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7 Steps to Optimizing Learning 1. Understand brain development. 2. Create a responsive learning environment. 3. Integrate the intellectual processes. 4. Establish a continuum of learning. 5. Assess the student’s level of mastery. 6. Differentiate and individualize teaching and learning. 7. Evaluate teaching and learning: reflect and reform. (Clark, 2008)
Step 1: Brain Research Environment Instruction
Environment What We Know: What We Must Do: • Intelligence hinges on the interaction between biological inheritance and environmental opportunities – nature and nurture. • Attention and concentration depend on the interaction between the environment and the brain. • Make the environment stimulating and challenging. • Create an organized, responsive classroom. • Provide access to a wide range of activities and materials. • Incorporate choices and encourage exploration. (Clark, 2008)
Environment What We Know: What We Must Do: • Stress causes the neocortex to shut down. • Anxiety must be reduced so that higher order learning may occur. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The brain responds to new ideas. • Novelty should be used to motivate and enhance the learning process. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • Brain development is unlimited, but intellectual growth will not remain static. • Continuous progress must be monitored and encouraged for all students. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • Genetics and opportunities provided by the environment determine how a learner expresses knowledge. • Differentiation is strongly encouraged since each student responds differently. • (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The brain integrates information to build memories, make predictions, and generate models of reality. • The brain does not merely record what is taught, but makes inferences. • Gifted minds require complexity and exposure to many patterns and relationships. • We must teach using interdisciplinary teaching strategies. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The brain constructs meaning. • Problem solving and in- depth understanding of concepts should be encouraged. • Integrative, multidisciplinary teaching should be used to build meaningful connections for learners. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The brain attaches emotional significance to information. • Optimal learning requires active involvement of the learner. • Teach with enthusiasm and provided reasons for learning. • Provide concrete experiences and sensory stimulation. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The right and left hemispheres need to be included in curriculum planning. • Experiences that incorporate information from different brain functions (cognitive, affective, physical, and intuitive) develop intelligence. • Learning activities must include experiences from all areas of the brain when possible. (Clark, 2008)
Instruction What We Know: What We Must Do: • The brain uses feedback to make connections, store information, and build intelligence. • Provide students with frequent and timely feedback. • Feedback should be meaningful and help learners synthesize information. (Clark, 2008)
Step 2 – Responsive Learning Environment The learning environment can influence • Learning styles, pace, and level • Motivation • Challenge/ stimulation (Clark, 2008)
Responsive Physical Environment • Space • Access to materials • Flexible grouping • Student self-management, self-evaluation • Community desks and supplies • Inviting atmosphere (Clark, 2008)
Responsive Social - Emotional Environment • Warm and accepting classroom • Instruction based on needs/ interests of students • Student products and ideas are reflected around the classroom • Student choice is evident • Empowering language is used • Independent learning/ responsibility for learning
Responsive Instructional Environment • Stress – free environment • Novel challenges presented • Sensory stimulation • Broad exposure • Social interaction encouraged • Choices evident • Exploration (Clark, 2008)
Step 4: Establish the Continuum of Learning • What do I want my students to know? (Content) • How will students learn? (Process) • How will students demonstrate mastery? (Product) Guiding Principals: • Focus on essential ideas • Respect student differences (learning styles, interests, prior knowledge) • Incorporate flexible grouping • Provide continuous & meaningful feedback/assessment. (Huebner, 2010)
Step 5 – Assess Level of Mastery • Create student portfolios • Develop projects • Design rubrics together • Share projects and portfolios • Provide open-ended activities • Facilitate conferences (Edward & Pula, 2008) • Basically, include the student(s) in the learning and curriculum development processes.
Step 6 – Differentiate and Individualize Teaching and Learning • Teach by concepts • Teach from various sources • Assess learning in multiple ways • How do I get started??? • Manage multiple groups doing the same thing. • Manage different groups working on different activities. • Manage different individuals working on different activities.
Step 7 – Evaluate Teaching and Learning • Rubrics • Multiple Intelligences – tic tac toe (Tobin & McInnes, 2008) • Work Products & Tiering (Tobin & McInnes, 2008) • Award effort and improvement (Tobin, 2008) • Portfolios to show growth • Conferencing (Edwards & Pula, 2008)
Most Common Learning Needs of Gifted Learners: • Acceleration • Complexity • Depth • Novelty (Clark, 2008)
Acceleration • Pretesting and teaching only what has not been learned; content and curriculum compacting • Flexible pacing • Self-checking instruction • Regular use of informal assessments – contests and competitions • Goal: Student moves through the curriculum in less time. (Manning, Stanford, & Reeves, 2010)
Increasing Complexity & Integration • Making connections with other ideas • Identifying relationships • Understanding multiple perspectives (Clark, 2008)
Adding Depth • Allows learners to discover patterns, trends, and insights that may lead to new understandings and ideas. • Mind Maps – (Clark, 2008, p. 297) – Brainstorm using words and pictures to connect both brain hemispheres. • Validating feedback vs. literal feedback – nudge rather than correct(Tobin, 2008)
Providing Novelty • Simulation/ Inquiry Problem – Present students with a scenario and a problem that must be solved. (Clark, 2008, p. 300-301) • Providing Choices (Tobin & McInnes, 2008; Levy, 2008; • Flexible Grouping (Levy, 2008; Tobin & McInnes, 2008)
Differentiating Curriculum Content • Goal – To go beyond mastery of content standards. The needs of gifted students are not deficits. • Language Arts – classroom reading library with reading guides, bibliotherapy, meet the author, propaganda and advertising, reader’s theater • Mathematics – brain games, mazes, problem solving, tessellations, student surveys • Science – interplanetary distances, weather prediction • Social Studies – city redevelopment projects, land measurement, presidential candidates from fiction • (Clark, 2008)
Summary 7 Steps to Optimize Teaching:
References Clark, B. (2008). Growing up gifted. Upper Saddle River, N.J. Pearson Prentice Hall Edwards, A. & Pula, J. (2008). In-class conferences as differentiated writing instruction: new uses for tutorials. Delta Kappa Gamma Society, Spring, 10-14. Huebner, T.A. (2010). Differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, February, 79-81. Landrum, T.J. & McDuffie, K.A. (2010). Learning styles in the age of differentiated instruction. Exceptionality, 18, 6-17. Levy, H.M. (2008). Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: helping every child reach and exceed standards. Clearing House, March – April, 161-164. Manning, S., Stanford, B., & Reeves, S. (2010). Valuing the advanced learner: differentiating up. Clearing House, 83, 145-149.
References Tobin, R.A. (2008). Conundrums in the differentiated literacy classrooms. Reading Improvement, 159-169. Tobin, R.A. & McInnes, A. (2008). Accommodating differences: variations in differentiated literacy instruction in grade 2/3 classrooms. Literacy, 42, 3-9.
Video Clips • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AqepSNNjowU • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P8cAU475dQo