Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Springing!

True confession:  If I were to write my resume today, I'd actually be able to list Amazon as part of my Professional Learning Network.  (PLN).  While I've been fairly good at avoiding placing resources in my shopping cart since my New Year's Resolution to allow the district to fund books for my classroom rather than my personal paycheck, this morning I hit that checkout button to add to my resource library -- and that was before 5:45 am.  Amazon has created the perfect motivational shopping experience for random thinkers, by not only offering an easy to navigate search bar and site, but a multitude of  "people who looked at this also looked at..." types of suggestions, filtering my mind down the rabbit hole of possibilities.

 

As I mentioned over the weekend, the idea of explicit instruction in metacognitive understanding is now the driving force in my enrichment classroom. (or should I say actual curriculum?)  I've been mulling this over for couple of years, and I've hit a eureka moment, in no small part because of the efforts of the folks at Te@chthought.com, Edutopia.com, and Mind/Shift, as well as the ongoing personal focus while writing here daily.  Compounded with all that time musing over improving the cognitive and executive function skills of gifted kids is the ongoing concern of parents of many of those kids who recognize that their kids may be in the running for valedictorian, but have never really struggled, never learned how to study, and have only mastered basic skills in note-taking.

The data is there -- Pennsylvania Value Added Assessment System (PVAAS) data, which exists to show growth in individual students -- clearly shows that the highest-potential students demonstrate a flatter growth curve than their average or below average peers.  While this  apparent failure is often blamed on No Child Left Behind legislation over the last more-than-a-decade, and the subsequent focus on getting every child over the bar without regard for those who are already capable, the facts are the facts.  The answers for how and why to change the reality is less clear.

This morning's article in Mind/Shift, entitled How Does the Brain Learn Best?  Smart Studying Strategies, grabbed my attention.  I must admit, prior to 6 am, I scan things, and email the links if it is something that I want to look at more closely at another time.  Given my previous musings, how could I NOT hit the old email to myself when I read:

“Being self-aware about what’s effective learning and how it happens, I think, gives you a real edge in making those choices.”

Seriously?  This is exactly what has been in my head, and now here's research that actually supports my ideas! 

So yes, I've ordered Benedict Carey's book, and have assigned the Mind/Shift article and NPR soundbyte as required reading/listening for my students.  I'm hoping they recognize themselves in the three points shared, and am requesting the addition of the book to my collection of Nooks for those motivated enough to read the entire book.

Today I feel a step closer to enlightenment, in the grand journey of education.  Let's see how long I can keep the spring in my step!