Sunday, October 31, 2010

Summary for Chapter Two

Summary of Chapter 2 – How Can I Teach the Skills They Need When Standardized Tests Require Only Facts? – Posted by Jacqueline Higlin

It is impossible to teach students higher level skills such as (Bloom’s) analysis and synthesis if they do not have lower level factual (Bloom’s) knowledge. Therefore, facts do need to be taught in the context of skills. This should begin at an early age – even before preschool.

Background knowledge is also necessary for comprehension of written materials (books or internet). It helps students understand what the author is saying. In addition to understanding what they read, students must also evaluate this information. Thus, critical thinking skills such as reasoning and problem solving are also interwoven with factual knowledge that has been stored in long-term memory.

Background knowledge in the form of vocabulary is also necessary if students are to understand a single idea or even understand the connection between two ideas (bridge logical gaps). Internet connections such as social networking sites and music sites as well as video games and TV do little to develop new vocabulary. Books, magazines, and newspapers are the best sources. Books are actually the best source for exposure to vocabulary and facts. These books need to be at the appropriate reading level. Librarians are excellent resources to help students find a perfect fit book.

Working memory is the part of the mind that combines, manipulates, and uses information. Putting these pieces together is called chunking. More information can be in the working memory if the information is chunked. However, chunking can only happen if there is factual knowledge in long term memory that applies. All this makes it easier to relate ideas thus comprehending more. Our background knowledge clarifies details that otherwise might be confusing.

Because comprehension depends on background knowledge, student who have greater exposure to the world around them come to school with an edge over students who are more underprivileged. This gap continues to widen. The teacher needs to try to level this playing field because as the author stated, “The rich get richer.”

Factual knowledge improves memory because there is a connection. We remember much better if something has meaning. The key to continued, easier learning is having this factual knowledge in long term memory. Factual knowledge makes cognitive processes work better.

As educators we ask ourselves what knowledge should be taught and what knowledge yields the greatest cognitive benefits. Students must learn the concepts that come up repeatedly, know information that helps them think critically, and use detailed knowledge to chunk information. To payoff, knowledge must be conceptualized. Facts need to be related, not lists of unconnected facts.

Quote - At the beginning of the chapter the author quoted Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."

Throughout the chapter, the author began to persuade the reader that Einstein was wrong. The author believes that knowledge is more important because it is a prerequisite for imagination.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Book Cover for Why Don't Students Like School?

I chose this photo as a new cover for the book Why Don't Students Like School? I thought that this simple picture represents the intent of the book; that is, to show us how the mind works. Once we know more about how our students' brains work; we will be better able to teach them.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Book cover

After reading the articles from earlier units, I'm getting the idea that students don't like school because it is not engaging, interesting and filled with technology. This picture looks like a classroom that is lacking techno gadgets, interesting bulletin boards, and engaging activities. Maybe the physical setting it part of why students don't like school, but I realize the activities that go on there play a huge part in whether or not students like school.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chapter 1 Summary- Bob Gill

Chapter 1 Summary: “Why Don’t Students Like School?” Brains are basically not designed for thinking unless the cognitive conditions are right. Students can take pleasure in mental effort only if they are successful. (No Success = No Like) People are naturally curious, with brains designed mainly to see and to move efficiently. Thinking is slow, effortful, uncertain and unreliable, contrary to moving and seeing. The “candle and box of tacks” riddle made me believe they could be right. Henry Ford said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few people engage in it.” Machines can easily beat people when it comes to math and science. A computer chess game can beat 99% of the population, but the most powerful computer can’t drive a truck or walk on a rocky shore. The technique we use to get through the day with our unreliable brains is using memory, which is more reliable than thinking. Most of the situations we face are ones that we have solved before. Our memory is full of strategies that tell us what to do (like an autopilot). When someone says “think outside the box”, they mean to turn off your autopilot and do something “out-of-the norm”. This can be very exhausting.
Even though thinking is slow and effortful, people still like to think. Content is important to arouse interest (crossword puzzles vs. Algebra) but interesting content can still be presented in a boring and dull way. There is pleasure in mental activity, but if the activity is too easy or too difficult, the person loses interest. If students frequently get work that is too difficult, they will start to dislike school. So should teachers make the work easier for these students, or is there a way to make thinking easier? The way to make thinking easier takes a combination of these things; information from the environment (our surroundings full of problems, things to see and things to hear), adequate space in working memory (our consciousness that holds stuff we are thinking about), and facts and procedures in long-term memory (a storehouse of factual information about the world).
These are some of the strategies a teacher can do to help students experience success and make school more enjoyable: Check your lesson plans so that they are not just a list of teacher explanations that lack challenge for the students. Create lesson plans that start with information you want your students to know at the end. Make sure your students have appropriate background knowledge to complete the activity. Slow the pace if needed to avoid memory overloads. Make the material relevant to students. Develop questions that arouse the student’s curiosity to find the answer. Don’t give all students the same amount of work because all students differ in ability. When you find something that works, do it again and again. Keep a diary of your successes.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Image that represents a concept in the book, "Why Don't Students Like School"

People enjoy mental activity under certain conditions, but if a student believes that an activity is to difficult or too easy, they are quick to check out, lose interest, and stop listening. This picture I found in Flickr brought a smile to my face. I've seen this look on a student's face before! I might as well been talking to a skeleton. Time to change the delivery method!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

New Book Cover for Why Don't Students Like School

I chose this picture for the book cover because it has eye appeal to the reader who is searching for a book to read about this topic. However, the author's current cover is boring to readers of any age. It seems old fashioned and certainly does not create interest or entice the reader to page through or read the book. Therefore, the cover creates NO personal interest in the book for me. I decided to read the book by title only.
I have not read the book yet, but I think perhaps the author may have chosen the cover to reflect his views on public education. His opinion must be that they are in need of change and not keeping up with the 21st century.
How to find the image: I first looked through many pages of Labeled for Reuse in both Flickr and Google Images, but did not see what appealed to me. This image was located by using Google. It "MAY BE SUBJECT TO COPYRIGHT". If I were to seriously consider using this image for profit, I would obtain writtten permission.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Welcome to Literature Circle Seventeen!

Your Super Summarizer schedule is as follows:

Section One--Due October 28, Robert Gill
Section Two--Due November 4, Jacqueline Higlin
Section Three--Due November 11, Donna Sigman
Section Four--Due November 18, Tammy Sund
Section Five--Due December 2, Missy Urbaniak
Section Six--Due December 9, Kristy Ward