This is a distance learning course, concentrating on uses of the Internet for teaching, learning and professional development. It also is intended to give you enough web sites and leads-in to more web sites to be a continuously useful resource for your learning and doing.
This is a PASS/FAIL course. Therefore, SELECT and BASE YOUR WORK on those areas that best match your current interests. You can return any time to areas that match future concerns and changing interests--one of the many advantages of on-line learning
Assessment is based on work you produce in series of essays/listings for each Essential Question or topic you "connect with," and with an annotated list of sites supporting your views and reflecting your web work. Note the Rubric for Course Portfolio Assessment.
For instance, you might write The site XXXX [http://www.xxx.com] gave me a different perspective on how to help students learn _____. It also cleared up for me something I was confused about, and that is what educators mean by __________. Certainly you would want to elaborate more.
This work may be emailed to me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or snail-mailed to me at Chad C. Osborne 923 W. Mission St., Santa Barbara, CA 93101. If you email the work, you may wish to put it in a Zip file, which compresses text and makes it easier to send over the 'Net.
BRAIN COMPATIBLE TEACHING & LEARNING
In recent years, since the development of new imaging techniques in medicine and research in cognive psychology, we have a substantial basis for learning theory. Brain research-based learning theory gives support to inquiry-based learning, alternative assessment, creative and critical thinking, education reform and habits of mind. Our understanding of the brain gives positive hope for all students, substantiates broad as well as specific aims, and gives reasons to forge connections between and among prior and new learnings. Much of what goes on in schools not only fails to be brain-compatible, but is actually brain antagonistic. The brain functions best with adequate time, the absence of threat, immediate feedback, dynamic interaction, with global contexts as well as delineation of parts, and in a state of relaxed alertness.
This course will guide your inquiry through eight essential questions, having you consider
including all students,
teaching for understanding,
using questioning and graphic organizers,
inquiry and essential questions,
teaching for creativity,
using Web Quests, and
using integrated curriculum.
Essential Question 1: Based on links within the following sites, what are the characteristics of "brain-compatible" teaching and learning, and what general guidelines to you see for your own teaching?
The Brain -- Read and consider each of the sections on:
Intelligence is a function of experience
Emotions are the gatekeeper to learning.
Humans in all cultures use multiple intelligences to solve problems and to create products.
The brain's search for meaning is a search for patterns.
Learning is the acquisition of useful mental programs.
One's personality has an impact on learning.
What Is a Thinking Curriculum? -- "Thinking curricula, based on 'new' ways of thinking about learning, treat both content and processes differently. Content includes concepts, principles, generalizations, problems, facts, definitions, etc. Process includes learning strategies and skills, creative and critical thinking, thinking about thinking (metacognition), social skills, and so on. In the next section, we describe some characteristics of a thinking curriculum."
Understanding Why Education Must Change -- "The real truth is that at this moment very few people know what schooling should look like in the communications era. In addition, the process of moving from one model of schooling to another that is as yet unknown is causing both chaos and confusion as well as immense opportunity and new possibilities."
Whole Brain Teaching -- "Whole-brain teaching is an instructional approach derived from neurolinguistic descriptions of the functions of the brain's left and right hemispheres."
Guided Meditation -- The absence of threat and a state of relaxed alertness are characteristics of both brain-compatible learning and yoga/meditation. Is there a role for this method for reducing stress and producing relaxed alertness?
Essential Question 2: Based on links within the following sites, what is the case for pursuing "brain-compatible" teaching for higher order thinking for all students?
Special Education Inclusion -- The profiles, reviews of legal requirements, and suggestions on this page give important emphases, including the focus needed on higher level thinking skills.
What Does Research Say About Reading? -- A comprehensive, concise review reflecting the movement from traditional views of reading based on behaviorism to visions of reading and readers based on cognitive psychology.
Dyslexia, The Gift -- From a multiple intelligences angle we can see the strengths of the dyslexic student.
21st-Century Skills -- What does it mean to be "literate and educated" in today's knowledge-based Digital Age?
Open Response Questioning Strategies -- All students face the challenge of writing answers to open-ended questions on standardized tests. This site has links to help students improve their ability to do this.
Constructed Response Items -- A collection of constructed response items is to assist local educators in the classroom assessment of students in ways that are consistent with emerging reforms. Students must use critical and creative (higher order) thinking in these test itms, a new "state of the art" aspect of current testing.
Consider, too, the importance of WAIT TIME. Most teachers ask questions at an extremely rapid rate, and average only one second of wait time after each question and after each student answer.
When teachers increase wait time by 5 seconds, the following results occur:
1) Longer student answers;
2) More appropriate answers;
3) More frequent student responses;
4) More answers on the analysis and synthesis levels;
5) More questions and responses from slow learners; and
6) More confidence by students in their answers.
Essential Question 5: Based on links within the following sites, how might you emphasize essential questions and inquiry processes to stimulate brain-compatible learning?
Framing Essential Questions -- "For decades students have been sent to the library to 'find out about' some topic. This tradition has led to information gathering but little analysis or thought...Essential questions set students and staff free from this tedious and wasteful ritual. Research becomes motivating and meaningful."
Generating Essential Questions -- "Teachers and students who generate essential questions about the content to be learned, provide an important framework for their learning activities."
Asking the Essential Question -- Teaching students to write essential questions to guide research projects; "Essential questions are questions that require you to make a decision or plan a course of action. They are sometimes difficult to develop and your teacher might have to help you. After you get experience writing essential questions, you will become a more competent researcher."
Peer Learning, Student Work Groups, Small Group Discussions and Learning Partnerships -- "Ample evidence has been found that peer learning is very effective for a wide variety of goals, course content, differences in student levels and personalities. Students who teach or explain to other students, have a better understanding of the material possibly due to the preparation and active participation involved. Since everyone is a peer, the relationships are more equal and thus, students may be more inclined to ask questions, reveal misconceptions, and admit confusion."
Teaching inquiry and questioning skills are means of student empowerment, which the following two sites explore.
Strategies for Empowering Students -- "The activities are divided into primary, intermediate, and upper-grade levels, each with appropriate developmental strategies. The purpose of each activity is to address the holistic approach to teaching. The focus concentrates on blending the affective, conative, and cognitive domains in an integrative and cohesive manner."
Empowering Students: Essential Schools' Missing Link -- "Students are too often the forgotten heart of school reform-its whole purpose and its major resource. how can their power be nurtured and tapped as schools work toward more active learning, more personal and decent school climates, and higher standards and expectations?"
EXAMPLES of TOPICS for ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
Topics that Generate Understanding
In his 1992 book Smart Schools: From training memories to Educating Minds, David Perkins suggests reorganizing the curriculum around "generative topics" that provoke what he calls "understanding performances" which not only demonstrate a student's understanding but also advance it by encompassing new situations. With his Harvard University colleagues Howard Gardner and Vito Perrone, he devised several standards for such topics: they should be central to a subject matter or curriculum; they should be accessible and inviting to teachers and students, not "sparse or arcane" and they should be rich, encouraging extrapolation and connection making. The three researchers came up with the following "good bets" as examples.
Evolution focusing on the mechanism of natural selection in biology and on its wide applicability to other settings like pop music, fashion, the evolution of ideas.
The origin and fate of the universe focusing qualitatively on cosmic questions as in Stephen Hawkings'A Brief History of Time.
The periodic table focusing on the dismaying number of elements identified by early investigators and the challenge of making order out of chaos.
The question what is real in science, pointing up how scientists are forever inventing entities(quarks, atoms, black holes) that we can never straightforwardly see but as evidence accumulates, come to think of as real.
Nationalism and internationalism focusing on the causal role of nationalistic sentiment; often cultivation by leaders for their own purposes as in Hitler's Germany, in world history and in the prevailing foreign policy attitudes in America today.
Revolution and evolution asking whether cataclysmic revolutions are necessary or evolutionary mechanisms will serve.
Origins of government asking where, when and why different forms of government have emerged.
The question what is real in history, pointing up how events can look very different to different participants and interpretations.
Zero, focusing on the problems of practical arithmetic that this great invention resolved.
Proof, focusing on different ways of establishing something as true and their advantages and disadvantages.
Probability and prediction, highlighting the ubiquitous need for simple probabilistic reasoning in every day life the question what is real in mathematics, emphasizing that mathematics is an invention and that many mathematical things initially were not considered real,(for instance, negative numbers, zero, and even the number one).
Allegory and fable, juxtaposing classic and modern examples and asking whether the form has changed or remains essentially the same.
Biography and autobiography contrasting how these forms reveal and conceal the true person form and the liberation from form examining what authors have apparently gained from sometimes embracing and sometimes rejecting certain forms(the dramatic unities, the sonnet)
the question what is real in literature exploring the many senses of realism and how we can learn about real life from fiction. From David Perkins, Smart Schools: From Training Memories to Educating Minds(New York; Free Press, 1992)
What Defines a Good Thinker?
At the heart of good thinking, David Perkins suggests in his 1992 book Smart Schools, is the "thinking disposition" an inclination to learn that encompasses the abilities or "know-how" we want children to acquire. Good teachers model, cultivate, point out, and reward these dispositions, he says, in everything from classroom discussions to assessment activities. Perkins and his colleagues Eileen Jay and Shari Tishman offer the following model of the thinking dispositions.
The disposition to be broad and adventurous
The disposition toward sustained intellectual curiosity
The disposition to clarify and seek understanding
The disposition to be planful and strategic
The disposition to be intellectually careful
The disposition to seek and evaluate reasons
The disposition to be metacognitive(to think about thinking and learning)
Essential Question 6: Based on links within the following sites, how might you stimulate brain-compatible learning through enhancing curriculum and classroom environment features that encouage creativity?
What Is Creativity? -- Creativity is the paradoxical integration of doing and being...and more.
Mind Tools: Creativity -- "a wide range of techniques you can use to come up with creative and imaginative solutions to the challenges you face. The section starts by showing you how to use three systematic approaches to creativity. It then discusses some important lateral-thinking based approaches, which can be used to come up with startling and original solutions to problems. Finally it explains how to use two powerful and important problem-solving processes."
Creativity and Flow Psychology -- Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (pronounced me-high chick-sent-me-high) says we can facilitate the conditions for this quality of optimal functioning, and that it may be found in a wide range of careers and activities."
Fostering Creativity-A Balancing Act -- "An environment that encourages creativity is one that includes opportunities for children to explore and discover, and offers a broad base of experiences followed by opportunities for imitation."
Essential Question 7: Based on links within the following sites, how might you use Web Quests and the internet to stimulate brain-compatible learning? A web quest is an inquiry based activity that is usually completed by a group or class. Each individual has a role that is assigned to them, as they explore dimensions of an Essential Question or problem, through as many quality web sites as they can find.
Why Web Quests -- "... even if the Web bore no educational value, we as teachers would need to come to terms with it to understand our students' world and frame of reference. The good news is that the Web is not just helpful to education, but, used effectively, it can revolutionize student learning."
Think Quest -- Team produced web quests in every subject area. A superb site!
WebQuest Training Materials -- Outstanding collection of articles and exemplary Web Quests to get started or kick your Quests up a notch
The Web Quests Page -- "The instructions take you step by step through the construction of a WebQuest. There are great links to other WebQuest sites as well." From Brown Middle School in Newton, Mass.
Web Quests -- Over 1200 Examples in all subjects, all levels
Tech Trekers Web Quests -- "WebQuests are among the most fascinating applications on the Internet for K-12 educators. Student centered and inquiry based, a WebQuest challenges students to explore the web for information and it is an excellent way to integrate the Internet into the classroom. Traditionally WebQuests have an introduction, a process, a task, a list of resources, a conclusion, and an evaluation." Numerous, high quality examples--all subjects, all levels
Literary Webquests -- "A WebQuest is an inquiry-oriented activity in which most or all of the information used by learners is drawn from the Web. WebQuests are designed to use learners' time well, to focus on using information rather than looking for it, and to support learners' thinking at the levels of analysis, synthesis and evaluation."
Critical Issue: Using Technology to Enhance Engaged Learning for At-Risk Students -- "An increasing number of educators are calling for high standards and challenging learning activities for at-risk students. New technologies can provide meaningful learning experiences for all children, especially those at risk of educational failure. Schools that capitalize on the relationship between technology and education reform will help students to develop higher order skills and to function effectively in the world beyond the classroom."
Teacher Web.com -- The easiest and most widely used site for producing teacher/course web pages. Enhances communication with parents and students.
Teacher WebQuest -- A free and easy way to create Web Quests using templates this site provides.
Essential Question 8: Based on links within the following sites, how might you use integrated curriculum to foster students making connections among their learning?
Integrated Curriculum -- "...the brain may resist learning fragmented facts that are presented in isolation. Learning is believed to occur faster and more thoroughly when it is presented in meaningful contexts, with an experiential component." Check out the chart,too!
Toward an Integrated Curriculum -- "...at the intersection of concerns from early adolescents and from the larger world, we can begin to imagine powerful themes that connect the two and thus offer a promising possibility for organizing an integrative curriculum." Note the of "Ten Views for Integrating Curriculum."
Developing an Applied and Integrated Curriculum -- "The foundation of all efforts to improve high school students' transition to postsecondary education and/or careers is an applied and integrated curriculum that connects academic and vocational learning."
Interdisciplinary Curriculum -- "...projects that cut across traditional subject divisions and introduce concepts in an integrated fashion. These are grouped by approximate grade level..."