Literacy


Mind Mapping or Connected or Linking Learning
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz

This teaching method encourages outside the box thinking as well as teamwork. It is essentially
a thinking flow chart that maps ideas and links them in such a way as to enable educators to use integrated lessons and build upon previous learning. The creation represents the ideas of individuals and is arranged around a common theme or word. This method can be used to generate new thinking as well as cover all levels of Bloom’s taxonomy from listing to analyzing. An exceptional tool to start a lesson and to bring students into the mix.

Note: I should note that Tony Buzan has the trademark and is credited with starting mind mapping. However, I called it “linking learning” and was doing this in my classroom in the 1960s. Unfortunately, I was busy in the classroom and did not have the foresight or skill to share and publish it.

The most important part of this approach is that it allows the student to make connections more easily and relate a great many facts to one word. Users can see data from a variety of viewpoints and make connections that go far beyond what the teacher may add as they bring their own knowledge to the table.

Mind mapping enables them to see knowledge in a visual manner and allows them to organize data more easily. Remember not to be too specific when you start out and have students do this in group work is excellent and promotes thinking and sharing.

It is advantageous to use the board to provide examples of this method. Writing a dog on the board and ask students to voice ideas about what could be linked to that noun. The results could be as simple as breeds to relatives to equipment to movies. Now point to one word and ask how that relates to the others. In very little time they will make the “connections” and be able to link it to other learnings, even those in other subject areas.

To start the individuals on a project at a basic level you can use a family tree and have the students add the names of their closest relatives or those they are living with. Next, they add a detail about each one. After a few minutes, they will be adding more data. Next, ask them to make connections based on where they live, hobbies, jobs, etc. When they finish they will have compiled a basic connection of mind mapping paper. The users are now ready to write about what they learned.

I highly recommend you take a look at the resources listed and try to make one yourself before taking it to the class. It is especially effective in dealing with students and pocess limited writing skills as it helps them build their sentences step-by-step. It also enables students to see the materials using images that are easier for many of them to make connections. The use of color as well helps students track ideas. A real plus is that this connections strategy also helps improve recall/memory.

An explanation
http://www.mindomo.com/help/mind-mapping.htm

A basic site for using mind mapping.
http://litemind.com/what-is-mind-mapping/

How to use Coggle video
This is similar to mind mapping.

A video on various mind mapping tools with several examples. A good starting point.
http://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/newISS_01.htm

Top 30 Free Mind Mapping Tools
http://open-tube.com/top-12-best-free-mind-mapping-tools-2/

Freemind download site
As Coggle, this resource makes creating maps easy.
http://freemind.sourceforge.net/wiki/index.php/Main_Page

A huge selection of mind mapping images.
http://www.google.com/search?q=mind+mapping&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=ww2sUabCH6GFiAK4_IDYBg&sqi=2&ved=0CFEQsAQ&biw=1680&bih=824

Basic starter site
http://www.mindmapping.com/

YouTube videos on the subject
Some of these are well done and others are
https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=mind+mapping

Libraries: The Heart of the School is Disappearing
by
Alan Haskvitz
http://www.edu-cyberpg.com/Ringleaders/al.html

According to recent research, the library and a qualified librarian can directly help in the improvement of student reading levels. Add to that the Common Core requirements for additional reading and writing using a variety of sources and you a clear cut case to keep the library at the heart of the school.

With cutbacks centered on libraraisn and libraries in many states, the reserch from Colorado and Pennsylvania makes it clear that the most important factor, outside of the classroom, was having a full-time librarian and this was particularly true at facilities that deal with groups that have low-income students as well as those with reading problems.

Unfortunatley, this research has not been enough to motivate some districts where funding is sparse. For example, in Los Angeles Unified School District half of the elementary and middle schools don’t have a librarian and in New York only half of the high schools have a librarian.

This map shows how far reaching the lack of funding for libraries goes. Some of the sites noted portray a dismal picture and is a must visit for teachers and parents.
https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=117551670433142326244.000482bb91ce51be5802b&dg=feature

On the other hand, this site shows how much money a library and technology center can save
http://www.maine.gov/msl/libs/advocacy/savings.htm

Resources for Librarians and teachers
Excellent list from everything from lesson plans to book publishers
http://www.sldirectory.com/

Outdated School Libraries:
What Can You Do to Update Yours?
Where to look for grants and how to make over existing libraries.
http://www.educationworld.com/a_admin/admin/admin181.shtml

Using vehicles to create student interest in math and Language Arts
by National Hall of Fame Teacher Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Using vehicles is an excellent way to motivate students and to help ready them for real life buying decisions. The following links deal with the various manufactures where students can write for information, obtain pricing information and to harvest compare and contrast data for Common Core related essays.

A listing of all DMV offices.
Finding the office that deals with your state and others can provide information on how old one needs to be to drive as well as the various license fee data that could be used for Common Core math problems. I have used driver manuals to motivate students to read.
http://www.dmv.org/

Data on fuel economy
This federal site would enable students to select a variety of vehicles and there fuel mileage. This could be used for math as well as to provide statistics for an essay on the best or worst type of vehicles in terms of fuel costs.
http://www.fueleconomy.gov/

A link site to manufacturers who sell cars in America
http://search.ezilon.com/united_states/business/automotive/auto_manufacturers/

A listing of vehicle websites worldwide
http://autopedia.com/html/MfgSites.html

National Motorists Association
A great source of information on driving and the law.
http://www.motorists.org/

A listing of car value prices
A good place to find statistics for math problems about the prices of cars and motorcycles.
http://www.nadaguides.com/

Where cars are made by location
Great way to teach geography.
http://www.caranddriver.com/features/a-graphic-representation-of-whats-really-made-in-america-feature

Online Educational Games
by National Hall of Fame Educator Alan Haskvitz
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Haskvitz

Games are an interesting way to teach concepts and provide rigor. They also enable early finishers to challenge themselves. Here are a few of the better sites.

146 Educational Games
http://mrnussbaum.com/educational-games-for-kids/

English and Mathematics
You need to registr
http://www.education.com/games/educational/

Alpahabet Related Lessons
http://www.apples4theteacher.com/coloring-pages/interactive-alphabet/

Games and Puzzles by Subject Matter
http://www.theproblemsite.com/games/

Primary Level Games
http://www.abcya.com/

FunBrain.com
Very popular site with a lot of content
http://www.funbrain.com/kidscenter.html

Mixed Subject Matter
http://www.knowledgeadventure.com/

Quiz Hub
K-12 online games revolving around subject areas
http://quizhub.com/quiz/quizhub.cfm

Math and English Games
http://www.syvum.com/online/games.html

Huge link site using apps
http://www.techlearning.com/default.aspx?tabid=100&entryid=7263

Educational Web Adventures

Science related links by topic, grade level
http://www.eduweb.com/portfolio/portfolio.php

Science and wildlife oriented.
http://www.eduweb.com/portfolio/portfolio.php

Math and English remedial work lists
Good for review
http://webster.commnet.edu/grammar/quiz_list.htm
Math related games
http://www.cut-the-knot.org/index.shtml

Sophisticated science games — mainly physics
“This site contains interactive plasma physics topics, ranging from electricity, magnetism, energy, and fusion. Please visit the “Virtual Tokamak” and our “Virtual Magnetic Stability Module” to learn about Plasma and Fusion Containment. “
http://ippex.pppl.gov/

NLVM for Interactive Mathematics
Terrific interactive math site with great learning activities — this is a must visit.

Fun, Joy and Flow: The Unloved Words in Education
by National Hall of Fame teacher Alan Haskvitz
http://www.findingdulcinea.com/features/profiles/h/alan-haskvitz.html

There is little doubt that fun and education standards are mutually exclusive terms. The demands for teachers to produce students with higher test standards is universal. Indeed, Common Core is built on that premise. Better marks mean better students. Better students mean a richer nation. All this is well and good for some, but the real keys to student learning are three fold. First, the goal should be to teach the students how to learn. Secondly, to develop questioning skills and thus create citizens not easily swayed by propaganda, false advertising, and the cult of looks or personality. Finally, to promote a joy and love of learning.

Acres of forests land has been denuded to produce research on how students should learn. Everything from the types of learning to testing to insure learning to classifications for those who don’t learn well have been documented. Critical thinking is the common core of Common Core. Despite research that points out that brain growth in children would make critical thinking next to impossible for younger children. Regardless, it is always good to get students to ponder.

What I am rallying for is to retain, promote, and insist upon keeping the fun in education, and I don’t mean having class parties. Fun is the real backbone of learning. It does not have to be formal or take the form of a computer game. What it does have to have is for the ability of the child to be able to learn creatively in a manner that creates a flow or zone learning opportunities.

Brain research has shown that long term memory can be enhanced by fun activities. Many of you readers can’t remember a teacher’s name, but the field trip stays with you. Judy Willis writes that the fun of having students discover the answer encourages enthusiasm for the subject. I have often seen teachers use a “sponge” activity to start a lesson, but not many were imbued with fun. When I teach my students mnemonic devises I stress silly ones. They retain them better and are eager to share ones that they have created with others. Having students apply their learning skills trying to write out a line or two from a short story that would show the character was using propaganda and having them share it makes students more eager to read the story and research the types of propaganda that could be used in the created passage. This type of fun activity makes for a positive emotional state and the personalization of the material wakes up the student. Such fun based learning activities also reduce stress and high levels of stress can actually reduce the size of the hippocampus and thus impair memory. You can easily see that when an unsure student is asked a question and “freezes.”

Fun makes learning relevant to students. It is no longer a meaningless event, but one in which they enjoy putting their personal stamp on and sharing it with others thus building cooperation. By no means does that mean that every lesson must be fun reliant, but it does mean that having fun activities, as almost all teachers know, creates a better atmosphere for learning. Creativity surges during play related activities and makes the lessons more pleasurable and stimulating.
The fun lessons could extend to all classes and to assignments at home. For example, the student could read about a character in history and explain it to his parent or guardian and have them write a note explaining why this historical person was absent from class. Sure, the answers might be simple: I am dead. But the lesson about the person should be long lasting for all involved. And asking the students to share could bring about additional learning possibilities.

Having fun and working do not have to be opposites in the classroom or in life. Someone in charge, or a rich person who thinks being rich qualifies him or her to influence decisions about education, should be given a remedial class on the benefits of play on the human body and mind and learning. Why not have students create their own games for physical education classes? In science class how about having students studying the periodic element table create comic books about their element? In Language Arts class use https://www.awesomestories.com/asset/view/For-Teachers-Awesome-Stories-101 as a sponge activity to enhance the student’s imagination with real life stories.

The point is that having fun in class contributes to the essence of low in learning and can be a positive way to reinforce lessons, encourage learning, and to reduce stress. Every college teaching preparation program should have at least one section on how to make fun lessons. At schools across the country the principal should ask the teachers to share their fun lessons and encourage them to develop new ones. Administration reviews should also include a comment on the flow of the lesson placing the emphasis on the way the students reacted to the lesson and appeared to be motivated by it.

Above all it must be remembered that fun does not mean party time or joke telling. Fun and enjoyment of a lesson must result in learning and offers students intrinsic motivation. It means having some lessons that provide learning in a fun way. University of Chicago professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and found the fun is not easy to define, but he listed some attributes. Among his findings was that there is a difference between pleasure and enjoyment and that the latter is far longer lasting and needs more skill. Enjoyment is relaxing and can result in a situation where time is no longer an element of consideration. Lessons that find the class so involved in a fun learning activity that the end of the period finds them scurrying to find their book bags with some reluctance is something most teachers can relate to and is evidence that a fun lesson need not include laughter.

The bottom line is that learning should provide pleasure regardless of the topic. The motivation must come from within, but the teacher needs to find the lesson that will push this motivation into a product without undue coercion. Preparing for a test by reviewing may result in short term learning, but having the students creating their own questions to give to others makes the learning more enjoyable with a myriad of ways to provide longer lasting retention.
Learn by doing is an excellent way to instill this flow into a lesson. For example, the students read a chapter of a book and teams are chosen to rewrite the chapter from another viewpoint and all of the narration must be written in one syllable words. I have found that the best way to improve flow is to have the students create something tangible to share. It does require higher level thinking skills and thus promotes critical thinking, but for many students the lessons needed to create the item become more ingrained and the experience becomes more pleasurable.

Fun, joy and flow are as related as peanut butter and jam. They go together. Yes, they can be separated, but they aren’t as good. When a student has fun learning it turns to joy and is the best reward of all, intrinsic. That fun and joy result in a flow of pride, enjoyment and appreciation of learning, and long term changes in attitude. Every subject needs to be rethought. Common Core does supply the basics, it is the creative teacher that needs to supply the student centered learning that achieves the goal.

Finally, don’ t reinvent the wheel. There is an abundance of lessons that can be customized to fit your needs after some fine tuning. Sharing what you have done with others also can provide feedback to improve your lesson. Above all, make learning fun even if it figuratively kills your old lessons.

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