How do you think the classroom should change?

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“In an age where information is no longer scarce and no longer needs to be organized into containers, the challenge is to leverage the saturated digital world in which learners now live and to assist them in sense-making.” (Kurtz & Snowden – 2003 “The New Dynamics of Strategy: Sense-making in a Complex and Complicated World.”)

First – do you agree or disagree and why? Second – how do you think this should influence our classrooms?



Multiple Intelligence Theory

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Beginning in the early 90’s Howard Gardner, out of Harvard, began to establish that intelligence is more than can be measured by an IQ test. For many this was a relief as they knew intelligence was present in either themselves or their children, but since it didn’t show up on an IQ test the individual was marginalized.  (One explanation of Gardner’s research – http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html )

Gardner’s theory awakened parents and educators to the idea of leveraging one intelligence to learn in another. For example if your picture smart and you need to increase your literacy you could picture what you are reading (close your eyes and imagine the characters doing the action in the story). Or even stop and draw pictures of key parts of the story to help you better understand what is going on.

Here are the 8 postulated intelligences.

Picture – Visual/ Spatial – think in terms of physical space, as do architects and sailors. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
BodyBodily/ Kinesthetic – use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
MusicMusical – show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
PeopleInterpersonal – understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
SelfIntrapersonal – understanding one’s own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
WordLinguistic – using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
LogicLogical/ Mathematical – reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
NatureNaturalistic – sense and appreciation of the natural world. These learners are observant and enjoy identifying and classifying things like plants, animals, or rocks. (If they live in the city, they may classify other things like CDs or what people wear). They love being outdoors and may be interested in gardening, taking care of pets, cooking or getting involved in ecological causes.  They can be taught in and through nature by considering the patterns and cause/effect relationships that occur in the physical world.

Implications for our projects –  Our project will make sure there are learning experiences in every basic game unit (Training Rooms and Mission).  This will give our learners the chance to choose experiences in which they feel more comfortable and more intelligent.

You can find a couple of MI (Multiple Intelligence) assessments on our website http://trailheadenterprises.com/Our_Community.html

A great parent resource http://www.amazon.com/Youre-Smarter-Than-Think-Intelligences/dp/1575421135/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1399402917&sr=1-4&keywords=smarter+than+you+think

Book Review #2 – What does the word “Work” really mean?

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Situated Meaning

James Gee builds on the concept of situated meaning; therefore I want to explore this a bit for our parents and educators who may be unfamiliar with this idea.

Literacy is more than just decoding words. It’s about making meaning of words and groups of words. However, words have different meaning depending on their situation.  For example the word “WORK.”  Let’s use this sentence, “Her work has been very influential.” How does one make sense of this word?

First we consider the domain or world it is being used in.

Domain 1 – Warehouse laborer
Work means the 8 hours of labor I give in order to survive and get home to lead my “real” life.

Domain 2 – Academic
Work means the efforts toward deeper understanding of ideas and could be thinking, reading, writing, teaching, etc.

Domain 3 – Physics Theorist
Work means the calculated value of a force over a distance and implies that no work is done if something isn’t moved.

Domain 4 – Relationships
Work means the emotional, physical, and psychological efforts to benefit a relationship with another person.

Thus to make meaning of the word “WORK,” I must first know the domain in which it is being used.

Second we must consider the specific context in that domain in which it is being used.
Let’s take the Academic domain.

Context 1 – Her Research  
Work means the ideas she has developed through her research efforts.

Context 2 – A Specific Committee
Work means the leadership, time, and/or other efforts with the committee toward some end.

Context 3 – An Office Hours Tutor Session
Work means the individual discussion, questions, and explanations exchanged with a student in order to help them make sense of ideas.

Making meaning of a word is more than decoding it.  One must situate it within a domain, a context, and the statement in which it is used.  This is more complex that just learning words.  Gee goes on to say that this kind of situated meaning experience is necessary to develop deeper literacy skills and can be found in games.

Our First Prototype Test

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Prototype Test #1 –
In June of 2012 we conducted two initial prototype tests with the goals of observing the effects of the materials on engagement, identity, conceptual learning, and prototype strengths and weaknesses.
Here are some of the findings

  1. The younger children (average age 5.5) had a limited prior knowledge of the ideas before the lesson;  they came away with a basic understanding of the ideas and took greater risks during the post-tests in attempt to apply their new knowledge.
  2. While older students (average age 7.5) did not gain substantial new knowledge around the basic ideas of the lesson, they did understand and adopt more depth in the use of academic language of the topic, the synthesis of how the ideas worked, and the use of the reflection process, .
  3. Both age groups expressed that they liked the experiments the best, specifically when solving a problem.
  4. A substantial attitude change occurred in the children who wore the lab coats.  They identified themselves as scientists and their subsequent behavior reflected that identity shift.

Below are some pictures from our field tests.

Student thinking scientifically and recording ideas
Student thinking scientifically and recording ideas
Reading our MMB book
One of our test subjects engaged by the entertainment media
We know identity impacts behavior. Finding: Labcoats made the students feel more like scientists resulting in more focused scientific behavior.
We know identity impacts behavior. Finding: Labcoats made the students feel more like scientists resulting in more focused scientific behavior.


What is STEM? Why is it important?

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STEM stands for  Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. Here are some statistics about Americans and the STEM fields of today and tomorrow.

  • Several reports have linked K-12 STEM Education to continued scientific leadership and economic growth in the US.
  • According to NAEP, (http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/) roughly 75% of US 8th graders are not proficient in mathematics when they complete the 8th grade.
  • Employers in many industries lament that job applicants lack the needed mathematics, computer, and problem-solving skills to succeed.
  • International students fill an increasing portion of elite STEM positions in the US.
  • China and India, in Dec 2009, provided 47% of the approximately 248,000 foreign science and engineering graduate students in the US.
  • The talent pool to US employers is diminishing and will be a significant problem in the next 20 years if the condition of STEM education does not change in the US.

In simple terms, this means…

Our students are not learning the STEM ideas they should be by the time they exit our K-12 educational system. They are not choosing to pursue STEM careers. (We will address some specific STEM careers in future blogs) And with the 21st century job market demanding more STEM skills, they will not be employable.

This paints a dismal future both for our children and for the job market. With fewer individuals interested and trained for STEM careers, we will have businesses moving overseas as well as other countries making technological advances quicker than us.  This speculation of a jeopardized economic sustainability has led many American leaders to commission numerous research projects and reports addressing STEM education in the US.  (see attached)

Ask your child, today, what they are learning in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. I think you may be surprised by the answer.

(All data from the article “Successful K-12 STEM Education” by the National Academies Press)