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Friday, November 24, 2006

Neuronal Networks

Neuronal networks are prior knowledge--they're indistinguishable. The video above provides us with background knowledge necessary to understand neuronal networks. It's not enough to say prior knowledge is important. It's essential that we understand a bit of the neuroscience that makes learning possible. Everything we understand takes the form of neuronal networks. That's why it's impossible to just tell students their wrong; instead, we have to begin where they are. Easy? Not really, all too often we start where we are and not where our students are.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Teacher Hack: NinjaWords and the Academic Word List

Generate vocabulary lists with definitions using NinjaWords in conjunction with the Academic Word List. It’s easy. The NinjaWords dictionary doesn’t refresh, so just enter the words on the AWL separated by commas and let the Ninjas go to work. You’ll end up with a word list with definitions. Cut, paste, post or print. NICE!

Here’s a sample:

(v) : give a structure to
"I need to structure my days"
(n) : a thing constructed; a complex entity constructed of many parts; the manner of construction of something and the arrangement of its parts
"the structure consisted of a series of arches"

(adj) : fairly large; important in effect or meaning
"won by a substantial margin"

(adj) : formed or developed from something else; not original
"the belief that classes and organizations are secondary and derived"

(n) : discourse that surrounds a language unit and helps to determine its interpretation; the set of facts or circumstances that surround a situation or event
"the historical context"

(n) : an investigation of the component parts of a whole and their relations in making up the whole; the abstract separation of a whole into its constituent parts in order to study the parts and their relations

Related Post: Word Poverty and the Academic Word List

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Let Them Create

Creativity is as Important as Literacy.

Sir Ken Robinson gets it right. Watch, listen, and learn.

Think Aloud, Brain Mechanics, Academic Achievement, and the Million Dollar Question

Seed Magazine has a must read article “Who Wants to be a Cognitive Neuroscientist Millionaire?” A cognitive science researcher, Ogi Ogas, applies his understanding of brain mechanics (i.e., learning, memory, decision making) to win big bucks on the syndicated game show. The article is an uber think aloud; a wonderful piece of metacognition.

Isn’t it time we teach students the basic of brain mechanics so they can have an academic edge? Mini lessons in priming, intuitive decision making, and theory of mind would be a start.