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Neurologist/Teacher/Grad School Ed faculty/Author

Executive Function and Grammar Activities

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Promote executive function activation and grammar with motivating literature - students' favorite stories or book pages. Select sentences or paragraphs from which to rewrite, removing the aspects of grammar or punctuation you want to address. For commas, when students find they don't enjoy/understand meaning as well without that punctuation, they can describe what they "miss" and deduce the rules of commas. For parts of speech or tense copy the section with the focus words omitted and let students "fill in" words of their choice and give reasons why. They will be deducing the function and rules of grammar going from concrete to concept.
Keep igniting,
Judy

ESL teacher

Interesting insight. As an

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Interesting insight. As an ESL teacher, I have noticed that the students who have done drill after drill in grammar usually are not as good speakers as those who just "try" it. However, basic grammar is still a need in order for the student to learn to write, etc. Do you have insight as to how one could teach something like grammar using the executive function?

TRNK mission is to inspire and teach children to be great developers and de

Great Article outlining how to engage more of our learning skill

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Especially the learning skills of younger children.

In addition to the model you describe here, we're also including and further investigation how much the motor system is involved in the cognitive development and active learning.

We have found interesting positive correlations between more involvement of the eye-hand coordination in the subjects to be learned (even just copying from the text-books in some cases).

It is one of the basic principles we're applying, in helping children to learn how to buil applications.

Educational Therapist

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You may be interested to look at international efforts to build specific cognitive functions, including executive function, at the website associated with the lifelong work of Dr. Reuven Feuerstein of Jerusalem. Now in his 90's, as a young educator he worked to rehabilitate and educate children of the Holocaust. In the process of learning how best to assess and address the educational needs of these young trauma victims, he derived some fascinating ways to build cognitive functions from the most basic to the complex.

http://www.icelp.org/asp/main.asp

Math Ed and Computer Programming analogs

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I encourage and discourage certain math efforts (including memorization), by highlighting the programmer's solutions. 1) Lookup tables (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lookup_table) are used to reduce processor workload. "The savings in terms of processing time can be significant, since retrieving a value from memory is often faster than undergoing an 'expensive' computation." Times-tables are the original lookup tables. 6x7 is so common, it's more efficient to fetch it from memory. Less common, say 6x47, we then calculate. 2) Division takes a computer 7 times longer than a multiplication. Good programmers avoid division whenever possible ( *0.5 rather than /2 ). Dr. Willis probably knows of the MRI studies of people doing long division. It bogs all brains downnnnn....

Music Specialist

This post will be a great

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This post will be a great tool for me as I create a case for maintaining music specialist time in the elementary schools in our district. The skills that are developed through studying music map well to the development of the pre-frontal cortex. Your descriptions are easy to understand and yet complex enough to provide a firm foundation for my arguments.

Thank you

higher education

Times change, so does learning

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The way you explain the function of the brain in learning is just so clear and I think you did a great job doing it. Just as you mention, students today need more than just to be taught to pass standardized tests. In the past, the body of knowledge was simple because life was much simpler. Nowadays with technological advances, the body of knowledge has grown so rapidly that is just out of control. Everyone has access to information and there is just no balance or parameters to guide this quick grow of data. Education in general was enclosed in a curriculum, now it is hard to select which knowledge should be included in the curriculum.

Another aspect of education that has evolved is the way we approach learning. There are many ways of learning and everyone has their own favorite style. But just as we need to remember that just as there are various ways of learning, the way the learning material is presented has a lot of pertinence because it determines the effectiveness of the learning experience. For example, Cruey (2008) explains how learning has changed in the 21st century where elements such as the core subjects, the learning skills, the learning tools, the learning content and context, and the assessment have shifted dramatically to redefine how people approach learning. Knowing this information would make you think that education would move along with these trends to become more effective, but the reality is that some of us are still teaching to pass standardized tests, instead of higher thinking skills such as problem solving skills or executive functions just as you mentioned in your article. Based on this reality, we can conclude that there is a type of irony in education today. I believe that educational experts such as instructional designers, teachers, etc., should be up to date in the latest research; as for example, neuroscience. This will definitely increase their knowledge in the effective teaching and learning practices that will aid in the effort to move the education forward and sequentially the society. So, as times change, so does education and so do we as educators.

References:
Curey, G. (2008). 21st century learning focus. Retrieved from http://www.suite101.com/content/21st-century-learnings-focus-a42016

Technical training supervisor for a semiconductor company in USA

Combine exectutive skills with test preparation

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Hi Dr. Willis, thanks for the great article. I enjoyed your explanation of the brain functions in learning. In the beginning of the section called Model Metacognition Development Yourself you issue a challenging statement for all public school teachers when you say

"Planning learning opportunities to activate executive function often means going beyond the curriculum provided in textbooks. This is a hefty burden when you are also under the mandate of teaching a body of information that exceeds the time needed for successful mental manipulation."

This statement follows a section where you explain several exercises that can be used to develop metacognition in young learners. Many of the tasks you identify to build metacognition could be employed by the teacher to teach the children how to learn the topics included in the standardized tests. It is clear that standardized testing is not going to stop any time soon, so perhaps teachers could use the testing materials as the basis for developing executive learning skills.

Could the teachers create learning scenarios where the students tackle problems that are directly related to the standardized testing materials? If the teachers know that the students need to know about square roots, couldn't they teach the students how to plan to learn square roots also? Couldn't the students also learn the inverse of a square root as a means to analyze their square root calculations? Then couldn't the analyses lead to discussions about where the concept of squaring was developed which could lead on to further discussions. The children might even learn to like square roots. There would still be a need for rote memorization, but there is also opportunity for experimentation.

I am not suggesting that this is a task that individual teachers should feel the need to undertake. The body of educators as a whole should take on the challenge of building higher level thinking skills into the everyday student curriculum. If we have standardized tests then we may want to try to institute standardized curriculum. If we know that standardized testing calls for X, Y, and Z then we should seek to incorporate higher learning practices into learning X, Y, and Z so that all students will understand on the highest possible levels.

This may be a perfect place to find synergy between two apparently competing ideas; higher level thinking and standardized testing.

I love your book, "Learning to love Math"

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I am so inspired. This book makes so much sense. I originally bought it for a math teacher who is struggling with students struggling with him. I couldn't put it down and started underlining. He will have to wait!
It explains in Appendix B: Brain Owner's Manual clear enough language I can teach to my students. I will be developing some lessons this summer. I would love to hear how you present the brain to your middle school math students.

Elementary Literacy Specialist and Title I Teacher

Awesome. That helps so much!

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Awesome. That helps so much! Thank you for sharing!

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