Posts Tagged student grouping

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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It’s Iconic

Iconic Posters: Hang an iconic poster to reinforce learning.

Here is a classic memory tag. I once had a conversation with someone about the power of icons. I need to do more research into this. Companies and marketing groups understand the potential in a superb icon. Think the golden arches (McDonalds). Think the Nike swoosh. Think the Apple…apple. Just seeing one of these icons brings a rush of thoughts, associations, feelings, etc. We have a few icons in Quantum Learning: Home Court Advantage (circle in a triangle); the Line; and Prime Directive. Each of these can represent a wealth of information (and associations, feelings, etc.). It depends on what we put into it. I have a friend and fellow facilitator, Dan St. Romain, that only brings icon mini-posters to events (versus full-size flip charts) of all the Quantum Learning content.

Now What?: What are your big rock concepts? What’s the big stuff that holds it all together? What information bears repeating over and over again? How can you represent these concepts, ideas, formulas, or whatever in an ICON? I recommend icons that are simple, yet distinctive. After learning all about it and repeating it several times, students should be able to look at it and know immediately what it’s all about. Work to be as purposeful as possible with the icon. Put it on a chart and hang it as a content poster. Put the icon on relevant homefun assignments. Have students recreate the icon with additional details for a review activity.

Bonus: As you create multiple icons for your classroom, is it possible for icons to interact? If the knowledge builds on or interacts with other knowledge, can the icons do the same? Wouldn’t that be cool? As always, I would love to hear your examples (crauch@qln.com). Keep up the great work!

-Christian Rauch

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Grouping with Neurons in Mind

neuronsI was recently reading Kathy Sierra’s blog on negative people being bad for the brain. The section on mirror neurons got me thinking about how we group our students when we want them to work collaboratively.

There is so much talk around heterogeneous versus homogeneous grouping, specifically in math and reading. If we focused on what we know about mirror neurons it seems to me it would make sense to heterogeneously group students.

Let’s assume a student, Jim, has no behavior challenges, is putting forth effort, and is still performing below grade level.  Grouping Jim with a high achieving student should positively benefit Jim, based on what we know about mirror neurons. The question that then comes to mind for me is what does the higher achieving student gain and would this student benefit more from being with another high performing student, rather than Jim? Is the teacher then the model of a higher achieving student for that child? How do we ensure that all students have a model for them to mirror, specifically in subjects in which they need improvement?

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