CIVA, a CO Quantum Learning school, wins state award!

A charter school Quantum Learning has partnered with for many years was just awarded the Colorado Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for exceptional student growth on state assessments.  …  Its doing “different and unusual things to help students achieve”.  Through QL, it uses techniques to keep students alert and interested.

“It’s the concept of paying much more attention to students’ state of learning and making sure teachers are delivering engaging, memorable lessons. The whole atmosphere is positive and peer-friendly. Our approach focuses on ensuring students are in the best place to learn – mentally, emotionally, and physically.” Randy Zimmerman, headmaster.

This video is featured on the CO Department of Education website as part of its series “Stories of Promising Practices” https://youtu.be/JSVJf9rPgVA

Randy wrote us: “Partnering with QL has benefited our students and staff immensely.  I love being a part of creating a school where students are excelling.”

Keep the 8 Keys alive! A personal share of what they can mean.


Have you been aware of the 8 Keys of Excellence for years or are you new to them? Either way, one of the questions we at Quantum Learning frequently get is “How can I keep the momentum of the 8 Keys going” or “How can I keep the 8 Keys fresh with my students who have known them for many years?” Check out this short video of one of our Senior Facilitators and Educational Consultants, Shari Murphy, as she shares how she keeps the keys “alive” and how “This is it” has changed for her on a 20 year journey.

QUANTUM LEARNING’S MINDFUL ENVIRONMENTS

Quantum Learning has coached and inspired teachers and facilitators to create mindful environments for the last three decades (since 1982). Our methodology includes two tenets—Everything is on Purpose and Everything Speaks—that remind us to pay attention to every detail of our learning environment because everything our students hear, see and do sends a message, either positive or negative. It’s up to us as teachers to be attentive and understand the impact of the environment we create.

These tenets and the importance of being mindful of the impact of everything around us was driven home to me when in 1979 I studied with Dr. Georgi Lozanov, a Bulgarian psychiatrist and educator. His teaching methodology was declared a “technology worth merit and further study” in 1978 by UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

Since that time, we have been diligent in our study and application of Dr. Lozanov’s methods in our student and teacher development programs. In 2010, Dr. Lozanov invited me to submit an account of our programs and their impact on participants. My paper was included as part of Dr. Lozanov’s further research and report on the effectiveness of these methods to UNESCO’s Education for All. Before his death in 2012, Dr. Lozanov expressed that he held me and one other as students who excelled in their understandingand adherence to the integrity of his fundamental principles.

One of Lozanov’s methods highlights the need for students to be relaxed, alert and curious about what’s next, and to maintain a positive attitude and an eagerness to learn. He emphasized the need for lessons to be purposefully planned and well-orchestrated to consistently get outstanding results. Everything is on purpose.

Mindfulness is about paying attention, moment by moment, to all aspects of our classroom environment, including the following.

  • physical environment: seating arrangement, light, temperature, purposeful art, positive messages, visual reinforcement of content
  • emotional atmosphere: positive language, joy, acknowledgment
  • purposeful instruction where teachers intentionally design and deliver lessons that
    • engage students and build curiosity,
    • immerse them in an experience that connects to the content,
    • reinforces their learning, and
    • guides their review, self-reflection and celebration.

Everything Speaks
One of our Quantum Learning directives is Send Intentional Messages.

“Everything we say and do sends a message that either positively or negatively impacts the quality of learning—there is no neutral.

“Whether it’s actions, interactions, body language, quality and formatting of handouts, posters, display of student work, room arrangement, teacher’s manner of dress—everything speaks. Everything that takes place in the classroom sends a message, but only students can decide what the message is and what it means to them. Knowledge of everything speaks means we view the classroom and all that’s in it with consideration of what message it sends.” (Excerpt: Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System, p. 20)

 Everything is on Purpose
Another QL directive is Be Purposeful.

Being deliberate in what you say and do leads to achieving desired outcomes.

Because everything speaks, we must be very purposeful about what we do and say. Think What is my desired outcome? and make choices that propel learners to that outcome. Whether we are choosing an instructional strategy or placing posters on the walls, we must be consciously intentional—everything we do is on purpose. This focus encourages a greater awareness of all the variables that influence learning. Every aspect of the environment needs to be purposefully designed with the student in mind, and with what research supports. The environment must not distract from the learning process. We are purposeful with our planning and actions to orchestrate successful learning.” (Excerpt: Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System p. 102)

Conscious and Nonconscious Learning
Learning is dual-planed. We learn through both our conscious and nonconscious  (referred to by Lozanov as para-conscious) mind. Everything makes a suggestion, either consciously or nonconsciously. While a student is consciously listening to the teacher, his mind is nonconsciously absorbing information from the environment such as peripherals, the teacher’s mood and tone of voice, noises in the room and outside, as well as many other stimuli not consciously observed.

In Gut Feelings: The Intelligence of the Unconscious, Gerd Gigerenzer (2007), a German psychologist says, “Unconscious inferences weave together data from the senses using prior knowledge about the world. . . . They are triggered by external stimuli in an automatic way.” (Part 2, chapter 7, online, n.p.)

Lozanov believed there was no neutral, only positive or negative. Teachers have the responsibility of making a concerted effort to create as many positives as possible in a comfortable, safe, and fun learning environment.” (Excerpt: Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System, p. 88)

Summary
At Quantum Learning we believe that those comfortable, safe and fun learning environments referred to by Georgi Lozanov are what effective teaching and learning are all about. And we know from our 35 years of inspiring and teaching educators to create them that mindful environments work!

 QLEBlogMindfulEnvironments1 QLEBlogMindfulEnvironments2

Being mindful of your classroom environment can start small or you can go all out as did Kelli Myers, a QL teacher in Tennessee, who greeted her students at the start of the year in a beach-themed classroom.


Summary of Research Findings about Mindfulness and Quantum Learning Environments

Benefits Mindfulness Quantum Learning
Attention improvements in attentiveness increased ability to interest self in class; enjoyed learning more
Compassion improved respect for others better relationships with peers and family
Calming less hyperactive behavior;
stress relief
increased ability to access optimal states for better performance; better behavior
Atmosphere enhanced school climate made the classroom an enjoyable place for students and teachers
Self-efficacy greater well-being develop emotional and physical trust

http://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/research_round_up_school_based_mindfulness_programs
http://quantumlearning.com/research_and_results.aspx


3 Steps Toward a Mindful Environment

  1. Know and orchestrate optimal learning states. We can orchestrate the conditions that optimize learning. One condition is state. State is one’s emotional/psychological/physical frame of mind. When students access a relaxed yet alert state of being, they are more focused. Their attentiveness heightens and receptivity increases. Ask yourself: What state of mind do my students need to be in to be successful? Your answers most likely include, focused, curious, open, attentive, willing. Now ask yourself: In what ways can my classroom environment elicit those optimal states for learning? Perhaps you’re thinking about lighting, temperature, seating, sounds. Since state has a powerful influence on the development of working memory, comprehension, and retention, take the time to know and orchestrate the conditions that elicit students’ optimal states for learning.
  2. Model the mindset you want in your students. You impact the attitudes and mindsets of your students. Your frame of mind (your emotional/psychological/physical state) is a multisensory cue that elicits a mirror response from your students. Ever stood before your class feeling passionate about the content and excited to share what you know? It’s not long before you see bright eyes, smiles and students leaning forward in anticipation of what’s coming next. Powerful, right? This works in reverse, too! A student shares exciting news about something they did or an insight they had about yesterday’s lesson and the class feels and responds to their excitement. Choose your state as you begin a lesson—be wondrous, curious, excited about the topic. Shift your state throughout the lesson. Be reflective during question and answer times. Be calm yet direct when addressing behavior issues. Be friendly as students enter and exit class.
  3. Maintain a constant awareness of the messages you’re sending. This ability begins with the undeniable fact that everything in the environment sends a message—positive or negative. At Quantum Learning we say everything speaks. Look around your room. What messages are you sending? What message does a disheveled desktop send? What message does warm lighting and greenery send? Everything, always, sends a message that either promotes or undermines learning. What messages are the walls sending? Take a moment to define what messages you want your physical environment to send. Perhaps you’re thinking along the lines of cooperation, growth, curiosity, and orderliness. Whatever the messages, be sure your classroom space always supports them.

Excerpts from Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System

Excerpts from Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System by Barbara K. Given and Bobbi DePorter

8 Keys of Excellence – Principles to Live By
The 8 Keys of Excellence are central to a strong foundation. The 8 Keys are principles to live by: Integrity, Failure Leads to Success, Speak with Good Purpose, This Is It, Commitment, Ownership, Flexibility, and Balance. Each Key is specifically taught, reinforced, and sustained throughout the year and are designed to help students develop positive character traits and a joy in learning. When learning the Keys in the classroom, students tend to support one another’s character development.

Living by the 8 Keys of Excellence involves developing a strong inner core of character. In essence, the Keys define who we are and what we stand for. They guide our behavior and actions. The 8 Keys involve decisions about how to live our life now, but the personal impact of the Keys lasts far into the future.

The 8 Keys of Excellence Curriculum provides lessons to use throughout the year and is available online along with the 8 Keys of Excellence book and 8 Keys wall signs for your classroom.

Class Decision Making
With the 8 Keys of Excellence as the basis of how we operate together, we move to creating standards for the classroom. To get student buy-in, we involve them in the decision-making processof creating the vision and purpose for the class. Teacher/student decision making at the beginning of a new school year is important for several reasons:

  • The decision-making process helps students get acquainted through participation in an authentic, academic task. Each student brings to the process an experiential history of how classes operate and discussion encourages students to share their points of view.
  • Small-group decision making allows all students to participate. Reliance on small-group interaction and volunteer sharing allows hesitant students the safety to share with a few students, while giving those with more confidence opportunities to model active participation.
  • Collaborative decision-making skills can be useful in many areas of students’ lives.
  • Class decision making reinforces district and school rules and regulations by reviewing and clarifying them prior to making decisions on how the class will operate.
  • When students are responsible for establishing their own classroom operational procedures and agreements, they are more apt to take ownership of them.

Accepting someone else’s expectations is a far cry from developing one’s own. Doing something out of a sense of compulsion isn’t at all the same thing as doing it because one knows and feels that it is the right thing to do. The ultimate reason to give children a say is that it can help them to make their own good decisions, to grow into ethical and compassionate people—not because it will make them internalize what we want them to do. (Kohn, 1996, p. 83) . . . Anyone who truly values democratic ideals would presumably want to maximize children’s experiences with choice and negotiation. (Kohn, 1996, p. 85)

  • Perhaps the most important in terms of building community is that student decision making immediately establishes guidelines for how the class will move forward as a socially conscious learning community.

Decision making requires application of critical thinking skills. At the beginning of a semester, however, our primary focus is on the decisions rather than the process. Although secondary to the primary focus of determining how the class will operate for the semester, decision-making skills are taught through modeling and guidance during the process. The decisions inform the learning community about how the class will function. Therefore, the teacher models the decision-making process and refers back to it when expressly teaching decision making later in the semester.

Decisions should lead to some meaningful outcome. That’s why in Quantum Learning we begin the semester with decisions that will impact students’ lives. These have to do with agreements and procedures students will follow as well as clarification of responsibilities that all involved parties agree to assume. 

Class Procedures and Agreements
In QL classrooms, students work with the teacher to determine how the class will operate. Procedures let everyone know what to expect and what action to take. Procedures include whether or not class meetings will be held and, if so, how often; how class members line up (or not) for exiting; where to place homework; where to pick up personal folders (if they are used); where to return them with completed work; how the first several minutes are used for roll call, review of previous work, and announcements. Procedures create routine that provides a sense of stability, control and structure, and makes it possible to start and end class on time.

In developing class agreements, students define what everyone views as the ideal outcome for being together. They consider what they want their class to look like and feel like and create informal agreements to make that happen. For example, students may agree to listen quietly and attentively when another student is talking. Such agreements build respect among students and lead to a cohesive, productive classroom.

Because agreements are determined by the class, all class members have a responsibility to see that the agreements are upheld. Specific to QL is an agreement to personally practice the 8 Keys of Excellence, to acknowledge others for living a Key, and to hold oneself and others accountable when a Key is violated. A simple hand signal or a question such as What Key is challenging you right now? encourage students to conduct a quick self-assessment and correct the behavior. Even if the teacher unintentionally violates a Key and no one points it out, he can say something like I just violated a Key and no one called me on it. What could you have done to make me aware of it in the moment?This action reinforces the fact that the class operates on democratic principles with a leader who sometimes needs to be reminded of the classroom agreements.

Student discussion and input on classroom agreements help instill student ownership. In a San Diego classroom, members of a fourth-grade class proudly shared with a visitor a poster they had created of their class agreements and all the actions they promised to uphold. The teacher said it was rare for students to break an agreement, and that when they did they were quick to acknowledge their mistake, self-correct, and apologize. The teacher felt this was a direct result of the students having worked together to create the agreements.

In creating agreements and procedures, students derive additional benefits as a result of the class decision-making process. They

  • learn how to work collaboratively in a group,
  • learn how to make decisions that impact the group,
  • gain clarity regarding how the class will operate,
  • take ownership of the agreements and procedures, and
  • practice living the 8 Keys of Excellence in the process of creating a socially viable learning community.

School and district policies and procedures also affect the classroom procedures. At the beginning of the semester or year, it’s important to make sure all students are aware of them and agree to follow them. Classroom procedures and agreements need to be aligned with those of the wider education arena.

In addition, school handbooks usually state what students are to do if tardy or absent, how to sign in for the day electronically if student swipe cards are used, what to do if a student needs to be in the hall during class time, how to arrange to stay late for after-school activities, how to get help with homework, what to do if feeling ill, and other information that lets students know what to do in various situations.

Two educational innovators bring excellence to classrooms.

Two influential innovators in the education field have teamed up to make an impact in

classrooms with the newly published book Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System. Barbara K. Given, Ph.D., author of Teaching to the Brain’s Natural Learning Systems, and our own Bobbi DePorter, have combined their in-depth knowledge of teaching and learning in this latest publication. The purpose of the book is to provide the how along with supporting evidence that supplies teachers with the methods needed for excellence in teaching. From teacher feedback during QLN’s professional development programs, it became apparent that much of the knowledge required for excellence in teaching is not taught in higher education teacher preparation courses.

“One of the major differences between ineffective and highly effective teachers lies in their design and delivery of instruction,” said Bobbi DePorter. “By implementing the theories and methods of Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System, teachers can increase their effectiveness while facilitating student mastery of rigorous academic content.”

There’s a lot expected from teachers and often there is little direction or support for how to get the required results. With today’s more rigorous standards, teachers are expected to prepare all students to be college and career ready by the time they leave high school. Without new information and professional development tools to improve delivery of instruction, these expectations are unrealistic. Excellence in Teaching and Learning is a comprehensive approach that empowers teachers to achieve the desired goal that students leave high school prepared for success in college and career with strong character and citizenship traits.

The book focuses on two main sections—Components of Culture and Components of Cognition, each with three parts that cover one of the learning systems and the corresponding QL component. Culture consists of Social Learning/Foundation, Emotional Learning/Atmosphere, and Implicit Learning/Environment. Cognition encompasses Cognitive Learning/Design, Physical Learning/Deliver, and Reflective Learning/Deepen.

“The importance of teachers cannot be overstated,” said Barbara Given, co-author. “They are the most controllable variable in students’ academic achievement.”

In addition to penning Teaching to the Brain’s Natural Learning Systems, Barbara has written Learning Styles: A Guide for Teachers and Parents. She spent five decades as a teacher, associate professor, and researcher with an emphasis on students with learning disabilities and emotional disturbances. At George Mason University (GMU) in Fairfax, Virginia, she initiated the Special Education Teacher Preparation Program and an academic summer program, Breakthrough Learning.

Bobbi is author or co-author of more than a dozen books including Quantum Teaching, The Seven Biggest Teen Problems and How to Turn Them into Strengths, and The 8 Keys of Excellence. She is also cofounder and CEO of Quantum Learning Network (QLN), a leading education company based in Oceanside, California. QLN produces SuperCamp summer enrichment programs for students, now with 70,000 graduates and programs in 14 countries, and Quantum Learning Education school programs for teachers, administrators, and students.

To purchase the book Excellence in Teaching and Learning: The Quantum Learning System visit www.quantumlearning.com/books

Study reveals social and emotional learning results in unprecedented returns.

In February, Columbia University released the outcome of a groundbreaking study called “The Economic Value of Social and Emotional Learning.” And their findings might surprise you.

Over the last year, the Columbia study’s authors, Henry M. Levin and Clive Belfield, examined the economic returns from investments in six prominent social and emotional interventions—from learning and literacy programs to combat aggression and violence; to efforts to promote positive thinking, actions, and self-concepts; to practices that improve problem-solving abilities, capacities to manage emotions, and the very skills that lead to greater student motivation and engagement in their learning.

What the two gentlemen discovered was that each of the socially and emotionally focused programs—4R’s, Positive Action, Life Skills Training, Second Step, Responsive Classroom, and Social and Emotional Training (Sweden)—showed significant benefits that exceeded costs. Furthermore, the average among the six interventions showed that for every dollar spent, there was a return of more than 11 dollars. Beyond a monetary return on investment, other benefits include reductions in child aggression, substance abuse, delinquency, and violence; lower levels of depression and anxiety; and increased grades, attendance, and performance in core academic subjects.

In conclusion, social and emotional learning is now backed by research on its power to promote improved test scores. This now builds a strong economic case to unleash a full-scale national effort to make social and emotional learning a core part of education from prekindergarten through high school. And as you may already know there’s no better organization to implement these soft skills districtwide than Quantum Learning!

Build a brand of educational excellence.

By Mark Reardon

Superintendents, principals, and teachers often let their brand develop haphazardly. But the most respected brands—the ones that communicate educational excellence—are intentional. As chief learning officer for Quantum Learning, I have helped many educators build their brand and understand how it’s important.

Brand redefined.

Your brand states the non-negotiable to which you are committed. The more clearly defined your values, the more pervasive and credible your brand will be.

Your brand though, is only as good as your culture. Your brand is what you value above all else, and culture is the expression of that brand.

To ensure your culture reflects your brand, follow this simple axiom: Experiences shape our expectations; expectations shape our expressions.

Brand of excellence.

Begin by evaluating the things people say and do in your classrooms, in your schools, and at the district office. These are your expressions.

Let’s say your organization values excellence, good qualities in high degree. You would expect to see excellence embodied at every level. You would see teachers attending professional development, parents engaged at meetings, students thinking at higher levels, and real estate agents praising the quality of education in the community.

In this example, the expressions reflect the organization’s non-negotiable values. They reflect a brand of excellence.

Next, discern what the expressions say about expectations. Our expectations shape our expressions, which are the synthesis of our perceptions, perspectives, mindsets and beliefs.

In a district defined by excellence you would notice that decisions are made and problems solved through a mindset of excellence that permeates classrooms, staff rooms and boardrooms.

Expectations are willed into being. Our expectations are shaped by our experiences.

Everything speaks.

At Quantum Learning, we teach, “everything speaks.”

When a district’s meetings respect opinions, encourage solution finding, and are well organized, attendees experience excellence. When classrooms buzz with curiosity, teachers acknowledge effort and everyone feels safe, kids are immersed in an experience that changes their perception about learning.

Nurturing the brand.

In the model we’ve presented, you build your brand by challenging the interactions students have with and within the school.

This is accomplished from the inside out. Brands are built from the organization’s culture out to the community and from you out to the organizations. You are your brand.

When you’re intentional with your brand, the positive effects will last for years to come.

To learn more about Quantum Learning: Development that Matters, visit www.quantumlearning.com.

 

Six Minutes with Steve Snyder

Steve Snyder Pic2

Does the name Steve Snyder sound familiar to you? He once read fourteen books on a flight between Los Angeles and Sydney, Australia. His reading speed is about five thousand words per minute for what he calls his “jogging speed.” His sprinting speed is about ten thousand words per minute. At age 15, he began teaching his reading techniques to fellow students. If over the years you have taken or taught our Quantum Reading course then Steve Snyder’s story is familiar. Steve’s reading techniques are the Quantum Reading system we have taught for years to help students increase their reading speed and comprehension.

Steve recently visited Quantum Learning Network’s headquarters in Oceanside, California, and spent some time with us talking about reading, memorization, and the power of the brain. He confirmed that he did indeed read fourteen books on that flight to Australia and even told us some of the titles. He still reads three to four books a day and averages twenty to twenty-five a week. But it was his comments on his powerful brain that stood out the most from our conversation.

According to Steve, “Our memory is 100% accurate. All that good information we have ever learned is still stored somewhere up there. Recalling it is where the difficulty lies.” We all agreed we’d benefit from accurate and timely retrieval of the information we have stored in our brains. When we asked Steve if he has always had an amazing brain his eyes lit up, a big smile consumed his face, and he said with certainty, “I have a great brain, and so do you!”

“Your beliefs about your brain become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy,” he advised. Steve tells himself every day that he has a great memory. When he notices waiters memorizing his order without writing it down he is sure to tell them, “You have a great memory  . . . and so do I!” He says the “and so do I” reminds him that we are all blessed with the most incredible and miraculous of organs  . . . our brains.

I marvel at how, in such a short period of time, Steve drew everyone in with his enthusiasm, positivity, and willingness to share his journey. I couldn’t help but think what a remarkable man he is. He has taught his reading techniques to hundreds of thousands of people around the world and read thousands upon thousands of books. What an incredible mind he possesses  . . . and so do I!

Check out Steve Snyder’s new book, Focused Passion, available atwww.focusedpassionthebook.com.                              

 

 

Sensation-Seeking versus Delinquency

groupofstudents1

Anyone working closely with teenagers has witnessed it. Teenagers defy logic. Their propensity for taking risks has launched a thousand campaigns from “anti-smoking” and “not texting while driving” to “teen pregnancy” and “teen suicide prevention.”

Neuroscience has demonstrated that the adolescent years are among the most dynamic and transformational time periods in brain development. Changes range from increased hormone production to formation of new brain circuitry.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, during adolescence, “. . . the parts of the brain involved in keeping emotional, impulsive responses in check are still reaching maturity. Such a changing balance might provide clues to a youthful appetite for novelty, and a tendency to act on impulse—without regard for risk.”

And while teachers and parents of teens battle the apparent attitude that accompanies these brain changes we can often misunderstand the intentions of a teenage mind. Although, statistically speaking, there are dangers associated with the teenage years it is also a period of incredible brain potential and growth.

In her article, “What Sends Teens Toward Triumph or Tribulation,” Alison Gopnik discusses Laurence Steinberg’s new book on the teenage mind Age of Opportunity. The topics of teenage impulsivity, sensation-seeking, and delinquency are discussed, leading us to a better understanding of how to not just fear but capitalize on these formative years of adolescent brain development.

http://online.wsj.com/articles/what-sends-teens-toward-triumph-or-tribulation-1413992026      

 

The State of Create

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Schools are hotbeds of creativity. Or are they?

According to a recent study conducted by Edelman Berland, there is a “universal concern that creativity is suffering at work and school.” With two thirds of respondents agreeing that creativity is valuable to society and essential to societal growth, 59% globally and 62% from the United States feel “Creativity is being stifled by their education systems.”

Do you agree? What role do schools play in teaching creativity? What departments?  What subjects? How do you promote creativity in your classroom?

Read more about the State of Create in the infographic below:

(http://www.edelmanberland.com/our-studies/the-state-of-create-infographic/)