Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Title of course:  Neuroscience and the Classroom: Making Connections

Neuroscience and the Classroom: Making Connections

Visuals by Unit

Units:

Unit 5: Building New Neural Networks

(Animations, Graphics, and Photographs)

Skill Web for Bob

Skill Web for Bob

In this second hypothetical diagram of skill interactions, Bob displays an alternative... (graphic)

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Skill Web for Bob

Skill Web for Bob

In this second hypothetical diagram of skill interactions, Bob displays an alternative approach to an essay assignment on the impact of Andrew Jackson's policies. Unlike Judy, this student understands the topic in terms of people's personal motives and emotions. Here, skills for taking others' emotional perspectives, decision-making, and representing others' opinions, develop into skills for understanding how popular opinion sways voters and how politicians' personal motives influence their decision-making. These, in turn, are specialized for the case of Andrew Jackson. Notice that some of Bob's early skills also differentiated in parallel into the realms of cheering up friends and helping family, which are qualitatively different kinds of skills than those used by Judy. Note also that, unlike Judy's diagram, this diagram begins in early high school and ends in late high school.

Building a Skill System: Knobs and Sticks

Building a Skill System: Knobs and Sticks

As suggested by skill theory, cognitive development involves forming connections between... (graphic)

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Building a Skill System: Knobs and Sticks

Building a Skill System: Knobs and Sticks

As suggested by skill theory, cognitive development involves forming connections between units of skills to develop increasingly complex skills. The construction of a cube in the classic children's games using knobs and sticks serves as a good metaphor for this process. We first start with a single knob, then connect two knobs with a stick to form a line. We then connect lines to make a square, and then combine squares to make a cube. In this same way cognitive development is the process of developing increasingly complex skills through forming connections between simpler mental units.

The Web: A Metaphor for Skill Development

The Web: A Metaphor for Skill Development

Development occurs in webs (and levels), and different people have different webs. Webs... (graphic)

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The Web: A Metaphor for Skill Development

The Web: A Metaphor for Skill Development

Development occurs in webs (and levels), and different people have different webs. Webs may have many strands (or skills), which interact to show a person's ability in terms of his or her whole profile of skills across domains. This enables us as educators to make connections between domains, drawing on strengths in one domain as "bootstraps" for another, as models of flexible thought with exchangeable content.

Skill Web for Judy

Skill Web for Judy

In this hypothetical diagram of skill interactions, two childhood skills,... (graphic)

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Skill Web for Judy

Skill Web for Judy

In this hypothetical diagram of skill interactions, two childhood skills, budgeting and understanding others' needs and actions, combine to produce a skill in high school for analyzing the impact of Andrew Jackson's policies on the U.S. economy. Here, the skill for budgeting money branches into a skill for playing board games, which in turn fosters working knowledge of how to follow laws and procedures, a skill that Judy then recruits to analyze the U.S. economy. In parallel, a skill for understanding others' needs and resulting actions is informed by the budgeting skill to produce a skill for analyzing voters' spending habits. Simultaneously, a skill for analyzing politicians' actions develops, which Judy specializes to the case of Andrew Jackson. To write the analysis, Judy combines these skills for analyzing the economy, voters' spending, and Andrew Jackson's policies.

Backward Transition

Backward Transition

We continually regress to low levels to build new skills. This is normal and... (graphic)

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Backward Transition

Backward Transition

We continually regress to low levels to build new skills. This is normal and essential.

Optimal and Functional Level

Optimal and Functional Level

At the optimal level (providing the most supportive conditions for a given task), the... (graphic)

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Optimal and Functional Level

Optimal and Functional Level

At the optimal level (providing the most supportive conditions for a given task), the amount of support results in a high level of fairly sustainable but effortful and varying performance. In contexts of low support (the conditions of normal daily life with all its distractions and imperfections), we perform at a level that reflects the degree to which a particular skill has become stable and automatic—our functional level, the level that most resembles a linear progression.

Developmental Cycles

Developmental Cycles

At each level, the process of building the system (the metaphorical cube) of coordinated... (graphic)

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Developmental Cycles

Developmental Cycles

At each level, the process of building the system (the metaphorical cube) of coordinated skills is repeated so that at the start of each new tier, the cube from the previous tier becomes the single skill unit for the next tier. That is, simpler skills become absorbed or nested within more complex ones.

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