Category Archives: Child Study

Relating to discussion around the needs of children as learners, citizens, and developing human beings.

Concept Formation

Process of developing abstract rules of mental concepts based on sensory experience. Concept formation figures prominently in cognitive development and was a subject of great importance to Jean Piaget, who argued that learning entails an understanding of a phenomenon’s characteristics and how they are logically linked. Noam Chomsky has argued that certain cognitive structures (such as basic grammatical rules) are innate in human beings. Both men held that, as a concept emerges, it becomes subject to testing: a child’s concept of “bird,” for example, will be tested against specific instances of birds. The human capacity for play contributes importantly to this process by allowing for consideration of a wide range of possibilities.”

Excerpted from: Stevens, Mark A., Ed. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Encyclopedia. Springfield, Massachusetts: Merriam-Webster, 2000.

Grievance (n.)

Here is a context clues worksheet on the noun grievance I recently wrote to attend a lesson on the French Revolution.

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Strategies for Creating Cognitive Apprenticeships

During the month of July, I generally try to work on planning and professional development, so I’ve had my nose in both for the past three weeks. The summer’s reading is The Cambridge Handbook of the Learning Sciences, which, 205 pages in, I have not found as useful to my own practice as I did The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy. Still, there are plenty of important ideas articulated in the book (Cambridge University Press has thoughtfully posted as a giveaway this PDF of the introduction to the book, by its editor, R. Keith Sawyer; if you search The Cambridge Handbook of Literacy, you’ll find a couple of different PDFs from its pages for free download as well.)

One of the first articles in this volume is by Allan M. Collins, who, as you can see from his Wikipedia page, is an important figure in the learning sciences. I like his ideas about cognitive apprenticeship. Here is an outline describing cognitive apprenticeship strategies that I took from his article and typed into a Word document.

I hope you find it useful.

 

 

Cultural Literacy: Dyslexia

Here is a short Cultural Literacy exercise on dyslexia to complement some other readings and worksheets posted below on cognition and learning,

If you find typos in this document, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Understanding Memory

To add a third to the two Intellectual Devotional Readings on oppositional defiant disorder and learning I posted below, here is an Intellectual Devotional reading on memory and a reading comprehension worksheet to complement it.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Learning about Learning

Kids who struggle to learn need all the help they can get. I work to incorporate into my teaching practice–I have a category of curriculum I simply call “Focus on Learning Methods”–readings that describe the act of learning. If our struggling students can understand the learning process, then they can begin to understand their own struggles with it. From there, students have a real opportunity to learn how they learn, and begin approaching the demands of school with an understanding of how they can meet them.

So, what use for the special education teacher in this situation? Little to none, I would hope–that’s the point of this. The students is autonomous, and the teacher has done his or her job. A pint of ale and a few episodes of “Family Guy,” anyone?

One of the many projects I have going is a unit on learning on cognition. Needless to say, this Intellectual Devotional reading on learning and the comprehension worksheet that accompanies it would form one of the mainstays of such a unit.

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.

Oppositional Defiant Disorder

When I began my career working with children and adolescents in 1990, I worked on the adolescent units of one of New England’s oldest and most venerable psychiatric hospitals. This institution, or more properly the professionals who staffed it, excelled at patient education, and those who stayed at the hospital left with comprehensive insights into the illnesses with which they were afflicted and must deal on a daily basis. An ethic of transparency and a will to assist patients in living full and independent lives guided this practice. It was impressive to watch and I believe everyone who participated in it found it professional gratifying.

That ethic is absent from the institution in which I am currently posted. We see plenty of students with clear mental health issues, but these more often than not go unrecognized and therefore unaddressed. Other than my own experience working with psychiatric patients, I hold no brief for dealing with mental health issues; I am a teacher with basically no professional training in the behavioral sciences.

Which isn’t to say that I don’t deal with young people with behavioral challenges. I do, almost constantly. I’ve wondered over the years whether it would be possible to present to students the kind of patient education sessions I observed in the hospital while couching them in the vocabulary and domain-specific content of the high school curriculum. In the past, when various of my students have asked me about ADD/ADHD and learning, the ensuing discussion were stimulating, engaging, and, it appeared at the moment, productive of good outcomes. Students, I find, actually do want to know why school is such a struggle for them.

So I’ve wondered if I could design a mini-curriculum on these issues, and teach them as literacy exercises in the content area, in this case, I guess, the sciences. I’ve been thinking about this over the years as I’ve struggled to design curriculum to assist struggling students with test performance–the be-all and end-all of teaching now, as depressing as that is. (Aside: one of the tropes I hear from my more enlightened and talented colleagues goes like this: “I don’t work for [insert name of corporate textbook publishing behemoth here].” Yet we must prepare our students to take their infernal tests.

Anyway, yesterday I worked up typescripts and worksheets for three of the topics I would address in such a unit, and I’ll post them here over the next couple of weeks. To start, here is an Intellectual Devotional reading on oppositional defiant disorder and a reading comprehension worksheet to accompany it. I’d be very interested in hearing from you if you used this in your classroom. I think this material might be adaptable for a professional development session. Perhaps it might be useful as a handout for parents?

If you find typos in these documents, I would appreciate a notification. And, as always, if you find this material useful in your practice, I would be grateful to hear what you think of it. I seek your peer review.