Tag Archives: learning and cognition

David Lodge on Narrative

“Narrative, whatever its medium, holds the interest of the audience by raising questions in their minds and delaying the answers…. The questions are broadly of two kinds, have to do with causality (e.g. whodunit?) and temporality (what will happen next?).”

David Lodge

The Art of Fiction

Excerpted from: Wiggins, Grant, and Jay McTighe. Understanding by Design. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 1998.

Term of Art: Orthographic Awareness

orthographic awareness: An individual’s command of the sound-letter relationship,. As children learn to write, their approaches to spelling change as they become more aware of sounds and letters. In the beginning, children often spell very simply (such as ‘bt’ for ‘boat’). As they get older they may apply conventions of spelling but still misspell (‘bote’ for ‘boat’).

With more exposure to written language, as they become more proficient readers and learn specific spelling patterns, young writers begin to apply more sophisticated spelling patterns (‘boat’ for ‘boat’). Individuals with learning disabilities who have underdeveloped orthographic awareness often have problems with spelling.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

How Confusing is the Mapping in English?

“The principle may not come naturally, but surely we could make the particulars easier. If you were creating an alphabet for English from scratch, you would probably create 44 letters and match each speech sound with one letter. We’d call that one-to-one matching. Written English, alas, was not created from scratch. Our language is a mongrel: Germanic origins, heavily influenced by the Norman invasion and later by the adoption of Greek and Latinate words. That’s a problem because when we borrowed words, we frequently retained the spelling conventions of the original language. The result is that English uses a many-to-many matching. One letter (or letter combination) can signify many sounds, as the letter ‘e’ does: red, flower, bee.”

Excerpted from: Willingham, Daniel T. The Reading Mind: A Cognitive Approach to Understanding How the Mind Reads. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2017.

Term of Art: Orthography

orthography: The formal name for spelling–the system for representing spoken language in written form. The spelling of English can be difficult to learn due to so many irregular spelling patterns. For example, ‘do,’ ‘due,’ and ‘dew’ are all pronounced the same way. English has 44 sounds, but it has only 26 letters.

The letter-sound correspondence is essential for reading, as is the sound-letter correspondence for correct spelling. Difficulties in these relationships can result in language disabilities.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Critical Thinking

critical thinking: The trained ability to think clearly and dispassionately. Critical thinking is logical thinking based on sound evidence, involving the ability to gather and and analyze information and solve problems; it is the opposite of biased, sloppy thinking. A critical thinker can accurately and fairly explain a point of view that he or she does not agree with. Critical thinking requires close attention to facts, evidence, knowledge, and how knowledge is used, particularly in situations in which the facts are in conflict or the evidence permits more than one interpretation. This kind of reasoning is especially relevant for democratic life. Critics of the term think that educators have turned it into an empty cliche, since there is a tendency to refer to any sort of thinking as critical thinking.”

Excerpted from: Ravitch, Diane. EdSpeak: A Glossary of Education Terms, Phrases, Buzzwords, and Jargon. Alexandria, VA: ASCD, 2007.

Term of Art: Zone of Proximal Development

zone of proximal development: The gap between the level of a student’s independent function and how he or she may perform learning tasks with help. This term was coined by the Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) and refers to the fact that it is crucial to provide help before a child gets frustrated. Failure can be avoided when teachers are aware of a student’s zone of proximal development and provide just enough support to enable students to achieve a goal that would not have been possible independently.

This concept may play a key role in educational approaches, in that it represents a way of thinking about what is involved in meeting students’ needs, and of understanding teaching and learning as a dynamic and developmental process, rather than as a static juxtaposition of instruction and learning readiness.

This theory allows a teacher to see a student’s learning problems not as impediments but rather as a starting point for a process of development that challenges students within the scope of what they are able to master successfully with the appropriate instruction. An approach to teaching that incorporates this concept must also mean that a teacher begins to teach a child at his or her current level, rather than at arbitrary curricular standards.”

Excerpted from: Turkington, Carol, and Joseph R. Harris, PhD. The Encyclopedia of Learning Disabilities. New York: Facts on File, 2006.

Term of Art: Code Switching

“code switching: Switching in speech between different languages, dialects, etc. E.g. two business associates meet and chat in one language; the meeting becomes formal and they switch to another. Often analyzed into subtypes, e.g. as occurring within sentences or at sentence boundaries. Sometimes distinguished from code mixing, or from borrowing; sometimes not.

The term ‘code’ is loosely used of any language or distinct variety of a language, whether or not it is actually thought of as a code (like the Morse code or a legal code) in any illuminating sense.”

Excerpted from: Marshall, P.H., ed. The Oxford Concise Dictionary of Linguistics. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.