Archive | February, 2012

Blog 3: Discovering How to Learn Smarter

23 Feb

Taken from:

February 2, 2012 | 1:00 PM | By

Discovering How to Learn Smarter

FILED UNDER: Research, Brainology, learning styles, Neuroscience


By Annie Murphy Paul

It’s not often that a story about the brain warms the heart. But that’s exactly what happened to me when I read an article last month in the Washington Post. It’s about how teachers in many schools in the D.C. area are foregoing empty praise of the “Good job!” variety, in favor of giving students solid information that will do them some real good. That information concerns how their brains work and how their intelligence and skills develop, and it’s knowledge that should be made available to every child in the country.

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck conducted the groundbreaking research showing that praise intended to raise young people’s self-esteem can seriously backfire. When we tell children, “You’re so smart,” we communicate the message that they’d better not take risks or make mistakes, lest they reveal that they’re not so smart after all. Dweck calls this cautious attitude the “fixed mindset,” and she’s found that it’s associated with greater anxiety and reduced achievement. Students with a “growth mindset,” on the other hand, believe that intelligence can be expanded with hard work and persistence, and they view challenges as invigorating and even fun. They’re more resilient in the face of setbacks, and they do better academically.

Now Dweck has designed a program, called Brainology, which aims to help students develop a growth mindset. Its website explains: “Brainology makes this happen by teaching students how the brain functions, learns, and remembers, and how it changes in a physical way when we exercise it. Brainology shows students that they are in control of their brain and its development.” That’s a crucial message to pass on to children, and it’s not just empty words of encouragement—it’s supported by cutting-edge research on neuroplasticity, which shows that the brain changes and grows when we learn new things. You, and your child, can learn to be smarter.

That, in fact, is something like the credo of this column, which will be appearing every week on MindShift. Each week, I’ll share the latest findings from neuroscience, cognitive science and psychology—discoveries that help us understand how we learn and how we can do it better. I hope you’ll join me here, and share what you read with others. We’ll be doing out part to spread a growth mindset, one click at a time.

Annie Murphy Paul, the author of Origins, is at work on a book about the science of learning.


  • Great post and thanks for redirecting us to her new site!   Not only can we change our mindset, but we can be half growth and half fixed and it depends on the task at hand.  Understanding motivation and task avoidance are critical to educators. The communication of critical feedback pushes development.  Constructive feedback fuels growth.  Assigned grades feed the fixed mindset.  In what ways can technology assist teachers in providing quality, constructive feedback to their students?   Many tech platforms and applications allow teachers to facilitate that communication more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Making those changes and incorporating quality feedback seems less of a punishment when it can happen quickly in a tech savvy environment.  High school students need to view growth areas, not as weaknesses, but the ones with the most potential.




First Reflection on C&I579

16 Feb

What attitudes, skills, and concepts have you gained from participating in the course so far?

This class has given me a sense of constant discomfort followed by incredible moments of accomplishment.  It is never easy to move from your comfort zone and sense of security and accept that there is so much to learn.  On a daily basis I teach the same thing that I have for the past fourteen years.  I employ different teaching strategies, focus on better developing certain skills and, with time, have a more complete sense of analysis.  Each year I have tried to become better in content area and to push myself to learn new strategies from those who are good at teaching things.  I avoided, mocked, rolled my eyes at the “techies.”  In my goal to become the best I could in the classroom, my intellectual ego allowed me to denigrate the use of technological applications in the classroom.  It may have looked better, slicker and more modern in content, but I was doing the “real” teaching.  To truly learn, you have to be moved out your comfort zone.  It has to be hard work.  When those feelings emerge, I know that I am being stretched, challenged and accepting risk.  I can see and accept where I have room to grow.

With that said, it has been exciting so far because we have had the freedom and flexibility and the gift of time to “figure it out.”  At times I have had to give myself a pep talk that I want to learn a new application, it has encouraged and stretched me in ways that have fostered a growth mindset in regard to technology.  I am fortunate to be teaching a class where I could naturally begin implementing.  I have found that the tools I have been introduced to can improve instruction and student growth.  I know that I want to learn more and that I am capable of learning the quirks of each application.  I have turned each one of my assignments from class into an easy application in my classroom and I have found that many things I used to complain about have simple technology fixes.

What have you learned in the course that you will not forget tomorrow?

I will not forget that it can be frustrating to learn and that there is always a possibility that a newer version, more dynamic application will be available as soon as my lesson is complete.  However, the frustration becomes a launching point for me to become an assistant to my students in the classroom rather than the sage from the front of the room.  I know now that, while my students may understand how to connect through Facebook, they are not very well connected through educational resources.  I have created relationships and resources that exceed the boundaries of this course that continue to facilitate and encourage my growth in this area.

Twitter is a rich, connected resource of which I have learned to become a discriminating user.  Trying to follow everyone is not an efficient use of my time.  I need to create my Professional Learning Network that reflects my true interests in education and curriculum.  I am trying to determine what my contribution is to this on-line community and also having to realize that I need to just start sharing and an unnatural act will become much more natural.  I have also learned that many resources are needed in order to be able to decide which applications are best for the desired outcomes for the work that I assign.  Wikispaces plays a prominent role in my classroom, but the organization of the class/team discussions will be a model that I continue to employ and expand upon to best suit my high school class.  Google Docs has been a great collaboration tool and I am seeing its value among my peers and I look forward to creating assignments that force my students to utilize technology to facilitate academic discussions.

The opening of my mind and the familiarity with Web 2.0 applications for the classroom is where I am at in developing my EdTech mind.  I can never return to where I was before.

 How will you apply what you have learned to your teaching and future learning?

Prior to the course, I believed technology isolated us from one another, made us socially awkward and impeded rich, meaningful relationships critical to human development.  I now realize that, while that is certainly a possible outcome, it is not the only one.  I have the power to teach the limitless potential of the Internet in a way that will benefit my students and provide alternatives to social networking for social, possibly inappropriate uses, to a professional, educational powerhouse, rich with resources and connections that can be truly beneficial to a community of learners.  I have also connected to my colleagues whose technology discussions I purposely avoided and I have found that, when connected, collaboration can truly create more meaningful resources.  The two graphics included in this answer give an idea of where I am in my mind.  Revising old ideas like Bloom’s Taxonomy to reflect 21st Century Skills and Applications merge my two worlds together and, as I move forward, can never teach again with antiquated methods for teaching innovative curriculum.

Shrock, Kathy S. (2012, February 12). Retrieved from

Blog Post 2

14 Feb



Taken from:


Initiate Better Online Learning Ambiance for the Learners


Submitted by Robert Williams – A Educational Content Writer From The United States


The dominance of Internet technology and advancement of technology in the present age has welcomed a paradigm shift in several aspects of life and education too was no different. The introduction of distance learning in the educational sphere has  allowed students to reach beyond the conventional classroom setting in pursuit of knowledge. Furthermore, the natural extension of the learning via distance concept that took shape in the form of online learning has taken education a step ahead. Today, learners can have access to knowledge more flexibly and easily without the hassle of regular attendance and strict classroom sessions.


Distance learning paves a platform that allows better connectivity among students and teachers with their learning sessions independent of space, distance, and time at their own comfort and convenience. Since, online learning is all about technological support, it is essential for both the teacher and student to develop a better understanding of the tools used in the process of knowledge sharing. A mutual understanding is required to develop learning that is both efficient and effective.


Since, the learner is new in this mode of learning, the onus of making him or her feel comfortable in the virtual world depends on the instructor. The instructor must take the onus of making things easier, especially the handling of technological tools easier for the students. To achieve the purpose, following some online teaching ideas might help the instructor developing a better learning experience –


  • Relation between Student and Teacher

Online instructors should always maintain a good and healthy relation with students that reach beyond being excessive strict and disciplined. From answering the queries of the students to responding their needs, an online teacher should always be available for his or her students. Each student in the distance learning approach should have a direct access with the online instructors and be able to communicate with the instructor freely without any restrictions.


  • Understanding between a Student and Teacher

Developing an understanding between a student and teacher is considered, as one of the preferred online teaching ideas. You must develop a good bond with your student, understand his or her problem area or subjects of interest, and take steps accordingly to instill in him the sense of encouragement. Integrating the ambience of a physical classroom in the virtual sphere of education stands important in such learning pursuits. Do not allow your students to take online course lightly.


  • Communication between a Student and Teacher

Since, learning in the distance mode of education is dependent mostly on communication, it is essential that the teacher and student communicate well. Your student is balancing between studies and work; therefore, you need to focus on encouraging him or her for attending the online class sessions. You should always be available for your student and focus on communicating with him or her, as and when required.


  • Advice between a Student and Teacher

Offering positive feedback and advice to students is also sought important, as this comes across as one of the effective online teaching ideas. Do not allow negativity in the online classroom ambience and focus on instilling a positive approach in the learning mode. Try initiating a sense of self-confidence in the learners and let him or her know about the improvement areas that might help grasp the subject better.


Applying these strategies or online teaching ideas help in better learning and allows you to excel, as a better instructor in online education sector.

Written by Robert Williams Tuesday, 31 January 2012 08:46


#LoriAnne2012-02-14 16:44

On-line learning communities are gaining ground among educators because it provides a rich area of development for 21st Century Skills that will better prepare our students for the professions they will inherit. Many businesses today have done away with daily, face to face contact and it is possible that many of students will never have to operate in a workplace setting. It is very possible, however, and most likely that they need to understand the rules, relationship and professionalism needed in an on-line community. When you commented that the onus is on the teacher to make the student comfortable in the technology, highlights the hurdles many educators encounter. Until it is required and expected of them, we will not take on that responsibility. It is still viewed as optional to use technology rather than essential. Focusing on the skills they will need means losing those that hinder their development.

Blog Response 1

1 Feb

Taken from:

Flipped Classrooms and Social Studies

January 30, 2012 by glennw

Parker Palmer of Courage to Teach fame once said that

good teaching cannot be reduced to one technique . . .

I like that.

We’re all different and connect with our kids and content in different ways. But I would add to Parker’s comment and suggest that

good teaching is always more than one technique.

and its corollary;

bad teaching is always the same technique.

We shouldn’t be happy with what’s worked in the past, with what we’ve always done. We need to constantly be looking for ways to improve what we do. New research, new ideas, and new strategies can help us do our jobs better.

Which brings me to the idea of the flipped classroom.

The basic idea of a flipped classroom is that a teacher uses technology to provide student access to foundational knowledge outside of class. This allows more time for inquiry, discussion, debate, collaboration, problem-solving, product development, or guided practice during class time. So rather than kids listening to you during class and doing work outside of class, you “flip” that idea – time outside of class is spent on gathering foundational knowledge and time in class is spent working with that content.

I think good teachers have been doing this sort of thing, well . . . forever. The difference now is that there are more tools that make the idea easier to implement. One recent idea is to provide online or mobile videos of lectures or content delivery that students view on a schedule that best suits.

It’s an interesting concept that has been creating a lot of buzz in the math and science areas but which has been slow to develop in the humanities such as history and social studies.

As you begin rolling the idea around in your head, check out the infographic below as well as a few online resources. Then ask yourself:

What would this look like in my class? What piece of this can I break off and try?

I would be curious to hear from those of you finding success with a social studies flipped classroom. What’s working? What should we be aware of?


The Flipped Class is Here to Stay
Three or four reasons the idea has legs

15 Schools Using the Flipped Classrooms
Some good examples

Flipping a History Classroom
Video clip, discussion and comments

Flipping the US History Class
A MSU discussion board on the topic

A new infographic from Knewton. Be sure to check out the research at the bottom.

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    What a clear explanation and inspiration for the Flipped Classroom. I have seen this term used, but I have failed to pursue it enough to find out what it actually meant. Delivering the necessary content efficiently to get to idea generation and using class time for discussion, interpretation and analysis has always been an interest of mine. Teaching discussion based classes (i.e. Women’s Studies) forces me to balance in-class reading time and lecture with synthesis and analysis of ideas. Using my wiki allows for students to be responsible for posting current event articles that helps give high school students more real world examples for class discussion. Preparing their answers and connecting to classroom reading allows every student to formulate an idea before class. Podcasts of lectures or pre-reading discussions become the homework and discussion becomes the focus of every day without sacrificing knowledge.