Posts filed under ‘Learning’

Think FUN This Year!

back to schoolBack to school! Summer is over! Labor Day has come and soon is gone. Its time to dig in and start the battle. It’s a new beginning for most but an increasing number of schools are year-round. September is always a good time for new beginnings. It’s a time to revise approaches and attitudes. Each fall teachers plant a field of learning. Teachers prepare the seeds to germinate and plan activities over the year to help these seeds of learning to grow and bear fruit.

This year teach! Have fun teaching! Let kids be kids! Allow them to learn! Learn in their way! Know that the learning at the next harvest will leave pupils a better person. Plan to do this now. NCLB has a tremendous influence in the classroom. In some cases it has become a poisonous cloud that diminishes the positive learning experiences. Plan to have some fun in learning. It is contagious and kids catch it!

Can you imagine a world without books? The knowledge and adventures offered in books provide all of us learning, entertainment and fulfillment. As this year begins, help your “seedlings” discover the joy of reading and the wealth that books hold. NCLB offers no means of measuring this vital aspect to education!

The beginning of an “appreciate a book year” is to get a library card! This is

Library Card Sign-up Month

Consider a field trip to the local library or school library. Assist each child to get a library card. Check out this site:

American Library Association

Have fun and share a little learning today!

September 4, 2009 at 10:21 pm Leave a comment

Learning Difficulties

Genius has many dimensionsTeaching is the process of creating the most advantageous environment to facilitate learning. The teacher is the artist that designs, executes and appraises the environment. Previous posts have addressed these aspects of the teaching process. Teachers must be ever vigilant of obstacles to learning. Learning is an interactive process. That is, it involves our brain identifying sensory stimuli and processing that stimuli and then reacting to it. This is a key to understanding all theories of learning. This article deals with one of the many roles a teacher must perform: Identifying the child with special needs.

The scarecrow in the land of Oz searched for a brain. The irate mother screaming at her teenager “Use your brain!” The disappointed teacher telling the class to use their brains or it wouldn’t work.

Teachers have a general grasp of the Learning Theory. In order to appreciate the learning theories, it is important to understand the pathways of learning. A person views the surrounding world as if trapped inside a space suit. This external shell protects the tender gloo that resides inside. All the information about the world is provided through the mechanics of the senses. Eyes provide the visual sights of the world. Ears provide the sounds of that world. The nose provides the smells of that world. The nose in collusion with the tongue provide the taste of objects placed in the mouth. The skin provides the tactual feelings of the surroundings. All of these sensory devices receive a constant stream of information which is passed on to the brain. All the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and feelings are steady flowing into the brain. The brain must sort and organize a response to the combination of all this sensory information. The response is transmitted to nerves that manage the appropriate body parts. The responses provide further stimuli that have to be processed while other responses are transmitted. It is an involved and complex process. Fortunately, teachers do not need a physician’s knowledge.

Learning is the intake of sensory data (stimuli) and processing of it. This is where Learning Theory begins. From basic education courses, some learning theories might spark a recall: Constructivism, Developmental Theory, Learning Styles, Multiple Intelligences, Social Cognition and so on. The processing of the input is the essence of Learning Theory. Any interference with the sensory input will affect learning regardless of the learning theory followed.

Learning difficulties can be categorized into five groups of malfunction: Sense organ, sensory transmission, processing , response pathways, motor organ. These failures of the nervous system can be minor or major and temporary or permanent. Minor, temporary conditions might be as minor as a cold. The runny nose interferes with the senses of odor and taste. The same running nose may cause the pupil to be more concerned about wripping his nose that listening to class activity. A major permanent condition might be an individual who is blind or mental handicapped.

Today’s teacher must be aware of disruptions in the brain’s processing system. The teacher will need to be able to sort the minor problems from the major and the temporary from the permanent. Teachers cannot be expected to be experts in identifying all the learning blocks that face pupils but teachers do need to be able to recognize when a difficulty exists. The teacher will also need to decide just how serious the problem is. School districts usually have protocols for identifying and testing suspected learning challenged pupils. The protocol most often originates with the classroom teacher. The classroom teacher bears the responsibility for the “front line” recognition of a problem that needs further study and intervention.

In this case, the teacher’s role is to flag the potential problem. Identification of the problem is left for others. The teacher follows the protocol, notifies the right people and provides the assistance as requested. Subsequent testing may include eye or hearing tests, neurological workup, EGG, MRI, physical exam, psychological profile, etc. The teacher doe not make a diagnosis! The teacher identifies a possible problem that may need further investigation. That is the extend to which teachers can proceed. Conversations with parents must be carefully framed so as not to prejudice any needed mental or physical tests nor create any greater anguish than is necessary.

March 28, 2008 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

Showtime: The Lesson

LessonPlanBesides relating to the pupils, planning is the single most important aspect of teaching. Teachers plan. As stated in other posts, teachers eat, drink and dream planning. Good planning anticipates events and landmarks that the teacher uses to guide the pupils toward the goal. The wise and experienced teacher allows pupils to think that it was they who chose this course and discover this goal. Good planning eliminates 85% of classroom discipline problems. Poor planning creates frustration and disillusionment about teaching.

Keep in mind the the three sections of a lesson plan. The introduction, the Showtime and the applause. Teaching is very much like acting. The teacher is an artist. Teachers create the atmosphere in the classroom. The teacher must charm the pupil at times, chastise them at other times but always with a genuine concern. The teacher paints a picture. The teacher is dramatic and comic. The teacher puts on a performance each and every day. High School teachers give up to five performances day. Like Broadway plays, the show is live and has an audience. Unlike the Broadway audience who has paid for their seats, the teacher’s audience is filled with a hostile crowd who would rather be somewhere else.

The Introduction is the hook. It is what will capture the classroom audience’s attention and create an interest in today’s show. Motivation is an important factor that seems to have been shelved over the past few years. The pupil has to see the relevancy of the lesson in order for them to become involved. This section should be short. A question, a picture, a few words on the board- the idea is to stir interest and lay the ground work for the lesson. It is vital at this point to have the pupil’s attention. The rest of lesson is lost unless the teacher captures their attention. Teachers must control what happens in the classroom. Control means to be conscious of all activity and direct that activity into the lesson. It all begins here.

Pupils learn by doing. If the teacher’s sole activity is to listen to a monologue, expect the audience to rebel or repose. Attention span is an issue that must be realized before the activity begins. This is part of the anticipation of planning. Each age level has an anticipated attention span. Lecture or direction giving are important parts of teaching because pupils learn to listen and it develops increases in attention span.But… Every thing the teacher does in class should have some purpose and it should be directed toward learning. Thinking about what to do and how to do it: These are all parts of the anticipation teachers need. Following the theme from the last post (From Instrument to Instruction), Scientific methods and its state standard will be one of the driving goals of this class. (Also listening is a constant skill being practiced as is social skill development.) As the students enter the room, two potted plants are on display. The board reads “One plant was grown in light and one was grown in the dark. The seed was planted one week ago. (Remember when so-and-so did such and such.) Which one was in the light? What lead you that answer?”

Introduction has captured students attention. Three purposes are served. 1) The students have some thing to occupy them as they enter the room. (Classroom Management Skill!) 2) Previous learning and activity is tapped. (Learning is a thread. Learning continually builds on previous learning.)and 3) The day’s activity is on display alerting the pupils to today’s lesson.

During this short Introduction period, the teacher can accomplish the paperwork issues such as attendance. (Classroom Management Skill). It is important that teacher do not allow this time to go beyond a few minutes. Too much time results in loss of attention and that results disciplinary problems.

Showtime is the main event. Get the hat and cane! Its “song and dance” time. Following the thread of the plan: As the Introduction phase ends, the teacher points to plant A. Quietly raises his hand. Pupils figure it out and raise their hands. Plant B do likewise. The teacher points to the “What lead you to the answer portion?” The teacher points to someone who had raised their hand for Plant A and Then B. You get the idea. (It’s the teachers decision to try a silent routine).The teacher watches the clock. This phase cannot run too long. It’s purpose is to show that there is a difference of opinion and to allow the expression of thought. (It also helps to reinforce large group social behavior). Notice the teacher has yet to speak a word. At this point the teacher can verbally explain the next activity or, as in this case, hand out a set of instructions and point to the back. Groups having been established earlier and routine for moving from one area to another already established, the students aware of the routine amble to the tables in the back of the room. (Or if the classroom does not have a back of the room, the teacher would have established a routine of turning desk and forming a group circle.) This show is the bulk of the lesson. The teacher must be aware of time. Having planned and anticipated various factors that should occur or could occur, the teacher moves the pupils through the activities expected.

The group is asked to write a single simple sentence to explain how Plant A or B developed the way it did. (Hopefully the language arts teachers have done their job or it’s a good time to interweave subjects together). Then they are to write a paragraph to explain what they would need to do in order to prove that their simple statement is correct. Each student will be responsible for his or her own work but they can discuss and get assistance from the group. They can even as a group design the same statement and paragraph. But each pupil should then turn In their paper. (Accountability is important. IT’S A C.M.S.)!

Time for Applause. The teachers should use whatever established routine for turning in paperwork. For example, one pupil in each team collects papers and turns them in reporting who did not do it! As the pupils take their seats, the teacher has replaced the original questions with the following:

<What do the following terms have to do with today’s work?>

/\/\/\/\Hypothesis? Experiment? Data?/\/\/\/\

Students are called on randomly.For each response, ask class to agree or disagree or modify. After having gone through the three terms, end the class by asking:

<<<<<<< And where do you suppose we go from here?>>>>>>>>

The teacher needs to watch time carefully at this point. Drag out or keep short so that the teacher dismisses the class and not the bell.

The teacher’s mind is assessing his lesson. Did the teacher do what was planned? Were the methods (plants, quiet questions, groups, etc.) effective? What else went well? What else went awry? How can it be improved? Based on these assessments the teacher evaluates the lesson: Good lesson, Needs Improvement, Dump the lesson. Time to move on! There is always tomorrow to think of!

March 5, 2008 at 5:30 am Leave a comment

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