Chapter 2 – pages 37 – 72

Comment below regarding this chapter.

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15 thoughts on “Chapter 2 – pages 37 – 72

  1. Wow! There is a ton of information to synthesize in this chapter. I enjoyed reading all about the different learning theorists. (Loved some of the names- Csikszentmihalyi?) I absolutely love when my students and I are so immersed in tasks that we lose track of time. I know for sure then that great learning is happening.
    I always work with students, especially at the beginning of the year, on them reflecting on their strengths and weaknesses. We mostly focus on how to study as fifth grade is usually where intense studying begins. I can see how the Personal Learner Profile takes that much farther. When I viewed the strengths and challenges tables, I saw myself and my students. I do think that creating these will be challenging with elementary students. I have students that would not be able to complete a table, I think lower grades would have lots more trouble. Maybe we do this with a combination of students, parents, and former teachers?
    As a veteran teacher, all of this does bring on some overwhelming feelings in me. I’m sure it will in newer teachers, also. We just have to bring it on slowly and piece by piece.

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    1. I like what you said most about a gradual shift into this learning style for both teachers and students. I think it would be very easy for teachers to feel that this shift has to be “all or nothing” and get discouraged and disillusioned. I think a good thing to remember is that it has to be done in a way that the teacher can feel comfortable and successful with too. Otherwise, students would sense the frustration and confusion!

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  2. Wow! This is definitely how I am feeling about chapter 2. Reading about the past theories, flow, as well as mindset felt familiar. I am able to pinpoint specific times when I am so immersed in (?) that time passes quickly. Many times I just figure that I’m loving what I’m doing….maybe my brain is highly active and learning is occurring ? Working in the classrooms there are times when I see our students immersed in an activity. Learning….
    It was wonderful to be reminded that the brain is highly adaptable. Many times routine takes over and new and different things aren’t considered. It is ok to be flexible.
    In the chapter review it encouraged thinking about the generation we learned in….for me, I see strong similarities to classrooms today. Though I was never considered to be a learner (just a student), I somehow gleaned the tools I needed to love learning.
    Schools have, and still do use tools(lexiles, testing, etc.) to describe learners. Some tools need to be in place for educators to understand students. I don’t feel any of them are an end all. I’ve had students who have appeared to be “poor” in an area, when their true learning isn’t actually being recognized.
    This chapter had so much to process!
    I agree with Greg in that it does feel overwhelming. Yes, we need to keep everything in balance, work slowly, piece by piece.

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  3. Chapter 2 really blew my mind. I especially enjoyed learning about the various theorists who have influenced our approaches to education. Knowing why we have transformed over the years, or not transformed, is key in moving forward.

    Although I have never explicitly asked students how they learn best, I try to always take into account the types of learners that I’m teaching. The material is best absorbed when given to students in a variety of formats. This makes perfect sense to me, and I hope that at least one of the formats resonates with one of my learners. Usually, through observation of students in flow, and out of flow, I can figure out what works best for them and what doesn’t. But, asking would be a really interested development for my third graders.

    Knowing how we learn best should be natural and easy, but honestly I think it’s tricky to pinpoint how we learn best, especially if you are thrown into the cookie-cutter approach to education. If you learn a certain way, you most likely adapted to learn another way due to the “sink or swim” environment that education has become for so many of our students.

    I think that as long as Ute Pass continues to think outside the box and value learner’s needs, we are in good shape. How cool would it be to produce learners that know exactly how they want to learn and why. That’s a big task.

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  4. I too was interested in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s ideas. In the art room, I must confess, we are more times than not, very involved in what we are doing and often behind when teachers come to take their classes back. I know that the suspension of “right and wrong” answers, and the immersion in creative thought is one of my favorite times. I know it is for the students. Achieving the “flow” is special, but it is not always there. I loved the statement, “All learners learn more when content drives the choice of modality…You typically store memories in terms of meaning-not in terms of whether you saw, heard, or physically interacted with the information.” This rings true to me, and it’s certainly true of myself. I saw an independent film this summer about a man who became interested in helping dementia patients. He thought that if they could listen to the music of their youth, they would be able to connect with it. He visited a nursing home for people afflicted with various forms of dementia and brought an I Pod. He asked the staff to help him load songs they thought would mean something to certain patients. One particular patient had no visible awareness of his surroundings. His head lay on his wheelchair tray most of the time. When they put the ear buds into his ears, he picked up his head and began to sing and sing and sing with great passion. He hadn’t spoken in years. Similar results were present with other patients in all stages of dementia. Turns out, the part of the brain that stores musical memories is the last region to die due to memory related illnesses. Something potent had been laid down in their minds at a time when music had great meaning for them.

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  5. Piece by piece is wise. The piece I spent the most time with in this chapter was the Universal Design for Learning. The links described in figure 2.6 are very profound for me. For once, there’s finally a model that doesn’t argue that ONE instructional process is somehow better than another. UDL simply says that traditional frameworks, when used in isolation, simply put the cart before the horse. You don’t know the shape of the cart until you really understand the set of learning skills the learner brings to the task. Analyzing the learner in terms of recognition, strategic, and affective systems is so profoundly simple, as a model, yet has huge implications for how well our students learn. I also think that Plato’s belief that tools of the mind must be taught at each level concurrent with the content is also critical.

    Overall, I think this chapter makes an elegantly succinct case for why we should embrace, and perhaps celebrate, the intense complexity that really happens between you and each learner. That’s what I love about it. It is a complete turn away from some of the highly standardized instructional model is, that when used crudely, can lead to disengagement or worse yet, boredom.

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  6. There were a few things (out of many) that resonated the most for me in this chapter… the first was at the beginning of the chapter when the book defined the different generations, as well as the generalizations given to these generations in regards to technology and mindset. Although I think making such generalizations about groups of people can be dangerous, I think it is also sometimes helpful when thinking about different ways to reach people of different ages, and mindsets, based on the culture they grew up in. To understand the children we teach as a generation who has never been without technology (yes, even I remember when the internet was brand new in our house! And don’t forget the sign-up sheet the family had to use to share equal time on the computer when the internet was a novelty) offers us an opportunity to see the world in the way that they perhaps do. This insight can help us plan for a future of more personalized learning that wouldn’t just resonate with their generational outlooks, but their teacher’s as well.

    The next part that stood out the most was the standardized test section. Although short, this section put a lot of emphasis on the teacher’s feedback and observation (of course including classroom assessments) being the better way to proceed through our current educational experience, rather than the be-all-end-all mentality that standardized tests have brainwashed into some, and imposed on others. I was also pleased to read the section that questioned the validity of high-stakes testing to measure growth, when often it can be observed that the same student’s progress can severely fluctuate in just a few days or hours’ time. I found this interesting, because I have found myself discussing this same topic very recently and very often with close colleagues as we prepare ourselves and our kids for another round of high-stakes testing this year.

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  7. this chapter renued my interest in Vygotsky’s theories in particular. A couple of years ago Lynn and I were exploring a early childhood curriculum based on his theory of “tools of the mind”. I know that with the current pushed down curriculum I have felt very pulled away from constructivist learning to more direct instruction, not proud, 😁. Reading this chapter inspires me to get back to focusing on creating an environment where active learning is encouraged and kids are motivated and in charge of learning. I agree with Greg that change can be overwhelming but for me it has been draining professionally to engage in curriculum and practice that do not value children’s role in constructing their own learning through discovery.
    I also loved the section about UDL. The quote, “?.. UDL was not about learners overcoming their barriers; it was about reducing or eliminating the barriers that keep learners from learning.” As we meet to talk about our struggling students it is a good reminder for me to shift my thinking about what I can change to facilitate their learning process rather than lamenting on what they can’t do. Food for thought.

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  8. The Theorists Review was awesome….history is really crucial to learning, isn’t it? It reinforced how caring the learning community is, and always has been: we have been struggling “to do right” by our precious charges forever!
    The best quote out of the whole chapter, to me, was, “If you design learning for the average, you design it for no one.” That truly is my mantra, and in order to follow this the learners must design their classroom…the teacher does indeed need to focus on the learners in his/her world! Twenty years ago I had the pleasure of “learning” in an innovative school in Denver, where the School Board allowed us to design our entire program. The first thing we did was include students (who quickly morphed into learners) in our planning committee. We ended up implementing the greatest twelve year learning program in my career: multi-age classrooms. In my case, I got 9 third graders (we quickly lost track of what grade they were in) into my room every year and kept them for three years. It was truly a family of learners…never could we “teach 3rd grade or 4th grade…” We facilitated the learners “taking off!” The relationships forged in those years are with me today…for twelve glorious years I was not teaching stuff, I was teaching kids and vice versa!
    And then the push for data and test scores…and dictating what we teach…let’s get our learning back!!!

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  9. Wow, yes this was a loaded chapter! I loved the info on the educational pioneers. Vygotsky is one that I model after quite a bit~ with “tools of the mind”. I think this is especially relevant in the current age of information and technology. It also emphasizes the importance of collaboration and learning with and from others.
    I think even the youngest of learners can be engaged in conversations about how they learn, what they are good at, etc. No, we cannot expect them to just come up with it on their own, but we can encourage them to begin looking at these things. We can model by sharing observations we make.
    I love Vygotsky’s statement about the zone of proximal development~ “What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow.” We just have to figure out the right scaffolding to give the learner and when/how to remove it little by little.
    I don’t think we need to be intimidated by all of this, we should realize how much of this we already do as well as challenge ourselves to step outside of our comfort zone and our learned roles. It’s all a balance!

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  10. Great quote, Lynn! “What a child can do in cooperation today, he can do alone tomorrow.” Candy, love the sentence “Let’s get our learning back.” Yes, it is OURS! It belongs inside the glorious circle of feedback that flows around the teacher and the learner.

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  11. While this chapter had a lot of information, I found the end especially practical in helping me begin to wrap my mind around how all of these ideas can be implemented into a classroom. I was struck right away by the discussion of Lev Vygotsky on the first page. I think we all agree that children need to learn more than a set of facts and skills. We are trying to give them those mental tools, the tools of the mind, that as Chris said to me today make them fit for any job after high school regardless of age or experience.

    Just for the sake of argument, I found myself disagreeing with one small part of this chapter. While discussing different theorists, the author seemed to be making the claim that we aren’t teaching any different than we used to many years ago. My experience is limited but I have experienced and have heard many of my fellow teachers share their experiences of how the “pendulum” is always swinging and education is always changing. Maybe my more experienced coworkers can enlighten me a bit on what the authors of this book might be saying. Have things really not changed much in how we teach?

    While reading about learning styles, I appreciated the idea that identifying with one learning style and accepting that as the “way you learn” could really inhibit you from challenging yourself. In the real world, we don’t have that much control over how we absorb the things we need to know. It comes at us and we have to take it and run with it. I think it’s so great and important that we provide students ways to access, engage, and express their learning in ways that use and show their strengths, but as the book points out, I think it’s important to not allow them to get closed off. We should still challenge them and encourage them to challenge themselves to try it a different way sometimes. I think of it has how we need to think and work outside of our comfort zone sometimes as teachers depending on our group of kids.

    I also appreciated the point that we typically store memories in terms of meaning. It doesn’t matter how we interacted with the information necessarily. For our little bugs especially, I think it’s so important to apply that meaning to them if we want them to learn anything.

    Something I did still struggle with through parts of this second chapter was that we do have to give our students some guidance. I don’t think our little ones always know what they need. For example, if my first graders always got to choose their own books without any guidance most of them would choose chapter books! I still need a bit more clarification on how this guidance is infused with the personalized learning environment where the kiddos are driving their learning.

    Reading about the brain and the different types of memory was super interesting and amazing to me. Figure 2.4 discussed the brain’s adaptability and how that means each student’s abilities are continuously developing. I think we need to remember that when a kid seems to not be getting it. Sometimes we just have to keep laying and strengthening those roots.

    A couple more questions…What does the personal learner profile and preferences/needs process look like for little ones? Do we feel we have what we need to set up the personal learning backpack? What does management look like as far as making sure kids understand how to use all those tools safely and appropriately?

    As I read about the Class Learning Snapshot, I found myself thinking that the process could take the place of the assessments we have been doing during our assessment days at the beginning of the year.

    I really appreciated the final points about how we should see our kids as learners, not students. I think what we are really aiming to do is to teach our kids how to be great learners. I think those are the tools that prepare our kiddos for life after school which is all we could ever hope for.

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  12. Wonderful questions, Sarah! Keep these alive and in front of us. I think the management questions speak to the heart of the “shift” between seeing children as “students” versus “learners.” Since the author isn’t advocating for a free-for-all :), I think we’re free to construct exactly how to manage that shift while still providing the guidance the little ones need. It’s probably in the “zone of proximal development” that we REALLY find the balance between “guidance” and “curiosity.” It’s really neat that you spent so much time articulating this – Beth touched on the same theme last week as well. I’d be curious to see what others think!

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  13. Since it was such a heavy chapter I will focus on a key section that caught my attention. Universal Design for learning and the focus on individual differences and human variability. Being able to identify barriers found in curricula and blocks that may hinder a students ability to learn is fascinating. It goes back to my last entry and the urgency I feel as an educator. I wonder how we can take the goals we already create with, and for, our students can be used to support their personal learner profiles? I also have begun to adjust the learning map page 65, figure 2.8. I adjust a few categories and added others to dig deeper for the students. Instead of reading; low, avg. and high I added do you read for fun, to think or for learning with a low, avg, and high for each. I hope to continue to develop this and use it with my students, anyone interested in creating one for Ute Pass let me know. As we move forward I am curious as to how to make sure this can be connected to our primary students.

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  14. I agree with Lynn, this chapter is behind the scenes of much of what we already do in our classroom. I feel we don’t have to change all that we do to personalize learning for our students but to innovate the methods we use and learn along with out students. This is so exciting to me. I challenge myself to get out of the SPED box and experiment. As a SPED teacher, I have to individualize a student’s learning. When creating the educational plan I must include accommodations (ways around barriers to learning). However, that plan is dictated to the student. I feel that because there are so many constraints in this system I get around those with getting to know my students’ ways of thinking. I help them know their mind, their thinking, how they see the world and then we can start making connections which help forge interest in what is being learned. The learning becomes part of the student’s world and therefore, they expand on it and eventually it becomes their own experience.

    Personalizing learning for each student is my “Brave New World”. It certainly has me more excited about creating lesson plans and projects.

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