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Constructing a Flowchart in Biology

By Amy Wang, V Form

Constructing a Flowchart in Biology

Editor’s Note: The following description of the assignment provided by Ms. Kimberly Berndt, STEM Faculty–

It can be challenging to understand the complex physiological mechanisms and pathways we explore in Biology.  One effective strategy to synthesize, organize, and review information is through visual thinking.  We employ visual thinking in a number of ways.  In this assignment, students were charged with constructing a flowchart to illustrate their current understanding of how carbohydrates are metabolized.

An effective flowchart takes a complex process and simplifies it in a manner that makes the information more accessible.  Flowcharts can be found in many Biology textbooks for this reason.   However, the process of constructing a flowchart can be an even more effective tool for learning.  Constructing a flowchart requires multiple intellectual tasks. (more…)

Penny the Penguin: Parents’ Best Helper!

By Izzy Kim, VI Form

Penny the Penguin: Parents’ Best Helper!

This summer, I attended a tech + business program at MIT called LaunchX, formerly

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 known as MIT Launch. I was admitted as a “hacker,” with my specialities in app development and virtual reality. The ultimate goal of the camp was to create a start-up and pitch the business idea in four weeks. I worked with three other students and together we co-founded Ami. Ami has an ambitious vision of “keeping kids happy and healthy,” and we are taking a first shot at our vision with our pilot product Penny the Penguin. On the outside, Penny might seem like any other penguin plush. Yet, Penny is a kid’s best buddy and the parent’s best helper: Penny can speak parent-crafted messages through a phone-connected bluetooth speaker. Through these messages, children will adopt healthy habits, and parents will find parenting less of a difficulty and more of a joy. Busy parents who accidentally forget to remind kids to “brush their teeth” or “wash their hands” can simply set up a reminder on our accompanying app to have a message played specific times. We tested our products on families living in the greater Boston (more…)

Productivity, Neuroscience, and Deliberate Practice: Deep Work and School (Part 2)

By Dr. Colleen Worrell, Director of the Center for Innovation in Teaching and Learning

Productivity, Neuroscience, and Deliberate Practice: Deep Work and School (Part 2)

With the school year off to a frenetic start, I am returning to the topic of deep work, which I wrote about in LEO last September. My article, “Make Deep Work Your Super Power,” was supposed to be the first in a series of posts that would connect Georgetown Professor Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World to school and learning. “Deep work” is the ability to focus deeply on a challenging task for a specific period of time, blocking out all distractions in order to get stuff done efficiently and well. The fact that I’m writing part 2 of the “series” one year later proves that I have yet to master this skill. Indeed, my failure to build deep work into my own practice is, in part, what motivates this post. (more…)

An Analysis of Alienation: The Natural Estrangement of the Individual

By Cooper Sarafin, VI Form

An Analysis of Alienation: The Natural Estrangement of the Individual

Total Estrangement

Alienation is a natural state of human beings. We are set in an environment that leaves us with a sense of inadequacy and ineptitude and no matter what extent to which we alter our facades and wear a mask of falsity; we will never be able to cross the glass ceiling that is our expectations. From the very moment we are conceived, we are being classified and divided among throngs of opinions, preferences, and expectations. We are expected to live up to this normality of society, the ever prevalent quest to “fit in”. To be amidst the general populace and succeed in a manner relative to the ideas of said society and government that preside over our specific demographic. We are expected to succeed in the realm of capitalism and to move further up this hierarchy and supersede the ranks of the proletariat in turn for the bourgeoisie. We are expected to develop social relationships with everyone we meet and to be liked by them. We are expected to achieve great things and to do what has never been done before. In the aftermath of all this expectation, what is left for us to expect for ourselves other than that which has been told to us? In that we are governed by these (more…)

Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

By John Camp, English Department Head

Redesigning Learning Spaces & Flexible Seating

from The Space: A Guide for Educators (Hare & Dillon, 2016)

As difficult as it may sometimes be to relinquish the manacles of some tradition(s) in education, I have focused on a main mantra when considering change: what is best for students and learning. Thus, driven by this guiding principle and my teaching methods, I decided to pursue a critical trend in 21st-century teaching and learning: the importance of space, flexible seating, and classroom design. The rub, however, was my particular classroom; since I arrived at St. Mark’s in 2008, I have been fortunate to teach in Room 8/Room 136, which historically had been the “Sixth Form Room” until 1995 (read the partner piece to this article on the history of this room here). Hence, making changes to the “seminar” classroom would be bold, as the beginning move would be removing the large, classic seminar classroom table that has been a fixture since 1995. When I teach, I do not often lecture (if at all), and while seminar-esque discussion is a crucial element of my classes, it certainly is not the only element. In all of my classes (VI Form electives “Getting LOST,” “Getting LOST II: The Writers’ Room,” “Rebels with a Cause,” and V Form English class “Books Without Borders”), students work in small and medium groups, write on their own, present to the class, do activities that include movement and interaction, utilize media, collaborate on writing and projects, watch videos/films, brainstorm and note take on the whiteboards, and conference one-on-one with me (see images below for most of these activities in action!). The large oval table was not conducive to quality student learning in these endeavors.  My first stop en route to change was John Warren. (more…)

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Students on Film (in order of appearance): Charlotte Wood, Jenny Deveaux, Joey Smith, Amanda Christie, Josh Loveridge, Gabe Brower, Janelle Carmichael, VI Form

Video Oral Arguments: Literature on Trial

Editor’s Note: This is a highlight reel from Ms. Matthews’ Literature on Trial class (2016 VI Form fall semester English). The course is divided into two sections. In the first half, the focus is on trials, plaintiffs, prosecutors and defendants, reading works of literature and brainstorming criminal or civil wrongs committed by characters in the text. Students work in trial groups to gather evidence, prepare witnesses, and put on their best case. The second half consists of appellate work where students focus on the after effects of a trial, reviewing lower court records for Constitutional issues, drafting briefs for appeal and preparing for a final oral argument.

Please click here or on the images for the “student attorneys” in action! screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-09screenshot-2017-02-20-19-30-57 (more…)