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Posts: 5
Reply with quote  #16 

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.

Both cognitive flexibility and cognitive self- control can be applied to any subject and any situation. I am no longer in the classroom but I deal with students and teachers on a daily basis. Whether you are analyzing a literature selection, researching a topic for a paper or project, or solving a math problem ,
thinking outside the box, looking for alternate solutions , in general, searching for a better way is crucial to a successful ending. Without cognitive self-control, lasting success would not be achieved. Encouraging students to consider other approaches in their searches for information is one way I can apply this theory . Giving them needed support encourages the development of cognitive self control. I believe both of these are critical to success in education and in life.

Posts: 89
Reply with quote  #17 

I believe Spiegel’s training can apply to any subject or extra-curricular activity in school. I was a junior high science teacher, and both cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control definitely apply to this subject, especially in the laboratory setting performing experiments and analyzing results, as well as working in groups or cooperative learning.  The ability to see alternate solutions to problems, or thinking outside the box, is probably one of the main goals/objectives of a science.  For example, coming up with a hypothesis, or educated guess, to a particular problem requires cognitive flexibility.  This skill can be difficult to teach, because so much of what students do or have done in the classroom at an early age, is drill and kill for high stakes testing.  It takes a lot of time and practice to master, as you can see in Spiegel’s chess students.  Cognitive self-control, the ability to inhibit a habitual response, is important because you have to proceed with care and caution in the laboratory setting.  Accidents can happen or the results of experiments can be null and void if not done correctly.  At the beginning of the school year and throughout, we learned about bias in science; how scientists had to be very careful they didn’t “force” their results to match their prediction or hypothesis.  In science, most of the time, your hypothesis is wrong, so you keep re-testing.  To really master these two skills, cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control, science students should be spending the majority of their time in discovery learning settings, where these invaluable skills, along with creative and higher-order thinking skills, are truly learned.


Posts: 65
Reply with quote  #18 
I teach pre-k. I would say that most of my direct cognitive flexibility instruction comes through questioning. For example, I will ask the students, "Is there another way you can build the number nine?" and other specific questions that force them to think outside of the box and expand the way they think about things. Since there aren't really "grades" at this age on assignments, it is the perfect time to help to realize that just because they may not have the "correct" answer...doesn't mean they can't learn from a situation. We do a lot of thinking aloud, which I think is also helpful in helping them construct understanding. Aside from me assisting them in cognitive flexibility through large group, small group, and individualized instruction and questioning strategies...they learn cognitive flexibility in many other ways. One of these ways is through play. For instance, when building a tower out of blocks.....and having it fall on them, they decide that they need a more effective building strategy and come up with another way to build their structure. Also, they learn a lot through their friends. Their friends are constantly scaffolding them and trying to get them to stretch their understanding/think differently. They have no filter at this age, which is very helpful for that! And, luckily, there is also lots of time for talking and playing to help them to have time to hear lots of different opinions and ideas on everything!

Cognitive self-control is really tough at this age! For many of my students, this is the first year that they are in preschool. Some of them struggle to simply sit on the carpet during circle time. We take it really slowly and build stamina throughout the year. That stamina doesn't only apply to sitting on the carpet, but to thinking through problems, working diligently, using time wisely, not rushing, evaluating if our answer makes sense, thinking of better or easier ways to do things, etc.

Posts: 8
Reply with quote  #19 
I can see how cognitive flexibility applies to math somewhat. I encourage students to use their own method of solving a problem. (As long as they can explain) I explain to those who question that it's kind of like directions. There are many ways to travel from Dallas to Austin, but get you to the same place. I wish more of my students would apply cognitive self-control. Sometimes, self-control in math means the difference between spending 10 minutes on a problem as opposed to 2 minutes bites. Many times students start working without thinking about what the question is actually asking.

Posts: 98
Reply with quote  #20 
Cognitive flexibility can be applied to many subject areas.  In math there is often more than one way to get to an answer.  My 10 year old is slightly dyslexic...not enough to get help at school, so I work with her a lot at home.  She has trouble remembering her multiplication tables.  We have tried many different methods to try to help her...I usually verbalize to her my thought processes on how I can remember some of the harder ones.  Once she sees that there are numerous ways to come to an answer, she can pick the process that fits her way of thinking best.  With a LOT of practice she has gotten better.  We also do similar things with her spelling and reading (deciphering difficult words).  I just show her that there are different tactics to use when spelling or reading.  

Cognitive self-control is important in many areas.  The first answer to a math problem that looks correct may not be the answer, there may be a better one.  I've mentioned that to my daughter more than once...You need to look at all the choices.  When she's reading, due to her dyslexia she doesn't always "see" the whole word.  So I have to try to get her to not blurt out what she thinks she slow down and really look at the word chunks.  

Posts: 61
Reply with quote  #21 

As a trade instructor at Job Corps, I am tasked with teaching job skills as well as employability behaviors. Most of my students have the ability to learn the skill, once they acknowledge the great opportunity we offer. Employability skills, on the other hand, is an unfamiliar realm (cognitive flexibility) that they must negotiate to get, keep, and be promoted in their chosen vocation. Then we have to modify their behaviors to proper responses in office environments. My students are low-income young adults (16-24 years old) who, for the most part, weren’t able to make it in public school and/or the job market. Had they learned “executive functions”, they would likely be already gainfully employed.

I’ve always had a great deal of respect for my incoming students deciding to better their lives. I’m realizing now how important it is for me to be even more patient with my students who struggle to act properly in the classroom.

I had the fortune to also read Malcolm Glaldwell’s Outliers (p.132) through a previous ATPE book study. His explanation of the need for “ten thousand hours” of practice for mastery represents, to me, the need for “cognitive self-control” – to achieve an instinctive, habitual response. My students are required to type at 50 wpm by the time they graduate from our program. Most start out at 20 wpm or less. Employment agencies are looking for typing skills in the 30’s, but we need our students to excel, to stand out. Over the 6-12 months that they are in my classroom (35 hours/week), much of their time is spent learning to type and then using those skills to become certified in Microsoft Office programs. I need Spiegel’s insight to keep after them, to evaluate their mistakes, and to keep on typing!


Posts: 22
Reply with quote  #22 
Cognitive flexibility and cognitive self-control are useful skills for many subjects (and life, in general).

Cognitive flexibility - the ability to to see alternative solutions to a problems, to think outside the box, to negotiate unfamiliar situations

One example, in a Pre-K setting, to presenting cognitive flexibility is using different versions of classic fairy tales.  There are many new versions to fairy tales that tell the story from a different perspective - like, The 3 Little Pigs told by the wolf.  Cognitive flexibility is also taught in G/T classes.  G/T students naturally think outside the box and are encouraged to do so in special G/T classes.

Cognitive self-control - the ability to inhibit an instinctive or habitual response and substitute a more effective, less obvious one

I definitely taught this is Pre-K and I didn't even realize it!  For 4 year-olds, the instinctive response for someone hitting you is to hit them back.  As their teacher, I tried to show them a more effective response - "Use your words.  Tell your friend you did not like that"

Chellie Nelson

Posts: 37
Reply with quote  #23 
I can definitely see how cognitive self-control and cognitive flexibility apply to math. I do encourage students to explore different methods of solving problems and using the method that makes the most sense to them, as long as it it mathematically sound. One example of trying to encourage cognitive flexibility other than finding different methods to solve is when asking students to find all solutions to the square root of 25. Most students will just say the answer is 5. I have to get them to continue to think of other possible solutions. -5 is another solution.
I think cognitive self-control is important in helping students really be successful in math. There are so many times where students will just blurt out what seems to be an obvious answer and I, as a teacher, need to direct them to stop and really think about the problem and work it out to get a solution. For example, students' first instinct for the problem 8^0 is 0. When you tell them that's not correct, they guess 8. I show them why the answer is 1 in hopes that knowing the reason behind it will help them to stop from just putting down their incorrect instinctual answer and remember the correct answer.

Posts: 148
Reply with quote  #24 

Cognitive flexibility is very important for my 1st grade students.  It is their ability to nimbly adjust to changing demands and priorities.  It requires considering new or different perspectives and adjusting to changes. By being flexible thinkers, students think about themselves and others, find lots of ways to fix or solve problems, accept other ideas, and try new things.  I can see my student applying this to not only math word problems that maybe challenging, but to Social Studies and Reading.  In Reading, they can use cognitive flexibility when trying to figure out how to pronounce a word or how a character may act on future events.  There are many different strategies and being flexible in their thinking would allow them to open their mind to using the  strategies.   In Social Studies, they can use it to try to solve conflicts  that may be happening in their community. 

This year, I will hopefully be teaching cognitive self-control by using the Daily 5.  This time management system helps build students’ stamina for working independently from the teacher. I will also have to help build their cognitive self-control by not working the problem through with them until they have exhausted all strategies I have taught them.


Posts: 38
Reply with quote  #25 

Cognitive Flexibility and Cognitive Self-Control apply to:

Two historical topics, Alfred Thayer Mahan's, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History:  1660-1783, and The Panama Canal, were alternative solutions to problems; both were supplying a need, and instances of inhibited habitual response (while not on a personal level conceptually, the same as not using usual a more obvious method) and substituted a more effective, less obvious one; opening the door to new technologies.  The realization of a need for naval power gave international prominence to America and of course the ship building industry developed.  The Panama Canal provided efficiency enroute to the Pacific, it was a "technological marvel." 


Posts: 27
Reply with quote  #26 

You have always gone to work using a very specific route. One day you are driving along the route and the street is blocked off because of road work. Your route has changed. What do you do? Do you sit and panic or do you come up with a new way of getting to the same location?

Cognitive flexibility is about being able to come up with new ways to think about solving problems or thinking about our thinking.

Children have different learning styles in which cognitive flexibility can play a vital part in helping kids to learn and apply new information.

It gives them the ability to look at information for different points of view and can help all learners in all subjects.

I can see applying this in any content area and at any grade level. 

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