You are reading the article Six Steps To Master Teaching: Becoming A Reflective Practitioner updated in December 2023 on the website Kientrucdochoi.com. We hope that the information we have shared is helpful to you. If you find the content interesting and meaningful, please share it with your friends and continue to follow and support us for the latest updates. Suggested January 2024 Six Steps To Master Teaching: Becoming A Reflective Practitioner
Becoming a master teacher takes continuous effort. To avoid the loss of enthusiasm or static practice, teachers need to focus on their own professional development. Notably, the single most significant indicator of student success is an excellent teacher; nevertheless, no one can be professionally developed without his or her consent. To remain vitalized, teachers need to spend time outside the classroom with other dedicated individuals. The educational mandates from state, federal and local legislators are not targeted at improving teaching and learning. Although many are well-intentioned initiatives to assist school success, they are not sufficient for improving teaching excellence throughout an entire professional career.The Need for Mentors
Over the course of a lifetime, master teachers are continuously improving their craft, listening to their students, re-tailoring lessons and finding the gaps in instructional practices. The myth that some people are born teachers is simply not true. They may begin teaching with the high motive of generosity toward their students, their colleagues and themselves, but maintaining this over many years is a challenge. Without contemplation and retreat, teaching can become simply a series of lucky habits rather than a profession through which one can grow.
Think of great athletes. Many show extreme promise early in their careers; however, they depend upon other great athletes and coaches to improve their performance over time. If they find themselves at a plateau in their performance, they look for mentors to push them beyond it.
But in teaching, a promising young professional can fulfill that expectation without sufficient coaching for years. Of course, there is always teacher evaluation designed for that purpose; still, how often does it truly improve anything to do with the classroom? Even dedicated supervisors have precious little time to devote to the continuing development of teacher excellence. Teachers can be deceived by what is appealing, habitual and popular with students. Effective teaching is an acquired talent.
Professional retreats offer teachers the opportunity to dedicate time to those qualitative steps that result in ongoing development. The six steps to becoming a master teacher include:1) Understand Your Reasons for Teaching
Identifying those who influenced you to become a teacher is a fundamental exercise in continued excellence. Almost everyone can name two or three teachers who changed the course of his or her life. Some found elementary school teachers who discovered their talent and promise. Others discovered their confidence through recognition of their potential in a specific subject. By discussing and defining the qualities of those exemplary teachers when they were students, professionals begin to define the roots of their own teaching.2) Cultivate Ethical Behavior in Your Students and Yourself
Although many schools of discipline exist, a teacher can achieve harmony in the classroom, but the real focus of student management lies in instilling ethical behavior. Authentic responses to classroom interactions as well as logical consequences for transgressions can be improved through collegial dialogue. These cannot be found in a manual; but rather, can be cultivated in seminars and observance of other master teachers.3) Pool Both Patience and Perseverance
Stamina and endurance are needed for the long haul of teaching. This means finding ways to remain healthy and able-minded through the stressful days. By connecting with others who have discovered methods of physical and mental renewal, teachers have a better chance of staying enthused about teaching despite the many inevitable setbacks during the school year.4) Design Curriculum That Works
All good teaching requires excellent design and redesign, beginning with a strong curriculum that outlines the most essential ideas. Without a forum for the continuous re-tailoring of their curriculum, teachers are often left to work from a textbook or on-the-fly lesson plans. Spending time in retreat with other professionals allows teachers to lay a strong foundation for each course they teach.5) Perfect Instructional Practices and Assessment Skills
The ongoing development of instructional methods and feedback skills are critical to excellence in teaching. Only through the careful examination of activities and assessment can a teacher guide all students to succeed. Teachers need time with their colleagues outside the classroom; the temporary success of “fun” activities can be a hindrance to the development of a master teacher. By crafting performance tasks and assessing them with their peers and mentors, teachers can refine their teaching.6) Connect Positively to the Whole-School Culture
Over time, the master teacher has the capacity to improve the whole-school culture through excellence in teaching. Because master teaching has as its foundation the generous impulse to assist students and colleagues, the teacher is able to fundamentally influence others without generating resentment. The master teacher is consistently working to benefit the school, so he or she is not in competition with colleagues or administration.
In the end, only way to stay the course throughout one’s teaching career is by discussion with great teachers who motivate, inspire and remain connected to the classroom. In the company of others, teachers can uncover the best work being done in our schools. Dedicated to their own professional development, they are capable of improving teaching and learning despite the many other mandates. This is critical to their continued enthusiasm.
Through the retreats and professional learning communities, colleagues enhance their own teaching and further the practice of others. In this way, they sustain and improve instructional practices, passing the torch of inspired teaching to others.
You're reading Six Steps To Master Teaching: Becoming A Reflective Practitioner
When it comes to wireless network (WLAN) deployments in the enterprise, it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’. And, when it comes to WLAN management, it’s, definitely, not a question of ‘if’ but ‘who’?
According to Robert Half Technology, one of the most in demand technical skills within IT departments is wireless network management.
”In our most recent survey of CIO hiring expectations, wireless network management was cited by 52 percent of respondents,” says Jeff Markham, division director at Robert Half Technology’s San Francisco location. He ranks the skill set as the second most in demand among more than 20 technical IT categories for the second quarter of 2006.
The strongest demand — 65 percent — for WLAN professionals was led by CIOs at companies with a 1,000 or more employees in the East/North/Central region, which is defined as Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.
But the story doesn’t end there.
Looking a little deeper into Robert Half’s CIO hiring trend surveys conducted over the years, reveals that CIO interest in wireless network professionals has been significant for the past six consecutive quarters, beginning in Q1 2005. According to a national poll, which focused on IT hiring expectations for Q1 2005, of more than 1,400 CIOs nationwide, 53 percent of executives ranked wireless network managerment as the second hottest skill set.
With the exception of one quarter — Q4 2005 — when demand for wireless network professionals slipped one slot to the number-three position for hottest IT skills in demand, wireless has held steady in the number-two seat, garnering interest that ranged between 46 percent and 53 percent beginning in Q1 2005.
Prior to Q1 2005, CIO demand for staff with wireless network skills hovered around the fifth most in-demand skill set. It actually was in the eleventh position in Q2 and Q3 of 2004. The company didn’t survey for interest in WLAN skills hiring prior to 2004.
Robert Half surveys are based on a national poll that includes responses from more than 1,400 CIOs from a stratified random sample of U.S. companies with 100 or more employees. The studies are conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, and have been ongoing for more than a decade, according to the company.
Take one look at the escalating interest in WLAN technology in the enterprise and it’s easy to understand why CIOs are eager to find WLAN professionals for their companies.
Frost & Sullivan reports that the WLAN market, between 2003 and 2007, shows a compound annual growth rate of 20 percent. The market research company expects the enterprise WLAN market, worldwide, to exceed $2.7 billion in 2007, up from $1.5 billion in 2005.
”Companies will need someone to manage the WLANs,” says Ronald Gruia, program leader for emerging communications at Frost & Sullivan.
While many Fortune 500 companies are running WLAN pilots to try to understand where wireless fits within their business processes, vertical industries leading the parade for WLAN deployments include large campus educational institutions, consulting, retail, health care and warehousing, according to Gruia.
At the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, the Alexandria, Va.-based national clearinghouse for the location and recovery of missing children in the United States, IT Director Steve Gelfound, has a keen interest in both wireless technology and bringing WLAN skills into his IT shop.
”At this point, our three Cisco certified network professionals have taken classes on wireless technology and will continue to do so,” he says, adding that if the organization didn’t have some level of expertise already in-house, bringing in a WLAN professional would be something they would have to do.
”Absolutely, because wireless is a budding technology and as a manager, I don’t know the ins and outs of the technology but I need someone on staff who does,” says Gelfound.
Not only is WLAN technology on the radar screen at the center — the organization has an ongoing WLAN pilot project — but Gelfound got a WLAN hotline up and running within 24 hours, in response to an order from the U.S. Department of Justice to handle inquiries for missing children and adults in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
According to Norm Bogen, director of networking at market research company In-Stat, the spike in interest for WLAN professionals, is a sign of momentum within the industry.
”It signals the start of movement from WLAN trails, where IT departments work to solve technology issues, to deployments,” he says, noting that wireless in the enterprise will continue to gain strength over the next five years.
Who will be the WLAN professional in demand?
According to industry watchers, IT professionals with WLAN certifications will rise to the top of the stack of resumes. ”Certification alone won’t get someone a job, but WLAN certification combined with work experience, will set someone apart from another candidate without WLAN certification,” says Robert Half’s Markham.
Enterprise WLAN isn’t plug-and-play, according to Kevin Sandlin, president of the CWNP Program, WLAN certification training created by Planet3 Wireless Inc., which is based in Atlanta, Ga. He says radio frequency technology behaves differently from wired LANs and is far more unpredictable.
”Any one of a dozen factors can impact radio frequency,” he says. ”It’s a different animal than a wired LAN.”
Sandlin reports that the number of IT professionals seeking WLAN certification has shown steady growth since 2001 when CWNP offered its first WLAN certification exam.
At Cisco Systems, Don Field, director of certifications, says WLAN certification is one of the three most popular designations professionals are seeking through the vendor’s certification program. ”We’ve seen evidence that employers value certifications in the IT professionals they hire because it demonstrates skills and competence,” he says.
Cisco recently announced three new specialist wireless certifications in March. The company first offered WLAN certifications in December of 2001.
The latest, most popular notion that is currently taking over the world, in every imaginable aspect possible, is defiantly the world of cryptocurrency. There are numerous innovative elements that are incorporated within this particular financial concept of the modern world, which result in increased levels of overall popularity. All of this implies the fact that there are more and more people that have been expressing their interest regarding the crypto trading possibilities that are incorporated within this particular concept, thus allowing them to find some of the most interesting ways to earn insane amounts of trading profits. However, before you continue down the road of crypto trading possibilities, you will have to make sure that you have managed to create a rather solid trading foundation that will help you move forward, thus easily achieve all of the goals that you have in mind. Having all of this established, you will get to the points in your journey where you will have to make the first and most important step that will lead you to the ultimate points of crypto achievement. In addition to all of this, we have managed to create this article that consists of three simple steps that will help you master the overall process of crypto trading, especially when you are dealing with the concept of Bitcoin. If you continue reading you will find out everything that you need to know.Step No. 1 – Setting Specific Trading Goals to Achieve
This is the first step that you are going to cover in your journey to Bitcoin trading success. Here, you will get a chance to explore some of the most individualistic approaches that will help you create a specific plan of trading action that will correspond with all of the things that you eventually want to achieve. All of this will help you learn more about the specific trading knowledge that you have, thus explore some of the most innovative ways that you will get a chance to achieve the goals that you will have to set. If you decide to practice this particular approach, you will easily move on to the next big segment of your trading experience.Step No. 2 – Choose a Designated Bitcoin Trading Approach
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Learning to ride a bike is a rite of passage in many families and communities, and that means the ability to teach someone how to ride a bike is an equally important skill. The first few tries can be scary for kids, but finding the right balance, and coordination will be easier if they have a confident teacher guiding them. That’s where you come in.
Now, it’s not entirely natural to perch atop a pair of wheels, and falling is a near-certainty until a child has found their bike legs. Challenges are part of the process, but there are a number of ways that you can help the kid you’re teaching get comfortable on two wheels with limited trouble.Ditch the training wheels—balance bikes are best
If you’re in your 20s or older, you probably remember learning to ride a bike with clunky training wheels bolted to the back wheel. These two extra wheels got us up on the bike and learning how to pedal. But they do a terrible job teaching the hardest and most important part of riding a bike, which is balance, according to Phil Yip, a certified cycling instructor with the League of American Bicyclists who teaches with Bike East Bay and the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition. The far superior alternative, he says, is to start on a balance bike.
Balance bikes are simple. They’re just like small regular bikes, except without pedals. Riders propel themselves forward by pushing with their feet on the ground, essentially running with the bike beneath them. New riders can walk as slow as they want while seated on the bike, and as they get comfortable, start to move faster until they naturally lift their feet and glide farther and farther. Once they’ve mastered staying upright with their feet off the ground and can turn with a combination of the handlebars and leaning, it’s easy enough for them to hop up on a regular bike and learn the nuances of pedaling, starting, and stopping. There’s often no need for training wheels at all. One study found that children who started on a balance bike learned to ride a pedal bike around 4 years old on average, while those who started on a bike with training wheels didn’t learn until they were closer to 6.
[Related: The best bikes for kids]
I started my kids on balance bikes when they were about 2 (they’re twins), and in a couple of weeks they were zooming and gliding faster than I could keep up with on walks around our neighborhood. When we introduced pedal bikes a few months before their fifth birthday, they got the hang of riding in two short driveway practice sessions and could easily start on their own without a push a few days later. They used training wheels for a total of 30 minutes, and that was only because we bought the bikes fully assembled and they refused to wait for me to take them off before hopping on.
Even if your kids are older, or you’re trying to teach yourself as an adult, balance bikes are a great way to start. If you can’t find a larger balance bike or don’t want to buy one, Yip suggests removing the pedals from a regular bike and lowering the seat so the rider’s feet rest flat on the ground.Create a fun, safe space for learning
Riding can be scary at first, so it’s important that kids start off in a comfortable environment. “Start in a flat, traffic-free area, such as a park or a quiet cul-de-sac, where your child can practice without distractions or dangers,” says Peter Ballin, a former international mountain bike racer, UCI Mountain Bike World Cup mechanic, and bicycle coach out of Morzine, France. “Ideally, start them on grass so it’s softer if they fall.” They shouldn’t have to worry about navigating around dangers or running out of space. Let them focus solely on riding.
It’s also important to remember that learning new skills is uncomfortable, so don’t push kids too hard, Yip says. After all, riding a bike should be fun. If the kids aren’t enjoying it, or are getting stressed from too much pressure, they’re going to have a harder time learning. “It’s better to let the child learn at their own pace,” he says. There’s no set amount of time that it should take. In Yip’s classes, students sometimes move from a balance bike to a pedal bike in a single day, but others might take weeks or months to get comfortable with the transition—and that’s OK.
Ballin adds that as your child improves, giving them little challenges can be a fun way to keep them engaged and pushing themselves without undue pressure. He recommends setting up simple obstacle courses for your kid to navigate, or racing against a clock to keep them motivated and excited to learn.Don’t forget to teach safe riding habits, too
Teaching a kid to ride a bike isn’t only about guiding them through balance and pedaling. They also have to learn about safety. First is the importance of wearing a helmet anytime they’re out riding. One analysis found that wearing a helmet could reduce the risk of head injuries by 45 percent, brain injuries by 33 percent, facial injuries by 27 percent, and deaths by 29 percent. I’ve seen the value of a helmet in action—one of my kids took a pretty bad balance bike spill and landed on the road on his face. The rim of the helmet saved him from no more than a split lip. Without the helmet, I’m sure it would have been a trip to the hospital instead.
[Related: Essential bike maintenance tips everyone should know]
Helmets are most effective when they fit properly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has a clear and detailed document on how to adjust a helmet to an adult’s or child’s head. Basically, you want the helmet level on the head, low on the forehead, the “V” of the straps tight under the ears, and the chin strap snug enough that only a finger or two can fit under it. If a helmet is too loose, or in the wrong position, it may not do its job.Learning in a group can help kids get over their fear
If your child is struggling, or too afraid to hop on the bike, getting more people involved might be helpful, Yip says. If they have a friend, neighbor, or relative who can already ride a bike, try to get them together so your child can mimic what they’re doing. Sometimes seeing someone close to their age doing a feared activity can be all the motivation a kid needs to try something new.
Classes are another option. In addition to providing people for your child to watch, sometimes kids need to learn from someone other than a parent or caretaker, particularly if you find yourselves getting frustrated by a lack of progress. Classes can also be a validating experience for kids who might be embarrassed that they don’t know how to ride yet, Yip says. They’ll see people of all ages who are also learning to ride, and realize that there’s no shame in not having mastered the skill yet.
And once your child is up and running on their bike, so to speak, biking groups and classes are a great way to expand their, and your, knowledge about cycling. Whether it’s getting more comfortable with street riding and racing, diving into the exciting world of BMX, or heading up into the hills for some mountain biking, there are a ton of ways to expand their skills and keep them in the saddle.
I’m always looking for new ways to take over Google.
I want to rank and bank. I want to find ways to make my sites or my clients shoot to the top.
I love link building today. The new environment seems more like traditional business prospecting, which I was always good at.
The last few years of SEO and link building have seemed stale.
Has anything changed in the last couple of years?90 SEOs Weighed in on White Hat Link Building in 2023
This Ahrefs post was popular back in 2023. It was right on point.
Skyscrapers were and are the “rage.”
Broken link building was popular.
It was all about building good content and then conducting outreach.
You get links from reaching out and finding influencers – people with blogs relevant to your content.
So what is different today? Has anyone perfected these methods?
That particular write up goes in depth about how those 90 SEOs build white hat links. The theme throughout is “content is king.” That seems like the only real constant.Have the Most Popular Ways to Get Links Changed?
Conducting outreach for links.
Scripts for outreach.
Ideas for outreach.
How to write content.
How to get data for content.
There is no wondering why we have a constant inbox full of link requests. The other emails are people trying to sell me editorial links.
If that is the constant then why couldn’t we perfect that process and scale it?The Real Question That Isn’t Answered
If you can write, publish, and promote amazing content, then you’re a blogger. Right?
Wouldn’t it make sense to study bloggers then?
Let me come back to that thought in a moment.
The question that seemed to stand out to me was how to scale the models that everyone was pitching. They were amazing ideas that many SEOs are still talking about today.
The idea was to make amazing content and then rank it in Google. Use the scripts for outreach on each post you make on your blog. Then outreach and build an audience that loves your “idea” or “view.”If These Are the Best Ideas, Then How Do You Scale Them?
This is the reason why the ideas still work. They are not reproducible without a brand or recognizable person in front of the site. Risky SEO techniques cannot produce scalable, quality content. It’s that simple.
Google has broken down the ability to consistently rank bad content. They ignore spam. They know if your content is unique and if it covers a topic thoroughly through semantic keywords.
Everyone on the list of 90 has this going for them. They were either a blogger, the face of the brand, a person with credibility, or an authority in a niche. There were only a few who were able to cash in on these guides.
I conduct surveys and collect stats to create visually appealing data for journalists and pitch them out.
Figure out which publication (major) that you want to target and collect data on your users that they’d want to report about and find interesting.
Data is something people can never take away from you and is interesting if you frame it right. I execute it by using Survey Monkey or like software.
Gather data and make it visually appealing. Next put together a post on this for your site and for theirs (so they don’t have to do the legwork).
It works most of the time.
Who can you pitch?
If you’re a writer with hundreds of posts on influential sites, then anyone. If you’re looking for your first post outside of your own blog then you’re limited.
So how do you break through and gain links?Scaling With Tools – Is It Possible?
The content has to be amazing. You can’t scale a process that relies on well thought out ideas.
Taking those ideas then forming them into a story. That is content. It has become the differentiation to building links.
Add on top of that fact that your post needs to be thorough and long.
The length of your post influences your chances of reaching the front page of Google.
Backlinko analyzed over 1 million search results. They figured out a lot of stuff, but the one thing that stood out to me was the length of the post.
So you obviously can’t use any tool to produce the content. However, you can use the tools to speed up finding ideas, as well as outreach and guest post opportunities. That still doesn’t make the process scale.What Do You Do to Mimic These Powerhouse SEOs?
My SEO career took off when I learned two things.1. Links Matter More Than Anything Else
The page that the link is coming from is more important than where it points to. I mean that a high authoritative page that has page authority is better than a new post. That is for today.
As that link (from a new post) ages it matters about the domain authority. I am using the word “authority” as a representation of how powerful the page and domain are.2. You Should Think & Train Like A Blogger
His writing course at Serious Bloggers Only trained me. I still learn something new weekly from his emails.
Want to learn what great content looks like? Check out one of Copyblogger’s most popular posts. This post is what got me hooked on developing my writing skills.
Now if you write and outreach like a blogger, then you can grow your links from authority domains. This will build your ability to get more links and consequently you’ll get the chance to score even bigger authority links. It’s a giant snowball that takes momentum.How Do You Become a Link Building Champion?
If you want to build high-quality links, then learn to make great content. Learn to write on schedule. Start producing content and posting it.
Afterward, reach out to other blogs. Find the places where your audience congregates online. Reach out and engage your audience there.
Take writing classes. There are a lot of blog mastery classes and inexpensive monthly courses that will help you enhance your skills.The Best Thing That Ever Happened to My Content
The best thing that ever happened to my writing career was having editors. The first post I ever submitted was 5,000 words long.
I backed it up with lots of data. I thought it was a great post. Still, it came back filled with edits needed. It took me two weeks to fix it.
My writing got better though. I started writing differently from that moment on. My guest posts are published more often because of it as well.
Once you blog on a few larger blogs you gain credibility. You even build a small following. That helps you carry momentum. These are all links. Every post. Every outreach you do because of that post.
Find someone to edit your post.What To Do If I Can’t Write?
If you can not write then you will have to hire a writer. You do not want a ghost.
You want someone to become the face of your blog. The more that person can produce content and “own” it the more effective your link building can be.
You need to do more to promote and post on other blogs than you do on your own blog. That doesn’t mean that you get to neglect your blog though. It’s a balancing act for sure!
Your content calendar and personal calendar will be full. That means that you will need multiple posts a day being written. They still have to be promoted and pitched to other blogs. It is a process that takes a lot of work and manpower.The Question Everyone Asks Me at This Point
Who can afford to hire a full-time writer for their business?
The better question based off of the results for the last two years is who cannot afford to?
Face it. Google is putting content at a premium. You either have a consistent dose of great content and links or you are going to fall in rankings.
New Book by BU Researchers Teaches Natural Selection to Children Research-based effort presents complex concepts in storybook form
Deborah Kelemen, a BU College of Arts & Sciences professor of psychological and brain sciences, and her research team have published a children’s picture book that introduces the concept of adaptation by natural selection to kids ages five to eight. Photo by Cydney Scott
Conventional wisdom holds that natural selection is too complex for young children to grasp and so should not be taught until middle and high school. The problem with that wisdom, as Deborah Kelemen’s research has shown, is that by middle school, kids’ intuitive biases have taken hold, making it even harder for them to understand the concept. So Kelemen, a Boston University College of Arts & Sciences professor of psychological and brain sciences, and her research team wrote their own research-based book about natural selection, How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses, and aimed it at children ages five to eight. Then, with funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Kelemen tested the children, who listened to the book about the fictional anteater-like piloses and found that they got it.
“Kids are smarter than we give them credit for,” says Kelemen, who directs BU’s Child Cognition Lab and studies child development.
Tumblehome Learning, Inc., a Boston-based publisher of children’s science and engineering books, published How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses in June 2023, with glowing blurbs from Steven Pinker, a Harvard University psychology professor, and Alison Gopnik, a psychologist at the University of California, Berkeley, both experts on the study of children’s learning.
“Evolution by natural selection is a notoriously difficult concept to understand and this may underpin some of the anti-science views that have become increasingly prevalent,” says Gopnik. “Kelemen has shown that giving young children a simple but ingenious picture book can get them to genuinely understand the concept and that this early understanding is long-lasting. It’s a great, simple, inexpensive idea that could have long-lasting effects, and it would be marvelous for science if every child heard the story of the piloses.”
A big draw for Tumblehome, says chairwoman Penny Noyce, was that Kelemen had grounded the book in research on how kids learn. “We didn’t find another book like this,” says Noyce. “It fits into a niche for us—helping scientists reach a broader audience with books for children.”
For a first-time children’s book author without an agent or a publicist, Kelemen has been enjoying surprising success. After she appeared on the popular BBC radio show Start the Week and on the BBC World Service Newshour in early July 2023, her book sold more than 1,000 copies in a single month—a record for Tumblehome, says Noyce—and it’s already in its third printing.
Kelemen, who shares author credit with the Child Cognition Lab, says profits from the book will go to distributing the book to schools and to further research. How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses is the first in a series of books on evolution for kids that Kelemen and the Child Cognition Lab are creating.
On September 18, 2023, Kelemen and her team kicked off a three-week-long, BU-sponsored crowdfunding effort to get the book, which costs $17.95 at Tumblehome, into the hands of teachers and kids across the US who might not otherwise be able to afford it. They set their initial fundraising goal at $2,500, but with close to $2,000 in donations pouring in before the official launch, they have already doubled their goal, to $5,000, and are fast approaching it.
Kelemen says she views her book as a tool in her mission to improve science literacy in the US and abroad. “This anti-intellectual stance that’s happening in this country and across the world is a serious threat,” she says. “People are trying to invalidate scientific evidence by the loudness with which they shout. If you want to fight back, and spread scientific literacy, buy this book.”
BU Research sat down with Kelemen recently to talk with her about how she and her research team came to write their first children’s book, why she thinks kids should be introduced to natural selection at an early age, and why she told the illustrator not to make the piloses human-like.BU Research: Why did you and your team write How the Piloses Evolved Skinny Noses?
Kelemen: There are no evidence-based classroom books for young kids about natural selection. It’s a mechanism that explains why animals have these incredibly specialized body parts and why we have such amazing biological diversity on Earth. Students find it hard to understand the concept when it’s taught in high school. Children are naturally brilliant at generating explanations, but they create explanations that conflict with how evolution actually occurs. What this means is that the lifelong difficulty many people have with understanding one of the most important scientific concepts begins in early childhood.
In biology, natural selection is like the frame that structures your house. Everything else in biology makes sense in light of it. There wasn’t a book geared toward children’s misconceptions. So my team at BU wrote one.Can you tell us about the story?
It’s about a fictional animal called the piloses whose environment changes. They eat millibugs, which keep them healthy and strong, but as the climate gets hotter, their food goes underground and the piloses species goes from having mostly wider trunks to mostly thinner trunks because the ones with thinner trunks can reach the food and are healthy enough to have many babies. Kids naturally learn the logic of adaptation by natural selection through the story. It unfolds logically, step by step.Why did you invent the piloses? Why not just write a book starring, say, giraffes—animals that kids know and can recognize?
We always work with realistic but fictional characters. It’s a developmental psychology trick. When children are learning something new and challenging, you don’t necessarily want them to bring potentially confusing background assumptions to bear on it. So you teach them about something they don’t know anything about. If we used giraffes, they might think, “Well, they needed long necks to reach food in the trees so they grew long necks.” But that’s not how natural selection works. We thought, “What’s the simplest story we could tell? What traits would the animal need to make the story work?”You’ve said that you’re frustrated with a lot of the regular children’s science books that are out there—that they’re too flashy and interfere with actual learning.
We know, based on research, that all those bells and whistles are a distraction. It gets adults very fired up. Children like looking at them, but they don’t actually learn from them. If you want to create learning material, which our book is, you can’t go with the bells and whistles. The whole notion is you’re going to sit down and read the book with a child. Children like that. We always read the book to the kids when we were testing it.Why?
Partly because this was all developed in a research context. You want the adults to point to the pictures in ways that elaborate the story, whereas children reading by themselves, they’ll just kind of whip through it. We know that joint attention with somebody else facilitates learning.Why did you insist that the publisher not alter the story in any way and that the illustrator, Chen-Hui Chang, who redid your lab’s original drawings, not make the animals too cuddly—and that they couldn’t be human-like?
Again, because the book was carefully designed in a research context, we discovered what threw children off. Nothing has been changed that could influence children’s learning. By the time it came to publishing, it was really important they didn’t mess with the story or the illustrations. We knew small changes could make all the difference to what children took away from the story.
The animals couldn’t be human-like because you can’t have them looking at each other in ways that suggest they would help each other.Why not?
If the animals are anthropomorphized, one of the things children will say, when the ones with wider trunks can’t get to the food, is why don’t the animals with thin trunks help them? If animals are proxies for human beings, then if you’ve got a friend of yours who’s starving to death, you’d try and feed them. But these are just animals going around and trying to fill their bellies. Life is hard on the meadow.Why are you so concerned about teaching young kids about natural selection and not waiting until they’re 13 to 18 years old?
This is such a counterintuitive idea and 13 to 18 is too late. By elementary school, children are cementing their own intuitions that are the roots of scientific misconceptions seen in high school kids and undergraduates. You need to plant the seed early. This is not the full explanation of natural selection, but it is something that does counteract the natural way kids explain animals’ body parts—that animals grow what they need, that everything transforms so that it gets what it needs. That’s not how it works. Populations change over time. It’s a gradual process. In subsequent books in our series, we will show how the same gradual process in Piloses can lead to even bigger evolutionary changes, like new species.You didn’t have books like this when you were a kid, but you learned natural selection.
I had dinosaur books. That was my fascination. I don’t think I learned about natural selection until I was in high school or university, and it’s effortful then.Why is this crowdfunding campaign so important to you?
We want to offer teachers—particularly those in underserved schools—direct access to simple materials that can help them accurately teach the basic principle of natural selection to children. We also want to get the word out that this is something that kids can learn and that it is good to start early. Researchers in developmental psychology or education often create materials that can really help kids and teachers, but once the research is over, no one ever gets to use or see the materials again. We want to make sure that does not happen with the piloses and that books, books, and more books are sent out to support science literacy throughout the United States.
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