I spent the day today attending and presenting at the Virginia Association of Independent Schools Leading Learning Conference (#VAIS2016) and had a blast! The day started with a thought-provoking keynote presentation from Jessica Lahey (@jesslahey), the author of the book The Gift of Failure. If you have not read her book, I strongly encourage you to pick up a copy and share it with every parent and teacher that you know. I have given copies of the book to the parents of my advisees and will be facilitating a book club discussion on the book with our parents’ association this winter. My presentation on the neuroscience of learning followed Jessica and was well received by the crowd of approximately 350 Virginia educators who had assembled. After a couple of concurrent sessions that included a wide range of interesting and engaging topics, the day was over and I was exhausted. Exhausted but energized at the same time by the plethora of ideas that I came away with after engaging with fellow educators for an entire day of professional development. Kudos to the VAIS staff who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to put together and pull off a fantastic day of sharing and learning!
Now on to the Friday 4 items for the week.
- Should School Be More Confusing? is a piece written by John Spencer (@spencerideas) that I serendipitously ran across this week that dovetails nicely with one of the themes of my talk, namely, desirable difficulties.
- Are We Afraid to Let Students Make Mistakes? appeared on the Faculty Focus website this week. I bet Jessica Lahey would have a few things to say about the ideas in the piece! 😉
- I found a new blog that I truly love this week after reading a piece shared by a member of my PLN. Here is one of my favorite posts from the site, Farnam Street, that really resonated with me. How To Think.
- Here is a nice short piece from the teachthought website that is pretty self-explanatory: 20 Observable Characteristics Of Effective Teaching. How many of these characteristics are observable in your classroom?
Some more Cognitive Psychology and a few other related tidbits
I seem to be running into quite a few interesting links related to the cognitive psychology or neurobiology of learning in past few weeks. The topic is a fascinating one (at least I think so!) and is really just beginning to make its way into the education world as the neuroscientists and educators begin to collaborate and communicate more. If you are looking to expand your knowledge base about the topic, I would strongly encourage attending any of the Learning and the Brain workshops. I have been to a few of them and found them incredibly informative and helpful as I rethink my lessons, homework assignments and really all that I do in the classroom. You can even follow @Learning andtheB on twitter. So here are a few of my finds from this past week that you will hopefully find interesting. If you have any suggestions for future Friday Four editions, please do not hesitate to send them along.
- Daniel Willingham is the author of several books on the topic of cognitive psychology including “Why Don’t Student’s Like School?” Here is a link to a piece he wrote that appeared on the American Educator website titled “How Knowledge Helps.” In the piece Willingham explores how previous knowledge impacts learning.
- Jay McTighe tweeted out a link to a great Ted talk by Dr. Judy Willis that looks at the neurobiology behind boredom and frustration in the classroom. Willis is a neuroscientist who went into teaching so that she could apply what she had learned about the brain and learning in the lab.
- Effective and useful feedback is one of the most important factors that can lead to learning. How many of us have taken the time to solicit feedback from our students on a regular basis? This piece that appeared on the Edweek website looks at the topic of using student feedback for improvement.
- Seth Godin has published his manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams” What do you think we ought to do about education? is a question Godin gets often. His response is “What is school for?” His manifesto is an attempt to start a conversation about the goals we have for our schools and how to reach them.