Igniting Student Potential
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Igniting Student Potential
Teaching With the Brain's Natural Learning Process



© 2007 | 232 pages | Corwin

"'Handle With Care' should be on the front cover so that the eager teacher uses the book as an inspirational resource."
—Roy Bentley, Professor Emeritus, University of British Columbia

"A wonderful guidebook for people moving toward constructivism and for many who are already there."
—Geoffrey Caine, Director, Caine Learning

"Fosters a refreshing educational discourse of possibility and offers some very useful classroom strategies that work with today's youth."
—Peter P. Grimmett, Director, Institute for Studies in Teacher Education, Simon Fraser University

Kindle students' excitement for learning with transformative, field-tested strategies and lessons!

Students are natural thinkers and pattern-seekers who are born to learn. Tapping into their innate abilities is the key to engaging students in their own learning. This innovative guide helps teachers maximize student engagement and achievement by combining brain research, classroom applications, and teaching skills based on the Natural Human Learning Process (NHLP).

Ideal for preservice and inservice teacher training and professional development, this superb resource covers:

  • Working with diverse learners from PreK through high school and beyond
  • Curriculum applications and sample lessons across content areas, teaching methods, and learning styles
  • Research and theory, instructional planning and strategies, assessment, teaching for transfer, and more
 
Acknowledgments
 
About the Authors
 
Part I: Research and Theory
 
1. Why This book? Why Now?
The Moral of the Maginot Line  
Are Our Educational “Guns” Facing in the Wrong Direction?  
A Bloated Curriculum  
A Testing Obsession  
Cultivating the Latent Ability of Every Student  
Life-Altering Teachers  
The Classroom as a Community  
Understanding Is a Key to Hope  
A Playful Classroom  
References  
 
2. How Learning Happens: The Natural Human Learning Process
Students Know How to Learn; They Are Natural Learners  
Trying to Find the Way  
Research on the Natural Human Learning Process (NHLP)  
Using the Missing Link in Math Education  
If All Students Learn the Same Way, Why Are Students’ Fates Different?  
A Person’s Fate: Nature or Nuture?  
Helping Students See Their Potential: Students’ Self-Understanding  
The Benefits of the NHLP and Metacognitive Knowledge  
All Students Have an Innate Potential and Motivation to Learn  
The NHLP Pedagogy  
Notes  
References  
 
3. How the Brain Learns: Research and Application
The Seven Magic Words  
Metacognition: Basic Facts about How the Brain Learns that Everyone Should Know  
Motivation  
Creativity  
Emotions and the Brain: Fight or Flight  
Constructivism  
Reasons Students Are Not Motivated In School  
Plasticity (Neuroplasticity)  
No-Fail First-Stage Learning Tasks  
Examples of No-Fail First-Stage Learning Tasks  
Things That Can Make It Go Wrong  
Feeding the Brain  
Opportunities to Fulfill Their Potential  
Notes  
References  
 
Part II: Classroom Applications
 
4. How Tall Am I? Real-world Math for Early Learners
Transition from Home to School  
Creating a Brain-Friendly Environment  
The Nature of Math  
Math Content for Early Grades  
Numbers  
Measurement  
Geometry  
Games  
Multiple Intelligences and Student Potential  
Exploring Outside the Classroom  
Evaluation  
References  
 
5. Can You Build an Igloo? Understanding the Past with Elementary Learners
Discovering the Past  
Beginning the Unit  
Examining a Distant Place  
Inuit Society Today  
References  
 
6. Where Would You Locate Your Castle? Developing Potential in Early Adolescent Learners
What are the Relatively Normal Physical Changes That Occur With the Beginning of Puberty?  
How Then Would We Teach?  
Justin’s Teacher  
Building Relationships – The Key to Early Adolescents  
Enriched Environments  
Boredom Reduces the Adolescent Brain  
The Importance of Play  
The Opposite of Play is Stress  
Active Learning and Problem Solving  
Connected Learning  
Social Learning  
The Importance of Emotion  
Where Would You Put Your Castle? A Potential Igniting Teaching Unit  
An Acronym to Help Us Remember These Strategies  
The Early Adolescent Needs a Uniquely Skilled, Compassionate Teacher  
References  
 
7. What Keeps Satellites Above Earth? Scientific Investigations for Teenage Learners
Teenage Intellectual Abilities  
Learning to Use Scientific Methods  
Coral Atolls  
Pendulum Clocks  
Gravity  
Satellites  
Relativity  
References  
 
Part III: Teacher Skills
 
8. Learning Communities: Falling Empire and Rising Democracy
Learning Communities  
A Falling Empire  
Models of Learning Communities  
Student Feedback  
The “Ask Them” Method for Assessment and Engaged Learning  
Using “Ask Them” For Assessment in a Coordinated-Studies Learning  
Community: “The Fall of Empires”  
Side Benefits  
Pitfalls and Trouble-Shooting  
Making a First Connection  
Igniting Student Potential  
Notes  
References  
 
9. Assessment Strategies that Promote Learning and Ignite Student Potential
Instructional Sequence: Case 1  
Instructional Sequence: Case 2  
What Are the Differences Between Juan’s and Mary’s Approaches to Assessment?  
Informal Feedback  
Making Certain We Are Measuring What Our Students Are Learning  
Test Considerations vs. Projects  
References  
Appendix A: Interest Inventory  
Appendix B: Eporue Map  
Appendix C: Juan’s Classroom  
Appendix D: Using Juan’s Interest Inventory to Show Group Attitude Change  
 
10. Developing Teachers Who Inspire Their Students
What is Different About Instruction That Allows the Brain to Learn in its Most Natural Way?  
Why Does This Approach Work?  
How Do Teacher Skills Differ in Problem-Solving Instruction?  
A Model Preservice Teacher Training Program: Training Teachers to Teach with the Brain’s Natural Way of Learning  
Candidate Selection Process  
Program Structure  
The Teacher Education Classroom as a Laboratory  
Student Teaching  
A More Effective Approach to the Preservice Education of Teachers  
The On-going Professional Development of Teachers  
If the Resources Were Available, What Would a Model Professional- Development Program Look Like?  
Lesson Study: Another Professional Development Strategy  
Educare  
Conclusion  
References  
 
Index

"Well organized. I enjoyed the self-talk about bad neural networks and especially liked the brain research in the chapters pertaining to the development of the student."

Marilee Sprenger, Professional Development Consultant

“`Handle with care’ should be on the front cover so that the eager teacher uses the book as an inspirational resource, gradually remolding practice and introducing change in appropriate increments. This book might have immediate impact if used first as a discussion starter for small groups of teachers or as a study guide for staff development or 'retreats.' The message of the book, however, goes far beyond strategies for teachers. There are issues here for school administrators, for state-mandated goals and programs, and for teacher education programs. The book certainly deserves consideration by teacher education methods instructors. And since parental involvement is absolutely necessary if any constructive change is to take place, imagine how discussion of this text might perk up a PTA meeting!”

Roy Bentley, Professor Emeritus
University of British Columbia

"Fosters a refreshing educational discourse of possibility and offers some very useful classroom strategies that work with today's youth."

Peter P. Grimmett, Director
Institute for studies in Teacher Education, Simon Fraser University

"A wonderful guidebook for people moving toward constructivism and for many who are already there."

Geoffrey Caine, Director
Caine Learning

"Igniting Student Potential should be on every teacher's must-read list. The book not only tells why teachers should get in tune with their students' natural learning process, but explains how to do so. If teachers have intent to construct the best possible learning environment for their students, this book is an essential tool to help them do it."

Dee Tadlock, PhD Director, Research & Development
Read Right Systems, Inc.
Key features
  • Combines brain research, classroom applications, and teaching skills based on the Natural Human Learning Process (NHLP) that all students possess
  • By award-winning author Rita Smilkstein and co-authors Angus Gunn and Robert Richburg, all of them master teachers, teacher educators, and staff developers
  • Focuses on the needs of diverse learners from PreK through high school and beyond, as well as on the professional development needs of instructors and instructional leaders
  • Covers curriculum applications across content areas, teaching methods, and learning styles.
  • Appropriate for in-service teachers as well as for pre-service methods courses
  • Covers research and theory, instructional planning and strategies, sample lessons, assessment, teaching for transfer, teacher professional development, and more. 

Sample Materials & Chapters

Chapter 1


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