Extracting new ideas from the Learners

One of the biggest challenges as a teacher is to see our students after exhausting all our effort to impart to them the knowledge’s, is for the learners to come out of the classroom empty handed, this not only breaks the learners Motivation to learn but also with that of the the teachers motivation to exert effort for the students to learn.

I personally saw this many times, and in fact have experienced this during my high school and college days especially in mathematics.

It is indeed frustrating to see our students come out empty handed, and fail in the assessments given to them at the end of the session. This failure generally reflects the quality of teacher education and philosophy we have. It is therefore imperative that we must then, take control of every situation that occurs in the classroom.

The Trilogy of Education comprises of the Objectives, Pedagogy and Assessment. The heart of the Assessment in the Trilogy of Education is our ability to ask questions that invokes intellectual curiosity and exchange of ideas.

We must then understand the art of questioning, and break it into different pieces that is easily comprehensible that will help us understand better in order to create a better intellectual conduciveness in the classroom.



–          Low Level – “what actions can be taken or initiated to minimize water pollution?”

  • It is very broad- it can be gov’t, people or individual.

–          High Level- “how could you describe an environment free from pollution?”

  • It is specific- it is asking your action or opinion.
  • Expect for a varied answer because it is an open-ended (divergent).
  • Give the learner the responsibility.
  • It provokes classroom discussion or thinking.

Ex. “How are you going to deal with this kind of situation? Apply the principles you learned in the class.”


–          Enhance optimum classroom participation.

–          Structured questions.

Ex. “What are the causes of water pollution?”

Convergent and Divergent Thinking Styles

Hudson (1967) studied English schoolboys, and found that conventional measures of intelligence did not always do justice to their abilities. The tests gave credit for problem-solving which produced the “right” answer, but under-estimated creativity and unconventional approaches to problems.

He concluded that there were two different forms of thinking or ability in play here:

  • One he called “convergent” thinking, in which the person is good at bringing material from a variety of sources to bear on a problem, in such a way as to produce the “correct” answer. This kind of thinking is particularly appropriate in science, maths and technology.
  • Because of the need for consistency and reliability, this is really the only form of thinking which standardized intelligence tests, (and even national exams) can test
  • The other he termed “divergent” thinking. Here the student’s skill is in broadly creative elaboration of ideas prompted by a stimulus, and is more suited to artistic pursuits and study in the humanities.
  • In order to get at this kind of thinking, he devised open-ended tests, such as the “Uses of Objects” test.

Uses of Objects Test

Below are five everyday objects. Think of as many different uses as you can for each:

  • A barrel
  • A paper clip
  • A tin of boot polish
  • A brick
  • A blanket

(No time limit: usually completed in 15 minutes)

(From Hudson 1967)

Hudson’s argument has important implications. Not only does it suggest that conventional approaches to assessment may be seriously under-estimating the talent of part of the school population; but also that the very assumptions behind current curriculum and pedagogic strategies are restrictive. With divergent thinkers, for example, it is not always realistic to specify the intended outcomes of a lesson in advance. This of course leads into the traditional minefield of assessing and accrediting creativity. Fortunately, convergence and divergence are ideal types, and not mutually exclusive.



Article entirely lifted from:

http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/converge.htmThis site is one of the most informative/comprehensive Professional Educational resource i saw in the internet. I would encourage you to visit this site and see yourself the wealth of knowledge compiled and beautifully presented by Dr.James Atherton.

ATHERTON J S (2009) Learning and Teaching; Convergent and Divergent Learning [On-line] UK: Available: http://www.learningandteaching.info/learning/converge.htm Accessed: 13 March 2010.


Strategies of Divergent Thinking

The goal of divergent thinking is to generate many different ideas about a topic in a short period of time. It involves breaking a topic down into its various component parts in order to gain insight about the various aspects of the topic. Divergent thinking typically occurs in a spontaneous, free-flowing manner, such that the ideas are generated in a random, unorganized fashion. Following divergent thinking, the ideas and information will be organized using convergent thinking; i.e., putting the various ideas back together in some organized, structured way.

To begin brainstorming potential topics, it is often helpful to engage in self analysis and topic analysis.

Self Analysis

Ask the following questions to help brainstorm a list of potential topics.

  1. How do I spend my time? What are my activities during a normal day?
  2. What do I know about? What are my areas of expertise? What am I studying in school?
  3. What do I like? What are my hobbies? What are my interests?
  4. What bothers me? What would I like to change in my world or life?
  5. What are my strongest beliefs, values and philosophies?

Topic Analysis

Ask the following questions to help narrow and refine a broad topic into a specific, focused one. Substitute your topic for the word something.”

  1. How would you describe something?
  2. What are the causes of something?
  3. What are the effects of something?
  4. What is important about something?
  5. What are the smaller parts that comprise something?
  6. How has something changed? Why are those changes important?
  7. What is known and unknown about something?
  8. What category of ideas or objects does something belong to?
  9. Is something good or bad? Why?
  10. What suggestions or recommendations would you make about something?
  11. What are the different aspects of something you can think of?

Techniques to Stimulate Divergent Thinking

1. Brainstorming. Brainstorming is a technique which involves generating a list of ideas in a creative, unstructured manner. The goal of brainstorming is to generate as many ideas as possible in a short period of time. The key tool in brainstorming is “piggybacking,” or using one idea to stimulate other ideas. During the brainstorming process, ALL ideas are recorded, and no idea is disregarded or criticized. After a long list of ideas is generated, one can go back and review the ideas to critique their value or merit.

2. Keeping a Journal. Journals are an effective way to record ideas that one thinks of spontaneously. By carrying a journal, one can create a collection of thoughts on various subjects that later become a source book of ideas. People often have insights at unusual times and places. By keeping a journal, one can capture these ideas and use them later when developing and organizing materials in the prewriting stage.

3. Freewriting. When free-writing, a person will focus on one particular topic and write non-stop about it for a short period of time. The idea is to write down whatever comes to mind about the topic, without stopping to proofread or revise the writing. This can help generate a variety of thoughts about a topic in a short period of time, which can later be restructured or organized following some pattern of arrangement.

4. Mind or Subject Mapping. Mind or subject mapping involves putting brainstormed ideas in the form of a visual map or picture that that shows the relationships among these ideas. One starts with a central idea or topic, then draws branches off the main topic which represent different parts or aspects of the main topic. This creates a visual image or “map” of the topic which the writer can use to develop the topic further.

For example, a topic may have four different branches (sub-topics), and each of those four branches may have two branches of its own (sub-topics of the sub-topic)

*Note* this includes both divergent and convergent thinking.



Article entirely lifted from:





FOCUS – Subject and Topic that will be the main focus of the lesson plan Construction.

PURPOSE – this pertains to the General Objectives and Specific Objectives. The General Objectives(Behavioral Objective) is written using the format of developed by Dr. Robert Mager, while the  Specific Objective pertains to the Cognitive aspect of learning, this is the 3 domains (cognitive, affective, psychomotor) developed by Bloom.

INFORMATION – this is the basis for the focus or topic of the Lesson Plan. This pertains to the various sources of information gathered from different sources i.e. books, internet or personal interactions.

EXPLANATION – what the students need to know to be successful in meeting the Lesson Plan Objectives, this is the Teaching Pedagogy part of the Lesson Plan.

MODELLING – Illustration of information and explanation. 21st century teaching is always guided by models.

MONITORING KNOWLEDGE and COMPREHENSION – Request for students to demonstrate knowledge and understanding. This is the learning tasks part of the lesson.

GUIDED PRACTICE – teacher pose for the students to practice and demonstrate understanding. The teacher only guides the learners during guided practice. The scaffolding technique is the best way to do it. By having the teacher roving around the classroom and individually checks and guides the learners in succeeding in the learning task.

ASSESSMENT– it can be any of the following Assessments, TRADITIONAL, AUTHENTIC, PORTFOLIO.

INDEPENDENT PRACTICE– “Lifelong Learning”, Learners will be able to connect the previous and present learning and apply it to deal with societal concerns, especially in the immediate community.

ENRICHMENT– Mastery of the lesson by the students.

RETOUCH– Reflect to improve the Lesson Plan after the session. What are the things to be changed or improved?


–          “A CLASSROOM IS A LABORATORY FOR LEARNING” – A microcosm of the community where the students deal with societal concerns especially within the immediate community.

–          “THE BEST VISUAL AID IS THE TEACHER” – The Instructional Material (IM) does not only mean, visual aids are the only IM’s. The Lesson Plan especially the teacher is the best Instructional Material.

–          “KEEPING YOURSELF ABREAST WITH THE TIMES” – because this is the trend in education practice. If you want to become the best teacher or improve your professional growth, you must update yourself with the new trends in education practice.


Naps Clear the Mind, Help You Learn


The study involved 39 healthy young adults who were placed into either a nap or no-nap group.

You might not need to feel so guilty about taking a mid-day snooze. A new study suggests that napping for an hour or so can refresh your brain, boosting your ability to learn.

On the other hand, the more hours we spend awake, the more sluggish our minds become, according to the findings.

“Sleep not only rights the wrong of prolonged wakefulness but, at a neurocognitive level, it moves you beyond where you were before you took a nap,” said study author Matthew Walker, a psychology professor at the University of California, Berkeley.

The study involved 39 healthy young adults who were placed into either a nap or no-nap group. At noon, all the participants performed a learning task intended to exercise the hippocampus, a region of the brain that helps store fact-based memories. Both groups performed at comparable levels on this test.

Then at 2 p.m., the nap group took a 90-minute siesta while the no-nap group stayed awake. Later that day, at 6 p.m., participants performed a new round of learning exercises. Those who remained awake throughout the day became worse at learning. In contrast, those who napped did markedly better and actually improved in their capacity to learn.

Other scientists say naps are natural. Humans are bi-phasic sleepers, which means we’re meant to sleep in bouts, not long stretches. About one-third of U.S. adults say they typically take a mid-day nap.

The new findings reinforce the researchers’ hypothesis that sleep is needed to clear the brain’s short-term memory storage and make room for new information, Walker said.

Previous research has shown fact-based memories are temporarily stored in the hippocampus before being sent to the brain’s prefrontal cortex, which may have more storage space.

“It’s as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail. It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder,” Walker said.

The new work suggests this memory-rebooting process occurs when nappers are engaged in a specific stage of sleep. Electroencephalogram tests, which measure electrical activity in the brain, indicated that this refreshing of memory capacity is related to stage two non-REM sleep, which takes place between deep sleep (non-REM) and the dream state known as Rapid Eye Movement (REM). Previously, the purpose of this stage was unclear, but the new results offer evidence as to why humans spend at least half their sleeping hours in stage two, non-REM, Walker said.

The results, which are preliminary, will be presented today at the American Association of the Advancement of Science (AAAS) meeting in San Diego, Calif.

Next, Walker and his team plan to investigate whether the reduction of sleep experienced by people as they get older is related to the documented decrease in our ability to learn as we age. Finding that link may be helpful in understanding such neurodegenerative conditions as Alzheimer’s disease, Walker said.

Curriculum Planning and Design

The Powerpoint presentation composed by Peter Gow pretty much complements with the curriculum design i have written, i have been following his posts in the slideshare and found it to be very much interesting. The tidbits he discussed in his curriculum design are very important considerations in constructing a good curriculum.

In designing a curriculum, one important thing to remember is this…

A strong curriculum must also have a solid OBJECTIVES, which would clearly state desired Performance expected to the learner, the Condition that would allow the learner to perform as expected and the Criteria that would provide the learner the scope of the Learning Task expected of them.

This Solid Objectives would provide a simple roadmap for the entire curriculum, the type of instructional strategies that would be adopted would entirely depend on the intent of the curriculum designer as stated in the Objectives. It must therefore,be aligned to it since the instructional strategies used were simply adopted in order to achieved the goals of the curriculum.

A clearly stated Solid Objectives would likewise dictate the Assessment to be used in order to measure the learners extent of knowledge. In the past, Assessment is only confined to the number of correct answers versus the wrong, a duality approach to measuring the learners skills derived from the curriculum. Thus, overshadowing a bigger and wider scope of the learners performance, duality approach does not provide us the flexibility, simplicity and sophistication offered by the Rubric structured assessment.

Performance Based and Product Based Assessments provides us the leverage to easily adapt to the different scenarios that may be foreseen or expected to be performed by the learner. It is flexible yet rigid since it allows the curriculum designer to construct assessments using a single format (rubric) and place criteria for learning and the graduated scale or points depending on the learners performance or product. It is likewise sophisticated since it expects more to the learners and measures more as compared to the duality approach to assessments, therefore a Performance/Product based assessments provides us the robustness that is not found on the right versus wrong assessments. This is pioneered in the business industries that relies on innovation and competitiveness of its workers, only now that its realized that learners must also be assessed competitively in order to perform as such.

Another add on to this curriculum design is the THEORY-BINARY PRACTICE, which puts larger emphasis on the applicability on the lesson to the society, more importantly if the lesson can be integrated to the societal needs arising within the immediate community of the learners. Thus, putting the Theory learned inside the classroom into a laboratory for thinking that encourages the learners to become an early part of the solution to a larger problem. This further strengthens the learners connection to the community rather than being detached to it as most of the case, the classroom would then become a gathering of thinkers, decision-makers and responsible citizens taking important roles and dealing with societal problems that are mostly an arena of the old and bearded guys who just went on retirement.

To better understand the importance of a robust curriculum design for the 21st century, i encourage you to listen to what these Deans and Professors of various established teacher education institutions on its value.


Pre-Instructional Phase


1. Gain Attention

* Begin the lesson with a question or conflict.
* Begin the lesson with a demonstration or experiment.
* Use humor, vary media, get students involved

2. Inform Learners of the Objectives

* Review course objectives that are relevant to the lesson.
* Explain how meeting the objectives is useful to the. student in terms of real-world applications

3. Stimulate Recall of Prior Learning

* Pre-test prior knowledge and prerequisite skills.
* Ask students to share their current perceptions of the topic.
* Create a concept map of prior knowledge

Instructional Phase

(Meat and Potatoes)

4. Present the Stimulus

* Lecture in small chunks whenever possible.
* Use a variety of media and methods in presenting information.
* Show examples and non-examples to clarify concepts

5. Provide Learner Guidance

* Highlight important ideas, concepts, or rules.
* Use repetition.
* Provide students with learning strategies such as pneumonic memory aids

6. Elicit Student Performance

* Allow for several practice sessions over a period of time.
* Provide role-play, case studies, or simulations

7. Provide Feedback

* Feedback should be immediate, specific, and corrective.
* Allow additional practice opportunities after feedback is given.

Post-Instructional Phase

8. Assess Performance

* Provide independent activities that test student knowledge/skill acquisition


9. Enhance Retention and Transfer

* Apply learning in real-world scenarios.
* Highlight connections with other subject areas or events.

Gagne’s Nine Events of Instruction/Learning

Instructional Event

Internal Mental Process

1. Gain attention
In order for any learning to take place, you must first capture the attention of the student. A multimedia program that begins with an animated title screen sequence accompanied by sound effects or music startles the senses with auditory or visual stimuli. An even better way to capture students’ attention is to start each lesson with a thought-provoking question or interesting fact. Curiosity motivates students to learn.

Stimuli activates receptors

2. Inform learners of objectives
Early in each lesson students should encounter a list of learning objectives. This initiates the internal process of expectancy and helps motivate the learner to complete the lesson. These objectives should form the basis for assessment and possible certification as well. Typically, learning objectives are presented in the form of “Upon completing this lesson you will be able to. . . .”

Creates level of expectation for learning

3. Stimulate recall of prior learning
Associating new information with prior knowledge can facilitate the learning process. It is easier for learners to encode and store information in long-term memory when there are links to personal experience and knowledge. A simple way to stimulate recall is to ask questions about previous experiences, an understanding of previous concepts, or a body of content.

Retrieval and activation of short-term memory

4. Present the content
This event of instruction is where the new content is actually presented to the learner. Content should be chunked and organized meaningfully, and typically is explained and then demonstrated. To appeal to different learning modalities, a variety of media should be used if possible, including text, graphics, audio narration, and video.

Selective perception of content

5. Provide “learning guidance”
To help learners encode information for long-term storage, additional guidance should be provided along with the presentation of new content. Guidance strategies include the use of examples, non-examples, case studies, graphical representations, mnemonics, and analogies.

Semantic encoding for storage long-term memory

6. Elicit performance (practice)
In this event of instruction, the learner is required to practice the new skill or behavior. Eliciting performance provides an opportunity for learners to confirm their correct understanding, and the repetition further increases the likelihood of retention.

Responds to questions to enhance encoding and verification

7. Provide feedback
As learners practice new behavior it is important to provide specific and immediate feedback of their performance. Unlike questions in a post-test, exercises within tutorials should be used for comprehension and encoding purposes, not for formal scoring. Additional guidance and answers provided at this stage are called formative feedback.

Reinforcement and assessment of correct performance

8. Assess performance
Upon completing instructional modules, students should be given the opportunity to take (or be required to take) a post-test or final assessment. This assessment should be completed without the ability to receive additional coaching, feedback, or hints. Mastery of material, or certification, is typically granted after achieving a certain score or percent correct. A commonly accepted level of mastery is 80% to 90% correct.

Retrieval and reinforcement of content as final evaluation

9. Enhance retention and transfer to the job
Determining whether or not the skills learned from a training program are ever applied back on the job often remains a mystery to training managers – and a source of consternation for senior executives. Effective training programs have a “performance” focus, incorporating design and media that facilitate retention and transfer to the job. The repetition of learned concepts is a tried and true means of aiding retention, although often disliked by students. (There was a reason for writing spelling words ten times as grade school student.) Creating electronic or online job-aids, references, templates, and wizards are other ways of aiding performance.

Retrieval and generalization of learned skill to new situation