U.S. Students are Anxious

According to a recent PISA report, students in the United States are more anxious than their peers in many other countries. Among the top countries where students report being very satisfied are the Netherlands and Finland – two countries that also score very highly on academic tests.  What’s wrong with American students??  Has nearly 20 years of high stakes testing undermined the quality of life in the school day??

The authors of the PISA assessment note the following… “…where students are motivated by competition and external factors such as getting into a good college, the students were much more likely to be anxious. Countries where doing well is its own reward, called intrinsic motivation, had pretty relaxed teens.”

Read full report here:  PISA-in-Focus-No-71-Are-students-happy

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MI Makes a BIG Difference!

Colegio Evangelico Capitan Correa

I just returned from a very productive and inspiring week in Puerto Rico where I visited two schools where both MI and MIDAS are key elements in their educational programs.   The first was Colegio Evangelico Capitan Correa   K- 12 school in Arecibo. For several years they have been giving 9th grade students the MIDAS at the same time introducing project-based learning activities into various subjects. They were afraid that such activities would negatively affect their academic test scores but instead the opposite happened – test scores increased!  As did student motivation and enthusiasm.

 

 

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Puerto Rico Career Institute — where MI is alive!

Manuel Maldonado (Intelligence Forecasting) Olga Rivera (president, ICPR) and Branton

MIDAS Works!

The Career Institute of Puerto Rico (ICPR) is a network of five campuses providing two year career training in areas such as culinary arts, hospitality, book-keeping, etc. For seven years they have been training their faculty to design MI –inspired projects and giving all students The MIDAS. They began at one campus then trained faculty at a second campus and so on. They now have all five campuses involved in the MI project and all students do their MIDAS upon admission. They have observed an increase in retention along with improved student satisfaction. There is a director of innovation, Mayra Ruiz, who liaisons with faculty at each campus a facilitates the adoption of various development activities such as a MIDAS Café and MIDAS mentors and other awareness building efforts. They have the support of the school’s president and a base of enthusiastic faculty who are committed to student-centered instruction.

It was my honor to participate in their Teacher’s Appreciation Day and share the results of my neural MI investigations. They appeared to be very interested in this topic!

. . .

Your Liberal Arts Degree – So what?

Some people wonder what good is a liberal arts degree in today’s high-tech, health and service

Choices

focused world.  This can be perplexing if you expect to get the perfect job upon graduation. Columnist Brianna McGurran recently gave some advice how to make the most of your newly minted bachelor’s degree that makes sense to me.  Below is the link to read her column. What strikes me about her advice is how well it comports with MI theory and the MIDAS process.

Several points worth noting:

  1. Own your skills. “Students don’t necessarily know how to identify the skills that they’re gaining or to talk about them in a way that sells them to an employer.
  2. Get Practical “Before you graduate, hone in on what excited you by volunteering, working part time, joining extracurricular clubs and taking on internships.
  3. Step One. “Remember, too, that your first job is a single rung on your career ladder. Each step is going to give you something, whether it’s a specific skill or an insight….”

Worth reading!

Ask Brianna: How to find a job with a liberal arts degree

Building Better Teen Brains Tip #8

Get Real!

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Real-world experiences. Work activities engage higher-order thinking processes that are impacted by social and emotional influences…providing opportunities to develop executive functions…prefrontal cortex…

“…In real-world settings, adolescents are under optimal conditions for dealing with issues related to “hot” cognition, where on-the-spot behaviors and good decision making result in the formation of new neural connections between the emotional brain and the rational prefrontal cortex.. where life is unpredictable…with meaningful consequences.. that result from the choices we make…” (p.135)

Armstrong lists 6 ways that teachers can give students real world work experiences ….:

  1. Institute a job-shadowing program
  2. Provide internship experiences
  3. Create an apprenticeship program
  4. Establish a career academy
  5. Incorporate community-based learning and service learning
  6. Encourage entrepreneurial learning

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for incorporating real world work experiences  into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

 

+++ www.ASCD.org

 

 

Building Better Teen Brains Tip #7

Art Works!

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Expressive arts activities. Enjoyable and meaningful arts that engage the nucleus accumbens and dopamine…and activate reward centers..

“…neurobiologically primed to engage in creative and artistic behaviors…the reward centers in their brains, particularly the nucleus accumbens are primed by dopamine and other neurotransmitters to crave new sensations and feelings…novelty seeking.. the under developed neocortex, with its inhibiting influence, …means that adolescents are able to express unconventional thoughts and feelings without as much self-censoring as adults..the arts help adolescents develop the neocortex and establish neural circuits with the emotional brain..” (p. 122)

Armstrong lists 5 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to activate ….:

  1. Incorporate creative writing
  2. Express ideas visually
  3. Let students articulate learning through drama and dance
  4. Integrate video, photography and animation
  5. Use music to enhance learning

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for incorporating the arts into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

++++ www.ASCD.org

 

 

Building Better Teen Brains Tip #6

Thinking About Your Thinking!

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Metacognitive strategies. Executive control… maturation of the prefrontal and parietal lobes­­

“…abstract thought processes, self-reflection, thinking about long-term goals and social cognition…to rise above the concrete events of the world to confront and challenge their own emotionally charged and peer-influenced ways of thinking…activating executive functions”  such as goal setting, monitoring, evaluation and adjustment..(pgs. 35 and 109)

Armstrong lists 6 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to activate ….:

  1. Engage students in critical thinking
  2. Demonstrate use of metacognitive tools – organizers, heuristics, thinking journals

3.Help students learn goal-setting behaviors.

  1. Show students how to think clearly about their emotions
  2. Teach students how their brains work and why mindset is important
  3. Take students to the next level of existential thinking- philosophical reflections on life

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for engaging students’ executive and critical thinking into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

++++www.ASCD.org

 

 

Build Better Teen Brains Tip #5

Move it!

This is Brain Friendly tip #2 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Learning through the body. Both large motor and fine motor skills coordinated by the cerebellum

.“…cerebellum plays a key role in movement…but also important in higher cognitive functions, such as language, executive function, and attention… take advantage of cerebellum’s neuroplasticity by engaging students in physical movements that are integrated directly with higher-order thinking skills…increase student engagement and academic achievement” (p. 34 and 96)

Armstrong lists 4 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to move while they are learning:

  1. Provide exercise breaks during and between classes
  2. Integrate drama into the curriculum
  3. Use physical movement to each specific concepts
  4. Engage students in hands-on activities

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for incorporating more movement into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

 

++++www.ASCD.org

 

 

Build Better Teen Brains Tip #4

Feeling It!

This is Brain Friendly tip #4 from Thomas Armstrong’s book, The Power of the Adolescent Brain. www.ASCD.org

Affective learning. The limbic system is in full throttle while the prefrontal executive functions are still developing.

“…engage a range of activities and strategies for bringing joy, zest, and laughter as well as acknowledgement of the darker emotions in the classroom…” (p.34)

Armstrong lists 6 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to engage their emotions meaningfully:

  1. Be emotionally supportive of your students
  2. Bring more emotional expression into your teaching style
  3. Integrate controversy into your lessons
  4. Inject more humor into the classroom
  5. Engage your students’ imagination
  6. Become more aware of adolescent culture

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for engaging students’ emotions into your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

++++++www.ASCD.org

 

Building Better Teen Brains Tip #3

The Power of Peers!

Peer learning connections. Social peer activities engage striatum and the dopamine reward centers of the brain associated with motivation.

For teens…  “individual identity seems to be tightly bound to their identification with friends, classmates, and other peers…peer teaching, cooperative learning, exchanging ideas” (p. 66)

Armstrong lists 7 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to connect content with peer interaction:

  1. Establish small learning communities
  2. Engage students in collaborative learning projects
  3. Incorporate peer teaching
  4. Establish a peer mentoring program
  5. Let peers critique one another’s work

6.Use peer mediation as part of a school discipline plan

7.Create classwide simulations around specific academic content

Points to Ponder and Discuss:

  • Rate these suggestions from Best to Worst
  • Which idea(s) sound the most important or meaningful to you?
  • Which idea(s) are the most doable or feasible?
  • Which suggestion(s) are unrealistic or impossible to do?
  • If you had to choose one to do immediately, which one would you do and what would you have to do prepare to get started?

Do you have your own ideas for peer engaged learning in your subject area? What could help you to do more of this? Materials?

 

+++++++