Saturday, February 5, 2011

Final Summary

From the very beginning of the book, Mr. Willingham discusses interesting points such as the fact that we are naturally curious, but are not naturally good thinkers. I think that although I thought about how to move information from working memory to long term memory, and ways to help our student's make those connections easier, etc... the chapter that had the biggest impact on me was Chapter 8. I teach five year olds, and have several students who already come IN to the classroom with the perception of 'fixed intelligence'. They are so concerned with "getting it wrong". Some are afraid to even TRY to answer any questions, due to this fear. We work very hard to correct this, and get our students to view intelligence as being malleable. I'll admit that this is not an easy task!
Another point in this chapter that stood out to me was when he spoke about the classic experiment with the patterns, and how the comments that students were given could shape how they viewed intelligence. We all, as adults...parents, teachers, coaches, etc. have to be careful HOW we praise our kids. Many times we think we are doing them a favor by telling them that they did a good job, they are "smart". The reality is, that our good intentions may well have the opposite effect: that the next subject/skill they do not do well on, it means they are "dumb" in that area. Sometimes we don't realize how just a small change in the way we give praise "Good job! You must have worked hard!" can give such a different impression for children. We try very hard to make all of our children in Begindergarten feel that they are successful and intelligent. This chapter was a good reminder of the effects of praise, and can be a great one to share with others too!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

SECTION 4 Summary Post

I am reposting the CORRECT please just ignore my previous post! I apologize for the misunderstanding!!

Section 4 covers chapters 6 and 7. This section was interesting in the fact that he does not put the value of learning styles, and the seven levels of intelligence as was focused on when I was in school!!
In Chapter 6, the secrets to getting students to think like experts is discussed. The information that expert have is due to extensive training. The information is also organized differently in their brains than it is in our student's brains. Although they have a lot of background knowledge, it takes more than just knowledge to become an expert; it also takes a lot of practice. It takes the ability to be able to access that knowledge with accurately and to do it quickly. He also points out that even when an expert makes a mistake, and his/her answer is wrong, the guess is more apt to be a really good guess - it makes sense. Willingham says an expert organize information in their brains differently; they think abstractly, and can see the relationships between problems when they solve them. They save room in working memory through functional memory and automaticity. Automaticity is achieved through practice, practice, practice... and that is the way to achieve expertise. Experts CREATE; our students are not experts, so we should not expect them to think as if they were. However, while they may not be able to create a scientific theory, they should still learn about existing theories and develop and understanding of them. I loved the way the chapter ended with the Ralph Waldo Emerson quote: Every artist was first an amatuer."
In Chapter 7, Mr. Willingham addresses the isuue of different types of learners. He stresses the difference between cognitive STYLE and cognitive ABILITY. Cognitive style is the tendency think a certain way, not a measurement of how well we think. Willingham states that although most people believe in the theory of visual/auditory/kinesthetic preferences in learning, but most of the time in school, students need to remember the MEANING of things, not how they look or sound. He states: "Meaning has a life of its own, independent of sensory details." In fact, he says that one reason we so willingly believe this theory is something called "confirmation bias"...once we believe something, we interpret situations as being consistent with what we already believe ( kids do DIFFER in their visual and auditory memories).
Mr. Willingham defines cognitive ability as the success in certain types of thought. During this section he discussed Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences. He questions whether they should be labeled "intelligences" or "abilities/talents".
Willingham says that there is no good evidence to support the idea that if instuction is matched to the child's preferred cognitive style, it will make learning easier. He also claims that there is no good evidence to support the idea that if a student is struggling with a skill, the student can use a cognitive strength to make up for a cognitive weakness.
He DOES say that learning styles are useful when they are applied to content. Changing our lessons/style helps keep children interested and engaged in learning.