Sunday, March 1, 2015

Book Study: Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites -- Chapters 1 & 2


I'm linking up with Elizabeth from Kickin' It In Kindergarten for our book study on the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites.  I just LOVE this book!  

For one thing, it’s completely research based.  This is SO important!   In these days of the “social media explosion,” we are bombarded with pictures, posts and videos posted by teachers across the world.  In many ways, this global ability to “share” is a blessing…but in my opinion, it can sometimes be a curse as well.  Folks, there are all kinds of videos, posts and promotions out there that more than likely are posted by teachers with good intentions but are NOT “best practices” according to research.  Beware, my fellow teachers!  Just because teachers make videos of their teaching and post them…THAT DOES NOT MAKE THEM“BEST PRACTICE.”   I worry sometimes when I see dozens of teachers post glowing comments about posted instructional videos or activity ideas that do not promote best practices.   I wonder, are we losing sight of what quality instruction is?   Is social media turning education into a reality TV program? Perhaps due to my educational and professional background, I’m over-thinking this issue…but maybe I’m ok with that.   I mean, if we are not striving as educators to check ourselves and keep ourselves updated with the most current educational research practices….are we truly serving our children to the best of our abilities?

Secondly, I love this book because it is truly an easy read.  The author has a way of very simply defining each strategy, then shares the research that supports the strategy, followed by instructional strategies that tell you “how” to implement the strategy in your classroom.  There is even a reflection/application review activity in each chapter.  You can complete a chapter in about 30 minutes!  Love it!

So, have I convinced you to go get the book and join us in this book study yet?  

Just do it!

Run to the library and grab it!

Download it on your Kindle!

Join us, people!!!

This book study isn’t about proclaiming our perfection as teachers…it’s about being real.  We need to both celebrate our strengths…AND identify our weaknesses, so that we can improve our instruction! Let’s open our eyes to what research shows us is best practice…and let’s change the world!  #intentionalteaching

So…let’s get on with the reading and reflection, shall we?

Chapter 1 was all about Brainstorming and Discussion.  The chapter discusses how brainstorming and discussion are natural processes of the brain.  When people open their mouths to speak, they send more oxygen to the brain…and oxygen is essential to healthy brain development!  Children need to brainstorm and discuss ideas, people! Talking in the classroom is a good thing!

To be more specific, teachers should be intentionally challenging students by asking both knowledge or short-answer questions, as well as those that enable students to use their reasoning, critical-thinking, and creative-thinking skills.  An EXCELLENT way to do this is by using Bloom’s Taxonomy of multi-level questioning. Now, if you are a teacher…you know all about that.  {Ok. If we are being real, we at least remember that we learned about that in college!  LOL} 

Ask different kinds of questions?  Yeah. Yeah.  We can do that.  But DO WE??   I know that personally, I knew that according to Bloom’s we should be using six different levels of questioning with our students.   But to be honest…off the top of my head (while I was trying to lead instruction) I didn’t know if I was actually hitting ALL SIX types of questioning!!! I mean, really...was that an analysis question I just asked?  Or was that a synthesis level?   Oh!  I don’t think I’ve asked an application-level question yet.  Crud!  What is that kind of question again?   I mean…am I right??

SO…in the spirit of really taking this research review to heart in order to improve my instruction, I created this little gem! Perhaps it will help you improve your questioning and discussion-prompting, too! 

I designed it so that could use it during what I call my “GENIUS MOMENTS!”
What are “Genius Moments?”
In my classroom, I refer to the unexpected “extra moments” that I find within my schedule as Genius Moments! You know what I mean…the 3 minutes you have before recess time…or the 4 extra minutes you have because your kiddos finished their center rotations early.  If you are like me, you don’t want to waste one single minute of classroom instructional time.  Instead of just letting my kids waste those moments, I always have handy little brain-based learning activities ready-to-roll to fill these little unplanned gaps.  

The above Genius Moments: Brain Building Question Cards are one of those super-simple, yet very impactful tools!  Check them out HERE.  {And keep your eye open for me to post more of my Genius Moment products!  I just have to have time to get them up on TPT! They are all research-based!}

On to Chapter Two!   
This chapter was all about incorporating DRAWING and ARTWORK  into your lessons. Research has shown for more than 70 years that there is a positive relationship between thinking in art and thinking across the curriculum. Yet, we all know that when money gets tight, the arts programs are the first to be cut! This chapter challenges us to use the artistic creativity in students’ brains to our cross-curricular advantage, by intentionally asking students to illustrate their answers to problems and/or use illustrations to show details of understanding.

Here are a few pics of one of our latest illustration activities.  Student illustrations help to add additional details to student work, especially at the kindergarten level when writing words can be more difficult than expressing details in pictures.

{Shout out to Deanna Jump for this awesome penguin illustration idea!}
Check out her unit HERE.

Hop on over to Kickin it in Kindergarten to link up for our 
Chapter 1 and Chapter 2 posts!

Here is the rest of the schedule for our study!  
You can join in at any time!

Linky parties will take place on these different blogs each time. 
Here is the order so you can plan accordingly :)

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten- Chapter 3 (March 7th)
Queen of the First Grade Jungle Chapter 4 (March 10th)
Fabulous in First Chapter 5 (March 14th)
One Extra Degree Chapter 6 (March 17th)
Mrs. Jump's Class Chapter 7 (March 28th)
The First Grade Parade Chapter 8 (March 31st)
In April, you will be visiting these girls for the remainder of the study:
Mrs. Ehle's Kindergarten Chapter 9 &10 (April 4th)
What The Teacher Wants Chapter 11 (April 7th)
First Grader At Last Chapter 12 (April 11th)
Erica's Ed Ventures Chapter 13 (April 14th)
KinderGals Chapter 14 &15 (April 18th)
A Rocky Top Teacher Chapter 16 (April 21st)
Mrs. Wills Kindergarten Chapter 17 (April 25th)
Little Warriors Chapter 18 (April 28th)
Falling Into First Chapter 19 (May 2nd)
Kickin' it in Kindergarten Chapter 20 (May 5th)

You can join in for whatever part you like! If you are not a blogger, that is OK! We will want you to join in on the fun. You can participate in the conversation in the comments. We want this to be a positive collaboration between teachers! The whole point is to encourage each other with inspiring ideas while still using research based best practice.

1 comment:

  1. Hello from a fellow Holly :) Isn't that the truth that sometimes it's easier for our little ones to draw what they know rather than write about it? I also agree with you about the internet and worry for our younger teachers or those just looking to get into the profession - just because it's on the internet doesn't make it best practice. I guess the same could be said for some programs that are research-based that I don't necessarily jive with in terms of my own teacher beliefs/styles - right? I love this book study because it is really making me THINK!

    Thanks for your insights...I loved reading your post!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade