Tag Archives: learning and cognition

Term of Art: Multiple Intelligences

“Multiple intelligences: An interpretation of intelligence put forward by the US psychologist Howard (Earl) Gardner (born 1943) in his book Frames of Mind: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences (1983-1993), taking account of abilities of gifted people and virtuosos or experts in various domains, abilities valued in different cultures, and abilities of individuals who have suffered brain damage. In addition to the linguistic, logical-mathematical, and spatial abilities incorporated in conventional interpretations of intelligence, Gardner’s taxonomy includes musical intelligence (used in musical appreciation, composition, and performance), bodily-kinesthetic intelligence (used in sport, dancing, and everyday activities requiring dexterity), interpersonal intelligence (used in relating to others, interpreting social signals, and predicting social outcomes), intrapersonal intelligence (used in understanding and predicting one’s own behavior). In 1997 Gardner added naturalist intelligence (used in discriminating among plants, animals, and other features of the natural world, and in classifying objects in general) as an eighth intelligence and spiritual intelligence and existential intelligence as ‘candidate’ intelligences. Critics have argued that some of these abilities are better interpreted as special talents than as aspects of intelligence.”

Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Delve (vi)

It’s Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day today. It is also a very strong verb from Middle English, and a word that ought to be used in our schools more often. Hence this context clues worksheet on the verb delve. In the years I’ve been a teacher, students haven’t much delved into the world of ideas as skimmed its surface in preparation for high-stakes standardized tests. Maybe it’s time, especially in the second two years of high school, to ask students to delve into something.

In any case, this verb has a transitive use, excavate (i.e., dig) that Merriam-Webster now designates as archaic. However, intransitively, delve means, for our purposes, “to make a careful or detailed search for information” and  “to examine a subject in detail.” If you know delve and use it, I wonder if you find the verb rarely appears without the preposition into, which then has an object following it? He delved into the essays of James Baldwin.

(OK, delve, intransitively, also means “to dig or labor with or as if with a spade.” I don’t know if I’ve ever heard anyone say they were off to delve out the hog pen, so I left it alone.)

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.

Term of Art: Acting Out

“Acting out: 1. In psychoanalysis, the enactment rather than the recollection of past events, especially enactments relating to the transference during therapy. It is often impulsive and aggressive, and it is usually uncharacteristic of the patient’s normal behavior. The concept was introduced by Sigmund Freud (1856-1839) in An Outline of Psychoanalysis (1938/40): the patient ‘acts it [the past event] before us, as it were, rather than reporting it to us’ (Standard Edition, XXIII, pp. 144-207, at p. 176). 2. A defense mechanism in which unconscious emotional conflicts or impulses are dealt with by actions, including parapraxes, rather than thought or contemplation. act out vb.”

Excerpted from: Colman, Andrew M., ed. Oxford Dictionary of Psychology. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Term of Art: Elaboration

“The process of discussing or going over new information in order to form connections with familiar information, a process that helps memory and affects depth of processing. There is a great deal of evidence in support of the idea that the more details are processed and repeated, the more likely they are to be retrieved from long-term memory.”

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

Term of Art: Hidden Curriculum

“hidden curriculum: What schools teach students by example and by their social organization, as opposed to the subject matter that they officially teach. For example, a school’s hidden curriculum might teach that boys are strong and undisciplined and girls are smart and well behaved; or that learning is something that is done to students rather than something that students must do for themselves; or that being popular is more important than being smart; of that societies are organized according to rules, that some of these rules are arbitrary, and that there are consequences for breaking the rules. Some of the hidden curriculum is good, and some of it is not. Some of what sociologists call the hidden curriculum is due not to socialization but to human nature. Like other large social organizations, schools need rules to function, and people need to learn what the rules are, when to follow them, and when it is appropriate to challenge them.”

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

Term of Art: Cultural Literacy

“cultural literacy: Knowledge of the culture in which one lives–not only its vocabulary and idioms but also references to specific events, individuals, places, literature, myths, folk tales, advertising, and other ‘insider’ information that would be familiar to those who have lived in the culture but that would be unknown to those who have not lived in the culture. It is the unstated, taken-for-granted knowledge necessary for reading comprehension and effective schooling within a culture. The concept of cultural literacy was popularized by E.D. Hirsch Jr. in his best-selling book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know. Critics claimed that it was elitist for anyone to attempt to define what everyone should know, but Hirsch contended that the teaching of cultural literacy was egalitarian because it had the result of breaking down social barriers and disseminating elite knowledge to everyone. Further, describing what constitutes cultural literacy within a given culture is an empirical, descriptive procedure, not a prescripive one. The cultural literacy needed in Brazil or France of Thailand, for example, would be distinctive to those who live in that country. See also Core Knowledge (CK) program.”

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

Aldous Huxley with Some Good Advice for Our Time

“Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored.”

Aldous Huxley

Proper Studies “A Note on Dogma” (1927)

Excerpted from: Schapiro, Fred, ed. The Yale Book of Quotations. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006.

A Ten-Lesson Unit on Document-Based Questions

OK, this post begins a run of eleven (twenty-two including the interstitial quotes) that comprise a global studies unit dedicated to the document-based question (DBQ).

I wrote this unit in the late summer and early fall of 2018 after a late-spring meeting that year with the assistant principal of humanities at the school in which I then served. He stressed the importance of DBQ work in our classroom. The next year’s New York State Global History and Geography Regents Examination, he assured us, would require students to possess a strong ability to interpret primary source material–i.e. complete the standard DBQ.

Because I was a doctoral candidate in history before becoming a high school teacher, and because I respect the importance of inquiry in primary sources, I knew I needed to get to work on creating DBQ materials for the struggling students under my purview–even though in principle I fervently resent teaching to tests. (Aside: I am still surprised at how many of my students, past and present, link their sense of themselves as students, and indeed their self-esteem, on achieving “success” on the kinds of crude instruments that constitute our standardized testing regime.) The problem I faced was at once simple and complicated: DBQs require interpretation, which means students completing them must be able to think abstractly. Many if not most of the students I served struggled with abstract thought. I knew they could learn to deal with DBQs, but I also knew it would be a careful, even painstaking process that would take place over a relatively long period of time.

So, I started with the standard textbook we used in social studies classes in my school, to wit, McDougal Littell’s World History: Patterns of Interaction (Beck, Roger B., et al., Evanston, IL: McDougal Littell, 2007) and wrote materials based on the primary documents in that book.

Unfortunately, I never used this unit. When I returned to school that fall, I found I’d simply had enough of working (after ten years of it) in a building without windows, an hour-long commute twice a day, and living below heavy-duty partiers in The Bronx. I resigned, sold my apartment, moved to New England, and forgot about this unit.

But now it’s back. I’ve spent a few hours revising the lesson plans and making sure everything is formatted correctly and consistently–something I think is important in meeting the needs of struggling learners. If you’ve made it this far, here is the payoff–the documents.

This is the unit plan with all the scholarly and pedagogical apparatus–i.e. standards and works consulted page. If you want to rewrite or edit this unit for use in your particular classroom, here is a lesson plan template, a context clues worksheet template, and a primary worksheet template for your use. Finally, here is a couple of pages of assorted cut-and-paste text to prepare new lessons.

Let me close with this unsurprising statement: there is a lot of room for expansion, adaptation, and improvement in this unit. As with the lion’s share of documents on this site, all of these are in Microsoft Word, so you can revise and edit them to suit your classroom’s needs.

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.

Term of Art: Analogy

analogy: A comparison between two different but related things. The ability to comprehend and create analogies is an important component of critical reasoning capabilities. For example, an analogy might compare the biological process of a tree growing from a small seed to a tall oak, to the human process of development from infancy to adulthood. This analogy would be written;

SEED : OAK AS INFANT : ADULT

Another type of analogy is the visual analogy. For example, in a 2 X 2 cell grid, the two cells on the left might contain blue strs, and the top cell on the right might contain a green square. The person taking the test must then select which of several presented figures (including the correct green square) mts go in the empty cell.

For some students with learning disabilities, understanding analogies may be very difficult. They may process information in fairly concrete ways, and miss more subtle connections between dissimilar things.

Ofteh, however, the ability to reason analogically is a relative strength for students with learning disabilities.”

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

Term of Art: Prior Knowledge

“prior knowledge: The totality of an individual’s experience and knowledge at any given time—that is, what a student brings as background information to a new learning experience. The more prior knowledge a person has, the more prepared he or she will be to learn new ideas. Almost everything that a person learns or can learn depends on the extent of his or her prior knowledge. One of the major missions of school is to build students’ fund of background knowledge so they have a foundation for future learning.”

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