Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Care For Yourself As You Care For and Teach Others

As another academic year begins, my mind is flooded with images of passionate and knowledgeable teachers we have met through the years. We feel grateful to have the privilege of getting to know you and to be able to continue to learn with many of you.

Something I read recently reminded me that one of many things that makes you so special is that you each possess a generous spirit of giving to the community, as you care about others even when you sometimes hear few voices of appreciation. The positive difference that you make in the lives of other people’s children is remarkable!

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

My Pre-Conference Institute for ASCD Will Focus on Growth Mindset Strategies

I am excited to announce that I will be presenting a full-day Pre-Conference Institute next year at “ASCD Empower, the Conference for Learning, Teaching, & Leading Together,” which will be held at the Los Angeles Convention Center Los Angeles. Pre-Conference Institutes will take place March 12 and 13, with the conference to follow on March 16-20.

Entitled “Cultivating Growth Mindsets: 20 Strategies for Educators,” the Pre-Conference Institute will run from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on March 13. The session will focus on why combining growth mindsets with effective learning strategies is a proven formula for increasing student achievement.

Those who attend will experience the exhilaration of learning powerful, proven principles for cultivating growth mindsets and learning skills within all students. During the session, attendees will explore the characteristics of fixed and growth mindsets and take a short assessment to examine their own mindset.

Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Brain Movies: When Readers Can Picture It, They Understand It


Note: This article is adapted from a blog post that first appeared on Edutopia on May 13, 2014.

The images that form in your mind as you read—we call them "brain movies"—can be more exciting and memorable than a Hollywood film. More to the point for teachers and parents, guiding youth to visualize as they read is an engaging and enjoyable way to boost comprehension and retention.

Learning to create brain movies can help students make sense of complex nonfiction subject matter and "see" the characters, setting, and action in stories. Teachers who use our strategy tell us their students seem to have more fun—and success—as they read. These anecdotes are supported by research showing that students who are taught to develop mental imagery of text do better than control groups on tests of comprehension and recall.

The research basis for the usefulness of transforming text into mental images can be found in Allan Paivio's dual coding theory, which holds that cognition consists of both a verbal system for language and a nonverbal, visual-spatial one for images. By creating mental images from the words on a page or screen, we tap into both the verbal and visual-spatial representational systems, making abstract concepts more concrete and thus more meaningful and memorable.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Motivating Students to Read


Note: This article is adapted from a blog post that first appeared on Edutopia on July 17, 2017.

Children travel at different speeds on the road to reading success. Earlier in my (Donna’s) career as a teacher and school psychologist, I noticed that even on the first day of kindergarten the gap between the highest and lowest performers on measures of reading readiness and ability could be as much as six years. So, creating reading experiences so that all students have the opportunity to use multiple brain pathways in the reading classroom throughout their school years is key to motivating them to read and improve.

Below are strategies that teachers and parents alike can use to help students become more successful readers.

Enacting a Favorite Character


Guide students to select a character from a book they’re reading. Once they’ve made their choice, have them create a simple costume or find props that depict the character, and then prepare and deliver a one- to two-minute monologue introducing the character to the class.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Metacognition: A Skill Strong Readers Share

Note: This article is adapted from a blog post that first appeared on Edutopia on August 10, 2017.

A key difference between children who can read well and those who cannot is the ability to use metacognition, which can be understood as being thoughtful about what you read. Continue on to learn more about this key skill and how to help youth develop it.

Metacognition can be regarded as a conversation readers have with themselves about what they are reading. Metacognitive readers enjoy reading because they can find meaning in texts and think deeply to comprehend what they’re reading.

Those who have not yet learned to be metacognitive often have trouble reading fluently and comprehending what they read. Virtually all students can learn how to become metacognitive readers when they are explicitly taught. Here are some tools for teaching students how to become metacognitive readers.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

W.V. High School Teachers Use Our Work to Address Barriers to Learning

We are pleased to see that our work, Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains, was used in year-long programming in which West Virginia high school teachers helped identify barriers to learning.

Teams of teachers from four Harrison County High Schools participated in the program, which also entailed testing solutions to address the barriers they identified.

According to an article that appeared on the WVnews.com website, Eve and Joetta Schneider of JS Educational Consulting, met with the teams monthly for feedback, strategy discussion and data analysis. As part of the programming, the teams also participated in a book study in which Teaching Students to Drive Their Brains was the featured work.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Educators Benefit from Regular Exercise

To coincide with National Women’s Health Week, we wanted to bring attention to our message that strength training, regular exercise, and better rest are all important components for assuring that teachers remain fit, alert, and up for the physically demanding job of teaching.

Marcus and I made this point in a blog post for Edutopia, entitled “Good News for Teachers: Exercise Builds Brain Power, Too.”

Among the facts you should consider to increase your well-being as well as teaching effectiveness:

  • Regular physical activity is associated with increased production of the neurochemical BDNF, which supports the production of new neurons and synapses in your brain.
  • Exercise increases mass in areas of the brain involved in executive function, memory, and spatial processing.
  • The cardiovascular health effects of exercise increase the growth of blood vessels that improve oxygen flow to the brain.
  • Regular workouts help relieve stress, alleviate symptoms of depression, and enhance a positive outlook.