In September, I shared the research that told you that feedback was the top achievement-boosting variable. in learning. This month, we’ll tie together some brain research and student achievement data to reveal the most VISIBLE ingredient in better teaching.
First, the hint: It is consistently correlated with high achievement gains and it is one of the single biggest variables in teacher quality.
For years, realtors have tried to help sell prospective home buyers on the neighborhood with “good schools.” You may have had parents that fixate on picking the right school for their child. But the research shows it matters far more which teacher the child gets.
Teachers had THREE times as much influence on students’ academic development as the school they attended.
Many of the factors commonly assumed to be important to teachers’ effectiveness are NOT causal or even strongly correlated with student achievement. Although teachers are paid more for experience, education and training, those are not a guarantee of better student performance. (more…)
In-depth discussions and summaries.
There is no replacement for this strategy. Students somehow need to talk about, argue, think through, summarize, question, rewrite and recall the learning to develop some depth of elaboration.
An older study (Eysenck and Eysenck1979) showed that processing capacity was greater when information was retrieved from secondary (the resource) memory than from primary memory (“I recall”). It’s better when processing was of a deep, semantic nature than when it was shallow. Students have to do the digging, not you. Let them create quizzes, summaries or dialogs with the material.
More recently, teachers found that if you pause and give students time to answer questions on index cards, then discuss in groups learning goes up. These short, in-class writing exercises increase focus, thinking and depth of knowledge (Butler 2001). Reciprocal teaching is well supported by research. Developed by Annemarie Palincsar and Ann Brown in 1984, reciprocal teaching switches the roles of the student and teacher.
It has been well generalized (Coleman 1997) to many subjects areas as well by using three basic steps:
* Group discussions. These smaller groups allow less competent students to perform at higher levels with greater safety than in the large group. These may include small groups.
* Independent Group Discussions. The group collaborates to revise, understand and construct the meaning of the material their way. Students become motivated by autonomy and curiosity.
* Scaffolding: Students can learn from peers just as well as they can from adults. But the process must be guided and managed to avoid any downsides. Here the teacher encourages and provokes students for deeper understanding. The teacher provides support for those less able students and then backs off.
There’s a revolution taking place throughout education… a revolution sparked by the explosion of new knowledge about the human brain and our practical, urgent need to gain cutting edge, paradigm-rocking teaching survival skills for this new century. Now is your chance to be part of a rare event that brings together the worlds top experts on learning, the human brain, educational innovation, and you get to be there!
That’s right. At Jensen Learning, we were the originators of the Learning Brain EXPO, and to our delight, other Brain EXPOs have popped up around the world. Now the first Hong Kong Mind/Brain EXPO is coming up we are excited to be a part of it!
How to Tell if it’s For You
You should attend… if you’re interested in the powerful impact and practical applications of brain research on learning, teaching, training, and education. The Expo is particularly valuable for:
Can You Find Your Area of Interest Below?
Our speaker list is highlighted by the always-popular maverick psychiatrist Daniel Amen. Amen is the author of many best-sellers, and a true pioneer in brain imaging. His sessions sell out every single time. Join the EXPO to find out his latest research on maximizing your brain health. This is critical, cutting-edge information for you AND your loved ones!
Learn how to revolutionize your teaching and learning – and make it a place of learning, discovery, collaboration, excitement, and positive transformation, with brain-compatible pioneer, the original and legendary Eric Jensen. He’s written 26 books and he will show how you turn your classroom or school into a brain-compatible event that excites students every day.
But there’s more…
You’ll get a chance to hear the legendary Art Costa, founder of the Thinking Skills movement and Cognitive Coaching movement. He is a legend and you’ll get a rare chance to hear him before it’s too late. (more…)
Every now and then I do a survey. For example, five months ago we did a survey to find out what you thought about lesson planning. Two great things came from the survey. First, we learned a great deal from your thoughtful comments. We used your comments to put together something amazing for each of you. Therefore, the second goodie is that, although only one person (Ginna Myers) won the grand prize, everyone has won something of great value.
In fact, it might be the single most important gift I could ever give you… and it’s FREE (free is good)!
For years, I have pushed a more thoughtful approach to teaching that combines the power of emotions, movement, music and the development of cognitive capacity. But the challenge to use a more brain-based approach is in the proper planning, sequencing and execution of the processes.
Why is this planning so important?
If you’re doing the wrong thing in teaching, kids lose out and either they don’t change or they change for the worse. Kids can change more quickly than you ever thought. A recent study at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Thinking by Dr. Draganski and colleagues stated, “…we demonstrate significant gray matter volume increases in frontal and parietal brain areas following only two sessions of practice…” (Taubert, et al. 2010).
This is crazy good!
This stunning discovery that our brain can actually change its shape within days or weeks in response to certain mental and physical stimuli is dramatically different from the “old school” fixed mindset that change happened after months or years (or, not at all.) We now know that just doing complex thinking can literally add gray mass to the brain (Aydin, K., et al. 2007). But how do we get kids to be doing the complex thinking required for high performance learning? (more…)
What should your priorities be this year? From a personal standpoint, managing your health through good food, exercise, and stress management are pretty smart paths to follow. After all, if you’re not at your best, both you and your students miss out.
From a professional standpoint, ensuring that students become strong learners should be a top priority.
Since you don’t have time for every idea on earth, what factors will support your student’s growth the most? For now, we’ll focus on just one of the top five factors that drive student achievement. The study we draw from is grounded in work from several thousand teachers, so the sample size is impressive.
Focusing on what matters most is one sure way to “disaster-proof” your teaching.
A human being is born less able to cope on its own than any other mammal. However, this provides the brain with extraordinary flexibility to adapt to its environment. The method it uses is a monster’s appetite for environmental adaption based on experience. Yet, I’ve always said that our brain is primarily a “gist processor.” That means that we are more interested in being effective (goal acquisition) than we are being efficient, being a deep thinker, or knowing a lot of background. In the classroom, this means that most kids (unless we shape their brains differently) would much rather get quirky headlines, YouTube clips, and do activities all day.
To become effective, the brain relies on an exquisite collection of feedback processors. (more…)
Steve Jobs resigned today from Apple because of ailing health.
Here is a piece of the last commencement address he gave, at Stanford…
“Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work.
And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.
I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960’s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous.
Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Steve Jobs Stanford Commencement Speech 2005:
Myth: IQ Cannot Be Changed… Students are Fixed the Way They Are
Completely false! Brains can change! In fact, the worse students are academically, the greater the upside. There are no credible studies (yet) of raising IQ in kids with high IQ already. But many, many studies show that kids with an IQ in the 70-100 range can have it raised. In study after study, we find that every single component of intelligence can be raised.
In one study (Mackey, et al., 2011) children aged 7 to 9 from poverty participated in one of two cognitive training programs for 60 minutes/day and 2 days/week, for a total of 8 weeks. Children in the reasoning group improved substantially (an average increase of 10 points in Performance IQ.) By contrast, children in the speed group improved substantially in different areas. Counter to widespread mythology, these results indicate that both fluid reasoning and processing speed are modifiable by purposeful training.
What about kids from poverty; can you raise their IQ? Yes, you can. In fact, among the poor, the heritability of IQ is far less than among middle and upper income students. The heritability of IQ among kids from low-income families from their parents is less than 10%. It’s over 60% for middle and upper income families. In other words, don’t blame the parents for a poor child’s low school performance. Before age four, the caregivers ARE the dominant influence. But once in kindergarten, school is the dominant influence.
Kids will spend nearly 13,000 hours in school from K-12. This means the IQ of the parents of poor kids is less of a factor than the environment you create at school. That’s right; it means your staff has NO excuses for students to underperform. (more…)
CNN’s Education Overtime is a series focused on the conversations surrounding education issues that affect students, teachers, parents and the community. They dropped into our Poverty Workshop in North Carolina to ask about the classroom effects of poor nutrition.
“The lack of good nutrition is just one of the many issues children in poverty have to deal with,” said Eric Jensen, author of Teaching With Poverty in Mind. “These kids move around a lot, don’t have much adult supervision or routine in their lives, and sometimes suffer from mistreatment or abuse. So it’s no wonder studies have shown that low-income students tend to be low performers in school.”
If you’d like to learn more about overcoming the challenges of poverty in the classroom, download our free guide: Secrets of High-Achieving Schools with High-Poverty Students here.
Eric Jensen was asked how to for his perspective on motivation in the classroom… his answer is found in the video below.
My father turned 92 this year, so I thought I’d turn to a different topic.
If there’s anything that puts fear into those over 40, it’s cancer. For those over 60, it’s the mental breakdowns, symbolized most by dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. While many find treatments for cancer, few have been successful with Alzheimer’s disease.
The reason that cancer has been so slippery to treat is that there are so many potential causes (inherited susceptibility, environmental toxins, immuno-suppresion deficiencies, etc.) and so many expressions (malignant, nonmalignant), with so many types (liver, brain, and skin) of the disease. It’s very, very complex.
But Alzheimer’s is a different illness altogether. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most serious form of dementia occurring in the elderly. And it’s the one illness I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But, under the radar, there are some promising treatments that keep making it into the peer-reviewed journals that are worth considering for both prevention and interventions. What I have learned is below. For the surprising news, keep reading… (more…)