Archive for category Brain Research

No Child Left Behind Taking Toll On U.S. Schools

There are aproximatly 98,916 public schools in the U.S.,and according to a new report from the Center on Education Policy, 38 percent of ALL U.S. SCHOOLS have missed the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) AYP testing standards. This is up five percentage points from 2009. Arne Duncan, the Secretary of Education has said, “as many as 82% of schools could be labeled as failing for the current school year.”

Other stand out statistics from the report are as follows:

  • The District of Columbia’s school district failed the AYP standards by 91 percent.
  • Eight-six percent of Florida schools are considered unsuccessful.
  • In some states, changes in the number of schools not making AYP are largely attributable to changes in the cut scores defining proficient performance on state tests.
  • Even if most or all states adopt common standards and common assessments, variations in state accountability policies could continue to make it impossible to arrive at meaningful comparisons about the performance of different states.
The President feels Duncan’s claim that 84% of U.S. schools could be labeled as failing is unlikely. The Department of Education has fired back, and  stand by their analysis and this is just one more reason why the NCLB needs to be rewritten this year.

There are ways to get better education nationwide. It starts with great teaching, and there are a number of great teachers already around the U.S. So why are the numbers so bleak?  Could it be lack of motivation on the students’ part? Could it be teachers are feeling the budget cuts and are over worked? There are numerous reasons, but test scores are not the way to measure student achievement. In McPherson, Kansas, Arne Duncan has seen change, and has allowed a waiver to NCLB to the entire school district in McPherson.

In partnership with Quantum Learning and ACT, Inc., McPherson USD developed the C³ – Citizenship, College and Career Readiness plan that contains measures in the three areas of emphasis. McPherson is not the only district in America using Quantum Learning methodologies to change how their students learn and teachers teach. One of the reasons why Quantum Learning trained teachers are so effective is because they learn the “why” behind great teaching, by learning the way our brains develop and retain information.

Below is a video from teachers, students and administrators from three different school districts that have fully implemented Quantum Learning in their schools. We might not be the only solution, but we are a great solution.

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The Quantum Learning Tenets

The Tenets are important concepts or guiding principles that are basic to the Quantum Learning system. These ideas are woven throughout the fabric of the system, and as a result will be rediscovered in many applications and strategies. The Tenets are specifically designed to improve our practice in the classroom by directing our focus. We recommend that you post them in a place where you will see them on a regular basis.

The first Tenet is “Everything Speaks.” This concept reminds us that everything we do in the classroom sends a message to students. The way we greet students first thing in the morning or at the beginning of a class sends a message. The way we handle an incorrect response from a student given in front of peers sends a message. Our Environment, the Atmosphere we create, the Design of our lesson delivery or educational tasks, how we dress, the way we listen, or the character traits we model all send messages to our students. By being constantly aware of this important principle we tend to be more deliberate and proactive in orchestrating the messages students receive. This helps us better manage the variables that contribute to an optimal classroom atmosphere and learning environment.

“Everything is on Purpose” is the second Tenet and it follows logically from the one before it, “Everything Speaks.” If everything speaks, then it follows that we want to be purposeful with everything we do in the classroom to get the desired outcome. A focus on the Tenet, “Everything is on Purpose”, encourages a greater awareness of all the variables that influence learning. It is this Tenet that helps us to begin to see our role in the classroom differently. We are not in the classroom to dispense knowledge – we are there to orchestrate learning. We are striving to get masterful in this orchestration, and even small variables and details become important to us.

“Experience Before Label” is an important principle that influences our lesson design and delivery. It means that we involve students in an experience or elicit an experience that they can relate to before we attempt to attach it to any symbolic language or label. From a scientific perspective we are creating schema or a new neural network in the brain before attaching the label. It can also mean that we move the students to inquiry where they are seeking the label or concept before we give it to them. For example, a math teacher may involve students in a real-life situation in which they are trying to solve a problem but having difficulty based on what they already know. They may begin to look for a new formula or principle to help them accomplish the solution. This state of inquiry or searching would be an ideal time for the teacher to introduce the new concept, and this process would be called “Experience Before Label.” In a literature class a teacher may have students experience writing from a talented author before introducing the literary concept of mood. A science teacher may have students experience or observe the laws of motion before actually labeling them.

Experience Before Label is about creating a teachable moment. It is about getting students emotionally involved and questioning with questions such as Why? When? Where? What? How? The word label in this principle refers to the information we want students to learn – the facts, the formulas, the new terms, the sequence, the reasons, etc. When we design our instruction using “Experience Before Label,” we are using a brain-considerate strategy that attaches the learning to previously established schema, evokes proper emotional learning states, maximizes the use of inquiry, and bridges the content to the students’ world.

The “Acknowledge Every Effort” Tenet places a strong emphasis on reinforcing effort in the classroom. By acknowledging effort the professional educator places a strong focus on effort. This focus on effort has many benefits in the educational arena. By acknowledging effort and creating a focus on effort we help our students to know that we consider good consistent effort the hallmark of a good student.

One very significant benefit with a focus on effort relates to our students’ self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is our students’ concept of what they are capable of accomplishing and relates to their views of their own abilities.When we define a student as one who gives good consistent effort we are asking the student to do something he or she can do. This is because effort is a choice. Even though some students may not be able to compete with the student sitting next to them in achievement scores, they can choose to give effort, and if effort is the sign of a good student then they can consider themselves good students. By asking students to give good consistent effort we are asking them to do something they know they can choose to do. How satisfied would you be as a professional educator if all your students did was give 100% effort? Most of us could live with that!

The last Tenet is “If It’s Worth Learning It’s Worth Celebrating.” These celebrations occur inside the student and are orchestrated by the professional educator. It is the good feeling students have about their own progress and their contributions to the learning of others. It includes the joy, excitement, and passion for learning that permeates the classroom atmosphere. It includes the positive acknowledgments the students receive for their effort and participation. It may be enhanced by such things as small as a comment by the teacher expressing appreciation for accomplishment or by an entire group joining together in a cheer, a special event or a rewarding activity. It should be an ongoing and consistent principle operating in the classroom. It reinforces motivation and the message, “This is important.

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More Tips for a New School Year by Christian Rauch

A new school year is here! Below is a message sent out by Quantum Learning with helps for starting a new year with new students. There are some specific and easy ideas for each part of FADE, with links to terrific resources. Enjoy!

Dear Educator,

Wow! Another school year is already upon us. Where did the summer go? Well, school can be fun, too, because Quantum Learning has a ton of ideas for you on how to get things off to a great start and make it the best year ever for you and your students.

Remember, Quantum Learning is a SYSTEM for boosting student engagement and learning and it all begins with FADE:

FOUNDATION

The beginning of a new school year means “training” students in what’s expected in the classroom. With a strong Foundation, you can establish a shared vision and an understanding of expectations in your classroom. Download our document entitled How to Develop Rules and Consequences for a plan on how to establish ground rules that will support a successful year.

How would you like your students to enter/exit the classroom? Consider last year – what did you develop that worked? What would you change? What level of self-directed behavior do your students manifest? Each of these areas of consideration is defined and developed in the QL attachment on PAPR – Policies, Agreement, Procedures, and Rules. Download it here.

ATMOSPHERE

The start of the year is your opportunity to establish an empowering Atmosphere for learning. Here’s a link to a short video with tips on what you can say and do to create a climate in your classroom that promotes a sense of joy, safety, and support.

Also, get QL’s Top 5 Hot Tips for creating an empowering Atmosphere in your classroom this year and tips from QL teachers and facilitators on how to build rapport with your students from the first day of school.

DESIGN

Begin every lesson with a plan for how you will Enroll your students so that they are engaged; create Experiences and curiosity; Label what is learned AFTER the Experiences; allow students to Demonstrate what they have learned;Review and promote Reflection of new content learned; and Celebrate your students’ learning successes. The Quantum Learning Design Frame (E L L D R C) provides a proven process for promoting greater learning and long term memory. Click here for some great “Enrolling” ideas.

ENVIRONMENT

The start of the school year is your chance to establish a physical learning space that is inviting and supportive so that you can deliver your content in more engaging and interesting ways. As we say in QL, “Everything Speaks,” meaning everything in the environment sends a message that either enhances or detracts from learning. Download our document on How to Create a Supportive Environment in your classroom.

This is just the beginning of how you can begin to make it a GREAT YEAR for your students and boost learning! Also, be sure to check out our QL blog for valuable research and more great ideas.

Looking forward to hearing all about your successes the next time we see you!

Whooshhhhhh!

Your Quantum Learning Education Team

P.S. Ask about our additional programs to support you: Observation and Coaching Days, Tele-coaching sessions, Reinforcement and Renewal Workshops, and our new QL Topic Specific one day workshops! Visit our website at http://www.qln.com and find out what’s new at Quantum Learning! Or, contact your QL Education Senior Consultant at www.qln.com/learning_education_contact.html

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Tips for the New School Year – Christian Rauch

A new school year is here! Below is a message sent out by Quantum Learning with helps for starting a new year with new students. There are some specific and easy ideas for each part of FADE, with links to terrific resources. Enjoy!

Dear Educator,

Wow! Another school year is already upon us. Where did the summer go? Well, school can be fun, too, because Quantum Learning has a ton of ideas for you on how to get things off to a great start and make it the best year ever for you and your students.

Remember, Quantum Learning is a SYSTEM for boosting student engagement and learning and it all begins with FADE:

FOUNDATION

The beginning of a new school year means “training” students in what’s expected in the classroom. With a strong Foundation, you can establish a shared vision and an understanding of expectations in your classroom. Download our document entitled How to Develop Rules and Consequences for a plan on how to establish ground rules that will support a successful year.

How would you like your students to enter/exit the classroom? Consider last year – what did you develop that worked? What would you change? What level of self-directed behavior do your students manifest? Each of these areas of consideration is defined and developed in the QL attachment on PAPR – Policies, Agreement, Procedures, and Rules. Download it here.

ATMOSPHERE

The start of the year is your opportunity to establish an empowering Atmosphere for learning. Here’s a link to a short video with tips on what you can say and do to create a climate in your classroom that promotes a sense of joy, safety, and support.

Also, get QL’s Top 5 Hot Tips for creating an empowering Atmosphere in your classroom this year and tips from QL teachers and facilitators on how to build rapport with your students from the first day of school.

DESIGN

Begin every lesson with a plan for how you will Enroll your students so that they are engaged; create Experiences and curiosity; Label what is learned AFTER the Experiences; allow students to Demonstrate what they have learned;Review and promote Reflection of new content learned; and Celebrate your students’ learning successes. The Quantum Learning Design Frame (E L L D R C) provides a proven process for promoting greater learning and long term memory. Click here for some great “Enrolling” ideas.

ENVIRONMENT

The start of the school year is your chance to establish a physical learning space that is inviting and supportive so that you can deliver your content in more engaging and interesting ways. As we say in QL, “Everything Speaks,” meaning everything in the environment sends a message that either enhances or detracts from learning. Download our document on How to Create a Supportive Environment in your classroom.

This is just the beginning of how you can begin to make it a GREAT YEAR for your students and boost learning! Also, be sure to check out our QL blog for valuable research and more great ideas.

Looking forward to hearing all about your successes the next time we see you!

Whooshhhhhh!

Your Quantum Learning Education Team

P.S. Ask about our additional programs to support you: Observation and Coaching Days, Tele-coaching sessions, Reinforcement and Renewal Workshops, and our new QL Topic Specific one day workshops! Visit our website at http://www.qln.com and find out what’s new at Quantum Learning! Or, contact your QL Education Senior Consultant at www.qln.com/learning_education_contact.html

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Are you smart?

untitled2Are you smart? Are your students smart?

I believe every person on the planet is smart. I also believe there are different kinds of smart. I also believe it may be difficult to measure all kinds of smart with a pencil and paper test.

Over 25 years ago, Harvard University professor Howard Gardner began a book titled Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. He hypothesized there were multiples types of intelligence. The eight most widely recognized intelligences are: spatial-visual, linguistic verbal, interpersonal, musical-rhythmic, naturalistic, bodily-kinesthetic, intrapersonal, and logical-mathematical. Emerging brain research is supporting the idea of diverse intelligences. Neuroimaging is highlighting the facts that students learn and express themselves differently.

I have been aware of this theory for many years, though I have not done as much with it in the classroom as I believe I should. I am aware of some schools that have built their entire curricula on the theory of multiple intelligences. Many other educators are not familiar with the theory at all. As a teacher, what do I do with this information? First, I think it important for all teachers to internalize the notion of multiple intelligences. A recognition of this theory will surely affect all aspects of our teaching. Second, analyze your teaching methods to identify the intelligences you emphasize (and deemphasize). Third, make plans to incorporate more of the intelligences into your day: teach things in different ways; present activities in different ways; and allow students to express their learning in different ways. As you teach in new ways, you will likely learn many new things about your students.

Our quest is to help students discover HOW they are smart!

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Online Meets In-Person… A Beautiful Partnership!

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Florida Virtual School (FLVS) is the largest virtual school in terms of enrollments in the country. It acts as a course provider for districts in Florida and other states. With more than 700 full-time instructional employees and over 10,000 students on a wait list to enroll, they are the only public school with funding tied directly to student performance. How does this school reach out for staff development? FLVS, it’s great to meet you. Our training is dynamic in-person staff development training specializing in engaging how the brain learns to get results. At first glance it might seem as though these two educational institutions are worlds apart, however, they are closer than you might think.

For the past two years, I have had the pleasure of training hundreds of FLVS teachers in our Quantum Learning methodologies, which have increased online results. So, how do in-person group dynamics meet online learning? It is a question I constantly ask myself as I get on the plane to head to Orlando for the training. I know it is my job to facilitate this partnership.

The willingness of the professional educators to match a strategy that produces extraordinary results in a typical “brick and mortar” classroom to the online environment is the first ingredient to this success. For example, Quantum Learning has a design and presentation method that orchestrates student’s being more willing to take risk with new content. These risks can include something as simple as raising a hand to ask a question or as high gradient as standing in front of a group of peers for a presentation in the “brick and mortar.” Translated to the online environment; calling or instant messaging the teacher or another student to ask for help or a discussion-based assessment at the end of a module. The Quantum Learning instructor models the innovative practices and debriefs why these strategies work and produce results. The FLVS teacher takes the purpose and translates the strategy into one that produces results in the online environment. I am constantly impressed by the teachers’ dedication to their students’ success.

This transfer happens in team collaboration sessions. These trainings give teachers, who are typically on a solo mission of working from home, an opportunity to be in the same space with their partner teacher and other educators from their department. It’s a time for a meeting of the minds with the focus being on student success. Often times the collaboration outside of staff development training happens via phone, email, instant message, or conference calls. We have all been here, trying to focus, and our son, daughter, or dog comes in demanding our immediate attention. The in-person Quantum Learning training focuses on utilizing the time together to both implement strategies as well as strengthen the relationship between colleagues so virtual collaboration continues to run smoothly. There is so much beauty in spending time being together and working as an organic unit with outcomes in mind. Staff that have great relationships produce high-quality work and are more willing to go the extra mile when they feel valued and supported.

The bottom line, whether we teach in a “brick and mortar” school, online, or in another country: great teaching is great teaching. Educators who are committed to spending time working on mastering the craft of teaching and building strong foundational relationships between staff members are high performance human beings.

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Autism and the Brain

BrainDuring a delightful day of professional development in Minnesota, we engaged in a fascinating conversation about the way memories are formed, stored and recalled in the brain. We talked about the thalamus, amygdala, sensory cortices, working memory, cerebral cortex … you name it, we talked about it. Or so I thought.

Then the question about autism and other disorders came up. I am a teacher by trade, not a neuroscientist, so I was unable to share an in-depth response to an often-asked question. I was curious, so I hit the books. Here is my best attempt at summarizing the information I’ve read to those of us who interact with students all day, not rats.

Basically, we have not labeled the part of the brain that is most closely connected to autism in our Quantum Learning for Teachers training, yet. We had finished Level 2, and have three more levels to go. Most of the research I’ve read on autism points to the cerebellum. Development of this part of the brain is abnormal in autism. The cerebellum is located below the visual cortex and is mostly responsible for sensory perception, motor control and coordination. In his book, How the Brain Learns, David Sousa mentions that recent studies indicate the cerebellum also supports limbic system functions and cognitive processes in the frontal lobe. (PS – the amygdala is in the limbic system.)

There is also research available that also connects autism to a dysregulation of certain amygdala functions. Specifically, some research suggests the amygdala is under-responsive with autism. This helps us understand the social impairments often seen in autism.

We explore more of the limbic system in Level 3 of Quantum Learning so hopefully more clarification will come then. We’ll take a look at the role of the hippocampus (yes, that is really what it is called) and it’s role in the limbic sytem of the brain. It too has some connection to autism.

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