Taking the Stress Out of Homework

4th March 2021

Cheery Friday Greetings to our Learning How to Learners!

Book of the Month

Taking the Stress Out of Homework: Organizational, Content-Specific, and Test-Prep Strategies to Help Your Children Help Themselves, by Abby Freireich and Brian Platzer. This wonderful book is a much-needed masterpiece—chock-full of simple, easy-to-implement ideas that will enable you to help your child whatever your own background or skill levels. One thing we particularly like about this book is that it shows you exactly how to be most effective you’re your help, whether the topic is math, reading, writing, or what-have-you. For example, Freireich and Platzer write:

“We’re about to walk you through some of the most common mistakes we see our students make. But the real question is: How are you supposed to give all this advice?

“If Lisa’s mom sat her down and said, ‘Use correct homophones and don’t write long sentences and watch out for pronoun antecedents and don’t repeat words and avoid cliches,’ Lisa would run out of the room screaming.

“If your child is open to your feedback, make it a game that allows her to do the critical thinking, rather than simply stating which errors need to be corrected.  Point to a sentence or line of text, and ask them if they can identify two or three mechanical or grammatical errors.  This puts them in the driver’s seat (in editing, we should have revised this cliché!) and means that they are more likely to internalize the edits needed.”

If you are a parent or caregiver, you want this book—it provides the best material we know of to help you help your child learn better! Also good as an audio read.

Barb Speaking for Coursera’s Bold & Innovative Educator Series

At 8:00 am Eastern time (6:30 pm India Standard Time) on Tuesday, March 9th, Barb will be giving an online webinar “Uncommon Sense Teaching in a Post-COVID World” for Coursera’s Bold & Innovative Educator Series. This talk gives an excellent perspective on the good—and the bad—aspects of active learning, and also provides insights from research about high-impact teaching interventions.  If you are looking to lead your institution with better practices based on sound research—and have a little fun seeing how driving mindlesslessly along a road is related to student motivation—this talk is for you.  The webinar is free: Register here.

IDoRecallNow You (or Your Students) Can Study with Buddies!

We have often described iDoRecall (iDR) as our favorite flashcard system (Barb has volunteered as their Chief Learning Science Advisor, basically because iDR is a learning system that leverages a host of cognitive science-backed principles.) With iDR, users create spaced-repetition flashcards linked to the facts and concepts in their learning materials that they want to remember. When they practice memory retrieval, if they struggle with an answer, they can click to view the source learning file or video at the precise location where they learned it. “Learning materials” in the setting of iDR can be PDFs, Word-compatible files, PowerPoints, image files, and videos. 

One of iDR’s unique features is the ability to create a GROUP. Students can use this feature to create a study group and invite classmates to join in and gang tackle a subject, sharing their flashcards and study materials with their friends. Group members can clone this content into their individual iDR accounts. When they clone flashcards that have source-linked files into their personal iDR accounts, the source links, when clicked, will open the linked content at the precise, relevant locations.

David Handel, MD, created iDoRecall based upon the strategies that helped him graduate #1 in his medical school class. Before he started using the cognitive science-backed principles to guide his studying, he had been a lifelong mediocre student. Here is a demo of the GROUPS section of the iDoRecall that is part of a comprehensive deep-dive video.

Here is a special coupon code you can use at checkout:  FriendOfBarb. This coupon gives a 20% discount for all types of subscriptions and is unlike any other coupon iDoRecall has ever created in that it’s recurring. This means that when your subscription renews, the discount is reapplied to the renewal, perpetually. 

5 Online Learning Strategies for Students

Here’s an article by Barb in e-Student about online learning strategies for students. 

Going to Extremes 

We received a raft of supportive emails about last week’s Cheery Friday emphasizing the need for proof of efficacy with regard anti-bias training. Many readers share researchers’ concerns that the explosion of untried programs may well be worsening instead of improving bias. But we were surprised to also receive several emails observing that we shouldn’t have looked at or linked to a conservative website—no matter that the reporting might be accurate or that it cites a high-quality scientific study.  

In this regard, we’d like to gently observe that genuine learning means being able to assess the quality of an article for yourself, and not just instantly discard information because it’s not from your own crowd. Would we want conservatives to spurn reading progressive periodicals simply because the periodical didn’t agree with their leanings?  Refusing to take the time to open-mindedly consider others’ perspectives is how extremism begins.  Cass Sunstein’s outstanding Going to Extremes provides an excellent description of this phenomenon. Here is a relevant excerpt:

“Much of the time, groups of people end up thinking and doing things that group members would never think or do on their own. This is true for groups of teenagers, who are willing to run risks that individuals would avoid. It is certainly true for those prone to violence, including terrorists and those who commit genocide. It is true for investors and corporate executives. It is true for government officials, neighborhood groups, social reformers, political protestors, police officers, student organizations, labor unions, and juries. Some of the best and worst developments in social life are a product of group dynamics, in which members of organizations, both small and large, move one another in new directions… When people find themselves in groups of like-minded types, they are especially likely to move to extremes… Political extremism is often a product of group polarization, and social segregation is a useful tool for producing polarization.”

Sunstein’s Going to Extremes is one of the top ten books we would recommend that all well-read people should read.

That’s all for this week. Have a happy week in Learning How to Learn!

Barb, Terry, and the entire Learning How to Learn team

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