ISSUE: Do recent discoveries about the brain and its development have implications for classroom practice?

NOTE ON THE USE OF MEDIA: You are free to use any media you wish in these controversies. For example, wordpress will let you type in text, or embed videos, pictures, or sound. For those interested in multi-media embedding in your posts, we recommend the use of the Viewpoint website (developed at MSU) to easily record and embed audio and video.



READ BACKGROUND MATERIALS
(Instructions)

Abbeduto, L., & Symons, F. (2008) Should schools embrace computers and technology? In: Taking sides: Clashing views on controversial issues in educational psychology (pp. 363 – 381). New York: McGraw Hill. (Pro position reading, Con position reading)

[NOTE: The chapter has two parts, a "Yes" and a "No" side of the controversy. Each of you is only given one side to read for this part of the assignment (randomly assigned). The course website is "aware" of this assignment, and automatically provides the correct side of the issue for you to read. Thus, only read the part assigned to you through your login to the course website, and not somebody else's login, or through sharing readings with someone else.]


PREPARE AN OPENING ARGUMENT
(Instructions)

Work with the following people to develop the PRO position:

Develop your opening argument here: [Click here to edit that position]

Should Brain Science Affect Pedagogy and Practice? Given the advancement of medical technologies such as MRI and PET, what we know about the way the brain functions has increased exponentially in the last 30-40 years. We now know the structure of the brain is not set at birth.  We understand much more about the time lines of brain development and interrelatedness of portions of the brain in domains such as language acquisition, motor skill development, cognition, and emotional response and regulation.  We also know that areas of related, repeated exposures become strong and fixed, while other synapses are pruned.  Should not this knowledge be applied to the formal educational setting?  Do not students deserve programming informed by research that nurtures and enhances cognitive development and processing? In her position piece, Hardiman profiles the Dimensions of Learning Model of Roland Park Elementary/Middle School.  Focus on these five dimensions addressing higher-order thinking skills has created engaging experiences for students and increased the school’s scores on state assessment exams for the past 16 years.  The dimensions consist of attitude, knowledge acquisition, high-order information processing, application, and personal mental habits.  Examples of how brain science informs the dimensions and related practice are outlined below. We understand that attitudes and perceptions can enhance learning, just as they can detract from it in times of duress.  Roland teachers provide a challenging, yet supportive environment, encouraging prosocial behaviors and connecting emotions with learning for easier recall, which is also referred to as state dependent memory.  We also recognize that [...More...]


<< Read & Comment >>

The following group will develop the CON position:

Their opening argument is:


Controversy4 Prep4

 

Their opening argument is:


 CON Position (Lawrence Bruce and Karen Bedell) Controversy Opening Argument: Do Recent Discoveries about the Brain and its Development have Implications for Classroom Practice? Our position is that, despite well-publicized reports in the media that researchers have pinpointed the brain structures required for reading, the reports are gross exaggerations used to pass legislation and popularize politicians.  Furthermore, the idea that poor readers have a “brain glitch” which can be remedied by reading programs, is based on so-called research lacking an empirical basis.  This argument and the resulting “solution” apply unproven labels to a large number of children, promote instruction with no promise for a solution, and generate or add to the false and cruel expectations that parents hold for their children. The research of Sally Shaywitz and Reid Lyon claims that fMRI color scans yield information about “reading”.  In reality, the “reading” tasks used in their research are more or less exercises in recognizing simple sounds and phonological awareness.  They claim that a universal consensus agrees that mastering phonological awareness is the first building block of the reading sequence.  Furthermore, they say reading disabilities reflect a “deficit” in this “lower level component”.  The truth is, many argue against the building block model and call for a global comprehension of the bigger literacy picture, including such issues as children’s backgrounds, interests, problem-solving approaches and comprehension, and the impact of environmental and cognitive processes on motivation and self-efficacy.  Granted, their research may tell us something about reading and decoding, but does [...More...]


<< Read & Comment >>
ENGAGE IN OPEN DEBATE
(Instructions)

Using the technology of your choice, engage in an open debate about the topic with your assigned partner.

PRO VS CON

 

 

 


REVERSE PERSPECTIVES
(Instructions)

You should now switch perspectives, and offer your best understanding of the CON position (no copy-pasting):

Develop your perspective reversal statement here: [Click here to edit that position]

My understanding of your position is that reading is not a linear, step-by-step process.  It is a very complex process that involves the construction and reconstruction of extensive neural networks that are individualized to the experience.  As reading skill improves, brain activity changes.  There are a multitude of social, emotional, and motivational factors that impact the learning and reading process.  Any research findings that suggest otherwise can be traced back to invalid empirical bases. To determine that there is one best approach that should maximize student learning and reading processes is a classic case of oversimplification that fails the educational system, and the students in it, and generates dangerous implications impacting educational legislation. These unfounded claims lead parents and educators to believe that children with reading challenges have brain dysfunctions that can be corrected through remediation programs and leave these children with a sense of failure, inadequacy, and helplessness.


<< Read & Comment >>

Your debate partner will also switch perspectives, and develop their best understanding of the PRO position:

Their perspective reversal statement is:


My summary of the Pro position. Part #4 of the Fourth Controversy Should Brain Science Affect Pedagogy and Practice? Recent technological advances in brain imaging have provided an increased understanding of the interconnectedness between brain functions such as language acquisition, motor development and emotional responses. Research indicates that repeated synapses become stronger, while unused ones eventually die. One school in New York has experienced increases in standardized test scores after implementing a philosophy which emphasizes challenging but supportive experiences based on what is known about the brain and brain plasticity.  Educators use repetition, multi sensory activities and connections to prior knowledge to optimize neural pathways within a pro-social environment. The Pro position offers that activities which pair the motor cortex and the frontal lobe facilitate memory and learning; therefore, experiential, problem-solving tasks should be incorporated as much as possible. Additionally, students who develop self-regulation skills such as metacognition are more likely to be successful in school than students who do not. Therefore, teachers can encourage reflection through individual and collaborative events. Information on brain functioning is of significant importance to students experiencing learning difficulties.


<< Read & Comment >>

REACH CONSENSUS
(Instructions)

Work with your debate partner to develop a consensus statement between 125 and 250 words

Develop your consensus statement here: [Click here to edit that position]

Consensus Statement? Reading is not a linear, step-by-step process.  It is very complex, involving the construction and reconstruction of extensive neural networks that are individualized to the experience.  As reading skill improves, brain activity changes.  There are a multitude of social, emotional, and motivational factors that impact the process.  To determine that there is one best approach that should maximize student learning and reading processes is a classic case of oversimplification that fails the educational system, and the students in it, and generates dangerous implications impacting educational legislation.  Though recent technological advances in brain imaging are not able to pinpoint specific networking patterns for ideal functionality, they have provided an increased understanding of the interconnectedness between functions such as language acquisition, motor development and emotional responses.  Research also indicates that repeated exposures strengthen synapses.  We must adopt educational approaches that use repetition, multi-sensory activities, and connections to prior knowledge to optimize synapse mapping and capitalize on what we do know about the intricate functioning of the brain.  We should also emphasize experiential activities and problem-solving to facilitate learning and memory connections between the motor cortex and the frontal lobe.  Additionally, we should encourage self-regulation and collaborative activities to build an emotionally and socially supportive environment for learning.  These approaches combined will best appeal to the multifaceted nature of brain development and its impact on learning.


<< Read & Comment >>

Leave your response!

You must be logged in to post a comment.