Learning To Think, Learning To Learn Discussion with Jennifer Cromley - Transcript - 2001

Learning To Think, Learning To Learn Discussion with Jennifer Cromley

Full Transcript of the Discussion

A. List Moderator's introduction of Jennifer Cromley.

Beginning February 26, Jennifer Cromley from NIFL will join the family literacy discussion list for a discussion of her book, "Learning to Think, Learning to Learn: What the Science of Thinking and Learning Has to Offer Adult Education." You will need to order her book now in order to review it prior to the discussion. The book is free from ED Pubs and ordering information is at the end of this message.

Jennifer was a Literacy Leader Fellow with NIFL from 1998-1999, and is now on staff at the National Institute for Literacy as Program Officer for NIFL's Literacy Leader Fellowships. Information about her fellowship project and resulting book are available at http://www.nifl.gov/activities/fllwname.htm. Jennifer Cromley has coordinated the evening GED program and the volunteer program at Academy of Hope, a private, non-profit GED program in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. For eleven years she taught basic reading, writing, and math in the context of occupational health and safety training. She has trained over 300 volunteer teachers and peer educators across the U.S. over the last ten years. Jennifer is the author of a training manual on writing Plain English materials, co-author of a GED teacher training curriculum, and author of eight workplace health and safety manuals. She is a 1986 graduate of Yale University, B.A. Labor Studies. Her education interests include popular education, research-based teaching methods, hot cognition, and writing easy-to-read materials. She loves to play the flute and violin, listen to music, cook and bake.

EdPubs 1-877-433-7827 or order online at www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html or send an e-mail to mailto:edpubs@inet.ed.gov and tell them you want to order a copy of "Learning to Think, Learning to Learn: What the Science of Thinking and Learning Has to Offer Adult Education." Give them your name, mailing address, your phone number. It will take a couple of weeks to get your copy, but then you will still have another couple of weeks to review it prior to the discussion.

Nancy Sledd
Training Specialist
National Center for Family Literacy
Louisville, KY

This week, Jennifer Cromley joins us on the list to respond to questions you may have about her book, "Learning to Think, Learning to Learn." Below is her "welcome message" to us. So, those of you who have taken the time to review her book, begin asking questions or making comments.

Nancy Sledd, NIFL-Family list moderator

[Note: In this Summary of our Guest Question and Answer Session, our Guest's words will be in italics.]

B. Jennifer's introduction to the discussion about her book: Learning To Think, Learning To Learn.

B1.
Dear members of the Family Literacy community:

Nancy was nice enough to invite me to be a guest on the listserv and I am happy to join you all. I have taught adults for about 11 years now, both in ABE/GED and workplace health and safety training. Right now I am tutoring in a remedial high school program. Nancy's invitation grew out of my NIFL Fellowship project, a book called Learning to Think, Learning to Learn.

I hope that some of you may have had a chance to order it from the Dept. of Education's EdPubs mailing center. For those who have seen it, some questions to spark discussion:

  • What in the book resonated for you--made you think, Oh, so that's why that works in the classroom?
  • What in the book made you wonder, I'd like to know more about that.
  • What did you find that did *not* resonate with your teaching experience?

Again, I am happy to join all of you for a while and look forward to our dialogue.

--Jennifer

B2.
One of the biggest challenges in education is helping our students (parents and children both) take what they learn in classes and apply it to their lives, and also bring what they have learned in life to help learn new information in classes. In writing my book, I found 6 "keys" that have been suggested to facilitate this:

  1. Teach skills in multiple contexts -- grammar skills learned on a worksheet will not necessarily transfer to writing a letter -- use real-life tasks in class, too.
  2. Teach when to use the skill, not just how to do it -- students who know how to add fractions, but not when to add will have trouble using math.
  3. Teach through patterns -- if students know that 6 x 9 is the same as 9 x 6, they only have to memorize half as much of the multiplication tables -- spelling learned through patterns can allow students to spell many new words.
  4. Teach for understanding -- textbooks often only ask students to repeat shallow facts -- have real conversations that get into why things happen and how they relate, and students will be better able to figure out new problems.
  5. Students need to apply their understanding when solving problems -- a student who thinks, "I saw a word problem with this word in it once before" will have trouble figuring out what to do - "is this addition? subtraction?," etc. Ask students how they got the answer, even when they got it right!
  6. Students need realistic ideas about what learning is -- students who think that learning is about "doing worksheets" or sitting in class will have trouble applying what they learn to real life. We can help students start to understand learning as making new information part of themselves by doing #1-5 above.

Do you do these in your teaching?
Do you see students making connections?
Are there any of these that you do not do regularly that appeal to you?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

Jennifer Cromley,
National Institute for Literacy

C. Subscriber responses.

C1.
Dear Ms. Cromley:

I am only a few chapters into your book but am thoroughly enjoying it. I had such an eye-opener about "transfer" recently.

In a large, multilevel ESL class, I work with the lowest group as a group for a little while each day. We were learning to construct sentences, and in this one setting, we worked and repeated until the sentence was grammatically correct. I found as a foreign-language learner that it helps to hear the correct grammar over and over, and finally the incorrect doesn't sound right any more. The students were progressing so well. An example of what we did: "Everybody, touch your shoulder." "What are you doing?" "I am touching my shoulder." And on and on with many varieties. They began to flow smoothly with entire sentences intact.

After a few weeks, I was doing some Total Physical Response exercises with the whole class as a last exercise of the day "wake-up". After they had responded to a few commands, I called on one of my lower students to answer, "What are you doing?" I knew they could do it and it would give them a boost to answer correctly in front of the entire group. Their response? "She touch she ear."

I realized that they saw our activity only as an exercise conducted sitting around a table, and did not even transfer it to another location in the classroom, let alone their homes or workplaces. I realized I would have to begin using the same skill in other settings. Your book is helping me to refine the process. Thanks.

Cami Bunting, Adult ESL Instructor, DeKalb Technical Institute, Covington, Georgia

C2.
What book is this? Lisa Schmalzried

C3.
I am finding some important information in Learning to Think: Learning to Learn, and I'm grateful to Jennifer for serving as a guest moderator on this list serv.

One point I want to emphasize from Jennifer's study is the importance of making connections for transfer of learning. She says on page 17 that teachers should "imagine the transfer they want students to make and teach in a way that helps students make those connections." For me, this transfer has multiple meanings.

      • It translates into the need to teach how the components in a family literacy program are related and why it is critical to demonstrate how adult education, early childhood education, parent time and PACT Time are structured to make connections intentionally and incidentally. Simply telling parents in family literacy programs that these components integrate isn't enough. They must have concrete examples to illustrate that the four components are a system of influence on children and families.
      • As we look forward to the 2002 GED Exam and the fact that it demands more critical thinking, teachers can also make connections to the early childhood curriculum and its emphasis on problem solving.
      • As more family literacy programs adopt Equipped for the Future Standards to guide their adult education curriculum, we will need to demonstrate the connections to the language and literacy, as well as the numeracy experiences in the early childhood component. It is especially important to demonstrate and practice, practice, practice the intersections of the Parent Role Map to the Worker Role Map, as well as the Community Member Role Map.

Hope to see you all in Dallas at the Conference on Family Literacy.

Meta Potts
FOCUS on Literacy
Glendale, AZ

C4.
I was interested in reading Melba's response to this message and just wanted to 'endorse' her comments. I do a lot of Early Childhood Brain Development Research presentations to groups of parents, childcare givers, educators, etc. and we are moving into the second phase of our educational programming "Early Literacy - the Key to School Readiness" - so I see a link here with your programs. I have contacted our LIFT office here in Missouri offering to do some in-service for EvenStart programs throughout the state and other groups they work with but have been told that their staff is 'fully trained' in this area and they do not need any assistance. However, almost every week I get a call or email from someone out in the State with Even Start programs and other Literacy programs wanting materials on the aspect of Early Childhood Brain Development as it relates to Literacy -- so no sure where the break down in communication is. I sure wish I could attend your national conference but financially this is not possible for me. Enjoy this listserve very much.

Joyce Taylor
Executive Director
MO Association of Family and Consumer Sciences
Fayette, MO

C5.
Jennifer,

I spent quite a bit of time reading your book prior to designing a new adult curriculum. What stood out for me is your research-driven conclusion that thinking and learning to think, and thinking to learn are three distinct cognitive processes that continue during an adult's life span - if it is exercised and reinforced. Your work is a prime example of the science of teaching as it enhances the teacher's art. You have debunked many myths about the learning process - from the role of repetition and rehearsal (good for the quiz tomorrow bad for application in a life of EFF challenges) to learning styles (what a student prefers might not enhance learning outcomes at all). Your practical examples and suggestions for teachers are valuable contributions to the field. Unfortunately, planning time for many adult educators is a luxury and most certainly, study groups to reflect on new advancements in the field are limited to discrete workshops.

My question to you is; how can we transfer the content of your book to professional development of adult educators? What forum would you recommend? In other words, how can the profession of adult education and literacy be strengthened by teaching teachers to learn more about learning, to think more about thinking, and then to transfer these lessons learned to daily practice? Could this be done through distance learning, on-line course work, or a new and yet unexplored paradigm? Can we pilot a new model of professional development based on thinking about learning and learning to think?

Your work is a significant contribution to the National Literacy Summit Action Agenda Priority III, Outcome E: "Strong research and de development capacity, focused on teaching and learning, develops knowledge and tools that are responsive to the needs of the field." Now we need to connect it with outcome D that involves paid and volunteer staff in professional development activities to upgrade their knowledge and skills.

Best,
Jeri Levesque, Ed.D.
Associate Professor, Webster University
Program Consultant, LIFT-Missouri

C6.
Jennifer

I've read most of your book and am *extremely* impressed by the clarity and soundness of your presentation. I train inmates to tutor each other in San Quentin State Prison in California, and your tips will now be included in our training. Your book is also inspiring me to encourage other trainers in our literacy program to rethink how we train our volunteers in the community to become tutors. I have recommended your book to everyone I know in the adult literacy field!

I have felt for a long time that once people are equipped with the tools to learn, they can learn anything that they put their minds to. Your book has given me research-based support for my biases. I feel it is critically important for all students (young and older) to learn these skills so that we, as a society, can benefit from their good thinking.

Keep up the great work.
Jane Curtis
Inmate Literacy Services
Marin Literacy Program
San Rafael, CA

C7.
From: marsea amani jones
O bondswoman of God!
The human spirit possesseth wondrous powers,
but it should be reinforced by the Holy Spirit...
Then will that human spirit uncover realities,
and unravel mysteries.
Turn thy heart fully to the Holy Spirit,
and invite others to do the same;
then shall ye witness wonderful results.
`Abdu'l-Baha, Selections page 160

D. Closing by the List Moderator.

Thank you, Jennifer. Although there was not a lot of discussion about your book on this list while you were with us, I am hoping that is because everyone is busy writing grants and proposals for their program's continuation next year. I think your book is an excellent resource that every adult educator in family literacy needs to read and use as reference as they plan their lessons.

For those of you just joining the list, beginning February 26, Jennifer Cromley from NIFL joined the family literacy discussion list for a discussion of her book, "Learning to Think, Learning to Learn: What the Science of Thinking and Learning Has to Offer Adult Education." The book is free from ED Pubs and ordering information is at the end of this message.

Jennifer was a Literacy Leader Fellow with NIFL from 1998-1999, and is now on staff at the National Institute for Literacy as Program Officer for NIFL's Literacy Leader Fellowships. Jennifer Cromley has coordinated the evening GED program and the volunteer program at Academy of Hope, a private, non-profit GED program in the Columbia Heights neighborhood of Washington, DC. For eleven years she taught basic reading, writing, and math in the context of occupational health and safety training. She has trained over 300 volunteer teachers and peer educators across the U.S. over the last ten years. Jennifer is the author of a training manual on writing Plain English materials, co-author of a GED teacher training curriculum, and author of eight workplace health and safety manuals. She is a 1986 graduate of Yale University, B.A. Labor Studies. Her education interests include popular education, research-based teaching methods, hot cognition, and writing easy-to-read materials. She loves to play the flute and violin, listen to music, cook and bake.

EdPubs 1-877-433-7827 or order online at http://www.ed.gov/pubs/edpubs.html or send an e-mail to edpubs@inet.ed.gov <> and tell them you want to order a copy of "Learning to Think, Learning to Learn: What the Science of Thinking and Learning Has to Offer Adult Education." Give them your name, mailing address, your phone number. It will take a couple of weeks to get your copy.

Nancy Sledd, Family LiteracyTraining Specialist
National Center for Family Literacy
Louisville, KY