How is a Student’s Memory at Test Time?

student memory

You’re about to find out that your students’ memories are FAR worse than you thought, and yet can be FAR better than you thought in another way. Let’s find out how to fix it with four quality solutions. Read more

Secrets to Ramping up Student Effort:

The 10 Step Checklist Every Teacher Should Memorize.

Brain based

Over the years, student effort has been called many things. Some call it “motivation” and others call it “work ethic.” But no matter what you call it, students will never rise to their full potential without a strong effort. Here is what research tells us and how you can get the most out of your students. First…

The Research

Here is what research tells us about student effort. Effort can be internally generated (habits of mind, content knowledge, muscle memory, skills and intrinsic motivation) or it can be extrinsic (peers, novelty, rewards, etc.) There are three primary sources of effort and the first two sources are internal. Read more

10 Powerful Steps for Improved Learning

Brain Based Teaching and Teacher Workshops

How to Make Your Job Easier and Give Students an Amazing Gift
for a Lifetime:

It’s the “Gift” of “How to Learn”

Usually, we feature a column on how to be a better teacher, administrator or trainer. This month, we’ll pause for a moment and work at the other end of the process. What do STUDENTS NEED to be doing to become far more effective learners? Some of the research tells us things we already knew.

PART ONE: The Research

We all know that teaching kids HOW to get more organized for study is important. But there might be a few surprises that are downright counter-intuitive. For example, you’ll be surprised to find out that quizzing MORE OFTEN actually promotes learning. But that’s just one of the 10 powerful steps for improved learning. If you are in a position to share these with staff that can reach students, please share this upcoming list. The research for this month was collected by the following scientists:

Harold Pashler (Chair)
University of California, San Diego
Patrice M. Bain
Columbia Middle School, Illinois
Brian A. Bottge
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Arthur Graesser
University of Memphis
Kenneth Koedinger
Carnegie Mellon University
Mark McDaniel
Washington University in St. Louis
Janet Metcalfe
Columbia University

Typically, I use this area to fill your brain with the “why” behind all the action. This month, it’s posted, so you can look it up. The full research document is posted on the web. Only one of 50 of you either: 1) work with students in this capacity, or, 2) are hungry enough to look it up. The document can be downloaded here (pdf).

The research tells us that the following suggestions have reasonable scientific support for them. If something’s not a good idea, you won’t hear it from me. But wait, there’s more! The online research posted 7 ideas and I have added 3 of my own, for a total of 10. Read more

Exploding the Myth of Self-Control

self control

Self-Control Made Easy

February is the time of the year when it’s not only colder, you’re more likely to have sick days, but also you’re heading into the testing season, too. Oh, one more thing…we tend to put on a few pounds, too!

Any help out there?

This month, we’ll learn about how to get yourself and your kids to do much, much more. We’ll learn about the science behind “self-control”. This executive function skill turns out to have such an enormous impact on our lives that those that are higher in self-control tend to be sick less often, earn more money, have better quality relationships, get more schooling, earn higher degrees, are happier and even donate more money. In short, there’s a very, very strong correlation with quality of life.

But…is it teachable? For the surprising news, keep reading… Read more

Myth-Busters: “It’s not what you don’t know that concerns me. It’s what you know that is not true that concerns me.”

Let’s start off on the right foot and destroy a myth.

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. Read more