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msusong

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In Chapter 3, section 2, page 114, Spiegel states cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are "central to the training" she gives to her chess students. Can you see this applying to any other subjects or topics you teach in your classroom? Please explain.

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Maggie Susong
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tamram

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I can envision how the development of cognitive flexibility and self-control would apply to the performance and confidence of my high school math students. Cognitive flexibility would be strengthened by placing more emphasis on the ways to set up and solve math problems, and less emphasis on correct answers. The consideration of multiple ways to successfully complete a task can lead to a stronger sense of mastery and 'control'.

Cognitive self-control is a skill that could be development through giving students opportunities to experience math--explorations and practice--and apply it to projects which demand a commitment and which could increase their confidence in spite of their possible self-perceived limitation. Finally, it could be helpful for my students and me to understand that 'wanting' to do well in math is not the same as 'choosing' to do well in math, as described in Chapter 3. 


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Tamra M.
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Stephanie

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First, I so want to start a chess group in my class! I am looking forward to trying to teach it to my second graders, it will take time, but I think they can do it. I think cognitive flexivility and cognitive self-control would work best with math and science. There is more than one way to solve any problem. Sometimes I will teach the book way to problem solve, but when I hand it over to the kids to explain how they did it they also help the class understand a new problem solving process. Sometimes they get surprised by who is understanding concepts, the kids seem to always assume that the GT kids are the smartest and special education kids are the slowest. This becomes a great time to show different ways of thinking isn't wrong.

When we do the Following Directions or problem solving activies in small groups and we follow it up with large group discussions we get the same answer, but followed a different path to get there. I like this way better than how I was taught, There was only one way to get an answer and later on in college I was docked points because I didn't complete a problem like the professor wanted.

My favorite quote that I use in my room is "Help me understand ......". It gives a lot of insight as to how the kids think and even what they pick up on in the problems they are working on. This would also could transfer over to language arts and social studies discussions. Sometimes kids misread or read too much into a question and then they will add from what their prior knowledge is built on.

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SKDroddy
ehowe

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Reply with quote  #4 
I believe both cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control could be applicable to many subjects through students' academic lives. (and that flexibility is something I've been working to encourage in one of my own children for quite awhile now!)
In my early childhood classroom, I can see cognitive flexibility being promoted by asking children how to solve problems, and if they can think of an alternate solution to their first response. I actually do this often, both in read alouds and real life situations. It takes a lot more time than simply giving them a solution, but the skills gained are worth it.
Self-control is hard for little ones! (also for many adults!) Our curriculum encourages students to be a STAR (Stop,Take a deep breath, And Relax) to teach them emotional self-control; I find that the same strategy works when I need them to pause before blurting out answers. Siegel teaching her chess students to take their time reminded me of this.
jgoedken123

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Reply with quote  #5 
In Chapter 3, section 2, page 114, Spiegel states cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are "central to the training" she gives to her chess students. Can you see this applying to any other subjects or topics you teach in your classroom? Please explain.                 

Absolutely!  I see how cognitive flexibility can apply to math.  Not necessarily in finding other solutions, but in methods of problem solving.  I'm always telling my students there is "more than one way to skin a cat."  There's never a correct way to solve a problem (although some methods are faster than others.)  I wish more of my students would apply cognitive self-control.  Or maybe just even self-control.  Even when they use their head to find the right answer (which only works about 50% of the time...)  I wish they'd go back and check their answers.

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Jennifer Goedken
Janhaas8

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In How Children Succeed cognitive flexibility is defined as the ability to see alternative solutions to the problem.   I believe the word “see” simplifies the definition and should include process and rethink, and I can see cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control both being applied to subjects other than chess.   The chess teacher, Spiegel, was much more than a teacher; she was a mentor, who had built a strong and caring relationship with her students, which no doubt added to her students’ success.  She admits that she was not as successful as an English teacher.

In math I believe showing work and being able to justify your answer are crucial.  Students have certainly shown me ways to solve a problem that I didn’t think of and when students do “pair and share” they often learn from each other and see alternative ways – not necessarily solutions – to the problem.  Spiegel was a master at leading her students so they could learn from their mistakes.  She worked one on one with them often and would plan her curriculum based on what they knew and on their mistakes.  I feel like I have very little time to work one on one with students unless they come to tutoring and that having many students in the same class with a wide range of skills, makes implementing cognitive flexibility challenging, but doable to at least some degree.  Giving credit for work and not just for the answer encourages cognitive flexibility and self-control.  Less emphasis on standardized test which are full of multiple choice questions could also help. 

As I read the three posts before mine, I agreed with the first one that the high school math teacher posted, and I liked the approach “Help me understand…” in the second post, which I need to use more.  I found it interesting that STAR in early childhood is an acronym for Stop, Take a deep breath, And Relax and in middle school it’s an acronym for Sit Up, Track the Speaker, Ask and Answer questions, and Respect the learning environment. 

mariannecowl

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In my 8th grade French classroom, students use cognitive flexibility when they are communicating in French either verbally or in writing. Since they are at a beginning level, they do not have the same level of communication skills that they have in English/Spanish. Students become frustrated when they try to communicate word for word as they do in English. I am continually reminding them to simplify their thoughts in order to construct sentences using what they know on their novice level. In essence, I encourage them to think of how a 3-5 year old speaks. This seems counter-intuitive, but it helps them communicate better in French. Also, they rely heavily on cognates (words that look the same and have the same meaning in both languages) to help them speak, listen, read, and write in French.

Cognitive self-control is also used in my classroom when I encounter students who believe they don't "get it", that they aren't good at foreign languages (even though they already know Spanish and English!), that they can't remember anything, that it's too hard, that they were forced to take French, that they see no point in learning a foreign language. This type of defeatist attitude is very high at the beginning of the school year, but with encouragement from myself and eager classmates, it is very low by the end of the year. My most satisfying moments are when students tell me at the end of the year how much they learned, and when I see them demonstrate self-confidence with their French.
Teetime9

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I completely agree with "ehowe" in that both cognitive flexibility and cognitive control can be used, and should be applied within many different subject areas. As an inclusion teacher, I see and assist my colleagues in the areas of math, science, and English. But, for my special education students, I would even continue into the realm of vocational education. An example in math is rewriting a simple equation when it is written "backwards" to the student. Or possibly showing how they solved a power of 10 problem by either counting the "0"s or simply moving the decimal. Along with Spiegel, having students work on their writing by looking and searching for various ways to improve their sentences via sentence structure, word choice, elaboration, etc... And then simply thinking through issues that arise in student's everyday lives. I do this on a daily basis with my students when they come to me or should I see something taking place. We discuss what they were thinking and what they can do differently in order to avoid, resolve, or improve the problem. While many students want to make it easier to blame others or make excuses, I constantly remind them that "THEY" are the only ones who truly have control over their lives and the decisions they make be it in education or in their everyday lives. 
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Sherry Ayres
sklearner2011

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Reply with quote  #9 

Spiegel defines cognitive flexibility as seeing alternate solutions, thinking outside the box, and be able negotiate unfamiliar situations. 

Yes, I can see teaching/modeling cognitive flexibility and self-control to my students.  Reading and math, for example.  When one is learning a new skill such as multiplication.  Use of manipulatives to first illustrate, grouping on paper, counting by 2, 3, 4, etc. and writing it on a multiplication chart and adding and finally memorization.    This strategy gives students several ways to solve multiplication and they choose what works best for them.  Lots of practice just as in chess.  Math skills build on each other just as chess skills do the same. 

Reading:  When a student comes across an unfamiliar word different strategies are taught/modeled to help them figure it the meaning.  Options are:  reread, read the surrounding text, look in the glossary of the book, or use a dictionary.   In math (especially the lower grades), we start out with manipulatives and show different strategies to solve problems.  For example:  – underline key words and information you’ll need to solve the problem, know what is being asked and then show your work and lastly double check your work.  Is this answer reasonable? 

As defined in Paul Tough’s book:  “Cognitive self-control is the ability not to use an instinctive or habitual response.”  When students are learning new material and may want to give up before really beginning, spending too much time on one portion and/or getting frustrated.  Solutions:  reread, underline key information, jot notes to the side, ask a friend, ask a second friend, then ask the teacher, work on other work and come back to it.

Cognitive self-control can also be taught by having students build up stamina to work on their work/learning.  Gradually increase time.  Also, not allowing for shoddy work.  Have students go back and correct missed work and explain their reasoning to me.

At times, what Spiegel’s says from page 120 is true, “…that they are lazy and the quality of their work is unacceptable.”  Spiegel goes on to say:  “And sometimes kids need to hear that, or they have no reason to step up.”   Although, it would be more diplomatic to say, “This isn’t your best work and your lack of effort shows.”   This is where cognitive flexibility and self-control can be reinforced by having students correct the work they missed or have them take more time to do more in-depth work on the learning.

Bouncing ideals off each other when working in pairs or groups can help learn these skills.  Also, teacher modeling/thinking out loud, and then practicing with a partner can all go toward learning cognitive flexibility and self-control.

raclark

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Reply with quote  #10 
In Chapter 3, section 2, page 114, Spiegel states cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are "central to the training" she gives to her chess students. Can you see this applying to any other subjects or topics you teach in your classroom? Please explain. 

I teach physics so, yes, absolutely.  Cognitive flexibility would allow them to look at a problem and creatively think of different ways to solve the same problem to achieve the same outcome.  Cognitive self control would allow them to take charge of their mind and block out distractions but also not give up in the face of an obstacle.  My students also want the good grade but many of them are just not willing to put in the time and effort they need to make the grade they want.  Also, so many of them won't even complete a task if there is not going to be a grade for it.  They don't understand the concept of practice to achieve a goal.
msusong

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Reply with quote  #11 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Janhaas8

In How Children Succeed cognitive flexibility is defined as the ability to see alternative solutions to the problem.   I believe the word “see” simplifies the definition and should include process and rethink, and I can see cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control both being applied to subjects other than chess.   The chess teacher, Spiegel, was much more than a teacher; she was a mentor, who had built a strong and caring relationship with her students, which no doubt added to her students’ success.  She admits that she was not as successful as an English teacher.

In math I believe showing work and being able to justify your answer are crucial.  Students have certainly shown me ways to solve a problem that I didn’t think of and when students do “pair and share” they often learn from each other and see alternative ways – not necessarily solutions – to the problem.  Spiegel was a master at leading her students so they could learn from their mistakes.  She worked one on one with them often and would plan her curriculum based on what they knew and on their mistakes.  I feel like I have very little time to work one on one with students unless they come to tutoring and that having many students in the same class with a wide range of skills, makes implementing cognitive flexibility challenging, but doable to at least some degree.  Giving credit for work and not just for the answer encourages cognitive flexibility and self-control.  Less emphasis on standardized test which are full of multiple choice questions could also help. 

As I read the three posts before mine, I agreed with the first one that the high school math teacher posted, and I liked the approach “Help me understand…” in the second post, which I need to use more.  I found it interesting that STAR in early childhood is an acronym for Stop, Take a deep breath, And Relax and in middle school it’s an acronym for Sit Up, Track the Speaker, Ask and Answer questions, and Respect the learning environment. 



This is VERY interesting to me too. Thanks for making the connection.


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Maggie Susong
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Newt82

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Reply with quote  #12 

When I was reading this chapter I thought back to a second grade girl who tried to teach me chess earlier this summer. Another friend had taught her and her parents bought a board and pieces for her to practice on. Needless to say I need a lot of practice! The girl gave up on me and pulled out a board game[smile]

I believe cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control could be applied in all subjects, but primarily in math and science. At one school I frequently substitute at students are taught to approach each math word problem by a five to six step procedure. This encourages students to really get down to the core of the problem. They must not just show how they got the answer, but also justify how they came up with the solution. Children are also encouraged to think of multiple ways to find the answer. A similar procedure is also used towards some science problems also. 

Newt82

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Reply with quote  #13 
Quote:
Originally Posted by raclark
 My students also want the good grade but many of them are just not willing to put in the time and effort they need to make the grade they want.  Also, so many of them won't even complete a task if there is not going to be a grade for it.  They don't understand the concept of practice to achieve a goal.


I've had some teachers leave notes for me when I come in to substitute to let the class know that certain worksheets are for a grade. In many classes I've had the students ask me when I hand out work, "is this for a grade?" I learned early on that if I don't say it's for a grade, they put minimal effort into the work. I just now always say when they ask, "yes it's for a grade. Everything you do today is for grade. That includes your behavior"
ritawilcox

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Reply with quote  #14 
Cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are basically methods of developing true creativity.  It can be applied to all subjects from art to math. If you are flexible in searching for your answer, or designing your project, you are allowing yourself to create a new answer, a new project,  rather than reciting a rote answer learned from someone else or tried so many times before.  Thinking outside the box is what made Andy Warhol's creations so uniquely inspiring, or developed Einstein's Theory of Relativity.  If you can control the human tendancy to take the easy path, the path that pops into your mind first, you can "brainstorm" with yourself for alternative solutions.  It's the alternative solutions that no one has tried before that finds new cures for diseases, finds new mediums for art, or finds a new way to solve a problem.  Extra credit should always be awarded for creative solutions, cognitive flexibility should be rewarded in the classroom above all else.  Isn't our goal to teach problem solving for life?  
 

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Rita Wilcox
antashjm

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Reply with quote  #15 
Cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are "central to the training" is what Spiegel says is important for chess. I think that it can be applied though to many subjects and people themselves. I think that it can be used in writing or English because it would be a useful writing and analyzing tool to see from different perspectives. Self control helps with any subject because that's one of the skills for completing any task and not getting discouraged. 
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