Tuesday, January 11, 2011

I was drawn to this book because of the title, Why Don’t Students Like School? In the grade level that I teach, 2nd grade, students love to be at school. That doesn’t always mean they love learning. Most are still excited about learning, but by the middle of the year the students that are struggling with learning start showing signs of not being as excited to be in school. I was hoping the book would help me understand the reasons why they don’t like school. What stands out in my mind most from reading the book is that background knowledge is critical for students to be good thinkers. Students who don’t have many opportunities to build background knowledge before they enter school begin their education are at a disadvantage from those whose families do provide these opportunities. I enjoyed the information on working memory and long-term memory. I talked with my young students the other morning about how reading frequently used words over and over helps put these words into our long-term memory so that we can automatically remember them whenever we read. They appeared to kind of understand what I was trying to tell them. I think if teachers talked more with students about their thinking they would start thinking more about their own thinking. I am sure I will refer to this book in the future. I enjoyed it very much.

Friday, January 7, 2011


The section of the book that stands out to me is the importance of balance between learning facts and comprehension and analysis of those facts. I think it is very important to a history teacher to have that balance. When I went to high school over 20 years ago, the teachers were more about giving the facts and making sure we got through the material. I struggled with this when I got into college and the tests were essay questions asking for my analysis of a time in history. It took a while for me to adapt to this and become a "B" writer. my goal as a history teacher would be to have that balance of making sure that students have the facts of a time in history and class discussions, journal posts, etc. to make sure that students understand why it happened and what effect it had in later years. That means I will not be able to give as much detail as the teachers I had in high school. My students will not have as many notes as I had to take. But, I believe that my students will have a better understanding of history and maybe have a bigger interest in the subject.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Final Reflection

Final Reflection of: Why Don’t Students Like School? By Daniel T. Willingham

The nine principles of the mind discussed in this book re-enforce what we do as teachers. We as teachers need to continue to build upon what we already know, and what the teacher before us has done so we give our students the best possible chance at being successful.

One thing I have always tried to stress and demonstrate in my classroom is a good work ethic and Willingham states in the cognitive principle: Children do differ in intelligence, but intelligence can be changed through sustained hard work. (pg 170) As teachers we need model a good work ethic, show how to gain knowledge by sharing experiences, have focused classroom discussions, teach study skills, and most importantly be persistent in expecting good effort in the classroom and make sure we praise their effort. I tell all my students that I teach and all my athletes that I coach that if you can work hard and put forth the effort you will go a long ways.

I found this book to be a positive experience. It was good to be refreshed with strategies that can be used with all students and in any grade level. It was a good read and made me want to try and improve my teaching each and every day.