http://ies.ed.gov/ncee/wwc/publications/quickreviews/QRReport.aspx?QRId=170

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2010 Taxpayer Receipt


http://www.whitehouse.gov/files/taxreceipt/index.html


April 27 Journalizing

 

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Taking Sides

Issue 8:  Should School Discipline Policies Be Stricter and Include “Zero Tolerance” Provisions?

Yes
Public Agenda, from “Teaching Interrupted,”  Public Agenda.  (May 2004)

No
Russell Skiba, from “Zero Tolerance:  The Assumptions and the Facts,”  Center for Evaluation & Education Policy (Summer 2004)

“It’s almost unanimously accepted among teachers (97%) that a school neds a good discipline and behavior in order to flourish, and 78% of parents agree.”

“Lack of discipline in schools engenders other serious costs as well.  The findings in Teaching Interrupted reveal that problems with student discipline and behavior are driving substantial numbers of teachers out of the profession.”

[type summary of arguments here]

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I think the difficulty here will arise from the inability of one person or a limited number of people to carry out effective due process.  Emotions flare, time is tight, there are many observers, and so fairness is not often guaranteed.  For justice to be effective it needs to be swift.  Zero tolerance allows for sentencing to be quick and to not quibble over the level of involvement in the infraction of all parties.  I do not want to see a school bogged down in legal procedures, but I also do not the education process hindered by a relatively small percentage of those who need more intensive direction and attention.  As such I am probably leaning here towards the yes side.  There are a majority of students for which stricter policies are no issue.  There will be a few caught in the gray area that might have heretofore not been affected.  There are a few caught in the wrong that need to get a appropriate message.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Issue 15:  Does Participation in Sports Provide Positive Benefits to Youth?

Yes
Jordan D. Metzl, and
Carol Shookhoff, from “The Benefits of Youth Sports,”  eNotAlone (2002).

No
Josephson Institute of Ethics, from “What Are Your Children Learning?  the Impact of High School Sports on the Values and Ethics of High School Athletes",”  Survey of High School Athletes, (February 2007).

[type summary of arguments here]

[type summary of arguments here]

Personal Opinion (before reading):  Anyone who has taken EDU6120 from Dr. Scheuermann knows how he feels (very PRO!) about athletics for students.  Thus I must tread lightly here!  But first, let me give some context.  I myself did not participate in school sports, at any level.  I became interested in cycling first in college and enjoyed a few years of regular activity.  I suppose the PRO side of this argument will posit that competition and teamwork, victory and defeat are lessons that students need to learn in life as well as in school.  Anyone who has ever been the “best” at something knows the elation of that achievement and the arduous path it took to get there.  It takes singlemindedness.  It takes dedication.  However, sports without academics is a powerful temptation as is academics without some sort of physical exercise.  No truly great athlete neglects their mind.  No academic genius can do so without some physical exertion or knowledge of self.  My only question is:  do we need to be so competitive at all levels of school sports?  Is there some other physical activity that does not compete with academics for students’ time?  There was also a recent study

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Evans, D. (2008).  Taking sides:  Clashing views in teaching and educational practice.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

 


Teaching to Change the World

Part IV:  Teaching for the Long Haul

Chapter 12:  Teaching to Change the World:  A Profession and a Hopeful Struggle

Personal Opinion (before reading):  This is the last chapter of the book and thus I expect it will be rife with powerful reflection and motivational quotes.  Teachers should be in the game for the long haul, and should go from strength to strength, from success and growth, to recognition and acclaim.  That does not happen in all cases, and the defection rate for new teachers is still significant.  Looking forward to reading the chapter to see if there are some antidotes or preventatives suggested for burnout and frustration.

Personal Opinion (after reading):

I love the quote from Judy Smith (pg 507)

Hey, don’t get me wrong. There was a cost moving from high tech to high school.  In corporate America, luxuries such as fabulous holiday parties and access to the latest technology seduced me for a while.  I love the fast pace, salary, travel, and interesting problem solving.  I learned about business, professionalism, and working with others.  All valuable.  However, that cost, when evaluated in heart and soul dollars, changes.  In high tech, we did not take much time to examine values, biases, and different cultures.  High tech didn’t teach me about human suffering and triumph at the same time.  High tech didn’t expose me to our children and to their critical role in our future and our democracy, or offer intellectual stimulation on history, literacy and politics.  High tech didn’t teach me to be a better human being.  Teach high school does.

This chapter does a good job of highlighting some coping mechanisms a teacher might use to survive in what is admitted by all to be a pathologically dysfunctional career.

 

At the end of the chapter there is a sidebar excerpt from an essay by Herb Kohl.  Here’s another excerpt that spoke to me from Kohl (

 

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[Bonus]  Chapter 10:  The Community:  Engaging with Families and Neighborhoods.

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I am adding this chapter since I believe this is a key topic, and I was impressed in our class on Diversity (EDU 6133) that we were asked to “throw in the kitchen sink” to get at how we might engage families and neighborhoods.  I think some creativity here is needed, and I am looking for some ideas.

Personal Opinion (after reading): 

Oakes, J. and Lipton, M. (2008).  Teaching to change the world.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

April 20 Journalizing

 

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Taking Sides

Issue 17:  Is the Practice of Providing Accommodations to Children in Special Education a Good Idea?

Yes
MaryAnn Byrnes, from “Accommodations for Students with Disabilities:  Removing Barriers to Learning”.  National Association of Secondary School Principals Bulletin (2000)

No
James M. Kauffman,
Kathleen McGee, and
Michele Brigham, from “Enabling or Disabling?  Observations on Changes in Special Education,”  Phil Delta Kappan (April 2004)

Accommodations “can be used to create equal access, not excuses (p.317),” where an accommodation is defined as “an adjustment to an activity or setting that removes a barrier presented by a disability so a person can have access equal to that of a person without a disability (p.317).”

“It all comes down to deciding what is important.  Think about assignment and expectations.  Think about the student’s disability.  If the combination creates a barrier, the accommodation removes it.  The accommodation does not release a student from participating or demonstrating knowledge.  It allows the student to participate equitably and demonstrate knowledge.  And isn’t that what school is about (p.323)?”

“The emphasis in special education has shifted away from normalization, independence and competence.  The result has been students’ dependence on whatever special programs, modifications, and accommodations are possible, particularly in general education settings.  The goal seems to have become the appearance of normalization without the expectation of competence (p.324).”

“The full inclusion movement did have some desirable outcomes.  It helped overcome some of the unnecessary removal of students with disabilities from general education.  However, the movement also has had some unintended negative consequences.  One of these is that special education has come to be viewed in very negative terms to be seen as second-class and discriminatory systems that does more harm than good.  Rather than being seen as helpful, as a way of creating opportunity, special education is often portrayed as a means of shunting students into dead-end programs and killing opportunity. (p.327)”

Personal Opinion (before reading):  Since we used a book by Kauffman in our class EDSP6644 Exceptional Learners, I am curious why he is on the on the “No” side here.  I think the point that will probably come out in this debate is the real value of any type of special treatment of the special needs  student, when we desire to show that they are capable of much more than we initially might expect of them.  Thus, I could see where accommodations become a crutch and prevent a truly equitable classroom.  Can’t wait to read this one.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  I see now that Kauffman is not arguing against accommodations in principle, but he is arguing that this special ed system (like any system) can be abused. I think Byrnes side is a well-written summary of accommodations and the general process of IEP and 504.

Kauffman states:  “Like general education, special education must push students to become all they can be.  Special education must countenance neither the pretense of learning nor the avoidance of reasonable demands (p. 332).”

I think this is an good article to accompany the detracking chapter from Oakes & Lipton (2007).  I agree that special education cannot be a holding area for students of whome we have low expectations, or through inequities in the system have lost a sense of wonder and expectation themselves.

[BONUS]  Issue 14:  Does Homework Serve Useful Purposes?

Yes
Robert J. Marzano and
Debra J. Pickering, from “The Case for and against Homework”.  Educational Leadership (March 2007)

No
Diane W. Dunn, from “Homework Takes a Hit!”  Education World. (2005).

The authors quote Cooper, Robinson, and Patall (2006) “With only rare exceptions, the relationship between the amount of homework students do and their achievement outcomes was found to be positive and statistically significant.  Therefore, we think it would not be imprudent, based on the evidence in hand, to conclude that doing homework causes improved academic achievement.  (p. 48).”

Although teachers across the K-12 spectrum commonly assign homework, research has produced no clear-cut consensus on the benefits of homework at the early elementary grade levels (p. 264).

Although research has established that the overall viability of homework as a tool to enhance student achievement, for the most part the research does not provide recommendations that are specific enough to help busy practitioners.  (p. 266).

Article is an interview with John Buell, co-author with Etta Kralovec of The End of Homework:  How Homework Disrupts Families, Overburdens Children and Limits Learning  (Beacon Press, 2000).

“Buell:  We are not suggesting that students shouldn’t work hard or that there shouldn’t be rewards for hard work, but even work has its limits.  hard work is most effective when it is done in the context of appropriate support and assistance for that work. (pg 271).”

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I am personally of the opinion that we might want to turn the model on its head.  Students should view lecture and content based media presentations or do reading at home, and then the class should come in and do exercises and problem solving together.  I wonder how many days of a teacher finding that the next day a student hadn’t viewed the content from the previous night, before launching into the problems that were to be covered that day.  The crushing load of mindless homework without some real learning or group work going on just seems problematic.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  I remain convinced that homework is appropriate, that it should be taken seriously by the teacher, i.e. rich comments if not fully graded, and that it should complement the course and not be an afterthought in lesson planning.

Evans, D. (2008).  Taking sides:  Clashing views in teaching and educational practice.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Cooper, H., Robinson, J.C., & Patall, E.A. (2006).  Does homework improve academic achievement?  A synthesis of research, 1987-2003.  Review of Educational Research. 76(1). pp. 1-62

 

 


Teaching to Change the World

Chapter 7:  Classroom Management:  Caring, Respectful, and Democratic Relationships

Personal Opinion (before reading):  I think that if we hope to prepare students for full participation in a democratic society, we ought to practice democratic principles and processes in the classroom.  As far as caring goes, I do think that it is possible for those who understand a concept to help those who don’t yet understand.  I think that it is also good for a student to admire or recognize a good contribution from their fellow students, which is the basis of respect.

Personal Opinion (after reading):

[I didn’t have time to do this chapter justice, let me come back to it momentarily.]

Chapter 8:  Grouping, Tracking, and Categorical Programs:  Can Schools Teach All Students Well?

Personal Opinion (before reading):  It is essential that students learn that there are high standards and expectations of them at *every* level.  The minute you group or track without the express goal of bringing them up to the level of their peers or back on the cadence of the school, then you are shunting those students of on a siding and hoping they eventually go away (graduate).  Schools must raise all boats.  Schools must exercise creativity and resources to teach and keep students integrated.  The alternative is degrading of standards or degrading separation of students.  Neither of those alternatives are acceptable.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  I was pleased to find ample support in this chapter of my theory that keeping students together allows the struggling student to strive to meet a high bar, and allows the proficient students to get even better by helping out their colleagues.  The quotes that spoke most powerfully in the chapter were the ones that reminded me that we want a society where all can contribute, and all can succeed and get better.  By building a segregated classroom (grouping, tracking, specializing) how do we expect anything different in society. 

Key Quotes

Spear-Swerling and Sternberg (1996) “believe that LD students and others would be better served if teachers and other learning specialists were allowed to address students’ specific cognitive difficulties, such as in reading, and not become distracted by labels (p. 305).”  I like this quote since it drives home that I as mathematics/science teacher need to master my curriculum and then strive consistently to differentiate those lessons for a diverse classroom.  That is the key first and foremost, labels help but this is the key.

“Homogeneous grouping is not necessarily good for high achievers, either.  In fact, students can become destructively competitive among a very small population of the highest-achieving students—particularly in classrooms that stress individual achievement and grades (p. 315).”  I found this quote as powerful as the case study that was reported from Rockville Centre School District in 1990 where the achievement gap was narrowed dramatically by detracking reform.  I think I will need many examples like this to be armed for parents and others that are inclined to oppose detracking.

Speaking of resistance…”if resistance to end tracking is not caused by racial attitudes, it is indisputable that most resistance has racial consequences (p. 316).”  That is the ugly underbelly of tracking, that students on color and traditionally marginalized populations are disproportionately represented in the tracked classrooms.

And finally I have another idea that I am thinking about pursuing which is asking my principal, school board, superintendent if one teacher could teach pretty much the same kids through a sequence of classes from arithmetic to algebra so that they were all on a track to get to calculus in high school.  I need to know what an innovation like that might be called, but it occurs to me that it has some real advantages.

Oakes, J. and Lipton, M. (2008).  Teaching to change the world.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Spear-Swerling, L. & Sternberg, R.J. (1996)  Off track:  when poor readers become learning disabled.  Boulder, CO:  Westview Press.

 

April 06 Journalizing

A new quarter has begun and although I wasn’t ready in time for the first class, this is my catch-up journalizing for week 1.  Here’s what the syllabus says:

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Issue 1:  Is it Time for National Standards in Education?

Yes
Chester E. Finn Jr.,
Liam Julian,
Michael J. Perilli, from
”To Dream the Impossible Dream:  Four Approaches to National Standards and Tests for America’s Schools”.  The Thomas B. Fordham Institute (August 2006)

No
Lawrence Uzzell, from
”No Child Left Behind:  The Dangers of Centralized Education Policy”.  Cato Institute (May 31, 2005)

The authors make a claim that there are only really 4 approaches that can be taken once you assume that we need national standards.

1.  “The whole enchilada”  the fed controls all
2.  “If you build it they will come”  the fed sets the standards, and provides incentives.
3.  “Let’s all hold hands”  The states build the standards and tests together.
4.  “Sunshine and shame”  Current state standards and tests need to be comparable to the NAEP.

The author compares centrally-controlled education to a soviet command economy.  The author’s solution is to enable parents to exercise more choice in where their children attend school. 

Personal Opinion (before reading):  It is probably naïve to think this way, but I regard national standards as merely an attempt to optimize the planning of what must be done for every student in this whole country for 180 days each school year.  Likewise when it comes to testing, I start from the position that tests are unavoidable for most careers and we should be helping students with test-taking skills.  I have zero faith in other assessments that are not individual, time-based, and summative.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  The argument around unconstitutionality of Federal control of education has some pull on me.  Fundamentally I do not believe that Federal oversight will translate into better standards or more quality instruction in our schools.  I also am not opposed to NCLB especially as it is a driving function of getting data on student performance.  I think the Fed needs to set a high bar, and then enforce methods of measuring AYP or percent of students passing and failing and then empower parents to act on that information.  I think dollar-for-dollar states need to be independent of federal funding so as to drive accountability and efficiency.  That means the DOE probably needs to scale back its presence so that the states end their dependence on federal education dollars.

Issue 16:  Will Increased Use of Computer Technology and Games Be Beneficial to Students?

Yes
Shaffer, D., Squire, K. R., Halverson, R., & Gee, J. P. (2005). Video Games and The Future of Learning. (cover story). Phi Delta Kappan, 87(2), 105-111. Retrieved from EBSCOhost.

No
Lowell W. Monke, from “The Overdominance of Computers,” Educational Leadership (December 2005 / January 2006)

Argues that schools have to catch up with corporations, the government, and the military in recognizing and harnessing the tremendous educative power of video games. Role of video games in providing a glimpse into how we might create new and more powerful ways to learn in schools, communities, and workplaces; Use of video games because they can create new social and cultural worlds; Warning that video games are inherently simplifications of reality and can be based on violent and sometimes misogynistic themes; Question as to how to use the power of video games as a constructive force in schools, homes, and workplaces; Importance of viewing games as activities that are most powerful when they are personally meaningful, experiential, social, and epistemological all at the same time.

Skeptical of the quick and unexamined adoption of computers in education, Monke writes:

“But we don’t prepare children for an automobile-dependent society by finding ways for 10-year-olds to drive cars, or prepare people to use alcohol responsibly by teaching them how to drink when they are 6. My point is that preparation does not necessarily warrant early participation.”

Monke also fears that computers stunt the growth of moral development and the experience of authentic situations.  He writes: 

“Indeed, as advanced technology increasingly draws us toward a mechanical way of thinking and acting, it becomes crucial that schools help students develop their distinctly human capacities. What we need from schools is not balance in using high technology, but an effort to balance children’s machine-dominated lives.”

Monke describes how computer use should be phased in gradually and *after* elementary school and concludes thus:

“I am not suggesting that we indiscriminately throw computers out of classrooms. But I do believe it’s time to rethink the past decision to indiscriminately throw them in. The result of that rethinking would be, I hope, some much-needed technological modesty, both in school and eventually in society in general. By compensating for the dominance of technology in students’ everyday lives, schools might help restore the balance we need to create a more humane society.”

Personal Opinion (before reading):  As a firm believer in the power of technology.  I was mostly interested in what the CON side would have to say to this question.  I was also interested in seeing how much evidence the PRO side could bring to bear on proving the point in question.

Personal Opinion (after reading):  It has been very interesting researching some other publications by Gee and Shaffer.  Their focus is primarily on what they call Epistemic Games, i.e. games that teach thinking and reasoning, not just faster hand-eye coordination.  Of course, neither side would dispute that there are games that are wholly inappropriate for the classroom due to graphic violence or adult themes.  However, Epistemic games on the other hand have a component of realism and use simulated situations that build a players confidence and knowledge which then transfers to other subjects.  And most of all, play as a route to learning, is a powerful thing, I don’t think Monke would disagree with that, he would just caution against using computers all day instead of kicking a soccer ball around in the sun.

For further reading see “Epistemic Frames for Epistemic Games” by Shaffer, and then see their web site for examples of games that they have been testing on students for at least the past 5 years.

I also would like to refer the reader to a New York Times article “Learning by Playing Video Games in the Classroom” which is actually more than just playing games, but students actually learn by designing and building the games first.  That I think is incredibly powerful and would like to see the results for their students.

Evans, D. (2008).  Taking sides:  Clashing views in teaching and educational practice.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

 


 

Teaching to Change the World

Note:  see the web resources for students on this book (chapter by chapter) here

Part I:  The Foundations of American Schooling

Chapter 1:  The American Schooling Dilemma:  Diversity, Inequality, and Democratic Values

Personal Observations:  I am looking forward to following Judy Smith through the book as she has a similar background,i.e. having switched to teaching from a high tech job.

Chapter 3:  Philosophy and Politics:  The Struggle for the American Curriculum

Personal Observations: 

 

Oakes, J. and Lipton, M. (2008).  Teaching to change the world.  (3rd ed.).  New York, NY:  McGraw Hill.

Textbook for Spring Quarter: Brain Rules by John Medina

Taking some time here before the quarter begins to get ahead on some reading.  As I was doing so I found the web site for the book which has some great video summarizing some of the chapters.  Check it out!  Here’s the video snippet for the chapter on Stress.

Stress from Pear Press on Vimeo.

Some Final Items for EDU6133

Here are links to my Sample Lesson Plan Packet, and the Powerpoint for my Presentation in fulfillment of classroom requirements for EDU6133.

Showcase Lesson Packet (Lesson Justification, Lesson Plan, Unit Plan, Classroom and Student Characteristics)

Class Presentation (120 MB PowerPoint, has the movie in it)

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