This book, written by Howard Eaton, caught my attention because of my recent interest in learning disabilities.
The basis of the Brain School is neuroplasticity, or basically the ability of the brain to adapt. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, neuroplasticity is the “capacity of neurons and neural networks in the brain to change their connections and behaviour in response to new information, sensory stimulation, development, damage, or dysfunction.” This is good news when you consider the people suffering from serious disorders and illnesses related to the brain, such as stroke, injury, autism, ADHD, learning disabilities, brain deficits, depression and addiction.
A psycho-educational assessment measures a variety of areas with a percentile rating (25% - 75% is average range, while 50% is age-level ability) :
ARROWSMITH PROGRAM (19 cognitive dysfunctions and common features)
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE PSYCHO-EDUCATIONAL ASSESSMENT AND THE ARROWHEAD ASSESSMENT
The purposes of the two assessments are very different. The psycho-educational assessment seeks to diagnose a learning disability, assist in skill remediation, in-class adaptations, and assistive technology. The Arrowhead assessment is used solely to design the cognitive capacity training intervention for achievement acquisition. Psycho-ed assessments take about three to four hours, while the Arrowhead assessment can take several hours more. The psycho-ed assessments finds percentile scores on measures of intelligence, cognitive ability, and achievement in reading, writing and math. The Arrowhead assessment does not measure reading, spelling, or mathematical abilities but rather cognitive areas, and results falls on a spectrum from very severe to moderate to mild to above average.
It is unique in some ways. It goes from 8:30 to 3:00 pm, and has eight periods; six of those are cognitive classes, each 40 minutes long, and the other two are English and math. The focus of the school is cognitive remediation. There are two teachers per classroom, so the teacher-student ratio is around one-to-nine. When a student masters a cognitive exercise, a new one is started. Students keep track of their achievements and set new daily goals. In one word, students are focussed--on cognitive exercises, active engagement, and repetition. Despite the intensity of the cognitive classes, students engage in other activities, as well. Daily physical education is 40 minutes a day, and students can participate in extracurricular activities, such as field trips, plays, guest artists, track and field and a talent show.
Source: Eaton, Howard, 2011. Brain School. Vancouver, Glia Press.
It seems, after all, testing is good for student learning. Testing helps reduce forgetting, which is the nemesis of the retrieval and remembering of information and knowledge.
A real-life study at Columbia Middle School in Illinois in 2005 put promising lab results "to the test." Certain social studies classes were given quizzes on about a third of the material: one in the beginning of the class, one at the end of class, and one 24 hours before the unit exam. Clickers were used to answer multiple choice questions. Results: the students scored a full grade higher on material they were quizzed on compared to material not quizzed.
Of course, tests that are more cognitively challenging, such as essays or short-answers, are more beneficial in learning, although recognition tests like multiple choice or true/false are still surprisingly useful.
Rereading texts and cramming for exams are probably the two worst methods to learn and acquire information.
Interestingly, delaying feedback, especially in motor skills, such as sports, is more effective than immediate feedback. Immediate feedback is akin to "training wheels" that artificially support a rider far beyond their necessity. Let students use trial-and-error to make corrections, wait, and then give feedback. Delayed subsequent retrieval requires more effort, and more effort strengthens learning.
Source: Make it stick: the science of successful learning, Brown, Roediger III, McDaniel, 2014
What does it take to become an expert in a field? Conventional wisdom tells you do something for 10000 hours, and voila, you’re an expert! No, says K. Anders Ericsson, an expert in the field of expert-level skill acquisition, who’s a professor psychology at Florida State University. It’s not how much time your spend learning, but how you use that time. Experts parse their learning into tiny slices or segments, practice that one action endlessly, but most importantly, they observe what’s happening and make imperceptible adjustments to improve. This goes for athletes, surgeons, chefs or spelling bee champions. Ericsson refers to this as deliberate practice: small tasks are repeated with immediate feedback, correction and experimentation.
The question is this: Are our students and we as teachers engaging in deliberate practice? Or are we just doing the same things over and over, without knowing what and how to change? Are we improving over time and growing, or just spinning our wheels in the mud?
(Source: Work Rules!, Laszlo Bock)
Daniel H. Lee
This blog will be dedicated to sharing in three areas: happenings in my classroom and school; analysis and distillation of other educators' wealth of knowledge in various texts; insights from other disciplines and areas of expertise that relate and connect with educational practices.