Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Make it a habit.

http://www.teachthought.com/learning/what-are-the-habits-of-mind
(In my best Roseann Roseanna Dana voice...)  Didja ever notice that once you learn about something you see it EVERYWHERE?  Like you never heard of this new-found concept, and suddenly it's in your newsfeed, talked about in the faculty room, and appearing as spam in your email inbox?

Yes, my friends, this is the case with the Habits of Mind.

They're everywhere, they're everywhere!!!

I especially like when I can collaborate with a teacher in a department entirely disconnected from Giftedland, and know that we share students.  The same sense of astonishment that the Roseann Roseanna Dana voice in my head has exists among the students.  

"Why does everybody suddenly LOVE Carol Dweck?"  said one student.

"Hey, Mrs. Heydt!  Did you know that MR. DOUGHERTY knows about Mindset, too?" , commented another.  And so on, and so on.  

 Apparently, they've never heard of six degrees of separation.  We certainly do our best to connect, while leaving them scratching their heads wondering how it actually comes to be that we connect!

 Make it a habit.

Research tells us that gifted students learn new material in 1 -3 repetitions, while the average student requires as many as 7 - 9 repetitions - or more.  That single fact helps to understand why the best and the brightest seem to always have an open book in their laps and excessive doodling in their margins.  It may also explain how and why high ability kids miss key concepts, because they are multi-tasking, just to keep themselves awake and amused.

There's an excellent video from PBS which touches on the effects of multi-tasking on attention.  While the focus of the content is largely on the distractions online, the Digital Nation program usually garners more than a few passing comments about distractions and focus from my high ability kids working to study the effects of the internet in their challenge of the requirements for the freshman Information Literacy course.  Last summer, when I was attempting to refine the curriculum for Themes in Literature, the idea of teaching universal metacognitive awareness skills created a eureka moment for me.  Gifted kids are multi-taskers, because they are usually pretty good at everything they do, and juggle many things because they THINK they can.  Once they begin to examine the how and why behind what they do, through a lens of metacognitive analysis, they suddenly become aware of the intricacies of what they are asking of their brains.

The folks at Te@chthought have once again provided valuable insight that supports my observations -- this time commenting on the sixteen Habits of Mind.  HOM has become my "it's everywhere" topic this year, and the graphic (above) illustrates the way my head may actually look, if I didn't comb my hair well in the morning.  Okay, not really, but once I started exploring the relevance of HOM, I felt like they became logical extensions to both the way I teach and the way in which I ask my students to reflect upon their learning.

Oh, and that reflection process -- which includes the daily musings of this blog for me -- slows down the dance, cuts down on the multi-tasking, and allows all of us a little more time to mentally "play" with something we're attempting to process, allegedly creating a greater understanding of both the topic and the relevance of that topic.

All of which is supposed to increase student achievement.