Love and Logic

A set of practical strategies that I like come from a book and a system called “Love and Logic” by Jim Fay and David Funk. They combine common sense understanding and logical systematic framework and rules into an integrated system that has proven to produce good results. I like including these principles and strategies in my classroom management system.

Love and Logic strategies and tactics can be divided into these groups:

Enhanced Self Concepts

Enhance students’ self-concept will make them more responsible, cooperative and helps them grow into an integrated human being.

Few points from the book that I like:

  • Achievement is more important than winning a power struggle.
  • This applies to building self-concept and it applies to all of behavior. If behavior is focused on power struggle, not much is accomplished and not much good comes out of it. If focus is on achievement, that builds self-concept and keeps out of the misery of constant power struggle.
  • Going through any experience can build self-concept based because it creates sense of being capable.
  • One of the best tips in the book is to use “you” when talking about the other person’s achievements. “you can be proud of that” “you did that well” etc. This enhances or even changes the self-concept.
  • The Amish principle of building positive self-concept by making people feel capable. Everyone has a role to play.
  • Overall idea of using positive descriptive statements rather than statements of judgment or value is a good idea in my opinion.

Shared Thinking

Idea is to involve students in the decisions. Typical example is to give two options that both serve the purpose teacher is after.

Shared Control

Using thinking words (in question form and expressed in enforceable statements) and giving freedom are some of my favorite ways to utilize this principle.

Couple of examples from the book that I like:

  • “Feel free to stay in sports as long as your grades are ok”
  • “The car is available to you whenever I don’t have to worry about alcohol”

Consequences with Empathy

The best consequences are natural like stomach ache after eating too much candy. If you ask a child who caused that, they make the connection between what they did and what resulted.

It’s important to set rules in the beginning of school year / semester / unit / class. It’s also important to let children know that there are consequences if rules are not followed. Consequences can be decided on later and even together with the the student, using shared thinking and shared control.

More on Love and Logic

  • Fay, Jim, and David Funk. Teaching With Love and Logic: Taking Control of the Classroom. N.p.: Love & Logic, 1998. Print.
  • Very comprehensive Classroom Management paper and its attachment.

Menu items!

For the purpose of completing the capstone project, the main menu items represent the five fundamentals of teaching. Here’s a quick interpretation:

  • Receptivity = About Us, relationship between reader and writer -> openness to learn
  • Intelligence = Blog with latest thougths -> Ability to discriminate and decide
  • Knowledge = Curriculum -> Content for students to learn
  • Experience = Theory of Teaching -> The way we teach and learn
  • Expression = list of articles, papers and presentations related to the topic. -> more elaboration and ownership of knowledge
  • Self-referral = reflection on the portfolio -> the first and foremost principle of teaching.
The correlation is analogous and symbolic, not to be over-analyzed. :)

I might change these later if I need to re-focus the web site, but for now – we’re riding on the principles of ideal teaching.

Education Paradigms

This is a legendary speech by Sir Ken Robinson, illustrated by RSA.

This speech shows how the old industrial model of education does not serve educational goals at this age. It addresses social change and portrays the modern challenges of ADHD, technology, and motivation.

Reflection conclusions

So far I have been reflecting on the web site, and the site/blog as a portfolio. You may wonder why so many reflections – and one more… Reflection on the e-portfolio is part of the “capstone project” i.e. final project for my M.A. in Education. I have to admit that I like reflecting on lots of things that are going on, but this post will be a specific summary of my thoughts about this e-portfolio web site.

My portfolio (this web site) is centered around technology and understanding various concepts in mathematics. I wanted to make mathematics teaching and learning more modern, as one of my students noted in the evidence of effectiveness -video. An example of more modern teaching methods: we used laptops in the classroom, I presented with prezi web application and built a web site that establishes communication with the students using the language of technology they are familiar with. Technology helps also illustrate the practicality of abstract mathematical concepts, in case of powers of 10 video embedded in the prezi.

It is evident from my portfolio that  I appreciate standards, but I want to teach in a more advanced way than the traditional industrial model of teaching. I would like to take teaching methods even more advanced than is evident in this portfolio. For example, I would like to use more the concept of “learning is fixed, time is flexible” compared to the currently prevalent “time is fixed and learning is flexible”. I stand for this because I believe we all should thrive to the maximum. Everyone finds some things fast to do, and some things slow. Using this principle, we can make the learning process more thorough, more positive and consequently make a nation of smarter, self-motivated people that take responsibility for their learning.

Some of the accomplishments evident from my portfolio highlighting my strenghts and what I can do:

Based on these accomplishments, I’d like to develop this web site portfolio further to contain many educational programs and support material for classes I teach. I would like to grow faster in creating a production which is generally called a classroom. It involves skills to quickly research, plan and present material with real-time social interaction with the students, involving them in the process. I’d like there to be a place for my students to communicate with me and other students online, outside the classroom to allow them to collaboratively express their learning and be more involved overall. There is also social media that I’d like to get involved in when I have students that are active there. These are some things I’d like to take my growth to in respect to the content of this e-portfolio.

The main weakness in this portfolio is the graphic design. I’d like to put more attention on that for the next facelift(technical term) of this web site. As far as the content goes, this portfolio is currently limited to the material taught during the M.A. Educational Innovation studies.

One weakness that results is that I haven’t covered everything I’d like in this portfolio. Innovations from rotating university are covered only by a prezi, and there could be many articles on the topic. There are many papers on Neurophysiology, psychilogy, development, American Education, and differentiation that are not included on this site.

Another weakness that resulted is that I can explore teaching methods only in the framework of current educational system. If I had more freedom, I would explore and implement more out of the box educational approaches such as online tools to make learning extremely flexible and learning style modality friendly.

Third weakness is that I could work on the level of the system only. My personal interest would be to explore how to make excellent educational systems into outstanding and beyond. The innovations presented in this portfolio are still working on the level of the current American educational system and the tools to get to the next level are very different than on the level I would like to work in, according to the McKinsey report.

Thus the clear direction to develop in over time is in expanding the knowledge base, going beyond the innovations currently presented and focus on improving already high performing schools and districts and educational systems.

 

Developmentally Appropriate and Challenging Learning Experiences in Diverse Classrooms

In another post, I went through learning differences based on the developmental stage of the children that are being taught. In that post, we also discussed how the neurophysiological development phase determines what is developmentally appropriate and within zone of proximal development for the students. On the other words, what kind of activities are appropriate and challenging learning experiences based on the developmental stage of a child.

Knowing the zone of proximal development, instruction can be adjusted to scaffold students to the next stage in their learning process.

It is fascinating to draw lose connections between Learning styles and development stages:

Age Brain Maturation Cognitive Development (Piaget) Moral Development (Kohlberg) Moral and existential Development (Gibbs) Ego development (Loevinger) Primary Motivators Learning style
                 
0-2 Neural Exuberance and Myelination of Sensory and Motor Areas (Behavior/senses) Sensori-motor Preconventional:
1st stage: Punishment and obedience
Moral Development
Immature
Stage 1: Centrations on salient features
Pre-conventional
E1 – Symbiotic
Biological Senses, hunger, thirst, arousal Behavioral
                 
2-7 Maximum Number of Connections (desire) Pre-operations 2nd stage: Instrumental purpose and exchange 2nd stage: Pragmatic exchanges E2 – Impulsive Behavioral Towards pleasure/avoid pain Cognitive
                 
7-11 Corpus callosum myelinates and pruning begins around age 10 (mind) Concrete Operations Conventional:
3rd stage: Interpersonal accord (college)
Mature
3rd stage: Ideal moral reciprocity
E3 – Self-Protective Social Role models, or group pressure Social constructivism

The rightmost column shows what is the predominant learning style associated to the age group or development phase in case development does not follow the norm.

What is important here is that this is just a guideline, based on research. When in a classroom, there is much more important to observe and make connections between theory and reality. In a classroom the real meaning of the research results may surface. From my experience that happens and in addition, new observations happen. One common experience in classroom is to observe students assume a development phase lower than their real level. This is due to peer pressure and established atmosphere in the classroom that determines what is acceptable and “cool”.

Once a teacher has a picture of what’s going on and what’s really going on behind what seems to be going on, teacher can target exercises and even lectures to specific student groups. Typical groups are fast learners and slow learners. However, there might be other groups present: concrete operations vs formal operations, visual vs kinestetic learners etc.

Using a model where students can study at their own pace, such as Khan Academy, can help bridge between different developmental groups and learning styles while keeping the learning experiences developmentally appropriate and challenging.

 

Skill of transposing existing skills, knowledge and passion into learning

Intrinsic motivation is the greatest power in enjoyable and successful learning. Often teachers might miss the opportunity to learn about their students and what makes them tick. This this information, students can be triggered to use their passion, existing skills and knowledge to excel in any academic area.

As an example (Villegas, Lucas 2007) a child, like Belki, can have a strong business skillset and social skillset, passion, interest and a vision for the future, but teachers would only see the test scores and would be unable to comprehend what’s going on or remedy the situation.

With student profiling, or simply investigation into the person’s background, life and vision, teacher can leverage existing passion, knowledge and skills to enhance the test scores and overall learning experience. In Belki’s case, if the teacher cared, just listening and understanding Belki’s story would have give lots of tools to handle the situation. All a teacher needs to do is to find competencies and transpose those into the tasks at hand.

As an example, this means to take the enthusiasm of business transactions into business related mathematics. This can also mean taking the fluent Spanish skills and Spanish-English-Spanish translation skills to the English learning class.

Transposing involves recognizing the existing skills and knowledge, building self-esteem and leveraging these for a new learning area or extension of previous learning. Recognizing that Belki has already developed lots of skills in mathematics, language, social interactions etc. would help to find appropriate programs, teachers and instruction methods that would make Belki excel also in her classes and the test results.

This example shows the great need to build an excellent relationship between students and teachers. By knowing basic things about the students, teachers can give guidance and leverage all of the positive skills and knowledge student comes to the class with.

Eero

Villegas, Ana Maria, and Tamara Lucas. “The Culturally.” Educational Leadership (2007): 28-29. Print.

How to create a multicultural curriculum

For classroom instruction to be fair toward all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, it needs to be considered in the curriculum design. According to Gorski (2011), changes need to be taken into account on these areas:

  • Delivery must acknowledge diverse learning styles, readiness level and dynamics of power in the classroom.
  • Content must be complete, unbiased and accurate, acknowledging and supporting perspectives of all groups.
    • Teaching and learning materials need to be examined to make sure there is no bias.
    • Content needs to be presented with variety of perspectives to be complete.
    • Include and engage students to learn from others’ experiences and perspectives.
    • Encourage students’ critical thinking toward all material presented.
    • Discuss social issues and address culturally diverse topics and taboos such as racism, sexism and homophobia.
    • Assess the curriculum with other teachers and update based on their and students’ feedback.

The idea is to make curriculum student centered and transformational, developing critical thinking, fully integrated and connected lives, and build relationship skills and participation in the community.

Eero Tunkelo

Gorski, Paul C. “7 Key Characteristics of a Multicultural Education Curriculum.” 7 Key Characteristics of a Multicultural Education Curriculum. EdChange and the Multicultural Pavilion, n.d. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/resources/ct_characteristics.html>.

Teachers need to be aware of racially biased expectations

According to research (Sirota 2009), independent of teacher’s skin color, both black and white teachers perceive white students more positively than minority students. There is one word that contributes to this difference:  “Expectation”. Expectation influences the perception and perception effects grading. On the basis of expectation is the experience which involves perception. In this circle of perception-experience-expectation-perception what gets structured is a belief. When a belief gets established, every perception is colored by a related expectation.

Expectations can also favor minorities; Asian American students are expected to be model minority students. (Wong, 1980, p.236) Teachers hold higher standards and have higher expectations for them than to white students.

Hispanic students are expected to do worse than white students (McComs, Gay, 2001), independent of their actual IQ or the way they dress or what socio-economic system level they represent.

Research seems to support that the learning environment is not entirely equal, as black and hispanic students are expected to do worse than white students, and Asian American students are held to a higher standard.

Different expectations can contribute to students’ poor performance on academic tests. (Sirota, 2009) If positive expectations are developed, that can influence the students’ performance and test results.  (Greatschools, 2012) The expectations should be kept within reason to keep school pleasurable unlike in South Korea. High expectations can create great results, but lower the self-esteem if all reference points in the environment are high. (Linnakylä, 2009)

The speculative solution for the problem is to create an environment, where all students, independent of their race and other factors, are expected to do well in school, while building students’ self-esteem for higher achievement.

Eero Tunkelo

GreatSchools. “Lessons from South Korea – Academic Skills | GreatSchools.” GreatSchools – Public and Private School Ratings, Reviews and Parent Community. Web. 16 May 2012. <http://www.greatschools.org/students/academic-skills/2427-South-Korean-schools.gs?page=all>.

Linnakylä, Pirjo. “HIGH EXPECTATIONS – HIGH ACHIEVEMENT ON LITERACY “WHAT SHALL WE DO IN THIS HANGMAN’S HOUR”" Literacy.org. INTERNATIONAL LITERACY INSTITUTE, n.d. Web. <http://literacy.org/sites/literacy.org/files/publications/linnakyla_lit_in_Finland_96.pdf>.

McCombs, R.C., & Gay, J. (2001). Effects of race, class, and IQ information on social judgments of parochial grade school teachers. Journal of Social Psychology, 128, 647-652

Sirota, Elaine. “The Impact of Teachers’ Expectations on Diverse Learners’ Academic Outcomes.” GALILEO. 2009. Web. 16 May 2012.