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?

 

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Building Better Teen Brains – Tip #2

Self-Awareness Activities

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

Self-awareness activities activate the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex—for self-reflective processing

“…a critical time for the formation of identity…the sense of an enduring and coherent “I”…pieced together from a broad range of subjective and objective life experiences…aspirations toward a still-unclear vision of how to function within the broader community….help students explore and express their own emerging sense of self..” (p. 53 and 33)

Armstrong lists 5 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to become more self-aware:

  1. Use self-awareness assessments
  2. Have students create autobiographies
  3. Let students keep their own journals
  4. Connect content to students’ personal lives

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 building self-awareness learning into your subject area? What could help you accomplish this? Materials? Resources?

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Exploring the Adolescent Brain

Thomas Armstrong (ASCD, 2016) has done an excellent job of summarizing and distilling a lot of intriguing ideas for enhancing the education of teenagers based on neuroscience evidence. Thomas has generated 8 strategies for applying this knowledge to teaching and schooling.

These ideas a worth deeper reflection and discussion. For the next month or two I will post summaries of these suggestions along with Points to Ponder and Share. So buy the book and settle in for a good read and the opportunity to reflect and test out his ideas.

As a preview:   Tip #1 is: Opportunities to choose. “Because the prefrontal cortex of the adolescent brain (the seat of decision making) is gradually maturing throughout the teen years, and adolescents frequently make sub-optimal choices during this time…they need frequent opportunities to make decisions for themselves with regards to what they learn, how they learn, how fast they learn, and other matter connected with the curriculum and school life.” p. 32.

Armstrong lists 10 ways that teachers can give students opportunities to make meaningful choices:

1. Provide homework options

2. Let students pick the books they read

3. Use student polling

4. Allow students to create their own projects

5. Set aside time for passion projects

6. Permit students to learn at their own rate

7. Involve students in decisions about school policy

8. Provide opportunities for independent study

9. Offer more electives

10. Give students more control in how their learning is assessed

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 how more often and more meaningful choices could be incorporated in your subject area? What could help you to accomplish this? Materials needed? Resources?

 

 

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain.aspx
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Power of Adolescent Brain!

This fine book by Thomas Armstrong is highly recommended! Thomas does a marvelous job of bringing to life educational strategies apply neuroscience to the practical problems and vital issues in the life of every teenager.

Teachers and parents will all benefit from this book’s sage counsel.

An excellent read!

Available:

http://www.ascd.org/Publications/Books/Overview/The-Power-of-the-Adolescent-Brain.aspx