New MindShift Piece on Visible Thinking

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Mindshift has a new and insightful post by Katrina Schwartz on the ways in which routines and structures for thinking can assist learners in making sense of and integrating new learning.

When Kids Have Structure for Thinking, Better Learning Emerges

“Amidst the discussions about content standards, curriculum and teaching strategies, it’s easy to lose sight of the big goals behind education, like giving students tools to deepen their quantitative and qualitative understanding of the world. Teaching for understanding has always been a challenge, which is why Harvard’s Project Zero has been trying to figure out how great teachers do it.

Some teachers discuss metacognition with students, but they often simplify the concept by describing only one of its parts — thinking about thinking. Teachers are trying to get students to slow down and take note of how and why they are thinking and to see thinking as an action they are taking. But two other core components of metacognition often get left out of these discussions — monitoring thinking and directing thinking. When a student is reading and stops to realize he’s not really understanding the meaning behind the words, that’s monitoring. And most powerfully, directing thinking happens when students can call upon specific thinking strategies to redirect or challenge their own thinking.”

Read the rest of the piece here.


How Harnessing the Positive Side of Stress Can Change Student Mindsets

flickr photo by racka_abe shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

This new MindShift piece by Katrina Schwartz outlines the advantages of talking about the positive aspects stress with students.

“Carol Dweck’s work on growth mindset and its power to help people view challenges as opportunities to improve has helped many students understand their beliefs about themselves. When empowered with the understanding that intelligence is malleable, students can develop how they approach school and life. But the revelations around mindsets don’t end there — they apply to other areas of education, including how students view and react to stress.

There is a lot of research about how stress negatively impacts health, cognitive functioning and self-control, but less often discussed are how those findings change when people see their stress as a positive motivator. “In a number of situations, accepting and embracing the stress instead of trying to calm down helped students to do better,” said Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University at a Learning and the Brain conference on mindsets.”  Read the rest of the post here.

How Turning Math Into a Maker Workshop Can Bring Calculations to Life

Sometimes something unexpected — such as a banana keyboard — can provide a hook for students who may need it the most.  In this Mindshift piece a teacher finds ways to inspire her students and turn them into learners who love math.

By Author :

“It might have been the banana piano. Or perhaps the bongos, made from lemons that students had plucked from the citrus tree at school. Elizabeth Little, who teaches middle school math and science, doesn’t know exactly which of the hands-on projects she introduced to her remedial math class turned the class around. But by the end of the school year, all her math students, not just those needing extra support, were clamoring for more math.

How did this happen?

Little teaches at Martin Luther King Jr Middle School in Berkeley, California, where classes like sewing, woodshop, and metal shop — what she calls “practical ways of learning math” — are no longer offered; tight budgets and renewed emphasis on academic learning have eliminated them. But Little couldn’t bear to subject already disengaged students to yet another ho-hum class of multiplication tables and long division.

Instead, she took a gamble and brought some materials to school for her students to play with: a sewing kit, the 3-D doodler she’d just been given, her son’s marble-run set and a MaKey MaKey device she knew nothing about, donated by a friend.” 

Read the rest of the article here.

Understanding Dyslexia and the Reading Brain ~ New Piece from Mindshift

flickr photo by CaptPiper shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

flickr photo by CaptPiper shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

From MindShift:

“At a recent talk for special education teachers at the Los Angeles Unified School District, child development professor Maryanne Wolf urged educators to say the word dyslexia out loud.

“Don’t ever succumb to the idea that it’s going to develop out of something, or that it’s a disease,” she recalled telling teachers. “Dyslexia is a different brain organization that needs different teaching methods. It is never the fault of the child, but rather the responsibility of us who teach to find methods that work for that child.”

Wolf, who has a dyslexic son, is on a mission to spread the idea of “cerebrodiversity,” the idea that our brains are not uniform and we each learn differently. Yet when it comes to school, students with different brains can often have lives filled with frustration and anguish as they, and everyone around them, struggle to figure out what is wrong with them.”

Read the entire piece here.

Great new MindShift piece ~ Rethinking Data

flickr photo by Colin Warren shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

flickr photo by Colin Warren shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Mindshift has a new piece that helps us think more broadly about data and ensuring we get a holistic view of each one of our students.

Rethinking Data: How to Create a Holistic View of Students

“The excerpt below is from “Hacking Education: 10 Quick Fixes For Every School,” by Mark Barnes and Jennifer Gonzalez. The following is from the chapter entitled, “Hack 10: The 360 Spreadsheet.”

Collect a Different Kind of Student Data

For at least a decade now, the driving force behind education reform has been data. We talk about collecting data, analyzing data, and making data-driven decisions. All of this data can certainly be useful, helping us notice patterns we might not have seen without aggregating our numbers in some way, looking for gaps and dips and spikes, allowing us to figure out where we are strong and where we need help. In terms of certain academic behaviors, we can quantify student learning to some extent and improve our practice as a result.

And yet, we know this is not enough. We know our students bring with them so many other kinds of data. So many other factors contribute to academic success: the atmosphere in their homes, the demands of their out-of-school school schedule, the physical concerns that distract them, the passions and obsessions that consume them. These things are much harder to measure, so we don’t even try, focusing instead on the things we can convert to numbers.” Read the entire piece here.

Mindshift: Favorite Tech Tools for Social Studies Teachers

flickr photo by ToastyKen shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

Great new post from Mindshift aimed especially at social science teachers.

“Rachel Langenhorst helps teachers in her district find solutions for those issues. She used to teach social studies, but is now the K-12 Technology Integrationist and Instructional Coach at Rock Valley Community Schools in Iowa. …

Explee is a video scribing tool that simulates the effect of sketchnoting  and allows students to find and add images, text, video clips or audio to a workspace. “This is a great project creation tool for your students,” Langenhorst said. “And as we all know, it’s the creating, that upper echelon of learning, that lets kids really get learning.”

MackinVIA is a free database of primary sources. “It’s given us the ability to look at topics from several different perspectives because of the resources available to us,” Langenhorst said. She also likes the “backpack” feature, which allows students to save books or excerpts that they want to come back to and can be great way to keep track of research materials. And, crucially, the service offers many digital copies of the same books or articles, which has eliminated any fighting over books that might have taken place around big research projects in the past.” 

Read the entire post here.

MindShift ~ Another Great Blog about Learning


Photo Credit: Viewminder via Compfight cc

If you haven’t stumbled on Mindshift during your professional learning travels, you should definitely check it out. Mindshift was launched in 2010 by KQED and NPR and it “explores the future of learning in all its dimensions, covering cultural and technology trends, innovations in education, groundbreaking research, education policy, and more.”

Here are two excellent and popular articles from their site:

Beyond Knowing Facts, How Do We Get to a Deeper Level of Learning? & What Meaningful Reflection On Student Work Can Do for Learning.