2/21/20 - Greetings from the Big Easy!

Written by Chelle Wabrek, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs
Happy Mardi Gras Weekend!
 
My week has been truncated as I left on Wednesday evening to get to New Orleans to be with my family for a big weekend.  My sons ride in a Krewe called Tucks, which will roll on Saturday and it is nice to have us all together. This made my week in classrooms, especially with our training on Tuesday, limited.
 
Thank you so much for the emails following our work together!  I loved that many of you highlighted work that students are doing that speak directly to Mind Brain Education. 
 
This 9th grade student designed a Minecraft video to teach his viewers about the utility of trigonometry to solve problems related to angles of elevation and depression -- dual coding in action! 
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Our fine arts staff have some great ideas about how to help students learn to do some simple drawing that allows them to visualize in notes or draw pictures to check comprehension!
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On my drive down to New Orleans I listened to half of Daniel Kahneman's book, Thinking Fast and Slow, a text that does a wonderful job clearly explaining many of the processes of the mind. 
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His work on mental effort and the connections between intuitive and emotions (and often biased) systems of the brain and the logical and deliberatives systems provide tremendous insight into attention, working memory and cognition. 
One interesting vignette from the text highlights a study by Christopher Chabris and Daniel Simons, called The Invisible Gorilla.  In a 30 second video, participants are tasked with counting the number of passes the people in the white shirts make. (The video is connected to that link above). 
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Interestingly enough, roughly 50% of the people who watched (when the study was completed at Harvard), did NOT see the gorilla. Their work highlights the way minds can focus and what they choose to focus on (often based on bias......those highly myelinated synapses do good....AND they create automatic firing in times when we need them to NOT). This work on inattentional blindness provides tremendous insight into the assumptions people make and the conclusions they jump to and raises interesting questions about multi-tasking.
 
I must dash off to pick up a ridiculous number of king cakes before my family descends, but I do want to end with a key insight that Tuesday left in my mind.  How does our work contribute to the belonging mindset?  In the gorilla experiment, 50% of the people simply "erased" a person who walked through the video.  There are subtle versions of this all around us and I am honored to work in a place where we deliberately "upshift" kids and each other, to ensure students are known and loved.
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Happy Mardi Gras!
 
Chelle
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