Sunday, November 11, 2007

Chemistry of Knowledge (seminar Goethe Institut part 2)

Strategies for better learning -Mrs Xanthos’ lecture
(I tried to make a summary of both the lecture and the text in English, please forgive me if I haven’t mentioned everything)

1. Early beginning and autonomy in learning. Research has proven that children can “absorb” grammar structures at a very young age. Contrary ro Pages’ theories, small children can learn if they can participate in activities and if they have fun. The brain releases dopamine and the feeling of enthusiasm and this way the children’s demand for learning is increasing

2. Learning demands hard work. Thinking makes people use 18% of daily calorie- consumption, in children it is up to 50%. The brain “asks itself” if it is worth taking up so much energy for learning. Therefore, new knowledge should be presented in an interesting and playful way.

3. New items should be presented with variety. Not all things are the same; the brain “throws away” whatever seems “unnecessary” or not interesting. Students should be made curious, so that they can “open” their brain-drawers and make associations.

4. Sometimes, learning development comes to a halt. Teachers should not pressure children with more new structures and vocabulary. They should provide a relaxed learning environment and try to review the already taught materials through games.

5. Children should learn to connect what they have learned with positive emotions and be motivated with various projects, like theater, films, class exhibitions, visits to libraries etc.

6. Parents should control the time children spend in front of TV and computer. Children get a lot of unnecessary information and limit the space for things they have learned in their brain-drawers. Sleep deficiency can also cause the same results.

7. Pupils shouldn’t be afraid to make mistakes. Through repetition they eventually learn the correct structures. A child’s brain develops through the experiences of success and failure. If teachers correct mistakes all the time, it becomes a negative experience for the child and deters it from learning.
8. Class management is very important. Rules and feedback should be expressed immediately and not in the end of the school year. When children follow the same “rituals”, it is easier for their brain to construct stable images of the outside world. Teacher’s language should also be clear.
9. During the lesson a good combination of lesson forms is necessary. Group work and pair work enables pupils to work without feeling pressured.

10. A good teacher should have knowledge in the methodology of their field. They should identify their weaknesses (by asking feedback from other teachers and students). Enthusiasm and love for what you do is always a “Plus” in your professional development.

The lecture ended with some very useful brain gymnastic techniques.

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