Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Section 4 pages 127-168

Why Students Don’t Like School, Chapters 6 & 7
Chapter 6: “The cognitive principle that guides this chapter is: Cognition early in training is fundamentally different from cognition late in training.” This whole chapter is a discussion of the differences between the way novices think (early cognition) and the way expert s think (late cognition). Novices or students think in terms of surface knowledge, where experts think in terms of functions, or deep structure (p133). Experts are able to transfer information and think in the abstract, where the novice does not have the background knowledge to make the connections. Experts create new knowledge where students or novice are able to comprehend but not able to create.
Novices have to put in their time to become experts. They may have learned the same information, but knowing how to apply and use it takes time and practice….”the importance of practice is that we can’t become experts until we put in our hours. (p.139).” Researchers also have what is known as the “ten-year rule”, stating that you can not be an expert with less than ten years of experience in that field regardless of the field. I could not agree more with this statement. Thinking is not easy, and it takes persistence, patience’s, and practice.
Ch7: “The cognitive principle guiding this chapter is: Children are more alike than different in terms of how they think and learn.” Many different styles of learning are sited in this chapter. However, …”students will learn better when instruction matches their cognitive style (p. 155).” He also states that regardless of the distinct learning style of the student, exposure to all different strategies and styles will benefit the learner. Wilingham does give the teacher credit. Using their expertise and choosing strategies wisely will reach all learners.

Section 3 p. 87-126

Woops for some reason I though I had section 4.

This chapter dealt with the idea that understanding abstraction, is hard for students. The first example they gave, is of a student not knowing what to do with a certain math problem, they were trying to figure out a geometry problem dealing with the area of a tabletop. Which with the help or prodding of the teacher the student figured it out but when it came to doing the same for a soccer field, they struggled once again, why?

Is it because we don't have the background experience that enables us to relate in concrete thoughts to the problems we are presented? I get confused on the difference of thinking and knowing because of what we have been exposed to. Do we always have to have something from past experiences to relate to so we can think.

The use of the measurement scales to express what is concrete and what is abstract, definitely even seemed abstract to me.
On page 92 - it says "Every new idea must build on ideas that the student already knows".

How do we do this if we don't have the background knowledge? The chapter also says that memory is the key to being successful, as memory is built on experiences and background information.

On page 97 it goes on to talk about "why doesn't knowledge transfer". The paragraph points out that we may have the same problem but see it in a different way do to experiences of our past and the background information we have built up over the years.

I like the statement on p. 102 - "to help student comprehension, provide examples and ask students to compare them" I think as teachers this is one of the best ways to get our students to understand the material is relate it to past experiences that they may have had so they can relate to them.

Chapter 5 - explains about drilling is it good or bad - being an ex military man, I find that drilling has its place in certain situations. Math - learning the facts would be a good one as "repetition / repetition" worked well for me in learning my multiplication tables etc; The thought in this chapter stresses extended practice which builds that background once again.

The whole concept or point of the past pages is that one needs to develop background information so the thinking process becomes automatic.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Section 2

Ah! Finally a book dealing with education that acknowledges that "factual knowledge is necessary."It seems at times that we are bombarded with the idea of only developing critical thinking strategies that we neglect to include content in our lesson plans. Willingham goes on to state that background knowledge is essential to future learning, and in fact without this backdrop, confusion will occur.

On page 33, Willingham provides a great example of chunking. If you haven't checked it out yet, I highly recommend it. Later, (p.36) he states the four ways background knowledge is important to reading comprehension. Regardless of what we teach, reading comprehension is critical to the day's activity and/or the unit lesson. If the students do not understand what is asked of them, they will fail to learn how to solve the problem, no matter how creative they are or what technique they use.

Making connections to prior knowledge is what enables students to commit new information to long term memory with the ability to recall the information. Willingham goes on to say that this new knowledge then allows the student (or us) to gain insight at an ever-increasing faster rate. I visualized this as the cartoon snowball that grows quickly as it rolls down hill.

Willingham ends this section by stressing the importance reading at the appropriate level. This is a tall task for us as teachers and/or parents. Reading books, magazines, and newspapers are in direct competition versus Facebook, texting, and video games for the free time of today's youth. Our challenge is to make reading and learning as fulfilling as the short-lived fun of the competition.