Thursday, March 24, 2011

Sharpen Your Problem-Solving Skill

Our work world is becoming ever more complex as we work in teams and problem-solve continuing workplace issues. Even our personal lives are complex. In facing problems, it is baffling why some of us can see them coming, and can diffuse them off, while others stay mired in a constant web of distress.

Although we avoid looking for trouble, we often wish we could be better at avoiding it before they appear as full-blown issues that we must cope with.

Unfortunately, we can stay locked into an analytical mode, do not recognize situational patterns, and miss the point. We become so engrossed with scrutinizing details that we fail to see the big picture. Missing clues that are obvious to others, we stumble along.

Concurrently, this is detrimental to our image and future as we can become pigeonholed at a particular skill level in our work.

It all boils down to having an ability to intuitively spot patterns going amiss with our work and daily life situations. How can we do this?

We need to reflect and understand our own mental machine and our information processing capability. It lies in our ability to encode right-brain patterns quickly and then recognize tell-tale signs of irregularities. This is referred to how "we see into situations," or “getting it,” and you probably know if you are adept in this area.

What can we do to see into situations with their web of inherent difficulties? We can become aware of insightful patterns and improve our encoding ability for spotting pattern breaks which alerts us that something is amiss.

What is a pattern break?

A “pattern break” is something different in routine thoughts, body language, wording, speech, routines, actions, individual’s appearances, or expressions. When you see something differently than expected, or out of the norm, you must become aware of your insightful realizations, and put yourself on “alert,” and react accordingly.

Avoiding Problems at Work: Observe the team members you work with. What are their attitudes, values, and hidden agendas? Are they sincere? What does their body language indicate? Do they appear positive and offer honest opinions? Are their contributions valuable to the project? Or, are they convoluted and too complex to be practical? Will their input create complications?

What are the drawbacks?

Do you see their work favorably, creatively, with an open mind? How does the team compliment each other in terms of work quality and input? How will I react to an impending obstacle? Will I remain level headed, as I notice irregularities? Can I systematically solve them by smoothing out the missing links?

Avoiding Problems at Home, ask yourself: Am I taking time to participate and listen to family members? Do I spend too much time "in my own world?" When I see a bad situation, can I work through it systematically, noting the attitude and reaction along the way? Do I hastily react, creating a deeper abyss of trouble? Am I willing to compromise and work the problem out before it intensifies?

Avoiding your Personal Problems, ask yourself: Do I continuously make the same mistakes, because I do not recognize self-destructive patterns? If I do recognize them, am I unwilling to change the pattern because it has become a habit (like smoking or drinking alcohol excessively)?

How to practice and speed up your encoding of patterns:

1. Learn a foreign language -- practice new vocabulary words with a tape recorder as a response system. Speaking creates sound patterns that activate the brain.

2. Learn to play a new musical instrument. Musical notes are symbolic patterns. Reading music involves rapidly encoding notes while scanning the measures and phrasing. It is excellent brain exercise.

3. Try repairing or installing something mechanical. Note the design or maintenance patterns. Many of us dislike and avoid reading technical manuals. However, noting technical patterns, as on Smart Phones, is good encoding practice.

Becoming aware of the evolving patterns in our world will keep us sensitive to things that are out of kilter and which create problems that we can do without.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Jan's Brainy Insight: Blended e-Learning to the Rescue - 6 Available Models

Jan's Brainy Insight: Blended e-Learning to the Rescue - 6 Available Models: ""

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blended e-Learning to the Rescue - 6 Available Models

By Jan Kuyper Erland

Today's students eagerly welcome new virtual educational approaches, as new information is readily at their fingertips. To complement the vast amount of available curricula, even the high average and overly bright students can upgrade their cognitive skills beyond imaginable depths. Now, we can move forward without hesitation.

For slower students, the typical solution was in-classroom or pull out tutorial assistance of daily assignments. Teachers, not knowing how to implement advanced instructional strategies, remained instructing within this inefficient model. In many cases, teachers feared additional, cumbersome work in learning and implementing new methodologies.

In-class time remain at a premium. Tight budgets prevent ordering instructional materials. Even though grant and State monies pave the way, test scores stagnated.

Years of often poor and limited instructional content and video production on CDs-DVD's, hindered streamlined, high impact education. High tech-quality instruction will now make a difference for both the teacher and now “Screenager” student to achieve quality education meeting State policy Common Core Standards.

Now, the internet booms with educational innovation, paving its way into the emerging high-tech classroom. Teachers will no longer have to learn new methodologies, because Blended e-Learning will do it for them. Interactivity between the student and online lab will be key. Various forms of student engagement practice exist to interface with virtual learning.

A recent article (January 2011) by Horn and Staker of Innosight Institute, reviewed the current six available classroom Blended e-Learning models to relieve the teacher by offering new insights, and recharge all students to higher academic performance levels:

Model 1: Face-to-Face Driver; Supplemental Assistance
The physical teacher deploys online learning on a case-by-case basis to supplement or remediate, often in the back of the classroom in a study carrel, or in a technology lab.

Model 2: Student Rotation on a Fixed Schedule; Remote and Onsite – Teacher in Charge
Students rotate on a fixed schedule between online self-paced learning and sitting in a classroom with a traditional face-to-face teacher. The classroom teacher usually oversees the online work.

Model 3: Flex, as Needed, for Dropout - and Credit Recovery Programs
Flex model programs feature an online platform that delivers most of the curricula. Teachers provide on-site support on a flexible and adaptive as-needed basis through in-person tutoring sessions and small group sessions.

Model 4: Online Learning Lab Delivers the Entire Course in the Classroom
The online-lab model characterizes programs that rely on an online platform
to deliver the entire course but in a brick-and-mortar lab environment. Usually these programs provide online teachers. Paraprofessionals supervise, but offer little content expertise. Often students that participate in an online-lab program also take traditional courses and have typical block schedules.

Model 5: Self-Blend; High School Students Enroll in Online Courses
Blended learning among American high schools is the self-blend model, which encompasses any time students choose to take one or more courses online to supplement their traditional school’s catalog. The online learning is always remote, which distinguishes it from the online-lab model, but the traditional learning is in a brick-and-mortar school. All supplemental online schools that offer a la carte courses to individual students facilitate self-blending.

Model 6: Online Driver Platform and Remote Teacher; Home Schooling Option
The online-driver model involves an online platform and teacher that deliver all curricula. Students work remotely for the most part. Face-to-face check-ins is sometimes optional and other times required. Some of these programs offer brick and-mortar components as well, such as extracurricular activities.

These models have the potential to revolutionize education as we know it, offer excitement and learning nuances to the classroom, while additionally solving the budget crunches and raising student achievement performance scores.

Innosight’s 2011 white papers on Blended e-learning:

Horn, M. B, & Staker, H. (January 2011) The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning. Innosight Institute, Philadelphia, PA.

Clayton M. Christensen, Michael B. Horn, and Curtis W. Johnson, Disrupting Class: How Disruptive Innovation Will Change the Way the World Learns (New York: McGraw-Hill, 2008).

Monday, November 22, 2010

Cognitive Skills’ Outcome-Based Intervention Revealed the Latency Effect for Struggling Learners

Published October 22, 2010 by
The Special Education Advisor

What are the learning pathways? Research tells us that learners absorb new information through the primary sensory visual, auditory, kinesthetic-tactile pathways, (VAKT: Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic-Tactile teaching method, and these entrances must be in working order. They also should optimally function together, or integrate.

One or two pathways may be stronger than the others, and can compete with the weaker ones, creating an out-of-sync learning input structure. Visual processing speed may be faster than a lagging auditory (listening) processing speed, creating a conflict between the two. (Rumelhart & McClelland, 1986). Without auditory-visual integration, (Hessler, 1982) the result is a “slow, inattentive learner” although the student is highly intelligent (Erland, July 1983).

Parents, unaware of the foundational cause of their child’s learning problems, flounder with eliciting expensive tutors, which do some good. Practice “Drill and Skill” software training also helps to some degree, although it is like handing an energizing coke to a runner with a broken leg. Like information processing, the race can not be won until the leg is repaired and mended.

The Role of Cognitive Skills Measurement and Training. Cognitive skills’ retraining of Guilford’s select mental abilities (Guilford, 1984, 1967) can be elected so the student can absorb, learn, understand, and apply new information. Many cognitive skills training programs have been developed by private companies and textbook companies have not absorbed such programs into their product lines. Unfortunately, this sensory integration, or “opening up the learning pathways” should be trained before the child learns basic skills.

Not only does the average parent or young adult learner not understand the relevance of cognitive skills training programs, but locating an efficient one is difficult. Many programs exist, and vary in their testing-measurement, evaluations, and applied methodologies. Those in populated areas may drive miles to obtain training, pay large, ongoing fees for a program that takes years of application to see results. The solution lies in remediating cognitive skills in the classroom, like a teaspoon of sugar to raise student ability levels.

The Latency Effect Revealed. Learning improvement results may not be evident because there is a “Latency Effect” for problem learners to show academic achievement results on national standardized achievement scores. This latency effect was discovered with a two school, eleven classroom experimental, longitudinal study. (Erland, Fall 2000).

Intervention Training Results of Two Fourth Grade Classrooms. I implemented a cognitive skills intervention and measurement study of two classrooms of low-achieving fourth grade parochial school students, (n=44) tracking their test results for the subsequent two years, with minor attrition. (Erland, Fall 2000). The gains can not be attributed to the subsequent teachers’ instruction, because the students were dispersed between three different classes each following year, and their subsequent test scores were reconfigured as the original experimental group. Longitudinal studies are difficult to implement because of transient students. If the students are not present, they can not be subsequently tested.

Most of the students had auditory (listening) weaknesses, and a few had severe visual processing deficits. In other words, they had learning, information processing issues, and their previous the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills (ITBS, Riverside, 2000) low scores reflected this, falling below the norms as individual classrooms (Erland, Fall 2000, table 1, p. 16). If would be a case where the teacher(s) could have been fired. But, they were, in fact, excellent teachers, and willing to apply a promising methodology that would possibly correct these student processing deficiencies.

The results showed a scaled variation of when, and at what point, the student began to “learn new information.” The fourth grade students in two classes in the ITBS subtests of Reading Comprehension, Math Total, Math Problems, Spelling, language, and Science (Erland, Fall 2000, pp. 32-34) revealed not only some immediate results, but also indicated a range of marked learning growth over a two-years of post-testing standardized measurements.

There was strong change for many at the one-year longitudinal point, and another group showed gains the second year following the intervention. This indicates that once the information sensory pathways are opened, the student can then begin understanding and applying classroom instruction. (Erland, Fall 2000)

Academic Achievement Results Now Expected. School administrators and districts are now increasingly demanding outcome-based academic achievement results. Unfortunately, the pressure is applied to the teacher, who may not have the necessary intervention tools at her fingertips. It is difficult to teach an entire classroom, where many of the students have info processing blockages, and can not, and subsequently do not, attend to instruction.

Administrators and school districts, eager to show academic achievement improvement, should recognize the problematical slow learner-latency effect even having strong classroom instructional input by the teacher. They also might consider accepting and adopting effective cognitive skill programs as a helpful classroom tool to raise the proficiency learning levels of the students. This would systematically raise achievement test scores without resorting to “teaching how to take the test,” which replaces hours of valuable classroom instructional-skills-learning time.

Classroom Partnered Learning. Consequently, with a room with many learning problems, teachers often resort to small group “partnering teams” in a differentiated classroom, where the slow learner copies the information from the more adept processing student leader. Unfortunately, the struggling student is not “learning”, but merely completing an assignment, to receive a grade, which will be an A or B to appease the parent. This student is subsequently, “passed through the system” with perhaps a limited career future.

Response To Intervention. Once students understand the teacher’s classroom instruction, it can be then applied; although this changing-evolutional process may be immediate or take one-two years. But, even with this latency effect, it is important that gains can be made by even the most problematical learner, rather than minimally or not at all, and then firing the teacher.

Erland, J. K. (Fall, 2000). Brain-Based accelerated learning longitudinal study revealed subsequent high academic achievement gain for low-achieving, low-cognitive skill fourth grade students. The Journal of Accelerated Learning and Teaching, 25, (3&4).

Erland, J. K. (July 1983). Methods and techniques of Cognitive Behavior Modification for accelerating both visual and auditory memory in learning disabled adolescents and young adult through inter-hemispheric specialization strategies. An instructional workshop session and manuscript.

Guilford, J. P. (1984). An odyssey of the SOI model: An autobiography of Dr. J. P. Guilford. Tokyo: Japan Head Office International Society For Intelligence Education.

Guilford, J. P. (1967). The nature of human intelligence. New York: McGraw Hill.

Hessler, G. (1982). Use and interpretation of the Woodcock-Johnson psycho-educational battery. Hingham, MA: Teaching Resources.

Riverside 2000. (1994). Iowa Tests of Basic Skills Integrated Assessment Program, Technical Summary I. Chicago, IL: The Riverside Publishing Co.(a subsidiary of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt).

Rumelhart, D. E., McClelland, J. and the PDP Research Group. (1986). Parallel distributed processing: Explorations in the micro structure of cognition. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press

VAKT: Visual-Auditory-Kinesthetic-Tactile teaching method,