kutaibahGreatly informative and very convincing. Practice is truly a key to mastering anything, in this respect. I would recommend it to all of my readers, and so should others too. I will include some of the facts presented here in my future blog posts to drive the point across to my readers. This is a good proof for the point I poorly laid out in this post: http://fun-in-learning.blogspot.com/2011/01/recommendation-for-math-retention.html
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BRAIN EXERCISE: A RESEARCH ANALYSIS OF PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM AFFECTING LEARNERS’ BRAINS AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE RETENTION <br />Prepared for:<br />Shelly DeJean, Principal<br />Douglas Intermediate School<br />615 Hamilton St.<br />Douglas, WY 82633<br />and<br />Meg Wood, Instructor<br />English 4010, Technical Writing in the Professions<br />University of Wyoming<br />Prepared by:<br />Jessica Hollon<br />English 4010, Technical Writing in the Professions<br />University of Wyoming<br />November 22, 2009<br />TABLE OF CONTENTS<br />TABLE OF FIGURESiii<br />EXECUTIVE SUMMARYiv<br />INTRODUCTION1<br />Background and Problem1<br />Subject and Purpose1<br />Limitations2<br />Scope and Criteria: Research Objectives2<br />METHODS3<br />RESULTS5<br />CONCLUSION7<br />RECOMMENDATIONS8<br />WORKS CITED9<br />APPENDIX 1: Survey10<br />TABLE OF FIGURES<br />Figure 1: Average Daily Practice Time in Reading and Math6<br />EXECUTIVE SUMMARY<br />In recent years brain based learning has become a research topic in the area of education. As this topic came to the forefront of educational research, the issue of practice time given within the work day in classrooms has been continuously discussed as possibly improving students’ learning and knowledge retention. At Douglas Intermediate School, scheduling time for students to simply have guided practice of reading and math skills has been hard to do. With so many topics to cover, some teachers feel as though there is no time for students to explore and practice concepts without being immediately graded on these topics. This research set out to find a way for teachers to feel less trepidation about scheduling this time into their day. The research addressed four questions: <br />How does practice affect the brain? <br />On average, how much practice time do teachers in the levels of third through fifth grade at Douglas Intermediate School give for daily practice (that is ungraded) in reading and math?<br />What programs and/or curriculums are available at Douglas Intermediate School to aid in students’ guided practice?<br />How might this new information affect how teachers structure their students’ day?<br />Both primary and secondary research was used to answer the above questions. A survey, a form of primary research, was given to all teachers at Douglas Intermediate School to access how they use guided practice in their classrooms. Secondary research included statistics on student knowledge retention at these grade levels, current research on brain based learning, as well as research on classroom best practices. <br />This research study shows less than half of the teachers at Douglas Intermediate School use ungraded practice to help student grasp concepts. Also present in the research is the information that this type of practice helps the brain be more successful in learning, especially in the areas of reading and math. Based on these findings, I recommend that Douglas Intermediate School do the follow:<br />Recognize the positive aspect ungraded practice of concepts can bring to the classroom<br />Utilize the curriculums and programs that the school already has in order to facilitate student practice of concepts<br />Involve teachers in workshops and trainings for the use of these curriculums<br />Follow up on teachers’ daily use of such programs <br />BRAIN EXERCISE: A RESEARCH ANALYSIS OF PRACTICE IN THE CLASSROOM AFFECTING LEARNERS’ BRAINS AND THEIR KNOWLEDGE RETENTION <br />INTRODUCTION<br />BACKGROUND AND PROBLEM<br />In recent years, what has come to be called brain based learning has been a major topic of discussion in education. The study of brain based learning is essentially how different classroom and teaching techniques can affect students’ brains. Much research on the effects of different techniques on students’ brains has lead to a lot of discussion on implementing different types of guided practice within classrooms. Research has already shown that, “Practice builds neurological connections and thickens the insulating myelin sheath necessary for fluency, chunking of information, brain efficiency, and deep learning” (Hill, 2006). However, teachers at Douglas Intermediate School, as well as other schools, find it hard to justify giving time for students to practice skills when there is pressure to cover so many topics in a short amount of time. <br />SUBJECT AND PURPOSE<br />My research shows how practice within a classroom can affect a student’s brain, and also shows how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School are already using practice as well as what curriculums are available for the teachers to facilitate this practice within their own classrooms. All research was done in the area of reading where, “In all grades, 1-12, research shows independent reading practice is important to build vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, writing, and higher-order thinking skills” (Anderson, 1988) and in the area of math because, “Research shows that to be effective in building a math skill, practice must be coupled with instruction to assure students are successful at a high level” (Topping, 2000). <br />LIMITATIONS<br />Due to the feasible scope of this research, other schools outside of Douglas Intermediate School in Douglas, Wyoming have not been part of this research. In limiting the research to only Douglas Intermediate School, the only age group focused on in this research is grades three through five. <br />SCOPE AND RESEARCH OBJECTIVES<br />Through this research there is an understanding of how practice affects students’ learning and knowledge retention in the areas of reading and math. There is also documentation of how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School already are and can in the future effectively use practice within their own classrooms. Through this research the following questions are answered.<br />How can practice of concepts affect a person’s brain?<br />How much time do teachers, on average, at Douglas Intermediate School currently given for ungraded student practice of reading and math concepts?<br />What available curriculums and/or programs are there for use in guided practice?<br />How might teachers restructure their days to allow for guided practice within their classrooms?<br />METHODS<br />Researching what effects practice has on a human’s brain and what available curriculums there are to support this was a form of secondary research. This research consisted of consulting past and recent research on the topic of brain based teaching, the formation of the human brain, and best teaching practices within a classroom setting. It also included researching curriculums produced by educational material production companies. <br />By surveying teachers at Douglas Intermediate School in a form of primary research I found how they currently use practice. This survey also addressed what curriculum and programs they use as aids during this time and how this time is structured within their specific classrooms. The type of survey used was an open-ended survey so that teachers could respond to and add their own feelings, thoughts, and personal information about their classrooms.<br />PRIMARY RESEARCH<br />By using the opened ended survey (see Appendix A) I was able to gage the amount of time each teacher gave for ungraded practice. My findings were that less than half of the teachers at Douglas Intermediate School used time such as this within their classrooms.<br />I also learned that there is a large amount of available tools for the teachers at Douglas Intermediate School to use that claim to aid in this brain based practice in the third through fifth grade age group. I found the following programs were available for teacher use:<br />Accelerated Reader<br />Read Naturally<br />Reading Plus<br />Tune in to Reading<br />SSR time<br />Mountain Language<br />Accelerated Math<br />Fast Math<br />Mountain Math<br />SECONDARY RESEARCH<br />By researching the above programs I found that most are computer based, and each claims to aid in the knowledge retention of some aspect of reading or math. The programs Read Naturally, Reading Plus, and Tune Into Reading all work on fluency within a students’ reading. Accelerated Reading is a way to track student reading progress as well as work on stumdets’ comprehension. Some teachers also reported giving a block of SSR (individual student reading time) each day that they do not grade where students can read, and practice by repetition of reading and getting into a reading habit. <br />Both the Mountain Language and Mountain Math are used differently by some teachers at Douglas Intermediate School. In some classrooms it is paired with instruction and done individually and not graded, but used as reinforcement, review, and preview of concepts taught in class. These programs are not computer based, but both paper pencil tasks. Fast Math is a computerized math program that claims to teach math facts for memorization in addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. <br />RESULTS<br />Objective 1: How can practice of concepts affect a person’s brain?<br />The human brain is a complex organ. It has many functions in each person’s everyday life. Research shows that by exercising the brain, the functionality of the brain can be increased. The myelin sheath in the brain can be thickened and much like a weight lifter can bulk up by lifting more weight, students can also bulk up their brain power by practicing concepts. Specific concepts practiced in a no pressure time in the classroom can result in better retention of these concepts. <br />Objective 2: How much average daily time do teachers at Douglas Intermediate School currently given for ungraded student practice of reading and math concepts?<br />After analyzing the survey given to teachers at Douglas Intermediate School, it was found that teachers give differing amounts of this daily practice time. Interestingly, for each teacher, math practice time was always less then reading practice time. (See graph below) <br />Objective 3: What available curriculums and/or programs are there for use in guided practice?<br />According to staff at Douglas Intermediate School the follow programs are available for their use:<br />
Reading Plus<br />Tune in to Reading<br />SSR time<br />Mountain Language<br />Accelerated Math<br />Fast Math<br />Mountain Math<br /> Objective 4: How might teachers restructure their days to allow for guided practice within their classrooms?<br />Teachers who utilize this practice time reported that they use student groupings, and rotate through groups one group doing some type of practice. Other teachers report using a center like time within their classroom that rotated once each day, so everyone is at each center of practice once a week and the teachers floats between the centers. Also reported was that some teachers use before and after school time for student to use the computerized practice programs, because students can independently use these programs.<br />CONCLUSION<br />By taking a critical look at structuring of time at Douglas Intermediate School it has become clear, that only a handful of teachers use this time to its full advantage. Some teachers are thinking outside of the box in order to find time for students to use these programs. <br />The amount of programs already available at Douglas Intermediate School that have previously been purchased for student use, are not being used by many teachers and students. Since research shows that this time is important to students and student learning, the use of these programs or lack of use of these programs is concerning. <br />RECOMMENDATIONS<br />In light of this research I recommend that the principal and staff at Douglas Intermediate School do the following:<br />Recognize the positive aspect ungraded practice of concepts can bring to the classroom<br />Utilize the curriculums and programs that the school already has in order to facilitate student practice of concepts<br />Involve teachers in workshops and training for the use of these curriculums<br />Follow up on teachers’ daily use of such programs <br />Once these steps are followed, hopefully the use of available programs will increase students’ retention of facts and students’ success at Douglas Intermediate School.<br />WORKS CITED<br />Anderson, R. C. “Growth in Reading and How Children Spend Their Time Outside of School.” Reading Research Quarterly, 23.3 (1988): 285-303.<br />Hill, N. M. Brain Changes in the Development of Expertise. New York: Cambridge <br />University Press, 2006.<br />Hollon, J. L. Survey of How Guided Practice is Currently Used in The Areas of Reading <br />and Math. 26 October 2009.<br />Topping, K. J. “Teacher Effectiveness and Computer Assessment of Reading and Math: <br />Relating Value-Added Learning Information Systems Data.” School Effectiveness <br />and School Improvement, 11.3 (2000): 305-337. <br /> APPENDIX A<br />Survey of How Guided Practice is Currently Used <br />In the Areas of Reading and Math<br />Prepared by Jessica Hollon<br />This survey’s purpose is to gather data that will help determine how teachers at Douglas Intermediate School are currently using practice time that is ungraded for reading and math. It is also gathering data on and what curriculums and programs are currently being utilized.<br />What reading curriculum(s) are you currently using in your classroom?<br />What is the average block of time you teach reading each day?<br />What amount of this time (on average) is used for students to explore and practice their reading skills?<br />Is this reading practice independent or guided?<br />Describe how this reading practice time is structured in your classroom.<br />Is this reading practice graded?<br />What Math curriculum(s) are you currently using within your classroom?<br />How much time on average do you spend teaching math each day?<br />What amount of this time (on average) is used for students to explore and practice their math skills?<br />Is this math practice independent or guided?<br />Describe how this math practice time is structured in your classroom.<br />Is this practice graded?<br />If you could use other types of programs or curriculums for reading and math what would you use and why?<br />
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