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Monday, September 1, 2014

Day 4 of the #30DayBlogChallenge: The 2nd Big Idea for Effective Teaching

Alrighty then! I made it through the first week of school alive. It's going to be a great year. Now I can write day 4 of the 30 day blog challenge (which is actually something like day 12, but who is counting!).

In my last post I talked about the plasticity of the brain as the first big idea for effective teaching in Wilson and Conyer's book Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching. Today I will introduce the second big idea which is closely related to the plasticity of the brain. Potential.

Potential
There is a pervasive belief in our society that intelligence is fixed. You've simply got ability or you don't. In light of all the available research on the plasticity of the brain this thought is clearly incorrect. Rather, effort is closely tied to ability. Unfortunately many believe, quite incorrectly, that if they have to put forth an effort then they must lack potential. This is known as a fixed mindset. In the book Wilson and Conyers put it this way,
"Thus, the fixed mindset prevents individuals from achieving their potential in life - or even acknowledging what their true potential might be. People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, are more likely to keep trying until they achieve their goals, more confident that they will succeed."
This reminds me of a former principal of mine, Kellie Rapp. She encouraged us to apply the growth mindset to our coworkers as well. What an excellent point! Clearly we should think in terms of a growth mindset with our students. However, we tend to get frustrated with coworkers who don't "do their job." Maybe we can gently help them reach their potential rather than getting frustrated.

What does it all mean?
In any event, realizing potential depends on opportunity. We have to give our students (and coworkers) opportunity to develop their potential. "Opportunity includes the environment, education, structure, and time" (Wilson & Conyers). A positive learning environment with a teacher who understands the link between effort and potential is critical for many learners. We must let kids know that their future is in their hands!

My next post will discuss the third big idea for effective teaching. Stay tuned!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Day 3 #30dayblogchallenge: The First Big Idea for Effective Teaching

For the third day of the 30 Day Blog Challenge, I'm going to review the first big idea from Wilson and Conyers book, Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching.


The first big idea relates to the implications of neural plasticity for learning and teaching. Scientists used to believe that intelligence is fixed, however advances in brain research have proven quite the opposite. This is a concept that both excites and fascinates me because it can be a life changer. Wilson and Conyers cite many studies to support the concept of brain plasticity and its implications and applications to the classroom.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

How Do I Explain My Strategies?


The new school year begins in my new district on Monday. I'm thinking about all the metacognitive skills I teach my students and how to go about sharing brain-based strategies with those who inquire. The easiest way would be to direct them to the book, Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice by Donna Wilson and Marcus Conyers. Wilson and Conyers used several of their BrainSMART graduates as examples of research in action. I'm one of the graduates they used and as a result I, along with other graduates, are referred to throughout the book. Sometimes I find it difficult to articulate exactly what I do in the classroom that is different because brain-based strategies and reasoning permeate everything I do. When I first read the Five Big Ideas I exclaimed, "This is it! This explains it perfectly!"

One thing I love about the book is that it is well researched, yet still an easy and engaging read (at just under 200 pages). That said, I want to touch on the Five Big Ideas over the next few days to give readers an idea of the rich content available in the book. Maybe this will assist me in articulating the range and reasoning of what I do in my classroom. Stay tuned!


Monday, August 18, 2014

Day 1 of the 30 Day Blog Challenge: Number Talks

Post updated 08/24/2014

I'm joining the 30 day blog challenge. I've needed the motivation! Today I want to put one of my goals for this school year out there. This way all my friends can help hold me accountable! One of my goals is to fine tune my Number Talks.

What is a Number Talk? 

Number Talks are a fantastic way to increase your students flexibility with numbers. You may think you do number talks already...that's what I thought too. Then I was shown a video of Sherry Parrish (author of Number Talks) demonstrating it. I was blown away. It's mental math on steroids in only 10 minutes! My kids absolutely loved it.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Engaging Brains: How to Enhance Learning by Teaching Kids About Neuroplasticity

This post is co-authored by Marcus Conyers who, with Donna Wilson, is co-developer of the M.S. and Ed.S. Brain-Based Teaching degree programs at Nova Southeastern University. They have written several books, including Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice.

Enhancing Student Commitment

Explicitly teaching students about neuroplasticity can have a transformative impact in the classroom. A central facet of our work as teacher educators is teaching about how the brain changes during learning. Many teachers have told us that these findings have had a positive effect on their expectations for their students and on students' perceptions of their own abilities.
Lessons on discoveries that learning changes the structure and function of the brain can engage students, especially when combined with explicit instruction on the use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies that guide them to learn how to learn (Wilson & Conyers, 2013). Using these strategies effectively produces learning gains, which motivate students to take charge of their learning, which leads to further academic success and may have the additional benefit of alleviating classroom management issues. When students see this process as changing their own brains, the result is a powerful and positive cycle.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

What does neuroplasticity research suggest about the potential of all students to master the 4Cs?

This article by Donna Wilson, Ph.D., is a fantastic look into student potential as it relates to the plasticity of the brain. It is also posted here: www.p21.org.

Donna Wilson, Ph.D., is a school/educational psychologist, teacher educator, and author. Her most recent books include Five Big Ideas for Effective Teaching: Connecting Mind, Brain, and Education Research to Classroom Practice (Teachers College Press) and Flourishing in the First Five Years: Connecting Implications from Mind, Brain, and Education Research to the Development of Young Children (Rowman & Littlefield Education). She is cofounder and academic team leader at the Center for Innovative Education and Prevention (CIEP). http://donnawilsonphd.org

Driving Question: What does neuroplasticity research suggest about the potential of all students to master the 4Cs?
By Donna Wilson, Ph.D.

The discovery that learning changes the structure and function of the brain (Bransford, Brown, & Cocking, 2000) has the potential to transform education in both profound and practical ways—if we can, once and for all, dislodge persistent misconceptions that obscure this promise.