Neuroteach or Five Myths or Understand How
This unit offers reading alternatives for you: Neuroteach: Brain Science and the Future of Education, Five Teaching and Learning Myths—Debunked: A Guide for Teachers, or Understanding How We Learn A Visual Guide . While the books are quite different in content, focus, and style, there are important aspects of all the books that apply to customize learning and learner agency.
Explore the approach to incorporating Learner Agency with Neuroteach.
For example, in Neuroteach chapter 7:
Identify the kinds of teaching, projects, and assignments that create what Shonkoff calls, “low levels of manageable adversity [which] have been shown to serve as a form of ‘stress inoculation’ that can enhance later resilience.” Surely including factors such as relevance, choice, purposefully helping the growth of executive functioning skills, and being mindful of the variety and authenticity of neurodevelopmental skills demanded, is important here, too?“
In particular pay attention (close read) to the research statements in Neuroteach chapters 7-9. Often these give cues to effective practices for facilitators/teachers.
Pay attention to what the authors refer to as “executive functioning skills” as a close correlation to Learner Agency and the importance of scaffolding organization skills. Note the research they reference with studying, strategies, feedback and assessments, relevance and emotional connections, etc. and how these contribute to learners’ metacognition, particularly chapters 7, 8, and 9.
Five Teaching and Learning Myths—Debunked A Guide for Teachers
Right out of the gate, the first chapter really hit home. While I have never been a “supporter” of multitasking, I have known many people who think they are great multitaskers. The research says otherwise:
Research reveals that multitasking negatively affects memory. This is true even if the tasks are simple. Contrary to what you might think, digital natives (students who grew up in the digital age and who are used to frequent digital media) perform no better at instructional multitasking than do those who are naïve to the digital world (1). Another important point to consider is that habitual media multitasking increases “mind wandering,” decreasing attention to relevant tasks. Students who multitask make significantly more errors because the brain has difficulty trying to attend to both tasks simultaneously (or rapidly switch from one to the other).
This is probably one of the most important messages in digital literacy that educators need to convey to learners.
Of all the chapters, I think the one titled Examples was most surprising and made me rethink my teaching strategy.
Understanding How We Learn A Visual Guide
The authors describe an important distinction between cognitive psychology and neuroscience:
very simple explanation of the differences between cognitive psychology and neuroscience is that cognitive psychology focuses on explanations related to the mind, whereas neuroscience is concerned with figuring out what happens in the brain.
As you read this book, pay attention to your own biases that may negatively affect your receptiveness to new approaches:
The problem with faulty intuitions and biases is that they are notoriously difficult to correct (Pasquinelli, 2012). Instructing people that these biases exist has limited success (Fischhoff, 1982)…Somewhat more effective is a “consider-the-opposite” exercise, where people are asked to list reasons for why their opinion might not be true, before seeking out additional information on the topic (Mussweiler, Strack, & Pfeiffer, 2000).
Note in the later chapters what the authors explain about attention, memory, learner understanding, and planning instruction.