Thursday, December 1, 2011

Howard Gardner L&B Keynote

Howard Gardner
The Five Minds for the Future: What they are; How to nurture them

Five Minds do not = 8, 8 ½, or 9 intelligences
The ‘hat’ of the psychologist is not the same as the ‘hat’ of the policy maker

Minds of the future is a speculation on the capacities that may be important in/for the future. There’s nothing sacrosanct about the list – people could put forth other ideas about what minds are important

The Future of Learning: Four Mega-trends
- Globalization
- The Biological Revolution
- The Digital Revolution
- Lifelong Learning
We need to be thinking about the implications of those mega-trends for education

Globalization: We are no longer a bunch of disparate countries and islands. We are connected through the Internet, brands, financial transactions. Finances are global, and reverberations are felt worldwide.

The Biological Revolution: I’m not sure any educator should do anything radically different today based on what we know about the brain and genetics. But tomorrow, we will be doing things differently. We need to be able to separate out the claims that have scientific warrant and those that are just somebody spinning wheels. But we do need to be aware of what’s going on and monitor it carefully.

The Digital Revolution: Tech is ubiquitous and often perplexing. Virtual reality, multi-user games, social networking. It’s not just information sources at your fingertips, it’s knowing how to evaluate them – this is serious. Twitter: I’m not sure that you can say anything of value in 140 characters, but we do need to be aware of technologies and how kids are using them.

“There are two kinds of people in the world: those who belong to Facebook, and liars.” Ditto for Wikipedia.

Lifelong Learning: The whole notion that education is K-12 or K-16 is completely anachronistic. Any professional must continue to learn throughout their active lives. The traditions of the past – following parents into careers, keeping the same career for your whole life – is over.

The Disciplined Mind
- Working steadily and improving
- Becoming an expert in a profession, craft, art, or end up unemployed or working for someone who is an expert (the task of work)
- Learning major ways of thinking: historical, artistic, scientific, mathematical (the task of school)

Nowadays, if you want to have a job (especially one that doesn’t require you taking orders from someone) you have to become an expert in something.

The Disciplines of School
- Science (correlation not same as causation; matters of evidence vs. faith, opinion)
- History (role of human agency, no experiments possible, avoid presentism, each generation rewrites)
- Mathematics (beyond formulas, engage in discovery)
- Beyond high school – economics, psychology, etc.
- And, of course, professions are disciplines, too
- Each discipline features its own METHODS – at a time of an information glut, methods become essential.
For example, Science and History approach information very differently and ask very different questions. You can look up stuff and subject matter on your smart phone, but learning how to think like a disciplinarian takes a long time and I don’t think it can be learned online (although maybe parts of it can). You can’t look these up on your smart phone.

If we’re just conveying stuff, we can just use a device. But if we’re conveying the methods of a discipline, that’s a real gift.

- What’s your discipline? What’s its method? How do you convey it to someone else?

The Synthesizing Mind
- Scads of information, especially on the web
- Largely undigested and unevaluated
- The synthesizing imperative
- Good, bad, and “so-so” syntheses
- Psychology (my discipline) has dropped the ball
Charles Darwin is an example of an outstanding synthesizer. Spent years traveling the world and taking notes, then 20 years trying to figure out those notes. The result was the explanation of the origin of life.

With “scads” of info, undigested and unevaluated, we have a synthesizing imperative. If you don’t have criteria and you can’t put the material together in a way that makes sense to you, how can you teach? Your students will not be able to learn anything of complexity.

Towards Synthesis
- Goal – what will the final synthesis be like?
- Starting point (includes earlier synthesis)
- Gathering the relevant information, not too judgmentally
- Method, strategy (e.g., narratives, taxonomies, equations, maps, metaphors, images, systems, systems of systems, embodiments)
- First rough draft
- Feedback of various sorts
- Your best synthesis, pro tem – just in time
- Repeat, with variation, till it has become routine.
As educators, we do a great disservice if we tell our students one way to synthesize. We need to offer a menu of synthesizing options and allow students to choose one – or even create one – that works for them. And you should get the synthesis done in time to run it by other people! We need to be more reflective about synthesis than we have to this point. This may be the most important mind for the future.

Reflection: How do you synthesize? Could you help someone else (or yourself) become a better synthesizer?

The Creating Mind (examples Einstein, Virginia Wolfe)
- Mastering a more discipline-10 years?
- Synthesizing what is known (the box itself)
- Going beyond the known – thinking outside the box, an imperative in the computer (algorithmic, ‘app’) age
- Good questions, new questions
- Robust, iconoclastic temperament
- The ultimate judgment of ‘the field’
You can’t think outside the box without the box! And the box is discipline and synthesizing. Without knowing what came before, your chances of making something new are very small.

Creativity is as much about temperament as it is about cognition. Creativity is open to everybody, but there are never going to be steps. Willingness to take a chance, fail, and pick yourself up and try again or try something else. And as soon is something is discovered anywhere, it circulates the globe. And people who are younger and gustier are going to be competing against those who are “older and wiser”

Reflection: Should American schools cultivate creativity? If so, how? Or are there sufficient lessons about creativity ‘on the streets’, in Hollywood, Silicon Valley and (alas) Wall Street?

Do we provide a place and resources? The problem in America is not a lack of creativity – it’s all over. So should students get out there?

There’s too much of a belief in error-free learning in some cultures.

The Mini-Elevator Mini-Speech (The tweet about the first three minds)
- Depth (Disciplined)
- Breadth (Synthesis of multiple sources)
- Stretch (Creative – go beyond)

The Respectful Mind
Easy to describe, but anything-but-easy to achieve. To understand others’ perspectives, motivation, etc.
- Diversity as a fact of life, at home and abroad
- Beyond mere tolerance
- Need to understand others – perspectives, motivation – emotional and interpersonal intelligence – “empathy schools”
- Inappropriateness of ‘corporate, top-down model’ for schools and perhaps even for corporations!
I go to schools all over the world and can tell very quickly if there is an air of respect in the school. How are disturbances handled? In a world with 7 billion people, if we don’t evince respect, that’s going to be extremely difficult. Even people who loath Barack Obama do see him as a person who is respectful.

You don’t get credit for respect if you
- Kiss up, kick down (scrape to your superiors and abuse your subordinates)
- Laugh at bad jokes (scapegoating and stereotyping)
- Mere tolerance (diversity calls us beyond mere tolerance to a need to understand others)
- Respect with too many conditions
Respect is evident in casual interactions. Do individuals strive for conciliation?

There are some encouraging models in the world of groups who have fought but found some success in coming to a reconciliation
- Commissions on Peace and Reconciliation (more than two dozen countries)
- Barenboim-Said Middle Eastern Orchestra
- Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Project (intercultural penetration, transmission, syncretism)
- Rx-establish respectful institutional culture – especially important if messages at home, on the street, in the media, are contrary. You can’t just say, “We have no room for disrespect here.”

Reflection: What determines an atmosphere of respect or disrespect in a school? How can it be maintained and improved?

The Ethical Mind
- Higher level of abstraction than respectful mind
- Conceptualizing oneself as a (good) worker
- Conceptualizing oneself as a (good) citizen
- Acting appropriately in both roles
- How this plays out in an educational community
We determine who we are by the roles that we play. Teacher, writer, researcher, citizen. We are all citizens of the world now. If I drive a car that burns a lot of fuel, I am contributing to global warming. That is not being a good citizen. The ethical mind doesn’t talk about you and how you deal with your family and neighbors, it’s about you as a worker and a citizen (multiple levels of this). It begins with thinking about yourself, but in the end it’s about how you act, and the ethical person acts responsibly and with the highest aspirations.

Three Es of Good Work
- Excellent, expert, high quality
- Ethical, socially responsible, moral
- Engaging – meaningful, intrinsically motivated
ENA – three strands intertwined of Excellence, Ethics, and Engaging (see crummy photo) It takes all three for work to be “good”

Imagine: you are a history teacher who has just been given a new curriculum and you do not agree with it. Not motivating, not important, not a good use of time. This is an ethical dilemma.

A Study of Good Work in Youth
With disturbing results…
Compromised Work in American Youth
- Students/young workers know the “right thing to do”
- Some do it
- But too many deceive others and themselves – why should I be more ethical than my peers seem to be?
- Is it enough to intend to use proper means in the future?
Can’t be ethical and compete. We’ll be ethical when we reach the top. The ends justify the means.

‘Giving Away’ Good Work – Our effort to encourage ethics in the US
- Traveling curriculum in journalism
- Toolkit being used in American secondary schools and colleges (liked by teachers as well as students) e.g. newspaper, engineering, theater
- Courses at graduate level (“Good work in the global context” “Good work in Education”
- Reflection sessions at Colby, Amherst, Harvard Colleges – baggage, messages, first paragraph
- “Beyond fear and greed” to trust and inspiration
Unless you live as a hermit, you are depending on others to be good workers. And if you aren’t being one, you’re a freeloader.

Occupy movement at least suggests young people are beginning to think about important ideas

Is WikiLeaks a good thing because it reveals government secrets? Or is it a bad thing because it makes private things public and compromises security?

Educator’s “Solution”
Creation of a ‘commons’ where students, teachers, staff can reflect on dilemmas and how they could best be solved and lessons learned – old and young cooperate
We need to have spaces – face-to-face and online – where people can talk about the ethical dilemmas they are facing or have faced and ask opinions about solutions. Not anonymously, but with your own name. No rumor, no anonymity – you don’t know what’s true and what’s not! If you believe at all in reason, sometimes you can come up with better solutions if you put your heads together than you can by yourself.

Reflection: Could you set up a ‘commons’ in your school, college, organization? How would you do/accomplish this? What are the benefits, pitfalls, etc.?

Five Minds in a Digital Age
- Discipline – depth could lose out to breadth – can one learn metho online or is offline apprenticeship essential?
- Synthesis – can one organize the deluge of information? What kinds of aids to synthesis will be developed? Will they be Procrustean or liberating?
- Creativity – web 2.0 and 3.0 are promising, but many young people are risk averse and careerist
- Respectful/Ethical – perhaps to inner circle but not necessarily to the wider community, how to become a ‘cyber citizen’ mastering the ethics of roles. “Good Play” initiative. Nobody can know for sure what will happen to your online information, and that raises issues of respect and ethics that we have never had before.

The Figure-Ground Struggle Going on Today
Painting – girl in front, background behind.
In Education going forward, what will be the figure? Test scores and country rankings or The kind of individuals we nurture and the kind of society we create. The figure should be good workers and good citizens. Almost all of the trouble the US has gotten into – and its been self-inflicted – has come from the best and the brightest. If you believe that education is more than test scores or country rankings than we will follow MLK and RWE:

“Intelligence plus character…” MLK, Jr.
“Character is more important than intellect.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Judy Willis L&B Presentation

Using Brain Research to Help Students Develop Their Highest Cognitive Potentials
Judy Willis, MD, M.Ed.
PDF of today's powerpoint will be on there within a week, or email her at

Teaching strategy: Syn-Naps (Three-Minute Pause)
- Meet in groups of 3-5 to summarize key points, add your own thoughts, pose clarifying questions, predict meaning, your emotional reaction, your cognitive interpretation
- Use a One-minute timer to finish them up (she has a visual one) and a cue

Prefrontal cortex maturation
Educators are possibly the most important caretakers of the most important brain development in a person's life.
Networks of PFC develop with age, last part of the brain to mature, doing so while students are in school, most active maturation between 8-18 (5 to 25 on the bell curve).
Maturation: pruning & myelination, based on use

What can we do about it?
To even get to the PFC is 2/3 of an educator's job. Reticular activating system, amygdala, and dopamine must be engaged first (RAD Teaching)

Multiple functions of the PFC
Emotional Management
Long-term Conceptual Memory
Executive Function
We can impact how strong these networks are, strengthening one has benefits to the other two

Executive Function
Today's students must be prepared to
- evaluate new information and modify understanding as information increases and "facts" change (e.g., Pluto vs. "planet-ness")
- use new technology as it becomes available
- to find solutions for problems we have yet to recognize

We are using a factory model in a digital world - learn these factoids and when you "get out there" you'll be told what to do with them

There's way too much information to even be an expert in one field! In schools, we keep making the books bigger and shoving more facts in. The new testing hasn't done anything to limit the standards. We can't just teach concepts and do projects, we have to deal with the realities of the constraints of the current system.

The PFC holds an executive function system that, when exercised and developed, can become the brain's successful CEO

3% of a cat's brain, 10% of a dog's brain, 20% of a human's brain (by volume)

Executive functions are the skill sets for 21st century success
- Analysis
- Prioritizing
- Considered decision making
- Delay of immediate gratification
- Goal planning
- Risk assessment
- Judgment
- Adaptability

Syn-Naps - summarize what you have learned so far

Executive function use correlates with PFC activity:
- abstraction, reasoning, deduction, critical analysis, considered decision making, goal planning, prioritizing, judgment, & consideration of alternative perspectives

Neural networks of executive function can be developed to:
- evaluate new information
- modify understanding as information increases and "facts" change
- use new technology as it becomes available

Neuroplasticity: The physical changes of building, revising, or extending neuronal networks in response to activation (use).

Each time a brain circuit is activated it becomes stronger and more permanent
- electricity is the stimulant that promotes more dendrites, more synapses (more neurotransmitters), and more myelin (faster)
- comparing it to a muscle: physical exercise leads to larger bulk and greater motor strength, activation and neuroplasticity leads to a larger circuit which results in greater mental strength
- myelin thickening increases with activation; thicker myelin = faster processing; faster retrieval of information; protects it against the pruning (AHA!!!); Mastery in class doesn't mean you've done anything with your myelin - you have to reactivate the circuits over and over again. Faster PFC processing correlates with intellectual performance. Practice makes permanent.

PFC Proper Care and Feeding
- Opportunities to practice accurate and logical interpretation of new information; interaction with the information; lots of predictions; examples; other perspectives, including historical (interesting misconceptions). Interacting with content and learning necessary skills at the same time.
- Develop habits of mind (critical analysis, creative problem solving)

Training Critical Analysis of Data
- Know the difference between theory and research
- Read actual research
- Learn the scientific method & use it to critique scientific research (look who's funding it, how many people in control/variable groups, placebo, double-blind, etc.) Use this as a template for other disciplines.

Practice Executive Functions
- Defend a personal opinion with facts, but also...
- Predict what an opposing viewpoint would be and how to refute it
- Practice solving real world, student-relevant problems with no single "right" answer
- Activities: supreme court justice opinions, best restaurant in a city, evaluate website validity, identify ethical/unethical tv commercials and write a business letter, student participation in conflict resolution, photo analysis - which headline?, more on website

Summary: Teachers are the caretakers of the highest brain development
- PFC is last part of brain to mature
- PFC network processing speed correlates with intelligence
- Myelination promotes increased speed and is increased when networks are used
- Use of executive functions promotes their greater development

Argument has been made that this should happen in college, but is it? Or is college a place for remediating facts that weren't learned in K-12 or cramming in more facts?

Syn-Naps: What strategies and activities that you've used are likely to have promoted the activation and neuroplastic growth of the networks of executive function.

21st Century Success
Concept learning is critical for students to respond in the future with innovative solutions to new problems

Conceptual Long-Term Memory
Answers Why?

Ma and Pa Kettle Math Clip

Of students who got 100% basic pythagorean theorem questions right, only 30% could transfer to a slightly more complex problem. Rote learning and practice does not lead to concept development. Isolated facts repeated and practiced in certain ways result in orphan networks, no matter how strong they are. Have to do things for transfer.

The brain seeks patterns and pleasure

Short-term (working) Memory is a matter of pattern matching
- Amygdala and Hippocampi. Info that gets through amygdala (not stressed), goes into hippocampus for processing. The brain interprets new information based on existing patterns (schema - literally a physical template in the hippocampus). If there is no patter waiting (or activated within a minute), new input is misinterpreted or disappears. When there is a successful pattern match the hippocampus encodes sensory input into working-term memory. Fun pattern brain games on her slides! I got them ALL WRONG!!! :) The strongest pattern that has had the most activation is strongest and fastest retrieved. The fastest go-to pattern is not always right.
- Patterning is the basis for literacy & numeracy and for connecting short-term memories, the system by which we turn memories into bigger concepts. Patterns are passageways for memories to follow. Patterning is the brain's process for linking new learning to existing knowledge. Activate prior knowledge! Without that activation, lack of development of executive function will result in spotty patterning (DO NOT assume students will do it). If we do activate it, the hippocampus encodes sensory input into working memory that can then go to the PFC and, with practice, become long-term memory.
- Activities - bulletin boards that preview, personal/cultural connections, pre-unit assessments, show videos or images that remind students of prior knowledge, remind students about previous exposures (cross-curricular, spiraled curriculum), ***predict/KWL***, similarities/differences, graphic organizers (organization, personalization)

- New information must link (encode) with existing memory to become working memory.
- Frequently activated patterns promote automatic responses
- Start early, have children sort and verbalize patterns
- Patterning strength promotes automaticity for literacy and numeracy
- Prior knowledge activation and graphic organizers increase pattern matching for memory encoding

Syn-Naps: How will you activate your students' prior knowledge and help them create patterns with the information from your class (and other classes)?

Long-term memory
- Hippocampus encodes
- PFC for construction of long-term memory
- Plasticity from mental manipulation
- Long-term memory is the result of physical changes
- Practice makes it durable
- Mental manipulation - things that are most likely to take things from hippocampus and make them long-term memory: similarities/differences, categorize, analogies, graphic organizers, narratives, teaching someone, personalized and humorous mental manipulations are more memorable (actual change in the RNA when there's a positive emotion - happy makes stronger memories), concise summaries (twitter, text messaging, one-minute summary).

Long-term CONCEPT memory
- Transfer
- Pattern extension, connection of separate patterns
- Transfer activities - new applications of learning, incorporation of isolated fact memories into extended concept knowledge
- Recognize key elements (big picture, big ideas, & essential questions, desired goals), understand key elements (mental manipulation (personalize, perspective), meaning-making (interpret), reconstruct the knowledge (summarize, synthesize)), transfer to new application

Big Picture: Teaching disconnected bits of information is like asking them to solve a puzzle without giving them the picture to look at.

Differentiation - give them more or fewer transfer cues, scaffolding

Learning in a variety of ways creates connection between various areas of the brain. When we explicitly require students to use them together to retrieve and practice, we are making those connections stronger. Related subsequent input has more patterns to connect with. Concept networks are now available for transfer to future tasks. Prepared for 21st Century - new questions, new data, have pathways to solve new problems and innovate.

Experience your neurons' neuroplasticity - try to draw clockwise circles with your right foot and the number 6 in the air with your right hand. What happened? Demonstrates how strong pathways can be!

Edward Hallowell L&B Keynote

Shine: Using Brain Science to Get Imagination and the Best from Your Students
Edward M. Hallowell, MD

He has dyslexia and ADHD.

How can we help students do more than they know they are capable of?

Read "A Walk in the Rain with a Brain." I have it, if you're interested in reading it.

The gist of the book is that there is no such thing as "smart." No brain is the same, no brain is the best.

How do we help children find their own brain's special way?

[Hallowell: There are two times in the world of ADD. Now, and not now. There's a test next wednesday - not now! Those with attention surplus disorder are busily blocking out their study time. :)]

Support is the difference between the prison population and the Nobel Prize winners.

Schools and teachers saved his life. Psychotic father, alcoholic mother, learning disability, adhd, etc. You save lives as dramatically as surgeons do.

The pyramid model
- Rests on the assumption that the children who will do best in life are the ones who do best every step along the way
- This is a terrible tyranny that has gripped the imagination of parents and warped childhood


1. Connect
- at its most distilled, we call it love. Love drives growth better than anything else. The best gift we can give our children is a childhood rich with positive interpersonal connections. It's free and infinite in supply! It's really sad that people trivialize this. Love is a tough sell.
- at the moment you become a parent you physiologically change, you enter into a permanent state of psychosis, you go crazy with love. This love leads you to do crazy things - give up time, money, dignity. We live in this state of madness the rest of our lives. That bond is the spinal column of a happy child. It is your greatest ally, trust it!
- connection within the family. Connection and conflict go hand-in-hand. The opposite of connection is indifference. By all means have conflict, just try to work it out and minimize bloodshed. Have family dinners, read together, have fun together. It's good for our brains! Make time for them.
- connection with friends. Pick and choose carefully. Talk to kids about friendship.
- connection to school. How do you feel when you walk in the door? Do you feel safe? Do you feel welcome? Is there someone there and something you're looking forward to?
- connection to nature. Go out and play, get outdoors, make up your games, get out there and come back for dinner. Get a pet.
- connection to the past. Not just history books. All kids ought to do a grandparent project.
- connection to clubs, groups, organizations.
- a spiritual connection. Beyond dogma to what you cannot see, cannot prove. Intuition. Reserve a forum for kids to speculate and wonder in a context of joy, not fear and guilt. Wonder together.
- connection with self.
- notice how rich all of this sounds? This is the stuff life is made of, and it's all free.

2. Play
- the connected child necessarily moves to step 2.
- not just recess. Any activity in which your imagination lights up. The more you play, the more your brain grows.
- great teachers light up the imagination. Ask questions. How? Why? Anything that you pose as a question instantly engages the imagination. Question, question.
- More prestige and pay than a doctor for teachers in Finland. All engaging the imagination, teaching problem-solving all the time. The teachers are so good that they end up leading the world.
- flow
- if you want to help your students find their brain's special way, engage the imagination
- great teachers balance structure and novelty. Too much structure and it's boring, too much novelty and it's chaos.

3. Work, Practice
- best way to get kids to do this is to spend lots of time on connect and play!
- great teachers sweeten the process, so that kids are working hard in spite of themselves.

4. Make Progress, Gain Mastery
- making progress in something that is difficult and matters to you develops confidence, self-esteem, motivation
- teachers MUST intervene with kids who aren't making progress. This is where great teaching changes lives.
- Real disabilities are shame, fear, thinking ur stupid and giving up

5. Receive Recognition
- doesn't necessarily mean you win a prize, just means someone who matters to you notices your progress
- moral education is not about drumming into kids the 10 commandments, its a matter of having some reason to do what's right. The "reason" is to have some ownership in the group - if you feel ownership, you uphold rules, help out, etc. It's really an issue of connection.

This cycle generally predicts success. It's what you come out of childhood FEELING that matters. Who are you? What's your attitude? That's what matters. Confidence, self-esteem, enthusiasm, resilience, growth mindset. Those are absolutely correlated with leading the kind of life we want our kids to live. Not limited to a certain IQ or income. No exclusionary criteria. Every child and adult can enter into the cycle and develop these attitudes. This is how you find out what your brain is good at.

If you tell a kid to dream big and then don't help, he becomes a cynic. If you tell a kid to dream big and then provide the support to fulfill the dream, he's thriving.

Why spend your life sucking up for a prize that's not worth it, when you could live a life that's worth living? This is the message that you all have the power to impart. Alas, it is not the message most parents and kids are getting. They're getting pressure-packed, fear-filled childhood.

This was an outstanding presentation! Makes me wish I could start parenting all over again, start teaching all over again!

Shelley Carson L&B Keynote

Creative Brains: Maximizing Imagination and Innovation in Yourself and in Your Students
Shelley H. Carson, PhD

Imagination - the ability to conceptualize that which does not currently exist or that which is not currently experienced
Innovation - the production of a new process, product, or idea that leads to substantial positive change
Creativity - the ability to take bits of information and synthesize them into novel original ideas or products that are in some way useful or adaptive (internally generated bits and externally sensed bits). Each of us has a unique repository of knowledge. This definition encompasses both imagination and innovation - thinking about it and making it happen.

Why is creativity so important?
- Survival - ancestors weren't fast enough to run away from or fight off predators; survived through ingenuity
- Communication - across religions, time, space, etc. through poetry, art, literature, etc.
- Enrichment and Comfort - medical and scientific advancements, poetry, art, and music, as well as our own creative endeavors including gardening, cooking, and interior decorating
- Sexual Attractiveness - creativity is sexy! A way for us to advertise our fitness to desired mates. Undergraduates would prefer to have a mate who is creative over one who is wealthy. :) Kindness, sociability, creativity most desirable characteristics. Why else would anyone find Mick Jagger attractive?
- Mood regulation - "Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort." - FDR, First Inaugural Address. Art, music, drama therapy.

Why is nurturing creativity in students (and ourselves!) so important in the 21st Century?
- The rules of all of the games are changing - business, dating, parenting, teaching
- We do not know what the future is going to look like in a few years, much less in a century
- Best thing we can teach our students is to creatively adapt to the rapidly changing environment

Creativity on Three Levels
- You become more creative as a person
- You become more creative as a teacher
- You help students become more creative

Aren't some people just naturally creative?
- There are genetic contributions to creativity, but genetics influence behavior, they don't dictate it
- Each of us has the hardware we need to be creative - the marvelous creative brain! We can hijack what is there for survival and use it for creative purposes.
- Just introducing yourself to someone for the first time is a creative act! Imagine your new friend with chartreuse hair with purple streaks. You just imagined something that doesn't exist! Way to go!!!

Can you learn to be more creative?
- There is a difference between talent and creativity. Talent is technical proficiency in a given area - may be the result of motivation and drive to practice to perfect a skill. When we think of creative geniuses, most of them have a combination of talent and creativity. Many who have great talent have never made a significant creative contribution.
- Brain imaging studies indicate that highly creative people activate certain neural patterns when engaged in creative work and that they flexibly change these activation patterns during the creative process.
- By mimicking the brain activation patterns of highly creative individuals we can enhance our innate creative abilities.
- Research indicates that we can achieve certain brain activation states through training and practice. She has seen this in her work with Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. We can re-generate connections between neurons. Connections between neurons is a major part of creativity.

The Creative Process
1. Preparation ("Chance favors the prepared mind." -Louis Pasteur)
- Gathering knowledge - gathering broad knowledge (she takes issue with speakers who say we need to tailor curriculum - we have no idea what knowledge students will combine and use to come up with creative solutions) and specific knowledge within a given field
- Problem-finding - the search for and definition of a problem that needs to be solved, not going out trying to find problems, but exploring new ways for things to be done
2. Creative Solution
- Trial and Error - the deliberative pathway to creativity, sequential logical thought, Thomas Edison, failure is an important part of the process
- Incubation and Insight (Aha!) - the spontaneous pathway to creativity, tends to be tougher to evaluate because people have the conviction that they are right because it came to them, Nikola Tesla, Mozart
3. Evaluation
4. Elaboration
5. Implementation

Brain Activation Patters (Brainsets) Associated with Creativity
C - Connect
R - Reason
E - Envision
A - Absorb
T - Transform
E - Evaluate
S - Stream
Brain activation patterns change thinking, memories, and the ways we solve problems

Reason and Evaluate
- Very important for Preparation phase, trial and error, evaluation, elaboration, and step-by-step plan to implement
- Characterized by focused attention, high activation of the executive centers of the brain, esp. dorsal-lateral prefrontal cortex (particularly left), sequential reasoning, consciously-directed thought, judgment
- Focused on specific aspects of your goal
- Skills include planning (goal-setting), step-by-step problem solving, analysis, detail examination, critical thinking, convergent thinking (using memory to come to a solution) - all skills associated with the pre-frontal cortex, need to teach our students to use them)

Absorb Brainset
- Help with problem-finding, incubation & insight
- Suspended judgment, response to novelty, cognitive disinhibition
- Turning down the filter on what is being allowed into the conscious brain - we tend to inhibit more as we get older, which is contrary to this brainset. De-emphasize the influence of the prefrontal cortex, slight emphasis on the right hemisphere (did you know that the corpus collosum facilitates communication between hemispheres, but also inhibits right hemisphere?) and the reward centers of the brain - reward yourself for paying attention to novelty!
- Skills include mindfulness, intellectual curiosity (reward your students for curiosity to breed more curiosity - operant conditioning for something awesome!), openness to experience (helps to try to see things from another perspective), state of receptiveness
- This state is the precursor to the moment of insight (Aha!)
- Best times - just before sleep, within two hours after physical activity!

Importance of Seeing What Others Don't See
- See the novel aspects of everyday life
- Make a list of everything that annoys you. Can you look at them non-judgmentally and come up with creative solutions?

Envision Brainset
- Associated with mental imagery, "What-if?" thinking, cognitive disinhibition
- Uses parts of the brain associated with episodic memory
- Skills include imagination, fantasy play, visualization (help students practice this skill)
- Whatever your subject matter, you can include What-if and imaginative thinking

Connect Brainset
- Activation of associational networks, goal-directed motivation, positive affect
- Creative thinking is "the forming of associative elements into new combinations...The more mutually remote the elements of the new combination, the more creative the process or solution." -Mednick (1962)
- Game: Degrees of separation. Two words from dictionary, environment, lesson, etc. See if you can come up with words to connect them in 3, 2, then 1 degrees.
- Skills include divergent thinking (using the content of memory to come up with new ideas)

The importance of flexibly moving among brainsets
- Must learn to move fluidly between convergent and divergent thinking
- Brainstorm followed by evaluation, crossword puzzle followed by story-writing using first two words they solved back-and-forth, add "What-if?" exercises to daily lessons

How can I help my students to think more creatively about my content? How can I be more creative?

Charles Fadel L&B Keynote

21st Century Skills: The Imperative for Teaching Creativity and Innovation in Schools
Charles Fadel

Key Messages
Challenges require comprehensive rethinking - RELEVANCE
- Applicable Knowledge
- Skills not just Knowledge
- Character not just Skills & Knowledge

What will the world be like 20 years from now?
- Volatile
- Uncertain
- Complex
- Ambiguous

This is what happens in a multipolar world (several centers of political and economic strength)

The New World We Live In
Learning leads to economic competitiveness and Lifelong personal prosperity and social & environmental wellbeing
Globalization requires productivity, which requires education, so it puts a focus on our profession
Impact of absolute population size - In 2025, there will be 300M skilled workers in China and India, which is a world challenge

Does the world have the absorptive capacity?
- Long-term, perhaps
- Short-term, major dislocations
25% of US jobs are potentially off-shoreable" Blinder at Harvard

What do Egypt, Japan, and Sweden have in common?
- High Youth Unemployment (40% in Egypt!)

Accelerating change demands different skills
- Non-routine analytic/interactive are on the rise (consultants and engineers)
- Route cognitive and manual are decreasing (assembly work, paper work)
- Non-routine manual are toast (construction)

Personally-delivered vs. Impersonally delivered
Impersonal services are off-shoreable, personal services are not

Skill vs. Delivery
Even very skilled jobs are off-shoreable if they are impersonal
But even personal jobs are becoming off-shoreable due to technology (fly to a surgeon, telesurgery, for example)
"Computers found more accurate than doctors in breast-cancer diagnosis" Science Magazine, Nov 10, 2011
We have passed a new threshold in artificial intelligence, but the replacement of human labor by technology is not new.
We have to be aware of the rapidity of technological development - with human genome, we can now do in 5 minutes what it would have taken a year to do.
iPhone: $400 price point - 40Tb in 2015, 40Eb 2025 (you could video your whole life)!
Exobrain by 2030
This is already possible in the cloud
Distributed computing - Folding@Home project

We are preparing students for jobs that do not exist and things we haven't even thought of!

Think about 3D printing - what would you do if you had a micro-factory in your office?

"The future is already here - it's just not very evenly distributed." - William Gibson

When the digital revolution exceeds education, we experience social pain; when education is ahead, we experience prosperity

So what do we teach for in an era of ubiquitous search and AI that help us with answers?
- Fluidity with technology
- Adaptability
- Resilience
- Asking the right questions
- Synthesizing/integrating
- Creating!

Creative work differentiates more developed countries from less developed countries and work done by machines

Schooling vs. Real-World
" learning is abstract, theoretical and organized by disciplines while work is concrete, specific to the task, and organized by problems and projects." - OECD, "Learning for Jobs" 2009

We must re-think what is taught with a lens of relevance - what do we remove? what else do we need to teach? what else matters?

Partnership for 21st Century Skills - Framework of 21st Century Student Outcomes and Support Systems

Utah is NOT one of the states that has adopted this framework.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Heidi Hayes Jacobs L&B Keynote

Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World
Heidi Hayes Jacobs, EdD

Paper is over.

Prezi is an example of the deliberate use of new genre for specific purposes - great for attention and rapid eye movement, not great for sustained work.

In your schools, as we are looking at curriculum and instruction, choose your century.

Can't think of a better time to be an educator (She has been an educator for 40 years)

Essential Questions:
- How can we prepare our learners for their future?
- Who owns the learning?

Technologies are tools that go with teaching and learning. The tools do make a difference. The point isn't the tools, it's how we engage them. The tools we use impact learning. New tools and new literacies. They do, on some levels, support each other.

10% of the 21st Century is over.

If you look at your curriculum as an artifact, if you look at your schedule as an artifact, how you're grouped, etc., what year are you preparing your students for?

[To be honest, I think our School of Education is "good" in traditional terms, but not preparing the educators that we NEED for today's students. We are not training our students in collaborative, problem-based, authentic models using modern tools and resources, so why would they teach this way?]

The tools we use impact communication.

[This woman is HILARIOUS! A great presenter! Check out her stuff, people. She's got a great perspective and outstanding ideas.]

The way we share curriculum has changed, because the portals are open.

I don't want students going online and playing with kids all over the world, and then coming into our dated classrooms.

The use of these tools should not be extraneous to curriculum - they should be supporting the central points of curriculum.

Skype and a National Geographic documentary or a diorama in a shoe box?

These tools get kids to search again. They get YOU to search again. An engaging instructional tool isn't an enrichment, it's essential.

When it makes curriculum and instructional sense, students should be collaborating with people all over the world and engaging in authentic tasks.

It's not just about what we do with the kids, it's about what WE are doing.

The curriculum in this country is roughly 1985. Not just talking about the tools we use, but about what we study.

Curriculum is not just tools and skills and technology - it's choice-making! We choose, you see, and what we choose is either engaging or an imposition.

What do we cut? What do we keep? What do we create?

The US has the shortest school year, the shortest school day, and the least amount of contact with each other.

Our school system was created in 1896, based on the agrarian calendar. The schedule is 6 hours with 8 subjects based on the factory schedule.

Are children and youth processing information differently?

Social Production (e.g., Wikipedia (now as accurate as Encyclopedia Britannica) - Learning to do, knowledge creation
Social Networks - Learning to be, defining our identities, how we connect with each other determines how learning occurs (relationships, not technologies) - How many of you are members of professional social networks? Do you know what a live binder is?
Semantic Web - Learning to know, organization, interpretation, connections & distribution of information
Media Grids - Learning to be and do, gaming embeds Gardner's Five Minds for the Future, Content not confined to linear structure
Non-linear Learning - Disciplines are interconnected

A new kind of learner needs
- A new kind of teacher
- A new pedagogy
- Upgraded curriculum
- A new kind of classroom
- New roles

Three literacies worth exploring
- Digital literacies - use and selection of the right Web 2.0 technologies
- Media literacy - ability to be a critical responder to media, know how to make QUALITY media to express themselves. We haven't been trained on it, and many of our kids don't know how to create quality products
- Global literacy - recognize the relationship between place and people
Leading with teaching and learning....or is it that the technologies are stretching the possibilities for teaching and learning????

Can you imagine going to a doctor who says, "I know about technology! I've heard of X-rays!"

How do we begin to transition out of our 19th century structures for 21st century learning?

Versioning - 4 key school structures
- Schedules (short-term (daily, yearly) and long-term (graduation))
- Student grouping patterns (by age? why?)
- Teacher configurations (too much isolation)
- Space

What are the basic elements in designing curriculum that need upgrading?
- Content - what is essential given the time I have? Science teachers have the same amount of time to teach science as they did in 1896!!! Think about that!!!
- Skills - multiple literacies
- Assessments - change your assignments! Kids are great at notetaking - think text messaging! Mock FB pages for historical figures - what would status updates, friends, etc. look like? Zooburst - 3D pop-up books. MuseumBox. Share and Self-publish! The Grandmother Project. Video Trailers for units - use them for review, use last year's as teasers. Create a podcast channel. CAD blueprints. Etc., etc., etc.

But where do we start? There's so much out there! Clearinghouse on Visual Thesaurus. Gapminder. Google Art Project (using this tool, 9th graders created a virtual tour, chose 5 paintings that they felt best represented transition period in art, made a podcast about them). Tag Galaxy (teacher had kids compare and contrast iconography in images from different world religions to compare the religions). WolframAlpha (try searching on Boston!). Oh, holy cow!

At the end of every curriculum objective, we need to add the adverb "independently." We want our students to be able to do these things without us!

Video: Technology at PS 101. In that school, every student has a teacher who is willing to learn something. Special Ed was the first to get iPads.

Teachers aren't reluctant, they just don't know where to start and they want to do it right.

Curriculum is not antithetical to the new genre.

NOTICE new forms of assessment and experiences.

She did a TED talk. Look it up! But she challenges us to do TED talks ourselves at our own school. What are you playing with and exploring? What is on your mind in your field right now?

Every child in America should create an App before they graduate.

Follow Med Kharbach. He posts at least one new tool every day.

Start with one thing. We don't want to overwhelm - just whelm, for now.

You know what Piaget said - people are only learning if they are experiencing disequilibrium. The goal of this conference is for you to leave emotionally discouraged. :)

Check out the backchannel on Twitter at #LB30

Helen Neville L&B Keynote

Training Brains: Improving Behavior, Cognition and Neural Mechanisms of Attention in Lower SES Children
Helen J. Neville, PhD

Dr. Neville summarized her research on the cognitive impacts of socioeconomic status and her work to change that impact. SES plays a major role in student achievement, attention, stress, etc. But Dr. Neville has found success with intervention programs for the children (particularly training them to focus their attention) and their parents (creating a more stable home environment). She has received a grant to start working with latino families - the highest at-risk population. - new, non-technical DVD for parents and educators to help them understand the impact of SES and ways to change brains, proceeds used to translate it to Spanish

Tony Wagner L&B Keynote

The New Educational Challenges

New skills for work, continuous learning, & citizenship in a "knowledge society" for all students. These skills are not effectively taught.

The "Net Generation" is differently motivated to learn

The Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College, and Citizenship
Students must be on their way to mastery of these skills through school
1. Critical thinking and problem-solving
2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence - must be able to understand and appreciate differences
3. Agility and adaptability - contrast that with the regularities of school
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism - setting "stretch" goals and achieving most of them is better than setting basic goals and achieving all of them, "fail early and fail often," yet we penalize children when they fail in school
5. Effective oral and written communication - writing with voice, passion, and perspective
6. Accessing and analyzing information
7. Curiosity and imagination - only one curriculum being taught, and that is test prep. AYP or AP. There is an enormous gap between what we teach and the skills students need. 50% of students who begin college never complete a degree, many because they didn't have the skills (especially writing) to succeed.

What motivates the "net" generation?
- Accustomed to instant gratification and "always-on" connection
- Use the web for 1) extending friendships, 2) interest-driven, self-directed learning, and 3) as a tool for self-expression
- Constantly connected, creating, and multitasking in a multimedia world - everywhere except in school (Technology is a double-edged sword - we need to use the powerful technologies to engage students and extend the classroom, but we also need to understand that this generation doesn't know how to NOT multitask, so they need to learn to "develop the muscles of concentration")
- Less fear and respect for authority - accustomed to learning from peers, want coaching, but only from adults who don't "talk down" to them
- Want to make a difference and do interesting/worthwhile work - want to make a difference more than they want to make money

The Culture of Schooling versus The Culture of Innovation
The teachers who make big differences are outliers. They create a culture in their classroom that is different from that at their institution.
- Individual achievement versus collaboration
- Specialization versus multi-disciplinary learning
- Risk avoidance versus trial and error (We don't talk about failure here, we talk about iteration)
- Consuming versus creating
- Extrinsic versus intrinsic motivation
- Evolution from play to passion to purpose

Implications for "Reinvention"

We have to move away from what has always been an information-based learning system (focus on "timeless learning" (academic content that has persisted over time)) to a transformation-based system (focus on what you can do with what you know; focus on using content to master the competencies for "just-in-time learning"). We have to think carefully about what content is truly important and consider how it might be used to teach skills.

Watch The Finland Phenomenon

Redefining Rigor: 5 "Habits of Mind" - Learning to ask the right questions
- Weighing Evidence
- Awareness of Varying Viewpoints
- Seeing Connections/Cause & Effect
- Speculating on Possibilities/Conjecture
- Assessing Value - both socially and personally

Questions to consider
- What skills are you teaching, and how are you assessing them?
- What is the school doing to systematically improve instruction, and how do you know it's working? Are you a better teacher than 2 years ago - if so, in what ways and how do you know?
- How well are your students prepared for college, careers, and citizenships, and how do you know?
- Is your school "adding value?"

Redefining Educational Excellence
- Track cohort graduation rate and how well students do once they are in college (National Student Clearing House (
- Use the college and work readiness assessment to assess analytic reasoning, critical thinking, problem-solving, and writing (
- Video-tape focus groups with recent grads (data for the heart)

- Doing the new work: teaching & assessing the skills that matter most
- Develop strategies for teaching & assessing the 3Cs: Critical & Creative thinking, communication, and collaboration
- Pilot interdisciplinary courses around essential questions and capstone projects at multiple levels
Require all students to have digital portfolios (track progress, real audience, means for teacher accountability), work internships, and service-learning projects

Doing the New Work in New Ways
- Collaboration & Transparency
- Isolation is the enemy of innovation and improvement
- Every student has an adult advocate
- Every teacher on teams for collaborative inquiry - looking at student & teacher work
- Videotape teaching & supervision (lesson study vs. evaluation)
- Peer-reviewed digital portfolios for teachers and leaders

Adam J. Cox Executive Function Workshop

Building the Eight Pillars of Capable Young Minds
Adam J. Cox, PhD

The purpose of this 3-hour workshop was to describe the Executive Function capabilities of children - particularly those in junior high - and to prescribe strategies that educators can use to help develop those capabilities.

Dr. Cox began his presentation by describing educators as the "architects of young minds, rather than the conveyors of content." His basic premise that our role as educators is to teach children how to think, using our content as a vehicle for that thinking.

He also stated that children are desperate to be taken seriously and implied that much misbehavior is the result of adults not taking children seriously - not listening to their desires and opinions or thinking about what they have to say. On the other hand, we also often have unrealistically high expectations for children - particularly in social domains (e.g., high levels of communication, interpretation, motivation, and interaction).

The most crucial event in the evolution of the human species is the ability to wait.” Jacob Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

A species that takes longer to develop is capable of greater cognitive complexity. The delay in development of today’s adolescents may be a function of the increasing complexity of today’s society and culture.

Electronica leads to limited auditory attention, heightened impatience and irritability, and social withdrawal.

Extinction of boredom and the demise of civility. Losing the ability to wait.

The stimulation we provide makes all the difference.

Boys: compliance feels submissive; boredom is stressful; high proportion of kinesthetic processors; respond well to kinematics; tendency to overlook detail

Girls: Typically know how to circumvent the “crisis” of boredom; More likely to enjoy auditory-based instruction; highly engaged by concepts with social relevance; May lose momentum in the vortex of perfectionism. (Study: estrogen linked to working memory)

Universal Fulcrum of Immediate Improvement
- Define and illustrate desired outcomes
- Continuous, explicit verbal feedback
- Positive feedback has greater impact on younger kids, negative feedback (critical) has a greater impact on later adolescents
- Make the process personal and emotional
- Assess consolidation daily
- One of the most important things they learn in the 5th and 6th grades is the ability to pick out the most important things and retain those

We are competing with a lifetime of electronica.

Teaching the “Trophy Generation”
- Need for constant fun and stimulation
- High level of self-absorption
- Persistent need for affirmation
- Insistence that “anything is possible”
- Conflation of electronic and real experience

Pillar I: Initiation
Likely Challenges
- Trouble getting started
- Confusion about priorities; doesn’t put first things first
- Inability to delay gratification
Possible Solutions
- Collaboratively build and reinforce classroom and study routines
- Explain how to determine priorities (could supply a rubric for decision-making)
- Parcel large or complex tasks into smaller steps
- “Chunk” time; use timers as necessary
"I want to be not just a good teacher, but your teacher"

Pillar II: Attention
Likely Challenges
- Trouble inhibiting distraction; a wandering mind
- Selective attention
- Insufficient Energy
Possible Solutions
- Narrow the field of attention (selective seating, strategic study center, deny visual and auditory stimulation; offer exercise or quiet relaxation (15 min on, then break, then 15 min on – will finish work better and faster)
- Encourage self-monitoring (use on-task charts to build two-tier thinking, make interval check-ins routine (personal buzzer/timer), Invite kids to be a part of school planning – today’s kids are generally not reliable self-monitors/evaluators – we need to teach and encourage this)
- Change learning channel frequently (sustained auditory attention is a major challenge for many 21st century children)
- Consider administering school-wide learning style assessments (theory that guides the instruction in your school); invite students to participate in school planning (taking them seriously, ideas incorporated into the plan, get better results faster)
Tone + Tempo = Synchrony of a Well “orchestrated” classroom
Making strategic use of
Vocal tone, rate and rhythm of speech, vocabulary, relevance, physical proximity, projected energy, facial expressions, gestures – attention emerges from the spaces between us rather than from within us

Classroom clouds
- Facts and knowledge
- Subjectivity of students (Personal)
- Co-regulated learning relationship – essence of application of executive function in the classroom

Pillar III: Cognitive Flexibility
Likely Challenges
- Problems changing tempo
- Reluctance to shift focus
- Colliding time-frames
Possible Solutions
- Activate two-tier thinking (ask for predictions about what steps will be required and how long they will take; provide immediate, non-judgmental feedback)
- Announce transitions well in advance, and allow ample time for organization (Don’t teach up to the bell – leaves people in chaos and they don’t have time to synthesize)
- Support synchronized tempo by animating instruction
- Provide an optimal example (sit student next to another s/he admires with better flexibility)
- Always reinforce effort more than ability or accomplishment (Carol Dweck, Mindset) because...
- effort is the foundation of a positive work ethic
- easier to take ownership of effort than talent
- potential for praise is infinite compared with attainment of a specific goal (effort is recyclable)
Many kids understand but never seem to "know" course content due to lack of repetition and rehearsal (the only way to consolidate memory). But this does not have to be boring and rote - think multimodal. Kids just need more experience with the content. Going off on tangents is a valuable instructional technique, but not a good learning technique. When we teach, we need to approach the topic from 360 degrees – present the idea in a lot of different ways, don’t get off topic. Repetition and rehearsal are irreplaceable pathways to better connected brains (neural networks of retention)

Pillar IV: Working Memory
Likely Challenges
- Forgets what s/he knows
- Difficulty multitasking
- Tests below ability level
Executive Function helps produce knowledge through the following 4 steps:
- Stimulation-Focused Thought (micro)
- Overlearning (this is a key "tipping point" in the era of distraction and where we nurture the neural architecture of intelligence)
- Reflection and Insight (macro)
- Consolidation
Capable minds learn to toggle between micro and macro cognitive frames
Possible Solutions
- Emphasize overlearning strategies
- Students should write or type notes immediately
- Ask for immediate, articulated recall of information
- Work toward assessing consolidation daily
Maximizing memory:
- Chunk new information
- Repetition and rehearsal (over-learning)
- Short, frequent quizzes
- Make & organize index cards
- Study right before going to sleep
- Review first thing in the morning

Collaborative tracking boosts productivity and academic esteem. Public tracking done artfully and sensitively – we don’t want to harm kids, we want to build community and motivate

Pillar V: Organization
Likely Challenges
- Pervasive clutter and chaos
- Unconstructive multitasking
- Constantly forgets to bring things home
Possible Solutions
- Support learning and retention by making time and space for organization
- Review and sign-off on student agendas daily
- Ask for an explanation of unconventional organization systems (you never know - they may think of something better!)
- Teach how to use an "end-of-day" checklist
- Provide peer tutor or professional coach if needed
Teach study skills! Note-taking, note cards, setting up a study space, etc.

Pillar VI: Planning
Likely Challenges
- Poor time awareness
- Trouble with sequencing
- Doesn’t visualize relevant outcomes
Possible Solutions
- Help articulate goals and sequencing strategies
- Explain how to think and work backward from a goal
- Identify the key elements of a plan (time needed, materials, equipment, resources)
- Provide daily contact with measured progress in a context of caring (MUST improve my feedback time!!!)

Pillar VII: Self-monitoring (Social)
Likely Challenges
- Self-absorption gets mistaken for self-centeredness
- Awkward interpersonal skills
- Problems with code-switching
Theory of Mind – each child has unique experience that is different from others’ experiences, we are developing more sophisticated levels of Theory of Mind as we develop. The better we get at that, the better we get at EQ.

To help students have more "conversational courage" we can:
- Focus on topics of interest and/or confidence
- Maintain a matter-of-fact tone (don't get emotional)
- Limit eye contact (often more willing to talk to us if we're not looking at them)
- Make conversation a background to an activity (e.g., toss a ball)
- Adopt the persona of a coach

Students need to learn both social rules (e.g., conversational distance, turn-taking, eye contact) and social cognitive skills (use of conventions such as greetings, voice modulation/emotion detection, giving compliments, goal-directed transitions/code-switching)

Possible Solutions
- Integrate social conventions into casual conversations and classroom instructions (state: "make sure to spend equal time listening to one another and signal if you like your partner's ideas")
- Privately suggest alternative behaviors
- Employ non-verbal signals to avoid embarrassment
- Begin with an explanation, but end with rehearsal (let them practice social skills!)

We must understand what identity kids want to identify with if we want them to ascend with us. Once we unlock what they want to feel about themselves, everything else becomes logical.

Kids are masters of decoding your voice. Your voice indicates whether you are a coach or a boss. They respond better to coaches.

We tend to focus on intellectual skills and achievement at school and are neglecting executive function, cognitive skills, and personality.

Pillar VIII: Emotional Control
Likely Challenges
- Spontaneous, strong emotion - with little provocation
- Personalizes the non-personal (takes it personally)
- Chronic irritability, moodiness
Possible Solutions
- Project empathy before attempting to correct emotional problem (attentive listening)
- Minimize direct eye contact, use a matter-of-fact tone
- Explain acceptable ways for expressing dissatisfaction
- Work toward converting disruptive students into classroom school leaders

Bottom line: I need to focus my instruction and allow for repetition and rehearsal - perhaps not as much elaboration and "going off on tangents." I also need to integrate explicit use of executive function on a daily basis - stop and review, end-of-day checklist, frequent smaller assessment, talk openly about time management and content organization. I MUST be better about getting quick and specific feedback to my students so that they can accurately reflect on their progress and improve over time.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Ken Kosik at UVU Arts in Education Conference

The arts ask the really big questions. Cognitive neuroscience asks big questions. Molecular neuroscience asks small questions.

Somewhere in our evolutionary history, the human need to make art has emerged. Around 50,000 years ago, our ancestors started to paint on the walls of caves. No other species had ever done this. And the paintings would not have been seen by very many people. So there is an urge to create this art that extends beyond the desire for others to see it. Musical instruments begin to emerge at about the same time, as did burying the dead with things - the emergence of abstraction.

Human genomes are almost identical to each other (only 1% different from one person to another). Neanderthals are also remarkably similar to us. But there are small differences, which may contribute to the human drive to create art. All of our closest relatives have gone extinct. Even the closest living ones (i.e. chimps, etc.) are threatened. Chimp genes are 97% like ours. But they wouldn't spontaneously help each other like we do. This is called the "social brain."

Reading: Oliver Sacks' The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat

Attributes of the Social Brain:
- Ability to recognize people's faces (there is a part of the brain devoted specifically to this function; test yourself at
- Watching the eye movements of people you're talking to
- Language - (there is a musicality to the Italian language, and they use the "musical" parts of their brain to attempt to extract meaning from nonsense words)
- Memories - beyond declarative ("Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinion, their life a mimicry, their passion a quotation." Oscar Wilde; "Let us, then, say that this is the gift of Memory, the mother of the Muses, and that whenever we wish to remember anything we see or hear or think of in our own minds, we hold this wax under the perceptions and thoughts and imprint them upon it, just as we make impressions from seal rings; and whatever is imprinted we remember and know as long as its image lasts..." Socrates) The Greeks linked memory (Mnemosyne is the goddess of memory) and the arts (the Muses are her daughters)

Memory is not about the past. It is about the future. Memory is mental time travel. (Yadin Dudai quote on the role of memory)

We do not recall things perfectly. Rather, our memories help to inform our thoughts. When memory goes away, we lose our future. When you ask an Alzheimer's patient what they would like to do this summer, they have a difficult time providing detail about their desires.

Daydreaming vs. Task-oriented Behavior

The brain shifts when you are not trying to achieve a goal. It continues to use a lot of energy, but it activates the parietal lobes - the "dark energy" of the brain, when you are at rest, but active.

What does the brain do?
It tells us our own story - creates autobiography
1. Places us in the lead role of own story (agency, maps our position in space)
2. Creates a continuity of consciousness upon a fragmented field of memories
3. Deludes us about our past by conflating memory with imagination
4. Puts emotional valence on our experience so we can learn to survive

The brain tells our story. We have to explain what we don't understand. Confabulation is when we form false memories of events by confusing imagination and memories. But we also engage in storytelling through the arts - stories, painting, music, etc. As we chip away at a scientific understanding of things, we often don't get to the really big questions that the arts address.

In our day-to-day life stories, our brains respond profoundly to visual stimuli. But the mind can put a different kind of look to the same scene. The actual visual input is far more important than all of the meaning that we put on that information. This is true of all stimuli - it is the meaning we make that is most important.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Raising Nerds

The article linked below is a great reminder that we need to be raising a nation of nerds. In other words, we need to value education as much as (if not more than) athletic prowess and make it a key focus of our government, culture, society, and families. I couldn't agree more.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Compulsive Liars

So compulsive liars aren't crazy, they're crazy smart! Fascinating findings:

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Genetics and Autism

I had the outstanding opportunity to attend a presentation by Dr. Valerie Hu, a leading autism researcher. Dr. Hu is a biochemist, so she looks at autism from a biological stand point. She has made some amazing inroads into understanding the genetic correlations with autism and I wanted to share some notes here for my friends with autistic children and my former and current students who have or will have the opportunity to work with students with autism.

Intro to Dr. Hu's work:

First, Dr. Hu realized that the current method of trying to analyze the biology of autism was completely ineffectual. Researchers were throwing all types of autism into the same pot and then trying to determine what made those with autism different from those without. Of course, they couldn't figure it out. There was so much variance in the data that they couldn't draw any conclusions from it. So Dr. Hu and her grad students began to categorize people based on the behavioral inventories that are currently in use. They were able to tease out four distinct forms of autism based on those inventories - severe language-impaired, intermediate, mild (including Asperger's), and savant.

Once these distinctions were made, they were able to start comparing the genetic data to determine if these behavioral categories were also evident biologically. They are. Dr. Hu has been able to determine definite biological/genetic markers for each of the four types of autism. The markers are particularly significant for those with severe language-impaired autism.

Parents of children with autism will not be surprised to hear what some of those genetic markers are. Dr. Hu discovered differences in the genes linked with circadian rhythms (which regulate sleep-wake cycles, among other things), digestion, head size, sensitivity to stimuli, etc. She states that this new form of analysis is 98% accurate for each type of autism and 94% accurate overall, meaning that a blood test for autism is on the horizon.

Additionally, it appears that many of these genetic anomalies are not related to flawed or damaged genes, but rather are caused by markers on the genes that turn them up or down. For example, one of the genes that is related to circadian rhythms regulates the amount of melatonin in the body. It is turned down in kids with severe autism. So, we may be able to supplement kids' melatonin to give them some relief and help them to sleep better.

Another fascinating finding here is that one of the genes that seems to be most profoundly impacted in children with autism is closely linked with the amount of testosterone in the body. If this gene is turned off, the amount of testosterone goes up, which reduces an enzyme in the body that helps to regulate sleep-wake cycles, neural inflammation, etc. So, boys already have more testosterone than girls. Autistic boys produce more testosterone because this gene is turned off, which reduces the production of the enzyme, which results in more testosterone production, etc. It is a terribly vicious cycle that both explains why more boys than girls have autism and explores a possible cause of some of the symptoms of autism. This research tells us that hormone therapy (giving estrogen), may help to alleviate some of the symptoms of autism.

Link to more info:

Basically, the idea here is that we are near a blood test for autism AND, perhaps even more interestingly, the genetic testing is leading to customized treatments for each autistic child as we discover which genes are impacted and then target therapies (genetic, hormonal, etc.) to their specific genetic deficiencies.

Super-exciting stuff that I think gives everyone a lot of hope for the future of children with autism.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Engaging the Digital Mind

Here is the slideshow from my presentation at SoTE 2011: