Transmitter #47

Brain Hacks

How to Avoid Cognitive Tunneling

Cognitive tunneling, sometimes called cognitive capture, describes the phenomenon where someone is focused on a task to the extent that he or she is not aware of the rest of the surrounding environment. An example would be a pilot who is so obsessed with instrumentation that she doesn't notice the plane is too close to the ground. Research shows that our brain can trick us into not seeing reality.

As an example, Eastern Airlines Flight #401 crashed into the everglades when the pilots were so distracted by the malfunctioning nose landing gear that they failed to realize how low the plane descended until it was too late.

Other examples of cognitive tunneling: 

     -Spending too long on a tough item during a timed test.

     -Focusing on the stoplight at the intersection without noticing pedestrians. ​

     -Making a touchdown for the other team.

     -Officers shooting someone wielding a pocket knife without noticing that the person is having a psychotic break.

     -Walking into traffic while texting​.

How to prevent cognitive tunneling: ​

     1. ​Always have a notebook with you when you work, so you can jot down to-dos as you think of them. 

     2. ​Work with a partner. One person is the primary worker while the other looks at the big picture and overall goals.

     3. Solicit feedback often.  

     4. Learn about selective attention using this video. ​

     5. Write down options, so that you don't become overwhelmed.

     6. Avoid making decisions when you are panicking. ​

     7. When things go wrong, focus on what's going right. ​For instance, when Qantas Flight 32 had an oil fire erupt in the left jet engine, the explosion completely disabling all but one "major system." Captain de Crespigny calmed down the cabin crew by saying, "We need to stop focusing on what's wrong and start paying attention to what's still working."    

Public Commitments Boost Compliance

Want more students to turn in work on time? There is reason to believe that public commitments to take an action improve the odds of follow through.

“In 1987, social scientist Anthony Greenwald approached potential voters on election-day eve to ask whether they would vote and to provide reasons why or why not. 100% said they would vote. On election day, 86.7% of those asked went to the polls compared to 61.5% of those who were not asked. Those who publicly committed to voting on the previous day proved more likely to actually vote.”

Even better, ask students to say why it is important for them to turn work in on time.

(Source: By Tom Polanski, EVP, eBrand Media and eBrand Interactive)

About Those Brain Traing Products. . .

"I’m happy to tell you now that a brisk walk round the park with a friend is not only free, and not only more fun, but has better scientific support for its cognitive-enhancing powers than all the brain training products which are commercially available." -Tom Stafford, PhD, Psychology & Cognitive Sciences, U. of Sheffield

Teaching Strategies

New Jersey Teacher Writes Pre-Test Inspiration on Students' Desks

At the top right of the desk are 2 donut holes on a note that says, "Donut stress: Take your time and do your best."

(Source: @IsModernSociety)

Praise Do's and Don'ts

​According to Michael Linsin, avoid prasing for personal gain, to manipulate students, or because you feel you should.  The only way to praise, says Linsin, is when a student performs in a way that moves your heart. 

​(Source: Smart Classroom Management)

Bob Ross's Secret to Spontaneous Painting: Meticulous Preparation

The late Bob Ross, the punch-permed painting teacher featured in "The Joy of Painting," could make a beautiful landscape in 30 minutes on his televions show (now on Netflix). He made it seem easy, but it wasn't.

His producer admitted that his paintings were anything but spontaneous. "In fact, Ross made three of the same paintings for every episode. The first sat off camera and was used for reference. The second  was the one that viewers saw him work on. The third and more detailed landscape was printed in his books. Ross was meticulous. He would rehearse everything before showtime. The takeaway: looking relaxed while you're teaching something hard and technical takes diligent preparation.

(Source: Danny Hajek's "The Real Bob Ross" on NPR)


How long French children have to eat school lunch and socialize: 2 hours.

(Source: NY Times)

The percentage of email recipients who click on links sent by strangers: 56%

(Source: University of Erlangen-Nuremberg)

The number of schools that will be shut down soon in Michigan because of poor test scores: 100. 

(Source: Big Think)

". . . merely receiving feedback does not lead people to develop their skills: using feedback does."

- Robert Nash & Naomi Winstone, Learning Scientists Blog

The amount that students pay each year in tuition and fees for remedial courses: $1.3 billion. 

(Source: Education Dive / Center for American Progress)

How much more likely that black children will  be suspended from preschool than their white peers: 3.6x.

(Source: The U.S. Department of Education)

The number of languages spoken in Queens: 138

(Source: The U.S. Department of Education)

The number of additional school teachers needed to provide every child in the world a primary education by 2030: 25.8 million

(Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics)

Tech Watch

Secure Your Collaboration

CryptPad is the most secure real-time collaboration tool available. It uses blockchain technology to keep unwanted eyes out of your business. You can also use Privnote to create notes that will self-destruct after being read. 

Twitter Abbreviations for Teachers

GAFE – Google Apps for Educ.

HW – Homework

Ps – Parents

Ss – Students

Ts – Teachers

TFTF – Thanks for The Follow

TIL – Today I Learned…

(Anibal Pachecolt)

App to Help You Put Down Your Phone

The free Forest App (iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome, Firefox) encourages you to stay off your phone. You plant a tree and it grows bigger as you study. But if you leave the app to use your phone, the tree dies.  

Easy Poster Maker

TypeSlab is a dead simple and super-fast way to create a fast typographic poster.

Monday-Sunday: The Most Popular Education Twitter Chats

Brad Spirrison, from Participate Learning, identifies the most popular education chats on Twitter for each night of the week: 

Mon - #EdtechChat 8:PM EST - Focus: classroom tech.

Tues - #edchat 12:00 & 7:00 PM EST- Focus: All education topics.

Wed - #Ntchat 8:00 PM EST- Focus: Support for new teachers.

Thur -  #whatisschool 7:00 PM EST- Focus: Chat about a range of school issues.

Fri - #EngageChat 8:00 PM EST- Focus: Engagement in schools

Sat -  #Satchat 7:30 AM EST - Focus: Goal is to "promote success of all students."

Sun - #Sunchat 9:00 AM EST- Focus: Worldwide chat among educators.

(Source: Brad Spirrison's "Popular Twitter Chats for Every Day (or Night) of the Week," Getting Smart, featuring work from Participate Learning)


STUDY: Handwriting VS Computer Notetaking

Yet another study reports that students who take handwritten notes perform better on "conceptual questions" than learners who take notes with their laptops or phones.

(Source: Mueller & Oppenheimer)

STUDY: Class Size Matters

Class size reduction enhances all students' academic performance. In fact, small classes can be expected to narrow the racial achievement gap by about one-third.

(Source: National Education Policy Center)

The Weekly Marcus Aurelius

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.”

STUDY: Effectiveness of Independent Teacher Prep Programs are Questioned

In an independent study, researcher Ken Zeichner examined alternatives to traditional colleges of education for socializing teachers into the profession: The programs included: The Relay Graduate School of Education (Relay), Match Teacher Residency (MTR), High Tech High’s Internship, iTeach, and TEACH-NOW.

Claims regarding the success of such programs are not substantiated by peer-reviewed research. Says the researcher, “The lack of credible evidence supporting claims of success is particularly problematic given the current emphasis on evidence-based policy and practice in federal policy and professional standards.”

(Source: Independent Teacher Education Programs: Apocryphal Claims, Illusory Evidence, by Ken Zeichner)

Brain Feed

Level Up Your To-Do Lists

Charles Duhigg, author of Smarter, Faster Better: The Secrets of Being Productive in Life and Business, discusses how to create a better to-do list. 

Spirals and Writing Portfolios

In this ELA Academy Professional Development Video, Kerri Miller outlines ways to use spirals and writing portfolios effectively in order to keep students organized and reflecting on progress. Check out more info in the blog post.

Lightning Round

Another Quote

“Few men know how to take a walk. The qualifications of a professor are endurance, plain clothes, old shoes, an eye for nature, good humor, vast curiosity, good speech, good silence, and nothing too much.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson


(Source: Via Frank Buck, Middleweb)

The link below, as well as some that appear previously in this post, is an affiliate link.

Advertisement: Our cool product of the week is recommended by Kevin Kelly of Cool Tools and is made out of 100% recycled plastic: the Bissell Natural Sweep Dual Brush Sweeper. On hard classroom floors or short carpets, pick up Fig Newton crumbs and even spilled beads. $28 on Amazon.
Todd Finley

Edutopia Blogger and Asst. Editor || ECU Ed Professor || Founder of Todd's Brain at || Books: Dinkytown Braves and Rethinking Classroom Design.

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