Terri on children learning differently

This is amazing — I’ve never imagined “score scatter” (or score divergence, I guess) like this was even possible. (Though it does make me wonder about Andrew, whether he has some kind of crazy divergence in capacities that no one has been able to measure.)

Plus a child learning phonics at 2 — also amazing !

How do these things happen?

Terri W describes her children’s learning:

I have one child who is basically a hyperlexic pattern matcher extraordinaire — one of the ones who works out the phonics for themselves around age 2, just by being read to.

And the other one has profound dyslexia, and had to be explicitly trained, four hours a day, five days a week, that symbols stood for sounds. (A particularly high IQ kid, too. The vocabulary portion of the test was 98th percentile, the decoding was 1st percentile.)

Five years and six digits into Lindamood Bell later, he can read almost to grade level, but still with difficulty. But if you didn’t already know before you met him, he’d mostly pass as a sort of crappyish student. (Can only barely memorize facts, mis-orders or forgets instructions, the continued painful reading). On the other hand, he’ll understand the narrative and the themes and ask you questions that’ll blow your mind.

So, dyslexia truly is a different way of learning, and scans have shown that different areas of the brain light up when they’re thinking/doing tasks.

But that’s usually not what they’re talking about when they talk about learning styles for students.

Do all children learn differently?

1. No, they don’t

First of all, I agree with Emily Hanford’s tweet: our brains are much more similar than different.

The way I think about this is to ask myself whether evolution would be likely to create many, many millions of creatures who all, every last one of them, learn differently. 

Do all goats learn differently?

Do all birds learn differently?

All fish?

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Giving students the language of language

Katie and I gave a talk at the ATEG conference weekend before last. 

One of the presenters made the point that most anti-grammar advocates don’t actually oppose teaching students grammatical correctness in written English.

What they really oppose is teaching students the names of grammatical concepts. They’re against teaching labels. 

But, she said, when you refuse to teach labels, you deny students the language of language.

To underline the point, she and her co-presenter acted out an extended dialogue in which the only nouns were “thing” or, alternatively, “things.” It was pretty funny. Completely incomprehensible, but funny.

This reminds me of a friend of mine, who was talking about having a hard time, as she gets older, remembering what things are called. It drives her college-age son nuts, she said. 

“It’s not a doohickey, Mom!”

She hears that a lot.

I said He should just be grateful you didn’t say thingamajig.

Or thingamabob, even worse.

Half the time the opposition to teaching knowledge amounts to no more than an opposition to teaching vocabulary.  

I don’t get that.

People learn vocabulary fast. In fact, vocabulary learning is the one area where adult L2 learners excel. (I’ll find a source for that & post…)

All these people lobbying against teaching content …. they seem never to notice that in real life it’s not fun, not knowing the names of things. 

Not knowing, or not remembering. Either one.

The most important research on learning I’ve read

Someone has posted it on line, so here it is !

Deferred Feedback Sharply Dissociates Implicit and Explicit Category Learning
J. David Smith, Joseph Boomer, Alexandria C. Zakrzewski, Jessica L. Roeder, Barbara A. Church, and F. Gregory Ashby  Psychological Science 2014, Vol. 25(2) 447-457

I’ve been mulling this article since the summer of 2014, when it was published. It’s life altering.

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Babadum and “decontextualized learning”

I’ve just found this site today — it’s amazing.

I’m not ready for it, but a couple of months from now — look out !

That said, I should probably add that I have no idea how it works, or whether it has a spaced-repetition algorithm. 

Still, the images are so much fun that the site’s ability to hold my interest is enough to make me use it.
~

Decontextualized learning

I mentioned the other day that I’m using 3 language apps: Duolingo, Lingvist, and now Memrise, too. Eventually I’ll get around to Glossika (because John McWhorter likes it), though maybe not till I’m putting more time into Spanish.

And, of course, one of these days I’ll actually use Gabriel Wyner’s Pronunciation Trainers, which I should have done before I did anything else, but didn’t.

I bought them.

I didn’t use them.

Because Anki.

One day I will be an Anki person, but that day is not this day. (Wyner has an app coming out in August, so, yes, I will be adding another app to the queue.)

Anyway, my thinking in fanning out among apps was that I didn’t want the words I learned to be stuck inside Duolingo. I wanted them to generalize to the real world.

I don’t know whether failure-to-generalize is a real concern, but I did find an interesting passage on decontextualized vocab learning in Paul Nation’s What do you need to know to learn a foreign language?

The most important deliberate learning activity is using word cards …. You need to take control of this very effective activity and keep using it to learn new vocabulary and even more importantly to keep revising previously met vocabulary. You may find that some teachers advise against using this strategy largely because of the belief that all vocabulary learning needs to occur in context. They are wrong. It is important that there is vocabulary learning in context through meaning-focused input, meaning-focused output, and fluency development, but it is also important that there is deliberate decontextualised learning through the use of word cards, because such learning is very efficient and effective. Some people also believe that because word card learning involves first language translation, it encourages thinking in the first language rather than the foreign language. Research however has shown that in the beginning and intermediate stages of language learning the first and foreign languages are unavoidably stored together. Using bilingual word cards is a very effective deliberate learning strategy that you should use.