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Wednesday, July 27, 2011
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Friday, July 22, 2011
Thursday, July 21, 2011
If you want to see change in education, you have to do it.
You have to bring a group of people together.
Can this benefit of testing be enhanced? Yes it can. A new study has provided the first ever demonstration of how to enhance the memory consolidation that occurs after correctly answering a test question. Bridgid Finn and Henry Roediger's important and somewhat surprising new finding is that following a correct answer with an aversive stimulus serves to enhance the consolidation of that memory. It's like punishing the filing clerk after each correct retrieval makes him even more accurate in the future.
Forty undergrads studied multiple lists of ten word-pairs, each featuring a Swahili word and its English translation. After each list of ten, they were tested. Presented with the Swahili, they had to answer with the English. Here's the important bit. If they answered correctly, one of three things happened immediately: a blank screen appeared, a neutral picture appeared (e.g. a fork) or a negative, aversive picture appeared (e.g. a dead cat).
After this pattern of study period and test had been followed for ten lists of ten word-pairs, the participants were then given a jumbo test of all 100 Swahili words. Here's the key result: for those items answered correctly in the earlier mini-tests, it was those that were followed by a nasty picture that were most likely to be accurately recalled in the final jumbo test. Earlier correct answers that had been followed by a neutral pic or blank screen were not so well remembered (and performance was equivalent across the blank/neutral conditions).
"These data are the first to show that arousal following successful retrieval of information enhances later recall of that information," the researchers said.
A follow-up study was similar to the first but this time correct answers in the initial mini-tests were followed by neutral or aversive pictures that appeared two seconds later, as opposed to appearing immediately as they did in the first study. This was to see if there was a narrow window beyond which a negative stimulus wouldn't any longer enhance the consolidating effect of correct retrieval. The results were just the same as for the first study, so even two seconds later, a nasty picture is still able to enhance the memory consolidating effect of a correct retrieval. Future studies are needed to test just how long after a correct retrieval this process is still effective, and to see if positive images exert a similar benefit.
Finally, the researchers looked to see if the presentation of a negative pic has its memory enhancing effect after items are merely re-studied, as opposed to recalled. A similar protocol with Swahili-English word pairs was followed as before, but this time, instead of mini-tests after each set of ten word pairs, the participants were simply given the pairs to study again, with each pair proceeded either by a blank screen, neutral picture or nasty picture. This time, there was no benefit of the negative pics. In fact, there was a trend for pairs to be recalled less often if they'd been followed by a nasty pic in the earlier study phase.
Why should negative images boost the consolidating effects of answering a test item correctly? Finn and Roediger aren't sure but think it has to do with links between the amygdala, which is involved in fear learning, and the hippocampus - a brain area involved in long-term memory storage. This is a rather vague account and doesn't explain why aversive stimuli only enhance memory after correct retrieval, not further study. By way of further context, a 2006 study showed the presentation of aversive images after to-be-learned stimuli was beneficial during the initial study of that material.
I couldn't help wondering what Milgram would have made of this study. Recall that participants in his classic obedience research thought they were taking part in an investigation of the effects of punishment on learning. In Milgram's mock set-up, the "learner" was subjected to an electric shock each time they answered incorrectly. Of course, Milgram wasn't really studying memory, but this new article suggests that he could have been onto something. Somewhat paradoxically, though, it seems it's correctly answered items that ought to be followed by an aversive stimulus, not incorrect answers.
Finn, B., and Roediger, H. (2011). Enhancing Retention Through Reconsolidation: Negative Emotional Arousal Following Retrieval Enhances Later Recall. Psychological Science, 22 (6), 781-786 DOI: 10.1177/0956797611407932
This post was written by Christian Jarrett for the BPS Research Digest.
Wednesday, July 20, 2011
I returned a rental car during lunch on Wednesday during a conference. I rode back with Mr. Hidalgo who was listening to Dennis Prager on the radio and we got to talking.
"I tell my son, 'Be comfortable with the uncomfortable.' When he asks me to buy something for him," Mr. Hidalgo said, "I ask him to negotiate and find out about the warranty. He has to be ready to move forward by himself."
AN INTERESTING INTERNSHIP
"I tell my son to watch Hard Core Pawn. Anyone who watches that TV show for at least ten episodes will become better at business. If a young person could work there for a month, he would be set for life. I don't know why any teenager stands on a corner with a sign, waving it around. What does he learn doing that? It would be better to work in a store like Hard Core Pawn and really learn about how to run a business."
Two of his children are college graduates or in college, one at Columbia, and his third child (age 14) is in ninth grade. "I already took him to visit his brother at Columbia. I want him to think that this is part of his future." That's an engaged parent.
I'm at a conference to learn how to become a better teacher, how to find better learning materials and how to motivate students. I got my best tip from the guy who drives a shuttle bus. Bravo, Mr. Hidalgo.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
if you go to 1 minute 20 (1:20), you will see the transcription.The commissioner of education (in Rhode Island) Peter McWalter said to me, "I could have closed this school down the first year, but I had the patience to watch and I've never seen people who had the belief in the maturity of the kid" -- so half of our great work is because the [kids] grew up. In most schools, they don't get to [grow up] -- they get stopped before [they can prove themselves].http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdKw1GOIaGQ
11 July 2011I have worked at three charter schools (elementary, middle and high schools) and I'm a consultant to a start-up school.I recommend that you speak with Tom vander Ark edReformer.comTom Vander Ark
twitter: @tvanderarkIn their blogs they both write about the power of the correct approach in the use of the charter school format.Too many charter schools simply copy a school structure and teaching methods that "worked" 40 years ago. The charter schools that produce long-lasting results (students who have mastered the seven essential skills that Tony Wagner writes about in the Global Achievement Gap) use relationships and projects in their instruction.Perhaps the most instructive thirty seconds about "how to create effective charter schools" comes from an interview with Dennis Littky of Providence, Rhode Island. (see the link at the start of this letter)Note the later part of the interview with Littky:Critics laughed when they saw we had internships. Then they saw that we had the highest attendance rate in the state. We had the lowest drop-out rate in the state. But they really became believers when they see that every kid got accepted to college. Five years later they're still in college or graduated.
... We keep pushing ahead and trying to show that this is a way to help kids get educated.
We outscored the three largest high schools in mathematics and we don't teach a mathematics course. The kids learn to think like mathematicians, to solve problems and use their minds. The scores are not great, but they are moving up.
Colleges are impressed with how articulate and passionate our kids are.The point is that the test scores were not the result that Littky looked for ... it was what happened to the students.1) the highest attendance rate in the state.2) the lowest drop-out rate in the state.3) every kid got accepted to college.
4) we don't teach a mathematics course.
5) colleges are impressed with how articulate and passionate our kids are.Peter McWalter's remark is key: The project-based, student-centered charter school with a focus on relationships needs time and delivers results in ways that a standardized test does not reveal.I hope this information assists you in identifying the positive aspects of charter schools in the USA. There is much that discourages me in the charter school movement in the USA, but there is good work happening at hightechhigh.org and at Littky's BigPicture.org schools.Sincerely,Steve McCreaCurriculum consultantFort Lauderdale, FL 33301+1 954 646 8246
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Here's a link for Alison Gopnik: gopnik at berkeley dot edu
Why not send a fan letter?
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Sunday, July 10, 2011
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Tips and examples of projects
Before we look at specific projects, let's describe two parts of projects: Where and What.
Where can we see the project?
What is in the project?
The teacher has power to decide where the students' projects will go:
Posters on a wall
notice board (bulletin board)
in a box
on a CD or DVD
on a door
above the urinals
next to the toilet roll
near the water fountain
wherever people stand in line
in a discussion
on a shelf
on the whiteboard
on a TV screen
on a computer monitor
in a binder
in a Facebook group
on a blog
on a website
the “I want to remember this” (IWTRT) journal, diary or log
the “This is important” issues book
The content is important, too. What will appear in the spaces (the “Where”)? The teacher transforms the classroom into a newspaper office. Students are the reporters and editors, finding words, videos and photos and cutting them, piecing them together in new ways.
The teacher can encourage students to post many types of content:
job assignments in the class?
The students can learn to edit videos, create websites, YouTube channels, Facebook groups and page, and blogs, and gain new skills while using projects to explore the curriculum.
Special note about the “I want to remember this” (IWTRT) journal and the “This is important” issues book: Perhaps they are the same binder. When the teacher/facilitator finds an article that is important to her, she puts it in the binder marked “IWTRT” – the “Tunafish are overfished” articles are in my IWTRT binder. Why not encourage students to find issues that matter to them and THEN build the curriculum (math, science, literature, writing, languages, history) around those issues?
Note: To keep the interest of the students, quotations and other posted materials can be moved around the room once a week (or placed in storage for two weeks and then returned to be displayed in another location). The teacher can assign or request students to do the moving of the materials – and this task of moving turns into a learning moments, since the students can look at each item and decide, “Marsha's poster would look good over there – most people couldn't see it when it was on the back of the door.”
The purpose of this book now becomes clear: Most teachers focus on WHAT happens in the classroom (the content of the class). This book (especially the quotes, the excerpts from Neil Postman's book and the quotes from Littky) asks you to focus on procedures and theWHERE of the class. Where can students perform their understanding? Where can they express themselves? What locations will you release to the control of students? Please: let students take over walls, websites and more.
Draft chapter about Projects in GUIDE ON THE SIDE
Skype Phone Booth
Instead of phone booths, will we see Skype booths all over public areas like airports and hospitals? Well, we are not quite there yet, but the Estonian Tallinn Airport just placed a futuristic-looking Skype station in their building.
This Skype station has a 22-inch touchscreen and a headset and you have to log in with your Skype account to use it. If you have Skype credits, you can use them, if you don’t Skype-to-Skype usage is still free. What if you forget to log out when you are done? That shouldn’t be a problem, since the Skype booth will automatically log you out as soon as you step away from it.