How does employing sound field amplification in classrooms benefit all students?


Enhance Hearing and Listening
By Dr. Pamela Millett,
Faculty of Education, York University
The ability to hear, listen and process auditory information effectively is crucial
to learning for all students, and particularly challenging for students with hearing
loss. Internal and external classroom noise levels are often high: classrooms
with many hard, reflective surfaces (like concrete block walls) and few soft,
noise-absorbing surfaces (like carpet) cause this noise to be reflected and
amplified. While technologies such as hearing aids and cochlear implants are
useful for students with hearing loss, addressing the problem of poor classroom
acoustics benefits not only these students, but also their classmates and teachers.
Even students with normal hearing can have difficulty listening effectively in
noisy classrooms. This is particularly true for students with temporary hearing
loss related to recurrent ear infections as well as those with auditory processing, language or learning disabilities. English language learners may also have
difficulty hearing in noisy classrooms. Teachers, too, may be adversely affected;
they must constantly project their voices during instruction, which may lead to
vocal strain. Finally, the “nonauditory” effects of noise should be considered.
The World Health Organization warns that the cardiovascular, mental health,
and physiological effects of noise represent a significant health risk.
Implementing initiatives based on the principles of universal design (UD) and
sound field amplification, then can make classrooms more conducive to hearing and listening for all.


Research Tells Us
● Children process auditory information
less quickly and less effectively than
do adults, and are more easily
● Noisy classrooms therefore create
hearing and listening challenges not
only for students who have formally
identified hearing losses but for all
students and their teachers as well.
● Sound field amplification is a universal
design initiative that can help make
classrooms more conducive to hearing
and listening for all.
● Benefits include improvements in
student engagement, classroom
behaviour and academic achievement
as well as decreases in teacher vocal
fatigue and sick time.
Research into Practice
A research-into-practice series produced by a partnership between the Literacy and
Numeracy Secretariat and the Ontario Association of Deans of Education



Planning for the 21st century Teaching


The essentials of 21st century teaching

Several weeks ago my colleague Steve Goldberg shared a post on his blog that was not about teacher quality, but instead focused on Interdisciplinary Reading.  I couldn’t help but be impressed as I read through Steve’s depiction of how he would lead students in an interdisciplinary exploration of current events, by engaging them first with two paragraphs of online content from The New Yorker, questioning and probing with eventual references made to other sources such as the Mega Penny Project and Science Daily, then learning about the life of Wangari Maathai, using web-based conversion tools to find the number of acres in Germany, and finishing with a literary discussion surrounding Red Scarf Girl.

Wow. All of that could emerge by reading just two paragraphs of content? It could. But my immediate push-back question to Steve was: How many teachers could support this journey? How many possess the necessary pedagogical and intellectual skill sets to do as you’ve described here, particularly with the fluid reference of online resources? As a result of some of our discussions in PLP, Steve began this Google doc brainstorming essential qualities of a “21st century educator.” Which of these skills do we see in our teachers today? In new teachers? Which are most desired, and why? (Feel free to add your thoughts to this document.)

Also consider the perspective of Mary Ann Reilly in her post Unpacking Common Core Standards. She sets the stage for her work with this introduction:

In order to better understand the middle school ELA Common Core State Standards, deconstructing the actions taken when engaging with a literary text can helpful.  In this post, a series of performance and analysis tasks are explored and this is followed by examining the CCSS in order to see which of the standards were attended to. One of the ‘model’ texts included in the Common Core is William Butler Yeats’ poem, “The Song of Wandering Aengus.”

Visit Reilly’s post to see evidence of this task with supporting media, instructional strategies, technology integration, and details of student engagement. I am not a middle school administrator, so I do not know if what she describes is typical instruction at this level, but it seems to me that due to her vast content knowledge and ability to pull from a well-developed pedagogical base, she can skillfully embed technology to enhance learning, while ensuring the focus is on the learner and the desired outcomes.

Being able to plan for instruction in the manner that Reilly describes, and guiding students through a learning journey such as Steve depicts, are not skills that an average teacher will simply “pick up on” if, all of a sudden, we ask them to “learn about technology” in the traditional sense. Professional development where we bring in a Smartboard trainer or we teach faculty about specific tools will not lead to enduring understandings about teaching and learning.

Developing familiarity with the technology can be a great first step, yes. But a realization of how technology impacts student learning is a much larger issue than just deciding which web 2.0 tool is appropriate for use with a lesson. Do our teachers know what types of technology will enrich — or potentially detract from — content or the learning process, and why?


What Do We Need Our Teachers to Be?

One of the first books I read when I began preparing for a role in educational administration was Ten Traits of Highly Effective Teachers: How to Hire, Coach, and Mentor Successful Teachers by Elaine McEwan-Adkins. Published in 2001, the author concisely describes how the following qualities define great teachers, in terms of their character, skill-specific qualities, and intellectual traits:

  1. Mission-driven and passionate
  2. Positive and real
  3. A teacher-leader
  4. “With-it-ness”
  5. Style
  6. Motivational expertise
  7. Instructional effectiveness
  8. Book learning
  9. Street smarts
  10. A mental life

A fairly all-encompassing list. Applicable 10+ years later? I believe so. Kind of timeless, in a sense. The descriptors surrounding those qualities may evolve as does a teacher’s role each year.

I do a lot of thinking about teacher quality. I am able to interact with many teachers in both face-to-face and online settings each and every day. As some administrators may be able to tell you: Almost without fail, you can spot a quality teacher by simply existing in their presence for a few short minutes. There’s something about the way she interacts with students, is organized and prepared, is a fluid communicator and skillfully asks engaging questions, is capable of captivating an audience. He’s someone who has command of a learning environment, and it’s an absolute delight to watch this teaching and learning in action. A quality teacher has “with-it-ness,” as McEwan-Adkins describes.


Posted by on Mar 2, 2012 in Connected Leadership, The Compelling Need for Change, The How of 21st Century Teaching, The Moral Imperative,

I Hear Voices



Voices from the Learning Revolution

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Pocket-Based Learning: My Cellphone Classroom

Posted by on Mar 9, 2012 in Less Teacher, More Student, Making The Shift, Passion Based Learning, Student Life, The How of 21st Century Teaching, Voices | 6 comments

Pocket-Based Learning: My Cellphone Classroom

I am a proponent of BYOD (bring your own device) learning. I very rarely travel anywhere without my iPhone or iPad, and I can’t really blame my students if they do the same. I see the “addiction” students have to their cell phones as an opportunity to engage in learning since I view cell phones as another teaching tool, not a distraction. The technology is in their pockets. It’s a learning resource. Let’s use it!

Train at Least 3-4 Times a Week for Maximum Benefit for your Brain


Joe Hardy, PhD

Lumosity members frequently ask us how often they should train in order to maximize the benefits of brain training. The short answer is that more training is better training. All else being equal, individuals who complete more cognitive training tend to see larger gains in speed, memory, attention, problem solving, and flexibility. That said, most of us have busy lives, which is why so many of you want to know how much you need to do benefit from training.

In order to answer this question, the Research and Development team here at Lumos Labs analyzed data from 9503 Lumosity members who played at least 1000 exercises. Our researchers looked at how long it took members to complete the 1000 exercises, and then calculated the training frequency that resulted in the largest average gains in Brain Performance Index (BPI). BPI is basically Lumosity’s version of IQ — it measures your ability to handle the speed, memory, attention, problem solving, and flexibility challenges on Lumosity.  As it turns out, the most efficient approach is to complete a daily training session at least 3-4 times a week. On average, members who trained at this rate more than doubled their BPIs. Training less often still resulted in improvements, though they were smaller.

This goes to show that brain training’s just like physical exercise: mental fitness requires regular training.


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