In units 4 and 5 of EDU510, there was a wealth of insightful information. There were three topics that stood out to me as pivotal.
One of those topics was the topic of attention and memory as they are “key to learning new information” (Rosen, n.d.) . Humans are physically unable to focus on every little thing that is going on at one time. Our brains are simply not wired to do so:”Most people cannot effectively multitask, even if they think they can. Only about 2.5% of people can genuinely multitask – perform two demanding cognitive tasks simultaneously without both suffering. For most people, multitasking comes at a price. We can divide our attention but, not without a decrease in performance”(Novella, 2011). This is to say that regardless of whether or not we think we are multitasking, we actually are compromising our attention in one or more of the subjects we are paying attention to. I can relate this to my experiences in the classroom because I am constantly multitasking in the classroom. I am always going from student to student in my Study Skills class where I work on goals and objectives from IEPs. In this respect, I am multitasking because I need to service 9 students in 45 minutes, and each one of those students has different things that s/he needs to work on. Additionally, those students are calling my name, needing help before I can get to them. Because of this, my head sometimes feeling like it is spinning in that class while I try to manage the students’ various needs. To address the issue, I have created a form where kids “sign up” to see me. If I am working with another student, the student who needs me is supposed to 1.) ask two people before they ask me and then if they still need help they can 2.) clip their name onto a board. I will see that that student needs help, and when I am ready I will go to help them before moving on to another student. Moreover, I need to make sure that my lessons are engaging enough to hold the students’ attentions while I am working with others. Knowing these things has helped to maintain my sanity while I attempt the impossible: sustain attention to my students through minor adversity.
Working memory is important as well. I learned in unit 5 that “Working memory, like attention, is a complex and multifaceted construct. It has been suggested that there are independent stores for verbal, spatial, and visual information” (Johansen, 2008). I learned that we as teachers need to plan to keep students engaged in lessons and use strategies to help students develop their working memories and attentions. We can do this in the following ways suggested by Tedtalksdirector in his YouTube presentation. These implications help to inform my present and future instruction. Because SO many of my students have ADD/ADHD as their primary disability and/or a comorbid disability on their IEP, I know how important strengthening the memory is to students’s success. To see a slip on how ADD/ADHD and working memory affect each other, click here.
To begin, something we need to do is to allow students to practice their skills.I do this daily in my classroom. In my classroom I do: Math Mondays, Tuesday social skills, Wednesday computer skills, Thursday comprehension and writing and Friday Social Studies and Science. This schedule allows my students to practice the various skills they need to to make progress and practice new and acquired skills. Teachers also need to help students to make meaningful connections to things. I do this in my classroom by always setting the purpose before reading and asking students key questions to build background knowledge before reading. I would like to work on creating more opportunities for my students to use their knowledge in creative ways after learning. Third is focus on imagery.I definitely use many images in my teaching, but I always feel that I can do better in this area. I would like to start using more images in my accommodations to appeal to that part of working memory. I think that the students’ working memories can be improved if images can be used more effectively. Each time I plan a lesson going forward, I will be considering if images can be of assistance in the acquisition of the lesson. Finally, is organization. I use a multitude of graphic organizers to support reading, writing, and even math. Moreover, I chunk assignments into smaller and more manageable pieces so that my students’ working memories are compensated for.
The third topic I feel was incredibly important was one that I learned about in Unit 4. In this unit, I learned about how to motivate students by appealing to their emotions. According to Pessoa, “Emotions are states elicited by rewards and punishers.” This is to say that emotions are dependent on different factors that a human being sees as either a reward or a punishment. For example, some students may see a piece of candy as a reward, but others may not like candy and therefore, will not be motivated by it. I deal with the idea of motivators frequently as this year in particular I have many behaviorally challenging students. I have been involved in the production of 3 FBAs and multiple formal and informal BIPs this year, and one of the areas that we look at as a team is the function of the behavior. We look at the motive of the student for doing what they do when they do the undesirable behavior. We are always trying to figure out the motives of a child’s actions so we can better understand them and plan to give the best corrective feedback to them that we can. Teachers have to constantly think about motives and motivation and appeal to that for a student’s success.
There are two different kids of motivation: Intrinsic and Extrinsic. I struggle to get students to be intrinsically motivated. I have had a few students who seem motivated by being a conscientious student, but usually my students are not intrinsically motivated, and I am not sure if they even know HOW to be. I think that struggling and impeded students dislike school and the things that come with schooling in general, and it is hard for them to buy into a motivation program, especially at the middle school level. I learned from reading about “The Game” that I can start to get my students to take more pride in their schooling by getting the students to understand WHY they are learning something. “In Perkins’ view, a learner needs both a sense of the whole game and a focus on specific trouble spots.” (Walker, 2009). I need to use techniques in my teaching to get the students to buy into the whole game first, and then we can work on the fine tuning. If I can utilize “The Game” to its full potential, I think I will be able to get more of my students motivated internally. My students are MUCH more extrinsically motivated and many of them will work for candy and/or free time. I have certainly been able to get students to comply and see that learning isn’t that bad just by tapping into students’ brains in this fashion.
I am currently working on getting my school district to learn about Perkins and his 7 principles and apply them to our district homework plan we are revising at the present time. I am looking forward to working with my district to improve our students’ academic achievement.
Do you think that “The Game” applies to homework?
Aboutkidshealth. (2015, January 27). ADHD and Working Memory (English). Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nls3wxRZEoE
Attention – Lessons – TES Teach. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.tes.com/lessons/q41NUY4Mjbp4DA/attention
Chautin, D. (2013, June 04). ~~Let’s Get Groovy~~. Retrieved from http://thirdgradelove.blogspot.com/2013/06/lets-get-groovy.html
Johansen, N. B. (2008). New research on short-term memory. New York: Nova Biomedical Books.
Keller, K. (2014, November 28). Case of the Malleable Memory. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-young-and-the-restless/201411/case-the-malleable-memory
Novella, S. (2011, April 18). NeuroLogica Blog » Attention and Memory. Retrieved from http://theness.com/neurologicablog/index.php/attention-and-memory/
Pessoa, Luis. “Cognition and Emotion.” Cognition and Emotion – Scholarpedia. Scholarpedia, 2009. Web. 30 Jan. 2017.
Rosen, P. (n.d.). Attention: How It’s Different From Working Memory. Retrieved from https://www.understood.org/en/learning-attention-issues/child-learning-disabilities/distractibility-inattention/attention-how-its-different-from-working-memory
WalTedtalksdirector. Peter Doolittle: How your “working memory” makes sense of the world. (2013, November 22). Retrieved from https://youtu.be/UWKvpFZJwcEker, R. (2009, January 1). Education at Bat: Seven Principles for Educators. Retrieved from https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/09/01/education-bat-seven-principles-educators