The book is nine principles that “are so fundamental to the mind’s operation that they do not change as circumstances change”.<br />Applicable in the lab and the classroom.<br />Other criteria for inclusion:<br />Using versus ignoring a principle had to have a big impact on student learning.<br />There had to be an enormous amount of data, not just a few studies to support the principle.<br />The principle had to suggest classroom applications that teachers might not already know.<br />Willingham would have liked to include a round number like 10, but there are only 9.<br />
Cognitive Principle #1:<br />People are naturally curious, but they are not naturally good thinkers.<br />
<ul><li>The brain is not designed to think, it is designed to avoid thinking.
The brain is not efficient at thinking. If you think of it as computer processor it is already very busy doing things that you are so natural we aren’t aware of them, but they take a lot of the brains power to do it.
Speaking, seeing, the amount of processing power used to process all the signals we are receiving. As far as evolution goes, seeing and hearing more immediately kept us alive than thinking. </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Thinking is slow, effortful, and uncertain (you rarely see something or hear something processed wrong)
“Most of the time what we do is what we do most of the time”
We are on autopilot most of the time (adults and kids). Think about driving.
Content may prompt interest but won’t necessarily maintain. Sex education as teenager had his interest, but it was deadly boring.
People will think but they need a sense that they will get the payoff at the end…the solving of the problem that wasn’t too hard and wasn’t too easy.
Our goal should be to make the thinking easier or more efficient.
Working memory is limited so we always have to be away of how many items we are asking students to process there. </li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Problem solving defined as any cognitive work that succeeds.
Much of what we as teachers classify as thinking is not thinking but rather memory.
The problem at hand needs to be difficult/challenging but not so hard that it seems impossible and not so easy that it is boring.
If you teach all students the same way you may appropriately challenge some, others will be overwhelmed, and others in the same class who have already mastered the skill is bored.
Successful thinking relies on four factors:</li></ul>Information from the environment<br />facts in long-term memory<br />procedures in long term memory<br />amount of space in working memory. <br /><ul><li>If any of those is inadequate thinking will likely fail!</li></li></ul><li>For the teacher…..<br />Be sure there are problems to be solved<br />There needs to be questioning throughout instruction that poses moderate challenge for multiple learners at various levels. <br />To the learner a lesson without problems is just a long string of explanations.<br /> <br />Respect students’ cognitive limitsThe problem you pose needs to be solvable.<br />The learner needs to possess the background knowledge to answer. You wouldn’t start a lesson about the Amer. Revolution with why did the colonists dress as native American and dump tea in Boston Harbor? Kids w/o background cannot engage in that problem. <br />Pictures/graphic organizers are a great way to keep students’ working memory from being overloaded.<br /> <br />Keep a DiaryKeep notes on what worked, didn’t work in your lesson plans, even if just a post-it. Learn from your experience…don’t rely on your memory.<br />
Imagination is more important than knowledge.<br />Albert Einstein<br />
<ul><li>Knowledge is essential to reading comprehension.
Studies have shown that background knowledge trumps reading skills…a poor reader will outperform a good reader when they read text that have background knowledge of while the good reader doesn’t.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Last thirty years of data has shown scientists that thinking requires knowing facts.
The very processes that teachers care about most – critical thinking processes such as reasoning and problem solving – are intimately intertwined with factual knowledge that is stored in long-term memory.
When it comes to knowledge, those who have more gain more. Think in terms of schema….well developed schema will allow you to more easily assimilate new information and to make it easier to recall in the future.
This effect is compounded over time especially for SES differences. The amount of information you retains depends on what you already have. So, if you have more than I do, you retain more than I do, which means you gain more than me. Over time the gaps widens.
The “knowledge rich” get richer.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Research has shown privileged and underprivileged learn at the same rate.
4thgrade slump has been shown in research. Up to 3rd grade reading is more about decoding than content and vocabulary. At 4th grade reading begins to emphasize comprehension which relies on background knowledge. The privileged kids know more things because of their exposure to more and this knowing makes it easier to learn more new things.
Gladwellin Outliers discusses a similar phenomenon with the big difference between socioeconomic levels being the summer experience. High SES will continue to learn during summer or at least maintain while low SES will actually lose because of their activity difference/environment.
So if background information and knowledge is so important to comprehension that means exposure to new ideas and new vocabulary is so important.
The place to go for this are books, magazines, and newspapers.
Television, video games, and the sorts of Net sites (music, Facebook, Club Penguin) that students lean toward are for the most part unhelpful.
I have a new appreciation for Time for Kids.</li></li></ul><li><ul><li>Teaching students to “chunk” information is a good strategy as it allows students to keep more in working memory
Having a strong working knowledge (background) allows readers to chunk which allows readers to use their working memory for other processes such as comprehension. </li></ul> <br /><ul><li>4 ways background knowledge is important to reading comprehension: </li></ul>it provides vocabulary<br /> it allows you to bridge logical gaps that writers leave<br /> it allows chunking (frees up working memory) <br /> it guides the interpretation of ambiguous sentences.<br />
For the Teacher…..<br /><ul><li>So which knowledge should the student “know”.
The answer becomes political at times. Because as Dr. Knudson says, when you decide what to teach you are also deciding what not to teach.</li></ul> <br /><ul><li>What knowledge will yield greatest the greatest cognitive benefit?</li></ul> <br />For reading: Students must know whatever information writers assume they know and hence leave out. Writers assume their readers know the “touchstones of the culture of dead white males.” (societal knowledge) And until this changes (slowly) he advocates teaching that material to our students. Without it they will not be able to read a breadth of material at a depth of comprehension.<br />For core subject areas, students need to learn core concepts…the ideas that come up again and again. Think Big Ideas! “the unifying ideas of each discipline”<br />Shallow knowledge is better than no knowledge. For reading our knowledge does not have to be deep in order to understand. <br />
For the Teacher….<br /><ul><li>Do Whatever You Can to Get Kids to Read!</li></ul>Books expose children to more facts and to a broader vocabulary than virtually any other activity, and data indicate that people who read for pleasure enjoy cognitive benefits throughout their lifetime.<br /><ul><li>Knowledge Acquisition Can Be Incidental</li></ul>Teachers (adults) know so much that students don’t. There are always opportunities to fold this knowledge into each school day. <br /><ul><li>Start Early</li></ul>Falling behind has a compounding impact. So the sooner you build up factual background knowledge the more you are building up for future learning opportunities. There are no shortcuts and if students don’t have the home exposure to knowledge then a school must make up the gap. RTI important…addresses the gap because it becomes a chasm.<br /><ul><li>Knowledge works best when it is conceptual understanding related to other learned concepts…not just a factual list learning.</li></li></ul><li>
Why Do Students Remember Everything That’s On Television and Forget Everything I Say?<br />
Cognitive Principle #3:<br />Memory is the residue of thought.<br />
What a student thinks about during a lesson will be remembered. This may not always be what the teacher intended.<br />Math ex. tied to cell phone minutes. Might get attention but may also lead to a different thought than expected. Perhaps the students thinks about the text she received earlier, or the fact she is grounded for running up a bill, or wondering whose message she is missing by being in class.<br />Students need to be thinking about what we are teaching. <br />Emotional tie-in: long term memory has a greater chance of recording.(9-11?)<br />Researchers have observed biochemistry happening with emotion and learning. <br />“Things that create an emotional reaction will be better remembered, but emotion is not necessary for learning.”<br />Wanting to remember isn’t enough either…$ doesn’t work. <br />Thus what is remembered is what is thought about…..memory residue of thought. <br />
Repetition is another way to get something into long term memory….not a guarantee though. <br />
Research shows students learn best from teachers they like and who they think are organized. Some will say it is not my job to be their friend, perhaps not, but being a bully won’t result in higher learning. And being super nice and relating well to the kids but having weak content won’t result in high learning either.<br />The human mind (evolutionary) is programmed to learn best via story. We are hard wired for stories….psychologists refer to stories as “psychologically privileged information”<br />Organize lessons as stories whenever possible (the structure, not necess. the presentation of it)<br />Story structure is 4 Cs:<br />Causality: events are related to one another (cause/effect)<br />Conflict: story has a main character with a goal but struggles to reach the goal<br />Complicated: an effective story has subgoals…goals that must be reached on the way to meeting the main goal.<br />Character: strong interesting characters who are developed from “showing” not “telling”<br />
For the teacher….<br />There are times that students don’t have meaning to tie it to or it is too great. iePeriodic Table of Elements or state capitals. A brain hack for that is mnemonics…to get it to long term memory requires practice<br />Teachers should double check every lesson plan looking for what the lesson will actually make their students think about (this is where a teacher notebook also comes in handy)<br />Ex. Observes a Spanish Civil War assign. Students were to compare contrast it with US Civil War then teach the class what they learned. One group of students sees PPT on computers and decides to use it, soon everyone is using PPT, then someone does interesting special fx, other groups want to do the same, students are all very engaged…but what are they thinking about. The lesson has shifted from Spanish Civil War to “cool” PPT features. <br />Dramatic devices work in a lesson, but be aware of what they make students think about. Make the connection to content concrete! Also might consider using at halfway point when students need to be reengaged. <br />
Careful with discovery approach…although students may be highly engaged they may be engaged on incorrect material or spend energies learning erroneous information. Perhaps what the student will remember is the mistake.<br />Design Assignments So that Students Will Unavoidably Think About MeaningStudents make biscuits from scratch because it was a staple food for runaway slaves. A weak lesson because students spend more time thinking about getting measurement correct than the runaway slave experience. Or they could think how dry their biscuit was or how bad it tasted when they substituted salt for flour. Better lesson would discuss struggle to obtain food, pay for it, not prepare it.<br />Don’t Be Afraid to Use MnemonicsGreat hack for the brain, makes excellent use of working memory/chunking<br />What you memorize should be aid to future problem solving…ie math problem required knowing math facts. More efficient use of working memory.<br />