Monday, November 22, 2010

Section 5/Chapter 8 Summary

How Can I Help Slow Learners? This chapter spent the beginning of the chapter explaining how students think of themselves in different ways based on their ability. Some students think that learning is genetic/nature and others think it is environmental/nurture. Students that think it is genetic may be afraid to work hard as it makes them look like they aren’t very smart. The last part of the chapter was spent explaining how teachers can help all students believe that their hard work will pay off to increase their intelligence.

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

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Section 4 Summary

The first section I read was about what makes individuals smart and how to deal with slow learners. From the information I read it discussed if students were a product of genetics or their environment. The example that was given about the basketball twins made this clear to me. I believe that by genetics the two boys are both given opportunities to be successful in sports. The students’ ability to do well with academics can be a factor from genetics or from their environment. This section also listed certain strategies you can use for slow learners. I believe that by praising effort, and not ability can help the students to be more successful in school.
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.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Section 3

Chapter four begins by describing abstract principles and the need for concrete examples. The guiding principle of the chapter is: “We understand new things in the context of things we already know, and most of what we know is concrete.” The author then claims, “Understanding is remembering in disguise.” One must pull old information into working memory and relate new information to what is already known. Our knowledge builds on basic facts as we add new knowledge. Two factors play into this equation: 1.) there are degrees of comprehension and 2.) the knowledge may not transfer. It is important that we, as teachers, work to ensure that our students develop a deep understanding of principles instead of just memorizing what we say. It is also important that our students are able to apply these principles beyond the particular problems or examples that we cover in class.

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


This might be a dumb question...but can someone tell me where I find out which week I am the Super Summarizer? I read it once and know I can not find it. I am not sure what week I have and I do not want to let the group down :) Thanks!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Chapter Two Summary

I was pleased to see the statement made in Chapter 2 that supported extensive factual knowledge being required for our students to develop the ability to analyze and think critically. Especially with the technology at our fingertips, we seem to have given up on students learning or memorizing facts because they are so easily accessed. We allow our young people to use calculators on the Dakota STEP test, even. They seem to have fewer experiences with memorizing anything.
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


Hi Group-
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.