Monday, November 22, 2010
I thought that the studies that they conducted on twins to try and decide if intelligence was based on nature or nurture was akin to answering which came first, “the chicken or the egg”. Were the twins, although raised in separate homes, similar in intelligence because they sought out similar environments to surround themselves with based on nature, or were they similar in intelligence because they were genetically similar.
The quote that had the most impact on me was, “The results showed that those who had been praised for their ability (“you’re smart”) were more likely to describe a fixed view of intelligence than those who were praised for their effort (“you did well because you worked hard”), who were more likely to describe a malleable view of intelligence.” I liked this quote because it gives me suggestions of how to work with students.
I enjoyed the latter part of the chapter the most when the implications for teachers were discussed. The idea that it is important for students to believe that their hard work can pay off to help them become smarter is crucial. The message that it is important to praise a student’s efforts rather than high performance was to me the most important message of the chapter. By praising effort that leads to high performance a teacher is giving the student the message that they are in control of their intelligence.
My final thoughts on the chapter were that the Implications for the Classroom section are vital to helping all students reach their full potential. Those main ideas:
• Praise Effort, Not Ability
• Tell Them That Hard Work Pays Off
• Treat Failure as a Natural Part of Learning (by role modeling it as we all have times of failure)
• Don’t Take Study Skills for Granted
• Catching Up Is the Long-Term Goal
• Show Students That You Have Confidence in Them
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
The next section talks about ways to become a better teacher in the classroom. The best skill is for you to practice your teaching skills and analyze how you do in the classroom. You need to consciously try to improve, seek feedback on your teaching, and undertake new activities to show improvement. The main activity listed in this section was to get a partner teacher and tape yourself teaching in the classroom. Then with your partner analyze your lessons and think of ways to improve the lesson and activities. The main idea is to understand everyone has room to improve and it is a process to go through as a teacher.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Chapter five builds on what was learned in chapter four, illustrating these exact principles. It explains the capacity of our minds and the limits that our working memory has. The guiding principle of this chapter is: “It is virtually impossible to become proficient at a mental task without extended practice.” The author then explains the importance of practicing to “gain competence and improve.” It is important to practice basic skills and ideas so that more capacity is available in working memory to solve the task at hand. The examples used to illustrate this point were tying shoes and driving. Two things, that when they are first learned require a large amount of concentration and working memory. Yet, as time goes on they require less thought and become “automatic processes” thus requiring less working memory. It should be noted that this principle works best when the practice is spread out over time and not crammed into a short amount of time. The author ends the chapter by explaining that practicing mental processes provides three benefits: it helps the processes become automatic, it helps the memories to last, and practice improves the likelihood of transfer.
Friday, November 5, 2010
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Willingham had some excellent examples in Chapter 2 for explaining why background knowledge is vital to comprehension. Of course it provides the vocabulary, but we need the conceptual knowledge to put the words together and make something that we can understand and apply. Background knowledge also allows one to bridge logical gaps omitted by the author. One of my favorite lines in Chapter Two states, "For reading, students must know whatever information writers assume they know and hence leave out." We need to provide a solid foundation of knowledge for our students for them to make the most of what they read. Background knowledge allows chunking. I really liked the author's string of 18 letters that seemed impossible to memorize, yet when they were spaced differently, one could make a connection with certain groupings and therefore create more room in your working memory. X CIA NCAA is much easier to remember than XCI ANC AA. Background knowledge also guides the interpretation of the ambiguous sentences, as in the laundry example. Vague descriptions can be memorable if they have some relevance.
The author makes reference to the fourth grade slump. At this age, background knowledge becomes more important as being a good reader relies more on comprehension than on decoding. That gap widens between privileged and underprivileged children.
An interesting point to ponder was the statement that having factual knowledge in long term memory makes it easier to acquire still more factual knowledge. And the observation was made that best exposure to new vocabulary and ideas would come from books, magazines, and newspapers over the television, video games, and social networking sites with which most of our students are engaged.
Early on in Chapter 2, the author quoted Albert Einstein, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." He later said that Einstein was wrong, that knowledge is a prerequisite for imagination--the type that leads to problem solving, decision making, and creativity. I agree with the statements that "…facts without the skills to use them are of little value", however "…one cannot deploy thinking skills effectively without factual knowledge."
A chief issue for educators seems to be the evaluation of which knowledge takes priority to be taught. We must also ensure that our students have the necessary background knowledge to carry out the critical thinking tasks.
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
I'm not sure if this is the correct forum to ask this question, but I thought it would be easiest. Anyway, I am wondering if the reading sections match up with the chapters in the book. I see there are pages listed, but I am reading this on a kindle which doesn't provide the page numbers, so I just wanted to double check before I am supposed to be the summarizer.