EDU6655 Problems with Memory or Multitasking?

This week, learning about Short-Term Memory from Brain Rules preloaded me with great information and terminology used in chapter 10 of Brain Matters. I was able to make many connections with the examples that Wolfe mentions in the chapter of declarative memory and procedural memory. He spoke about the difference between the two and how they are stored and retrieved, but what I was really hoping Wolfe would cover in this chapter was those who claim they have a bad memory.

Wolfe states, “Our ability to remember is essentially a process of reconstruction or reactivation (Wolfe 152)”. I currently have a student in my class that claims he is unable to remember activities, events, information, or any type of instruction because he has a “bad memory”. I know there are several adults that can relate to this student in my class. Feeling as though they don’t have a great memory. I also understand that memories are strengthened by experiences as well as revisiting, replaying and rehearsing those experiences, events, and information. But what is happening inside the brain when even though those pieces are being revisited but the connections are still not becoming stronger? Has damage been done to the hippocampal structure that helps move these experiences into short or long-term memory? Can damage be restored, or those abilities be strengthened somehow?

After looking deeper into my question and doing additional research, my question has turned to an unexpected direction. In chapter 8 of Brain Matters it states, “If little Jack seems extremely forgetful, it may not be that he cannot remember facts or events. It may be that he finds it hard to keep in mind simultaneously the instructions to do several tasks at once (Bass 115).”  What if the problem isn’t damage to his hippocampus or any other part of the brain responsible for storing memories. What if the issue he feels is a “bad memory” really is his inability to do or focus on more than on task at a time (which many adults aren’t able to do either). This week we spent a great deal of discussion on the fact that the brain is never truly “multitasking” it is simply just the brain transitioning its focus from one task to another. So maybe the issue isn’t a bad or weak memory, rather it is the fact that his brain takes longer to switch from one task to another. Making him frustrated and feeling incapable of remembering. I feel like the first few months of school I am so focused on getting my students into the routine of fast transitions. We practice practice practice. Now I know that no matter how much we practice it will still take some of my students a longer amount of time to be ready for the next instruction or activity. Now that there are more possible answers to my question I will  be much more aware of this issue, allowing plenty of time to switch tasks for those students that really need it.

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.152). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

Rizzolatti, G., Fogassi, L., & Gallese, V. (2008). The jossey-bass reader on the brain and learning. (1st ed., pp. 115). San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

EDU 6655 Piaget or Vygotsky?

During the readings and videos this week, what really got my mind turning was information that Dr. Williams mentions during her screencast on Cognitive Development Piaget and Vygotsky. I was able to recall back to my undergrad at WSU when we spent a lot of time researching the famous Piaget and Vygotsky, and their beliefs on education and development. In college their opposite views made for great debates and conversation in our classes. However, now that I have my own classroom and a particular grade level that I teach to, I find myself really challenging the beliefs of Piaget and Vygotsky on cognitive development.

As Dr. Williams states in her screencast, “In the aspect of language, Piaget believed that it was an indicator of mental maturity, development precedes language.” Whereas Vygotsky believes, “language is an essential part of development of mental maturity. Language precedes development. (Williams 5:08)”. While researching during my undergrad I found myself siding with many of Vygotsky’s beliefs, but now my thoughts have changed. I am not sure I agree with either Piaget or Vygotsky.

A source compares Piaget and Vygotsky saying, “Challenge, readiness, and social interaction are central to the theories of both Piaget and Vygotsky. However, the two perspectives differ on the role of language in cognitive development, the relative value of free exploration versus more structured and guided activities, the relative importance of interactions with peers versus adults, and the influence of culture (Pearson Chapter 6)”. Pearson explains that although the two had challenging theories, they had a few agreements that they both felt were cruical to development.

Looking further, another article states, “Cognitive Development is learned through mental processes and sensory perceptions. Warm, supportive interactions with others, as well as the ability to use all five of the sensory modes—seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, and smelling—are required for maximum development of the mental or cognitive processes (Hearron 2010)”. This piggybacks on to my personal beliefs and thoughts about cognitive development.

After teaching kindergartener for the past 4 years, I have a really hard time taking a side to this argument. I don’t feel that development precedes language, or that language precedes development. I find that at this age, there is no true indicator of one leading into the other. I believe that development and language go hand in hand. I have many students who are bi and trilingual who have proven both ends where their language skills are strong but developmentally still needing progress and those who are developmentally mature, but their language skills lack. As an educator, I don’t find myself trying to dictate whether I agree with Piaget or Vygotsky in order to better my practice. Wolfe discusses in many readings the importance to “talk talk talk! (Wolfe 4)” speaking to your child even before birth as well as the opportunities we provide for children. In chapter 5 it states, “…research has often been cited as evidence for the importance of early childhood enrichment (Wolfe, 77)”. I feel you have cognitive development when you combine the two. When you surround your child’s young mind with enriched, hands-on, concrete experiences (to help them develop) and then have the meaningful conversations about those experiences.

After looking into additional research, I stand by my views on cognitive development and will continue teaching my students based on what best suits them.

Wolfe, P. (2010). Brain Matters. (2nd ed., pp.71-92). Arlington, VA: ASCD.

Wolfe, P. (2013). Early Brain Development. A position paper for the 9th Bridge Early Childhood Program in Las Vegas.

Cognitive Development- Piaget and Vygotsky. Dir. Dr. Tracy Williams . Web. 9 Oct. 2013.

Hearron, P. F., & Hildebrand, V. (2010, July 20).Cognitive Development. Retrieved from

Pearson. (1995). Merrill Education’s Companion Websites: Chapter Overview and Summary: Piaget and Vygotsky. Pearson Prentice Hall. DOI: Hearron, P. F., & Hildebrand, V. (2010, July 20). Cognitive Development. Retrieved from

Week 3: Communication with Technology

The concept of communication has come a long ways over the last 50 years. We are exceptionally lucky to be apart of a day and age where communication comes so easy. We no longer have to wait days or weeks to get a letter in the mail. With the click of a button we have the ability to email, instant message, or even chat face to face online via Skype or Face Time with anyone, anywhere in the world.

Today, with the capabilities of communication online being endless, as an educator, it is important to be aware of what methods of communication fit and also benefit your students and parents. I got to experience and learn about the basic functions of Podcasts in my undergrad program. This week I really enjoyed learning different features that go along with Podcasting. I can think of several different uses in older grades where students could benefit using a Podcast to present a project or new learning. However, in kindergarten, I don’t find this form of communication a good fit.
The form of communication that I am excited to use in my classroom is Vocaroo! I already know of 3 ways I would like to use this free recording program in my classroom. I will have my parent volunteers pull students to do readings and story comprehension using this program. I will then be able to go in and listen to how my students are reading and comprehending different levels of text. Second, I would like to use this program for my students that struggle with fine motor skills. These students will benefit from using the program because the worry of getting letters on the page correctly will disappear. Students will have the option of being able to record their voice rather than writing. The last way I would like to use this communication tool is by having my high readers record themselves reading a story. They can then listen back to their recording to check for fluency, and expression in their own readings! They have never had the opportunity to hear their own voice played back while reading a book. We can use examples and collaborate as a group of areas to work on for each student!

I will continue to use email and Haiku to communicate with parents. I currently use email daily with parents to discuss important issues and events. I am slowly trying to transition into using mainly Haiku for communicating with my parents. I am now uploading all of my Friday Newsletters and volunteer calendars on my site. I might look into scanning in and uploading all of my weekly homework assignments as well.

I look forward to learning new tools that I can apply into my Haiku to communicate with parents and student. I also look forward to learning new types of communication tools, that I can try to incorporate into my classroom!

1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
3. Model Digital-Age Work and Learning
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility

2. Communication and Collaboration

Introduction: My First Blog!

Hi, my name is Katie and I currently teach all day kindergarten at Rosa Parks Elementary in Redmond, WA and I am in my fourth year of teaching ! I spent my first 2 years teaching at Redmond Elementary School in Redmond, WA where I taught 1/2 day kindergarten and 1/2 day Safety Net. I graduated from Washington State University (GO COUGS!!!) with a degree in Education and I have just started my Masters in Teacher Leadership with Seattle Pacific University. I can’t wait to bring all of my new learning back into my classroom and grow as a teacher leader in my building!