DEEP SUMMARY - Uncommon Sense Teaching_ Practical Insights in Brain Science to Help Students Learn - Barbara Oakley, PhD & Beth Rogowsky EdD & Terrence J. Sejnowski



  • The book provides practical tools and strategies to help students learn based on how the brain actually works, which educators should learn during their training but often don't.

  • It translates sophisticated brain research into practical approaches teachers can apply immediately to facilitate more effective learning in the classroom.

  • Veteran teachers will gain insights into why some of their techniques are effective and ways to improve, while newer teachers and parents will find countless suggestions to support student success.

  • By understanding neuroscience, educators can make meaningful adjustments to teaching practices that increase student achievement across all educational levels.

  • Regardless of experience, every educator who reads this book will take away a better understanding of the brain and practical strategies to bolster student learning, performance, and well-being.

  • Praise comes from respected experts in education, neuroscience, learning, and cognitive science who recognize the book bridges gaps between these fields and provides evidence-based teaching strategies.

In summary, the advance praise emphasizes how the book translates cutting-edge brain science research into immediately applicable classroom teaching strategies to improve student learning for educators of all experience levels. Experts commend its practical, research-backed approach to facilitating effective learning.

  • Neuroscience explains learning and memory formation in terms of connections between neurons in the brain. When students learn something new, they begin forming links between neurons.

  • This process is called "learn it, link it". In the learn it phase, initial connections are made as students are first introduced to new material. In the link it phase, stronger links are formed through practice and extending the learning to novel contexts.

  • Repeated practice and linking neurons helps solidify learning and form long-term memories. While stored in long-term memory, information is not actually limited by capacity - the challenge is retrieving or accessing the information from memory.

  • Various students struggle with demonstrating their learning on tests even though they seem to understand the material initially. This could be due to not fully forming strong neural links through sufficient practice and retrieval, leading to information not being well integrated into long-term memory.

So in summary, it frames the process of learning and memory in terms of neuronal connections in the brain, and suggests that students may benefit from practices that strengthen these connections like retrieval and extending learning in novel ways.

  • The brain has about 1014 synapses and can form new connections at a rate of around 105 synapses per second as we experience the world. However, forming long-term memory connections in the brain takes more work than this rate allows.

  • Students like Katina and Jared are often placing information in their working memory rather than forming long-term memory connections. Working memory is like a temporary storage shelf that doesn't hold information very well.

  • There is a key difference between long-term memory, which securely stores information over long periods, and working memory, which can only temporarily hold a few pieces of information. Students often confuse having something in working memory vs long-term memory.

  • Techniques like retrieval practice (recalling information without looking at answers) are better for strengthening long-term memory connections than passive rereading or highlighting. However, students are often not taught effective study strategies.

  • The passage provides examples of how students like Katina and Jared rely on working memory during study rather than developing long-term memory, which explains why they struggle on tests when they can no longer refer to sources.

  • Working memory allows people to temporarily hold and manipulate a limited amount of information in mind. It is important for learning.

  • Working memory capacity varies between individuals. Some people are "race car" learners who can think and answer questions very quickly, while others are "hiker" learners who take more time to comprehend ideas.

  • Being a slow, reflective learner is not necessarily a disadvantage. Santiago Ramón y Cajal was a slow learner but went on to win the Nobel Prize and be considered the father of modern neuroscience. He attributed his breakthroughs to his ability to acknowledge mistakes and change his views.

  • Fast "genius" learners may jump to conclusions quickly and then have trouble acknowledging errors, instead finding ways to rationalize their initial views. Having a powerful working memory is not the only path to success.

  • Different learners are present in every classroom. To teach inclusively, teachers must differentiate instruction to assist all types of learners. Understanding working memory capacity can help achieve this.

  • Working memory is like juggling - it keeps information active by tossing it back and forth between different parts of the brain. This allows information to be held temporarily for tasks like mental math or recalling instructions.

  • Working memory capacity varies between individuals and increases with age. In a typical classroom, some students may have the working memory of a younger or older child.

  • Students with lower working memory capacity struggle more with complex tasks and instructions. They are prone to forgetting steps or repeating mistakes.

  • Teachers can accommodate lower working memory students by keeping instructions short, simple, and providing visual aids. Giving one step at a time with checks for understanding also helps.

  • Building long-term memory strengthens working memory. Prior knowledge stored in long-term memory enables more information to be held in working memory for that topic through larger "chunks." Background practice increases working memory capacity.

So in summary, it explains how working memory functions, how it varies between students, and provides strategies for teachers to support those with lower working memory capacity through instructions and building long-term memory.

  • Attempts to measure working memory capacity are confounded by the influence of long-term memory on working memory. Knowledge stored in long-term memory transforms one's apparent working memory capacity.

  • While general working memory capacity may not increase through training, practice in specific areas can increase apparent working memory capacity for those areas by strengthening links in long-term memory.

  • Education changes the amount of knowledge stored in long-term memory, not working memory capacity directly. More prior knowledge allows one to process more information even with limited working memory.

  • Differentiation in teaching methods is important to accommodate varying levels of student working memory capacities and knowledge. Scaffolded instruction provides supports to allow all students to reach learning goals. This includes modifying content, instruction, materials and assessments based on individual needs.

  • Differentiation aims to teach the same content and skills to all students through varied approaches according to their interests, skills and readiness levels. It supports inclusive classrooms with both general and special needs students.

The passage discusses how working memory capacity impacts students' learning and the teaching techniques that are most effective. Students with lesser working memory capacity benefit more from teacher-directed instruction and ample practice opportunities to transfer information from working memory to long-term memory. Taking notes, student-directed learning, and multitasking like listening to music can be more difficult for these students. The passage recommends techniques for teachers like providing outlines, structuring lessons, pausing for retrieval practice, and using "retrieve-taking" where students write notes after material is presented rather than during. It emphasizes the importance of consolidation breaks and multiple practice opportunities to engage students' long-term memory and help less motivated students. Effective teaching should consider individual differences in working memory capacity and pair direct instruction with varied practice to support all learners.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Active learning engages students through activities and discussion rather than passive listening, and emphasizes higher-order thinking skills. It supports the creation and consolidation of neural links in long-term memory underpinning conceptual understanding.

  • Active learning is effective but not all learning needs to be active. It's important students also learn basic factual knowledge to serve as a foundation for concepts.

  • A study found active learning significantly improved STEM student grades and reduced failure rates compared to traditional lecture-based classes. However, active learning must be well-designed to meaningfully engage students with content.

  • Retrieval processes are involved when producing answers, applying knowledge, or being creative - so all learning involves retrieval of information from long-term memory.

  • There are two main memory systems - declarative memory involves consciously recalling facts and events, while non-declarative memory involves procedural skills like riding a bike. Active learning supports both through activities engaging different brain regions.

  • Well-designed active learning ensures students encode basic information and higher-order concepts into long-term memory to consolidate understanding, through note-taking, retrieval practice, and teacher oversight. Simply "going with the flow" is insufficient.

    Here is a summary of key points about memory, the hippocampus, and long-term memory in the neocortex:

  • The brain has three main structures involved in learning and memory: working memory, the hippocampus, and the neocortex.

  • Working memory, the hippocampus, and neocortex form the declarative learning system, which allows us to consciously learn and remember facts, events, and other information that can be explicitly stated.

  • When new information is learned, working memory deposits it into long-term memory in the neocortex, with help from the hippocampus.

  • The hippocampus acts as an "index" - it links and retrieves information stored throughout the neocortex, but does not itself store long-term memories.

  • The vast neocortex is where long-term memories are stored as strengthened connections between neurons distributed throughout the brain.

  • It takes time (months) for memories to be consolidated from the hippocampus to long-term storage in the neocortex through repetition and relearning, especially during sleep.

  • Once memories are consolidated in the neocortex, the hippocampus is no longer needed to retrieve them from long-term memory on its own.

  • The hippocampus (Hip) helps form initial memories but acts as a "crutch" that fades quickly. Repeated practice in the neocortex is needed for long-term memory consolidation.

  • Brief "brain breaks" of 15-40 seconds allow the hippocampus to repeat information to the neocortex for consolidation. Even short breaks improve later recall compared to continuous learning.

  • Collaborative learning activities provide valuable mental breaks for students while also allowing retrieval and reinforcement of the material.

  • Active learning strategies like think-pair-share, peer teaching, and roleplaying benefit memory consolidation by giving the hippocampus time to transfer information to the neocortex during short breaks in direct instruction.

  • Regularly incorporating brief collaborative activities and brain breaks is important for the hippocampus to repeatedly rehearse new information to the neocortex, strengthening long-term memory formation. This avoids solely superficial "indexing" by the hippocampus that doesn't support retention.

  • The passage discusses the problems with cramming the night before a test. Procrastinating students, whether "hiker-type" or "race-car" learners, have difficulty assimilating material effectively via cramming.

  • While race-car learners may be able to partially fill their hippocampus with indexing information, the links to the neocortex are weak and fade quickly without reinforcement through retrieval practice and sleep.

  • Sleep is important for consolidating new long-term memories as it allows neural connections formed during the day to be strengthened. Without sleep, links formed during cramming do not stick.

  • As a teacher, it's important to encourage retrieval practice through formative assessments to help cement learning in the neocortex without relying on the temporary hippocampus memory. Frequent practice and assessment help develop strong long-term memory connections over time.

  • The passage then discusses how physical exercise through BDNF production and neurogenesis can help support learning by aiding neural connection formation and improving mood/focus. Regular exercise has cognitive benefits for students.

    Here is a summary of the provided passage:

The passage discusses procrastination as a common problem that students face when it comes to learning and preparing for assessments like tests. It uses the example of a student named Sam, who is described as a smart kid but one who only engages with practical subjects and tends to put off studying until the very last minute.

The passage suggests Sam's procrastination is likely due to conflicting motivations - on the one hand he doesn't want to disappoint his parents, but on the other hand he only finds certain subjects practically useful so lacks motivation to study them until he feels he has no other choice. This situation of putting things off until the deadline creates stress and fatigue, as illustrated by examples of Sam falling asleep during a test after cramming all night before.

In summary, the passage frames procrastination as a major issue students face and uses Sam as an example student who struggles with it due to having mixed motivations for their studies. It links Sam's tendency to delay preparing for assessments until the last minute to this underlying procrastination behavior.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Students like Sam often procrastinate by cramming and staying up late to study right before exams. However, this last-minute studying is ineffective because the brain needs time to consolidate new information.

  • When students think about unpleasant tasks, their insular cortex activates feelings of pain. They avoid this discomfort by procrastinating or thinking about other things instead.

  • Racecar students, who learn quickly, may develop bad procrastination habits in earlier grades when last-minute studying was enough. This catches up to them in harder classes.

  • Hiker students with smaller working memory compensate by building broad links in long-term memory, but this takes more practice. Procrastination can therefore be challenging for them.

  • The Pomodoro technique, using timed periods of focus followed by short breaks, is effective for managing procrastination based on what is known about brain focus and memory consolidation. Using distraction-free breaks is important.

  • Common reasons students give for procrastinating include not knowing how to do the work, preferring easy tasks, losing concentration, and thinking of other things they could be doing instead. Teachers need to provide support and check-ins to help students stay on track.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The Pomodoro technique uses short breaks to help students stay focused on tasks. Frequent checking in can help those who need smaller goals.

  • Procrastination is often reinforced when parents bail students out at the last minute. Daily goals and communication with parents can improve accountability.

  • Students are often legitimately overwhelmed with busy schedules and prioritize immediate activities over future obligations.

  • Deep learning takes time to form new neural connections through toggling between focused and diffuse thinking modes. Procrastination doesn't allow for this.

  • When frustrated, students should take a break to allow diffuse thinking to work in the background before returning to a challenging concept.

  • On tests, the "hard start" approach has students begin with the hardest question to take advantage of diffuse thinking while working on easier questions. Advance preparation is key for this strategy to be effective.

  • Creating to-do lists, prioritizing tasks, setting a schedule, and getting organized can help students combat procrastination. Frequent check-ins also hold students accountable.

This passage discusses tackling tough assignments that require multiple steps over an extended period of time. It notes that students often procrastinate on such assignments by waiting until the last minute.

To address this, the author recommends breaking the assignment into intermediate stages or tasks, each with their own deadline. This scaffolds the process and prevents procrastination.

A sample assignment is provided where students would write an essay on World War II over 3 weeks. Intermediate tasks include drafting a thesis, finding citations, outlining, drafting sections, and revising.

Partner and group work is suggested during class to review tasks. Regular checkpoints keep students accountable. The Pomodoro technique of focused work breaks is also recommended to maintain engagement.

By breaking assignments into incremental pieces with feedback, students learn time management and complete complex projects without procrastinating until the last minute. It also teaches a lifelong skill for tackling large assignments.

Here is a summary of the key ideas from the passage:

  • The passage discusses how human brains evolved and how this is relevant for teaching. Specifically, it talks about how the brain has developed adapted mechanisms for learning different skills.

  • It provides an example of Paulo, who has innate athletic ability and learned how to ride a bike easily based on observing his brother. This suggests the brain is adapted for rapidly acquiring motor skills through observation and practice.

  • In contrast, academic skills like reading, writing and higher-level thinking had little relevance to survival for most of human evolution. The brain is not as well adapted for quickly acquiring these types of abstract skills.

  • This has implications for teaching - students may struggle more with academic skills compared to physical/motor skills, due to how the brain evolved. Teachers need to recognize academic skills take more time, practice and instruction to acquire.

  • The passage suggests using techniques like modeling, gradual skill building, incorporating physical movement, and relating lessons to real-world examples to help engage the older, evolved parts of the brain while students learn academic skills.

In summary, the key point is that the passage discusses how the human brain evolved adaptations for rapid motor learning but not necessarily for academic skills, and what this means for how difficult certain types of learning may be for students compared to others. It provides context for understanding learning challenges and strategies teachers can use.

Here are the key points:

  • Some types of learning, like language acquisition and face recognition, come naturally to humans due to evolution. This is called "biologically primary" learning.

  • Other types of learning, like reading, writing, and math, require specialized instruction because they were not vital for early human survival. This is called "biologically secondary" learning.

  • The brain is naturally wired to learn primary skills easily through things like fast mapping. Learning secondary skills requires repurposing and rewiring neural circuits.

  • Direct instruction from teachers becomes important for secondary learning because it facilitates this repurposing process and provides corrective feedback over a long period of time. Without guidance, some students struggle more with subjects like reading and math.

  • Evolution has shaped the brain to learn in certain ways that aligned with early human needs. Subjects beyond that require harnessing the brain's flexibility through education to acquire new skills not innately present. Different rates of learning secondary subjects can be due to differences in individuals' neural wiring and plasticity.

  • Teacher-directed instruction, also known as direct instruction, is most effective for teaching difficult, higher-order concepts and skills.

  • Direct instruction involves the teacher first explaining and modeling a new concept or skill ("I do"), then guiding student practice with feedback ("We do"), and finally having students demonstrate independent mastery ("You do").

  • It moves responsibility for the material from the teacher to the students over time through carefully scaffolded instruction and practice.

  • Key principles of effective direct instruction include breaking concepts into small steps, checking for understanding frequently, providing worked examples and models, and monitoring independent practice.

  • In comparison, purely passive learning methods like lectures are less effective as students learn best through active engagement with the material, such as discussion, practice problems, and explaining their understanding.

  • Methods like round robin reading that heighten performance anxiety for students are also less productive than strategies incorporated in direct instruction.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Round robin reading forces students to listen for extended periods without checking for understanding, similar to unengaging lecture-style teaching.

  • When using videos in direct instruction, it's important to set a clear purpose, provide guiding questions for students to answer while watching, pause to offer commentary and clarify confusion, and have a follow-up activity related to the content.

  • Direct instruction is not the same as extended lecture periods where students receive little guidance and are left to practice on their own afterward.

  • Direct instruction and student-directed learning exist on a continuum, with teacher guidance at one end and independence at the other. Both can incorporate active learning.

  • Student-directed approaches work best after direct instruction has allowed students to understand concepts through modeling and guidance. Novice learners can get frustrated if put in open-ended situations before being introduced to material.

  • Secondary or more complex material requires more effort and practice to learn than primary concepts. Direct instruction with careful scaffolding is important to lay initial neural connections before more independent approaches. Countries using mainly direct instruction tend to score higher on achievement tests.

  • All students benefit from direct instruction, though some with lesser working memory capacity may need more support and alternative teaching approaches. The goal is to teach independence, not do work for students.

In summary, the passage discusses the appropriate roles and balance of direct instruction versus student-directed approaches, emphasizing direct instruction is necessary to introduce new complex concepts before more independent practice and application. Both teaching styles have value when used at the right time.

  • The passage discusses using direct instruction to teach students about heritable traits and Punnett squares. It focuses on teaching concepts related to genetics.

  • Direct instruction involves an "I do, we do, you do" approach where the teacher models concepts, students practice with support, then independently.

  • When introducing heritable traits, the teacher asks students to demonstrate traits like ear wiggling to engage them.

  • They then review genetics from the prior lesson.

  • The teacher models making Punnett squares on dominant and recessive traits like dimples.

  • Students then practice making Punnett squares in pairs with teacher support.

  • With more practice, students complete Punnett squares independently while the teacher provides feedback.

  • The passage cautions teachers against going straight into lecture mode and talking too fast when modeling concepts during direct instruction. It emphasizes giving students opportunities to practice and apply the material.

  • Overall, the passage advocates for direct instruction as an effective approach to teaching new concepts, like genetics and Punnett squares, in a scaffolded way that supports student learning.

    Here is a summary of the key ideas around Newton's laws and how vertical and horizontal forces work:

  • Newton's first law states that an object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. This law governs how objects respond to balanced and unbalanced forces.

  • Newton's second law describes how the motion of an object changes when a force is applied. It states that the acceleration of an object as produced by a net force is directly proportional to the magnitude of the net force, in the same direction as the net force, and inversely proportional to the mass of the object.

  • Newton's third law states that for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. If object A exerts a force on object B, then object B simultaneously exerts an equal but opposite force back on object A.

  • Vertical forces act up and down, parallel to the direction of gravity. Examples include weight, normal force, and friction. These forces do not change the horizontal motion of an object but can change its vertical motion.

  • Horizontal forces act side to side, perpendicular to the direction of gravity. Examples include applied force, tension, friction. These forces can change both the speed and direction of horizontal motion of an object.

So in summary, Newton's laws describe how objects respond to balanced and unbalanced forces, how forces change the motion of objects, and that every force has an equal and opposite reaction force. Vertical and horizontal forces are classified by their direction in relation to gravity and how they affect vertical versus horizontal motion.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • The procedural learning system is important for automatically acquiring skills and habits through practice over time. It allows tasks to be performed quickly without conscious thought.

  • Dyslexia can be understood as a difficulty with the procedural system, as dyslexic children struggle to automatically acquire skills like handwriting and shoe-tying.

  • Both declarative and procedural learning are important for mastering a topic. Declarative learning through explanations allows flexible understanding, while procedural learning through practice allows fast, intuitive application of knowledge.

  • Textbooks teach concepts declaratively, while problems at the end of chapters are meant to invoke procedural learning. Both are needed to truly understand a subject.

  • At first, a new skill is consciously learned declaratively. But with practice it transitions to automatic procedural learning, allowing experts to react instinctively without conscious thought, as when avoiding obstacles on a bicycle.

So in summary, the procedural system is key for developing expertise and automaticity through practice, even for complex skills and concepts, though both declarative and procedural learning work together for comprehensive mastery of a topic. Dyslexia impacts the procedural system specifically.

  • The procedural memory system is responsible for non-declarative, implicit learning and skills that are performed automatically without conscious thought. It has two pathways - goal-directed (front door) and habitual (back door).

  • The goal-directed pathway is activated by intentions and goals from the prefrontal cortex. It allows skillful performance of tasks like speaking a well-learned language or following yoga poses.

  • The habitual pathway is activated by sensory inputs from the back of the brain. It links inputs to automatic, conditioned responses like riding a bike or writing letters. These are performed without conscious control.

  • The basal ganglia region helps switch between goal-directed and habitual procedural pathways. Writing with a non-dominant hand requires using the goal-directed pathway as the habitual pathway hasn't learned it yet.

  • Effective instructional coaching works by connecting teacher goals to new strategies through the goal-directed procedural system, helping them internalize and remember new skills in a real classroom context.

  • The procedural system learns slowly through practice but allows fast, unconscious performance once skills are mastered. It works together with declarative memory but operates as a "black box" system we can't fully observe.

  • The declarative and procedural learning systems are two different ways of learning. The declarative system relies more on conscious thinking and allows for rapid learning of facts and explicit knowledge. The procedural system relies more on unconscious habits and skills developed through repetition.

  • The declarative system interfaces with the hippocampus and uses working memory. It is more conscious-based. The procedural system interfaces with the basal ganglia and cerebellum and is largely non-conscious.

  • The declarative system underlies knowledge of facts, events, rules, and categories. The procedural system underlies skills, tasks, habits, and intuiting rules without being explicitly taught.

  • Both systems can learn the same information differently. Declarative may involve reasoning, while procedural is more automatic.

  • The learning context affects which system is used more. Declarative involves more instruction, while procedural relies more on practice and feedback without explicit instruction.

  • Declarative learning is faster initially but slower to use. Procedural learning is slower but allows for faster, more automated use of knowledge and skills over time through repetition.

  • The procedural memory system generally requires more practice to learn compared to the declarative memory system, but it is ultimately faster to access and use once learned. Procedural learning leads to automatic, habitual behaviors.

  • Declarative memory improves through childhood and declines with age, while procedural memory is well-established early in life and declines less with age.

  • Declarative learning benefits from higher working memory capacity and mindfulness/frontal lobe engagement, while procedural learning benefits from lower working memory capacity and less frontal lobe engagement.

  • Estrogen is linked to improved declarative learning, while procedural learning may improve with lower estrogen levels. Certain genes can also affect the two systems differently.

  • Both systems consolidate memories over time and benefit from sleep and exercise. Knowledge from one system is not transferred to the other, but they often work seamlessly together in applying skills and knowledge.

  • Good teachers facilitate learning through both declarative instruction and procedural practice to maximize understanding and skill development in their students. Both systems are important for learning concepts like math and language.

    Here are the key points about how interleaving can enhance procedural learning:

  • Interleaving involves mixing up practice of related topics rather than repeating the same topic in blocks. This could mean alternating problems involving area, perimeter, and volume calculations in math or mixing up different tenses when practicing verbs in a foreign language.

  • It helps students distinguish subtleties between related concepts since they have to rely on deeper understanding rather than superficial recognition of repeated practice problems.

  • It boosts procedural memory by allowing students to practice pattern recognition skills as they detect subtle differences between similar items/techniques.

  • Blocked practice risks students just "going through the motions" at the end, while interleaving maintains focus and effort levels throughout.

  • Students may feel interleaving is less effective for short-term mastery, but research shows it leads to stronger long-term retention compared to blocked practice alone.

  • Interleaving creates "desirable difficulties" that reinforce learning through additional mental effort to reconstruct knowledge from long-term memory rather than relying on short-term recall.

  • Meaningful gestures can also enhance interleaving by tying physical actions to new vocabulary/concepts in a way that strengthens neural connections in long-term memory.

So in summary, interleaving teaches students to distinguish subtleties and strengthens procedural learning through pattern recognition practice and enhanced memory retention over time.

Here are the key points summarized:

  • Interleaved practice requires more effort from students up front but pays off in better learning compared to blocked practice that students are used to. The challenge is convincing students of this.

  • Interleaving helps with transfer of learning by training students on a variety of examples, better preparing them for varied test questions.

  • It also mirrors real-life contexts where students need to identify which technique to apply, unlike blocked practice materials.

  • Schemas are important frameworks for learning that integrate concepts and allow new learning to hook onto existing knowledge more easily. Interleaving helps build schemas.

  • While techniques like interleaving have benefits, they can be misapplied if difficulties become too challenging before foundational knowledge is secured. A balance of blocked and interleaved practice is often best.

  • Handwriting, especially for young students, supports learning more than typing due to additional brain and sensory engagement.

  • Teachers can apply interleaving by targeting areas students frequently confuse on tests, like math operations or language tenses.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Spaced repetition and retrieval practice can help with both declarative and procedural learning by allowing brain connections to strengthen over time through repeated exposure to concepts. Breaks between repetitions are important to allow consolidation.

  • The optimal spacing of repetitions likely depends on the individual and the specific material, though reviews spaced out daily, weekly or every 3 weeks are commonly suggested times.

  • Homework, when done in moderation, allows for spaced repetition and interleaving to reinforce understanding and develop self-regulatory skills. Short daily practice is better than longer sessions spaced far apart.

  • Effective homework assignments are of high quality rather than just quantity, incorporate interleaving of past concepts, and are used in subsequent lessons. Homework should be a small part of the course grade to motivate completion.

  • Parents should provide judicious guidance on homework and allow students to struggle, rather than taking over tasks. A positive attitude toward learning is most important from parents.

  • The passage describes two different classroom scenarios - Ms. Duwell's classroom runs smoothly with established routines and habits, while Ms. Guided's classroom is disorganized with students unprepared.

  • In Ms. Duwell's class, students silently complete a bellwork task upon entering. Materials are prepared and available for the lesson in baskets at student workspaces. Organization allows instruction time to be maximized.

  • In contrast, Ms. Guided's class has students straggling in late, needing to sharpen pencils, arguing, and unprepared without notebooks. Disorder defeats effective teaching before it can begin.

  • The key difference between the classrooms is the establishment of routines and habits through community building. Master teachers like Ms. Duwell ensure smooth class operations with prepared students through consistent routines and expectations.

  • The chapter will discuss applying neuroscience concepts around procedural learning and schema development to explain how teachers can build productive classroom communities and routines through habitual procedures and organization. This allows more focused time for instruction rather than disorder.

    Here are the key points about using procedural learning techniques to shape classroom habits:

  • Procedural memory allows routines and habits to form through repetition. This is faster and more automatic than declarative memory.

  • Teachers can use this to establish smooth-running procedures and positive behaviors in the classroom. Things like getting supplies, seeking attention, etc. can become habitual through practice.

  • However, students may not intuitively know the teacher's expectations or vision. Clear communication up front is important to guide the formation of good habits.

  • Even before school starts, communicate expectations and build anticipation through letters to students/families.

  • On the first day, explicitly address common questions like seating, rules, activities, etc. to orient students. Consider fun activities to spark interest.

  • Explain behavioral expectations positively by engaging students in brainstorming examples of "nice" behavior rather than just listing rules. Develop procedures collaboratively.

  • Repeatedly practicing and referring to procedures helps cement good habits through procedural memory over time. Keep expectations consistent and positive.

So in summary, taking time up front to clearly lay out routines and expectations procedurally involves students and allows positive habits to form naturally through repetition in the classroom.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • When establishing classroom procedures and expectations, it is important to discuss the social-emotional aspects and life skills students are learning, not just compliance behaviors. Point out how following rules helps create a safe and comfortable learning environment.

  • Common procedures to teach include entering and exiting the classroom, participating in discussions, asking for help, using technology, and managing papers and materials.

  • Establish procedures through direct instruction, breaking them into steps and having students practice. Provide frequent and timely reinforcement through praise when students demonstrate the desired behaviors.

  • Consistency is paramount - procedures need to be consistently enforced and modeled by the teacher. Talking about behavioral expectations upfront helps create an invisible culture where distractions fade into the background.

  • Rewards can be useful for motivation and learning by triggering dopamine release in the brain. However, unexpected rewards are most effective as they trigger more dopamine than expected rewards. This temporarily enables stronger connections between neural pathways involved in learning.

The passage discusses how dopamine helps reinforce learning when rewards are unexpected. Dopamine surges in the brain during and after unexpected rewards, helping to strengthen connections between neurons. This dopamine response helps students learn and form associations between behaviors and their positive outcomes.

It gives examples of how a teacher providing unexpected positive praise and encouragement when students line up (like saying it's good for their health) results in a dopamine response that facilitates learning how to line up. In contrast, a teacher yelling when students don't line up correctly causes dopamine levels to plunge, hindering learning.

Expected rewards can still provide motivation, but don't directly support neural wiring and learning in the same way. Unexpected rewards are needed for that. The passage also notes that students' true rewards may come from social acceptance rather than academics. So teachers need to understand each student's motivations.

It provides advice on addressing impostor syndrome in high-achieving students and handling overconfident students with limited abilities. The key roles of dopamine, unexpected rewards, motivation, and understanding individual students are discussed in the context of facilitating learning.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Using group presentations and collaborative learning activities allows students to develop social and emotional skills while also learning course content. It gives them practice interacting with peers, providing feedback, working toward shared goals, etc.

  • Moderate, transient stress from things like presentations or exams can actually enhance learning by improving memory formation and focus. Stress hormones released help strengthen neural connections. However, too much stress is harmful.

  • Collaborative learning helps buffer stress levels for students. Working with peers provides support, feedback, sense of belonging and friendship which counteracts the stress of assignments. It can be especially helpful for shy, new or different students.

  • When assigning group work, teachers should provide clear procedures and expectations to establish positive classroom culture and ensure an equal distribution of workloads within groups. Occasional collaborative assignments deepen socioemotional learning beyond just habitual procedures.

  • Research shows collaborative learning improves performance on problem-solving tasks and conceptual understanding compared to individual work. It allows students to build on each other's strengths.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Research shows that having supportive teammates or group members can reduce an individual student's stress levels when facing new or difficult academic tasks. The "social buffering" helps keep stress hormones at an optimal level for learning.

  • However, obstructive group members can actually increase someone's stress. Students are often not well-equipped with the skills needed for effective collaborative work like time management, conflict resolution, and communication.

  • Well-structured collaborative learning can help students develop important social-emotional skills like self-control, problem-solving, self-esteem, and emotional intelligence, as well as improve engagement.

  • Teachers should thoughtfully assign groups and roles within groups. They should also explicitly teach expectations for social skills and group behavior to facilitate productive collaboration. ongoing monitoring and adjustment of groups is also important.

  • A case study example is provided to demonstrate how teachers can setup collaborative work by assigning clear roles and responsibilities, define expectations, and structure reflection on the group process. Developing these skills through practice-based learning can help students learn collaboratively.

    Here are the key points I gathered regarding appropriate sound levels in classrooms:

  • A zero noise classroom aims to minimize distractions and maximize focus, allowing students to work quietly without disturbance from others. This could help some students concentrate, but may not be developmentally appropriate or engaging for all ages.

  • represents an alternative approach that embraces some natural sound and movement in the classroom. Controlled noise and activity may help release energy so students can re-engage with their work. However, there needs to be limits so noise doesn't disrupt others.

  • Every classroom has a range of student needs. A one-size-fits-all approach won't work. Teachers need flexibility to adjust sound policies based on the lesson, time of day, individual student needs, and what best supports learning for the whole group. Clear expectations help students self-monitor their own levels of noise and activity.

  • Collaboration and discussion are important classroom skills, but require noise control. Designated quiet zones may help accommodate both independent work and group work simultaneously. Transitions between activities also require sensitivity to noise.

Overall, there are good arguments on both sides and the best approach depends on balancing the individual needs of all students involved. Policies should be tailored according to the context and reevaluated based on outcomes. The wellbeing of every student deserves consideration.

Here are the key points:

  • Acute stress releases chemicals like glucocorticoids that can improve cognition, working memory, and physical strength. However, prolonged stress has negative effects.

  • When planning group work, consider positive interdependence, individual accountability, face-to-face interaction, social skills development, and providing opportunities for group self-evaluation.

  • Establish clear expectations and behavioral norms for collaborative work. Address issues like social loafing or "hitchhiking."

  • Empathy should be balanced with wisdom to avoid manipulation or codependent behaviors developing in groups.

  • Small groups tend to be more creative, while larger groups can take on bigger accomplishments according to research on group sizes.

  • Effective online teaching combines both synchronous (real-time) and asynchronous (self-paced) approaches. Multimedia learning theory suggests using both visual and verbal explanations for best learning.

  • Organize your course with a clear cognitive map or site layout so students understand how to navigate and what is expected of them. Provide orientations, calendars and other supports.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Class overviews should include logistics like course name, meeting days/times, contact info, technology requirements, required texts and materials.

  • Provide an overview of content and specific learning objectives.

  • Communicate policies on late work, attendance, academic integrity. Include the school's relevant policies from the handbook.

  • Include a class calendar covering assignments, projects, exams over the term. Note it may need to flex based on circumstances.

  • List major assignments and their point values. Include directions, rubrics, and examples for recurring assignments.

  • Initiate contact via email before and during the term to build community and engagement. Remind students of due dates.

  • Audio quality is important for both synchronous and asynchronous teaching. Consider using an external microphone. Be mindful of tone and pitch.

  • For video teaching, optimize lighting setup and positioning on camera. Avoid drooping down over time which cuts off hand motions.

  • The passage discusses best practices for synchronous online teaching using platforms like Zoom. Some key points made include looking directly at the camera when speaking, having good lighting and background, and positioning the camera at eye level.

  • It is important to set clear ground rules and procedures for student participation at the beginning of the course. Typical rules include muting on entry, having proper attire, limiting distractions, etc.

  • Instruction should be kept brief, under 5 minutes, with engaging techniques used like polls, breakout groups, and cold calling students to maintain attention and participation.

  • Writing by hand on a shared screen helps emphasize key points. Using picture-in-picture allows showing instruction materials and the teacher's face simultaneously.

  • Breakout groups, polls, chat rooms, and periodic "brain breaks" are suggested for interactivity and engagement to avoid student disengagement during synchronous online classes. Maintaining pace and monitoring understanding are emphasized.

The passage discusses using Simon Says to familiarize students with an online learning platform. Playing Simon Says for a couple minutes at the start of class can help students get comfortable with where buttons and controls are located. This makes the rest of the class run more smoothly.

It then talks about considerations for video length in asynchronous online teaching. The recommended length for instructional videos is 3-12 minutes, broken into small digestible chunks. Videos should each cover a single concept with an intro, explanation, and wrap-up. Longer videos up to 20-25 minutes can also work, but splitting material across multiple shorter videos gives students more control over pacing. The goal is to not overload working memory by breaking content into brief focused videos.

  • Long videos with just a talking head can become boring for students and less effective for learning. It's better to break content into shorter videos and add interactive elements like quizzes.

  • Good visuals are important for engaging videos but take time to plan and prepare. Shorter, well-planned videos may require more preparation than lengthy ones.

  • Adding some humor, such as memes or movie clips, can help spice up videos and presentations to make them more engaging. Brief bits of humor every 5-7 minutes can boost student attention and enjoyment.

  • There are top-down and bottom-up processes for attention. Bottom-up processes like motion, sound, and unexpected elements can help grab and maintain attention involuntarily. Using some video tricks can draw students' attention back periodically.

  • Scripting is not necessary for live sessions but can be useful for planning shorter videos to ensure clear communication and coordination of visuals. Half-scripts that outline topics can work too without reading fully scripted text.

  • Engagement tools like discussions, quizzes and collaborative activities can help reinforce content from videos through retrieval practice and discourage passive viewing.

The passage introduces a variety of tools that can be used to actively engage students when viewing online videos as part of asynchronous learning. These include quizzes, guiding questions, homework assignments, and discussion forums.

Quizzes embedded within or after videos can help bring students' attention back to the material and improve performance. Tools like Edpuzzle allow instructors to build complete video lessons with embedded questions.

Having students answer guiding questions while watching videos has been shown to improve later test scores. Embedding videos within homework assignments can also improve understanding of difficult concepts compared to assignments without videos.

Discussion forums allow assessment of student knowledge and give practice applying content in new contexts. Tips are provided on structuring discussion questions and responses. Instructors should also engage on the forums to maintain presence.

A strategy introduced is having students create explanatory videos on topics using free software. While engaging, assessments should evaluate learning rather than just the video production.

The passage introduces the "learn it, link it" approach of mixing asynchronous and synchronous instruction for effective online learning.

Here is a summary of the key points from the passage:

  • Teachers have a limited amount of time (180 days) to expose students to a large amount of curriculum and lead them to long-term learning. Effective planning is important to make the most of this time.

  • Lesson planning allows teachers to lay out clear learning objectives and determine what success looks like. Master teachers carefully consider standards, objectives, focus questions, and assessments in their planning.

  • Objectives specify what students will know and be able to do by the end of the lesson. Focus questions engage students and help keep them oriented toward the learning goal.

  • Formative assessments provide feedback along the way, while summative assessments check if students achieved the objective.

  • Effective sequencing of lessons includes elements like a bell ringer to start class, hooks to engage students, explicit instruction of new content, opportunities for guided and independent practice, and closure.

  • Master teachers consider individual student needs and allow flexibility in how different learners can progress toward the shared learning goal. Advance planning helps maximize instructional time and student learning.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Effective classroom management involves establishing procedures and habits so that students know what to do automatically without thinking. This includes procedures for entering class, distributing materials, using the bathroom, listening and responding, forming groups, and submitting work.

  • It's important to engage students at the beginning of the lesson with an intriguing hook that sparks their interest. Good hooks connect to prior knowledge and present a real-world problem or question related to the lesson content.

  • During direct instruction ("I do, we do"), the teacher should ease students into new material by building on prior knowledge. Strategies include thinking aloud, limiting excessive talking, planning higher-level questions, and using multimedia to demonstrate concepts.

  • Retrieval practice and questioning at various levels of complexity are important as students learn new material. The teacher should listen more and talk less as students gain understanding.

  • Note-taking, with guidance and modeling from the teacher, improves learning by helping students organize and retain information whether from lectures, discussions, videos or readings.

    Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Link It refers to having students reinforce and extend their neural links by practicing in different contexts to commit learning to long-term memory. This involves switching neural pathways from declarative to procedural memory through repeated practice.

  • Mix It means interleaving practice within and across topics rather than repetitive practice. This challenges students to retrieve information, think flexibly, and apply rules in various situations.

  • Space It means distributing practice over time rather than mass practice in one sitting. Learning needs to carry over to other lessons to aid long-term retention.

  • Interleaving and spacing create desirable difficulties that students may resist due to increased errors and frustration. Having a firm foundation reduces anxiety with these challenging practices.

  • Extend It is the goal of moving students to more independent, student-directed learning with minimal teacher guidance. Examples include contributing to online discussions, creating instructional videos, and applying concepts in new ways.

The key instructional strategies are using varied contexts for practice (mixing it), spreading practice across time (spacing it), and gradually releasing responsibility to students for extending their own learning. This helps commit concepts to long-term memory by strengthening neural pathways.

Here is a summary of the key points:

  • Planning effective student-directed learning activities requires significant preparation to ensure they are properly aligned to learning standards and extend student thinking beyond more basic recall and comprehension. Activities should push students to apply, analyze, evaluate, and create.

  • The closure or conclusion of a lesson is important for consolidating learning but is often neglected. It is important to review what was learned, have students prove or demonstrate their understanding through exit tickets or assessments, and preview upcoming content.

  • When concluding a larger unit of study, self-assessment through methods like glows and grows charts can help students reflect on their learning progress and identify areas of strength and areas for growth. This also allows students to set new goals.

  • Teachers should also reflect back on the unit, identifying what went well and where improvements could be made. Lesson plans and assessments should be revised accordingly. Both student and teacher reflections are important for continuous improvement in teaching and learning.

  • It is important to celebrate the achievements of both students and teachers at the conclusion of a learning experience to build motivation and a sense of accomplishment.

The passage provides advice on how to efficiently share pictures and praise with parents while working on a group project. It emphasizes the importance of mirroring any dysfunctional behavior to hold teammates accountable, rather than absorbing problems.

Specifically, it suggests communicating clear limits and expectations from the beginning. This includes not allowing one's name to be included on work they did not meaningfully contribute to. It also advises talking to the teacher if a teammate is not responding or contributing. The goal is to reflect problems back on those causing them, rather than have other group members take on extra work or responsibility. Setting firm standards early prevents others from taking advantage. Overall, the approach is about holding all members accountable while still maintaining a collaborative team effort.

  • The passage discusses confronting people like Jack or Henrietta who try to take advantage of others by getting them to do their work. It encourages being firm and setting expectations, while also being patient as one learns this new skill.

  • Initially, confronting others may be uncomfortable and feel "not worth the pain." But with practice, it will become more natural and guilt-free. This allows one to spend time on their own work and activities rather than doing someone else's work.

  • Common traits that allow others to take advantage include wanting to please others at one's expense, repeatedly making personal sacrifices, inability to delegate, interpreting minimal contributions as progress, unwillingness to let others fail, and prioritizing "team good" over being taken advantage of.

  • If doing all the work in a group, one should formally warn teammates and request a group change if not resolved, bringing the teacher into it for assistance.

  • In life, one will continue encountering people like Jack who can gain trust and damage it through gossip. It's important to stand up for oneself using the techniques discussed.

Did you find this article valuable?

Support Literary Insights by becoming a sponsor. Any amount is appreciated!