Tag: learning sciences

9 Lessons from Brain Science from Melina Uncapher

June 5, 2018 by

This post originally appeared at Getting Smart on April 13, 2018.

A high school chemistry teacher and a grandmother with Parkinson’s disease spurred Melina Uncapher’s interest in science. She earned her Ph.D. in neurobiology at UC Irvine. Her doctoral work, completed a decade ago at the beginning of the smartphone revolution, was on learning when attention is divided. (more…)

Key Findings: Science of Learning and Development

May 21, 2018 by

Click image to enlarge.

Although the high level findings of the science of learning often seem like common sense, the interplay between the different domains of research isn’t as simple. And we know that the education system is full of practices that are not only misaligned with the science of learning – they may actually be inhibiting and, for some students, even harmful. I’ve read two papers that support Turnaround for Children’s Building Blocks for Learning recently: (more…)

The Culture Code: Creating a Culture for Competency-Based Schools (Part 1)

May 14, 2018 by

Los Angeles Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs, Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year, a collaborative process of practitioners developed a description of what every student should experience in a personalized, competency-based school (See What Will Students Experience in a Competency-Based School?) The second item in this list of ten is:

I feel safe and am willing to put forward my best effort to take on challenging knowledge and skills because I have a deep sense of belonging, feel that my culture, the culture of my community and my voice is valued, and see on a daily basis that everyone in the school is committed to my learning.

I’ve been thinking a lot and talking to people a lot about what it means to have everyone, students and adults, feel safe and that they belong. The learning sciences inform us that one can’t separate out cognition from emotion: Feeling safe is an important condition for anyone to make themselves vulnerable to seek and accept help, take risks, and put out extra effort knowing that they might fail. This is one of the reasons that has convinced me that culture is critical and that the school and classroom culture needed to make competency education work is substantially different than that described as the culture needed for high achieving traditional schools. In fact, creating a culture of learning, inclusivity, and empowerment is identified as a principle for equity as well as quality.

I stumbled upon a book, The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle that has been eye- and heart-opening about what it takes to create a culture of safety. It’s a super quick read but I’ll highlight the core messages of the book here for you. His thesis is that high-performing culture can be created through three skills: 1) Building Safety; 2) Sharing Vulnerability; and 3) Establishing Purpose. (more…)

What’s New

May 11, 2018 by

Math, writing, and executive function! Learn about the search for new breakthroughs in The Gates Foundation and Chan Zuckerberg Initiative Want Your Ideas On The Future Of Education.

US Department of Education is highlighting personalized learning in the Education Innovation and Research grants.

Must Read: I’ve just read the following two papers and think they are must reads! We all need to know the research on learning sciences. Seriously, everyone in the education field, from a person designing a new application to the U.S. Secretary of Education, needs to dive into the learning sciences if they haven’t already. Two relatively recent papers are really helpful as they summarize the research across fields:

These aren’t simple papers, so I suggest engaging colleagues to read and discuss the sections of the papers that relate the most directly to you and your work. We need similar papers that summarize what we know about instruction in each of the content areas, as well.

What’s Happening in the States

Local media is a great way to get a sense of what is going on in a region. It’s a clue that grading has been introduced too early when there are letters to the editor in support of A-F grading. (more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 2)

May 10, 2018 by

Photo by Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action

Continuing from the first part of this topic on the implications of the learning sciences for policy, let’s start by looking at three research findings. This is my first cut on this topic and early exploration. In fact I would call these ideas half-baked but I have to start somewhere. It would be a fun collaborative project to draw on lots of great minds. (FYI: I apologize that this is a bit general. To get specific, I’d have to put it in the context of the specifics of policies in a given state.)

Learning is an activity that is carried out by the learner.

(more…)

What if Educational Policy Was Shaped by the Learning Sciences? (Part 1)

May 9, 2018 by

When a school starts to make the move toward competency-based education, they start to get serious about what the most effective strategies are to help students learn. This of course gets folks thinking about what the learning sciences can tell us about how to engage and motivate students to put their best efforts forward and how to make sure we are optimizing how our wondrous brains work. But are our policymakers at the state and federal levels who want to improve education doing the same thing? Are they digging into what the learning sciences might tell us about effective policy? (more…)

Understanding and Meeting Learners Where They Are using the UDL Lens

April 17, 2018 by

This is the third in a three part series by Kathleen McClaskey, co-author of Make Learning Personal and How to Personalize LearningRead the first and second posts.

In the CompetencyWorks paper based on the 2017 National Summit on K-12 Competency-Based Education, Designing for Equity, one of the four key issues in advancing competency-based education is “meeting students where they are.” It describes that a high quality competency-based system connects learning in relationships and requires educators to understand their learners as individuals and then select strategies based upon that knowledge. Before we look at how to meet learners where they are, let’s review what has presented in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series. (more…)

Discover the Learner – Building the Skills of Agency and Self-Advocacy using the UDL Lens

April 10, 2018 by

This is the second in a three part series by Kathleen McClaskey, co-author of Make Learning Personal. See How to Personalize Learning. Read the first post here.

A core objective of personalized, competency-based schools that is described in the Teaching and Design Principle “Activate Student Agency and Ownership,” is to cultivate agency, “the ability to direct one’s course in life.” (See Designing for Equity for an overview of the design principles.) If we are to realize a personalized, competency-based system that nurtures and develops agency with each learner, then we do need to look at how a school could achieve that. You see, once a learner develops agency, he or she can self-advocate for the way they learn for a lifetime and “lead their own learning trajectory.” (more…)

Understanding the Pedagogy of a Learning Science to Nurture an Inclusive Learning Culture

April 4, 2018 by

Kathleen McClaskey

Creating a culture of learning and inclusivity, a non-negotiable for competency-based schools, is a tall order for most K-12 public school systems. As schools move from a traditional system to a personalized, competency-based system, we need to evaluate the tools we have used around learners and learning and teachers and teaching, and understand how a learning science can be used to nurture and build a culture of learning and inclusivity. One approach that is based on research in the learning sciences and that has been around for over 25 years is Universal Design for Learning (UDL).

The question is: What does it really mean to use a UDL lens? This three-part series explores how Universal Design for Learning can strengthen teaching and reinforce a culture where every learner feels that they are valued, belong, and is learning. (more…)

The One World Schoolhouse by Salman Khan

March 20, 2018 by

I’m always asked which books or resources folks should use to learn about competency-based education. The good news is that there are now a lot of books that can be helpful. However, the challenge is that different books are helpful in different ways and districts/schools are in different places with different needs. So what I’m going to do is pick one to two books a month and highlight what I think is helpful in it, what might be missing that you’ll need to get elsewhere, and share my personal “talking with the text” about how it pushes my thinking. However, I’m sure each of us would engage with the ideas in different ways. Too bad we can’t have a virtual book group. Or can we? — chris

Sal Khan’s The One World Schoolhouse is a joy to read, simply full of engaging stories and language. It won’t tax you if you are tired from a hard week. In fact, the chapters are short and can be picked up here and there when you get a chance.

Khan speaks from his own experience about how he became interested in education. He explains what is problematic with the traditional education system as well as what it means to focus on mastery learning. I love the windows into history that explain how we got where we are. The last section in which he lays out his vision for the Khan Academy is fascinating. (more…)

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